'I had imagined that my groom could not possibly reach Corby until well after breakfast.
His sudden and spectacular arrival while we were still at table frustrated our intention of slipping
away quietly without disturbing you or your guests. I apologize sincerely for the embarrassment
we caused you by leaving as we did, and for our refusal to give the reason. But as I have said, I
was sure we should become laughing-stocks if I attempted an explanation. I fear I preferred to be
thought impolite than to be the butt of jokes.'
'I understand perfectly,' Howard assured him. 'Thank you for being so forthcoming
now. You must pay us another visit at Corby and we will see that you do not occupy the Boy's
Howard kept his word, and put the Rector's experience on record only in his personal
journal. Whether the parson eventually decided that perhaps after all he had been too sensitive to
the possible reactions of his neighbors, or his wife proved garrulous, not long after his revelations
to Mr. Howard he is found recounting his experiences in all kinds of company. As we have said,
as late as 1824 he was still dining out on the story.
As for the Boy, throughout the next half-century he is recorded as having appeared to a
variety of people, some of whom died in violent circumstances, but many of whom, like the
Rector of Greystoke, found his manifestation a benevolent experience. Since the middle of the
last century the Corby Boy seems to have deserted the castle altogether.
The origin of the Boy is explained neither in record nor in tradition. The same applies to
the Radiant Boy who appeared to Lord Castlereagh many years before his cut his throat at North
Cray Place, in 1822.
At the time, Castlereagh was still captain Robert Stewart, second son of the Marquis of
Londonderry, and was quartered in Ireland. He was fond of sport, and one day while out shooting
he went so far into unfamiliar country that he lost his way. Th weather, by the time he realized he
was lost, had deteriorated, and this prompted him to seek shelter at a country house.
He sent in his card, with a request for shelter for the night, and Irish hospitality being what
it is the master of the house received him warmly, though he pointed out that he already had many
guests, and could not make Captain Stewart so comfortable as he would have wished. However,
to such accommodation as he could give the captain was heartily welcome.
'You are very kind, sir,' Castlereagh assured him. 'I shall be more than grateful for
shelter, warmth and somewhere where I may stretch out.'
'I am sure there must be a bed,' his host replied, and rang for his butler, to whom he gave
instructions to do his best for captain Stewart.
As his host had said, the house was crammed, but the guests, some of them refugees from
the weather like himself, made a good party. Over dinner, when his host asked him if he had to
return to his regiment the next day, and learned that he had still three days of his leave left, he
agreed with alacrity to accept the invitation to stay as long as he could, for he as promised some
After an agreeable evening, the party at last went to bed, and the butler showed Stewart to
his room. It was a large room, empty of furniture except for a couple of chairs and a press. In the
wide grate, however, a magnificent peat fire was burning, and before it a mattress and a
heterogeneous collection of cloaks and other covers had been made up. Rough though it was, to
the weary Captain Stewart it was as inviting as the most comfortable of beds.
It seemed to him that the fire was blazing up the chimney in a rather alarming manner, so
he removed some of the peat, and then stretched out on the mattress and was quickly asleep. He
had slept about two hours, when he awoke suddenly and was startled by such a vivid light in the
room that, like the Rector of Greystoke at Corby, he thought at first it must be the fire. But when
he turned and looked at the grate he saw that the fire was quite dead.
As the light gradually grew brighter, he sat up, hoping to discover where it was coming
from; and as he watched he saw that by degrees it was forming itself into a human form, which
presently revealed itself as a very beautiful naked boy, surrounded by a cloud of light of the most
dazzling radiance. The Boy gazed at him intently, and as the Captain gazed back, slowly the
apparition began to fade until eventually it quite disappeared.
Stewart's first reaction was that his host and the other guests were amusing themselves at
his expense, and were trying to frighten him. Naturally, he felt very indignant, and when he went
down to breakfast next morning he showed by his demeanor that he was still displeased.
His host was puzzled by this change in his guest, who, the previous evening, had been the
most genial member of the party; but when Stewart told him that he was leaving as soon as he had
eaten, he realized that something was wrong.
'But, Captain Stewart!' he exclaimed. 'You promised that you would join the party for
two or three days!'
'I have changed my mind, sir,' Stewart replied, and so coldly that his host took him on
one side and pressed him to tell him what had offended him.
All Stewart would say, however, was that he had been the victim of a practical joke, and
that in his view that was quite unwarrantable treatment of one who was not only a guest, but also
'By God, sir, you are right!' exclaimed his host. 'Some of these young devils are quite
thoughtless, and I apologize. If I make them present their apologies also, will you overlook the
incident and continue to give us the pleasure of your company? I beg you to be so far generous.
The shooting, I assure you, has never been excelled.'
Stewart's fondness for sport persuaded him to be magnanimous. But when they returned
to the breakfast room, and the host sternly demanded that those who had been responsible for the
practical joke played on their distinguished fellow-guest during the night should apologize
immediately, all the young men roundly pretested their innocence.
Suddenly a thought struck the host, and clapping a hand to his forehead with a muttered
imprecation he summoned the butler.
'Hamilton,' he said to the servant, 'where did Captain Stewart sleep last night?
'Well, sir,' the butler said, 'you know the house was full. Some of the gentlemen were
lying on the floor, three of four to a room. So I gave him the Boy's room. But,' he went on
hurriedly, 'I lit a blazing fire, to keep him from coming out.'
'But you know,' his master told him angrily, 'I have forbidden you to put anyone in the
Boy's room. Why do you think I had all the furniture removed? If you do this again, Hamilton,
we shall part company. Be good enough to come to my study, sir,' he said to Stewart.
There he said, 'Sir, I must offer you ten thousand apologies. You should not have been
put in that room!'