This is an interesting story about supernatural forces and strange happenings written by Saki H.H. Munro. The author is well known for his tales of mystery and magical powers. The story is about an old castle and its owners, the Cernogratz family who had to sell off their family castle, when their fortune turned against them. Thus, they abondoned their ancestral family castle. As time went by, the castle was purchased by Gruebel family.
One of the last days of December, the Baroness, the new owner of the Cernogratz Castle, was engaged in a friendly conversation with her guests. She was telling them about a strange legend attached to the castle. She said that whenever someone died in the castle, all the wild beasts and wolves would appear from nowhere and start howling all night long. But she quickly brushed this legend aside by saying that, it is only a gimmick to enhance the value of castle. She also said that she did not believe in the legend as she had proof that nothing of the sort ever happened. When her old mother-in-law died in the castle, nothing of the sort happened and no wolves appeared. According to her it was utter rubbish and that there was no truth in the legend. That the people had merely invented a story so as to give cheap publicity to the place. On hearing this account, Amalie von Cernogratz, an old governess employed in the house, remarked:
“THE STORY IS NOT AS YOU HAVE TOLD IT. IT IS NOT WHEN ANY ONE DIES IN THE CASTLE, THAT THE HOWLING IS HEARD. IT IS ONLY HEARD, WHEN A MEMBER OF THE CERNOGRATZ FAMILY, DIES IN HIS FAMILY CASTLE THAT THE WOLVES APPEAR IN THEIR THOUSANDS AND START HOWLING.”
The Governess strongly protested and insisted that the legend was quite true. She knew the family legend very well, as she was the last of the great Cernogratz family. The old Governess repeated the actual legend in a note of defiance, almost in contempt. She made it quite clear that no howling was heard if a stranger died in the castle. But if a cernogratz died in his family castle, not only did the wolves would howl in chorus, but also a large tree would crash in the park as the soul of the dying one left its body. Naturally the company showed its disbelief. They thought that the old lady is pretending to be an important person. She knows that she will be soon past work and she wants to appeal to our sympathies. That the old Amalie is making a false claim to be a Cernogratz. When the old Governess left the room, the Baroness and her guests were convinces that, she is an ordinary woman and had some how learnt the Cernogratz legend from the peasants living in the vicinity. Later on, some mysterious happenings proved every word of the old governess. It so happened that the old governess fell ill and confined herself to her small, cheerless room. Just then the company heard the howling of wolves. Moved by some impulse, the Baroness went to the Governess’s room. To her horror, she found, all the windows open, despite the biting cold, while the old lady was lying on the couch terribly sick. The Baroness rushed forward to shut the windows. But the Governess forbade her in a very stern manner. She asked the Baroness to leave and let the windows be open, as she wanted to hear the “Death Music” of her family. The Baroness announced to her guests that the old governess was dying. While the guests were talking, they heard a loud noise of a tree splitting and then crashing down, with a loud thud. At that moment, the governess breathed her last. The news of Amalie-von-Cernogratz’s death and her affiliation to the Cernogratz family was confirmed in the newspaper, the following day. Amalie, the valued fried of the Baron and Baroness Gruebel had passed away in her old family castle.