The Lycanthropous Flower
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of the case of the family of Kloska and the Lycanthropous flower.
In the mountainous regions of Austria-Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula are certain flowers credited with the property of converting into werewolves whoever plucks and wears them. Needless to say, these flowers are very rare, but I have heard of their having been found, comparatively recently, both in the Transylvanian Alps and the Balkans.
A story a propos of one of these discoveries was told me last summer.
Ivan and Olga were the children of Otto and Vera Kloska – the former a storekeeper of Kerovitch, a village on the Roumanian side of the Transylvanian Alps. One morning they were out with their mother, watching her wash clothes in a brook at the back of their house, when, getting tired of their occupation, they wandered into a thicket.
“Let’s make a chaplet of flowers,” Olga said, plucking a daisy. “You gather the flowers and I’ll weave them together.”
“It’s not much of a game,” Ivan grumbled, “but I can’t think of anything more exciting just now, so I’ll play it. But let’s both make wreaths and see which makes the best.”
To this Olga agreed, and they were soon busily hunting amidst the grass and undergrowth, and scrambling into all sorts of possible and impossible places.
Presently Ivan heard a scream, followed by a heavy thud, and running in the direction of the noise, narrowly avoided falling into a pit, the sides of which were partly overgrown with weeds and brambles.
“It’s all right,” Olga shouted; “I’m not hurt. I landed on soft ground. It’s not very deep, and there’s such a queer flower here – I don’t know what it is; I’ve never seen one like it before.”
Ivan’s curiosity thus aroused, he carefully examined the sides of the pit, and, selecting the shallowest spot, lowered himself slowly over and then dropped. It was nothing of a distance, seven or eight feet at the most, and he alighted without mishap on a clump of rank, luxuriant grass. “See! here it is,” his sister cried, pointing to a large, very vivid white flower, shaped something like a sunflower, but soft and pulpy, and full of a sweet, nauseating odour. “It’s too big to put in a wreath, so I’ll wear it in my buttonhole.”
“Better not,” Ivan said, snatching it from her; “I don’t like it. It’s a nasty-looking thing. I believe it’s a sort of fungus.”
Olga then began to cry, and as Ivan was desirous of keeping the peace, he gave her back the flower. She was a prepossessing child, with black hair and large dark eyes, pretty teeth and plump, sunburnt cheeks. Nor was she altogether unaware of her attractions, for even at so early an age she had a goodly share of the inordinate vanity common to her sex, and liked nothing better than appearing out-of-doors in a new frock plentifully besprinkled with rosettes and ribbons.
The flower, she told herself, would look well on her scarlet bodice, and would be a good set-off to her black hair and olive complexion. All this was, of course, beyond the comprehension of Ivan, who regarded his sister’s weakness with the most supreme contempt, and for his own part was never so happy as when skylarking with other boys and getting into every conceivable kind of mischief. Yet for all that he was in the main sensible, almost beyond his years, and extremely fond, and – though he would not admit it – proud of Olga.
She fixed the flower in her dress, and imitating to the best of her knowledge the carriage of royalty, strutted up and down, saying “Am I not grand? Don’t I look nice? Ivan – salute me!”
And Ivan was preparing to salute her in the proper military style, taught him by a great friend of his in the village, a soldier in the carabineers for whom he had an intense admiration, when his jaw suddenly fell and his eyes bulged.
“Whatever is the matter with you?” Olga asked.
“There’s nothing the matter with me,” Ivan cried, shrinking away from her; “but there is with you. Don’t! don’t make such faces – they frighten me,” and turning round, he ran to the place where he had made his descent and tried to climb up.
Some minutes later the mother of the children, hearing piercing shrieks for help, flew to the pit, and, missing her footing, slipped over the brink, and falling some ten or more feet, broke one of her legs and otherwise bruised herself.
For some seconds she was unconscious, and the first sight that met her eyes on coming to was Ivan kneeling on the ground, feebly endeavoring to hold at bay a gaunt grey wolf that had already bitten him about the legs and thigh, and was now trying hard to fix its wicked white fangs into his throat.
“Help me, mother!” Ivan gasped; “I’m getting exhausted. It’s Olga.”
“Olga!” the mother screamed, making frantic efforts to come to his assistance. “Olga! what do you mean?”
“It’s all owing to a flower – a white flower,” Ivan panted; “Olga would pluck it, and no sooner had she fixed it on her dress than she turned into a wolf! Quick, quick! I can’t hold it off any longer.”
Thus adjured the wretched woman made a terrific effort to rise, and failing in this, clenched her teeth, and, lying down, rolled over and over till she arrived at the spot where the struggle was taking place. By this time, however, the wolf had broken through Ivan’s guard, and he was now on his back with his right arm in the grip of his ferocious enemy.
The mother had not a knife, but she had a long steel skewer she used for sticking into a tree as a means of fastening one end of her washing line. She wore it hanging to her girdle, and it was quite by a miracle it had not run into her when she fell.
“Take care, mother,” Ivan cried, as she raised it ready to strike; “remember, it is Olga.”
This indeed was an ugly fact that the woman in her anxiety to save the boy had forgotten. What should she do? To merely wound the animal would be to make it ten times more savage, in which case it would almost inevitably destroy them both. To kill it would mean killing Olga. Which did she love the most, the boy or the girl?
Never was a mother placed in such a dilemma. And she had no time to deliberate, not even a second. God help her, she chose. And like ninety-nine out of a hundred mothers would have done, she chose the boy; he – he at all costs must be saved. She struck, struck with all the pent-up energy of despair, and in her blind, mad zeal she struck again.
The first blow, penetrating the werewolf’s eye, sank deep into its brain, but the second blow missed – missed, and falling aslant, alighted on the form beneath.
An hour later a villager on his way home, hearing extraordinary sounds of mirth, went to the side of the pit and peeped over.
“Vera Kloska!” he screamed; “Heaven have mercy on us, what have you there?”
“He! he! he!” came the answer. “He! he! he! My children! Don’t they look funny? Olga has such a pretty white flower in her buttonhole, and Ivan a red stain on his forehead. They are deaf – they won’t reply when I speak to them. See if you can make them hear.”
But the villager shook his head. “They’ll never hear again in this world, mad soul,” he muttered. “You’ve murdered them.”
Another Case of Lycanthropy
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of the case of a Lycanthropous brook in the Harz Mountains.
Another case of lycanthropy in Germany, connected with the Harz Mountains, occurred somewhere about the beginning of the last century.
Count Von Breber, chief of the police of Magdeburg, whilst away from home on a holiday with his young and beautiful wife, the Countess Hilda, happened to pass a night in the village of Grautz, in the centre of the Harz Mountains.
In the course of a conversation with the innkeeper, the Countess remarked: “On our way here this morning we crossed a brook, and experienced the greatest difficulty in persuading our dogs to go into the water. It is most unusual, as they are generally only too ready for a dip. Can you in any way account for it?”
“Were there two very tall poplars, one on either side of the brook?” the innkeeper asked; “and did you notice a peculiar – one cannot describe it as altogether unpleasant – smell there?”
“We did!” the Count and Countess exclaimed in chorus.
“Then it was the spot locally known as Wolf Hollow,” the innkeeper said. “No one ventures there after dark, as it has a very evil reputation.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” the Count snapped.
“That is as your honour pleases,” the innkeeper said humbly. “We village folk believe it to be haunted; but, of course, if the subject appears ridiculous to you, I will take care I do not refer to it again.”
“Please do!” the Countess cried. “I love anything to do with the supernatural. Tell us all about it.”
The innkeeper gave a little nervous cough, and glancing uneasily at the Count, whose face looked more than usually stern in the fading sunlight, observed: “They do say, madam, that whoever drinks the water of that stream…”
“Yes, yes?” the Countess cried eagerly.
“Suffers a grave misfortune.”
“Of what nature?” the Countess demanded; but before the innkeeper could answer, the Count cut in:
“I forbid you to say another word. The Countess has drunk the water there, and your cock-and-bull stories will frighten her into fits. Confess it is all made up for the benefit of travellers like ourselves.”
“Yes, your honour!” the innkeeper stammered, his knees shaking; “I confess it is mere talk, but we all be – be – lieve it.”
“That will do – go!” the Count cried; and the innkeeper, terrified out of his wits, flew out of the room.
Some minutes later mine host received a peremptory summons to appear before the Count, who was alone and scowling horribly, in the best parlour. He had barely got inside the room before the Count burst out wrathfully:
“I’ve sent for you, sir, in order to impress upon you the fact that if either you or your minions mention one word about that brook to the Countess, or to her servants – mark that – I will have the breath flogged out of your body and your tongue snipped. Do you hear?”
“Y – yes, your honour,” the innkeeper cried. “I ful – fully un – understand, and if her ladyship asks me any – anything abou – out the br – br – brook, I will lie.”
“Which won’t trouble you much, eh?”
“N – n – o, your honour! I mean y – yes, your honour! It will be a burden on my con – conscience, but I will do anything to pl – please your honour.”
The interview then terminated, and the innkeeper, bathed in perspiration and wishing his lot in life anything but what it was, hastened to prepare dinner.
“I hope nothing dreadful will happen to me; I feel that something will,” the Countess said, as she let down her long beautiful hair that night. “Carl, why did you let me drink the water?”
“The water be – – !” the Count growled. “Didn’t you hear what the innkeeper said? – that the story was mere invention! If you believe all the idle tales you hear, you will soon be in an asylum. Hilda, I’m ashamed of you!”
“And I’m ashamed of myself,” the Countess cried, “so there!” and she flung her arms round his neck and kissed him.
The following morning they left the inn, and, retracing their steps, journeyed homewards. The Count looked at his wife somewhat critically; she was very pale, and there were dark rims under her eyes.
“I do believe, Hilda,” he observed with an assumed gaiety, “you are still worrying about that water!”
“I am,” she replied; “I had such queer dreams.”
He asked her to narrate them, but she refused; and as her sleep now became constantly disturbed, and she was getting thin and worried, the Count determined that as soon as he reached home he would call in a doctor. The latter, examining the Countess, attributed the cause of her indisposition to dyspepsia, and ordered her a diet of milk food. But she did not get better, and now insisted upon sleeping alone, choosing a bedroom situated in a secluded part of the house, where there was absolute silence.
The Count remonstrated. “You might at least let me occupy the room next to you!” he said.
