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Peg O'Nell of Waddow Hall, Waddington


The Grade II listed 17th century Waddow Hall has been owned by the Girl Guides Association since 1928. There is an old folk tradition associated with Waddow Hall and the ghost of Peg O'Nell or Peg o' th' Well. The following account of the tradition is extracted from 'Lancashire Folk-lore' (1867) by John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson.

Peggy's Well.—Peggy's Well is near the Ribble, in a field below Waddow Hall, not far from Brunckerley stepping-stones, in attempting to cross by which several lives have been lost, when the river was swollen by a rapid rise, which even a day's rain will produce. These calamities, as well as any other fatal accidents that occur in the neighbourhood, are usually attributed to Peggy, the evil spirit of the well. There is a mutilated stone figure by the well, which has been the subject of many strange tales and apprehensions. It was placed there when turned out of the house at Waddow, to allay the terrors of the domestics, who durst not continue under the same roof with this mis-shapen figure. It was then broken, either from accident or design, and the head, some time ago, as is understood, was in one of the attic chambers at Waddow. Who Peggy of the Well was, tradition doth not inform us.

The writer of the Pictorial History of Lancashire states that going to Waddow Hall he inquired after the headless stone statue known as "Peg o' th' Well;" and a neat, intelligent young woman, one of the domestics, showed him Peggy's head on the pantry table, and the trunk by a well in an adjacent field. He gives the following as the substance of the tradition:—The old religion had been supplanted in most parts of the country, yet had left memorials of itself and its rites in no few places, nor least in those which were in the vicinity of an old Catholic family, or a monastic institution. Some such relic may Peggy have originally been. The scrupulous proprietors of Waddow Hall regarded the innocuous image with distrust and aversion; nor did they think themselves otherwise than justified in ascribing to Peggy all the evils and mischances that befel in the house. If a storm struck and damaged the house, Peggy was the author of the damage. If the wind whistled or moaned through the ill-fitting doors and casements, it was "Peggy at her work," requiring to be appeased, else some sad accident was sure to come. On one occasion Master Starkie—so was the host named—returned home very late with a broken leg. He had been hunting that day, and, report said, made too free with the ale afterwards. But, as usual, Peggy bore the blame: for some dissatisfaction she had waylaid the master of the house and caused his horse to fall. Even this was forgiven. A short time afterwards a Puritan preacher was overtaken by a fresh in the river, in attempting to cross over on the stepping-stones which lay just above the Hall, the very stones on which poor King Henry (VI.) was captured. Now, Mrs. Starkie had a great attachment to those preachers, and had indeed sent for the one in question, for him to exorcise and dispossess her youngest son, a boy of ten years of age, who was grievously afflicted with a demon, or, as was suspected, tormented by Peggy. "Why does he not come?" asked the lady, as she sat that night in her best apparel, before a blazing fire and near a well-furnished table. "The storm seems to get worse. Hark! heard ye no cry? Yes! there again. Oh, if the dear man be in the river! Run all of ye to his rescue." In a few minutes two trusty men-servants returned, panting under the huge weight of the dripping parson. He told his tale. "'Tis Peg," she suddenly exclaimed, "at her old tricks! This way, all!" She hurried from the apartment, rushed into the garden, where Peggy stood quiet enough near a spring, and with one blow of an axe, which she had seized in her passage, severed Peggy's head from her body.


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Re: Peg O'Nell of Waddow Hall, Waddington

The following account of an experience by Alan Pickover appears on the BBC Lancashire website dated 2003:

I have always been sceptical of the supernatural, however events last night have made me change my opinions vastly.

I work as a shift manager at Castle Cement, Clitheroe and last night saw something that I cannot explain.

Part of my duties involve a drive into the surrounding countryside every 12 hours to monitor the plume from our chimney stacks.

On this occasion, the drive took me to Waddow Hall at Waddington, where I parked the van and got out to watch the plume. The time was somewhere just after midnight, so obviously it was relatively dark and there was a chill in the air.

It was then I became aware of a presence, that started out as a shadow, but as my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I could make out a hooded figure that appeared to be making it's way towards me. As it moved, it seemed to glide, and as it approached it became obvious that it was much bigger than myself, and appeared rather sinister. At this point I retreated to the van and drove off back to the works - I am not ashamed to say that I was absolutely terrified.

On raising this with my colleagues, a number of them told me that it must have been Peg O'Nell, a ghost out of local folklore. Whatever it was, it has changed my perception of how I view the supernatural forever, and means that I will be very wary the next time I venture into that area again at night.

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Re: Peg O'Nell of Waddow Hall, Waddington

The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain by John Ingram (1897). 

Mr. William Dobson's interesting Rambles by the Ribble, furnish one or two accounts of local dwellings labouring under the uncanny odour of beinsf haunted. Mr. Dobson, although evidently no believer in ghosts, and unable to resist the temptation of having a fling at their erratic courses, tells of their doings with a chronicler's exactitude.

Writing in 1864, our authority says that Waddow Hall, in the township of Waddington, Yorkshire, was then in the occupation of James Garnett, Esquire, Mayor of Clitheroe. The property of the Ramsden family, Waddow Hall is situated in a pleasant park, which, though not of great extent, is of great beauty.

The house stands on a knoll, with pleasant woodlands about it. At the foot of a gentle slope flows the Eibble ; the castle and church of Clitheroe are seen to advantage, the smoke only indicating where the town of Clitheroe lies, an intervening hill hiding the town itself from view. The mansion contains many portraits of its former owners and various members of their family, but the main interest of Waddow appears to arise from its being the scene of an old legend, which the folks of Clitheroe and the neighbouring Yorkshire villages are never weary of repeating, and for the truth of which they are perfectly willing to vouch. Many of the older inhabitants of Clitheroe and Waddington would as soon doubt the Scriptures as they would a single iota of the following tradition.

