Thursday


Face at the Devon resort of Dawlish window



Ladies just did not appear at their bedroom windows in what appeared to be a petticoat … at least not in the genteel Devon resort of Dawlish in the summer of 1910.

Seeing such a sight as he walked through the front gates of the Westview Guest House, Frank Feldman began to wonder whether he should be visiting at all – particularly as the young lady at the window looked for, all the world, like the person he had come to see.

Frank Feldman, by his own admission "a rather conservative person," on holiday from his job in a City insurance office, had been introduced to Miss Arabella Steele at a bridge party two days  earlier.

She was a lively dark-haired young lady whose mother ran the Westview Guest House, and Feldman, a 28-year-old bachelor, had taken a liking to her. When she had invited him for Sunday tea he had been delighted.

And here he was, prompt at 4.30pm, as instructed, to find the young lady in a state of undress.

So imagine his confusion when on  being ushered into the sitting-room a few seconds later, he found Miss Arabella Steele sitting composedly in an armchair embroidering a lace table-cloth.

"I thought I saw you upstairs a moment ago," he told her. "But I was obviously mistaken." "I have been here for an hour," she replied. "But some strange things happen in this house. I wouldn't worry about it."

Writing about the incident in a psychical magazine years later, Frank Feldman remembered: "We had a most enjoyable time. When I left, about 6pm I walked up the road towards the town and after a few yards, turned and looked back at the house. There in the window of the top floor bedroom was the face I had seen before…

The setting sun was lighting up the side of the house and I could see the face clearly. It was framed with dark hair which was decorated with a red bow. I could now see the face was similar to Arabella's but not identical."

A couple of days later, when once more invited to the house, Fieldman could not help mentioning the matter again. "In reply, Arabella turned to a picture on the wall and said 'Was that who you saw?' I said it was, even down to the red bow in the hair. 'That was my sister Rosemary,' Arabella said. 'She died 12 years ago.'

"I asked if I could visit the room from whose window I had seen the face and she said I could, so long as she didn't have to go with me. Eventually I persuaded her to do so and together we climbed the stairs to the room.

"The moment I entered it I knew instinctively that there was something malign about it. Although the day was warm – it was the middle of July – the room was chilly. I noticed Arabella was shivering and I went over to the window to close it.

"When I did so, the catch began to move upwards, unlocking the window again. The window then burst open again with considerable force, as though controlled by unseen hands.

"I forced myself to close the window again and this time it stayed closed. Arabella was in a state of shock and I was pretty shaken myself. We left the room without speaking and went into the garden and sat on a seat overlooking the house.

"As we watched the window opened again and a figure could be seen quite clearly in the background … the figure of a dark-haired girl. Then she slowly vanished. We had both seen it and I was in no doubt that what we had witnessed was not of this world."

Two days later Frank Feldman returned to London, puzzled and disturbed by what he had seen. He wrote regularly to Arabella Steele and three months later she visited him and his parents at their home in Walthamstow.

The romance flourished and six months later he proposed and she accepted – on one condition. Fieldman recalled: "She said she hoped I would never mention the face at the window to her again.  But as it was obviously still concerning me, she would tell me for the first and last time what she knew of it.

"She then explained that 12 years earlier her sister had committed suicide by throwing herself from her bedroom window after a disastrous love-affair. Ever since her face had occasionally been seen at the window and the window itself had remained open regardless of the weather."

Frank Fieldman kept his promise and the couple were married had children and lived a happy and contented life. Whether his curiosity about the face at the window ever returned is not known. Certainly he never seems to have spoken about it. He obviously valued his married happiness too much to risk investigating the mystery any further.


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