“No,” she replied; “I should hear you if you did. I am sensible now of the very slightest sounds, and besides disturbing me, they are a source of the greatest annoyance. I feel I shall never get well again unless I can have complete rest and quiet. Do let me!” and she fixed her big blue eyes on him so earnestly, that he vowed he would see that all her wishes, no matter how fanciful, were gratified.
“I hope she won’t go mad!” he said to himself; “her behaviour is odd, to say the least of it. Odd! – wholly inexplicable.”
It was rather too bad that just now, when his mind was harassed with misgivings at home, he should also be bothered with disturbances outside his own home. But so it was. Events of an unprecedented nature were taking place in the town, and it fell to his lot to cope with them. Night after night children – mostly of the poorer class – disappeared, and despite frantic yet careful and thorough searches, no clue as to what had befallen them had, so far, been discovered.
The Count doubled the men on night duty, but in spite of these and other extraordinary precautions the disappearances continued, and the affair – already of the utmost gravity – promised to be one that would prove disastrous, not merely to the heads of families, but to the head of the police himself.
So long as the missing ones had been of the lower orders only, the Count had not had much to fear – the murmurings of their parents could easily be held in check – but now that a few of the children of the rich had been spirited away, there was every likelihood of the matter reaching the ears of the Court.
One evening, when the Count had hardly recovered his equanimity after a stormy interview with Herr Meichen, the banker, whose three-year-old daughter had vanished, and a still more distressing scene with Otto Schmidt, the lawyer, whose six-year-old daughter had disappeared, his patience was called upon to undergo a still further trial in consequence of a visit from General Carl Rittenberg, a person of the greatest importance, not only in the town, but in the whole province. Purple in the face with suppressed fury, the General burst into the room where the head of the police sat.
“Count!” he cried, striking the table with his fist, “this is beyond a joke. My child – my only child – Elizabeth, whom my wife and I passionately love, has been stolen. She was walking by my side in Frederick Street this afternoon, and as it suddenly became foggy, I left her a moment to hail a vehicle to take us home. I wasn’t gone from her more than half a minute at the most, but when I returned she had gone.
I searched everywhere, shouting her name; and passers by, compassionate strangers, joined me in my search; but though we have looked high and low not a trace of her have we been able to discover. I have not told her mother yet. God help me – I dare not! I dare not even show my face at home without her – my wife will never forgive me – – “; and so great was his emotion that he buried his face in his hands, and his great body heaved and shook.
Then he started to his feet, his eyes bulging and lurid. “Curse you!” he shrieked; “curse you, Count! it’s all your fault! Day after day you’ve sat here, when you ought to have been hunting up these rascally police of yours. You’ve no right to rest one second – not one second, do you hear? – till the mystery surrounding these poor lost children has been cleared up, and, living or dead – God forbid it should prove to be the latter! – they are restored to their parents.
“Now, mark my words, Count, unless my child Elizabeth is found, I’ll make your name a byword throughout the length and breadth of the country – I’ll – – “; but words failed him, and, shaking his fist, he staggered out of the room.
The Count was much perturbed. The General was one of the few people in the town who really had it in their power to do him harm – the one man above all others with whom he had hitherto made it his business to keep in. He had not the least doubt but that the General meant all he said, and he recognized only too well that his one and only hope of salvation lay in the recovery of Elizabeth. But, God in heaven, where could he look for her?
Sick at heart, he marshaled every policeman in the force, and within an hour every street in Magdeburg was being subjected to a most rigorous search. The Count was just quitting his office, resolved to join in the hunt himself, when a shabbily dressed woman brushed past the custodian at the door, and racing up to him, flung herself at his feet.
“What the devil does she want?” the Count demanded savagely. “Who is she?”
“Martha Brochel, your honour, a poor half-witted creature, who was one of the first in the town to lose a child,” the door-porter replied; “and the shock of it has driven her mad!”
“Mad! mad! Yes! that is just what I am – mad!” the woman broke out. “Everything is in darkness. It is always night! There are no houses, no chimneys, no lanterns, only trees – big, black trees that rustle in the wind, and shake their heads mockingly. And then something hideous comes! What is it? Take it away! Take it away! Give her back to me!” And as Martha’s voice rose to a shriek, she threw her hands over her head, and, clenching them, growled and snarled like a wild animal.
“Put her outside!” the Count said with an impatient gesture; “and take good care she does not get in here again.”
“No! Don’t turn me away! Don’t! don’t!” Martha screamed; “I forgot what it was I wanted to tell you – but I remember now. I’ve seen it! – seen the thing that stole my child. There is light – light again! Oh! hear me!”
“Where have you seen it, Martha?” the porter inquired; and looking at the Count, he said respectfully: “It is just possible, your honour, this woman might be of use to us, and that she has actually seen the person who stole her child.”
“Rubbish! What right has she to have children?” the Count snapped, and he spurned the supplicant with his boot.
The moment she was in the street, however, the head of the police was after her. Keeping close behind her, he resolutely dogged her steps. The evening was now far advanced, and the fog so dense that the Count, though he knew the city, was soon at a total loss as to his whereabouts. But on and on the woman went, now deviating to the right, now to the left; sometimes pausing as if listening, then tearing on again at such a rate that the Count was obliged to run to keep up with her. Suddenly she uttered a shrill cry:
“There it is! There it is! The thing that took my child!” and the figure of what certainly appeared to be a woman, muffled, and carrying a sack on her shoulder, glided across the road just in front of them and disappeared in the impenetrable darkness. Martha sped after her, and the Count, his hopes raised high, followed in hot pursuit. He failed to recognize the ground they were traversing, and presently they came to a high wall, over which Martha scrambled with the agility of an acrobat.
The Count, in attempting to imitate her, damaged his knee and tore his clothes, but he also landed safely on the other side. Then on they went, Martha with unabated energy, the Count horribly exhausted, and beginning to think of turning back, when they were abruptly brought to a standstill. The walls of some building loomed right ahead of them. The object of their pursuit, again visible, darted through a doorway; whilst Martha, with a loud cry of triumph, sprang in after her; but before the Count could cross the threshold the door was slammed and locked in his face.
Then he heard a chorus of the most appalling sounds – sounds so strange and unearthly that his blood turned to ice and his hair rose straight on end. Rushing footsteps mingled with peculiar soft patterings; agonized human screams coupled with the growls and snappings of an animal; a heavy thud; gurgles; and then silence.
The Count’s courage revived: he hurled himself against the door; it gave with a crash, and the next moment he was inside. But what a sight met his eyes! The place, which somehow or the other seemed oddly familiar to him, was a veritable shambles – floor, walls, and furniture were sodden with blood. In every corner were mangled human remains; whilst stretched on the ground, opposite the doorway, lay the body of Martha, her face unrecognizable and her breast and stomach ripped right open.
This was terrible enough, but more terrible by far was the author of it all, who, having cast aside wraps, now stood fully revealed in the yellow glow of a lantern. What the Count saw was a monstrosity – a thing with a woman’s breast, a woman’s hair, golden and curly, but the face and feet were those of a wolf; whilst the hands, white and slender, were armed with long, glittering nails, cruelly sharp and dripping with blood.
To the Count’s astonishment the creature did not attack him, but uttering a low plaintive cry, veered round and endeavoured to escape. But escape was the very last thing Van Breber would permit. Whatever the thing was – beast or devil – it had caused him endless trouble, and if allowed to get away now, would go on with its escapades, and so bring about his ruin.
No! he must kill it. Kill it even at the risk of his own life. With a shout of wrath he plunged his sword up to its hilt in the thing’s back.
It fell to the floor and the Count bent over it curiously. Something was happening – something strange and terrifying; but he could not look – he was forced to shut his eyes. When he opened them he no longer saw the hairy visage of a wolf – he was gazing fondly into the dying eyes of his beautiful and much-loved wife. With a rapidity like lightning, he recognized his surroundings. He was in a long disused summer-house that stood in a remote corner of his own grounds!
“God help me and you, too!” the Countess Hilda whispered, clasping him fondly in her arms. “It was the water! – the water I drank in the Harz Mountains! I have been bewitched…”; and kissing him feverishly on the lips, she sank back – dead.
The Harz Mountain Werewolves
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of the case of Herr Hellen and the Werewolves of the Harz Mountains.
Two gentlemen, named respectively Hellen and Schiller, were on a walking tour in the Harz Mountains, in the early summer of the year 1840, when Schiller, slipping down, sprained his ankle and was unable to go on. They were some miles from any village, in the centre of an extensive forest, and it was beginning to get dark.
“Leave me here,” cried the injured man to his friend, “while you see if you can discover any habitation. I have been told these woods are full of charcoal-burners’ and wood-cutters’ huts, so that if you walk straight ahead for a mile or two, you are very likely to come across one. Do go, there’s a good fellow, and if you are too tired to return yourself, send some one to carry me.”
Hellen did not like leaving his comrade in such a dreary spot, alone and helpless, but as Schiller was persistent he at length yielded, and stepping briskly out, advanced along the track that had brought them hither. Once or twice he halted, fancying he heard voices, and several times his heart pulsated wildly at what he took to be the cry of a wolf – for neither Schiller nor he had no weapons excepting sheath-knives.
At last he came to an open spot hedged in on all sides by gloomy pines, the shadows from which were beginning to fall thick and fast athwart the vivid greensward. It was one of those places – they are to be found in pretty nearly every country – studiously avoided by local woodsmen as the haunt of all manner of evil influences.
Hellen recognized it as such the moment he saw it, but as it lay right across his path, and time was pressing, he had no alternative but to keep boldly on. He was half-way across the spot when he was startled by a groan, and looking in the direction of the sound, he saw a man seated on the ground endeavouring to bandage his hand. Wondering why he had not observed him before, but thankful to meet some one at last, Hellen went up to him and asked what was the matter.
“I’ve broken my wrist,” the man replied. “I was gathering sticks for my fire to-morrow when I heard the howl of a wolf, and in my anxiety to escape a conflict with the brute I climbed this tree. As I descended one of the branches gave way, and I fell down with all my weight on my right arm. Will you see if you can bind it for me? I’m a bit awkward with my left hand.”
“I will do my best,” Hellen said, and kneeling beside the man, he took off the bandages and wrapped them round again. “There,” he exclaimed, “I think that is better – at least it is the best I can do.”