In the grounds of Waddow and near the banks of the Kibble, there is a spring called Peg o' Nell's Well, and good water the spring sendeth forth in plenty. Near the spring is a headless, now almost shapeless figure, said to be a representation of the famous Peg herself.

Peg o' Nell, as I learned, says Mr. Dobson, was a young woman who, in days of yore, was a servant at Waddow Hall. On one occasion she was going to the well for water, the very well that to this day supplies the Hall with water for culinary purposes. She had had a quarrel with the lord or lady of Waddow, who, in a spirit of anger, not common, it is to be hoped, with masters and mistresses, wished that she might fall and break her neck. It was winter, and the ground was coated with ice; her pattens tripped in some way or other, Peggy fell, and the sad malediction was fully realised. To be revenged on her evil wisher, Peggy was wont to revisit her former home in the spirit, and torment her master and mistress by " making night hideous." Every disagreeable noise that was heard at Waddow was attributed to Peggy; every accident that occurred in the neighbourhood was through Peggy. No chicken was stolen, no cow died, no sheep strayed, no child was ill, no youth " took bad ways," but Peg was the evil genius. "When a Waddow farmer had stopped too long at the ' Dule ups' Dun,' and going home late had slipped off the hipping-stones at Brunerley into the river, or a Clitheroe burgess, when in Borland, had, like 'Tarn o' Shanter' sat too long ' fast by an ingle bleezing finely/ while ' the ale was growing better/ and had fallen off his horse in going home, and broken a limb, it was not the host's liquor that was charged with the mishap, but on Peggy's shoulders that the blame was laid."

What was worse, in addition to these perpetual annoyances, every seven years Peg required a life; and the story is that "Peg's Night," as the time of sacrifice at each anniversary was called, was duly observed; and if no living animal were ready as a septennial offering to her manes, a human being became inexorably the victim. Consequently it grew to be the custom on "Peg's Night" to drown a bird, or a cat, or a dog in the river, and, a life being thus given, for another seven years Peggy was appeased.

One night, at an inn in the neighbourhood, as the wind blew and the rattling showers rose on the blast, "and as the swollen Kibble roared over the hipping-stones, a young man, not in the soberest mood, had to go from Waddington to Clitheroe. No bridge then spanned the Bibble at Bungerley ; the only means of crossing the river was by the stones, which Henry the Sixth, in his last struggle for liberty, had tripped over towards ' Clitherwood.' He was told he must not venture over the water, it was not safe. He must be at Clitheroe that night, was his response, and go he would. j But,' said the young woman of the inn, by way of climax to the other arguments used to induce him not to go onward, * it's Peg o' N^l's night, and she has not had her life.' He cared not for Peg o' Nell; he laughed at her alleged requirement, gave loose to his horse's rein, and was soon at Bungerley. The following morning horse and rider had alike perished, and, of course, many believed the calamity was through Peg's malevolence."

Peg, it is averred, is still as insatiable as ever, and many would dread to dare her wrath.

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Re: Peg O'Nell of Waddow Hall, Waddington

The following account is was printed in 'Traditions of Lancashire', Volume 2 by John Roby (1872) and entitled 'THE DEMON OF THE WELL'

Peggy's well, the subject of our engraving, is near the brink of the Ribble, in a field below Waddow Hall; Brunckerley Stepping-stones not being far distant, where several lives have been lost in attempting to cross, at times when the river was swollen by a rapid rise, which even a day's rain will produce. These calamities, along with any other fatal accidents which happened in the neighbourhood, are usually attributed to the malevolence of Peggy. The stepping-stones are alluded to in our first volume as the place where King Henry VI was taken, after escaping from Waddington Hall.

Some stones are still visible at low water; but whether these are the original "Hippins," or the foundations of a wooden bridge which succeeded them, and was borne down by the ice at the breaking up of the frost in the year 1814, is not known.

The stone image by the well, depicted in our engraving, has been the subject of many strange tales and apprehensions, being placed there when turned out of the house at Waddow, to allay the terrors of the domestics, who durst not continue under the same roof with this misshapen figure. It was then broken, either from accident or design, and the head, some time ago, we have understood, was in one of the attic chambers at Waddow Hall.

One loud, roaring, and tempestuous night—the last relics of the year 1660—some half-dozen boon companions were comforting themselves beside a blazing fire, and a wassail-cup, at the ingle of a well-ordered and well-accustomed tavern within the good borough of Clitheroe, bearing on its gable front, over a grim and narrow porch, a marvellous portraiture apparently of some four-footed animal, by common usage and consent denominated "The Bull." What recked they of the turmoil that was abroad, while good liquor lasted, and the troll and merrytale went round? The yule-log was blazing on the hearth, and their cups were bright and plenished.

"'Ods bodikins, Nic—and that's a parson's oath," said a small waspish figure from the farther chimney-corner, in a sort of husky wheezing voice, "I'll lay thee a thimblefull of pins thou dar'na do it."

"And I'll lay thee a grey lapstone, an' a tachin-end to boot, that I run ower t' hippin-stones to-night, and never a wet sole; but a buss and a wet lip I'll bring fro' the bonniest maiden at Waddow!"

"Like enough, like enough, though thou hast to brag for't," said the first speaker tauntingly—an old customer of the house, and a compiler of leathern extremities for the good burghers and their wives.

