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The House Accursed

The House Accursed

Near Gallipolis, Ohio, there stood within a few years an old house of four rooms that had been occupied by Herman Deluse. He lived there alone, and, though his farming was of the crudest sort, he never appeared to lack for anything. The people had an idea that the place was under ban, and it was more than suspected that its occupant had been a pirate. In fact, he called his place the Isle of Pines, after a buccaneers’ rendezvous in the West Indies, and made no attempt to conceal the strange plunder and curious weapons that he had brought home with him, but of money he never appeared to have much at once.

When it came his time to die, he ended his life alone, so far as any knew—at least, his body was found in his bed, without trace of violence or disorder. It was buried and the public administrator took charge of the estate, locking up the house until possible relatives should come to claim it, and the rustic jury found that Deluse “came to his death by visitation of God.”

It was but a few nights after this that the Rev. Henry Galbraith returned from a visit of a month to Cincinnati and reached his home after a night of boisterous storm. The snow was so deep and the roads so blocked with windfalls that he put up his horse in Gallipolis and started for his house on foot.

“But where did you pass the night?” inquired his wife, after the greetings were over. “With old Deluse in the Isle of Pines,” he answered. “I saw a light moving about the house, and rapped. No one came; so, as I was freezing, I forced open the door, built a fire, and lay down in my coat before it. Old Deluse came in presently and I apologized, but he paid no attention to me. He seemed to be walking in his sleep and to be searching for something. All night long I could hear his footsteps about the house, in pauses of the storm.”

The clergyman’s wife and son looked at each other, and a friend who was present—a lawyer, named Maren—remarked, “You did not know that Deluse was dead and buried?” The clergyman was speechless with amazement. “You have been dreaming,” said the lawyer. “Still, if you like, we will go there to-night and investigate.”

The clergyman, his son, and the lawyer went to the house about nine o’clock, and as they approached it a noise of fighting came from within—blows, the clink of steel, groans, and curses. Lights appeared, first at one window, then at another. The men rushed forward, burst in the door, and were inside—in darkness and silence. They had brought candles and lighted them, but the light revealed nothing. Dust lay thick on the floor except in the room where the clergyman had passed the previous night, and the door that he had then opened stood ajar, but the snow outside was drifted and unbroken by footsteps. Then came the sound of a fall that shook the building.

At the same moment, it was noticed by the other two men that young Galbraith was absent. They hurried into the room whence the noise had come. A board was wrenched from the wall there, disclosing a hollow that had been used for a hiding-place, and on the floor lay young Galbraith with a sack of Spanish coins in his hand. His father stooped to pick him up, but staggered back in horror, for the young man’s life had gone. A post-mortem examination revealed no cause of death, and a rustic jury again laid it to a “visitation of God.”

Citation: Skinner, Charles M. Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1896. This article is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.

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