It Came from the Quarry
This comes from Elliott O’Donnell’s Haunted Britain 1947
A weird account of a quarry pool haunting was told me one evening at the Faculty of Arts in Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, by a Mrs. Warner (1). I will relate it as near as my notes allow me in her own words.
Mrs. Warner was staying one summer, with some people named Daly, in a country house in the Midlands. On either side the house, which was in a dip, were tall old elm trees that helped to give the building a some what gloomy appearance. A long carriage drive, that wound its way through an avenue of ancient elm and beech trees, led to the mansion, a rambling old place, dating back to early Georgian days. Facing the house was a broad lawn and beyond that, sloping down to a river, were fields, in one of which was a long disused quarry, containing a slimy pool, choked in places with rank weeds and slime. Local rumour declared the pool was fathomless in one spot and haunted by the spirits of a murderer and his victim, a young and beautiful village girl, whom he killed in a fit of jealousy, throwing her body into the pool and drowning himself in it immediately afterwards. It was also said to be haunted by a phantom, too dreadful to describe, and which never appeared except before the death of some native of the neighbourhood.
The pool had a peculiar allurement for Mrs. Warner, who, on several occasions, clambered down a rugged path on one side of the quarry, and seated on a rock, sketched its dark surface and the towering rock wall in the background.
One evening when her friends were not expected to be back till late, they had had to go to London on unexpected business, she felt a sudden urge to wander, after dinner, to the quarry. The Alsatian house-dog, “Tim”, accompanied her. It was a still, close night, and the ground was damp after a heavy fall of rain early in the day. A full moon intermittently showed itself between slowly moving banks of white clouds. Every now and then a night bird wailed or croaked dismally in the elms, and cars hooted and hummed, as they raced along the distant high road. Other wise there were few sounds. Being August the trees were in full foliage, and the warm air was full of the delicious scent of new-mown hay and clover.
Mrs. Warner was very conscious of all this as she strolled over the damp grass, her thoughts at that juncture far removed from anything of a ghostly nature. Arriving at the quarry she peered over the brink into the glimmering pool beneath. The stillness was very pronounced. But it was a calm that brought no sense of rest, nor beauty to that spot. There was nothing below nor in the grim sides of the quarry but the ugliness of rank vegetation and forbidding colouring that was depressing in the extreme, imparting to the seer a sense of decay and desolation. It was a very dead quarry, with no trace of life anywhere except for the rank weed and mosses.
The slimy water fascinated Mrs. Warner to such a degree that she was impelled to climb down to it. Tim, despite the devotion which he had shown to her from the day of her arrival at the house, evinced great reluctance to follow her.
The moon, emerging from behind its nebulous covering, illuminated the surface of the pool with its cold, white light. Mrs. Warner thought, as she gazed into the placid water, of the story of the murderer and his victim, and wondered how many secrets those silent depths contained. Secrets of crimes no lapse of time had ever brought to light. Gradually the mirror-like surface of the pool had a kind of hypnotic effect on her. She could not remove her eyes from it, and she lost cognizance of all around her, the frowning quarry walls, the stars, the clouds, and the moon.
Tim growled, but to her the sound was lost; if she heard it at all it was far away and might have come from across the Western Ocean. By degrees, very slowly, a yellow mist rose in the centre of the pool as if it were some foul gas. At first vague and shapeless, it grad assumed a form suggestive of a long and strange reptile.
Drawn magnetically towards it, Mrs. Warner was about to step forward when a sharp tug at her dress jerked her violently back. Had she advanced another foot she would have plunged into the pool, just where it was said to be deepest. For saving her from probably being drowned, as she could not swim, she had to thank Tim. His action breaking the spell, the mesmeric spell that had enthralled her, she was no longer unconscious of her surroundings.
A horror of the water, the rocks and the gloom now gripping her, she turned and scrambled as fast as she could out of the quarry, frequently supping and bruising herself in her haste. Once on the surface she did not pause till she got back to the house where she was staying. Ashamed at being scared by what she tried to persuade herself was probably only a miasmic wreath or mist, she did not mention the incident to her friends.
Two evenings later she again went for an after-dinner stroll, this time with Monica, the eldest Daly girl. On their way hack they had passed within a hundred yards of the quarry and were quickening their pace, for the air had suddenly grown chilly, when they fancied they heard steps in their rear. They both looked round and saw, a short distance away from them, a yellow mist similar to the mist Mrs. Warner had seen in the quarry; and it was coming from the direction of the quarry.
“What is it?” Mrs. Warner asked. Her voice quavered in spite of her effort to appear calm. There was something horribly uncanny about the mist. She had the feeling it harboured something very frightening and loathsome; something intensely hostile and hellish.
“Oh, God! “she heard Monica mutter. “Who will it be this time?” And then clutching Mrs. Warner by the arm Monica said, “For mercy’s sake hurry.”
They walked their fastest, conscious all the time they were being followed and gradually overtaken. They were on the lawn and nearing the drive, when Monica drew Mrs. Warner frantically aside. Hardly had she done so when the Thing, whatever it was, passed by them, so close that had Mrs. Warner, who was nearest to it, stretched out her arm she must have touched it, if there was anything tangible to touch. But all they saw was the yellow mist, with nothing definite about it. Yet they instinctively felt it concealed a distinct shape. They heard the gravel crunch beneath the mist, as if hidden somewhere in it were feet of a kind; and they heard also the sound of dripping, a constant drip, drip, drip, as of water or some other fluid. It came from the mist.
Right to the house the mist went, and after halting there for some seconds it receded, going back the way it had come, passing in its course Mrs. Warner and the Daly girl, who had stood watching it, too scared to move.
“What can it mean?” Mrs. Warner whispered.
“Mean! “ Monica Daly ejaculated hoarsely. “It means one of us in the house is going to die.”
“And she was right,” Mrs. Warner concluded. “The doomed person was herself. She died from the effects of an accident the following day.”
(1) At her special request, neither her real name nor the real names of her friends who figure in the experience are given.