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Witch conjures up a storm

Author Tom Slemen recounts the tale of horrible Horace Pym who was cursed by a young woman in 19th century St Asaph

A moody sunset, by David Thomas, Wrexham

In 1857, Horace Pym, the 20-year-old son of Sir Walter Pym, a wealthy landowner and ruthless businessman, left his family's sprawling mansion on the outskirts of St Asaph.

He was out riding when he spotted a beautiful Welsh girl named Megan who was standing on a hill, throwing corn to the birds. Horace Pym rode up to Megan. He told the girl he was the son of Sir Walter, but the girl could hardly understand English.

Horace thought she was ignoring him, and raised his hand to the girl. Megan flinched, but Horace didn't hit her. He enjoyed the way the girl looked so afraid of him and relished the moment. The girl cried out something in Welsh, and a bird of prey that resembled a falcon swooped down and attacked the young man. Horace fell to the ground and rolled down the hill. The girl shouted out some more words in her native tongue, and Pym's horse bolted. Pym then assaulted the girl.

As Pym turned away, Meg started crying and pointed to the skies and started shouting something Pym could not understand. As Pym ran off, the clouds overhead darkened, and soon it was raining heavily. Thunder rumbled through the hills, and suddenly, a bolt of forked lightning struck Pym.

Pym fell to the ground, unconscious. When he awoke it was night, and he felt seriously ill. When he reached home, he told his father he'd been attacked by Welsh peasants who had tried to rob him. Pym's father was furious, and sent a posse of men armed with shotguns to the area, but all they found was young Megan and her mother, who lived in a run-down cottage.

One of Pym's men knew that Megan and her mother were regarded as witches, and left them well alone. Megan's mother Sian, who was known throughout the valleys as a horse-whisperer, someone who could communicate with the animals, had evidently taught her magical gift to her daughter, who had been seen talking to foxes and birds. The men returned to their master's estate and told Sir Walter there were no peasants in the area where young Horace said he'd been set upon. A few days later, a terrible thunderstorm descended on St Asaph and ravaged Sir Walter's estate.

Several of his men were killed by the lightning, and during the fearful storm, young Horace hid under his bed, terrified of being struck by lightning again. When the storm calmed, Horace went to the window and peeped out at the clouds - and a powerful flash of lightning hit him, temporarily blinding him.

The surge of electrical energy was of such a ferocity, it actually scorched an image of Horace's face on the window pane, and this "lightning picture" as it became known, remained etched on the window until the mansion was demolished in 1900.

Horace was later sent to Preston to supervise his father's printing business, and died a year later after falling from his horse in 1860.

A week after his burial, a thunderstorm raged over Preston, and a bolt of lightning shattered Horace Pym's gravestone.

Taken from Tom Slemen's The Haunted Liverpool series of books published by The Bluecoat Press of Liverpool


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