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The strange case of Miss Tippett

Some friends once lived in part of a house in North London, while the owner of the house, an elderly lady called Miss Tippett, lived in the rest of it.

Miss Tippett was a small brisk sort of person who believed in fresh air and exercise. So she was always opening windows and hanging out clothes and bedding in the belief that everything should have a good airing.

As there was no central heating in the house, the friends did not share their landlady's liking for great draughts of cold air blowing into the house, and they went round shutting windows as fast as Miss Tippett flung them open.

One day the old lady suffered a stroke and had to be taken to hospital. As soon as the ambulance had left, the friends went into Miss Tippett's rooms, shut all her windows and doors, made her bed, and partially drew her curtains across to keep the sunlight from fading the covers and carpets.

Later they visited the hospital and found Miss Tippett completely unconcious. She had not moved, and she showed no reaction to anyone or anything, even though her eyes were wide open.

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On their return home, the friends were astonished to discover that all the windows in Miss Tippett's part of the house were wide open. At first they thought someone must have gone into her rooms - a friend, perhaps. But they found all the doors still locked and there was no-one to be seen.

Puzzled, they closed all the windows once more and made themselves a cup of coffee. While they were drinking it, they heard a series of bangs, thuds and crashes coming from Miss Tippett's bedroom.

Convinced that something was wrong, they approached the room rather hesitantly. Once again the windows were wide open, and now the bedclothes had been flung backe as if to air the bed. A number of Miss Tippett's jumpers were draped on the windowsill as someone might who was putting clothes out in the sun.

"It's Miss Tippett", both friends agreed. "No wonder the doctors can't get through to her. She isn't at the hospital at all - she's here. Somehow she's here in this house."

The old lady lay in her hospital bed for ten days. During that time the house was racked with crashes and thumps as windows and doors flew open, and towels, tablecloths, clothes and cushions were flung out of drawers and cupboards.

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"It's as if the old lady is trying to do her spring cleaning," the friends thought.

Perhaps they were right. One morning when they woke up the house somehow felt different. There were no more noises and nothing else was disturbed.

As for Miss Tippett, she had regained conciousness and was able to speak a little, though the stroke had left her without any movement in the right side of her body.

She never went back to the house, but spent the rest of her days in a comfortable nursing home.

What happened while she lay unconscious? "Do you know," she said. "All the time I was lying there I dreamed I was at home doing my spring cleaning."

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