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Title: The Best Ghost Stories
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Modern Library of the World's Best Books

THE BEST GHOST STORIES

Introduction by Arthur B. Reeve



The Modern Library
Publishers New York
Copyright, 1919, by
Boni & Liveright, Inc.
Manufactured in the United States of America by H. Wolff



CONTENTS

                                                                       PAGE

INTRODUCTION--"THE FASCINATION OF THE GHOST STORY"  _Arthur B. Reeve_   vii

THE APPARITION OF MRS. VEAL                           _Daniel De Foe_     3

CANON ALBERIC'S SCRAP-BOOK                     _Montague Rhodes James_   18

THE HAUNTED AND THE HAUNTERS                    _Edward Bulwer-Lytton_   31

THE SILENT WOMAN                                     _Leopold Kompert_   60

BANSHEES                                                                 79

THE MAN WHO WENT TOO FAR                                 _E.F. Benson_   85

THE WOMAN'S GHOST STORY                            _Algernon Blackwood_ 108

THE PHANTOM RICKSHAW                                  _Rudyard Kipling_ 118

THE RIVAL GHOSTS                                     _Brander Matthews_ 141

THE DAMNED THING                                       _Ambrose Bierce_ 160

THE INTERVAL                                       _Vincent O'Sullivan_ 170

DEY AIN'T NO GHOSTS                               _Ellis Parker Butler_ 177

SOME REAL AMERICAN GHOSTS                                               188



INTRODUCTION

THE FASCINATION OF THE GHOST STORY

ARTHUR B. REEVE


What is the fascination we feel for the mystery of the ghost story?

Is it of the same nature as the fascination which we feel for the
mystery of the detective story?

Of the latter fascination, the late Paul Armstrong used to say that it
was because we are all as full of crime as Sing Sing--only we don't
dare.

Thus, may I ask, are we not fascinated by the ghost story because, no
matter what may be the scientific or skeptical bent of our minds, in our
inmost souls, secretly perhaps, we are as full of superstition as an
obeah man--only we don't let it loose?

Who shall say that he is able to fling off lightly the inheritance of
countless ages of superstition? Is there not a streak of superstition in
us all? We laugh at the voodoo worshiper--then create our own hoodooes,
our pet obsessions.

It has been said that man is incurably religious, that if all religions
were blotted out, man would create a new religion.

Man is incurably fascinated by the mysterious. If all the ghost stories
of the ages were blotted out, man would invent new ones.

For, do we not all stand in awe of that which we cannot explain, of that
which, if it be not in our own experience, is certainly recorded in the
experience of others, of that of which we know and can know nothing?

Skeptical though one may be of the occult, he must needs be interested
in things that others believe to be objective--that certainly are
subjectively very real to them.

The ghost story is not born of science, nor even of super-science,
whatever that may be. It is not of science at all. It is of another
sphere, despite all that the psychic researchers have tried to
demonstrate.

There are in life two sorts of people who, for want of a better
classification, I may call the psychic and the non-psychic. If I ask the
psychic to close his eyes and I say to him, "Horse," he immediately
visualizes a horse. The other, non-psychic, does not. I rather incline
to believe that it is the former class who see ghosts, or rather some of
them. The latter do not--though they share interest in them.

The artists are of the visualizing class and, in our more modern times,
it is the psychic who think in motion pictures, or at least in a
succession of still pictures.

However we explain the ghostly and supernatural, whether we give it
objective or merely subjective reality, neither explanation prevents the
non-psychic from being intensely interested in the visions of the
psychic.

Thus I am convinced that if we were all quite honest with ourselves,
whether we believe in or do not believe in ghosts, at least we are all
deeply interested in them. There is in this interest something that
makes all the world akin.

Who does not feel a suppressed start at the creaking of furniture in the
dark of night? Who has not felt a shiver of goose flesh, controlled only
by an effort of will? Who, in the dark, has not had the feeling of some
_thing_ behind him--and, in spite of his conscious reasoning, turned to
look?

If there be any who has not, it may be that to him ghost stories have no
fascination. Let him at least, however, be honest.

To every human being mystery appeals, be it that of the crime cases on
which a large part of yellow journalism is founded, or be it in the
cases of Dupin, of Le Coq, of Sherlock Holmes, of Arsene Lupin, of Craig
Kennedy, or a host of others of our fiction mystery characters. The
appeal is in the mystery.

The detective's case is solved at the end, however. But even at the end
of a ghost story, the underlying mystery remains. In the ghost story, we
have the very quintessence of mystery.

Authors, publishers, editors, dramatists, writers of motion pictures
tell us that never before has there been such an intense and wide
interest in mystery stories as there is to-day. That in itself explains
the interest in the super-mystery story of the ghost and ghostly doings.

Another element of mystery lies in such stories. Deeper and further
back, is the supreme mystery of life--after death--what?

"Impossible," scorns the non-psychic as he listens to some ghost story.

To which, doggedly replies the mind of the opposite type, "Not so.
I believe _because_ it is impossible."

The uncanny, the unhealthy--as in the master of such writing,
Poe--fascinates. Whether we will or no, the imp of the perverse lures us
on.

That is why we read with enthralled interest these excursions into the
eerie unknown, perhaps reading on till the mystic hour of midnight
increases the creepy pleasure.

One might write a volume of analysis and appreciation of this aptly
balanced anthology of ghost stories assembled here after years of
reading and study by Mr. J.L. French.

Foremost among the impressions that a casual reader will derive is the
interesting fact, just as in detective mystery stories, so in ghost
stories, styles change. Each age, each period has the ghost story
peculiar to itself. To-day, there is a new style of ghost story
gradually evolving.

Once stories were of fairies, fays, trolls, the "little people," of
poltergiest and loup garou. Through various ages we have progressed to
the ghost story of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries until to-day,
in the twentieth, we are seeing a modern style, which the new science is
modifying materially.

High among the stories in this volume, one must recognize the masterful
art of Algernon Blackwood's "The Woman's Ghost Story."

"I was interested in psychic things," says the woman as she starts to
tell her story simply, with a sweep toward the climax that has the ring
of the truth of fiction. Here perhaps we have the modern style of ghost
story at its best.

Times change as well as styles. "The Man Who Went Too Far" is of intense
interest as an attempt to bring into our own times an interpretation of
the symbolism underlying Greek mythology, applied to England of some
years ago.

