The ruins of a magnificent stone house once stood high atop a bluff in the North Carolina pine forests, alongside the Cape Fear River. The decaying castle had two ghosts, that of an older English gentleman, the other was a beautiful young lady. It was said the spirits always walked arm-and-arm, still in love, and the spirit of the young man never bothered them.
English Lord Martin Brewer built the Norman structure as tribute to his Norman ancestry. He built his house in the 1750s. He wanted his home to reflect the beautiful Norman castles of his homeland, and the construction was a success. He’d had the good fortune of a land grant, but it wasn’t enough. He purchased a large tract of land to go with it.
He purchased a large number of slaves and farmed as much land as he could. He also brought a number of English and Scottish servants from his estate in the old world. One servant in particular, Allen Thurston, was the administrator over all the staff. Brewer held a few get-togethers in his home. Festivities didn’t do what a family could do, so he decided to take his leave.
Brewer decided he would take an extended trip to Europe. He planned to be gone a year. Thurston made note of Brewer’s wishes during his absence and the lord of the castle was gone. A year later, he impressed the Carolinians when he returned with a beautiful, young bride. Despite a noticeable age difference, it didn’t seem to affect the couple. She appeared perfectly content with her new home and her position as his wife. Unfortunately, Brewer did change. He became more possessive and jealous as time went on. He no longer welcomed visitors or had get-togethers.
The servants expected something terrible because of Brewer’s escalating jealousy and worsening temper. Most became suspicious when he announced a sudden trip to England. His wife didn’t seem to notice his demeanor change as much as the staff. It wasn’t long before the staff also noticed a young gentleman visited the home when Lord Brewer was out. Thurston didn’t want to make trouble, but he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the stranger’s presence.
Another person in the household staff confessed the young man had been there a number of times. Thurston was torn between what to do, as Brewer had just left. He decided to confront the lady of the house. She only said she was too embarrassed to discuss the situation and to remain silent on the matter, for the time being.
Thurston assumed the worst and made the necessary letters to Brewer. If he did nothing, the lord of the estate would likely mete vengeance out on him, as well as his new bride. It was months later before Brewer returned, and when he did, even Thurston was afraid of him. Something had changed while he was gone. He now had an evil glint in his eye that no one had ever witnessed before.
It was also suspicious that he brought back so many gifts for his bride when he was clearly angry. Still, his wife seemed oblivious to his hostility and accepted his gifts with joy and appreciation. He also brought back a bed that made her cringe. No one on staff liked to even look at the piece. Brewer claimed it was an heirloom from his Norman ancestors. The huge bed had an ancient oak headboard with two carved dragons. The red-eyed beasts yawned behind the pillows.
She was terrified of the piece. Brewer said he would set it up in the spare bedroom, but he noticed her face twitched when he spoke. He considered that was a sure sign of unfaithful guilt. He believed he had her right where he wanted her. The next morning, he was almost pleased to hear her scream from the guest bedroom. He was certain her lover would no longer be a problem.
Only, when he arrived, he received a shock that was perhaps as keen as his wife’s. There was no lover. The dead man was his brother-in-law. His bride had sheltered her own brother while he hid from English authorities. He’d been accused of a capital offense in England, and while he was innocent of the charges, he wanted to hide until he could be exonerated. Brewer’s evil confidence vanished as he watched his wife weep over her brother’s body.
The cause of death was a deep, narrow hole in the man’s skull. She was crushed. Several days later, she suffered another bout of insomnia. Brewer was fast asleep. She went down the hall to try and sleep in her dead brother’s bed. She was in a new country and far from the comfort of any other relative. She had no friends and her husband and been distant for months.
The next morning, the servants found her dead with the same mysterious injury to her skull.
Lord Brewer could hardly speak from grief. He endured a week before he also went to lie in the same bed. The servants found him in the morning, dead, the same as his wife and her brother.
Time passed on and the home was eventually abandoned. Nature started the process of reclamation as the yard grew and vermin infested the home. Locals soon began to report strange lights and sounds coming from the derelict home. It wasn’t long before the spirits of those who died there were seen within its crumbling walls.
For over a century, the deaths remained a mystery. Who could’ve killed them all? Was it a servant? Someone seeking vengeance for the brother’s alleged crimes? They believed Brewer did it at first, but then he became a victim, himself. There was no evidence of any kind to convict anyone. The house was searched when the deaths first happened, but there were no weapons to make such wounds.
The crime eventually became a story, eventually forgotten by all, but the Thurstons. The story was passed down in their family. Allen Thurston documented the story and hid it away in a keepsake box. The box was then passed to Donald Thurston, his grandson. Donald was caretaker for the dilapidated house in the 1890s, when several reporters heard the legend and decided to investigate. Donald led them to the home and they explored. They even found the notorious bed with the dragon headboard still in the guestroom.
They felt around the bed for hidden compartments or secret doors. It looked just like any other antiquated bed. A reporter gave up and sat on the bed, when something happened. A long, thin blade shot out of the dragon’s mouth, and down where the pillow would have laid. The knives resembled ice picks.
The headboard concealed a spring mechanism that was triggered by weight. If a body moved to a certain spot on either side of the bed, a dagger shot out of the dragon’s mouth on that respective side. After a few moments, the blades retracted themselves. They had rusted with time, but still had rusty spots that resembled dried blood.
The mystery of Brewer’s Revenge was finally solved in the 1890s, over a century after the events took place.