The Headless Bride
Excerpted from Spooky Yellowstone
retold by S.E. Schlosser
Once there was a lovely young woman growing up in a wealthy shipping family in New York. In those days, wealthy young women were expected to make their debut in society and to marry a wealthy young man from a good family. But our young lady was a bit of a rebel. When she grew old enough to marry, she scorned the wealthy young society men in favor of an older man who was working as a servant in her house.
Of course, there was a big argument within the family when the young woman announced her choice of husband. Her parents were furious, particularly her father, who accused the servant of courting his daughter in order to gain a prominent position in the shipping company. When the young lady insisted upon the marriage, her father gave the couple a lump sum of cash with the stipulation that they leave New York after the wedding and never come back.
By the time the young couple reached the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, the new husband had gambled away all of the money that his wife’s family had bestowed upon the newlyweds. There was barely enough money for the couple to finish their honeymoon trip, and nothing whatsoever with which to buy a house or start a family.
The young woman was upset with her husband. They had quarreled often about money during their honeymoon journey, and by this time, she knew that her father had been right about the greed of her new husband. He was obviously more interested in her money than in her. Still, the couple was flat broke and needed something to pay the concessioners here at Yellowstone, so she telephoned her father to ask him for some money. Her father refused to give her a penny.
That night, the couple had a terrific fight in the relative privacy of their bedroom at the inn. The husband stalked out of the Inn in a fury, leaving his bride locked in her room. The bride did not emerge for days, and finally the staff of the Inn sent someone to check on her.
No one answered when the housekeeper knocked on the door. Using the housekeeping key, the staffer sent stepped into the room and gasped in shock. The room looked as if a hurricane had swept through the interior. Clothes were strewn everywhere, and the bedclothes were partially on the floor. Worse, the housekeeper was overwhelmed by the metallic odor smell that permeated everything. There was no sign of the bride, but the stink that wafted from the attached bathroom hinted at what the housekeeper might see. Lying in the bathtub in a pool of congealed blood was the body of the unhappy bride, which ended grotesquely in the ragged stump of a neck. Her head was nowhere to be seen.
The housekeeper’s screams summoned the rest of the staff. The authorities were summoned, the family was notified and the room cleaned. Everything was done to locate the murderer, but the husband was never apprehended. Finally, the whole story was hushed up to avoid scandal to the prominent family.
A few days after the discovery of the murder, a foul smell up in the Crows Nest where the musicians often played for the evening dances was traced to its source: The bride’s severed head. Tousled blond curls framed the wide-eyed, horror-twisted face; already beginning to rot.
The burial of the poor, murdered bride should have been the end of the terrible incident. And so it proved, until one midnight when a staff member who was up late reading a book heard a strange noise coming from the lobby. It was the stroke of midnight when he hurried out onto the balcony and looked upward, seeking the source of the noise. He looked up towards the Crows Nest, far above, and saw a glowing figure in white slowly descending the stairs from the Crows Nest. Tucked under its arm was a tousle-curled, wide-eyed head! Frozen with horror, the man watched the bride descend the steps and float along the corridor until she reached the door of her room. Then she vanished!
From that day onward, there are people who say they can see the headless bride walking down the stairs from the Crows Nest at the stroke of midnight; sadly seeking for her lost husband and her lost dreams. Myself, I’ve never stayed up to see.