To see Pan meant death. Hence in this story there is a philosophy of
Pan-theism--no "me," no "you," no "it." It is a mystical story, with a
storm scene in which is painted a picture that reminds one strongly of
"The Fall of the House of Ushur,"--with the frankly added words, "On him
were marks of hoofs of a monstrous goat that had leaped on
him,"--uncompromising mysticism.

Happy is the Kipling selection, "The Phantom 'Rickshaw," if only for
that obiter dictum of ghost-presence as Kipling explains about the rift
in the brain: "--and a little bit of the Dark World came through and
pressed him to death!"

Then there are the racial styles in ghost stories. The volume takes us
from the "Banshees and Other Death Warnings" of Ireland to a strange
example of Jewish mysticism in "The Silent Woman." Mr. French has been
very wide in his choice, giving us these as well as many examples from
the literature of England and France. Finally, he has compiled from the
newspapers, as typically American, many ghost stories of New York and
other parts of the country.

Strange that one should find humor in a subject so weird. Yet we find
it. Take, for instance, De Foe's old narrative, "The Apparition of Mrs.
Veal." It is a hoax, nothing more. Of our own times is Ellis Parker
Butler's "Dey Ain't No Ghosts," showing an example of the modern Negro's
racial heritage.

In our literature and on the stage, the very idea of a Darky and a
graveyard is mirth-provoking. Mr. Butler extracts some pithy philosophy
from his Darky boy: "I ain't skeered ob ghosts whut am, c'ase dey ain't
no ghosts, but I jes' feel kinder oneasy 'bout de ghosts whut ain't!"

Humor is succeeded by pathos. In "The Interval" we find a sympathetic
twist to the ghost story--an actual desire to meet the dead.

It is not, however, to be compared for interest to the story of sheer
terror, as in Bulwer-Lytton's "The Haunted and the Haunters," with the
flight of the servant in terror, the cowering of the dog against the
wall, the death of the dog, its neck actually broken by the terror, and
all that go to make an experience in a haunted house what it should be.

Thus, at last, we come to two of the stories that attempt to give a
scientific explanation, another phase of the modern style of ghost
story.

One of these, perhaps hardly modern as far as mere years are concerned,
is this same story of Bulwer, "The Haunted and the Haunters." Besides
being a rattling good old-fashioned tale of horror, it attempts a
new-fashioned scientific explanation. It is enough to read and re-read
it.

It is, however, the lamented Ambrose Bierce who has gone furthest in the
science and the philosophy of the matter, and in a very short story,
too, splendidly titled "The Damned Thing."

          "Incredible!" exclaims the coroner at the inquest.

          "That is nothing to you, sir," replies the
          newspaper man who relates the experience, and in
          these words expresses the true feeling about
          ghostly fiction, "that is nothing to you, if I
          also swear that it is true!"

But furthest of all in his scientific explanation--not scientifically
explaining away, but in explaining the way--goes Bierce as he outlines a
theory. From the diary of the murdered man he picks out the following
which we may treasure as a gem:

          "I am not mad. There are colors that we cannot
          see. And--God help me!--the Damned Thing is of
          such a color!"

This fascination of the ghost story--have I made it clear?

As I write, nearing midnight, the bookcase behind me cracks. I start and
turn. Nothing. There is a creak of a board in the hallway.

I know it is the cool night wind--the uneven contraction of materials
expanded in the heat of the day.

Yet--do I go into the darkness outside otherwise than alert?

It is this evolution of our sense of ghost terror--ages of it--that
fascinates us.

Can we, with a few generations of modernism behind us, throw it off with
all our science? And, if we did, should we not then succeed only in
abolishing the old-fashioned ghost story and creating a new, scientific
ghost story?

Scientific? Yes. But more,--something that has existed since the
beginnings of intelligence in the human race.

Perhaps, you critic, you say that the true ghost story originated in the
age of shadowy candle light and pine knot with their grotesqueries on
the walls and in the unpenetrated darkness, that the electric bulb and
the radiator have dispelled that very thing on which, for ages, the
ghost story has been built.

What? No ghost stories? Would you take away our supernatural fiction by
your paltry scientific explanation?

Still will we gather about the story teller--then lie awake o' nights,
seeing mocking figures, arms akimbo, defying all your science to crush
the ghost story.



BEST GHOST STORIES



THE APPARITION OF MRS. VEAL

BY DANIEL DE FOE


THE PREFACE

This relation is matter of fact, and attended with such circumstances,
as may induce any reasonable man to believe it. It was sent by a
gentleman, a justice of peace, at Maidstone, in Kent, and a very
intelligent person, to his friend in London, as it is here worded; which
discourse is attested by a very sober and understanding gentlewoman, a
kinswoman of the said gentleman's, who lives in Canterbury, within a few
doors of the house in which the within-named Mrs. Bargrave lives; who
believes his kinswoman to be of so discerning a spirit, as not to be put
upon by any fallacy; and who positively assured him that the whole
matter, as it is related and laid down, is really true; and what she
herself had in the same words, as near as may be, from Mrs. Bargrave's
own mouth, who, she knows, had no reason to invent and publish such a
story, or any design to forge and tell a lie, being a woman of much
honesty and virtue, and her whole life a course, as it were, of piety.
The use which we ought to make of it, is to consider, that there is a
life to come after this, and a just God, who will retribute to every one
according to the deeds done in the body; and therefore to reflect upon
our past course of life we have led in the world; that our time is short
and uncertain; and that if we would escape the punishment of the
ungodly, and receive the reward of the righteous, which is the laying
hold of eternal life, we ought, for the time to come, to return to God
by a speedy repentance, ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well: to
seek after God early, if happily He may be found of us, and lead such
lives for the future, as may be well pleasing in His sight.


A RELATION OF THE APPARITION OF MRS. VEAL

This thing is so rare in all its circumstances, and on so good
authority, that my reading and conversation has not given me anything
like it: it is fit to gratify the most ingenious and serious inquirer.
Mrs. Bargrave is the person to whom Mrs. Veal appeared after her death;
she is my intimate friend, and I can avouch for her reputation, for
these last fifteen or sixteen years, on my own knowledge; and I can
confirm the good character she had from her youth, to the time of my
acquaintance. Though, since this relation, she is calumniated by some
people, that are friends to the brother of this Mrs. Veal, who appeared;
who think the relation of this appearance to be a reflection, and
endeavor what they can to blast Mrs. Bargrave's reputation, and to laugh
the story out of countenance. But by the circumstances thereof, and the
cheerful disposition of Mrs. Bargrave, notwithstanding the ill-usage of
a very wicked husband, there is not yet the least sign of dejection in
her face; nor did I ever hear her let fall a desponding or murmuring
expression; nay, not when actually under her husband's barbarity; which
I have been witness to, and several other persons of undoubted
reputation.