The stranger was now most profuse in his thanks, and when Hellen informed him of Schiller’s condition, at once cried out, “You must both come to my cottage; it is only a short distance from here. Let us hasten thither now, and my daughter, who is very strong, shall go back with you and help you carry your friend. We are not rich, but we can make you both fairly comfortable, and all we have shall be at your disposal. But I wonder if you know what you have incurred by coming to this spot at this hour?”
“Why, no,” Hellen said, laughing. “What?”
“The gratification of two wishes – the first two wishes you make! Of course, you will say it is all humbug, but, believe me, very queer things do happen in this forest. I have experienced them myself.”
“Well!” Hellen replied, laughing more heartily than before, “if I wish anything at all it is that my wife were here to see how beautifully I have bandaged your wrist.”
“Where is your wife?” the stranger inquired.
“At Frankfort, most likely taking a final peep at the children in bed before retiring to rest herself!” Hellen said, still laughing.
“Then you have children!” the stranger ejaculated, evidently interested.
“Yes, three – all girls – and such bonny girls, too. Marcella, Christina, and Fredericka. I wish I had them here for you to see.”
“I should much like to see them, certainly,” the stranger said. “And now you have told me so much of interest about yourself, let me tell you something of my own history in exchange. My name is Wilfred Gaverstein. I am an artist by profession, and have come to live here during the summer months in order to paint nature – nature as it really is – in all its varying moods. Nature is my only god – I adore it. I don’t believe in souls. I love the trees and flowers and shrubs, the rivulets, the fountains, the birds and insects.”
“Everything but the wolves!” Hellen remarked jocularly. Hardly, however, had he spoken these words before he had reason to alter his tone. “Great heavens! do you hear that?” he cried. “There is no mistake about it this time. It is a wolf, or may I never live to hear one again.”
“You are right, friend,” Wilfred said. “It is a wolf, and not very far away, either. Come, we must be quick,” and thrusting his arm through that of Hellen, he hurried him along. After some minutes’ fast walking they came in sight of a neatly thatched whitewashed cottage, at the entrance to which two women and several children were collected. “That’s my home,” Wilfred said.
“And that’s my wife!” Hellen cried, rubbing his eyes to make sure he was not dreaming. “God in heaven, what’s the meaning of it all? My wife and children – all three of them! Am I mad?”
“It is merely the answer to your wishes,” Wilfred rejoined calmly. “See, they recognize you and are waving.”
As one in a sleep Hellen now staggered forward, and was soon in the midst of his family, who, rushing up to him, implored him to explain what had happened, and how on earth they came to be there.
“I am just as much at sea as you are,” Hellen said, feeling them each in turn to make sure it was really they. “It’s an insoluble mystery to me.”
“And to us, too,” they all cried. “A few minutes ago we were in our beds in Frankfort, and then suddenly we found ourselves here – here in this dreadful looking forest. Oh, take us away, take us home, do!”
Hellen was in despair. It was all like a hideous nightmare to him. What was he to do?
“You must be my guests for to-night, at all events,” Wilfred said; “and in the morning we will discuss what is to be done. Fortunately we have enough room to accommodate you all. There is food in abundance. Let me introduce you to my daughter Marguerite,” and the next moment Hellen found himself shaking hands with a girl of about twenty years of age.
She was clad in what appeared to be a travelling dress, deeply bordered with white fur, and wore a most becoming cap of white ermine. Her feet were shod in long, pointed, and very elegant buckskin shoes, adorned with bright silver buckles. Her hair, which was yellow and glossy, was parted down the middle, and waved in a most becoming fashion low over the forehead and ears; and her features – at least so Hellen thought – were very beautiful.
Her mouth, though a trifle large, had very daintily cut lips, and was furnished with unusually white and even teeth. But there was a peculiar furtive expression in her eyes, which were of a very pretty shape and colour, that aroused Hellen’s curiosity, and made him scrutinize her carefully. Her hands were noticeably long and slender, with tapering fingers and long, almond-shaped, rosy nails, that glittered each time they caught the rays of the fast fading sunlight.
Hellen’s first impression of her was that she was marvellously beautiful, but that there was a something about her that he did not understand – a something he had never seen in anyone before, a something that in an ugly woman might have put him on his guard, but in this face of such surpassing beauty a something he seemed only too ready to ignore. Hellen was a good, and up to the present, certainly, a faithful husband, but he was only a man after all, and the more he looked at the girl the more he admired her.
At a word from Wilfred, Marguerite smilingly led the way indoors, and showed the guests two bedrooms, small but exquisitely clean. There was a double bed in one, and two single ones in the other. The bed-linen was of the very finest material, and white as snow.
“I think,” Wilfred remarked, “two of the girls can squeeze in one bed – they are neither of them very big – though it does my heart good to see them so bonny.”
“And mine, too,” Marguerite joined in, patting the three children on the cheeks in turn, and drawing them to her and caressing them.
Mrs. Hellen, still dazed, and apparently hardly realizing what was happening, stammered out her thanks, and the party then descended to the kitchen to partake of a substantial supper that was speedily prepared for them.
“Had you not better go and look for your friend now?” Wilfred observed, just as Hellen was about to seat himself beside his wife and children. “Marguerite will go with you, and on your return the three of you can have your meal in here after the children have gone to bed.”
Hellen readily assented, and kissing his wife and little ones, who tearfully implored him not to be gone long, set out, accompanied by Marguerite.
At each step they took, Marguerite’s beauty became more irresistible. The soft rays of the moon falling directly on her features enhanced their loveliness, and Hellen could not keep his eyes off her. The ominous cry of a night bird startled her; she edged timidly up to him; and he had to exert all his self-control, so eager was he to clasp her to him.
In a strained, unnatural manner he kept up a flow of small-talk, eliciting the information that she was an art student, and that she had studied in Paris and Antwerp, had exhibited in Munich and Turin, and was contemplating visiting London the following spring. They talked on in this strain until Hellen, remembering their mission, exclaimed:
“We must be very close to where I left Schiller. I will call to him.”
He did so – not once, but many times; and the reverberation of his voice rang out loud and clear in the silence of the vast, moon-kissed forest. But there was no response, nothing but the rustling of branches and the shivering of leaves.
“What’s that?” Marguerite suddenly cried, clutching hold of Hellen’s arm. “There! right in front of us, lying on the ground. There!” and she indicated the object with her gleaming finger-tip.
“It looks remarkably like Schiller,” Hellen said. “Can he be asleep?”
Quickening their pace, they speedily arrived at the spot. It was Schiller, or rather what had once been Schiller, for there was now very little left of him but the face and hands and feet; the rest had only too obviously been eaten. The spectacle was so shocking that for some minutes Hellen was too overcome to speak.
“It must have been wolves!” he said at length. “I fancied I heard them several times. Would to God I had never left him! What a death!”
“Horrible!” Marguerite whispered, and she turned her head away to avoid so harrowing a sight.
“Well,” Hellen observed in a voice broken with emotion, “it’s no use staying here. We can’t be of any service to him now. I will gather the remains together in the morning, and with the assistance of your father see that they are decently interred. Come! let us be going.” And offering Marguerite his arm, they began to retrace their steps.
For some time Hellen was too occupied with thoughts of his friend’s cruel death to think of anything else, but the close proximity of Marguerite gradually made itself felt, and by the time they had reached the open clearing – the spot where he had encountered Wilfred – his passion completely overpowered him.
Throwing discretion to the winds, and oblivious of wife, children, home, honour, everything save Marguerite – the lustre of her eyes and the dainty curving of her lips – he slipped his arm round her waist, and pressing her close to him, smothered her in kisses.
“How dare you, sir!” she panted, slowly shaking herself free. “Aren’t you ashamed of such behaviour? What would your wife say, if she knew?”
“I couldn’t help it,” Hellen pleaded. “I’m not myself to-night. Your beauty has bewitched me, and I would risk anything to have you in my arms.” He spoke so earnestly and looked at her so appealingly that she smiled.
“I know I am beautiful,” she said, and the intonation of her voice thrilled him to the very marrow of his bones. “Dozens of men have told me so. Consequently, since there seems to have been some excuse for you, I forgive you, only – – ,” but before she could say another word, Hellen had again seized her, and this time he did not loosen his hold till from sheer exhaustion he could kiss her no more.
“It’s no use!” he panted. “I can’t help it. I love you as I never loved a woman before, and if you were to ask me to do so I would go to Hell with you this very minute.”
“It is dangerous to express such sentiments here,” Marguerite said. “Don’t you know this spot is full of supernatural influences, and that the first two things you wish for will be granted?”
“I have already wished,” Hellen said. “I wished when I was here with your father.”
“Then wish again,” Marguerite replied; “I assure you your wishes will be fulfilled.” And again she looked at him in a way that sent all the blood in his body surging wildly to his head, and roused his passion in hot and furious rebellion against his reason.
“I wish, then,” he cried, seizing hold of her hands and pressing them to his lips – “I wish every obstacle removed that prevents my having you always with me – that is wish number one.”
“And wish number two?” the girl interrogated, her warm, scented breath fanning his cheeks and nostrils. “Won’t you wish that you may be mine for ever? Always mine, mine to eternity!”
“I will!” Hellen cried. “May I be yours always – yours to do what you like with – in this life and the next.”
“And now you shall have your reward,” Marguerite exclaimed, clapping her hands gleefully. “I will kiss you of my own free will,” and throwing her arms round his neck, she drew his head down to hers, and kissed him, kissed him not once but many times.
An hour later they left the spot and slowly made their way to the cottage. As they neared it, loud screams for help rent the air, and Hellen, to his horror, heard his wife and children – he could recognize their individual voices – shrieking to him to save them.
In an instant he was himself again. All his old affection for home and family was restored, and with a loud answering shout he started to rush to their assistance. But Marguerite willed otherwise. With a dexterous movement of her feet she got in his way and tripped him, and before he had time to realize what was happening, she had flung herself on the top of him and pinioned him down.
“No!” she said playfully, “you shall not go! You are mine, mine always, remember, and if I choose to keep you here with me, here you must remain.”
He strove to push her off, but he strove in vain; for the slender, rounded limbs he had admired so much possessed sinews of steel, and he was speedily reduced to a state of utter impotence.
The shrieks from the cottage were gradually lapsing into groans and gurgles, all horribly suggestive of what was taking place, but it was not until every sound had ceased that Marguerite permitted Hellen to rise.
