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 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.
A Narrow Escape
“The following story, which I believe to be true in the main, was told me by a Dr. Broniervski, whom I met in Boulogne.”
~Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912.
“Ten years ago,” my informant began, “I was engaged in a geological expidition in Montenegro. I left Cetinge in company with my escort, Dugald Dalghetty, a Dalmatian who had served me on many former occasions; but owing to an accident I was compelled to leave him behind at a village about thirty miles east of the capital. As it was absolutely necessary for me to have a guide, I chose a Montenegrin called Kniaz.
Dalghetty warned me against him. ‘Kniaz has the evil eye,’ he said; ‘he will bring misfortune on you. Choose some one else.’
“Kniaz was certainly not particularly prepossessing. He was tall and angular, and pock-marked and sandy-haired; and his eyes had a peculiar cast – only a cast, of course, nothing more. To balance these detractions he was civil in his manners and extremely moderate in his terms. Dalghetty, faithful fellow, almost wept as he watched us depart. ‘I shall never see you again,’ he said. ‘Never!’
“Just outside the last cottage in the village we passed a gigantic, broad-shouldered man, clad in the usual clothes of frieze, a black skullcap, wide trousers, and tights from the knee to the ankle. Over his shoulders was a new white strookah, of which he seemed very proud; whilst he had a perfect armament of weapons – rifles, pistols, yatagan – polished up to the knocker – and cartouche-box.
He was conversing with a girl at one of the windows, but turned as we came up to him and leered impudently at Kniaz. The sallow in Kniaz’s cheeks turned to white, and the cast in his eyes became ten times more pronounced. But he said nothing – only drooped his head and shuffled a little closer to me.
“For the rest of the day he spoke little; and I could tell from his expression and general air of dejection that he was still brooding over the incident. The following morning – we stayed the night in a wayside inn – Kniaz informed me that the route we had intended taking to Skaravoski – the town I meant to make the head quarters for my daily excursions – was blocked (a blood feud had suddenly been declared between two tribes), and that consequently we should have to go by some other way.
I inquired who had told him and whether he was sure the information was correct. He replied that our host had given him the warning, and that the possibility of such an occurrence had been suggested to him before leaving Cetinge. ‘But,’ he added, ‘there is no need to worry, for the other road, though somewhat wild and rough, is, in reality, quite as safe, and certainly a good league and a half shorter.’
As it made no very great difference to me which way I went, I acquiesced. There was no reason to suspect Kniaz of any sinister motive – cases of treachery on the part of escorts are practically unknown in Montenegro – and if it were true that some of the tribes were engaged in a vendetta, then I certainly agreed that we could not give them too wide a berth. At the same time I could not help observing a strange innovation in Kniaz’s character.
Besides the sullenness that had laid hold of him since his encounter with the man and girl, he now exhibited a restless eagerness – his eyes were never still, his lips constantly moved, and I could frequently hear him muttering to himself as we trudged along. He asked me several times if I believed in the supernatural, and when I laughingly replied ‘No, I am far too practical and level-headed,’ he said ‘Wait. We are now in the land of spirits. You will soon change your opinion.’
“The country we were traversing was certainly forbidding – forbidding enough to be the hunting ground of legions of ferocious animals. But the supernatural! Bah! I flouted such an idea.
All day we journeyed along a lofty ridge, from which, shortly before dusk, it became necessary to descend by a narrow and precipitous declivity, full of danger and difficulty. At the bottom we halted three or four hours, to wait for the moon, in a position sufficiently romantic and uncomfortable. A north-east wind, cold and biting, came whistling over the hills, and seemed to be sucked down into the hollow where we sat on the chilly stones.
The moment we sighted the slightly depressed orb of the moon over the vast hill of rocks, and the Milky Way spanning the heavens with a brilliancy seen only in the East, we pushed on again. On, along a painfully rough and uneven track, flanked on either side by perpendicular masses of rock that reared themselves, black and frowning, like some huge ruined wall. On, till we eventually came to the end of the defile. Then an extraordinary scene burst upon us.