Now you must know, Mrs. Veal was a maiden gentlewoman of about thirty
years of age, and for some years last past had been troubled with fits;
which were perceived coming on her, by her going off from her discourse
very abruptly to some impertinence. She was maintained by an only
brother, and kept his house in Dover. She was a very pious woman, and
her brother a very sober man to all appearance; but now he does all he
can to null or quash the story. Mrs. Veal was intimately acquainted with
Mrs. Bargrave from her childhood. Mrs. Veal's circumstances were then
mean; her father did not take care of his children as he ought, so that
they were exposed to hardships; and Mrs. Bargrave, in those days, had as
unkind a father, though she wanted neither for food nor clothing, whilst
Mrs. Veal wanted for both; insomuch that she would often say, Mrs.
Bargrave, you are not only the best, but the only friend I have in the
world, and no circumstances of life shall ever dissolve my friendship.
They would often condole each other's adverse fortunes, and read
together Drelincourt upon Death, and other good books; and so, like two
Christian friends, they comforted each other under their sorrow.

Some time after, Mr. Veal's friends got him a place in the custom-house
at Dover, which occasioned Mrs. Veal, by little and little, to fall off
from her intimacy with Mrs. Bargrave, though there was never any such
thing as a quarrel; but an indifferency came on by degrees, till at last
Mrs. Bargrave had not seen her in two years and a half; though above a
twelvemonth of the time Mrs. Bargrave hath been absent from Dover, and
this last half year has been in Canterbury about two months of the time,
dwelling in a house of her own.

In this house, on the 8th of September, 1705, she was sitting alone in
the forenoon, thinking over her unfortunate life, and arguing herself
into a due resignation to providence, though her condition seemed hard.
And, said she, I have been provided for hitherto, and doubt not but I
shall be still; and am well satisfied that my afflictions shall end when
it is most fit for me: and then took up her sewing-work, which she had
no sooner done, but she hears a knocking at the door. She went to see
who was there, and this proved to be Mrs. Veal, her old friend, who was
in a riding-habit. At that moment of time the clock struck twelve at
noon.

Madam, says Mrs. Bargrave, I am surprised to see you, you have been so
long a stranger; but told her, she was glad to see her, and offered to
salute her; which Mrs. Veal complied with, till their lips almost
touched; and then Mrs. Veal drew her hand across her own eyes, and said,
I am not very well; and so waived it. She told Mrs. Bargrave, she was
going a journey, and had a great mind to see her first. But, says Mrs.
Bargrave, how came you to take a journey alone? I am amazed at it,
because I know you have a fond brother. Oh! says Mrs. Veal, I gave my
brother the slip, and came away because I had so great a desire to see
you before I took my journey. So Mrs. Bargrave went in with her, into
another room within the first, and Mrs. Veal sat her down in an
elbow-chair, in which Mrs. Bargrave was sitting when she heard Mrs. Veal
knock. Then says Mrs. Veal, My dear friend, I am come to renew our old
friendship again, and beg your pardon for my breach of it; and if you
can forgive me, you are the best of women. O, says Mrs. Bargrave, do not
mention such a thing; I have not had an uneasy thought about it; I can
easily forgive it. What did you think of me? said Mrs. Veal. Says Mrs.
Bargrave, I thought you were like the rest of the world, and that
prosperity had made you forget yourself and me. Then Mrs. Veal reminded
Mrs. Bargrave of the many friendly offices she did her in former days,
and much of the conversation they had with each other in the times of
their adversity; what books they read, and what comfort, in particular,
they received from Drelincourt's Book of Death, which was the best, she
said, on that subject ever written. She also mentioned Dr. Sherlock, the
two Dutch books which were translated, written upon death, and several
others. But Drelincourt, she said, had the clearest notions of death,
and of the future state, of any who had handled that subject. Then she
asked Mrs. Bargrave, whether she had Drelincourt. She said, Yes. Says
Mrs. Veal, Fetch it. And so Mrs. Bargrave goes up stairs and brings it
down. Says Mrs. Veal, Dear Mrs. Bargrave, if the eyes of our faith were
as open as the eyes of our body, we should see numbers of angels about
us for our guard. The notions we have of heaven now, are nothing like
what it is, as Drelincourt says; therefore be comforted under your
afflictions, and believe that the Almighty has a particular regard to
you; and that your afflictions are marks of God's favor; and when they
have done the business they are sent for, they shall be removed from
you. And believe me, my dear friend, believe what I say to you, one
minute of future happiness will infinitely reward you for all your
sufferings. For, I can never believe (and claps her hand upon her knee
with great earnestness, which indeed ran through most of her discourse),
that ever God will suffer you to spend all your days in this afflicted
state; but be assured, that your afflictions shall leave you, or you
them, in a short time. She spake in that pathetical and heavenly
manner, that Mrs. Bargrave wept several times, she was so deeply
affected with it.

Then Mrs. Veal mentioned Dr. Kenrick's Ascetick, at the end of which he
gives an account of the lives of the primitive Christians. Their pattern
she recommended to our imitation, and said, their conversation was not
like this of our age: For now, says she, there is nothing but frothy,
vain discourse, which is far different from theirs. Theirs was to
edification, and to build one another up in faith; so that they were not
as we are, nor are we as they were: but, says she, we ought to do as
they did. There was an hearty friendship among them; but where is it now
to be found? Says Mrs. Bargrave, It is hard indeed to find a true friend
in these days. Says Mrs. Veal, Mr. Norris has a fine copy of verses,
called Friendship in Perfection, which I wonderfully admire. Have you
seen the book? says Mrs. Veal. No, says Mrs. Bargrave, but I have the
verses of my own writing out. Have you? says Mrs. Veal, then fetch them.
Which she did from above stairs, and offered them to Mrs. Veal to read,
who refused, and waived the thing, saying, holding down her head would
make it ache; and then desired Mrs. Bargrave to read them to her, which
she did. As they were admiring friendship, Mrs. Veal said, Dear Mrs.
Bargrave, I shall love you for ever. In these verses there is twice used
the word Elysian. Ah! says Mrs. Veal, these poets have such names for
heaven. She would often draw her hands across her own eyes, and say,
Mrs. Bargrave, do not you think I am mightily impaired by my fits? No,
says Mrs. Bargrave, I think you look as well as ever I knew you. After
all this discourse, which the apparition put in much finer words than
Mrs. Bargrave said she could pretend to, and as much more than she can
remember, (for it cannot be thought, that an hour and three quarters'
conversation could all be retained, though the main of it she thinks she
does,) she said to Mrs. Bargrave, she would have her write a letter to
her brother, and tell him, she would have him give rings to such and
such; and that there was a purse of gold in her cabinet, and that she
would have two broad pieces given to her cousin Watson.

