My friend Jean once told me a story about a friend of his, an architect. The friend had been invited by an acquaintance to his castle in Poitou. Upon arriving, he found a very old fortress that had been restored with great care and without altering the architecture one bit. The architect learned from his hosts that the grounds had once belonged to the fairy Melusine.
During the Middle Ages, a knight from Poitiers was returning from the Crusades. While walking through the forest he passed by a spring and fell upon an unknown and extremely beautiful woman. She was a foreigner, clearly from the East. The knight immediately fell in love with her. She said she would make him rich, but that they could only wed on one condition: every Saturday she must be left alone, and he could not seek to find out what she was doing. Madly in love, he accepted the terms and married Melusine. She kept her word and made him rich. She found him money, lands, and homes. Soon, he had amassed ten castles, including the one where the architect was staying.
The knight’s brother hated Melusine, and soon began to stoke the flames of jealousy. What was she doing on these Saturdays? She must be meeting a lover; what other possibility was there? The seed of doubt was planted. The knight had to know, he could no longer resist. The following Saturday, when his wife was locked away in her quarters, he peeked through the lock hole. What did he see? His wife had transformed into a serpent! The sorceress knew she had been seen, she let out a loud cry and jumped from the window, never to be seen again.
“So the castle belonged to Melusine, and it is haunted you say?”
“It is. Each night we hear groaning and whining coming from the stairs.”
“I’d like to stay in the haunted room, closest to the stairs.”
The architect was granted his wish, and spent the night in the haunted room where so many others had heard the strange sounds. He slept like a log and appeared fresh and ready at breakfast.
“So, the ghost?”
“There is no ghost, what you have been hearing is the wind passing through a cavity behind the wall of the staircase.”
The hosts begged the architect to locate this cavity, and so the architect set off to work, probing the walls and determining the necessary angle of the void. Soon the mason was called and the wall was opened. They found an empty space right where the architect had said it would be, and in this cavity they found a skeleton chained to the wall. For a brief moment, those present could see the beautiful blond hair of the skeleton before it was turned to dust by a gust of fresh air.
There was never any ghost, but there was a tragedy. The local historian was called and the mystery was explained.
Melusine had existed, but she wasn’t a fairy or a spirit, she was a magician, and she came from the East. In reality, her husband had met her in the Middle East during the Crusades and brought her back with him. She made him very rich, but he caught wind of her secret and eventually found out she had a lover who she was visiting in secret every Saturday. She never transformed into a snake, and she never jumped out of the window. She was simply killed by a jealous husband, her body hidden in the walls.