“Whilst the irregular line of rocks continued close on our left, beyond it – glittering in the miraculously magnifying moonlight with more gigantic proportions than nature had afforded – was a huge pile of white rocks, looking like the fortifications of some vast fabulous city. There were yawning gateways flanked by bastions of great altitude; towers and pyramids; crescents and domes; and dizzy pinnacles; and castellated heights; all invested with the unearthly grandeur of the moon, yet showing in their wide breaches and indescribable ruin sure proofs that during a long course of ages they had been battered and undermined by rain, hurricane, and lightning, and all the mighty artillery of time.
Piled on one another, and repeated over and over again, these strangely contorted rocks stretched as far as the eye could reach, sinking, however, as they receded, and leading the mind, though not the eye, down to the plain below, through which a turbid stream wound its way rebelliously, like some great twisting, twirling, silvery-scaled serpent.
“It was into this gorge that Kniaz in a voice thrilling with excitement informed me we must plunge.
“‘It is called,’ he explained to me, ‘the haunted valley, and it is said to have been from time immemorial under the spell of the grey spirits – a species of phantasm, half man and half animal, that have the power of metamorphosing men into wild beasts.’
Horses, he went on to inform me, showed the greatest reluctance to enter the valley, which was a sure proof that the place was in very truth phantom-ridden. I must say its appearance favoured that theory. The path by which we descended was almost perpendicular, and filled with shadows. Precipices hemmed us in on every side; and here and there a huge fragment of rock, standing like a petrified giant, its summit gleaming white in the moonbeams, barred our way.
“On reaching the bottom we found ourselves exactly opposite the pile of white rocks, at the base of which roared the stream. Kniaz now declared that our best plan was to halt and bivouac here for the night. I expostulated, saying that I did not feel in the least degree tired, that the spot was far from comfortable, and that I preferred to push on.
Kniaz then pleaded that he was too exhausted to proceed, and, in fact, whined to such an extent that in the end I gave way, and lying down under cover of a boulder, tried to imagine myself in bed. I did actually fall asleep, and awoke with the sensation of something crawling over my face.
Sitting up, I looked around for Kniaz – he was nowhere to be seen. The oddness of his behaviour, his alternate talkativeness and sullenness, and the anxiety he had manifested to come by this route, made me at last suspicious. Had he any ulterior motive in leading me hither? What had become of him? Where was he?
I got up and approached the margin of the stream, and then for the first time I felt frightened. The illimitable possibilities of that enormous mass of castellated rocks towering above me both quelled and fascinated me. Were these flickering shadows shadows, or – or had Kniaz, after all, spoken the truth when he said this valley was haunted?
The moonlight rendered every object I looked upon so startlingly vivid, that not even the most trivial detail escaped my notice, and the more I scrutinized the more firmly the conviction grew on me that I was in a neighbourhood differing essentially from any spot I had hitherto visited. I saw nothing with which I had been formerly conversant.
The few trees at hand resembled no growth of either the torrid, temperate, or northern frigid zones, and were altogether unlike those of the southern latitudes with which I was most familiar. The very rocks were novel in their mass, their colour, and their stratification; and the stream itself, utterly incredible as it may appear, had so little in common with the streams of other countries that I shrank away from it in alarm. I am at a loss to give any distinct idea of the nature of the water. I can only say it was not like ordinary water, either in appearance or behaviour.
Even in the moonlight it was not colourless, nor was it of any one colour, presenting to the eye every variety of green and blue. Although it fell over stones and rocks with the same rapid descent as ordinary water, it made no sound, neither splash nor gurgle.
Summoning up courage, I dipped my fingers in the stream; it was quite cold and limpid. The difference did not lie there. I was still puzzling over this phenomenon, still debating in my mind the possibility of the valley being haunted, when I heard a cry – a peculiarly ominous cry – human and yet animal. For a few seconds I was too overcome with fear to move. At last, however, having in some measure pulled myself together, I ventured cautiously in the direction of the noise, and after treading as lightly as I could over the rough and rocky soil for some couple of hundred yards, suddenly came to an abrupt standstill.
“Kneeling beside the stream with its back turned to me was an extraordinary figure – a thing with a man’s body and an animal’s head – a dark, shaggy head with unmistakable prick ears. I gazed at it aghast. What was it? What was it doing?
