MJ STEEL COLLINS has a 19th century tale to tell us, one which was recorded by renowned ghost lore collector, Elliot O’Donnell in his Scottish Ghost Stories.
In the 1800s, Blythswood Square in Glasgow was the place to live if you were a well-heeled Glaswegian. One Captain Smythe was delighted to be able to secure one of the houses for his family at a cheap rent. The only problem was the bathroom, he found it a dark, miserable and even sinister part of the house, but believed it might improve if he re-decorated and installed a new bath.
Despite this, Captain Smythe still found it a sinister space, and held off using the bathroom letting other family members do so first. Eventually, at the insistence of his wife, he had to be brave and have a bath.
He set about the task with some trepidation and armed with towels and candles all seemed well, until he fell testing the water temperature with his foot. In true Hammer Horror tradition, the candles went out, Captain Smythe was struggling to get up, when he heard the sound of someone washing coming from the bath, water slopping around the tub.
In the corner of the bathroom was a small airing cupboard, from which the good Captain saw the apparition of a beautiful, dark complexioned young woman emerge. She walked towards the bath, stepping on the Captain as she went, and proceeded to strangle whoever was in the tub. Trapped and terrified, Captain Smythe lay there still until the individual in the bath stopped struggling, the murderous young woman shook the bathwater from her arms with a look of satisfaction flooding her face, she then returned to the direction of the cupboard.
The candles in the bathroom reignited and Captain Smythe got to his feet. A quick glance at the bath revealed it empty, thoroughly terrified, heedless of what the maids might think, Captain Smythe shot out of the bathroom naked and ran to his wife.
She wasn’t exactly sympathetic, laughing at his fear, however, she swore him to secrecy; as such a story would terrify the children, not to mention the servants. Nothing was said, and the family lived in the house contentedly for a few weeks – until the eldest son went to have a bath one evening.
In the tub, the lad beheld the inexplicable sight of a naked, bloated and slightly purple old man floating just beneath the water., responding to the boy’s screams, the family ran to the bathroom, but found the tub to be empty. However, as they turned to leave, they bumped into the smug murderess, who smirked at them before vanishing by the airing cupboard.
Mrs Smythe wasn’t quite as dismissive, collapsing into a hysterical heap on the living room couch. The family swiftly decided to move out, before they left the Smythes made some enquiries amongst the neighbours. It appeared that the house was once owned by a wealthy old man, who married a young Spanish woman several years his junior. The neighbours reported that the couple would have fierce rows, which could be heard by everyone in the street. The young wife, they agreed, had a wicked temper, and frequently mentioned her husband’s regular fainting fits. One day, he was found dead in the bathtub, a fainting fit believed to be the cause of death.
The late gent’s wife inherited his fortune, and soon left, never to be heard of again.