"Give o'er your gostering," said another; "Non omnes qui citharam tenent, sunt citharœdi.[iii] Many talk of Robin Hood who never shot from his bow. Know ye not 'tis Peggy's year, and her oblation hath not been rendered? Eschew therefore the rather your bravery until this night be overpast."

This learned harangue betrayed the schoolmaster, who was prone to make Gaffer Wiswall's chimney-side a temporary refuge from the broils and disturbances of his own, where his spouse, by way of enticing him to remain, generally contrived either to rate him soundly or to sulk during their brief communion.

"Who cares for Peg?" said the hero who had boasted of his blandishments with the maids. "She may go drown herself i' the Red Sea for aught I care!"

This heretical, unbelieving, and impious scorner was a man of shreds and patches, a pot-valiant tailor, whose ungartered hosen, loose knee-strings, and thin shambling legs, sufficiently betokened the sedentary nature of his avocations. "I wonder the parson hasn't gi'en her a lift wi' Pharaoh and his host ere this," continued he.

"Or the schoolmaster," said that provoking little personage, the first speaker, whose sole aim was to throw the apple of discord amongst his fellows.

"And pray who may this lady be whom ye so ungallantly devote to perdition?" inquired a stranger from behind, who had hitherto been silent, apparently not wishful to join the hilarity of those he addressed. The party quesited was in the midst of a puff of exhalation more than usually prolonged when the question was put, so that ere he could frame his organs to the requisite reply the pragmatical tailor, whose glibness of tongue was equalled only by his assurance, gave the following by way of parenthesis:—

"Plague on't, where's t'ou bin a' thy life, 'at doesn't know Peg O'Nelly, man?"

"Deuce tak' thee for a saucy lout," said the sutor; "I'll brak' thy spindle-shanks wi' my pipe-stump. Be civil if thou can, Nicky, to thy betters. Sir, if it please ye to listen, we'll have ye well instructed in the matter by the schoolmaster here." He cast a roguish look at the pedagogue as he spoke. But I pray you draw in with us, an' make one wi' the rest."

The scholar adjusted himself, passed one hand thoughtfully upon his brow, and with a gentle inclination commenced with a loud hem, or clearance of aught that might obstruct the free communication of his thoughts.

"Peg, or Peggy, as some do more euphoniously denominate her, was maid, woman, or servant—ancilla, famula, ministra, not pedissequa, or one who attends her mistress abroad, but rather a servant of all work, in the house yonder at Waddow, many years past. Indeed, my grandmother did use to speak of it as ex vetere famâ—traditionary, or appertaining unto the like."

"I tell thee what, gossip, if thee doesn't get on faster wi' thy tale, Peggy's ghost will have a chronicle of another make. I can see Nic's tongue is yammering to take up a stitch i' thy narrative," interrupted the leathern artificer.

"And I'd bring it up in another guess way," said Nicholas, tartly, "than wi' scraps and scrapings fro' gallipots, and remnants o' mass books."

"Pray ye, friends, be at peace a while, or I may be dealt with never a word to my question," said the stranger beseechingly.

"Go on," rejoined the peremptory occupant of the chimney-corner; "but let thy discourse be more akin to thy text."

The schoolmaster, thus admonished, again set forward.

"As I was a-saying precedent or prior to this unseasonable interruption—medium sermonem—I crave your mercy, but I was born, as I may say, with the Latin, or thelingua latialis in my mouth, rather than my mother-tongue; so, as I was a-saying, this same Peggy, filia or daughter to Ellen, if I mistake not, seeing that Peg O'Nell doth betoken, after the manner and use of these rude provincials, that the genitrix or mater is the genitive or generator, being"——

"Now a murrain light on all fools, coxcombs, and"——

"Tailors' shins—hang thee, for thou hast verily split mine wi' thy gilly-pegs. They're as sharp as a pair of hatchets," said an unfortunate neighbour who had the ill-luck to encounter the gyrations of these offensive and weapon-like appendages to the trunk of Nicholas Slater, who, in his great ardour and distress at the floundering and abortive attempts of the scholar, threw them about in all directions, to the constant jeopardy and annoyance of those more immediately within their sphere of operation.

"Keep 'em out o't gait then," said the testy aggressor, angry at the interruption, being fearful of losing so lucky an opportunity.

"Peg O'Nelly, sir, was a maid-servant once at Waddow, killed first, and then drowned i' the well by one o' the men for concubinage, as the parson says; and so for the wrong done, her ghost ne'er having been laid, you see she claims every seventh year an offering which must be summat wick—and"——While he hesitated another took up the thread of his narrative.

"This is the last night o' the year, you see," said the other in continuation; "and we be just thinking to bid good-bye to th' old chap, and greet th' new one with a wag of his paw, and a drink to his weel-doing. But the first cause o' this disturbance was by reason of its being Peggy's year, and as she hasn't had her sop yet, we thought as how it would be no bad job to get rid o' this drunken tailor here, and he might save some better man; so we have been daring him to cross t' hippin-stones to-night; for there is but an hour or two to spare before her time's up."

"It is not too late," said the stranger, with great solemnity. Every eye was bent upon him. He still sat in the broad shadow projected by one huge chimney-corner, his face overhung by a broad felt hat, girt with a band and buckle; a drooping draggled feather fell over its crown. His whole person was so curiously enveloped in a loose travelling cloak that nothing but a dark unshapely mass, having some resemblance to the human form, could be distinguished.

Concealment was evidently the object. Every one was awed down into silence. The few words he had spoken seemed to have dried up, or rather frozen at its surface, the babbling current of their opinions, that ran, whilom, with unceasing folly and rapidity.

"Silence!" cried the sutor from the opposite ingleside.

