Cresswell shared a room with a Mrs. Marsh, who was Elizabeth's personal maid-for the
favored Court children each had a servant of their own-and a couple of nights after the discovery
of the iron cage both the servants were woken in the middle of the night by the appearance of a
tall, thin man in their room. He walked towards the door and disappeared through it. The
terrified women hid under their bedclothes shivering with fright until morning.
When Cresswell recounted this story to Lady Court the next day, Elizabeth, who was
there, burst out laughing, and this made Cresswell cry and say she could never sleep in that room
again. Both mother and daughter comforted her and told her she could sleep in the little room
next to theirs, and that they would soon be moving into a new house.
The door which opened into the room which had been occupied by Cresswell and the
other maid was in a recess leading from a wide staircase which led to a passage where the main
A night or two later Lady Court asked Elizabeth and her son Charles to go to her bedroom
and bring down her large embroidery frame. It was dark, and as brother and sister started up the
wide staircase they saw, by the light of the lamp fixed in the hall, a tall, thin man ascending the
stairs in front of them. According to Elizabeth, the figure was wearing a powdering gown and
wore his hair long at the back in the style of the mid-eighteenth century.
Neither of the young people believed it was a ghost. They thought it was Hannah, one of
their maids, playing a trick on them. They called out: 'It's no good, Hannah. You can't frighten
us like that.'
The ghost thereupon turned into the recess leading to the doorway of the room Cresswell
had occupied, then melted into the door and disappeared.
Elizabeth and Charles continued on their way not disconcerted, still thinking it was one of
Hannah's little jokes which had been brought off rather successfully in the uncertain light of the
lamp at the foot of the stairs. When they returned with the embroidery frame they told their
mother of the trick they imagined Hannah had played upon them, but lady Court informed them
that Hannah had gone to bed some time ago with a sick headache.
Elizabeth and Charles at once went to Hannah's room where they found another of the
maids, Alice, with hannah who was fast asleep, and had been so, Alice assured them, for more
than an hour. Later they told Cresswell of the incident, and described the figure that had seen
ascending the stairs. Cresswell went white and said that was exactly the same figure she had seen
in her bedroom that night.
Brother Harry, who was Head Boy at Westminster School, now came to spend ten days
with the family at Lille. After his first night in the house in the Place du Lion d'Or the youth
appeared at breakfast in a state of high indignation, accusing his mother of sending 'some
Frenchy' to spy upon him and see that he put his candle out at the proper time. Harry had heard
the footsteps in the passage, jumped out of bed and opened the door to see the figure in the loose
gown. If he'd had any clothes on, he said, he would have gone after him and taught him a lesson.
His mother assured him that she had sent no one to spy upon him.
A young English couple named Atkyns, who lived near Lille, visited them and upon
hearing of the ghost, Mrs. Atkyns recklessly offered to sleep in the room where Cresswell had
been frightened. Lady Court agreed and Mrs. Atykns spent an extremely restless night,
accompanied by her pet terrier, who was reduced to a state of terror, as was Mrs. Atykns, by the
sinister movements and footsteps which were heard in the room during the night.
'Perhaps you dreamed it all,' said her husband unsympathetically the next morning, and
Lady Court was just as disbelieving, despite everything, and despite the fact also that she
confessed that she would be terrified if there really was a ghost in the house. By now she had
arranged to take over the house of a nobleman who was going to spend a few years in Italy, and
during their last night in the house in the Place du Lion d'Or, Elizabeth saw the ghost in the
bedroom she shared with her mother.
The ghost was standing with one arm resting upon the chest-of-drawers, and with its face
turned towards Elizabeth as she sat bolt upright in her four-poster, eyes staring at it with terror.
She saw that it was the face of a young man, ghastly pale, and thin, with hollow cheeks and with
an expression of infinite suffering and unhappiness-a ravaged and terrible face which made her
think of that dreadful iron cage in the room above her head, in which he had been chained like an
animal with the metal collar around his neck. The face of this wretched and unhappy ghost
haunted Elizabeth for years.
But just then, though frightened out of her wits, she would have been even more
frightened to have awoken her mother who, she was sure, would have had hysterics at the sight of
the phantom standing by the chest-of-drawers-a melancholy but terrifying thing from that other
Elizabeth heard the clock strike four, and then, copying Cresswell, she suddenly slid down
and lay under the bedclothes, shivering with terror. She lay like that for nearly an hour and when
at last she ventured her head above the clothes and looked once more to the chest-of-drawers she
saw nothing. Nor had she heard a sound. The bedroom door had not opened or closed. And then
she heard the clock strike five.
She did not sleep that night, trying to persuade herself that what she had seen had been
something human, and that she had omitted to lock their bedroom door, which was always down
in that house.
In fact when Cresswell came in as usual to rouse them in the morning, she called out to the
maid that she must have forgotten to lock the door, and so there was no need for her (Elizabeth) to
get out of bed. But she had not forgotten. The door was locked and the key was in its usual
place. It was impossible to get in from the outside.
When she heard about her daughter's experience during the night, Lady Court was most
grateful that Elizabeth had not awoken her, for she believed the shock of witnessing such a sight
would have killed her.
Elizabeth, still reluctant to believe in the supernatural, made a thorough search of the room
with the help of Cresswell, to see of there was any concealed or secret way of getting into it, but
they found nothing.