Talking at this rate, Mrs. Bargrave thought that a fit was coming upon
her, and so placed herself in a chair just before her knees, to keep her
from falling to the ground, if her fits should occasion it: for the
elbow-chair, she thought, would keep her from falling on either side.
And to divert Mrs. Veal, as she thought, took hold of her gown-sleeve
several times, and commended it. Mrs. Veal told her, it was a scowered
silk, and newly made up. But for all this, Mrs. Veal persisted in her
request, and told Mrs. Bargrave, she must not deny her: and she would
have her tell her brother all their conversation, when she had
opportunity. Dear Mrs. Veal, says Mrs. Bargrave, this seems so
impertinent, that I cannot tell how to comply with it; and what a
mortifying story will our conversation be to a young gentleman? Why,
says Mrs. Bargrave, it is much better, methinks, to do it yourself. No,
says Mrs. Veal, though it seems impertinent to you now, you will see
more reason for it hereafter. Mrs. Bargrave then, to satisfy her
importunity, was going to fetch a pen and ink; but Mrs. Veal said, Let
it alone now, but do it when I am gone; but you must be sure to do it:
which was one of the last things she enjoined her at parting; and so she
promised her.

Then Mrs. Veal asked for Mrs. Bargrave's daughter; she said, she was not
at home: But if you have a mind to see her, says Mrs. Bargrave, I'll
send for her. Do, says Mrs. Veal. On which she left her, and went to a
neighbor's to seek for her; and by the time Mrs. Bargrave was returning,
Mrs. Veal was got without the door in the street, in the face of the
beast-market, on a Saturday, which is market-day, and stood ready to
part, as soon as Mrs. Bargrave came to her. She asked her, why she was
in such haste. She said she must be going, though perhaps she might not
go her journey till Monday; and told Mrs. Bargrave, she hoped she should
see her again at her cousin Watson's, before she went whither she was
going. Then she said, she would take her leave of her, and walked from
Mrs. Bargrave in her view, till a turning interrupted the sight of her,
which was three quarters after one in the afternoon.

Mrs. Veal died the 7th of September, at twelve o'clock at noon of her
fits, and had not above four hours' senses before her death, in which
time she received the sacrament. The next day after Mrs. Veal's
appearing, being Sunday, Mrs. Bargrave was mightily indisposed with a
cold, and a sore throat, that she could not go out that day; but on
Monday morning she sent a person to Captain Watson's, to know if Mrs.
Veal was there. They wondered at Mrs. Bargrave's inquiry; and sent her
word, that she was not there, nor was expected. At this answer Mrs.
Bargrave told the maid she had certainly mistook the name, or made some
blunder. And though she was ill, she put on her hood, and went herself
to Captain Watson's though she knew none of the family, to see if Mrs.
Veal was there or not. They said, they wondered at her asking, for that
she had not been in town; they were sure, if she had, she would have
been there. Says Mrs. Bargrave, I am sure she was with me on Saturday
almost two hours. They said, it was impossible; for they must have seen
her if she had. In comes Captain Watson, while they were in dispute, and
said, that Mrs. Veal was certainly dead, and her escutcheons were
making. This strangely surprised Mrs. Bargrave, when she sent to the
person immediately who had the care of them, and found it true. Then she
related the whole story to Captain Watson's family, and what gown she
had on, and how striped; and that Mrs. Veal told her, it was scowered.
Then Mrs. Watson cried out, You have seen her indeed, for none knew, but
Mrs. Veal and myself, that the gown was scowered. And Mrs. Watson owned,
that she described the gown exactly: For, said she, I helped her to make
it up. This Mrs. Watson blazed all about the town, and avouched the
demonstration of the truth of Mrs. Bargrave's seeing Mrs. Veal's
apparition. And Captain Watson carried two gentlemen immediately to Mrs.
Bargrave's house, to hear the relation of her own mouth. And when it
spread so fast, that gentlemen and persons of quality, the judicious and
skeptical part of the world, flocked in upon her, it at last became such
a task, that she was forced to go out of the way. For they were, in
general, extremely satisfied of the truth of the thing, and plainly saw
that Mrs. Bargrave was no hypochondraic; for she always appears with
such a cheerful air, and pleasing mien, that she has gained the favor
and esteem of all the gentry; and it is thought a great favor, if they
can but get the relation from her own mouth. I should have told you
before, that Mrs. Veal told Mrs. Bargrave, that her sister and
brother-in-law were just come down from London to see her. Says Mrs.
Bargrave, How came you to order matters so strangely? It could not be
helped, says Mrs. Veal. And her brother and sister did come to see her,
and entered the town of Dover just as Mrs. Veal was expiring. Mrs.
Bargrave, asked her, whether she would drink some tea. Says Mrs. Veal,
I do not care if I do; but I'll warrant you, this mad fellow (meaning
Mrs. Bargrave's husband) has broke all your trinkets. But, says Mrs.
Bargrave, I'll get something to drink in for all that; but Mrs. Veal
waived it, and said, It is no matter, let it alone; and so it passed.

All the time I sat with Mrs. Bargrave, which was some hours, she
recollected fresh sayings of Mrs. Veal. And one material thing more she
told Mrs. Bargrave, that old Mr. Breton allowed Mrs. Veal ten pounds a
year; which was a secret, and unknown to Mrs. Bargrave, till Mrs. Veal
told it her.

