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Mrs Bretton's Ghost

John Ingram gives the following of an encounter with an apparition in his book entitled 'The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain'(1897). 'The Rev. Dr. Bretton, towards the close of his career appointed rector of Ludgate, early in life held a living in Hereford. He had married a daughter of Dr. Santer, a lady well known for her piety and virtue, but who died and left an infant to her husband's care. The child was entrusted to the charge of an old servant of Mrs. Bretton, who had since married, and who nursed it in her own cottage, near the doctor's residence. The story, which has often been related in various collections and in different ways, according to the original account, states that one day when the woman was nursing the infant, the door of her cottage was opened, and a lady entered so exactly resembling the late Mrs. Bretton in dress and appearance, that she exclaimed, "If my mistress were not dead, I should think you were she!" Whereupon, the apparition told her she was so, and requested her to go with her, as she had business of importance to communicate. Alice objected, being very much frightened, and entreated her to address herself rather to Dr. Bretton; but Mrs. B. answered, that she had, endeavoured to do so, and had, been several times in his room for that purpose, but he was still asleep, and she had no power to do more towards awakening him than once uncover his feet, Alice then pleaded that she had nobody to leave with her child; but Mrs. B. promising that the child should sleep till her return, she at length obeyed the summons, and having accompanied the apparition into a large field, the latter bade her observe how much she measured off with her feet, and having taken a considerable compass, she made her go and tell her brother that all that portion had been wrongfully taken from the poor by their father, and that he must restore it to them, adding, that she was the more concerned about it, since her name had been used in the transaction. Alice then asking how she should satisfy the gentleman of the truth of her mission, Mrs. B. mentioned to her some circumstances known only to herself and this brother; she then entered into much discourse with the woman, and gave her a great deal of good advice, till, hearing the sound of horse-bells, she said, "Alice, I must be seen by none but yourself” and then disappeared.'

'When the apparition had gone away the servant proceeded to the residence of her master, and acquainted him with what had occurred. Dr. Bretton admitted that he had actually heard someone walking about in his room in a way that he could not account for, as no one was visible. He then mentioned the matter to his brother, who laughed heartily at it, until Alice communicated to him the secret which she was commissioned to reveal to him: upon hearing it he changed his tone, and declared himself ready to make the restitution required. Dr. Bretton, it may be remarked, never made any secret of the affair, but discussed it freely with many persons.'

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