One winter morning, it was freezing in the Grazzano library where the infamous séance took place. The seance that had, in a sense, resurrected Aloysa. The ghost took some time to show itself. Amazingly, there was nothing dwarf-like about it. On the contrary, the precisely contoured silhouette in the door was that of a tall and alluring woman.
“Everything that has been said about me is pure invention. I have never been as I am depicted. My story has been wholly deformed. Though I certainly am an ancestor of the current owners, the dwarf, that wasn’t me. Like nearly everyone else in my time, I owned a dwarf. There was a veritable marketplace of dwarves passing primarily through Spain. The smaller they were, the more deformed, overweight, terrible, and monstrous-looking, the more they were worth.
“For a long time, I had been looking for a dwarf, and I had put my people in all the markets to find me one. I was told of one in Rome. I purchased her for a lot of money, and I was delighted. She was positively monstrous, and I took great pride in her as she was enviously admired from afar. She was one of the greatest rarities of this house, but like me, she did not only live here, she followed me as I moved from castle she to castle.
“She was like a pet. Pets are admired for their coat or plumage. We become infatuated with them before knowing whether their character corresponds to their appearance. In Aloysa’s case, for she was indeed named Aloysa, her monstrous appearance corresponded perfectly with her monstrous character. She was a monster of malice and cruelty. She was not dishonest, and she did not steal, but she loved to hurt others, she loved to inflict evil.
“She constantly sought revenge for her appearance. She resented everyone, the entire universe, even God himself for having made her born deformed, for she wanted to be beautiful, she wanted to love and be loved. Worst of all, she would fall in love. She would become smitten with men who obviously considered her a monster and fled from her. The bitterness she felt made her even crueller. Anything she could destroy, she would, such as flowers or animals. Likewise, she loved torturing the village children. Obviously not in an actual torture chamber, but for example, when she walked in the countryside and saw children wandering, she would grab them, whip them, poke them with a dagger, even make them bleed. She rejoiced in their fear. The children would scream and fight back, but as she had prodigious strength despite her short stature, she always managed to hold them. As a Chatelaine, I frequently received complaints against her. I told her to stop, to reform. In response, she insidiously bent her head and carried on nonetheless, even worse than before.
“Once, she really crossed the line and went so far as to kill. One would imagine, from the way I tell it that she had killed a person. In fact, she killed an animal, my favourite animal, my greyhound. But if it sounds like I speak of a person, it is because I loved her as such, and in fact, my greyhound was a person to me. She and I gazed at each other, spoke to each other, and understood each other. She wasn’t an animal, or at least, she had a soul. Our religion maintains that animals don’t have souls. That is untrue; my greyhound had one. Anina, Anina, Anina was her name. Anina was the name of my greyhound. On one occasion, I strongly reprimanded Aloysa and threatened to banish her, sell her, if I ever received further complaints from the villagers about children on whom she inflic
ted her evil. Rage overtook her then, she got a hold of my greyhound, took her away, and for hours proceeded to torture her. I cannot begin to describe the horror of what my poor greyhound’s corpse resembled when I found her.
“There must have been madness in her, or perhaps her unrequited loves had driven her to madness. As soon as she had completed her atrocious work and my greyhound lay lifeless, she realized what she had done and was afraid of me. So, she hid. I believed her to be in the cellars and had them searched. But she was much too intelligent and, convinced that I would search the cellars, she took refuge in the attic instead. How she would sustain herself there, however, she hadn’t considered.
“I took it upon myself to head the continued search. I was not in my right mind. When I thought of my greyhound’s bloodied corpse, my Anina, I believe I would have been capable of anything. It was indeed I, heading my men in the search, that found Aloysa. I found her in one of the rooms in the attic. She was trembling in fear. I lunged at her, and my people had to hold me back. Then I yelled, “Since you sought refuge here, you shall remain here until you die.” Yes, I had her walled-in right there, in this castle, under the eaves. Of course, I didn’t starve her; I even left her a barred window. And in the wall I had constructed, I left a small opening through which to pass bread, water, and food.