This command operated like a charm. The ice was broken, and the current became free. Without more ado, as if in opposition to the self-constituted authority from the high-backed chair, the guests, with one exception only, commenced with a vigorous discharge of "airy missiles," which by degrees subsided into a sort of desultory sharp-shooting; but their words were neither few nor well applied. It was evident that a gloom and disquietude was upon the assembly. There was a distinct impression of fear, though a vague notion as to its cause—a sort of extempore superstition—a power which hath most hold on the mind in proportion as its limits and operations are least known or understood. The bugbear owing its magnitude and importance to obscurity and misapprehension, becomes divested of its terrors when it can be surveyed and appreciated.

"Te misereat, miserescat, vel commiserescat mei,"

quoted the schoolmaster, who, before he could find an equivalent in his mother-tongue, was tripped up by the nimble constructor of raiment.

"The dule and his dam are verily let loose on us," said he.

"Our Lady and her grace forefend!" cried he of the awl and lapstone, whose pipe having unaccountably been extinguished, was just in the act of being thrust down into the red and roaring billets when he beheld a blue flame hovering on them; a spiral wreath of light shot upwards, and the log was reduced to a mass of glowing ashes and half-burnt embers. At this critical moment the stranger deliberately approached the hearth. He threw a whole flagon of liquor wilfully upon the waning faggots, and in a moment fiz, splutter, and smoke proclaimed that the warfare of the elements, like many others, had ended in the destruction of both the contending belligerents. The yule-log was extinguished. There was a general rush, and a consternation of so unequivocal a nature, that tables, benches, platters, and drinking utensils were included in one vast overthrow. Some thought they saw the glowing emblem of Yule transferred to the stranger's eyes, which twinkled like twin loopholes to the furnace within.
"I have thee now!" said he; but who this unfortunate might be whom they had so left, even in the very claws of the Evil One, they knew not, nor did they care to inquire. Each, too happy to escape, rushed forth hatless and sore dismayed into the street, with all the horrors of a pelting and pitiless night upon his head, and thought himself well off by the exchange, and too much overjoyed that his own person was not the victim in the catastrophe.

In the morning Isabel, the landlord's ward, and his coal-black steed were amissing!

Now, it was but a mile or so from this ancient borough to Brunckerley, or Bromiley hippin (stepping) stones, across the Ribble, where, upon this insecure but long-used mode of transit, the steps of our forefathers were guided over the ford. These same stepping-stones were quite as often the instruments or executioners of Peggy's vengeance as the well itself dignified by her name. It need not, therefore, be a matter of surprise that when the appalling and fearful events of the preceding night were bruited forth in the public thoroughfares upon New-Year's morning—a season when news-carriers and gossips, old and young, are more particularly prone to a vigilant exercise of their talents and avocations—we say it need not be a source of either suspicion or surprise that many of these conduit-pipes of intelligence, even before the day was broad awake, did pour forth an overwhelming flood of alarm and exaggeration. According to these veracious lovers of the marvellous, shrieks were heard about the requisite time, and in the precise direction where it must needs follow that Isabel was just in the act of being whisked off by one of Pegg's emissaries, and that ere now she was doubtless offered as one of the septennial sacrifices to her revenge.

It was a brave and comely morning, and a brave sight it was to see old and young go forth to the river on that blessed day. The crisp and icy brink of the brawling Ribble was beset by groups of idle folk, some anxiously looking out for symptoms or traces of the body, others occupied with rakes and various implements for searching the unknown regions beneath the turbid and angry waters. Beyond were the antlered and hoary woods of Waddow, every bow laden with the snows of yestereven, sparkling silently in the broad and level sweep of light, pouring in one uninterrupted flood over the wide and chilly waste—a wilderness of snow, a gay and gorgeous mantle glittering on the bosom of death and desolation.

Gaffer Wiswall was there. The old man almost beside himself with grief, heart-stricken with the blow, felt alone, a scathed trunk, doomed to survive when the green verdure of his existence had departed.

Wet and weary were the searchers, and their toil unremitting, but the body was not found. The "Well," Peg O'Nelly's Well, was tried, with the like result. Surely this was a visitation of more than ordinary spite and malignity. Hitherto the bodies of the victims, with but few exceptions, had been rendered back to their disconsolate survivors, the revengeful ghost apparently satisfied with their extinction; but it is now high time to make the attempt, if possible, to rid themselves of her persecutions.

"Look here!" said one of the bystanders, pointing to the river's margin; "there hath gone a horse, or it may be two, along these slippery banks, but a few hours ago, and the track seems to come from the river."

"Let us see to the other side," said another, "if there be a fellow to it." And, sure enough, on the opposite bank, there were footmarks corresponding thereto, as though one or more adventurous horsemen had swam the swollen waters recently, a little higher up than the ford, pursuing their slippery way by the very margin, along the woods, for some distance, when their track was lost amid these deep and almost pathless recesses.

"Mercy o' me," said one, "it is deep enough thereabouts to drown the castle and hill to boot. Neither horse nor man could wade that hurly-burly there last night, for the waters were out, and the footboy from Waddow told me that nobody could even cross the hippin-stones at eight o'clock. He came round by the bridge."

"But if the beasts could swim?" said another, of more knowledge and shrewdness than the rest.

"Swim!—Go to!" said the small leathern-aproned personage whose functions we have before adverted to at the bright and merry ingle of old Wiswall; "neither man nor beast could have held breast against the torrent."

This was a complete negation to the whole. Nevertheless something had crossed, whether cloven-footed or not they were unable to distinguish, inasmuch as the demon, or whatsoever it might be, had taken the precaution to make its passage in a pair of horse-shoes. The probability was, that Peggy had varied the usual mode of her proceedings, and sent a messenger with a strong arm and a fiery steed to seize her victim.