“You may go now,” she said with a mischievous smile, kissing him gaily on the forehead and giving his cheeks a gentle slap. “Go – and see what a lucky man you are, and how speedily your first wish has been gratified.”
Sick with apprehension, Hellen flew to the cottage. His worst forebodings were realized. Stretched on the floor of their respective rooms, with big, gaping wounds in their chests and throats, lay his wife and children; whilst cross-legged, on a chest in the kitchen, his dark saturnine face suffused with glee, squatted Wilfred.
“Fiend!” shouted Hellen. “I understand it all now. I have been dealing with the Spirits of the Harz Mountains. But be you the Devil himself you shan’t escape me,” and snatching an axe from the wall, he aimed a terrific blow at Wilfred’s head.
The weapon passed right through the form of Wilfred, and Hellen, losing his balance, fell heavily to the ground. At this moment Marguerite entered.
“Fool!” she cried; “fool, to think any weapon can harm either Wilfred or me. We are phantasms – phantasms beyond the power of either Heaven or Hell. Come here!”
Impelled by a force he could not resist, Hellen obeyed – and as he gazed into her eyes all his blind infatuation for her came back.
“We must part now,” she said; “but only for a while – for remember, you belong to me. Here is a token” – and she thrust into his hand a wisp of her long, golden hair. “Sleep on it and dream of me. Do not look so sad. I shall come for you without fail, and by this sign you shall know when I am coming. When this mark begins to heal,” she said, as, with the nail on the forefinger of the right hand, she scratched his forehead, “get ready!”
There was then a loud crash – the room and everything in it swam before Hellen’s eyes, the floor rose and fell, and sinking backwards he remembered no more.
When he recovered he was lying in the centre of the haunted plot. There was nothing to be seen around him except the trees – dark lofty pines that, swaying to and fro in the chill night breeze, shook their sombre heads at him. A great sigh of relief broke from him – his experiences of course had only been a dream.
He was trying to collect his thoughts, when he discovered that he was holding something tightly clasped in one of his hands. Unable to think what it could be, he rose, and held it in the full light of the moon. He then saw that it was a tuft of white fur – the fur of some animal.
Much puzzled, he put it in his pocket, and suddenly recollecting his friend, set out for the place where he had left him. “I shall soon know,” he said to himself, “whether I have been asleep all this time – God grant it may be so!”
His heart beat fearfully as he pressed forward, and he shouted out “Schiller” several times. But there was no reply, and presently he came upon the remains, just as he had seen them when accompanied by Marguerite.
Convinced now that all that had taken place was grim reality, he went back along the route Schiller and he had taken the preceding day, and in due time reached the village. To the landlord of the inn where they had stayed he related what had happened.
“I am truly sorry for you,” the landlord said; “your experience has indeed been a terrible one. Every one here knows the forest is haunted in that particular spot, and we all give it as wide a berth as possible. But you have been most unfortunate, for Wilfred and Marguerite, who are werwolves, only visit these parts periodically. I last heard of them being seen when I was about ten years of age, and they then ate a pedlar called Schwann and his wife.”
As soon as Schiller’s remains had been brought to the village and interred in the cemetery, Hellen, armed to the teeth and accompanied by several of the biggest and strongest hounds he could hire – for he could get none of the villagers to go with him – spent a whole day searching for Wilfred’s cottage. But although he was convinced he had found the exact spot where it had stood, there were now no traces of it to be seen.
At length he returned to the village, and on the following morning set out for Frankfort. On his arrival home he was immediately apprised of the fact that a terrible tragedy had occurred in his house. His wife and children had been found dead in their beds, with their throats cut and dreadful wounds in their chests, and the police had not been able to find the slightest clue to the murderers.
With a terrible sinking at the heart Hellen asked for particulars, and learned, as he knew only too well he would learn, that the date of the tragedy was identical with that of his adventure in the forest.
He tried hard to persuade himself that the coincidence was a mere coincidence; but – he knew better. Besides, there was the scratch! – the scratch on his forehead.
Moreover, the scratch remained. It remained fresh and raw till a few days prior to his death, when it began to heal. And on the day he died it had completely healed.
The Case of Jean Garnier
Throughout the Middle Ages, and even in the seventeenth century, trials for lycanthropy were of common occurrence in France. Among the most famous was that of Jean Garnier, at Bordeaux, in 1603. From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account:
Garnier, who was only fourteen years of age, was employed in looking after cattle. He was a handsome lad, with dark, flashing eyes and very white teeth. As soon as it was time for the metamorphosis to take place he used to go into some lonely spot, and then, in the guise of a wolf, return, and run to earth isolated women and children.
One of his favourite haunts was a thicket close to a pool of water. Here he used to lie and watch for hours at a time. Once he surprised two girls bathing. One escaped, and fled home naked, but the other he flung on the ground, and having shaken her into submission, devoured a portion of her one day, and the rest of her the next.
He confessed to having eaten over fifty children. Nor did he always confine himself to attacking the solitary few and defenseless; for on several occasions, when hard pressed by hunger, he assailed a whole crowd, and was once severely handled by a pack of young girls who successfully drove him off with sharply pointed stakes.
Far from wishing to conceal his guilt, Jean Garnier was most eager to tell everything, and to a court thronged with eager, attentive people, he related in the most graphic manner possible his sanguinary experiences. One old woman, he said, whom he found alone in a cottage, showed extraordinary agility in trying to escape. She raced round tables, clambered over chairs, crawled under a bed, and finally hid in a cupboard and held the door so fast that he had to exert all his force to open it.
“And then,” he added, “in spite of all my trouble she proved to be as tough as leather – ” and he made a grimace that provoked much laughter.
He complained bitterly of one child. “It made such a dreadful noise,” he said, “when I lifted it out of its crib, and when I got ready for my first bite it shrieked so loud it almost deafened me.”
The name Garnier, was closely associated with lycanthropy, and in Blois, where there were more instances of lycanthropy than in any other part of France, every one called Garnier was set down as a werwolf.
A Witchy Werewolf Story
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of werewolves and witches.
To inflict the evil property of werwolfery upon those against whom they – or some other – bore a grudge was, in the Middle Ages, a method of revenge frequently resorted to by witches; and countless knights and ladies were thus victimized. Nor were such practices confined to ancient times; for as late as the eighteenth century a case of this kind of witchcraft is reported to have happened in the vicinity of Blois.
In a village some three miles from Blois, on the outskirts of a forest, dwelt an innkeeper called Antonio Cellini, who, as the name suggests, was of Italian origin. Antonio had only one child, Beatrice, a very pretty girl, who at the time of this story was about nineteen years of age.
As might be expected, Beatrice had many admirers; but none were so passionately attached to her as Herbert Poyer, a handsome youth, and one Henri Sangfeu, an extremely plain youth. Beatrice – and one can scarcely blame her for it – preferred Herbert, and with the whole-hearted approval of her father consented to marry him.
Sangfeu was not unnaturally upset; but, in all probability, he would have eventually resigned himself to the inevitable, had it not been for a village wag, who in an idle moment wrote a poem and entitled it
“Sansfeu the Ugly; or, Love Unrequited.”
The poem, which was illustrated with several clever caricatures of the unfortunate Henri and contained much caustic wit, took like wildfire in the village; and Henri, in consequence, had a very bad time. Eventually it was shown to Beatrice, and it was then that the climax was reached.
Although Henri was present at the moment, unable to restrain herself, she went into peals of laughter at the drawings, saying over and over again: “How like him – how very like! His nose to a nicety! It is certainly correct to style him Sansfeu – for no one could call him Sansnez!”
Her mirth was infectious; every one joined in; only Henri slunk away, crimson with rage and mortification. He hated Beatrice now as much as he had loved her before; and he thirsted only for revenge.
Some distance from the village and in the heart of the forest lived an old woman known as Mere Maxim, who was said to be a witch, and, therefore, shunned by every one. All sorts of unsavoury stories were told of her, and she was held responsible for several outbreaks of epidemics – hitherto unknown in the neighbourhood – many accidents, and more than one death.
The spot where she lived was carefully avoided. Those who ventured far in the forest after nightfall either never came back at all or returned half imbecile with terror, and afterwards poured out to their affrighted friends incoherent stories of the strange lights and terrible forms they had encountered, moving about amid the trees.
Up to the present Henri had been just as scared by these tales as the rest of the villagers; but so intense was his longing for revenge that he at length resolved to visit Mere Maxim and solicit her assistance. Choosing a morning when the sun was shining brightly, he screwed up his courage, and after many bad scares finally succeeded in reaching her dwelling – or, I might say, her shanty, for by a more appropriate term than the latter such a queer-looking untidy habitation could not be described.
To his astonishment Mere Maxim was by no means so unprepossessing as he had imagined. On the contrary, she was more than passably good-looking, with black hair, rosy cheeks, and exceedingly white teeth. What he did not altogether like were her eyes – which, though large and well shaped, had in them an occasional glitter – and her hands, which, though remarkably white and slender, had very long and curved nails, that to his mind suggested all sorts of unpleasant ideas.
She was becomingly dressed in brown – brown woolly garments, with a brown fur cap, brown stockings, and brown shoes ornamented with very bright silver buckles. Altogether she was decidedly chic; and if a little incongruous in her surroundings, such incongruity only made her the more alluring; and as far as Henri was concerned rather added to her charms.
At all events, he needed no second invitation to seat himself by her side in the chimney-corner, and his heart thumped as it had never thumped before when she encouraged him to put his arm round her waist and kiss her. It was the first time a woman had ever suffered him to kiss her without violent protestations and avowals of disgust.
“You are not very handsome, it is true,” Mere Maxim remarked, “but you are fat – and I like fat young men,” and she pinched his cheeks playfully and patted his hands. “Are you sure no one knows you have come to see me?” she asked.
“Certain!” Henri replied; “I haven’t confided in a soul; I haven’t even so much as dropped a hint that I intended seeing you.”
“That is good!” Mere Maxim said. “Tell no one, otherwise I shall not be able to help you. Also, on no account let the girl Beatrice think you bear her animosity. Be civil and friendly to her whenever you meet; then give her, as a wedding present, this belt and box of bonbons.”
So saying, she handed him a beautiful belt composed of the skin of some wild animal and fastened with a gold buckle, and a box of delicious pink and white sugarplums. “Do not give her these things till the marriage eve,” she added, “and directly you have given them come and see me – always observing the greatest secrecy.”
