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Title: The Vampire of Croglin Grange
Author: Augustus Hare
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605661.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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The Vampire of Croglin Grange
Augustus Hare




An intriguing account of vampirism was related by a certain Captain
Fisher to Augustus Hare, who wrote of it in the Story of My Life.

"Fisher," said the Captain, "may sound a very plebeian name, but this
family is of a very ancient lineage, and for many hundreds of years
they have possessed a very curious old place in Cumberland, which
bears the weird name of Croglin Grange. The great characteristic of
the house is that never at any period of its very long existence has
it been more than one story high, but it has a terrace from which
large grounds sweep away towards the church in the hollow, and a fine
distant view.

"When, in lapse of years, the Fishers outgrew Croglin Grange in family
and fortune, they were wise enough not to destroy the long-standing
characteristic of the place by adding another story to the house, but
they went away to the south, to reside at Thorncombe near Guildford,
and they let Croglin Grange.

"They were extremely fortunate in their tenants, two brothers and a
sister. They heard their praises from all quarters. To their poorer
neighbours they were all that is most kind and beneficent, and their
neighbours of a higher class spoke of them as a most welcome addition
to the little society of the neighbourhood. On their part, the tenants
were greatly delighted with their new residence. The arrangement of
the house, which would have been a trial to many, was not so to them.
In every respect Croglin Grange was exactly suited to them.

"The winter was spent most happily by the new inmates of Croglin
Grange, who shared in all the little social pleasures of the district,
and made themselves very popular. In the following summer there was
one day which was dreadfully, annihilatingly hot. The brothers lay
under the trees with their books, for it was too hot for any active
occupation. The sister sat in the veranda and worked, or tried to
work, for in the intense sultriness of that summer day, work was next
to impossible. They dined early, and after dinner they still sat out
on the veranda, enjoying the cool air which came with the evening, and
they watched the sun set, and the moon rise over the belt of trees
which separated the grounds from the churchyard, seeing it mount the
heavens till the whole lawn was bathed in silver light, across which
the long shadows from the shrubbery fell as if embossed, so vivid and
distinct were they.

"When they separated for the night, all retiring to their rooms on the
ground floor (for, as I said, there was no upstairs in that house),
the sister felt that the heat was still so great that she could not
sleep, and having fastened her window, she did not close the
shutters--in that very quiet place it was not necessary--and, propped
against the pillows, she still watched the wonderful, the marvellous
beauty of that summer night. Gradually she became aware of two lights,
two lights which flickered in and out in the belt of trees which
separated the lawn from the churchyard, and, as her gaze became fixed
upon them, she saw them emerge, fixed in a dark substance, a definite
ghastly something, which seemed every moment to become nearer,
increasing in size and substance as it approached. Every now and then
it was lost for a moment in the long shadows which stretched across
the lawn from the trees, and then it emerged larger than ever, and
still coming on. As she watched it, the most uncontrollable horror
seized her. She longed to get away, but the door was close to the
window, and the door was locked on the inside, and while she was
unlocking it she must be for an instant nearer to it. She longed to
scream, but her voice seemed paralysed, her tongue glued to the roof
of her mouth.

"Suddenly--she could never explain why afterwards--the terrible object
seemed to turn to one side, seemed to be going round the house, not to
be coming to her at all, and immediately she jumped out of bed and
rushed to the door, but as she was unlocking it she heard scratch,
scratch, scratch upon the window, and saw a hideous brown face with
flaming eyes glaring in at her. She rushed back to the bed, but the
creature continued to scratch, scratch, scratch upon the window.

She felt a sort of mental comfort in the knowledge that the window was
securely fastened on the inside. Suddenly the scratching sound ceased,
and a kind of pecking sound took its place. Then, in her agony, she
became aware that the creature was unpicking the lead! The noise
continued, and a diamond pane of glass fell into the room. Then a long
bony finger of the creature came in and turned the handle of the
window, and the window opened, and the creature came in; and it came
across the room, and her terror was so great that she could not
scream, and it came up to the bed, and it twisted its long, bony
fingers into her hair, and it dragged her head over the side of the
bed, and--it bit her violently in the throat.

"As it bit her, her voice was released, and she screamed with all her
might and main. Her brothers rushed out of their rooms, but the door
was locked on the inside. A moment was lost while they got a poker and
broke it open. Then the creature had already escaped through the
window, and the sister, bleeding violently from a wound in the throat,
was lying unconscious over the side of the bed. One brother pursued
the creature, which fled before him through the moonlight with
gigantic strides, and eventually seemed to disappear over the wall
into the churchyard. Then he rejoined his brother by the sister's
bedside. She was dreadfully hurt, and her wound was a very definite
one, but she was of strong disposition, not even given to romance or
superstition, and when she came to herself she said, 'What has
happened is most extraordinary and I am very much hurt. It seems
inexplicable, but of course there is an explanation, and we must wait
for it. It will turn out that a lunatic has escaped from some asylum
and found his way here.' The wound healed, and she appeared to get
well, but the doctor who was sent for to her would not believe that
she could bear so terrible a shock so easily, and insisted that she
must have change, mental and physical; so her brothers took her to
Switzerland.

"Being a sensible girl, when she went abroad she threw herself at once
into the interests of the country she was in. She dried plants, she
made sketches, she went up mountains, and as autumn came on, she was
the person who urged that they should return to Croglin Grange. 'We
have taken it,' she said, 'for seven years, and we have only been
there one; and we shall always find it difficult to let a house which
is only one story high, so we had better return there; lunatics do not
escape every day.' As she urged it, her brothers wished nothing
better, and the family returned to Cumberland. From there being no
upstairs in the house it was impossible to make any great change in
their arrangements. The sister occupied the same room, but it is
unnecessary to say she always closed the shutters, which, however, as
in many old houses, always left one top pane of the window uncovered.
The brothers moved, and occupied a room together, exactly opposite
that of their sister, and they always kept loaded pistols in their
room.

"The winter passed most peacefully and happily. In the following
March, the sister was suddenly awakened by a sound she remembered only
too well--scratch, scratch, scratch upon the window, and, looking up,
she saw, climbed up to the topmost pane of the window, the same
hideous brown shrivelled face, with glaring eyes, looking in at her.
This time she screamed as loud as she could. Her brothers rushed out
of their room with pistols, and out of the front door.

The creature was already scudding away across the lawn. One of the
brothers fired and hit it in the leg, but still with the other leg it
continued to make way, scrambled over the wall into the churchyard,
and seemed to disappear into a vault which belonged to a family long
extinct.

"The next day the brothers summoned all the tenants of Croglin Grange,
and in their presence the vault was opened. A horrible scene revealed
itself. The vault was full of coffins; they had been broken open, and
their contents, horribly mangled and distorted, were scattered over
the floor. One coffin alone remained intact. Of that the lid had been
lifted, but still lay loose upon the coffin. They raised it, and
there, brown, withered, shrivelled, mummified, but quite entire, was
the same hideous figure which had looked in at the windows of Croglin
Grange, with the marks of a recent pistol-shot in the leg: and they
did the only thing that can lay a vampire--they burnt it."



THE END



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