The Coachman

One of the most legendary ghosts of Shroud Hill is the specter of the Coachman.

One awful day in 1883, the Marster's Coachman- a man named Merrick- lost his life in a blaze of fire and a hail of shattered glass. The exact circumstances leading up to the tragic incident are shrouded in mystery. In the late afternoon of that fateful day, all was quiet, when suddenly the family's black carriage careened around the corner from the rear of the property, where the carriage house stood. According to the staff that witnessed the tragedy, the carriage was ablaze like a fireball, shooting up the narrow lane that led to the Marster's House. The Coachman sat at the reins, his body twisted around to peer down the lane behind him. He had an expression of pure terror on his face... as if he was being pursued by the Devil himself. The horses were running wild and frothing at their bits, their hooves beating furiously as they galloped up the hill. The staff could do nothing but stare helplessly as the carriage roared upward, entirely engulfed in leaping flames. Even the wheels were aflame.

The drive leads around the front of the house, then curves back to the greenhouse on the left, where it forks sharply toward the back of the hill and the family burial ground. The flaming carriage sped up the length of the drive, around the front of the house, and veered around the bend, straight toward the greenhouse ahead; it seemed that a collision was inevitable. Then, just at the very last second, the frantic horses suddenly skidded to a halt in their tracks, a few short feet away from the greenhouse. Inertia worked it's forces, sending the Coachman flying off of his seat and through the greenhouse's glass walls.

For an eternity it seemed it rained broken glass. Indeed, the entire structure of the fragile construction collapsed inward with a sickening sound.

When they extracted the Coachman's bloodied body from the treacherous tangle of glass, flora, and fauna, a macabre discovery was made- he had been decapitated by a razor-sharp sheet of glass. They found his head at the other end of the structure, nestled in a glass-covered, thorn-studded rose bush. His tall, black top hat was still perched atop his severed head.

The cause of the bizarre accident was never completely determined. The carriage was mostly destroyed by the blaze; it had seemingly started back in the carriage house area. Nobody saw how it began. The official consensus was that a cigar or cigarette had started the fire, although fellow staff members insisted that Merrick did not smoke. The death was ruled an accident, as no other determination could be found.

However, there were those who firmly believed the tragedy was no accident. A maid even whispered that she had seen little Drusilla Marsters wandering up the drive after the burning carriage, her favorite doll tucked under her arm. No one knew for sure if the girl saw anything, or was even outside at the time. After all, gossip always runs rampant after a tragedy.

The greenhouse was eventually repaired, and refilled with plant life. However, mysteriously, all of them died within the week. Even when they were replaced, the problem persisted; the plants kept withering and dying. In addition, the glass panes seemed to be constantly cracking, breaking, or even falling out of their frames altogether. There was even one incident where a worker was almost killed by a falling sheet of glass. After that, it became difficult to persuade any of the staff to venture inside.The glass was removed from the frames, and the greenhouse was abandoned. Eventually wild thorny vines took over the structure.

The vine-smothered, ominous building still stands at the curve in the road. Local legend says that you can sometimes hear the hoofbeats of the runaway horses thundering toward the abandoned greenhouse, and that the headless Coachman's spirit is still there, trapped inside it's leafy confines.

 

+More history of the Marsters House and it's many ghosts+