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Politics Make Strange Bedfellooooooooooows

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Unfazed by the specter of mixing politics and education, a teacher and three 12-year-old girls from the gifted program of the Warner Elementary School in northern Delaware recently pursued specters of a different sort as the overnight guests of Delaware's Governor Michael Castle.

Connie Malin, the girls' teacher, said a local television news report on haunted houses in Philadelphia piqued the girls' interest as the subject for a special project; after hours of research in the local public library and the library at the University of Delaware, they found that Woodburn, the Governor's 200-year-old mansion, is reputed to be haunted by the spirits of a mysterious little girl who likes to tug on the hems of women's dresses and of a troubled slave trader who was hanged upside down and in chains from what has come to be known as the "hanging tree" in the front yard. While the little girl is reported to be friendly, legend has it that the slave trader roams the mansion's grounds looking for revenge.

The girls wrote a long letter to the Governor explaining their project and requesting that they be allowed to spend the night in the mansion. Governor Castle replied that he would be more than happy to have them visit.

He told the girls that since his inauguration in January the security guards in the mansion have been having problems with a window that keeps opening by itself and a burglar alarm that won't stay off. He also revealed that at an inauguration party several women reported that they felt an unseen presence tugging on their skirts.

Armed with a stuffed dog to attract the spirit of the little girl, a tape recorder to record the wailing of the slave trader, and a video camera to capture the poltergeists in living color, the girls and Mrs. Malin settled down for the night. But when the girls tried to focus the camera on the hanging tree, it wouldn't focus, even though the picture on the video monitor remained clear. And when they tried to focus the camera on each other, their bodies appeared transparent while inanimate objects remained opaque.

"The girls are being very scientific and are trying to find a logical explanation for everything," said Mrs. Malin. A spokesman for Governor Castle, meanwhile, said the ghosts are friendly and the Governor has no immediate plans to leave the mansion.

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