Guest Author - Phyllis Doyle Burns
Squire Richard Cabell of Buckfastleigh in the Devon, England countryside, was a local squire in the 1600's. During his lifetime he was thought of as a monstrously evil man. It was believed that his reputation became such for his immorality. If that was not enough, it was also believed that one night out on the moors, he murdered his lovely wife whom he had accused of infidelity.
The Squire, as his father before him, supported the Royalists, who taxed peasants instead of the rich landowners. The family was very unpopular with the people of the land because of this. They believed that Squire Cabell sold his soul to the devil.
After the Royalists were defeated in the English Civil War, the Squire married Elizabeth Fowell, the daughter of the local tax collector, hoping to rid himself of the bad reputation. Cabell became so insanely jealous and abusive towards the unfortunate lady that she escaped one night with her dog and fled across the moor.
The moor is the mysterious and gloomy land even during the day, and dangerous at night when the mysterious and evil wanderings of hounds are often seen or heard and the treacherous landscape awaits the traveler unfamiliar with the dangers thereof.
The stories and legends of Squire Cabell and his devilish ways was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, his most famous novel.
In the book, Sherlock Holmes' partner, Watson, described the moors of Dartmoor amid the Devonshire countryside vividly:
"Rolling pasture lands curved upward on either side of us, and old gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green foliage, but behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside there rose ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills."
Higher above the pleasant English countryside where hedgerows confine lovely and orderly gardens, the moors are a wild and inhospitable land of harsh winds and rain, an infertile wetlands covered with tenacious gorse and grasses, a desolate land, violent and brutal. It is full of granite towers, spires, and cliffs and amongst them the acidic waters of the bogs. It was here that Cabell ended the life of his bride in a fit of jealous rage.
When she tried to flee with her faithful hound, Cabell gave chase and caught up with her. He beat her savagely. That was a huge mistake, for his wife's loyal hound was still by the side of his now dead mistress. The hound grew in size till his skin was stretched so tight his skeletal frame could be seen. It's eyes glowed with rage and it turned on Squire Cabell and ripped his throat out. The hound then died from knife wounds received by the Squire during the bloody battle. Ever faithful, the hound returned to haunt each new generation of Cabell's family with vengeance for his beloved mistress.
This was not the end of Squire Cabell's evil ways, however. His ghost is said to still haunt the moors on the anniversary of his death in July. He is sometimes seen roaring through the village in a coach pulled by headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. Not long after Cabell was interred in the family tomb in the Holy Trinity Church graveyard, strange and frightening incidents began occurring.
On stormy nights, Cabell would rise from his grave and, with a pack of hounds, would go out on the moor, searching for Elizabeth. The Squire's eyes would glow with a red rage and he would attack anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in his path.
Even after the town's people placed a heavy stone slab over Cabell's grave, the ghost continued to rise and raise havoc. A stone sepulchre with a heavy wooden door, and metal bars on the windows was built around the grave. There is still seen today a frightening and threatening red glow drifting from the sepulchre. Local lore has it that if you run around the building seven times and put your hand through a window, the devil, or Cabell, will bite your fingers.
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