Mary Ramsey had finally gotten to bed. She had been up late with her young husband, Ben, getting him fed and off to work at the mill. He worked the graveyard shift and she would always stay up until he left. He worked hard for her and the two children that they had. It wasn't easy in these times and they were having to live in the old farm house with her family until times got better. But someday, things would change. They had already been talking of moving to Slater, the town that the mill owned. At least Ben wouldn't have to travel so far for work.
She really didn't like being up this late, specially with what she knew would be happening in a very short time. But Ben was worth it.
You see, there was this thing that happened pretty much every night in this old house. Okay, let me start from the beginning.
The bedroom that she and Ben shared had a large hump in the floor, right in front of the door. This made it extremely difficult to open the door. Actually it too two strong men to open it all the way to the wall. Except that each morning would find this door completely open. Everyone believed that a ghost opened it. Of course, with everything else that went on around here, it wouldn't be surprising. This occurred at precisely midnight. Several people had heard the terrible scraping and dragging that the door mad as it opened. Except for Mary of course, she had always been blessed with being in a sound sleep that only a crying baby could interrupt.
She had tried everything to keep the door closed. She had even tried the suggestion made by the old widow woman down the road, to tie the door shut with a baby's bonnet. Mary had taken her daughter Betty's bonnet and tied the door, knowing that this would settle the problem (the woman was rumored to be a witch). Next morning .. you guessed it .. the door was all the way open, again.
Tonight she was not going to get to sleep before midnight, she knew she wouldn't. It was already a quarter til and she was just now climbing into bed. As she rolled onto her side, trying desperately to will herself to sleep, the clock on the mantle downstairs began to chime ... midnight. If Mary had not been a good Christian she might have cursed, but instead she just burrowed down under the down filled quilt that Aunt Sara had given her on her wedding day and began to silently pray. It did not help.
The clock had just struck the final chime when she heard the doorknob rattle in its housing. She felt the draft as the door opened as far as it could until it came in contact with the hum in the floor and then .. oh, Lord .. and then she heard the door begin to scrape and drag across the floor. But there was another sound, a softer sound, one that an old fashioned petticoat made as it rustled around slippered feet.
Mary fought with the urge to peek out from under the quilt just to see what it was that could open this door. She decided instead to call across the hall to her sister, Nelly. "Nellie", she called, but no answer. "Nellie!", a little louder. "What?" was the reply. "I need you, Nellie." "No you don't. You just afraid over there by yourself. I heard the door!" "Please come sleep with me", Mary begged. "Well, only if you light the lamp. I ain't coming over there in the dark!"
So Mary, with her eyes still tightly shut, found the matches and having struck one, maneuvered the top off the hurricane lamp and managed to get it lit. Once done, Mary cracked her eyes to peek and found ... nothing. Oh, the door was open alright. All the way to the wall, but there was no gray ghost or any other color ghost for that matter. Just the open door.
Nellie did come across the hall and climb into bed with Mary, by the way.