She then kissed him, and he went away brimming over with passion for her, and longing feverishly for the hour to arrive when he could be with her again.
All day and all night he thought of her – of her gay and sparkling beauty, of her kisses and caresses, and the delightful coolness of her thin and supple hands. His mad infatuation for her made him oblivious to the taunts and jeers of the villagers, who seldom saw him without making ribald allusion to the poem.
“There goes Sansfeu! alias Monsieur Grosnez!” they called out. “Why don’t you cut off your nose for a present to mademoiselle? She would then have no need to buy a kitchen poker. Ha! ha! ha!”
But their coarse wit fell flat. Henri hardly heard it – all his thoughts, his burning love, his unquenchable passion, were centred in Mere Maxim: in spirit he was with her, alone with her, in the innermost recesses of the grim, silent forest.
The marriage eve came; he handed Beatrice the presents, and ere she had time to thank him – for the magnificence of the belt rendered her momentarily speechless – he had flown from the house, and was hurrying as fast as his legs could carry him to his tryst.
The shadows of night were already on the forest when he entered it; and the silence and solitude of the place, the indistinct images of the trees, and their dismal sighing, that seemed to foretell a storm, all combined to disturb his fancy and raise strange spectres in his imagination. The shrill hooting of an owl, as it rustled overhead, caused him an unprecedented shock, and the great rush of blood to his head made him stagger and clutch hold of the nearest object for support.
He had barely recovered from this alarm when his eyes almost started out of their sockets with fright as he caught sight of a queer shape gliding silently from tree to tree; and shortly afterwards he was again terrified – this time by a pale face, whether of a human being or animal he could not say, peering down at him from the gnarled and fantastic branches of a gigantic oak.
He was now so frightened that he ran, and queer – indefinably queer footsteps ran after him, and followed him persistently until he reached the shanty, when he heard them turn and leap lightly away.
On this occasion, the occurrence of Henri’s second visit, Mere Maxim was more captivating than ever. She was dressed with wonderful effect all in white. She wore sparkling jewels at her throat and waist, buckles of burnished gold on her shoes; her teeth flashed like polished ivory, and her nails like agates. Henri was enraptured. He fell on his knees before her, he caught her hands and covered them with kisses.
“How nice you look to-day, my sweetheart,” she said; “and how fat! It does my heart good to see you. Come in, and sit close to me, and tell me how you have fared.”
She led him in, and after locking and barring the door, conducted him to the chimney-corner. And there he lay in her arms. She fondled him; she pressed her lips on his, and gleefully felt his cheeks and arms. And after a time, when, intoxicated with the joy of it all, he lay still and quiet, wishing only to remain like that for eternity, she stooped down, and, fetching a knot of cord from under the seat, began laughingly to bind his hands and feet.
And at each turn and twist of the rope she laughed the louder. And when she had finished binding his arms and legs she made him lie on his back, and lashed him so tightly to the seat that, had he possessed the strength of six men, he could not have freed himself.
Then she sat beside him, and moving aside the clothes that covered his chest and throat, said: –
“By this time Beatrice – pretty Beatrice, vain and sensual Beatrice, the Beatrice you once loved and admired so much – will have worn the belt, will have eaten the sweets. She is now a werwolf.
Every night at twelve o’clock she will creep out of bed and glide about the house and village in search of human prey, some bonny babe, or weak, defenseless woman, but always some one fat, tender, and juicy – some one like you.”
And bending low over him, she bared her teeth, and dug her cruel nails deep into his flesh. A flame from the wood fire suddenly shot up. It flickered oddly on the figure of Mere Maxim – so oddly that Henri received a shock. He realized with an awful thrill that the face into which he peered was no longer that of a human being; it was – but he could no longer think – he could only gaze.
The Case of Roland Bertin
Not all werewolves are evil. From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of the case of Roland Bertin.
Andre Bonivon, the hero of the other incident, was eminently a man of war. He commanded a schooner called the “Bonaventure,” which was engaged in harassing the Huguenot settlements along the shores of the Gulf of Lions, during the reign of Louis XIV.
On one of his marauding expeditions Bonivon sailed up an estuary of the Rhone rather further than he had intended, and having no pilot on board, ran ashore in the darkness. A thunderstorm came on; a general panic ensued; and Bonivon soon found himself struggling in a whirlpool. Powerful swimmer though he was, he would most certainly have been drowned had not some one come to his assistance, and, freeing him from the heavy clothes which weighed him down, dragged him on dry land.
The moment Bonivon got on terra firma, sailor-like, he extended his hand to grip that of his rescuer, when, to his dismay and terror, instead of a hand he grasped a huge hairy paw.
Convinced that he was in the presence of the Devil, who doubtless highly approved of the thousand and one atrocities he had perpetrated on the helpless Huguenots, he threw himself on his knees and implored the forgiveness of Heaven.
His rescuer waited awhile in grim silence, and then, lifting him gently to his feet, led him some considerable distance inland till they arrived at a house on the outskirts of a small town.
Here Bonivon’s conductor halted, and, opening the door, signed to the captain to enter. All within was dark and silent, and the air was tainted with a sickly, pungent odour that filled Bonivon with the gravest apprehensions. Dragging him along, Bonivon’s guide took him into a room, and leaving him there for some seconds, reappeared carrying a lantern.
Bonivon now saw for the first time the face of his conductor – it was that of a werwolf. With a shriek of terror Bonivon turned to run, but, catching his foot on a mat, fell sprawling on the floor.
Here he remained sobbing and shaking with fear till he was once more taken by the werwolf and set gently on his feet.
To Bonivon’s surprise a tray full of eatables was standing on the table, and the werwolf, motioning to him to sit down, signed to him to eat.
Being ravenously hungry, Bonivon “fell to,” and, despite his fears – for being by nature alive to, and, by reason of his calling, forced to guard against the treachery of his fellow creatures, he more than half suspected some subtle design underlying this act of kindness – demolished every particle of food. The meal thus concluded, Bonivon’s benefactor retired, locking the door after him.
No sooner had the sound of his steps in the stone hall ceased than Bonivon ran to the window, hoping thereby to make his escape. But the iron bars were too firmly fixed – no matter how hard he pulled, tugged and wrenched, they remained as immovable as ever. Then his heart began to palpitate, his hair to bristle up, and his knees to totter; his thoughts were full of speculations as to how he would be killed and what it would feel like to be eaten alive.
His conscience, too, rising up in judgment against him, added its own paroxysms of dismay, paroxysms which were still further augmented by the finding of the dead body of a woman, nude and horribly mutilated, lying doubled up and partly concealed by a curtain. Such a discovery could not fail to fill his heart with unspeakable horror; for he concluded that he himself, unless saved by a miracle – a favour he could hardly hope for, considering his past conduct – would undergo the same fate before morning.
At a loss to know what else to do, he sat upon the corner of the table, resting his chin on the palms of his hands, and engaged in anticipations of the most frightful nature.
Shortly after dawn he heard the sound of footsteps approaching the room; the door slowly began to open: a little wider and a little wider, and then, when Bonivon’s heart was on the point of bursting, it suddenly swung open wide, and the cold, grey dawn falling on the threshold revealed not a werwolf, but – a human being: a man in the unmistakable garb of a Huguenot minister!
The reaction was so great that Bonivon rolled off the table and went into paroxysms of ungovernable laughter.
At length, when he had sobered down, the Huguenot, laying a hand on his shoulder, said: “Do you know now where you are? Do you recognize this room? No! Well, I will explain. You are in the house of Roland Bertin, and the body lying over yonder is that of my wife, whom your crew barbarously murdered yesterday when they sacked this village. They took me with them, and it was your intention to have me tortured and then drowned as soon as you got to sea. Do you know me now?”
Bonivon nodded – he could not have spoken to save his life.
“Bien!” the minister went on. “I am a werwolf – I was bewitched some years ago by the woman Grenier, Mere Grenier, who lives in the forest at the back of our village. As soon as it was dark I metamorphosed; then the ship ran ashore, and every one leaped overboard. I saw you drowning. I saved you.”
The captain again made a fruitless effort to speak, and the Huguenot continued: –
“Why did I save you? – you, who had been instrumental in murdering my wife and ruining my home! Why? I do not know! Had I preferred for you a less pleasant death than drowning, I could have taken you ashore and killed you. Yet – I did not, because it is not in my nature to destroy anything.
I have never in my life killed an animal, nor, to my knowledge, an insect; I love all life – animal life and vegetable life – everything that breathes and grows. Yet I am a Huguenot! – one of the race you hate and despise and are paid to exterminate. Assassin, I have spared you. Be not ungenerous. Spare others.”
The captain was moved. Still speechless, he seized the minister’s hands and wrung them. And from that hour to the day of his death – which was not for many years afterwards – the Huguenots had no truer friend than Andre Bonivon.
Werewolf Bones – A Haunting
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of a Werewolf haunting narrated by a Mr. Warren, who at the time he saw the phenomenon was staying in the Hebrides, which part of the British Isles is probably richer than any other in spooks of all sorts.
“I was about fifteen years of age at the time,” Mr. Warren said, “and had for several years been residing with my grandfather, who was an elder in the Kirk of Scotland. He was much interested in geology, and literally filled the house with fossils from the pits and caves round where we dwelt.
One morning he came home in a great state of excitement, and made me go with him to look at some ancient remains he had found at the bottom of a dried-up tarn. ‘Look!’ he cried, bending down and pointing at them, ‘here is a human skeleton with a wolf’s head. What do you make of it?’
I told him I did not know, but supposed it must be some kind of monstrosity. ‘It’s a werwolf!’ he rejoined, ‘that’s what it is. A werwolf! This island was once overrun with satyrs and werwolves! Help me carry it to the house.’
I did as he bid me, and we placed it on the table in the back kitchen. That evening I was left alone in the house, my grandfather and the other members of the household having gone to the kirk. For some time I amused myself reading, and then, fancying I heard a noise in the back premises, I went into the kitchen.
There was no one about, and becoming convinced that it could only have been a rat that had disturbed me, I sat on the table alongside the alleged remains of the werwolf, and waited to see if the noises would recommence. I was thus waiting in a listless sort of way, my back bent, my elbows on my knees, looking at the floor and thinking of nothing in particular, when there came a loud rat, tat, tat of knuckles on the window-pane.
