A Ghostly Rehersal
WHILE the Manchester and Milford railway was being constructed, many a frugal farmer added to his earnings by boarding and lodging the navvies who were exalting the valleys and making low the hills for the iron rails. Several of these sturdy workers stayed at a farm called Penderlwyngoch.
One evening when they were seated round the fire in the big kitchen smoking and yarning, the farm dogs were heard barking, as they always did when they saw strangers anywhere about. As they continued to bark, the company understood that someone was coming towards the house. By-and-by they heard the sound of footsteps, and the barking of the dogs changed into a melancholy howl. Shortly after the howling ceased, as if the dogs had slunk away. Before many minutes had elapsed the back door opened, and a number of people entered the house: they passed along the passage which divided the dwelling into two parts, and laid a heavy load in the parlour: after this the noise suddenly stopped altogether.
The attention of the smokers would have been arrested by the mere opening of the parlour door. It was no light matter to burst into the musty splendour of the room where the sacred horsehair furniture and the family Bible were kept. There was, besides, something uncanny about the silence of the dogs and the sudden cessation of all noise in the parlour, which disturbed the company assembled in the kitchen. They took a light and proceeded to the parlour to investigate. There was nothing beyond what was always there, nor were there any marks of footsteps either in the room or in the passage. Going outside, they could find no traces of the approach of anyone, but they saw the dogs cowering and shivering with fright in the yard.
On the very next day one of the men who went to see what was the matter in the parlour was killed. His body was carried by his fellow-workmen through the back door and the passage which divided the house into the parlour. Everything occurred as it had been rehearsed the previous night except that the dogs were not frightened by the real corpse.