While daylight brightens this Hallowed Eve, the six ghost stories that follow are transparent tales that cast no shadows.
While the sun shines, there could never be a Burning Island nor Haunting Globes, no Phantom Infant, no Hope House phantasm, no Corpse-Mother of the Forest, no Revenge of the Eaten Cats.
Not while the light lasts. But sunset today comes at 5:09 p.m.
Hope House, near Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is an imposing pile. Built in 1748 with wings added in this century, its elegant curving red brick arms embrace you at the end of a long drive that winds through magnolias and dense pines.
In the days when my cousin-by-marriage lived there, the 200-year-old boxwood gardens were trimmed and the lawns ran straight down to the water and peacocks roamed the gardens, crying like children in torment. The ancient parquet floors creaked discreetly, and the library walls were paneled in time-blackened wood.On rainy days the cousins would run their fingers along the panel ridges, searching for a secret passage.
There was even supposed to be a ghost, a Revolutionary War soldier, probably one of the Tilghmans, who used to own the place. The family thought it was an amusing idea. Old houses always should have a ghost or two, they said.
One dark night, so black you couldn't even see the bay from the dock, they had a bridge party. Cousin Jane, 5 years old, had been sent to bed hours before. But she appeared at the study door in her nightgown, wide-eyed, and ran straight to her mother.
"There was a man in my room," she said. Conversation stopped. "He had silk stockings on and white hair and he had a permanent wave."
"You were dreaming," her mother said.
"No I wasn't. He stood by my bed and then he went away. He had a ladies' hat."
One guest went to the big dictionary in the corner, brought it over and pointed to an illustration. "Did it look like this?" he said.
"Yes. That's it," said Jane.
It was a three-cornered Revolutionary War soldier's hat.