Mrs. Bargrave never varies in her story; which puzzles those who doubt
of the truth, or are unwilling to believe it. A servant in the
neighbor's yard, adjoining to Mrs. Bargrave's house, heard her talking
to somebody an hour of the time Mrs. Veal was with her. Mrs. Bargrave
went out to her next neighbor's the very moment she parted with Mrs.
Veal, and told her what ravishing conversation she had with an old
friend, and told the whole of it. Drelincourt's Book of Death is, since
this happened, bought up strangely. And it is to be observed, that
notwithstanding all the trouble and fatigue Mrs. Bargrave has undergone
upon this account, she never took the value of a farthing, nor suffered
her daughter to take anything of anybody, and therefore can have no
interest in telling the story.

But Mr. Veal does what he can to stifle the matter, and said, he would
see Mrs. Bargrave; but yet it is certain matter of fact that he has been
at Captain Watson's since the death of his sister, and yet never went
near Mrs. Bargrave; and some of his friends report her to be a liar,
and that she knew of Mr. Breton's ten pounds a year. But the person who
pretends to say so, has the reputation of a notorious liar, among
persons whom I know to be of undoubted credit. Now Mr. Veal is more of a
gentleman than to say she lies; but says, a bad husband has crazed her.
But she needs only present herself, and it will effectually confute that
pretense. Mr. Veal says, he asked his sister on her death-bed, whether
she had a mind to dispose of anything? And she said, No. Now, the things
which Mrs. Veal's apparition would have disposed of, were so trifling,
and nothing of justice aimed at in their disposal, that the design of it
appears to me to be only in order to make Mrs. Bargrave so to
demonstrate the truth of her appearance, as to satisfy the world of the
reality thereof, as to what she had seen and heard; and to secure her
reputation among the reasonable and understanding part of mankind. And
then again, Mr. Veal owns, that there was a purse of gold; but it was
not found in her cabinet, but in a comb-box. This looks improbable; for
that Mrs. Watson owned, that Mrs. Veal was so very careful of the key of
the cabinet, that she would trust nobody with it. And if so, no doubt
she would not trust her gold out of it. And Mrs. Veal's often drawing
her hand over her eyes, and asking Mrs. Bargrave whether her fits had
not impaired her, looks to me as if she did it on purpose to remind Mrs.
Bargrave of her fits, to prepare her not to think it strange that she
should put her upon writing to her brother to dispose of rings and gold,
which looked so much like a dying person's request; and it took
accordingly with Mrs. Bargrave, as the effects of her fits coming upon
her; and was one of the many instances of her wonderful love to her, and
care of her, that she should not be affrighted; which indeed appears in
her whole management, particularly in her coming to her in the day-time,
waiving the salutation, and when she was alone; and then the manner of
her parting, to prevent a second attempt to salute her.

Now, why Mr. Veal should think this relation a reflection, as it is
plain he does, by his endeavoring to stifle it, I cannot imagine;
because the generality believe her to be a good spirit, her discourse
was so heavenly. Her two great errands were to comfort Mrs. Bargrave in
her affliction, and to ask her forgiveness for the breach of friendship,
and with a pious discourse to encourage her. So that, after all, to
suppose that Mrs. Bargrave could hatch such an invention as this from
Friday noon till Saturday noon, supposing that she knew of Mrs. Veal's
death the very first moment, without jumbling circumstances, and without
any interest too; she must be more witty, fortunate, and wicked too,
than any indifferent person, I dare say, will allow. I asked Mrs.
Bargrave several times, if she was sure she felt the gown? She answered
modestly, If my senses be to be relied on, I am sure of it. I asked her,
if she heard a sound when she clapped her hand upon her knee? She said,
she did not remember she did; but said she appeared to be as much a
substance as I did, who talked with her. And I may, said she, be as soon
persuaded, that your apparition is talking to me now, as that I did not
really see her: for I was under no manner of fear, and received her as a
friend, and parted with her as such. I would not, says she, give one
farthing to make any one believe it: I have no interest in it; nothing
but trouble is entailed upon me for a long time, for aught I know; and
had it not come to light by accident, it would never have been made
public. But now, she says, she will make her own private use of it, and
keep herself out of the way as much as she can; and so she has done
since. She says, She had a gentleman who came thirty miles to her to
hear the relation; and that she had told it to a room full of people at
a time. Several particular gentlemen have had the story from Mrs.
Bargrave's own mouth.

This thing has very much affected me, and I am as well satisfied, as I
am of the best-grounded matter of fact. And why we should dispute matter
of fact, because we cannot solve things of which we can have no certain
or demonstrative notions, seems strange to me. Mrs. Bargrave's authority
and sincerity alone, would have been undoubted in any other case.


TO THE READER

The origin of the foregoing curious story seems to have been as
follows:--

An adventurous bookseller had ventured to print a considerable edition
of a work by the Reverend Charles Drelincourt, minister of the Calvinist
church in Paris, and translated by M. D'Assigny, under the title of "The
Christian's Defense against the Fear of Death, with several directions
how to prepare ourselves to die well." But however certain the prospect
of death, it is not so agreeable (unfortunately) as to invite the eager
contemplation of the public; and Drelincourt's book, being neglected,
lay a dead stock on the hands of the publisher. In this emergency, he
applied to De Foe to assist him (by dint of such means as were then, as
well as now, pretty well understood in the literary world) in rescuing
the unfortunate book from the literary death to which general neglect
seemed about to consign it.

De Foe's genius and audacity devised a plan which, for assurance and
ingenuity, defied even the powers of Mr. Puff in the _Critic_: for who
but himself would have thought of summoning up a ghost from the grave to
bear witness in favor of a halting body of divinity? There is a
matter-of-fact, business-like style in the whole account of the
transaction, which bespeaks ineffable powers of self-possession. The
narrative is drawn up "by a gentleman, a _Justice of Peace_ at
Maidstone, in Kent, a very intelligent person." And, moreover, "the
discourse is attested by a very sober gentlewoman, who lives in
Canterbury, within a few doors of the house in which Mrs. Bargrave
lives." The Justice believes his kinswoman to be of so discerning a
spirit, as not to be put upon by any fallacy--and the kinswoman
positively assures the Justice, "that the whole matter, as it is related
and laid down, is really true, and what she herself heard, as near as
may be, from Mrs. Bargrave's own mouth, who, she knows, had no reason to
invent or publish such a story, or any design to forge and tell a lie,
being a woman of so much honesty and virtue, and her whole life a
course, as it were, of piety." Skepticism itself could not resist this
triple court of evidence so artfully combined, the Justice attesting
for the discerning spirit of the sober and understanding gentlewoman his
kinswoman, and his kinswoman becoming bail for the veracity of Mrs.
Bargrave. And here, gentle reader, admire the simplicity of those days.
Had Mrs. Veal's visit to her friend happened in our time, the conductors
of the daily press would have given the word, and seven gentlemen unto
the said press belonging, would, with an obedient start, have made off
for Kingston, for Canterbury, for Dover,--for Kamchatka if
necessary,--to pose the Justice, cross-examine Mrs. Bargrave, confront
the sober and understanding kinswoman, and dig Mrs. Veal up from her
grave, rather than not get to the bottom of the story. But in our time
we doubt and scrutinize; our ancestors wondered and believed.

