The Ghostly Diners: ECR7
The locked and boarded dining room in a historic New Orleans mansion hides a dark and tragic past. Once belonging to a wealthy French family with black servants, the room witnessed a deadly act of revenge by a slave against the cruel mistress of the household.
In a certain house on Royal Street in the old quarter of New Orleans there is a room which is carefully locked and whose. windows are boarded up. It seems a shame, for this room occupies a prominent position. in the house, which was for- merly the mansion of a very wealthy family dating from the pre-Civil War days. This room was once the dining room. The family that now resides in this house do not dine there; they prefer to take their meals in what was once a library.
It is not easy to find out why this dining room is boarded up and not used. The family does not care to speak of it. When you have to live in a house, you would rather forget certain uneasy things that have gone. on in it. And they still go on, as people could testify if they would. If you put your ear to the locked door on certain nights of the year at a little after midnight, you can. hear the sounds ofknives and forks, of plates being passed, and the dim mumur of conversa- tion. But the room is empty!
As the story goes, some- time before the War Between the States, in the days of slavery, the house belonged. to a French family whose in- come was derived from a series. of extensive plantations in- land. They were wealthy and their home was a model of great luxury, having many black servants.
The eldest son of that fami- ly had gone to France to study, and had retumed home several years later with a wife. This girl was haughtier, if possible, than the family into which she had married and very soon made herself hated by the
Now the Negro household help were slaves, yet they had been raised by the family who had treated them with great kindness, as kindness went in those days. A slave who at- tended a household was con- sidered far superior to his black fellows in the field and so conducted himself. But to the new wife, the future mistress of the household, they were people for whom she had no kindness.
Probably because she was not used to dark-skinned people, she was afraid of them. But this fear she concealed by a cruelty utterly unneces- sary. Very rapidly she alien- ated the servants, who tried in what little ways they could to avoid her.
The payoff was to come af- ter two years, when, embolden- ed by her power, she persuad- ed the master of the house to send one of the serving girls back to the plantation. This girl had incurred her wrath by what seemed to her to be in- solence.
The colored girl was justly upset and what was worse, one of the servants who was planning to take her to wife, was more so. This man planned revenge.
When the family sat down to dinner on the occasion of the son’s marriage anniversary, they sat down to food that had been poisoned by the angry slave. They were found next moming by the butler, still sitting at their table, in var- ious positions of agony. The toast they had drunk to the health of the young wife had carried an instant poison. But the French girl had not drunk it. She was crouched in a cor- ner of the room, gibbering in insanity.
Another family bought the house. But they soon learned that annually, on the night of the mass death, that room re- lived it! A number of times they heard the noises in the dining room, came down with tapers and looked in. Seated in the dim light could be seen the shadowy forms of the revel- ing family, going through the motions of eating that last horrible dinner.
Finally the room was board- ed up, as it is today. So far the ghosts have never gone beyond its borders. But to this day, if you know the old house and know the date, you can listen to the ghosts’ supper!