As I stared it bent down, lapped the water, and raising its head, uttered the same harrowing sound that had brought me thither. I then saw, with a fresh start of wonder, that its hands, which shone very white in the moonlight, were undergoing a gradual metamorphosis. I watched carefully, and first one finger, and then another, became amalgamated in a long, furry paw, armed with sharp, formidable talons.
“I suppose that in my fear and astonishment I made some sound of sufficient magnitude to attract attention; anyhow, the creature at once swung round, and, with a snarl of rage, rushed savagely at me. Being unarmed, and also, I confess, unnerved, I completely lost my presence of mind, and not attempting to escape – though flight would have been futile, for I was nothing of a runner – shrieked aloud for help.
The thing sprang at me, its jaws wide open, its eyes red with rage. I struck at it wildly, and have dim recollections of my puny blows landing on its face. It closed in on me, and gripping me tightly round the body with its sinewy arms, hurled me to the ground. My head came in violent contact with a stone, and I lost consciousness. On recovering my senses, I was immeasurably surprised to find Dalghetty sitting on a rock watching me, whilst close beside him was Kniaz, bloodstained and motionless.
“Dalghetty explained the situation. ‘Convinced that evil would befall you in the company of such a man,’ he said, pointing to the figure at his feet, ‘I determined to set out in pursuit of you. By a miracle, which I attribute to Our Lady, the effects of my accident suddenly wore off, and I felt absolutely well. I borrowed a horse, and, starting from Cetinge at nine this morning, reached the inn where you passed last night at eleven. There I learned the route you had taken, and leaving the horse behind – on such a road I was safer on my legs – I pressed on.
The ground, being moist in places, revealed your footprints, and I had no difficulty at all in tracing you to the bottom of the declivity. There I was at sea for some moments, since the rocky soil was too hard to receive any impressions. But hearing the howl of some wild animal, I concluded you were attacked, and, guided by the sound, I arrived here to find a werwolf actually preparing to devour you. A bullet from my rifle speedily rendered the creature harmless, and a close inspection of it proved that my surmises were only too correct. It was none other than our friend here with the evil eye – Kniaz!’
“‘Kniaz a werwolf!’ I ejaculated.
“‘Yes! he inveigled you here because he had made up his mind to drink the water of the enchanted stream, and so become metamorphosed from a man to a wild beast. His object in doing so was to destroy a young farmer who had stolen his sweetheart, and for whom he, as a man, was no match. However, he is harmless now, but it is a warning to you in future to trust no one who has the evil eye.'”
An Encounter With A Werewolf
From the book Werwolves, by Elliott O’Donnell, first published in 1912, we have this account of a lupine phantasm representing the personality of the werewolf which occurred in Estonia, on the shores of the Baltic.
A gentleman and his sister, whom I will call Stanislaus and Anno D’Adhemar, were invited to spend a few weeks with their old friends, the Baron and Baroness Von A—, at their country home in Estonia. On the day arranged, they set out for their friends’ house, and alighting at a little station, within twenty miles of their destination, were met by the Baron’s droshky.
It was one of those exquisite evenings – a night light without moon, a day shady without clouds – peculiar to that clime. Indeed, it seemed as if the last glow of the evening and the first grey of the morning had melted together, and as if all the luminaries of the sky merely rested their beams without withdrawing them.
To Stanislaus and Anno, jaded with the wear and tear of life in a big city, the calm and quiet of the country-side was most refreshing, and they heaved great sighs of contentment as they leaned far back amid the luxurious upholstery of the carriage, and drew in deep breaths of the smokeless, pure, scented air. Their surroundings modelled their thoughts. Instead of discussing monetary matters, which had so long been uppermost in their minds, they discoursed on the wonderful economy of happiness in a world full of toil and struggle; the fewer the joys, they argued, the higher the enjoyment, till the last and highest joy of all, true peace of mind, i.e., content, was the one joy found to contain every other joy.
Occasionally they paused to remark on the brilliant lustre of the stars, and, not infrequently, alluded to the Creator’s graciousness in allowing them to behold such beauty. Occasionally, too, they would break off in the midst of their conversation to listen to the plaintive utterings of some night bird or the shrill cry of a startled hare.