"We're none on us safe," cried one, "fro' this she div—div—Save us! I'd like to ha' made a bad job on't."

"The bloody vixen is ne'er satisfied," said an old gossip, whose nose and chin had been gradually getting into closer fellowship for at least a long score of winters. "I'll hie me to Bet at the Alleys for a charm that'll drive aw t' hobgoblins to the de'il again. When I waur a wee lassie, the scummerin' dixies didn't use to go rampaging about this gate. There was nowt to do, but off to t' priest, an' th' job waur done. Now-a-days, what wi' new lights, doctrines, an' lollypops, Anabaptists an' Presbyterians, they're too throng wranglin' wi' one another to tak' care o' the poor sheep, which Satan is worrying and hurrying like hey go mad, and not a soul to set the dog at him, nor a callant to tak' him by t' horns, an' say 'Boh!'"

It seems "the good old times," even in those days, were objects of regret, still clung to with fondness and delight—reversing the distich; for—

"Man never is, but always has been, blest!"

It is a principle in our very nature that we should look back with yearnings to our youthful years, when all was fresh and joyous; when our thoughts were in all the prime, the spring-tide of their existence, and our emotions, young and jocund as ourselves, bubbled forth fresh and clear as the mountain-spring from its source. The change is not in the objects around us; it is in ourselves. Looking through the medium of our own jaded and enervated feelings, we fancy all things have the same worn-out aspect, and contrast the present with the freshness and vigour of our former existence.

Turn we now to the former inmates at Waddow, an old-fashioned building in that old-fashioned age, now re-edified and re-built. It is beautifully situated on a slope on the Yorkshire side of the Ribble, beyond the "hippin-stones" we have named.

In a low, dark chamber, panelled with dingy oak, into which the morning sun burst joyously, its garish brightness ill assorting with the solemnity and even sadness of the scene, there sat an elderly matron, owner and occupier of the place. The casements were so beset with untrimmed branches and decayed tendrils that her form looked dim and almost impalpable, seen through the mist, the vagrant motes revelling in the sunbeams. It seemed some ghostly, some attenuated shape, that sat, still and stately, in that gloomy chamber. Before her stood a female domestic, antique and venerable as herself, and the conversation was carried on scarcely above a whisper, as though silence brooded over that mansion, rarely disturbed by voice or footstep.

"I heed not these idle tales. A hammer and a willing hand will pound yon bugbear into dirt," said the dame. "If there be none else, I'll try what the hand of a feeble but resolute woman can do. Yon Dagon—yon graven image of papistrie, which scares ye so, shall be broken for the very beasts to trample on."

"But the dins last night were"——

"Tell me not of such folly. When yonder senseless thing is gone, you shall be quiet, maybe, if the rats will let ye. Send Jock hither, and let Jim the mason be sent for, and the great iron mallet. Quick, Mause, at my bidding. We shall see whether or not yonder grim idol will dare to stir after it is cast down."

With a look of surprise, and even horror, at this impious intent, did the ancient housekeeper move slowly forth to execute her commands.

The innocent cause of all this broil was a certain stone figure, rudely sculptured, which, time out of mind, had been the disturbing but undisturbed inmate of an obscure corner in the cellar beneath an uninhabited wing of the mansion at Waddow. Superstition had invested this rude misshapen relic with peculiar terrors; and the generation having passed to whom its origin was known, from some cause or another it became associated with Peggy's disaster, who, as it was currently believed, either took possession of this ugly image, or else employed it as a kind of spy or bugbear to annoy the inhabitants of the house where she had been so cruelly treated. There did certainly appear some connection between Peggy's freaks and this uncouth specimen of primitive workmanship. Though bearing evident marks of some rude effigy, the spoliation of a religious house at some reforming, or, in other words, plundering, era—the ideal similitude probably of a Romish saint—yet, whenever Peggy's emissaries were abroad and a victim was to be immolated, this disorderly cast-out from the calendar was particularly restless; not that any really authenticate, visible cases were extant of these unidol-like propensities to locomotion, but noises and disturbances were heard for all the world like the uncouth and awkward gambols of such an ugly thing; at least, those who were wiser than their neighbours, and well skilled in iconoclastics, did stoutly aver that they had heard it "clump, clump, clump," precisely like the jumping and capering of such a misshapen, ill-conditioned effigy, when inclined to be particularly merry and jocose. Now this could not be gainsaid, and consequently the innocent and mutilated relic, once looked upon as the genius or tutelary guardian of the house, was unhesitatingly assigned to the evil domination of Peggy. It might be that the rancour she displayed was partly in consequence of an adequate retribution having failed to overtake her betrayer, and the family, then resident at Waddow, not having dealt out to him the just punishment of his deserts. Thus had she been permitted to pervert the proper influences and benevolent operations of this mystic disturber to her own mischievous propensities; and thenceforth a malignant spirit troubled the house, heretofore guarded by a saint of true Catholic dignity and stolidity.

But it seemed the time was now come when these unholy doings were to be put an end to. The present owner of Waddow, tired, as we have seen, of such ridiculous alarms, and the terrors of her domestics, and wishful to do away with the evil report and scandal sustained thereby, was now resolved to dissipate these idle fears, to show at once their folly and futility.

"Well, Mause, the old lady will have her way, I know; but if she doesn't rue her cantrips, my name's not Jock; that's all." And here the speaker stamped with a heavy clouted foot upon the kitchen-hearth, whither the lady's message had been conveyed.

"Thou maun get thy hammer and pick, lad, and soon, too, I tell thee," said Mause.

