TheWarning Mirror

One rainy afternoon in February 1896, Margaret Hodges, a 35-year-old widowed woman who originally hailed from Liverpool's Pomona Street, moved into a house on Devonshire Road, High Park. Margaret had no children, but her 13-year-old niece Marie Ann was currently proving to be excellent company for the widow, who had been mourning the death of her husband for almost two years. John Hodges had died from tubercular complications in 1894, and had left a substantial legacy to Margaret, who now wanted to start anew in the suburbs of Southport, where she could attempt to forget Liverpool and the life that had been.
Upon this February afternoon, Margaret stood before a small square mirror she'd placed on her dresser, and she was complaining that the looking glass was too small to see anything in. She had to stand quite a distance away from it to see the new bonnet on her head, and Marie Ann kept nudging her out of the way to look at her own new hat. Later that afternoon Margaret and her niece were pleased to find a full-length mirror under a dusty sheet in the garret of the house. Three days later, Margaret Hodges was standing before this mirror, with Marie Ann brushing her hair for her, when the girl yelped, and said she had seen something flit out of the corner of her eye - in the mirror.
Margaret could see nothing, but several minutes later, the two females got the shock of their lives when they saw a woman appear in the mirror. She wore a fine white wedding gown, a coronet of orange blossoms on her pearl-blonde hair and a fine veil of diaphanous silk covered her face. In her white-gloved hands she clutched a bouquet, and she stood staring out of the mirror, seemingly oblivious to Margaret and Marie Ann, who were staring at the looking glass apparition in shock. The bridal spectre suddenly turned and walked away from the mirror, dragging the train of her gown with her.
After the initial scare of seeing the ghost, Margaret and Marie Ann became curious to know just whose spectre they had seen in that mirror, and would frequently go to the room to stare at the mirror to see if the apparition would return. They didn't have to wait long. Two days after the ghost made her debut, on 12 February, Margaret and her niece saw not one, but two phantasms in the long mirror. They saw the silvery blonde lady from behind on this occasion, and a man with black, centre-parted hair and a curled up moustache was embracing her, and looking over her shoulder - directly at Margaret and Marie Ann. He was saying something to the woman, who was perhaps his wife, but no sound came forth from his lips. Marie Ann held on to her aunt, and although she was a little frightened by the ghostly image, she was riveted by the supernatural spectacle. The images faded, and the same gentleman appeared - but now he was further away in the depths of the mirror, and he was kissing a dark-haired woman. Margaret touched her forehead, chest and then each shoulder as she made the sign of the cross. Then the images faded, and the room reflected in the glass reverted to the normal mirror-image of Margaret's room.
'Are you scared Auntie? I wasn't afraid this time,' Marie Ann told Margaret, and the woman reassuringly hugged her niece, and pondered on the meaning of the images the mirror had shown. Had the man in the looking glass been the ghost of a man who had committed adultery with the dark haired lady? It was as if the mirror had recorded all of the scenes from the lives of the previous occupants of the house, and was now replaying key events in the lives of these people. As Margaret and Marie Ann were about to walk out the room, they heard the cry of a child. They both turned, and slowly walked to the source of the unseen infant's cries - the mirror. There in the reflected room, they saw a bed, and the woman with pearl-coloured hair was giving birth, with a midwife in attendance. Margaret covered her niece's eyes at the shocking sight. As the midwife presented the mother with her babe, the images faded, and all of a sudden, the black-haired man reappeared close to the mirror, and he had tears in his eyes. He moved away from the mirror - to reveal an open coffin on a stand. In that coffin rested the silvery blonde who had given birth moments before in the strange mirror vision. The gentleman walked back into view, near to the coffin, shaking his fist at the deceased lady, and then the scene quickly faded away. Margaret and her niece hurried from the room on this occasion, unnerved by the sight of the lady in the coffin.
Two days later, on Friday, 14 February, a paper-lace Valentine card, was sent to Margaret's home on Devonshire Road. The card said that Margaret had an admirer, and the widow was flattered at the Valentine, and wondered who had sent it. Several days later, the admirer turned up on the doorstep of Margaret Hodges, and when she saw who it was she almost fainted. It was unmistakably the raven-haired man she'd seen in the mirror. She refused to allow him over the threshold, despite his bold attempts to walk into the house. She told the man to go, and he finally left in a huff. Almost a year passed until Mrs Hodges discovered from a neighbour that the man had lodgings in the street, and had once lived at the house where the Liverpool widow now lived. He was a renowned womaniser, and there were rumours that the man had once pushed his wife down a flight of stairs. He claimed she had fallen. Her neck was broken by the fall, and not long afterwards, the cad had an affair with the wife of a policeman, and the constable almost left him for dead when he found out about the affair. The adulterer also abandoned his daughter, and she was put in the care of a relative. Margaret Hodges shuddered when she heard about the scandalous reputation of the man, and realised that only for that extraordinary mirror, she could well have fallen for the charms of a murderous adulterer.

©Tom Slemen 2005.