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Maryland Ghosts

edited by Joseph Lewis French

(Baltimore American, May)

  For forty years the Rev. Dr. B. has been the rector of a prominent parish on the Eastern Shore. He had, when the scenes recorded below happened twenty-two years ago, a mission charge sixteen miles distant from the town which he resided, and he was therefore constantly traveling between these two places. About six miles distant was the country residence of Judge S., a well-known and venerable parishioner of the worthy doctor. The sod had been turned above this gentleman's grave only about six weeks, when Dr. B. chanced to be returning from his mission charge in company with a friend. It was broad daylight just about sunset, and not far from Judge S.'s gate, when a carriage, drawn by a white horse, passed them rapidly from behind and was soon out of sight.

  "That fellow must be in a hurry to reach C., remarked the doctor.

  "Did you notice anything peculiar about that vehicle?" inquired his companion.

  "Only that it moves very quietly. I heard no sound it went by."

  "Nor did I," said his friend. "Neither rattling of wheels nor noise of hoofs. It is certainly strange."


  The matter, however, was soon forgotten in other conversation, and they had traveled perhaps a mile, when suddenly, the same horse and carriage passed them as before. Nothing was discernible of the driver except his feet, the carriage curtains hiding his body. There was no cross road by which a vehicle in front could possibly have got behind without making a circuit of many miles and consuming several hours. Yet there was not the shadow of a doubt as to the identity of the vehicle, and the two gentlemen gazed at each other in blank amazement, and with a certain defined sense of awe which precluded any discussion of the matter, particularly as the horse was to all appearances the well-known white habitually driven by the deceased Judge. A half mile brought them in sight of Judge S.'s gate, when for the third time the ghostly team dashed by in the same dreadful mysterious silence. This time it turned in full view into the gate. Without a word of comment the doctor quickened his horse's speed, and reached the gate only a few yards behind the silent driver. Both gentlemen peered eagerly up the long, open lane leading to the house; but neither carriage nor wheel-track was visible, though it was still clear daylight, and there was no outlet from the lane, nor could any vehicle in the time occupied accomplish half the distance. The peculiar features of this strange incident are that it was equally and simultaneously evident to two witnesses, both entirely unprepared for any such manifestation, and differing widely in temperament, habits of life, mental capacity and educational attainments, and by mere accident making this journey together, and that to this day both of them--witnesses, be it noted, of unimpeachable credibility--attest it, and fully corroborate each other, but without being able to suggest the slightest explanation.



  Peg Alley's Point is a long and narrow strip of wooded land, situated between the main stream of Miles river and one of the navigable creeks which flow into it. This little peninsula is about two miles long, from fifty to three hundred yards in width and is bounded by deep water and is overgrown with pine and thick underbrush. There is extant a tradition to the effect that many years ago a party of Baltimore oystermen encamped on the point, among whom was a man named Alley, who had abandoned his wife. The deserted woman followed up her husband, and found him at the camp. After some conversation had passed between them, the man induced her, upon some unknown pretext, to accompany him into a thicket. The poor wife never came out alive. Her husband cruelly murdered her with a club. The point of land has ever since been known by Peg Alley's name, and her perturbed spirit has been supposed to haunt the scene of her untimely taking off. About twelve years ago a gang of rail-splitters were at work on the point, and one day the foreman flatly refused to go back, declaring that queer things happened down there, and that he had seen a ghost. Mr. Kennedy, his employer, laughed at him and dismissed the matter from his mind. Some time after this Mr. Kennedy had occasion to ride through the woods to look after some sheep, there being but one road and the water on either side. As he approached the point his horse started violently and refused to go on, regardless of whip or spur. Glancing about for the cause of this unnatural fright, he saw a woman rise up from a log, a few yards in advance, and stand by the roadside, looking at him. She was very poorly clad in a faded calico dress, and wore a limp sun-bonnet, from beneath which her thin, jet-black hair straggled down on her shoulders; her face was thin and sallow and her eyes black and piercing. Knowing that she had no business there, and occupied in controlling his horse, he called to her somewhat angrily to get out of the way, as his animal was afraid of her. Slowly she turned and walked into the thicket, uttering not a syllable and looking reproachfully at him as she went. With much difficulty he forced his horse to the spot, hoping to find out who the strange intruder might be, but the most careful search failed to reveal the trace of any one, although there was no place of concealment and no possible way of escape, for which, indeed, there was not sufficient time.



  The old family seat of the T.'s, one of the most prominent names in the community, is not far from the scenes of the above-mentioned adventure. In all this region of lovely situations and charming water views, its site is one of the most beautiful. The brick mansion, with all the strangely mixed comforts and discomforts of ancient architecture, rears its roof up from an elevated lawn, while the silvery thread of a land-locked stream winds nearly around the whole. Over the further bank dance the sparkling waters of a broad estuary, flashing in the glance of the sunshine or tossing its white-capped billows in angry mimicry of the sea. The gleam of white sails is never lacking to add variety and picturesqueness to the scene. In the dead, hushed calm of a summer evening, when the lifted oar rests on the gunwale, unwilling to disturb with its dip the glassy surface, one has a strange, dreamy sense of being suspended in space, the sky, in all its changing beauties, being accurately reflected in illimitable depth by the still water, until the charm is broken by the splash and ripple of a school of nomadic alewives or the gliding, sinuous fin of a piratical shark. In this lovely home it was wont for the family to assemble on the occasion of certain domestic celebrations, and it was at one of these that the following incident occurred: All were present except one member, who was detained by sickness at her residence, fifteen miles away. It was in early afternoon that one of the ladies standing at an open window, suddenly exclaimed: "Why, there's Aunt Milly crossing the flower garden!" The party approached the window, and beheld, in great surprise, the lady, in her ordinary costume, slowly strolling among the flowers. She paused and looked earnestly at the group, her features plainly visible; then turned and disappeared amidst the shrubbery. No trace of her presence being discoverable, it was natural that a gloom fell upon the company. A few hours later a messenger arrived with the intelligence of her death. The time of her apparition and the time of her death coincided.

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