Lord Dufferin and the ghostly warning

header image source: The Haunted Closet


In the 1880s, a British Ambassador in Paris called Lord Dufferin, was on holiday, staying in his friend’s country home in Ireland. Late one night, he suddenly awoke, unaccountably startled from a deep sleep.

Getting up and going to the window, Lord Dufferin looked out on the lawn to see, in the moonlight, a hunched figure staggering under the weight of a coffin-like object that he was carrying on his back. The man stopped and lifted his head from beneath his burden, and the moment their eyes met, Lord Dufferin saw a shriveled, gnarly, ugly face that utterly repelled him. Mustering his courage, Lord Dufferin asked the man where he was taking the coffin, only for the man to continue on into the shadows and disappear, seeming to pass through him.

Dufferin thought the whole event might have been just a bad dream. The next morning, upon hearing Dufferin’s account of this strange apparition, his host was nonplussed.

Several years passed. Lord Dufferin was now back in Paris to attend an international diplomatic reception at the Grand Hotel.

But just as he and his private secretary were about to enter the elevator, Dufferin recoiled and refused to get inside.

The operator of the elevator was none other than the wizened, ugly little man Dufferin had seen carrying the coffin on his friend’s estate in Ireland, years before.

The elevator ascended without Lord Dufferin and his secretary. The ambassador went to the reception desk to inquire the identity of the lift operator.

As the elevator reached the fifth floor, its cable snapped and, with a resounding crash, plunged to the bottom of its shaft, killing all the occupants, including the mysterious man.

The incident garnered significant coverage from the Press and was even recorded by the British Society of Psychical Research, but the ambassador was unable to discover the identity of the liftman who turned out to be his savior. Neither the investigators of the tragic accident, nor the management of the hotel could find any record of the man’s name or background, though the hotel officials claimed that they had hired him to work at the hotel earlier that day.

A more recent investigation by BBC researcher Melvin Harris demonstrated that the story was an urban legend which Dufferin improved upon by telling as a personal anecdote, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

Source and Reference: The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts


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