The Haunting of Captain James Standiford
From: The Denton Journal;
March 12, 1892
Hark! There it is. The ghost is taking his midnight walk. There can be no mistaking that light step echoing through the
wide and silent hallway. It is the ghost!
Spring up as I grasp Dalrymple by the arm and give him a raising shake. He starts up with a sleepy, half frightened look.
“Jack” said I in an awed whisper. “Listen!
There is the ghost’s step.
This house is haunted sure.
He’s coming down the stairs!”
Dalrymple rubbed his eyes and sprang to his feet.
Ghosts nor men had no terrors for him, and it was for this reason
that I had asked him to spend a night with me in this house, about which
were so many stories of shots walking at night, and which was so much
avoided by the villagers.
And in truth the houses’ uncanny reputation was not without
foundation. It had not been
occupied for thirteen years and was now inhabited by rats and
cockroaches; its roof was all moss grown and all approaches to it were
grown up in weeds and briars. No
one had cared to go near it in thirteen years.
Its last occupant was a rich old man who lived in it only during
the summer and was all alone. For
fifteen summers he lived there. The
people knew but little of him save that his name was Caspar Tromp and
that he was very wealthy.
The last seen of him about the village was one day in August just
thirteen years before the occurrence of the incident narrated at the
beginning of this story. He was observed walking about the place superintending some
work that he was having done. The
next day the house was shut up and he was seen no more.
It was thought that he had returned to the city and would turn up
the next summer. A few
months later a younger brother of his came down and removed the
furniture and closed up the house.
That was the last ever seen of Casper Troup and the next summer
the house was not opened.
The big roomy house remained all through the year following closed up,
deserted and alone. The
villagers who passed by it at night began to tell strange stories of the
sounds that they hear inside and declared that they had often seen a
light shining through the blinds and had heard wolves moaning as if in
pain. These stories gave
the house a reputation of being haunted, and it was given a wide berth
by all at night, just as many other houses are in nearly every village.
For thirteen years the house maintained the reputation well and
even increased it. It became the talk of the town, and any number of intrepid
youths spoke of spending a night in the house and solving the mystery.
But none ever did so. I
detained to see if there was anything in the many stories that had been
told and proposed to Jack Dalrymple that we spend a night in the house
and meet the ghost face to face.
And so it came to pass that we repaired to the silent house one night
just after dusk, and opening the creaking door entered the wide hallway.
All was dark. We
light a wax taper and set it down in the hallway to give us
light. We spent the first
few hours of the night speculating about the appearance of his
ghostship, and finally, wearied, we had fallen asleep.
I had scarcely gotten asleep when I heard the front steps as
after rousing Dalrymple we walked into the hallway.
Great God! There it was! Hideous! Horrible!
At last I had seen a ghost. In all my most horrible freaks of imagination I had never conjured up anything half so frightful or hideous as this. It was the figure of an old man, who might have been a thousands years old so bent, so feeble and decrepit he seemed. He was leaning with one hand on a cane, while with the other he steadied himself on the railing of the stairway. But more horrible that all was the aw awful gaping cut which extended from one of his ear to the other and which was dripping with blood. His white beard was clotted with blood, and the long white hair which fell in folds over his shoulder was soaked with gore.
“Who—who are you?” asked Dalrymple in a husky voice.
The creature replied in a squeaking voice without moving his lips.
The voice coming out of the gaping wound.
“I” he said, “I am Caspar Troup.
And I was murdered here in this house thirteen years ago.”
“-----Troup—murdered!” was all I could ejaculate.
And this was a ghost.
“Yes, I am. I am a
ghost.” He continued in the same way as before. “But I have not
time to spare with you. I
am going to call on my murderer.”
“Call on your murderer? What
do you mean? Explain yourself,” asked Dalrymple excitedly.
”I mean what I say,” continued the ghost.
“I was murdered in here. I
am a ghost and I am now going to haunt the wretch who gave me that,”
and he pointed to the gaping, ghastly wound across his throat.
“Who—who killed you?” ask Dalrymple.