Before the story is commenced, the understanding gentlewoman (not the
Justice of Peace), who is the reporter, takes some pains to repel the
objections made against the story by some of the friends of Mrs. Veal's
brother, who consider the marvel as an aspersion on their family, and do
what they can to laugh it out of countenance. Indeed, it is allowed,
with admirable impartiality, that Mr. Veal is too much of a gentleman to
suppose Mrs. Bargrave invented the story--scandal itself could scarce
have supposed that--although one notorious liar, who is chastised
towards the conclusion of the story, ventures to throw out such an
insinuation. No reasonable or respectable person, however, could be
found to countenance the suspicion, and Mr. Veal himself opined that
Mrs. Bargrave had been driven crazy by a cruel husband, and dreamed the
whole story of the apparition. Now all this is sufficiently artful. To
have vouched the fact as universally known, and believed by every one,
_nem. con._, would not have been half so satisfactory to a skeptic as to
allow fairly that the narrative had been impugned, and hint at the
character of one of those skeptics, and the motives of another, as
sufficient to account for their want of belief. Now to the fact itself.

Mrs. Bargrave and Mrs. Veal had been friends in youth, and had protested
their attachment should last as long as they lived; but when Mrs. Veal's
brother obtained an office in the customs at Dover, some cessation of
their intimacy ensued, "though without any positive quarrel." Mrs.
Bargrave had removed to Canterbury, and was residing in a house of her
own, when she was suddenly interrupted by a visit from Mrs. Veal, as she
was sitting in deep contemplation of certain distresses of her own. The
visitor was in a riding-habit, and announced herself as prepared for a
distant journey (which seems to intimate that spirits have a
considerable distance to go before they arrive at their appointed
station, and that the females at least put on a _habit_ for the
occasion). The spirit, for such was the seeming Mrs. Veal, continued to
waive the ceremony of salutation, both in going and coming, which will
remind the reader of a ghostly lover's reply to his mistress in the fine
old Scottish ballad:--

          Why should I come within thy bower?
            I am no earthly man;
          And should I kiss thy rosy lips,
            Thy days would not be lang.

They then began to talk in the homely style of middle-aged ladies, and
Mrs. Veal proses concerning the conversations they had formerly held,
and the books they had read together. Her very recent experience
probably led Mrs. Veal to talk of death, and the books written on the
subject, and she pronounced _ex cathedrá_, as a dead person was best
entitled to do, that "Drelincourt's book on Death was the best book on
the subject ever written." She also mentioned Dr. Sherlock, two Dutch
books which had been translated, and several others; but Drelincourt,
she said, had the clearest notions of death and the future state of any
who had handled that subject. She then asked for the work [we marvel the
edition and impress had not been mentioned] and lectured on it with
great eloquence and affection. Dr. Kenrick's _Ascetick_ was also
mentioned with approbation by this critical specter [the Doctor's work
was no doubt a tenant of the shelf in some favorite publisher's shop];
and Mr. Norris's _Poem on Friendship_, a work, which I doubt, though
honored with a ghost's approbation, we may now seek for as vainly as
Correlli tormented his memory to recover the sonata which the devil
played to him in a dream. Presently after, from former habits we may
suppose, the guest desires a cup of tea; but, bethinking herself of her
new character, escapes from her own proposal by recollecting that Mr.
Bargrave was in the habit of breaking his wife's china. It would have
been indeed strangely out of character if the spirit had lunched, or
breakfasted upon tea and toast. Such a consummation would have sounded
as ridiculous as if the statue of the commander in _Don Juan_ had not
only accepted of the invitation of the libertine to supper, but had also
committed a beefsteak to his flinty jaws and stomach of adamant. A
little more conversation ensued of a less serious nature, and tending to
show that even the passage from life to death leaves the female anxiety
about person and dress somewhat alive. The ghost asked Mrs. Bargrave
whether she did not think her very much altered, and Mrs. Bargrave of
course complimented her on her good looks. Mrs. Bargrave also admired
the gown which Mrs. Veal wore, and as a mark of her perfectly restored
confidence, the spirit led her into the important secret, that it was a
_scoured silk_, and lately made up. She informed her also of another
secret, namely, that one Mr. Breton had allowed her ten pounds a year;
and, lastly, she requested that Mrs. Bargrave would write to her
brother, and tell him how to distribute her mourning rings, and
mentioned there was a purse of gold in her cabinet. She expressed some
wish to see Mrs. Bargrave's daughter; but when that good lady went to
the next door to seek her, she found on her return the guest leaving the
house. She had got without the door, in the street, in the face of the
beast market, on a Saturday, which is market day, and stood ready to
part. She said she must be going, as she had to call upon her cousin
Watson (this appears to be a _gratis dictum_ on the part of the ghost)
and, maintaining the character of mortality to the last, she quietly
turned the corner, and walked out of sight.

Then came the news of Mrs. Veal's having died the day before at noon.
Says Mrs. Bargrave, "I am sure she was with me on Saturday almost two
hours." And in comes Captain Watson, and says Mrs. Veal was certainly
dead. And then come all the pieces of evidence, and especially the
striped silk gown. Then Mrs. Watson cried out, "You have seen her
indeed, for none knew but Mrs. Veal and I that that gown was scoured";
and she cried that the gown was described exactly, for, said she, "I
helped her to make it up." And next we have the silly attempts made to
discredit the history. Even Mr. Veal, her brother, was obliged to allow
that the gold was found, but with a difference, and pretended it was not
found in a cabinet, but elsewhere; and, in short, we have all the gossip
of _says I_, and _thinks I_, and _says she_, and _thinks she_, which
disputed matters usually excite in a country town.

