By this time Meg had been carried to a sofa in the drawing-room and restored to her
senses. At first she could not speak for weeping, and though she was still trembling Lefroy asked
her if she could walk to his study. She nodded, and Mrs. Lefroy, supporting the girl, helped her
from the room.
'I am sorry,' Lefroy apologized to his guests. 'The girl has obviously had a fright, and
we must discover the cause of it. Will you forgive us if we desert you for a few moments?'
Above the murmur of assent, one of the men asked, 'Whose carriage was it, Tom?'
'I didn't recognize it,' Lefroy lied.
'Are you sure you saw a carriage, Tom?' someone else asked.
'I couldn't be sure. I thought so. Let's not frightened the ladies any more, gentlemen.
By the time he reached his study Mrs. Lefroy had been able to coax Meg into talking.
When the girl had finished her story, Mrs. Lefroy said: 'I'll have Mrs. Smart make you a posset,
and bring it to you in bed. Jessie sleeps with you, doesn't she, so you won't be alone. If anyone
asks what frightened you, say you thought you saw a large rat.'
When the butler had taken the girl away, Mrs. Lefroy turned to her husband.
'Well, Tom, what do you make of it?' she asked.
'I don't know, my dear. Have you ever heard that the house is haunted?'
'Never. If it had been any of the other girls I would have said they were imagining things.
But Meg has both feet firmly on the ground, and would be the last to succumb to imaginings.'
'The rat was a good idea, Bess,' Mr. Lefroy said. 'We will tell the others that that is what
Though the guests pretended to be satisfied with this explanation, secretly they were not
convinced, for it did not explain the sounds of the carriage moving down the drive, which all said
they had heard. But so that their hosts should not be embarrassed, they did not refer to it when
the Lefroys did not. But there was not one of them who was sorry when their visit came to an
The effect on Meg had been deeper than Mrs. Lefroy had believed it would be, and next morning
the girl was all for giving in her notice. Fearing the effect this might have on the rest of her staff,
Mrs. Lefroy pleaded and coaxed, until at last Meg told her, 'Very well, ma'am, I will stay so long
as I never have to set foot in that room again.'
'That I promise you,' Mrs. Lefroy replied. 'Miss Nightingale leaves us today, and we
will close up the room and not use it again.'
As it turned out, the closing of the room had a not entirely satisfactory result, for
knockings were heard in other parts of the house for several years, and on account of them many
of the maidservants left hurriedly. Then there seems to have followed a period of quiescence for
Alexander Bathurst's ghost, for it is not until 1840 that there are further reports of it.
It would seem also that Meg's experience had not been remembered after nearly twenty
years, for William Lefroy, now squire, had not been at home on the night of that occurrence, and
if he was ever told, he had forgotten, for when a Captain Anstey arrived to stay he found the
family in a state of upset.
'I hope you will be comfortable, John,' his host greeted him. 'But the truth is, we seem
to have a ghost, and we cannot get servants to stay with us. So, please, overlook any
shortcomings there may appear to be in our hospitality.'
The mention of the ghost aroused the captain's curiosity, and he insisted that William
Lefroy should tell him all about it.
'I'd like to hear him,' he said at last. 'I hope you have put me in his room.'
'Of course not,' replied Lefroy.
'Then please do so.'
'Nothing would make me, John. But what I will agree to, if you are game, is that we
should both keep watch and try to find out what really happens, for to tell the truth none of us
have heard it.'
So the two men kept watch in the room. For three nights nothing happened, but on the
fourth, about eleven o'clock, the bangings began.
'They come from the room downstairs,' Anstey said when they had inspected the fireplace.
'There must be some shaft which carries up the sound.'
They listened for a time, and the knockings came again, slowly sometimes, urgently at
'Let's go downstairs and investigate,' Anstey suggested. 'And if we find nothing there,
I'll wager that a bird has built its nest in the chimney-stack.'
So saying he made for the door, followed by William Lefroy. As Anstey reached out his
hand to the door-knob, both men were brought up by a voice demanding, 'Let me out! Let me
Though he had turned round, Anstey had kept his hand on the knob, and as he stood
looking in bewilderment at his friend he felt himself being roughly pushed on one side, and the
door was pulled open by some unseen hand, and then swung-to with a bang.
'God in Heaven!' he exclaimed. 'No birds, William. You are haunted!'
'Listen!' Lefroy said sharply.
From the drive below them came the sounds of a carriage being driven away. They ran to
the window and peered down-but the drive was empty.