The Legend of Lady Skipwith
The Muggles tell a story of Lady Anne Skipwith. They say that, during the Revolutionary War, she and her husband often stayed with their relations at the Wythe House in Williamsburg, Virginia. One night, at a ball at the Governor’s Mansion, she argued with her husband over his philandering — reprobate behavior which included an affair with her own sister. Broken-hearted, Lady Anne ran all the way home, losing a shoe along the way, and hanged herself in a room in the Wythe House. Another version claims that she tripped running up the stairs in the house, fell, and broke her neck. The historical record, meanwhile, shows that Lady Skipwith died in childbirth and that her husband did, in fact, go on to marry her sister — repugnant to some sensibilities, perhaps, but not uncommon in an age when the transmission of property of property was of paramount importance.
None of these stories is correct.
Lady Skipwith, a witch of the Bolling line, was known to argue with her Muggle husband over the family’s involvement in the Revolutionary War. The Skipwiths were not much political, preferring to stay out of direct involvement with either the Loyalists or the Rebels, but Lady Anne felt they should do more to assist the cause of independence. To the chagrin of both her husband and her sister, she developed a penchant for using her magical abilities to assist both the Muggle and wizarding endeavours. She was often involved with excursions and operations late at night, while others were distracted by the social obligations of their class. More than once, she was known to leave a ball at a moment’s notice, should word come in from her associates.
During one such endeavour, a battle ensued, and Lady Anne was hit with a wasting curse which killed her within hours. As she had been with child at the time, the family gave out that she had died in childbirth, to conceal both her magical nature and her war efforts. Her husband thereafter married her similarly-magical but much more malleable sister, Jean.
Her ghost does remain in Williamsburg to this day, eternally resistant to attempts by the DSO to limit her appearances to Muggles. They speak of hearing her uneven foosteps, one heeled, one bare, running down the street or up the stairs. Others see her at a mirror, attending to her toilette, or smell her perfume as they move through the house. A rumor at the college even states that her spirit can be summoned by holding a red high-heeled shoe, knocking upon the door of the Wythe house, and calling out, “Lady Skipwith, Lady Skipwith, we have your red shoe!” (though some assert that this only works on a full moon, or in the month of October).
Her unearthly presence is so popular that the Wythe house is a prime feature of Colonial Williamsburg’s annual ghost tours — a lucrative local business. For this reason, the DSO has tacitly allowed her to continue in her visitations, finding that nothing so aptly deflects Muggles from the truth as making a tourist attraction out of it.