“His name?” the ghost asked. “Ah, I don’t know that. But his face—Ah! How many thousand times have I caused it to grow contorted in the most dreadful agony, as I would appear before him suddenly. Before the night he gave me this death wound I used to see him hanging about the village with the other loafers. I paid no attention to him. But on that dreadful night I recognized him as he stood over me with that shining blade drawn. I cried out for mercy, but he would not hear me. He struck the fatal blow. I felt the keen edge of the knife and then I felt my life blood flowing out and y strength was going.”
“Everything appeared in a mist to me and pretty soon all had faded and
I was dead. But I was in
another world. I would hold
communion with a thousand other wronged beings who had been transformed
from life into the ghost world. They
told me merry stories on how they at all hours haunted those persons who
had wronged them in this world. Bin
in that respect I am a peculiar ghost.
I have my regular haunting hour.
I remember as my murderer stood over me the clock in an adjoining
room chimed the hour of 1 o’clock, and every night just at 1 o’clock
I pay my victim—he’s my victim now—a visit.
And I must be going.”
He moved toward the door and we followed.
“Do you young men want to follow a ghost upon his cheerful mission?”
“By all means, if you will let us,” said Dalrymple.
“I have no objection. A
ghost desire no company, but you may go.”
Over the hills we followed his
ghostship until the village had been completely left behind.
The fields, waving with their harvests of corn, were on either
Where was he going? Who was
the murderer? These
thoughts flitted through my mind a thousand times.
Presently he stopped before a large farmhouse.
“This is the place,” said he.
Great heavens! Was it
I knew the place well. It
was the residence of Captain James Standiford, one of the most prominent
men in our whole vicinity.
“This cannot be true,” said Dalrymple.
But the ghost gave us no time for words or thoughts.
“Follow me,” he said, and he entered the house.
Bolts and bars have no restraining power against a ghost, for he
pushed the door lightly aside and stepped into the hallway.
Evidently he knew the place well.
A look of delight, I fancied, came over his face as he beckoned
us to follow him up the stairway.
At the top of the stairs he stopped
before a door.
“This is his room,” he said.
He turned the knob and went in. The
room was dark, but through an open shutter a faint steak of light
On a bed a sleeper was tossing restlessly about.
It was Standiford.
His eyes fell upon the ghastly ghost figure standing at the foot of his
bed, looking a thousand times more horrible than when we had first seen
“Take it away!
Take it away!” he shrieked.
“It’s his face! Take it away” Oh,
God! Take it away!”
Standiford’s face was so terribly drawn and contorted by his terrors
that one of his most intimate acquaintances would not have known him.
The ghost went slowly toward him, and with a maniacal, terrified look he
ran about the room getting as far from the ghost as the room would
allow, shrieking and moaning piteously all the while.
Shrinking in a corner like a cur at bay with his bloodshot eyes almost
ready to burst from their sockets, Standiford held up his hands toward
the ghost and cried out piteously.
“Go away now, please go away! I am sorry—so sorry, and this is enough---my God! It’s enough!”
But the avenging spirit did not hear his pleas for mercy.
Wherever Standiford went the horrible thing followed him.
For almost an hour it went on thus, when at last Standiford becoming utterly exhausted, threw himself on the bed and covered his face with his pillow, trying to shut out the hideous sight and crying out in the most penitent manner.
For a moment the ghost hovered over him and was gone.
Dalrymple and myself stood rooted to the spot for a few moments, and then, realizing our positions, went back down the stairway and out of the house.
“This is a horrible experience,” said Dalrymple, “and a horrible
We walked back home in silence, busy with our own thoughts concerning the
novel experience of the night.
The next day I met Standiford on the streets.
He spoke to me in his usual happy manner, but I noticed dark lines
under his eyes, while he wore a sleepy and dejected look.
He was a murdered, and no one but myself and Dalrymple knew and would ever
Would it do to proclaim him to the world as such with proof but the ghost’s testimony, and to have the ghost summoned into court? I think not.
Robert L. Adamson -- Atlanta Constitution.
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