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The House in Dunville

S.J. Morrissey, Newfoundland, Canada
July 2001

Approximately forty years ago, events occured that, to this day, my father, uncle, and grandmother will swear by to ensure their truth.

When my father was thirteen, he and his family, consisting of, at that time, his father, mother, and twin brother, moved to a harbour town called Dunville, located in close proximity to Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.

The house overlooked the harbour, which sank into a deep, watery valley from the surrounding hills. My grandfather had purchased the house not long after the previous tenant, Mrs.Bairns, an elderly lady, had passed away in the third floor bedroom.

At that time, it was not unusual to have the wake and even the funeral itself in the house of deceased persons, and so was the case here.

Shortly after they moved in, the family became aware of strange events. Firstly, one morning as the lady of the house (my future grandmother) awoke to prepare breakfast, she was startled to see upon her entrance into the kitchen, that the room was littered with clay. The dirt covered all extremities of the kitchen; the floor, countertops, stove, table, even the walls, nothing was left clean. Furthermore, the clay was approximately an inch thick in all areas. The first reaction came to blame the two boys - my father and uncle. They flatly denied their involvement; however, they were not believed and were punished. It was only until the following morning when the lady of the house again awoke to prepare breakfast, only to find the kitchen once again filthy with clay, that suspicious were placed elsewhere.

The man of the house assumed that it was tricksters somehow finding entrance into the house at night. Soon, even this logical explanation would be dismissed. The events of those two mornings would continue for the entire duration of their stay in the house.

Events soon became more intense and terribly frightening.

One night, as the family lay sleeping, they were all awakened by the sound of things being tossed around downstairs in the kitchen. The man of the house, armed with a rifle, made the walk down the stairs and into the kitchen. To his amazement, all of the thin pieces of wood (called splits) used to start the stove fire strewn about the kitchen floor. The entire box was emptied and its contents thrown everywhere. At that time there was no clay in the kitchen; however, when the lady of the house went down to prepare breakfast, not to her surprise, the kitchen was again covered in dirt.

Encounters with the culprit itself became more extreme, especially for my father.

One evening, as he lay on his bed reading a comic book, his dog, Bud, began to whimper uncontrollably, attempting to jump on the bed. My father told the dog to get down from the bed, and as he did he felt a sharp, painful slap across his right hand. His hand began to bleed from a cut in the shape of a crescent moon. He was alone in the room at the time. It took an unusual amount of time for the cut to heal properly.

As my father and his brother were settling into sleep one night, they were taken from their rest by the sound of someone walking through the hallway. The sound of the footsteps stopped as they reached the boys' bedroom door. Like before, the dog, who slept in the room, became hysterical; whimpering and trying to jump into bed with my father. The knob of the door began to turn followed by the door being slightly pushed open. By now the dog was out of its senses, not to mention the two boys! The door, after being pushed open to about only a foot, was left alone, and silence fell upon the house. The footsteps were not heard afterward.

By this time, the family had allowed a local girl, who had known the previous tenant, Mrs.Bairns, to take residence in the third floor bedroom, the room of Mrs.Bairns. To this point, there were no disturbances heard from the third floor. Yet, one night, not long after her arrival, the young girl heard horrible screaming. The man of the house took step, armed again with his rifle, to the third floor. He found the girl, in a frenzy of shaking, huddled in the corner in her night gown. When she was finally able to gain enough sense to speak, she said that she was awaked by a "presence"; she opened her eyes to see Mrs. Bairns standing over her bed, staring directly at her. The girl found new residence the following day.

On one crisp morning, my father was in the backyard of the house chopping wood. As he bent down to gather the wood, he saw the legs of a woman walk past him. As he was hunched over, he saw her only from the knees down. He soon heard the back door to house open and close. He thought that it was the elderly neighbor woman, and since she rarely spoke to him, he thought it not unusual that she didn't acknowledge him.

He finished gathering the wood and went inside through the same door he had heard open and close. The door led directly into the kitchen, where my father met his mother. When asking who had come to visit, her reply was that no one came in. My father insisted that he had seen and heard somebody enter through the backdoor; but his mother said she had been in the kitchen all morning and nobody had come in.

The events soon became too much to live with. The family moved out of the house and out of Dunville altogether. The house, unable to be sold, was torn down not long after.

I have been to the location of the old house, which is now occupied by a new home, and was unable to experience anything for myself. My father has expressed sincere sympathy for the ghost of Mrs.Bairns and truly wishes that she has found rest. Perhaps when the house was torn down, those years ago, she found her contentment.

S.J. Morrissey, Newfoundland, Canada
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