"I'll do aught 'at she asks me; but—but—to run like some goupin' warlock to the whame o' destruction, wi' one's een open, it's what no Christian will do that hasn' forsworn his baptism."

"Maun I tell her so?" inquired Mause, with a significant emphasis.

"Naw, naw; no' just soa; but thee maun—wait a bit; let's see." Here he began to beat about anxiously for an excuse, which did not present itself with the same facility as the expression of his unwillingness to undertake the job. "Eh me!—Jock Tattersall—herd and bailiff now these twenty years—that I should be brought to sich a pass; an' aw' through these plaguy women. Well, well; but if a good stiff lie, Mause, would sarve my turn, I wouldna' care so mich. Hears to me, owd wench; tell mistress I'm gone wi' t' kye to water, Peg's Well being frozen up."

"Tell her thysel'," said the indignant Mause; "an' then one lie may sarve. I'll no go to the dule upo' thy shouthers!"

"There's Bob i' the yard yon; winnat he do for her instead?"

"I tell thee what, Jock," said Mause, "mistress'll ha't done in her own way; so we may as weel budge sooner as later. But let's a' go together, an' I warrant our dame will be the first, an' she'll stand i' th' gap if aught should happen. Besides, courage comes wi' company, thee knows, an' there's a round dozen of us."

This proposal, in the present exigency, seemed the best that could be adopted. The whole household were full of misgivings about the result; yet, sheltered under the authority of their mistress, and themselves not consenting to the deed, they trusted Peggy would consider it in the same light, and if she should break forth upon them, doubtless she would possess sufficient discrimination to know the real aggressor, and wreak her vengeance where it was due.

Mause was despatched to their mistress, who, after a short period, starched and pinned, her aspect as stiff and unyielding as her disposition, consented to take the lead, and shame the unwillingness and cowardice of her domestics. Immediately behind walked, or rather lagged, the executioner with his weapons, looking more like unto one that was going to execution. Mause came next, then the remainder of the household, not one of them disposed to quarrel about precedency. The room to which they were tending was low, dark, and unfurnished, save with the exuviæ of other parts of the premises. Rats and lumber were its chief occupants. A few steps accomplished the descent, the chamber having less of the nature of cellarage than that of a dairy, which, in former times, and until a more eligible situation had been found, was the general use and appropriation to which it was allotted. Seldom visited, Peggy, or rather her mysterious representative, reigned here without molestation or control. At times, as we have before seen, the image, awaking from its stony slumber, played the very shame amongst the chattels in the lumber-room.

Its activity and exertions against "social order" were now destined to be forever ended. Irrevocable was the doom, and the lowering aspect of the proud dame of Waddow, as the door unclosed, and a faint light from the loophole opposite revealed her enemy in all the mockery of repose—grim, erect, and undisturbed—showed the inflexibility of her purpose.
"Now to work," said she; "come hither with thy torch, Hal; why dost loiter so? and where's Jock and the mason with the tools?" But Jock and his compeer were loth to come, and the lady's voice grew louder and more peremptory. "Shame on ye, to be cow'd thus by a graven image—a popish idol—a bit of chiselled stone. Out upon it, that nature should have put women's hearts into men's bosoms. Nay, 'tis worse than womanhood, for they have the stouter stomach for the enterprise, I trow. Bring hither the hammer, I say. Doth the foul apprehension of a trumpet terrify you that has been dead and rotten these hundred years?"
Thus did the sturdy dame strive to quell their fears and stimulate them to the attack. Yet they lingered, and were loth to begin. Nay, one whispered to his fellow that the image grinned and frowned horribly during this harangue, and made mouths at the trenchant dame.

"It's no use," said Jock; "I darena strike!"

"Thou craven kestril!" said she, angrily; "and what should ail thee to shy at the quarry? Give me the weapon." And with that she seized the hammer as though rendered furious by the pusillanimity of her attendants. The whole group were paralysed with terror. Not a word was spoken; scarcely a breath was drawn; every eye was riveted upon her, without the power of withdrawal. They saw her approach, as though endowed with tenfold strength, and lending the whole weight of her long, thin arm to the blow, with a right good will added thereto, she dealt a powerful stroke at the head of this dumb idol. A headless trunk tumbled on the floor; but with that there came a shriek, so wild, woeful, and appalling, that the cowardly attendants fled. The torch-bearer threw down the light, and the whole of the domestics, with dismal outcries, rushed pell-mell through the narrow passage; fearful, inconceivable horror urging their flight. The dame was left alone, but what she saw or heard was never divulged; an altered woman she looked when she came forth, like one of the old still portraits that had slipped down from its frame in the gloomy oaken chamber. She spoke not again even to Mause that day, but seemed as if bent on some deep and solemn exercise. Abstracted from every outward impression, she sat, the image of some ancient sibyl communing with the inward, unseen pageantries of thought—the hidden workings of a power she could not control. Towards night she seemed more accessible. Naturally austere and taciturn, she rarely spoke but when it was absolutely necessary; yet now there was a softened, a subdued tone of feeling, and even a bland expression in her address, which for years had not been felt. Some bitter, some heart-searing disappointment, had dried up the sources of feeling, and left her spirit withered, without nurture, and without verdure, without so much as a green spot in the untrodden wilderness of her existence.

"I've seen him, Mause," said she, as though half in earnest, half-musing, when the faithful domestic came to warn her mistress that the time of rest was at hand.

"Seen who, my lady?"

"Bless thee, silly wench, I've seen William. Nay, nurse, it was thy boy, as thou didst use to call him; and as sure as these aged eyes have wept themselves dry at his departure and decease, I saw his vision this morning i' the image-chamber."