I immediately turned in the direction of the noise and encountered, to my alarm, a dark face looking in at me. At first dim and indistinct, it became more and more complete, until it developed into a very perfectly defined head of a wolf terminating in the neck of a human being. Though greatly shocked, my first act was to look in every direction for a possible reflection – but in vain. There was no light either without or within, other than that from the setting sun – nothing that could in any way have produced an illusion.
I looked at the face and marked each feature intently. It was unmistakably a wolf’s face, the jaws slightly distended; the lips wreathed in a savage snarl; the teeth sharp and white; the eyes light green; the ears pointed. The expression of the face was diabolically malignant, and as it gazed straight at me my horror was as intense as my wonder.
This it seemed to notice, for a look of savage exultation crept into its eyes, and it raised one hand – a slender hand, like that of a woman, though with prodigiously long and curved finger-nails – menacingly, as if about to dash in the window-pane.
Remembering what my grandfather had told me about evil spirits, I crossed myself; but as this had no effect, and I really feared the thing would get at me, I ran out of the kitchen and shut and locked the door, remaining in the hall till the family returned.
My grandfather was much upset when I told him what had happened, and attributed my failure to make the spirit depart to my want of faith. Had he been there, he assured me, he would soon have got rid of it; but he nevertheless made me help him remove the bones from the kitchen, and we reinterred them in the very spot where we had found them, and where, for aught I know to the contrary, they still lie.”
Santa Claus And The Werewolf
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of a Werewolf haunting at Christmas.
A young married couple of the name of Anderson, having acquired, through the death of a relative, a snug fortune, resolved to retire from business and spend the rest of their lives in indolence and ease. Being fond of the country, they bought some land in Cumberland, at the foot of some hills, far away from any town, and built on it a large two-storied villa.
They soon, however, began to experience trouble with their servants, who left them on the pretext that the place was lonely, and that they could not put up with the noises that they heard at night. The Andersons ridiculed their servants, but when their children remarked on the same thing they viewed the matter more seriously.
“What are the noises like?” they inquired.
“Wild animals,” Willie, the eldest child, replied. “They come howling round the window at night and we hear their feet patter along the passage and stop at our door.”
Much mystified, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson decided to sit up with the children and listen. They did so, and between two and three in the morning were much startled by a noise that sounded like the growling of a wolf – Mr. Anderson had heard wolves in Canada – immediately beneath the window. Throwing open the window, he peered out; the moon was fully up and every stick and stone was plainly discernible; but there was now no sound and no sign of any animal. When he had closed the window the growling at once recommenced, yet when he looked again nothing was to be seen.
After a while the growling ceased, and they heard the front door, which they had locked before coming upstairs, open, and the footsteps of some big, soft-footed animal ascend the stairs. Mr. Anderson waited till the steps were just outside the room and then flung open the door, but the light from his acetylene lamp revealed a passage full of moonbeams – nothing else.
He and his wife were now thoroughly mystified. In the morning they explored the grounds, but could find no trace of footmarks, nothing to indicate the nature of their visitant. It was now close on Christmas, and as the noises had not been heard for some time, it was hoped that the disturbances would not occur again.
The Andersons, like all modern parents, made idols of their children. They never did wrong, nothing was too good for them, and everything they wanted they had. At Christmas, perhaps, their authority was more particularly in evidence; at any rate, it was then that the greatest care was taken that the menu should be in strict accordance with their instructions.
“What shall Santa Claus bring you this time, my darlings?” Mr. Anderson asked, a week or so before the great day arrived; and Willie, aged six, at once cried out: “What a fool you are, daddy! It is all tosh about old Claus, there’s no such person!”
“Wait and see!” Mr. Anderson meekly replied. “You mark my words, he will come into your room on Christmas Eve laden with presents.”
“I don’t believe it!” Willie retorted. “You told us that silly tale last year and I never saw any Claus!”
“He came when you were asleep, dearie,” Mrs. Anderson ventured to remark.
“Well! I’ll keep awake this time!” Willie shouted.
“And we’ll take the presents first and pinch old Claus afterwards,” Violet Evelyn, the second child, joined in.
“And I’ll prick his towsers wif pins!” Horace, aged three and a half, echoed. “I don’t care nothink for old Santa Claus!” and he pulled a long nose in the manner his doting father had taught him.
Christmas Eve came at last – a typical old-fashioned Christmas with heaps of snow on the ground and frost on the window-panes and trees. The Andersons’ house was warm and comfortable – for once in a way the windows were shut – and enormous fires blazed merrily away in the grates.
Whilst the children spent most of the day viewing the good things in the larder and speculating how much they could eat of each, and which would taste the nicest, Mr. Anderson rehearsed in full costume the role of Santa Claus. He had an enormous sack full of presents – everything the children had demanded – and he meant to enter their room with it on his shoulder at about twelve o’clock.
Tea-time came, and during the interval between that meal and supper all hands – even Horace’s – were at work, decorating the hall and staircases with holly and mistletoe. After supper “Good King Wencelas,” “Noel,” and one or two other carols were sung, and the children then decided to go to bed.
It was then ten o’clock; and exactly two hours later their father, elaborately clad as Santa Claus, and staggering, in the orthodox fashion, beneath a load of presents, shuffled softly down the passage leading to their room. The snow had ceased falling, the moon was out, and the passage flooded with a soft, phosphorescent glow that threw into strong relief every minute object.
Mr. Anderson had got half-way along it when on his ears there suddenly fell a faint sound of yelping! His whole frame thrilled and his mind reverted to the scenes of his youth – to the prairies in the far-off West, where, over and over again, he had heard these sounds, and his faithful Winchester repeater had stood him in good service.
Again the yelping – this time nearer. Yes! it was undoubtedly a wolf; and yet there was an intonation in that yelping not altogether wolfish – something Mr. Anderson had never heard before, and which he was consequently at a loss to define. Again it rang out – much nearer this time – much more trying to the nerves, and the cold sweat of fear burst out all over him. Again – close under the wall of the house – a moaning, snarling, drawn-out cry that ended in a whine so piercing that Mr. Anderson’s knees shook.
One of the children, Violet Evelyn he thought, stirred in her bed and muttered: “Santa Claus! Santa Claus!” and Mr. Anderson, with a desperate effort, staggered on under his load and opened their door.
The clock in the hall beneath began to strike twelve. Santa Claus, striving hard to appear jolly and genial, entered the room, and a huge grey, shadowy figure entered with him. A slipper thrown by Willie whizzed through the air, and, narrowly missing Santa Claus, fell to the ground with a clatter.
There was then a deathly silence, and Violet and Horace, raising their heads, saw two strange figures standing in the centre of the room staring at one another – the one figure they at once identified by the costume. He was Santa Claus – but not the genial, rosy-cheeked Santa Claus their father had depicted. On the contrary, it was a Santa Claus with a very white face and frightened eyes – a Santa Claus that shook as if the snow and ice had given him the ague.
But the other figure – what was it? Something very tall, far taller than their father, nude and grey, something like a man with the head of a wolf – a wolf with white pointed teeth and horrid, light eyes. Then they understood why it was that Santa Claus trembled; and Willie stood by the side of his bed, white and silent.
It is impossible to say how long this state of things would have lasted, or what would eventually have happened, had not Mrs. Anderson, anxious to see how Santa Claus was faring, and rather wondering why he was gone so long, resolved herself to visit the children’s room. As the light from her candle appeared on the threshold of the room the thing with the wolf’s head vanished.
“Why, whatever were you all doing?” she began. Then Santa Claus and the children all spoke at once – whilst the sack of presents tumbled unheeded on the floor. Every available candle was soon lighted, and mother and father and Willie, Violet and Horace all spent the remainder of that night in close company.
On the following day it was proposed, and carried unanimously, that the house should be put up for sale. This was done at the earliest opportunity, and fortunately for the Andersons suitable tenants were soon found.
Before leaving, however, Mr. Anderson made another and more exhaustive search of the grounds, and discovered, in a cave in the hills immediately behind the house, a number of bones. Amongst them was the skull of a wolf, and lying close beside it a human skeleton, with only the skull missing. Mr. Anderson burnt the bones, hoping that by so doing he would rid the house of its unwelcome visitor; and, as his tenants so far have not complained, he believes that the hauntings have actually ceased.
Encounter With A Werewolf Spirit
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of what might well be the earth-bound spirit of a Werewolf.
A Miss St. Denis told me she was once staying on a farm, in Merionethshire, where she witnessed a phenomenon of this class. The farm, though some distance from the village, was not far off the railway station, a very diminutive affair, with only one platform and a mere box that served as a waiting-room and booking-office combined. It was, moreover, one of those stations where the separate duties of station-master, porter, booking-clerk, and ticket-collector are performed by one and the same person, and where the signal always appears to be down.
As the platform commanded the only paintable view in the neighbourhood, Miss St. Denis often used to resort there with her sketch-book. On one occasion she had stayed rather later than usual, and on rising hurriedly from her camp-stool saw, to her surprise, a figure which she took to be that of a man, sitting on a truck a few yards distant, peering at her. I say to her surprise, because, excepting on the rare occasion of a train arriving, she had never seen anyone at the station besides the station-master, and in the evening the platform was invariably deserted.
The loneliness of the place was for the first time brought forcibly home to her. The station-master’s tiny house was at least some hundred yards away, and beyond that there was not another habitation nearer than the farm. On all sides of her, too, were black, frowning precipices, full of seams and fissures and inequalities, showing vague and shadowy in the fading rays of the sun.
Here and there were the huge, gaping mouths of gloomy slate quarries that had long been disused, and were now half full of foul water. Around them the earth was heaped with loose fragments of rock which had evidently been detached from the principal mass and shivered to pieces in the fall. A few trees, among which were the black walnut, the slippery elm, and here and there an oak, grew among the rocks, and attested by their dwarfish stature the ungrateful soil in which they had taken root.
It was not an exhilarating scene, but it was one that had a peculiar fascination for Miss St. Denis – a fascination she could not explain, and which she now began to regret.
The darkness had come on very rapidly, and was especially concentrated, so it seemed to her, round the spot where she sat, and she could make nothing out of the silent figure on the truck, save that it had unpleasantly bright eyes and there was something queer about it. She coughed to see if that would have any effect, and as it had none she coughed again.
Then she spoke and said, “Can you tell me the time, please?”
