The same night he was awakened by something pressing upon him, and saw again the ghost of Haddock in a white coat, which asked him if he had delivered the message, to which Taverner mendaciously replied that he had been to Malone and had seen Eleanor Walsh. Upon which the ghost looked with a more friendly air upon him, bidding him not to be afraid, and then vanished in a flash of brightness. But having learnt the truth of the matter in some mysterious way, it again appeared, this time in a great fury, and threatened to tear him to pieces if he did not do as it desired. Utterly unnerved by these unearthly visits, Taverner left his house in the mountains and went into the town of Belfast, where he sat up all night in the house of a shoemaker named Peirce, where were also two or three of Lord Chichester's servants. " About midnight, as they were all by the fireside, they beheld Taverner's countenance change and a trembling to fall upon him ; who presently espied the Apparition in a Room opposite him, and took up the Candle and went to it, and resolutely ask'd it in the name of God wherefore it haunted him ? It replied, Because he had not delivered the message ; and withal repeated the threat of tearing him in pieces if he did not do so speedily : and so, changing itself into many prodigious Shapes, it vanished in white like a Ghost".
In a very dejected frame of mind Taverner related the incident to some of Lord Chichester's family, and the chaplain, Mr. James South, advised him to go and deliver the message to the widow, which he accordingly did, and thereupon experienced great quietness of mind. Two nights later the apparition again appeared, and on learning what had been done, charged him to bear the same message to the executors. Taverner not unnaturally asked if Davis, the step-father, would attempt to do him any harm, to which the spirit gave a very doubtful response, but at length reassured him by threatening Davis if he should attempt anything to his injury, and then vanished away in white.
The following day Taverner was summoned before the Court of the celebrated Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down, who carefully examined him about the matter, and advised him the next time the spirit appeared to ask it the following questions : Whence are you ? Are you a good or a bad spirit ? Where is your abode ? What station do you hold ? How are you regimented in the other world ? What is the reason that you appear for the relief of your son in so small a matter, when so many widows and orphans are oppressed, and none from thence of their relations appear as you do to right them ?
That night Taverner went to Lord Conway's house. Feeling the coming presence of the apparition, and being unwilling to create any disturbance within doors, he and his brother went out into the courtyard, where they saw the spirit coming over the wall. He told it what he had done, and it promised not to trouble him any more, but threatened the executors if they did not see the boy righted. " Here his brother put him in mind to ask the Spirit what the Bishop bid him, which he did presently. But it gave him no answer, but crawled on its hands and feet over the wall again, and so vanished in white with a most melodious harmony." The boy's friends then brought an action (apparently in the Bishop's Court) against the executors and trustees; one of the latter, John Costlet, who was also the boy's uncle, tried the effect of bluff, but the threat of what the apparition could and might do to him scared him into a promise of justice. About five years later, when the story was forgotten, Costlet began to threaten the boy with an action, but, coming home drunk one night, he fell off his horse and was killed. In the above there is no mention of the fate of Davis.
Whatever explanation we may choose to give of the supernatural element in the above, there seems to be no doubt that such an incident occurred, and that the story is, in the main, true to fact, as it was taken by Glanvill from a letter of Mr. Thomas Alcock's, the secretary to Bishop Taylor's Court, who must therefore have heard the entire story from Taverner's own lips. The incident is vividly remembered in local tradition, from which many picturesque details are added, especially with reference to the trial, the subsequent righting of young David Haddock, and the ultimate punishment of Davis, on which points Glanvill is rather unsatisfactory. According to this source,1 Taverner (or Tavney, as the name is locally pronounced) felt something get up behind him as he was riding home, and from the eerie feeling that came over him, as well as from the mouldy smell of the grave that assailed his nostrils, he perceived that his companion was not of this world. Finally the ghost urged Taverner to bring the case into Court, and it came up for trial at Carrickfergus. The Counsel for the opposite side browbeat Taverner for inventing such an absurd and malicious story about his neighbour Davis, and ended by tauntingly desiring him to call his witness. The usher of the Court, with a sceptical sneer, called upon James Haddock, and at the third repetition of the name a clap of thunder shook the Court ; a hand was seen on the witness-table, and a voice was heard saying, " Is this enough ? " Which very properly convinced the jury. Davis slunk away, and on his homeward road fell from his horse and broke his neck. Instead of propounding Bishop Taylor's shorter catechism, Taverner merely asked the ghost, " Are you happy in your present state ? " " If," it replied in a voice of anger, " you were not the man you are, I would tear you in pieces for asking such a question " ; and then went off in a flash of fire ! !— which, we fear, afforded but too satisfactory an answer to his question.
1 Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. iii. (for 1855).
In the following year, 1663, a quaintly humorous story1 of a most persistent and troublesome ghostly visitant comes from the same part of the world, though in this particular instance its efforts to right the wrong did not produce a lawsuit : the narrator was Mr. Alcock, who appears in the preceding story. One David Hunter, who was neat-herd to the Bishop of Down (Jeremy Taylor) at his house near Portmore, saw one night, as he was carrying a log of wood into the dairy, an old woman whom he did not recognise, but apparently some subtle intuition told him that she was not of mortal mould, for incontinent he flung away the log, and ran terrified into his house. She appeared again to him the next night, and from that on nearly every night for the next nine months. " Whenever she came he must go with her through the Woods at a good round rate ; and the poor fellow look'd as if he was bewitch'd and travell'd off his legs." Even if he were in bed he had to rise and follow her wherever she went, and because his wife could not restrain him she would rise and follow him till daybreak, although no apparition was visible to her. The only member of the family that took the matter philosophically was Hunter's little dog, and he became so accustomed to the ghost that he would inevitably bring up the rear of the strange procession—if it be true that the lower classes dispensed with the use of night-garments when in bed, the sight must truly have been a most remarkable one.
1 Glanvill, op. cit., Rel. 27.