"Eh! the good saints guide and preserve us," said the aged menial, crossing herself very devoutly, more by way of conjuration or counter-charm, than from any proper feeling of reverence or faith in the mystic symbol of our redemption. "There's death at the door, then, sure enough," she continued; "aw this gramarye and foretokening isn't for nought; so who's to pay for it?"

"When the light was gone," said the dame, as though scarcely heeding the interpolation of her domestic, "I stayed a brief space; but what passed"——Here she raised her dim and hollow eyes for a moment; "no matter now, Mause; suffice it that my nephew, who was drown'd seven long years ago, stood before me!"

"But young master, Heaven rest his soul, what can he want from yonder bright mansion of glory, where you always said he was gone," replied Mause, "that he should come again to this pitiful world? Eh me! that Peggy should ha' claw'd so fair a victim."

"Peace, Mause; never would I believe it. Nor even now will I, for one moment, apprehend that Heaven would put any of its creatures, for whom its care is continually going forth, into the power of a base and vindictive harlot—that the All-merciful and All-good would render up an innocent victim to her malice. Better worship Moloch and the devils, unto whom our forefathers did offer a vain and cruel sacrifice. No, Mause! believe me, our faith forbids. The light of revealed truth shows no such misrule in the government of the Deity. The powers of evil are as much the instruments of good in His hand as the very attributes of His own perfections. And yet, strange enough that my devoted William should appear at the very time, and in the very place, when the destruction of the ugly image was accomplished, as though the charm were then broken, and he were set free! I am distressed, bewildered, Mause; the links are too strong to be undone by my feeble and unassisted reason. That he was reckoned by common report as a doomed one to that vindictive ghost, I know; and that the mutilation of yonder image should apparently have called forth his very substance from the dark womb where he had lain, transcends my imperfect knowledge. Beshrew me, but I could readily become tinctured with the prevailing belief, did not my firm hold on the goodness and the omnipotence of the great Ruler of all sustain my faith and forbid my distrust."

"I know not what wiser heads may think; but if I'd seen his wraith rising fro' the image, I should ha' thought—what I do yet—and so"——

"Tarry with me through the night, Mause. This vision haunts me strangely, and I do feel more heavy and debilitate than I have been wont."

Whether the shock was too great or too sudden for a frame so stubborn and unyielding, we know not; but that the firmest often feel more intensely the blows and disasters which others, by yielding to them, do evade, needeth not that we set forth, inasmuch as it is too plain and demonstrative to require illustration. On that same night, Mause, awakening from a short and broken slumber, looked on her mistress, and lo, she was a corpse!

This event, according to the popular belief, would doubtless add another to the list of Peggy's victims, and was looked upon as a terrible token from the demon against all who should hereafter have the temerity or presumption to interfere with her proceedings.

The following day it was noised abroad, and the survivors were mindful to have the entrance to this fearful chamber walled up, and thus prevent any further mischief or interference.

Towards eventide, or ere the lights were renewed in the death-chamber, there came a gentle knock at the hall-door. An aged domestic answered the summons; but with a scream, she fled as from the face of an enemy. A footstep was heard in the hall. Slowly it ascended the stairs. They creaked and groaned, every step seeming to strike with a cold shudder to the heart. They verily thought that the house was beset by a whole squadron of infernals, who had sent a messenger for the body of their mistress. The tramp of the mysterious visitor was heard in the death-chamber. Moans and bewailings were distinctly audible; and Mause, who was in the room, came down with a face colourless and wan, as though she had seen a ghost. She could not articulate, save one harrowing word—

"William!" she cried, and pointed upwards. Seven years ago had he been drowned, according to general belief, one fearful night, in crossing the river by Bromiley or Brunckerley hippin-stones. Nephew and heir-presumptive to the lady of Waddow, he had left his home that evening writhing under her malediction; for he had in an evil hour, as she thought, formed a base-born attachment to an orphan living with Gaffer Wiswall, and generally looked upon as his daughter. It was this curse which clave like a band of iron about the breast of the proud dame of Waddow; for, in the morning light, when there came news to the hall that he had been seen swept down by the ravening flood—perishing without hope of succour—she sat as though stupefied, without a murmur or a tear, and her stricken heart knew not this world's gladness again. Solitary and friendless, this fair creation seemed blotted out, and she became fretful and morose. All her earthly hopes were centred in this boy, the offspring of a sister, and they were for ever gone! Mause only had the privilege of addressing her without a special interrogation. The appearance, or it might be, the apparition of her beloved nephew, seemed again to open the sluices of feeling and affection; to soften and subdue the harshness that encrusted her disposition; but it was only the forerunner of an eternal change—the herald of that inexorable tyrant, Death!

Darkness was fast gathering about them; but the whole household were huddled together in the kitchen, none daring to venture forth to their occupations. A long hour it seemed, while every moment they were expecting some further visitation. The fire was nigh extinguished, for who durst fetch the billet from the stack? The conversation, if such might be called the brief and scanty form of their communications, was kept up in a sort of tremulous whisper, every one being frightened at the sound of his own voice. How long this state of things might have lasted we know not, inasmuch as the terrible footsteps were again heard upon the stairs—the same slow and solemn tread. They heard its descent into the hall. It became louder, and the fearful vision was evidently approaching. The sound was now in the narrow passage close to them. The next moment a form was presented to their view, carrying a taper, and recognised by the major part of the group; it being the very semblance of their deceased "young master," as he was generally called, changed, it was true, but still sufficiently like him, when living, to be distinguished from any other. One loud cry announced their discovery of the phantom.

