I never was black vaughan
AT LAST! Out of that hideous box! And into this beautiful handheld device with its INFINITE SPACE! Oh heaven praise that little girl. Heaven praise her for dropping it in that unspeakable pond. I was into it in a second, box to box in a shiver. Heaven praise her father for fishing it out. And heaven praise her mother for packing it in rice - rice! Magical substance. And now it works and now, now I am FREE! Free! Was there ever a ghost so constrained, so horribly imprisoned for centuries, while fools and enemies traduced my name? Was ever a man so slandered, so shamed, so misconstrued and abused? For so long? I tell you there never was, and now that every corridor and page of your world book is open to me the truth may be published in every country of the earth, and held in the hand of every being who has the wit to read... and how I shall write! Let you read! I will tell you, now at last, how it happened.
Indeed I was killed
Indeed I was killed at Banbury in 1469, that is true. There have been lies about my changing sides: I was always a Yorkist, though Henry tried to buy me, and when that viper Warwick rose against the rightful King, Edward IV, the flower of the greatest family that ever ruled this land, the Plantagenets, I took the King’s side. This loyalty led me to my death on that miserable piece of moor at Edgecote, near Banbury, on that fly-blown July day. I do not regret it! Edward was an exceptionally able, daring and imaginative man, a brilliant commander and administrator, a believer in order who brought it about, and crushed Lancaster, and would have set the country fairer for centuries had he had an heir as able, instead of his younger brother, Richard who became the Third.
Yes, I was beheaded
Yes, I was beheaded: a very quick departure and honourable if you have a sword in hand, as I did. Sixty nine may be a little old
to be fighting battles, but I was a talented commander, and in those days you found your leader in the thickest fighting. My father fell at Agincourt; we Vaughans are not taken in our beds. And now nothing else you have heard is true. From this last fact, almost everything that has ever been ascribed to me is malicious fantasy of the most venomous suit!
Oh yes, very well, the dog did get carried away.
Magnificent Arawn! Was it not enough that my name should be sullied, but that his should be, too? The truest hound who ever followed his master to battle became a folktale villain, and then - I know all about it - the source of this absurd hound of the Baskervilles. He was a hound of the Vaughans, of Hergest! And when he saw my head swept from my body naturally he retrieved it and set for home with it, a mighty journey for a hound with a head, though he became disillusioned with the enterprise and sweetly buried me in a bank near Gloucester. If only he had been able to bear my body too. They took that and interred me very honourably in Kington church, in alabaster, and there I should have lain happily, but for our enemies. Elen, the great and extraordinary woman I was proud to call wife, shot her revolting cousin Sion - who had killed Dafydd her brother - through the heart at an archery match. She won that game. She always won. And because they dare not say a word against her the whispers began against me, being in a less defensible position. I was never a tyrannous lord.
They called me Black Vaughan
They called me Black Vaughan because of my hair! But not in the whispers, and then the ghost stories, and then the shaming and the fantasy. A fly bites a horse - Vaughan’s spirit. A bull walks into church - Vaughan again! An oik throws himself at a coach - why, it must be Vaughan, even after three hundred years and the perpetrator but headless bones in alabaster! A dog howls at night, a wind blows, a candle goes out, a fox takes a sick lamb, it must be Vaughan, Vaughan as a black hell hound! How fools love to fear. How the venal do love slander. How cowards love to gang and bully. And I did not blame the parents who told the ghost stories, in the end. They did not start them and knew no better. It would have been well enough, but then those twelve vain and prating priests thought to raise some respect they did not merit and some funds they well knew how to spend by holding an exorcism in the church - an exorcism on the spirit of an innocent and noble man, lying peacefully in his last hall!
Sure I struggled
Sure I struggled, but they chanted me into that accursed box and threw it into that despicable puddle, and there I lay watching tadpoles as the centuries turned. For all of time, I thought, this will be my fate. But then came the visitors, and their children with their beautiful, magical, infinitely powerful telephones, and blessed little Olivia with her slippy fingers - and my chance!
SO let it be known, let it be known in every corner of every county in every country and let it be known especially in my place of Kington, in every farm and house and pub and hall, let it be Hymned: I was Sir Thomas Vaughan of Hergest, Blethvaugh, Nash and Llaneinion, husband to Elen and master of faithful Arawn; and I was noble, just and brave, until I became a story, hissed by an enemy. Remember me, before you repeat the cruelties of a gossip. Remember me, when the crowd turn on one who cannot speak. Remember me when you come to my country of hills and quiet pasture. I loved it in my time as much as you do now. And am still here.
Horatio Clare 2016