Here are two extraordinary stories which happened to people from what is called Parisian High Society [le Tout-Paris]… These people having preferred to remain anonymous, Guy Breton has given them different names in his text, but certifies the authenticity of all the facts that he reports.
Some years ago, the wife of a great actor – whom he calls Elisabeth – went on holiday to England. One day, some friends said to her:
“We are invited to spend the weekend with a producer, Arthur Stanley, who has a big house near Oxford. As usual, there will be around fifteen people there. Come with us, Arthur will be delighted to meet you…”
Elisabeth accepts. And the following Saturday, she arrives, late afternoon, with her friends, at a delicious little XVIIth Century mansion surrounded by a park like the ones on paintings by Haddelsey. Marvelling, she thinks that she has entered a Daphne du Maurier novel.
Arthur Stanley and his wife come to welcome her with warm affability, and a domestic shows her to her bedroom. She changes for dinner.
When she comes out, a quarter of an hour later, she meets on the landing a ravishing little blonde girl of six or seven who curtsies to her and says:
“Good evening, Madam. My name is Janet.”
“Good evening, Janet…”
“Madam, will you come later to play ball with me on the lawn?”
“Yes, of course I will!”
“Thank you, Madam!”
And little Janet runs away.
Elisabeth then descends to the salon where she finds her hosts surrounded by their guests, and everyone sits down to dinner. which is very gay. There are journalists, actors, writers who, as usual, gossip about their colleagues. Elisabeth takes advantage of a pause in the conversation to turn to the hostess.
“Mrs Stanley, I met your delicious little girl a while ago. She asked me to play ball with her. I won’t forget to do it… She is adorable…”
Mrs Stanley goes white and bows her head without answering, while a kind of embarrassment seems to seize the guests. Then one of them, as if to make a diversion, begins to recount hunting stories, with rather affected gaiety…
Elisabeth has the impression that she has been indiscrete. She thinks that little Janet is perhaps not Mrs Stanley’s daughter… Could she be the daughter of one of the domestics?… No, her words would not have produced such embarrassment… Could she be a daughter that Arthur Stanley has had with a chambermaid?
The dinner comes to an end and, as soon as she leaves the table, Elisabeth goes to find her friends in a corner of the salon and tells them of her fears of having been indiscrete.
“Oh! My dear, it’s our fault. We should have warned you. Mrs Stanley lost her daughter two years ago. Since then, Janet haunts the house. And everyone sees her… except her mother!”
The second story has for principal heroine a very great lady of French couture. Guy Breton calls her Blanche. She possessed, forty kilometres from Paris, a very beautiful property that she claimed was haunted. She said:
“Do you know that I have a ghost in my house?… Yes, yes, it’s marvellous! Sometimes, he makes a dreadful noise, he slams doors, shutters, he rings bells… In the beginning, it frightened me; but now, I’m used to it, I’m not frightened any more… I even talk to him. I call him Anatole. When he makes too much noise, I cry out to him: ‘Stop, Anatole! Come, come, darling, calm down!…’ And he stops very obediently.”
For a long time, Blanche’s friends just smiled and said nothing. Then, one day, the couturiere was recounting to a group of friends Anatole’s latest exploits, assuring that he had emptied a bookcase overnight while letting out cries of joy, when someone told her to stop talking about her Anatole. Everyone knows that ghosts don’t exist.
“What? Anatole doesn’t exist? It’s easy to see that you haven’t heard him!…”
All agree that they would like to do just that.
“Very well, you shall! Come to my place this evening. All of you. And you’ll see if Anatole doesn’t exist!”
That evening, all the friends arrive at Blanche’s house. While they are drinking their aperitif, their car horns suddenly start hurling. Someone laughingly says:
“Your number is well executed.”
“It’s not a number, it’s Anatole.
Everyone snickers. Then they go to see. They open bonnets, scrutinize the electrical circuits, without being able to explain how the horns have been able to start. Finally, as they continue to roar, they disconnect the batteries. To no avail…
“I don’t understand how you’re doing this, but your illusionism act is perfect!”
“I assure you that there is no trick. It’s Anatole!”
After a while, as everyone is starting to become deaf, she calls out:
“Right, well, now, that’s enough, Anatole. Stop!… Come on, you’ve had your fun!…”
Suddenly, all the horns stop.
The guests return to the house, perplexed. A young engineer says:
“It’s incomprehensible. There was no wire, nothing!… You know, we’ll end up believing in your ghost…”
They sit at the table and dine, listening to Blanche tell anecdotes about Anatole.
The meal ends. They pass into the salon.
Suddenly, an appalling noise shakes the house. All the doors, after having opened all at the same time, violently slam shut. Delighted, Blanche says:
“Ah! There he is! Good evening, Anatole!”
Straight away, all the lamps go out and all the doors slam again.
Certain guests laugh a bit nervously. The others keep quiet and you can feel that fear is beginning to steal over them.
Suddenly, the light comes back, accompanied by a great cry which explodes right in the room. Blanche says:
The women try to smile; but they are livid. At this moment, the piano plays a few notes on its own, as if a child were banging on the keyboard. Then a curtain detaches itself and falls near a young woman who screams. She asks her husband to take her home. She doesn’t want to stay any longer. Blanche says:
“If some of you want to stay the night, I have beds for you all… And Anatole hasn’t shown you a quarter of what he can do… Sometimes, he organizes real sarabands in the kitchen: all the pots and pans fly into the air…”
But the guests thank their hostess and return to their cars; except for one, the engineer, who spends the night and whom Blanche finds the next morning, with dark circles under his eyes and a wax-like complexion, at breakfast.
Months pass. And one day, Blanche has work done in the house. To make one room bigger, the masons have to demolish a wall. At the third blow with the pick, they discover a skeleton. A man had been walled in there a hundred years before…
His bones were taken to the cemetery.
Since then, there have been no more manifestations in Blanche’s house…
To be continued.