When we have thus turned the tale, the seam without, it may be thought
too ridiculous to have attracted notice. But whoever will read it as
told by De Foe himself, will agree that, could the thing have happened
in reality, so it would have been told. The sobering the whole
supernatural visit into the language of the middle or low life, gives it
an air of probability even in its absurdity. The ghost of an exciseman's
housekeeper, and a seamstress, were not to converse like Brutus with his
Evil Genius. And the circumstances of scoured silks, broken tea-china,
and such like, while they are the natural topics of such persons'
conversation, would, one might have thought, be the last which an
inventor would have introduced into a pretended narrative betwixt the
dead and living. In short, the whole is so distinctly circumstantial,
that, were it not for the impossibility, or extreme improbability at
least, of such an occurrence, the evidence could not but support the
story.

The effect was most wonderful. _Drelincourt upon Death_, attested by one
who could speak from experience, took an unequaled run. The copies had
hung on the bookseller's hands as heavy as a pile of lead bullets. They
now traversed the town in every direction, like the same balls
discharged from a field-piece. In short, the object of Mrs. Veal's
apparition was perfectly attained.--[See The Miscellaneous Prose Works
of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., vol. iv. p. 305, ed. 1827.]



CANON ALBERIC'S SCRAP-BOOK

BY MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES


St. Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed town on the spurs of the
Pyrenees, not very far from Toulouse, and still nearer to
Bagnères-de-Luchon. It was the site of a bishopric until the Revolution,
and has a cathedral which is visited by a certain number of tourists. In
the spring of 1883 an Englishman arrived at this old-world place--I can
hardly dignify it with the name of city, for there are not a thousand
inhabitants. He was a Cambridge man, who had come specially from
Toulouse to see St. Bertrand's Church, and had left two friends, who
were less keen archæologists than himself, in their hotel at Toulouse,
under promise to join him on the following morning. Half an hour at the
church would satisfy _them_, and all three could then pursue their
journey in the direction of Auch. But our Englishman had come early on
the day in question, and proposed to himself to fill a note-book and to
use several dozens of plates in the process of describing and
photographing every corner of the wonderful church that dominates the
little hill of Comminges. In order to carry out this design
satisfactorily, it was necessary to monopolize the verger of the church
for the day. The verger or sacristan (I prefer the latter appellation,
inaccurate as it may be) was accordingly sent for by the somewhat
brusque lady who keeps the inn of the Chapeau Rouge; and when he came,
the Englishman found him an unexpectedly interesting object of study. It
was not in the personal appearance of the little, dry, wizened old man
that the interest lay, for he was precisely like dozens of other
church-guardians in France, but in a curious furtive, or rather hunted
and oppressed, air which he had. He was perpetually half glancing behind
him; the muscles of his back and shoulders seemed to be hunched in a
continual nervous contraction, as if he were expecting every moment to
find himself in the clutch of an enemy. The Englishman hardly knew
whether to put him down as a man haunted by a fixed delusion, or as one
oppressed by a guilty conscience, or as an unbearably henpecked husband.
The probabilities, when reckoned up, certainly pointed to the last idea;
but, still, the impression conveyed was that of a more formidable
persecutor even than a termagant wife.

However, the Englishman (let us call him Dennistoun) was soon too deep
in his note-book and too busy with his camera to give more than an
occasional glance to the sacristan. Whenever he did look at him, he
found him at no great distance, either huddling himself back against the
wall or crouching in one of the gorgeous stalls. Dennistoun became
rather fidgety after a time. Mingled suspicions that he was keeping the
old man from his _déjeuner_, that he was regarded as likely to make away
with St. Bertrand's ivory crozier, or with the dusty stuffed crocodile
that hangs over the font, began to torment him.

"Won't you go home?" he said at last; "I'm quite well able to finish my
notes alone; you can lock me in if you like. I shall want at least two
hours more here, and it must be cold for you, isn't it?"

"Good heavens!" said the little man, whom the suggestion seemed to throw
into a state of unaccountable terror, "such a thing cannot be thought of
for a moment. Leave monsieur alone in the church? No, no; two hours,
three hours, all will be the same to me. I have breakfasted, I am not at
all cold, with many thanks to monsieur."

"Very well, my little man," quoth Dennistoun to himself: "you have been
warned, and you must take the consequences."

Before the expiration of the two hours, the stalls, the enormous
dilapidated organ, the choir-screen of Bishop John de Mauléon, the
remnants of glass and tapestry, and the objects in the treasure-chamber,
had been well and truly examined; the sacristan still keeping at
Dennistoun's heels, and every now and then whipping round as if he had
been stung, when one or other of the strange noises that trouble a
large empty building fell on his ear. Curious noises they were
sometimes.

"Once," Dennistoun said to me, "I could have sworn I heard a thin
metallic voice laughing high up in the tower. I darted an inquiring
glance at my sacristan. He was white to the lips. 'It is he--that is--it
is no one; the door is locked,' was all he said, and we looked at each
other for a full minute."

Another little incident puzzled Dennistoun a good deal. He was examining
a large dark picture that hangs behind the altar, one of a series
illustrating the miracles of St. Bertrand. The composition of the
picture is well-nigh indecipherable, but there is a Latin legend below,
which runs thus:

          "Qualiter S. Bertrandus liberavit hominem quem
          diabolus diu volebat strangulare." (How St.
          Bertrand delivered a man whom the Devil long
          sought to strangle.)

Dennistoun was turning to the sacristan with a smile and a jocular
remark of some sort on his lips, but he was confounded to see the old
man on his knees, gazing at the picture with the eye of a suppliant in
agony, his hands tightly clasped, and a rain of tears on his cheeks.
Dennistoun naturally pretended to have noticed nothing, but the question
would not away from him, "Why should a daub of this kind affect any one
so strongly?" He seemed to himself to be getting some sort of clue to
the reason of the strange look that had been puzzling him all the day:
the man must be monomaniac; but what was his monomania?

It was nearly five o'clock; the short day was drawing in, and the church
began to fill with shadows, while the curious noises--the muffled
footfalls and distant talking voices that had been perceptible all
day--seemed, no doubt because of the fading light and the consequently
quickened sense of hearing, to become more frequent and insistent.

