It transpires that the North End of Centralia has a haunted house and ghost story all its own. At the corner of Sycamore and Prune Street stands a house that might well pass for a part of a deserted village. Tenants avoid it; the owner is in despair; and there is an opening for some intrepid investigator to make himself famous.
Several years ago the house was occupied by a Mr. and Mrs. Northcote, a young couple whose married life promised to be one long dream of happiness. There was no cloud on the matrimonial horizon to threaten storm to the happy home. In the course of time, as will happen in the best most orderly regulated families, a little stranger made its appearance; as beautiful a little girl as ever blessed a Centralia home. The joy of the parents can be imagined; their cup of happiness was overflowing. The rest of the story may best be told in the words of an “old resident” who was well-acquainted with young Mr. and Mrs. Northcote,” remarked the “old resident.”
“He was a young man with the brightest of bright futures before him. I knew him before his marriage and the course of his true love ran smoothly and calmly. No man ever had a more lovely bride, and no bride ever possessed a more gallant husband. When the home was blessed with a bright-eyed, golden-haired daughter, the couple ever was prouder and then more devoted to a cozy home and its loving ties. But the happiness was short-lived. Sorrow came to that home; the child, on whom had been lavished the love of two fond hearts, pined away, a little soul returned to the angels from whom it had so recently parted.
Northcote was never the same man after the death of his child. Â He attended to his daily duties as usual, but when evening approached he seemed absorbed by some mental trouble that he could not hide from me, the friend of his youth and the custodian of all his boyish joys and aspirations. One night when he seemed more depressed than usual I ran across him as he was preparing to go home. He asked me to accompany him, and I was only too glad to avail myself of an opportunity to do something to cheer up my friend and his wife. We were sitting in the little parlor, that opened from a hall whence ran a staircase to the upper floor, when a patter patter, as of childish feet descending the stairs, was distinctly heard. The door slowly opened and a ball-shaped figure drifted or floated into the room. It had the appearance of a diaphanous jelly fish, semi-opaque, and about two feet in circumference. I sat terror-stricken, but could not keep my eyes off the strange apparition. It floated uneasily around the room, into the room beyond that was used as a bedroom, finally vanishing in the neighborhood of a cupboard that stood in one of the corners of the front room. With the disappearance of the strange and uncanny apparition I jumped to my feet and asked for an explanation. Poor Northcote could only inform me that the same apparition made its appearance every night at the same hour.”
“To tell the sequel in full would require too much time, but a few words are necessary to bring this remarkable, but true, story to an end. During Mrs. Northcote’s absence on a visit to some friends at a distance. Northcote and I were determine to solve, if possible, the mystery. We provided ourselves with revolvers, and one night was sat awaiting the appearance of the same diaphanous jelly fish. It came as usual, and as it drifted past me I fired at the very center of the mass. At the same moment a ball from Northcote’s revolver pierced the mass, and it dissolved into a thin vapor. On the carpet, when the electric lights were turned on, we found a dark stain that penetrated into the floor beneath. We took the carpet, or a portion of it, to a famous chemist, but he was unable to give us analysis of the dark fluid-like stain.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Northcote shortly afterwards moved away and I have not heard from them since, nor have I again visited the house, but it is said that the patter-patter of the child feet is still heard about the hour of midnight.
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