But there was no reply, and the figure still sat there staring at her. Then she grew uneasy and, packing up her things, walked out of the station, trying her best to look as if nothing had occurred. She glanced over her shoulder; the figure was following her. Quickening her pace, she assumed a jaunty air and whistled, and turning round again, saw the strange figure still coming after her.
The road would soon be at its worst stage of loneliness, and, owing to the cliffs on either side of it, almost pitch dark. Indeed, the spot positively invited murder, and she might shriek herself hoarse without the remotest chance of making herself heard. To go on with this outre figure so unmistakably and persistently stalking her, was out of the question.
Screwing up courage, she swung round, and, raising herself to her full height, cried: “What do you want? How dare you?”
She got no further, for a sudden spurt of dying sunlight, playing over the figure, showed her it was nothing human, nothing she had ever conceived possible. It was a nude grey thing, not unlike a man in body, but with a wolf’s head. As it sprang forward, its light eyes ablaze with ferocity, she instinctively felt in her pocket, whipped out a pocket flash-light, and pressed the button. The effect was magical; the creature shrank back, and putting two paw-like hands in front of its face to protect its eyes, faded into nothingness.
She subsequently made inquiries, but could learn nothing beyond the fact that, in one of the quarries close to the place where the phantasm had vanished, some curious bones, partly human and partly animal, had been unearthed, and that the locality was always shunned after dusk. Miss St. Denis thought as I did, that what she had seen might very well have been the earth-bound spirit of a werwolf.
A Werewolf Exorcism Story
“A full description of the practice and failure of exorcism was cited to me the other day in connexion with a comparatively recent happening in Asiatic Russia.”
~Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912.
Tina Peroviskei, a wealthy young widow, who lived in St. Nicholas Street, Moscow – not a hundred yards from the house of Herr Schauman, the well-known German banker and horticulturist (every one in Russia has heard of the Schauman tulips) – met a gentleman named Ivan Baranoff at a friend’s house, and, despite the warning of her brother, married him.
Ivan Baranoff did not look more than thirty years of age. He was usually dressed in grey furs – a grey fur coat, grey fur leggings, and a grey fur cap. His features were very handsome – at least, so Tina thought – his hair was flaxen, glossy, and bright as a mirror; and his mouth, when open, displayed a most brilliant set of even, white teeth. Tina had three children by her first husband, and the fuss Ivan Baranoff made of them pleased her immensely. Their own father never evinced a greater anxiety for their welfare. Ivan brought them the most expensive toys and sweetmeats – particularly sweetmeats – and would insist on seeing for himself that they had plenty of rich, creamy milk, fresh eggs, and the best of butter.
“You’ll kill them with kindness,” Tina often remonstrated. “They are too fat by half now.”
“They can’t be too fat,” Ivan would reply. “No one is too fat. I love to see rosy cheeks and stout limbs. Wait till you’re in the country! Then you may talk about putting on flesh. The air there will fatten you even more than the food.”
“Then we shall burst, and there will be an end of us,” Tina would laughingly say.
But despite all this, despite the way in which he fondled and caressed them, the children involuntarily shrank away from Ivan; and on Tina angrily demanding the reason, they told her they could not help it – there was something in his bright eyes and touch that frightened them. When Tina’s brothers and sisters heard of this, they upheld the children.
“We are not in the least surprised,” they said; “his eyes are cruel – so are his lips; and as for his eyebrows – those dark, straight eyebrows that meet in a point over the nose – why, every one knows what a bad sign that is!”
But Tina grew so angry they had to desist. “You are jealous,” she said to her brothers. “You envy him his looks and money.” And to her sisters she said, “You only wish you could have had him yourselves. You know I love him already far more than I ever loved Rupert.” (Rupert was her first husband.)
And within a month or so of the marriage Tina left all her relatives in Moscow, and, accompanied by her children and dogs – some people hinted that Tina was fonder of her dogs than of her children – went with Ivan Baranoff to his ancestral home near Orsk.
Though accustomed to the cold, Tina found the climate of Orsk almost more than she could bear. Her husband’s house, which occupied an extremely solitary position on the confines of a gloomy forest, some few miles from the town, was a large, grey stone building full of dark winding passages and dungeon-like rooms. The furniture was scant, and the rooms, with the exception of those devoted to herself, her husband and the children, which were covered with crimson drugget, were carpetless.
A more barren, inhospitable looking house could not be imagined, and the moment Tina entered it, her spirits sank to zero. The atmosphere of the place frightened her the most. It was not that it was merely forlorn and cheerless, but there was a something in it that reminded her of the smell of the animal houses in the Zoological Gardens in Moscow, and a something she could not analyse – a something which she concluded must be peculiar to the house. The children were very much upset. The sight of the dark entrance hall and wide, silent staircases, bathed in gloom, terrified them.
“Oh, mother!” they cried, clutching hold of Tina Baranoff and dragging her back, “we can never live here. Take us away at once. Look at those things. Whatever are they?” And they pointed to the shadows – queerly shaped shadows – that lay in thick clusters on the stairs and all around them.
Tina did not know what to say. Her own apprehensions and the only too obvious terror of the dogs, whom she had literally to drive across the threshold, and who whined and cringed at her feet, confirming the children’s fears, made it impossible for her to check them. Moreover, since leaving Moscow the warnings of her friends and relations had often come back to her.
Though Ivan had never ceased to be kind, his conduct roused her suspicions. During the journey, which he had insisted should be performed in a droshky, he halted every evening directly the moon became invisible, and used to disappear regularly between dusk and sunrise. He would never tell her where he went or attempt to explain the oddness of his conduct, but when pressed by her would merely say:
“It is a habit. I always like to roam abroad in the night-time – it would be very bad for my health if I did not.”
And this was all Tina could get out of him. She noticed, too, what her blind infatuation had prevented her observing before, that there was a fierce expression in his eyes when he set out on these nocturnal rambles, and that on his return the corners of his mouth and his long finger-nails were always smeared with blood. Furthermore, she noticed that although he was concerned about the appetites of herself and the children, he ate very little cooked food himself – never vegetables or bread – and would often furtively put a raw piece of meat into his mouth when he thought no one was looking.
Tina hoped that these irregularities would cease on their arrival at the chateau, but, on the contrary, they rather increased, and she became greatly perturbed.
The second night after their arrival, when she had been in bed some time and was nearly asleep, Tina, between her half-closed eyelids, watched her husband get out of bed, stealthily open the window, and drop from the sill. Some hours later she was again aroused. She heard the growl of a wolf – and immediately afterwards saw Ivan’s grey-clad head at the window. He came softly into the room, and as he tiptoed across the floor to the washstand, Tina saw splashes of blood on his face and coat, whilst it dripped freely from his finger-tips.
In the morning the news was brought her by the children that one of her favourite dogs was dead – eaten by some wild animal, presumably a wolf. Tina’s position now became painful in the extreme. She was more than suspicious of her husband, and had no one – saving her children – in whom she could confide.
The house seemed to be under a ban; no one, not even a postman or tradesman, ever came near it, and with the exception of the two servants, whose silent, gliding movements and light glittering eyes filled both her and her children with infinite dread, she did not see a soul.
On four consecutive nights one of her four dogs was killed, each in precisely the same manner; and on each of these consecutive nights Tina watched Ivan surreptitiously leave the house and return all bloodstained, and accompanied by the distant howl of wolves. And on the day following the death of each dog respectively, Tina noticed the grey glinting eyes of the two servants become more and more earnestly fixed on the children and herself.
At meal-times the eyes never left her; she was conscious of their scrutiny at every mouthful she took; and when she passed them in the passages, she instinctively felt their gaze following her steadily till she was out of sight. Sometimes, hearing a stealthy breathing outside her room, she would quickly open the door, demanding who was there; and she invariably caught one or other of the servants slinking away disconcerted, but still peeping at her furtively from under his long pointed eyebrows.
When she spoke to them they answered her in harsh, curiously discordant tones, and usually only in monosyllables; but she never heard them converse with one another save in whispers – always in whispers.
The house was now full of shadows – and whispers. They haunted her even in her sleep. For the first two or three days her husband had been communicative; but he gradually grew more and more taciturn, until at last he rarely said anything at all. He merely watched her – watched her wherever she went, and whatever she did; and he watched the children – particularly the children – with the same expression, the same undefinable secretive expression that harmonized so well with the shadows and whispers.
And it was this treatment – the treatment she now received from her husband – that made Tina appreciate the company of her children. Before, they had been quite a tertiary consideration – Ivan had come first; then the dogs; and lastly, Hilda, Olga, and Peter. But this order was at length reversed; and on the death of the last of her pets, Hilda, Olga and Peter stood first. She spent practically every minute of the day with them; and, despite the protestations of her husband, converted her dressing-room into a bedroom for them.
The first evening of their removal to their new quarters, Tina sat and played with them till one after another they fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Then she sat beside them and examined them curiously. Hilda, the eldest, was lying composed and orderly, with pale cheek and smooth hair, her limbs straight, her head slightly bent, the bedclothes unruffled upon the regularly heaving chest.
How pretty Hilda looked, and how odd it was that she, Tina, had never noticed the beauty of the child before! Why, with her fair complexion, delicate features, and perfectly shaped arms and hands she would undoubtedly one day take all Moscow by storm; and every one would say, “Do you know who that lovely girl is? She is the daughter of Tina – Tina Baranoff. [She shuddered at the name Baranoff.] No wonder she is beautiful!”
Tina turned from Hilda to Olga. What a contrast, but not an unpleasant one – for Olga was pretty, too, though in a different style. What a sight! – defying all order and bursting all bounds, flushed, tumbled and awry – the round arms tossed up, the rosy face flung back, the bedclothes pushed off, the pillow flung out, the nightcap one way, the hair another – all that was disorderly and lovely by night, all that was unruly and winning by day. Tina – dainty, elegant, perfumed, manicured Tina – bent over untidy little Olga and kissed her.
Then she turned to Peter, and, unable to resist the temptation, tickled his toes and woke him. When she had at last sent him to sleep again, it was almost dinner-time; and she had barely got into her dress when one of the servants rapped at the door to say that the meal was ready. The house was very large, and Tina had to pass through two halls and down a long corridor before reaching the room where the dinner was served.
Rather to her relief than otherwise, her husband did not put in an appearance, and a note from him informed her that he had unexpectedly been called away on business and would not be able to return till late the following day.
