Her father instantly went to William's father and told him the story. The farmer coldly
assured the girl's father that there was no question of his son marrying the girl, who was beneath
his station in life. Other plans had been made for William's marriage. William, summoned
before the two men, admitted going through an illegal form of marriage in order to gain the girl's
In vain the girl's father pleaded that William should be made to do the right thing by his
ill-used daughter, but though the farmer undertook to deal with his erring son, there could be no
question of him marrying beneath him. His marriage to the sea-captain's daughter was already
The girl's father solemnly laid a curse upon William, and his forthcoming marriage, and
then returned home to tell his daughter how she had been so basely deceived, and to comfort her
as best he could.
Just before William was to be married to the sea-captain's daughter the young abandoned
mother went to see her false lover. Perhaps she thought even at that late hour that he might
change his mind on seeing his own child, or perhaps she threatened to tell his future wife. What
transpired was never known, but she was never seen again. The bodies of her and her child were
found in the mill-stream near her home. It was never known whether the despairing girl
committed suicide, or whether, as many believe, mother and child were murdered.
Poltergeists have been a source of trouble and terror throughout the ages, and when they
attach themselves to places of business, such as inns, the trouble and embarrassment they cause
are magnified a hundredfold.
An old inn called 'The Jolly Collier' at Dudley, Woscestershire, was, according to legend,
beset by such phenomena, causing visitors to be thrown out of their beds, objects hurled about the
rooms, crockery broken, bells ringing unaccountably at all hours. It became so bad that no one
would stay at the inn. The landlord's wife had died leaving him a young daughter.
It has been long believed that poltergeists are attracted towards children. In many cases
they only operate when children are in the house. It certainly seemed to be so in the haunting at
'The Jolly Collier.'
Business was so bad that the distraught landlord got into debt, and eventually, threatened
by bailiffs and debtors' prison, he killed his daughter and then took his own life. The poltergeists
then left the inn which has ever since been haunted by a flaxen-haired girl and a man in a brown
The mortality rate in Europe was very high right up to the end of the nineteenth century.
The parish registers tell a frightful story of whole families of children dying one after the other
from poverty and the diseases it brought. The Industrial Revolution which brought about a great
increase in child labor made things worse than they had been in the previous century. The
Napoleonic wars also caused great poverty all over Europe, particularly among the poorer classes.
Children were always the first victims of the pestilences which followed in the wake of
Napoleon's armies. The factories brought no prosperity to the working people, only hard and
grinding work in conditions of labor and hours of work which their grandparents, let alone their
descendants, would not have tolerated. This had such an effect upon a whole generation that
people born in the eighteenth century were much stronger than either their children of their
grandchildren. The cholera epidemic of 1832 took a dreadful toll, affecting the rich as well as the
poor. The children went down like flies. Perhaps one or other of these circumstances might
account for the grisly discovery in the following story.
A mother and her two daughters went to stay in a certain house in the north of England
during the middle of the nineteenth century. The house was rather full and their hostess asked if
the older girl, May, would mind sharing a room with her small sister. During the night May was
awakened by feeling that a child's head was resting on her shoulder. Thinking it was her younger
sister, she asked why the child had come into her bed? Was she afraid as they were in a strange
house? On getting no reply and not being able to feel her sister in bed with her, May lit her
candle and saw that her sister was sleeping peacefully in the bed next to her. Thinking she had
been dreaming, she put out her candle and went back to sleep, only to be awakened again by the
same feeling of a child's head resting on her shoulder. She put out her hand, but there was no
child there. She decided that it was all in her imagination and eventually went to sleep. But the
next night the same thing happened. She kept waking up convinced that a child's head rested on
her shoulder. She had very little sleep that night and in the morning she told her hostess, who
then moved her to another room, where she slept soundly and undisturbed.
Some time later the house was pulled down and under the floor of the room where May
had slept with her little sister were found the skeletons of five children.