The rate at which they were progressing – for the horses were young and fresh – speedily brought them to an end of the open country, and they found themselves suddenly immersed in the deepening gloom of a dense and extensive forest of pines. The track now was not quite so smooth; here and there were big ruts, and Stanislaus and his sister were subjected to such a vigorous bumping that they had to hold on to the sides of the droshky, and to one another.
In the altered conditions of their travel, conversation was well-nigh impossible. The little they attempted was unceremoniously jerked out of them, and the nature of it – I am loath to admit – had somewhat deteriorated. It had, in fact, in accordance with their surroundings, undergone a considerable change.
“What a vile road!” Stanislaus exclaimed, clutching the side of the droshky with both hands to save himself from being precipitated into space.
“Yes – isn’t – it?” gasped Anno, as she lunged forward, and in a vain attempt to regain her seat fell on their handbag, which gave an ominous squish. “I declare there – there – will be – nothing left of me – by the – by the time we get there. Oh dear! Whatever shall I do? Wherever have you got to, Stanislaus?”
The upper half of Stanislaus was nowhere to be seen! His lower half, however, was discovered by his sister convulsively pressed against the side of the droshky. In another moment this, too, would undoubtedly have disappeared, and the lower extremities would have gone in pursuit of the upper, had not Anno with admirable presence of mind effected a rescue. She tugged at her brother’s coat-tails in the very nick of time, with the result that his whole body once again hove into view.
Just then a bird sang its final song before retiring for the night, and Stanislaus, hot and trembling all over, shouted out: “What a hideous noise! I declare it quite frightened me”; whilst Anno shuddered and put her fingers in her ears. They once more abused the road; then the trees.
“Great ugly things,” they said; “they shut out all the light.”
And then they abused the driver for not looking out where he was going, and finally they began to abuse one another. Anno abused Stanislaus, because he had disarranged her hat and hair, and Stanislaus, Anno, because he couldn’t hear all she said, and because what he did hear was silly. Then the Stygian darkness of the great pines grew; and the silence of wonder fell on the two quarrellers.
On, on, on rolled the droshky, a monotonous rumble, rumble, that sounded very loud amid the intense hush that had suddenly fallen on the forest. Stanislaus and Anno grew drowsy; the cold night air, crowning their exertions of the day, induced sleep, and they were soon very much in the land of nods: Stanislaus with his head thrust back as far as it would go, and Anno with her head leaning slightly forward and her chin deeply rooted in the silvery recesses of her rich fur coat.
The driver stopped for a moment. He had to attend to his lights, which, he reflected, were behaving in rather an odd manner. Then, scratching his head thoughtfully, he cracked his whip and drove hurriedly on. Once again, rumble, rumble, rumble; and no other sounds but far away echoes and the gentle cooing of a soft night breeze through the forked and ragged branches of the sad and stately pines. On, on, on, the light uncertain and the horses brisk.
Suddenly the driver hears something – he strains his ears to catch the meaning of the sounds – a peculiar, quick patter, patter – coming from far away in the droshky’s wake. There is something – he can’t exactly tell what – in those sounds he doesn’t like; they are human, and yet not human; they may proceed from some one running – some one tall and lithe, with an unusually long stride. They may – and he casts a shuddering look over his shoulder as the thought strikes him – they may be nothing human – they may be the patter of a wolf! A huge, gaunt, hungry wolf! an abnormally big wolf! a wolf with a gallop like that of a horse!
The driver was new to these parts; he had but lately come from the Baron’s establishment in St. Petersburg. He had never been in this wood after dark, and he had never seen a wolf save in the Zoological Gardens. The atmosphere now began to sharpen. From being merely cold it became positively icy, and muttering, “I never felt anything like this in St. Petersburg,” the driver shrank into the depths of his furs, and tried to settle himself more comfortably in his seat.
The horses, too, four in number, were strangers in Estonia, the Baron having only recently paid a heavy price for them in Nava on account of their beauty. Not that they were merely handsome; despite their small and graceful build, and the glossy sleekness of their coats, they were both strong and spirited, and could cover twenty-five versts without a pause. But now they, too, heard the sounds – there was no doubt of that – and felt the cold.