Tina did not enjoy her dinner. The soup had rather a peculiar flavour, but she knew it was useless to make any comment. The servants either could not or would not understand, and Ivan invariably upheld them in everything they did. Unable to bear the man’s eyes continually fixed on her, she told him not to wait, and hurried through the meal so as to get him out of the way, and be left for the rest of the evening in peace.
The big wood fire appealed to Tina – it was the only thing in that part of the house that seemed to have any life – and she resolved to sit by it, and, perhaps, skim through a book. Tina seldom read – in Moscow, all her evenings were spent at cards. She remembered, however, that somebody had told her repeatedly, and emphatically, that she ought to read Tolstoy’s “Resurrection,” and she had actually brought it with her. Now she would wade through it. But whether it was the heat of the fire, or the lateness of the hour, or both, her senses grew more and more drowsy, and before she had begun to read, she fell asleep.
She was, at length, partially awakened by a loud noise. At first her sleepy senses paid little attention and she dozed on. But again she was roused. A noise which grew louder and louder at last compelled her to shake off sleep, and starting up, she opened the door and looked into the passage.
A few streaks of moonlight, streaming through an iron grating high up in the wall, enabled her to see a tall figure stealing softly along the corridor, with its back towards her. The thing was so extraordinary that for a moment or so she fancied she must still be dreaming; but the cold night air blowing freely in her face speedily assured her that what she saw was grim reality.
The thing was a monstrosity, a hideous hybrid of man and beast, and as she gazed at it, too horror-stricken to move, a second and third form exactly similar to it crept out from among the shadows against the wall and joined it. And Tina, yielding to a sudden fascination, followed in their wake. In this fashion they crossed the hall and ascended the staircase,
Tina keeping well behind them. She knew where they were aiming for, and any little doubt that she might have had was set at rest, when they turned into the passage leading to her bedroom. A moaning cry of fear from one of the children told her that they, too, knew by intuition of their coming danger. Tina was now in an agony of mind as to what to do for the best.
That the intention of these hideous creatures – be they what they might – phantasms or things of flesh and blood – was sinister, she had not the slightest doubt; but how could she prevent them getting at her children? The most she could do would be to shout to Hilda and tell her to lock the two doors. But would that keep them out?
She opened her mouth and jerked out “Hilda!” She tried again, but her throat had completely dried up, and she could not articulate another syllable. The sound, however, though faint, had been sufficient to attract the attention of the hindermost creature. It turned, and the light from the moon, coming through the half-open door of her bedroom, shone on its glittering eyes and white teeth. It sprang towards her.
With one convulsive bound Tina cleared the threshold of a room immediately behind her, dashed the door to – locked it – barred it – flung a chair against it; and stood in an agony, for which no words exist. She seemed to see, all in a moment, herself safe, and her children – not a door closed between them and those dreadful jaws! She then became stupefied with terror, and a strange, dinning sound, like the pulsation of her heart, filled her ears and shut out every sense.
“It is a devil! a devil!” she repeated mechanically; and then, forcing herself out of the trance-like feeling that oppressed her, she combated with the cowardice that prevented her rushing out – if only to die in an attempt to save her children. She had not realized till then that it was possible to care for them more even – much more even – than she had cared for her dogs.
She placed one hand on the lock, and looked round for some weapon of defense. There was not a thing she could use – not a stanchion to the window, not a rod to the bed. And even if there had been, how futile in her puny grip! She glanced at her tiny white fingers with their carefully trimmed and polished nails, and smiled – a grim smile of irony. Then she placed her ear against the panels of the door and listened – and from the other side came the sound of heavy panting and the stealthy movement of hands.
Suddenly a scream rang out, so clear and vibrating, so full of terror, that her heart stood still and her blood congealed. It was Hilda! Hilda shrieking “Mother!” There it was again, “Mother! Mother! Help! Help!” Then a series of savage snarls and growls and more shrieks – the combined shrieks of all three children.
Shrieks and growls were then mingled together in one dreadful, hideous pandemonium, which all of a sudden ceased, and was succeeded by the loud crunching and cracking of bones. At last that, too, ceased, and Tina heard footsteps rapidly approaching her door. For a moment the room and everything in it swam round her. She felt choked; the dinning in her ears came again, it beat louder and louder and completely paralyzed her.
A crash on the door panel, however, abruptly restored her faculties, and the idea of escaping by the window for the first time entered her mind. If her husband could use the window as a means of exit, why couldn’t she?
Not a second was to be lost – the creatures outside were now striving their utmost to get in. It was the work of a moment to throw open the window, and almost before she knew she had opened it, she found herself standing on the ground beneath. The night had grown darker; she could not see the path; she knew that she was losing time, and yet that all depended on her haste; she felt fevered with impatience, yet torpid with terror. At length she disengaged herself from the broken, uneven soil on to which she had dropped, and struggled forward.
On and on she went, not knowing where her next step would land her, and dreading every moment to hear the steps of her pursuers. The darkness of the night favoured her, and by dodging in and out the bushes and never keeping to the same track, although still keeping a forward course, she successfully eluded her enemies, whose hoarse cries gradually grew fainter and fainter.
By good luck she reached the high road, which eventually brought her to Orsk; and there she sought shelter in a hotel. In the morning, on learning from the landlord that a friend of hers, a Colonel Majendie, was in the town, Tina sought him out, and into his sympathizing ears poured the story of her adventures.
Now it so happened that a priest of the name of Rappaport, a friend of the Colonel’s, came in before Tina had finished her story, and on being told what had happened, declared that Ivan Baranoff and his servants had long been suspected of being werwolves. He then begged that before anything was done to them he might be allowed to try his powers of exorcism.
The Colonel ridiculed the idea, but in the end was persuaded to postpone his visit to the chateau till the evening, and to go there with an escort, a quartette of his most trusted soldiers, and accompanied by his friend the Rev. Father Rappaport. Accordingly, at about nine o’clock the party set out, and, on arriving at the house, found it in total darkness and apparently deserted.
But they had not waited long before a series of savage growls from the adjacent thicket put them on their guard, and almost immediately afterwards three werwolves stalked across the path and prepared to enter the house. At a word from the Colonel the soldiers leaped forward, and after a most desperate scuffle, in which they were all more or less badly mauled, succeeded in securing their quarry.
In more civilized parts of the country the police would have been called in, but here, where that good old law, “Might is right,” still held good, a man in the Colonel’s position could do whatever he deemed most expedient, and Colonel Majendie had made up his mind that justice should no longer be delayed. The chateau had borne an ill reputation for generations. From time immemorial Ivan Baranoff’s ancestors had been suspected of lycanthropy, and this last deed of the family was their crowning atrocity.
“You may exorcize the devils first,” the Colonel grimly remarked to the priest, wiping the blood off his sleeves. “We will hang and quarter the brutes afterwards.”
To this the holy Father willingly agreed, for he did not care what happened so long as his exorcism was successful.
The rites that were performed in connexion with this ceremony (and which I understand are those most commonly observed in exorcising all manner of evil spirits) were as follows: –
A circle of seven feet radius was drawn on the ground in white chalk. At the centre of the circle were inscribed, in yellow chalk, certain magical figures representing Mercury, and about them was drawn, in white chalk, a triangle within a circle of three feet radius – the centre of the circle being the same as that of the outer circle. Within this inner circle were then placed the three captive werwolves.
It would be well to explain here that in exorcism, as well as in the evocation of spirits, great attention must be paid to the position of the stars, as astrology exercises the greatest influence on the spirit world. The present occasion, the reverend Father pointed out, was specially favourable for the casting out of devils, since from 8.32 p.m. to 9.16 p.m. was under the dominion of the great angel Mercury – the most bitter opponent of all evil spirits; that is to say, Mercury was in 17 deg. on the cusp of Seventh House, slightly to south of due west.
Round the outer circle the reverend Father now proceeded to place, at equal intervals, hand-lamps, burning olive oil. He then erected a rude altar of wood, about a foot to the southeast of the circumference of the inner circle. Exactly opposite this altar, and about 1-1/2 feet to the far side of the circumference of the inner circle, he ordered the soldiers to build a fire, and to place over it a tripod and pot, the latter containing two pints of pure spring water.
He then prepared a mixture consisting of these ingredients: –
- 2 drachms of sulphur.
- 1/2 oz. of castoreum.
- 6 drachms of opium.
- 3 drachms of asafoetida.
- 1/2 oz. of hypericum.
- 3/4 oz. of ammonia.
- 1/2 oz. of camphor.
When this was thoroughly mixed he put it in the water in the pot, adding to it a portion of a mandrake root, a live snake, two live toads in linen bags, and a fungus. He then bound together, with red tape, a wand consisting of three sprigs taken, respectively, from an ash, birch, and white poplar.
He next proceeded to pray, kneeling in front of the altar; and continued praying till the unearthly cries of the toads announced the fact that the water, in which they were immersed, was beginning to boil.
Slowly getting up and crossing himself, he went to the fire, and dipping a cup in the pot, solemnly approached the werwolves, and slashing them severely across the head with his wand, dashed in their faces the seething liquid, calling out as he did so:
“In the name of Our Blessed Lady
I command thee to depart.
Black, evil devils from hell, begone!
Begone! Again I say, Begone!”
He repeated this three times to the vociferous yells of the smarting werwolves, who struggled so frantically that they succeeded in bursting their bonds, and, leaping to their feet, endeavoured to escape into the bushes. The soldiers at once rose in pursuit and the priest was left alone. He had got rid of the flesh and blood, and he presumed he had got rid of the devils. But that remained to be proved.
In the chase that ensued one of the werwolves was shot, and, simultaneously with death, metamorphosis into the complete form of a huge grey wolf took place. The other two eluded their pursuers for some time, but were eventually tracked owing to the discovery of the half-eaten remains of an old woman and two children in a cave. True to their lupine natures, they showed no fight when cornered, and a couple of well-directed bullets put an end to their existence – the same metamorphosis occurring in their case as in the case of their companion.
With the death of the three werwolves the chateau, one would naturally have thought, might have emerged from its ban. But no such thing. It speedily acquired a reputation for being haunted.
And that it was haunted – haunted not only by werwolves but by all sorts of ghastly phantasms – I have no doubt.
I was told, not long ago, that Tina, whose property it became, pulled it down, and that another house, replete with every modern luxury – but equally haunted – now marks the site of the old chateau.
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