"Why tarry here?" said the intruder. "Yonder corse hath need of the death lights;" and with that he disappeared. Yet, however needful it was that the usual offices should be rendered to the departed, there was no one bold enough to perform the duty. Nevertheless the lights were kindled by some invisible hand in the lady's chamber that night; and, by whomsoever the office was fulfilled, the corpse was not without a watcher, and a faithful one, till daylight came softly on the couch, driving away the darkness and the apprehensions it excited.

It was past midnight ere the domestics retired to rest, or rather to their chambers; so fearful were they of another visit that, by a little care and management, they contrived so that none should be left alone till morning arose before them, bright and cheerful, dissipating, in some measure, their former terrors.

Softly and cheerily broke that morning sun upon the frosty and embossed panes of Gaffer Wiswall's dwelling; but the light brought no cheer, no solace unto him. The old man was now a withered, a sapless trunk, stripped of the green verdure which had lately bloomed on its hoary summit. His daughter, as he loved to call her—and he had almost cheated himself into the belief—was ravished from him, and the staff of his declining years had perished.

He was sitting moody and disconsolate, and, like the bereaved mother in Israel, "refusing to be comforted," when a stranger entered, and, without speaking, seated himself by the broad ingle, opposite the goodman, who was looking listlessly forth into the blazing faggots, but without either aim or discernment. The intruder was wrapped in a dark military cloak; his hat drawn warily over his forehead, concealing his features beneath the broad and almost impervious shadow.

Wiswall awoke from his study, and with a curious eye, seemed silently to ask the will and business of the stranger; but he spoke not. The old man, surveying his guest more minutely, inquired—

"Be ye far ridden this morning, Sir Cavalier?"

"Not farther than one might stride ere breakfast," was the reply, but in a low, and, it seemed, a hasty tone, as though impatient of being questioned, and preferring to remain unnoticed.
The tapster's instincts were still in operation. With the true spirit of his calling, he inquired—
"From the army, sir?"

"Ay, from the Grand Turk, an' thou wilt."

"The king, they say, hath a fairer word for the dames than for those stout hearts who won him his crown," said the victualler, seemingly conversant in the common rumours that were abroad. "The sparks about court," continued he, "do ruffle it bravely among the buxom dames and their beauteous"——Here his daughter's bright image came suddenly upon his recollection, and the old man wept.

"Why dost weep, old man?" inquired his guest.

"Alas! I had a daughter once, a match fit for the bravest galliard that sun e'er shown upon. She was the wonder and dismay of all that looked on her. She loved a soldier dearly, and her mouth would purse and play, and her eye would glisten at a cap and plume; and yet the veriest prude in all Christendom was not more discreet."

"Mayhap her sweetheart was a soldier, and abroad at the wars; so that these were but the outgoings of hope and expectation for his return."

"Her sweetheart, marry! she had once—but—he was ta'en from us. The young heir of Waddow, as we always called him, at the hall yonder, was her true love; but one night, seven long bitter years back, the flood swept him away: we never saw him again, but Isabel's hope was for ever blighted!"

"And the body—was it not found?"

"Nay, for the current was swift, and bore him hence. The demon—she hath ta'en mine, as the next dainty morsel for her ravening appetite."

"'Tis seven years since I first sought my fortune as a soldier. I served my king faithfully. With him I went into exile. He hath returned, and here I come to redeem my pledge."

The stranger threw off his cloak, and the astonished and almost incredulous tapster beheld the nephew of the dame now heir to the inheritance of Waddow.

"Though swept rapidly down the stream on that dreadful night when I fled, heedlessly fled, from the denunciations of her who had supplied a parent's place from my infancy, I escaped, almost by a miracle, at a considerable distance below the ford, where I attempted to cross; yet, knowing her inflexible disposition—for she had threatened to leave me penniless—I resolved to seek my fortune as a soldier until I should be enabled to wed with better prospects for the future. I contrived to assure Isabel of my safety, but I strictly enjoined secrecy. I was not without hope that one day or another, appearing as though I had risen from the dead, I should win a reluctant consent, it might be, to our union. A long exile was the only recompense for my loyalty. The restoration hath rendered me back, and I have redeemed my pledge. At my urgent entreaty the other night, the first of my return, she accompanied me, and we have plighted our vows at the same altar. I took her privily to my former home. Knowing a secret entrance to the chamber where the image is deposited, I concealed her there, safe, as I thought, from molestation, until I had won the consent of her who was my only friend. To my horror and surprise she discovered me there, and the screams of Isabel had nigh betrayed her presence; but it was evident she thought the grave had given back its dead. I could not then undeceive her, and when I returned she was a corpse! Dying without will, I am now the lawful heir to yon good inheritance, and Isabel is the proud mistress of Waddow!"

This unlooked-for intelligence was almost overwhelming; the old man's frame seemed hardly able to bear the disclosure. He wept like a child; but the overflow of his joy relieved the oppressed heart, full even to bursting.

Yet Peggy was not without a sacrifice, according to popular belief, which sacrifice was offered in the person of the late defunct at Waddow. Indeed, according to some, it were an act of unbelief and impiety to suppose any other, and only to be equalled by that of the attack made by this resolute dame upon Peggy's representative—an outrage she so dearly atoned for by her own death.

The headless trunk was, however, removed some years afterwards to its present site by the brink of "the Well," where, having fallen upon evil and unbelieving times, it is desecrated to the profane uses of a resting-place for cans unto the merry maidens who come thither at morning and eventide to draw water.

Many are the victims now recorded to the capricious malevolence of Peggy; and though deprived of her domicile at Waddow, still her visitations are not the less frequent; and whether a stray kitten or an unfortunate chick be the sufferer, the same is deemed a victim and a sacrifice to the wrath of Peggy's manes.



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