At first they shivered, then whined, and then came to an abrupt halt; and then, without the slightest warning, tore the shifting tag and rag tight around them, and bounding forward, were off like the wind. Then, away in their rear, and plainly audible above the thunder of their hoofs, came a moaning, snarling, drawn-out cry, which was almost instantly repeated, not once, but again and again.
Stanislaus and Anno, who had been rudely awakened from their slumbers by the unusual behaviour of the horses, were now on the qui vive.
“Good heavens! What’s that?” they cried in chorus.
“What’s that, coachman?” shrieked Anno, digging the shivering driver in the back.
“Volki, mistress, volki!” was the reply, and on flew the droshky faster, faster, faster!
To Stanislaus and Anno the word “wolves” came as a stunning shock. All the tales they had ever heard of these ferocious beasts crowded their minds at once. Wolves! was it possible that those dreadful bogies of their childhood – those grim and awful creatures, grotesquely but none the less vividly portrayed in their imagination by horror-loving nurses – were actually close at hand! Supposing the brutes caught them, who would be eaten first? Anno, Stanislaus, or the driver? Would they devour them with their clothes on? If not, how would they get them off?
Then, filled with morbid curiosity, they strained their ears and listened. Again – this time nearer, much nearer – came that cry, dismal, protracted, nerve-racking. Nor was that all, for they could now discern the pat-pat, pat-pat of footsteps – long, soft, loping footsteps, as of huge furry paws or naked human feet. However, they could see nothing – nothing but blackness, intensified by the feeble flickering of the droshky’s lanterns.
“Faster! drive faster!” Anno shouted, turning round and poking the coachman in the ribs with her umbrella. “Do you want us all to be eaten?”
“I can’t mistress, I can’t!” the man expostulated; “the horses are outstripping the wind as it is. They can’t go quicker.” And the driver, consigning Stanislaus and his sister to the innermost recesses of hell, prayed to the Virgin to save him.
Nearer and nearer drew the steps, and again a cry – a cry close behind them, perhaps fifty yards – fifty yards at the most. And as they were trying to locate it there burst into view a gigantic figure – nude and luminous, a figure that glowed like a glow-worm and bent slightly forward as it ran. It covered the ground with long, easy, swinging strides, without any apparent effort.
In general form its body was like that of a man, saving that the limbs were longer and covered with short hair, and the feet and hands, besides being larger as a whole, had longer toes and fingers. Its head was partly human, partly lupine – the skull, ears, teeth, and eyes were those of a wolf, whilst the remaining features were those of a man. Its complexion was devoid of colour, startlingly white; its eyes green and lurid, its expression hellish.
Stanislaus and Anno did not know what to make of it. Was it some terrible monstrosity that had escaped from a show, or something that was peculiar to the forest itself, something generated by the giant trees and dark, silent road? In their sublime terror they shrieked aloud, beat the air with their hands to ward it off, and finally left their seats to cling on to the back of the driver’s box.
But it came nearer, nearer, and nearer, until they were almost within reach of its arms. They read death in the glinting greenness of its eyes and in the flashing of its long bared teeth. The climax of their agony, they argued, could no longer be postponed. The thing had only to make a grab at them and they would die of horror – die even before it touched them. But this was not to be.
They were still staring into the pale malevolent face drawing nearer and nearer, and wondering when the long twitching fingers would catch them by the throats, when the droshky with a mad swirl forward cleared the forest, and they found themselves gazing wildly into empty moonlit space, with no sign of their pursuer anywhere.
An hour later they narrated their adventure to the Baron. Nothing could have exceeded his distress. “My dear friends!” he said, “I owe you a profound apology. I ought to have told my man to choose any other road rather than that through the forest, which is well known to be haunted. According to rumour, a werwolf – we have good reason to believe in werwolves here – was killed there many years ago.”
There Are Nights
Invocation for the Full Wolf Moon
Here is a great invocation for the Full Wolf Moon. It can be used anytime wild magick and/or freedom is requested, preferably on a full moon night.
Woman of the moon mist,
Hear me cry
Man of the pack
Master of many
Hear me cry
Darkness surrounds me
Darkness covers me
Cold chains restrain me
Set me free to run with you
Live with you
Feed with you
Let me be my inner self tonight!
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