“It is entirely wrong to imagine that we at the time we treated our people as slaves, like animals, and that we could force them to bear the weight of our whims. A means of expression and justice existed for all. I could not have had Aloysa walled-in with impunity had I not received all my peasants’ support because of the cruelties Aloysa had exerted on their animals and their children. Everyone was on my side and approved of my decision.
“The pain caused by the loss of my Anina drove me mad to the point that I would put my ear up to the wall I had erected, and listen. From the walled-in room came light, rustling noises. Often, I could hear a long and continuous moan. Towards the end, I almost pitied Aloysa and believe I may have even delivered her from her punishment, but her death came first. Actually, she didn’t take long to die. One day, the bowl and earthenware timbale placed in the wall opening each day did not return. I understood what that meant, and had the wall opened up. Aloysa was dead. When I saw her tiny corpse on the floor, she reminded me of a child. Perhaps despite all her intelligence and her cruelty, she had remained a child. Maybe she did such harm to children because she wanted to be like them. She had their stature and probably even their soul, even if she possessed a diabolical intelligence. I repeat, it seemed to me as I contemplated her lifeless body, that she had achieved the childlike state that she had dreamed of all her life. My hatred had passed, and I had Aloysa buried decently, Christianly. I had the wall I had constructed entirely demolished and with it any memory of the place she had atoned and where she had died.
“Despite all the evil she had done to me, she had repented. By the hour of her death, she had managed to whiten her heart, her soul. And so, she went into the light and never came back. I, however, refused to repent for the crime I had committed against her. Whenever I thought of my greyhound’s corpse and cried out her name, Anina, Anina, I would convince myself that I was entirely right to have brought justice upon the unfortunate Aloysa. The emotion and glimpse of remorse I had felt upon discovering her corpse in the walled-in room and imagining it being that of a child, had faded. I no longer thought of her; I had forgotten her. I was not violent nor cruel, in fact, people were quite fond of me, I was popular, but I was short-tempered and stubborn. I stubbornly made Aloysa atone for what she had done to my poor greyhound. Having died without repenting, I have remained a ghost. Such is our strange story; it is not Aloysa who haunts these walls; it is I who haunts them.
“I lived in the 17th century. I was a content woman, a happy woman. I had a husband who loved me and whom I loved, I had exquisite, adorable children, adorable is the word. Even in my day, when this house was unbelievably different from what it is now, it was magical. I loved it very much, just as I love those who love it, my descendants foremost. Life was smiling at me.
“Then, Aloysa came along, and everything suddenly started going wrong. I became irritable, short-tempered. The poor girl was paid to see it. Aloysa, somehow, was and still is my Nemesis, my destiny. A poor, innocent creature overburdened with evil. On the one hand, she was a child, but on the other, she had evil within her. This evil in Aloysa came from afar, from previous lives. It was so powerful that it even manifested in her monstrous physical appearance. Yet, she is not the ghost of this castle. She managed to erase everything her previous lives had left her, here in this attic, the one I had closed up, walled-in. In this solitary room, though she did not stay in it long and, anyway, time under these circumstances was irrelevant, she lived several of her past lives over several centuries, and she managed to erase everything they left in her and thus she went into the light.
“However, she left me this legacy. She put a lot of the evil she received on me/ Consciously or unconsciously, I could not say. And the evil she put on me made me, in turn, commit the irreparable. I did what should never have been done, I did wrong, and I never repented. That is why I find myself here in this place today, to speak of it.
“I died still young, surrounded, loved, and regretted. At the time of my death, I had well and truly forgotten Aloysa. I never forgot Anina, but I had persuaded myself of having forgiven Aloysa. I didn’t know that in forgiving her, not repenting for having condemned her to death would mean I would not know eternal life right away.”