The sacristan began for the first time to show signs of hurry and
impatience. He heaved a sigh of relief when camera and note-book were
finally packed up and stowed away, and hurriedly beckoned Dennistoun to
the western door of the church, under the tower. It was time to ring the
Angelus. A few pulls at the reluctant rope, and the great bell
Bertrande, high in the tower, began to speak, and swung her voice up
among the pines and down to the valleys, loud with mountain-streams,
calling the dwellers on those lonely hills to remember and repeat the
salutation of the angel to her whom he called Blessed among women. With
that a profound quiet seemed to fall for the first time that day upon
the little town, and Dennistoun and the sacristan went out of the
church.

On the doorstep they fell into conversation.

"Monsieur seemed to interest himself in the old choir-books in the
sacristy."

"Undoubtedly. I was going to ask you if there were a library in the
town."

"No, monsieur; perhaps there used to be one belonging to the Chapter,
but it is now such a small place----" Here came a strange pause of
irresolution, as it seemed; then, with a sort of plunge, he went on:
"But if monsieur is _amateur des vieux livres_, I have at home something
that might interest him. It is not a hundred yards."

At once all Dennistoun's cherished dreams of finding priceless
manuscripts in untrodden corners of France flashed up, to die down again
the next moment. It was probably a stupid missal of Plantin's printing,
about 1580. Where was the likelihood that a place so near Toulouse would
not have been ransacked long ago by collectors? However, it would be
foolish not to go; he would reproach himself for ever after if he
refused. So they set off. On the way the curious irresolution and sudden
determination of the sacristan recurred to Dennistoun, and he wondered
in a shamefaced way whether he was being decoyed into some purlieu to be
made away with as a supposed rich Englishman. He contrived, therefore,
to begin talking with his guide, and to drag in, in a rather clumsy
fashion, the fact that he expected two friends to join him early the
next morning. To his surprise, the announcement seemed to relieve the
sacristan at once of some of the anxiety that oppressed him.

"That is well," he said quite brightly--"that is very well. Monsieur
will travel in company with his friends; they will be always near him.
It is a good thing to travel thus in company--sometimes."

The last word appeared to be added as an afterthought, and to bring with
it a relapse into gloom for the poor little man.

They were soon at the house, which was one rather larger than its
neighbors, stone-built, with a shield carved over the door, the shield
of Alberic de Mauléon, a collateral descendant, Dennistoun tells me, of
Bishop John de Mauléon. This Alberic was a Canon of Comminges from 1680
to 1701. The upper windows of the mansion were boarded up, and the whole
place bore, as does the rest of Comminges, the aspect of decaying age.

Arrived on his doorstep, the sacristan paused a moment.

"Perhaps," he said, "perhaps, after all, monsieur has not the time?"

"Not at all--lots of time--nothing to do till to-morrow. Let us see what
it is you have got."

The door was opened at this point, and a face looked out, a face far
younger than the sacristan's, but bearing something of the same
distressing look: only here it seemed to be the mark, not so much of
fear for personal safety as of acute anxiety on behalf of another.
Plainly, the owner of the face was the sacristan's daughter; and, but
for the expression I have described, she was a handsome girl enough. She
brightened up considerably on seeing her father accompanied by an
able-bodied stranger. A few remarks passed between father and daughter,
of which Dennistoun only caught these words, said by the sacristan, "He
was laughing in the church," words which were answered only by a look of
terror from the girl.

But in another minute they were in the sitting-room of the house, a
small, high chamber with a stone floor, full of moving shadows cast by a
wood-fire that flickered on a great hearth. Something of the character
of an oratory was imparted to it by a tall crucifix, which reached
almost to the ceiling on one side; the figure was painted of the natural
colors, the cross was black. Under this stood a chest of some age and
solidity, and when a lamp had been brought, and chairs set, the
sacristan went to this chest, and produced therefrom, with growing
excitement and nervousness, as Dennistoun thought, a large book wrapped
in a white cloth, on which cloth a cross was rudely embroidered in red
thread. Even before the wrapping had been removed, Dennistoun began to
be interested by the size and shape of the volume. "Too large for a
missal," he thought, "and not the shape of an antiphoner; perhaps it may
be something good, after all." The next moment the book was open, and
Dennistoun felt that he had at last lit upon something better than good.
Before him lay a large folio, bound, perhaps, late in the seventeenth
century, with the arms of Canon Alberic de Mauléon stamped in gold on
the sides. There may have been a hundred and fifty leaves of paper in
the book, and on almost every one of them was fastened a leaf from an
illuminated manuscript. Such a collection Dennistoun had hardly dreamed
of in his wildest moments. Here were ten leaves from a copy of Genesis,
illustrated with pictures, which could not be later than 700 A.D.
Further on was a complete set of pictures from a psalter, of English
execution, of the very finest kind that the thirteenth century could
produce; and, perhaps best of all, there were twenty leaves of uncial
writing in Latin, which, as a few words seen here and there told him at
once, must belong to some very early unknown patristic treatise. Could
it possibly be a fragment of the copy of Papias "On the Words of Our
Lord," which was known to have existed as late as the twelfth century at
Nîmes?[A] In any case, his mind was made up; that book must return to
Cambridge with him, even if he had to draw the whole of his balance from
the bank and stay at St. Bertrand till the money came. He glanced up at
the sacristan to see if his face yielded any hint that the book was for
sale. The sacristan was pale, and his lips were working.

"If monsieur will turn on to the end," he said.

So monsieur turned on, meeting new treasures at every rise of a leaf;
and at the end of the book he came upon two sheets of paper, of much
more recent date than anything he had yet seen, which puzzled him
considerably. They must be contemporary, he decided, with the
unprincipled Canon Alberic, who had doubtless plundered the Chapter
library of St. Bertrand to form this priceless scrapbook. On the first
of the paper sheets was a plan, carefully drawn and instantly
recognizable by a person who knew the ground, of the south aisle and
cloisters of St. Bertrand's. There were curious signs looking like
planetary symbols, and a few Hebrew words in the corners; and in the
northwest angle of the cloister was a cross drawn in gold paint. Below
the plan were some lines of writing in Latin, which ran thus:

          "Responsa 12^{mi} Dec. 1694. Interrogatum est:
          Inveniamne? Responsum est: Invenies. Fiamne dives?
          Fies. Vivamne invidendus? Vives. Moriarne in lecto
          meo? Ita." (Answers of the 12th of December, 1694.
          It was asked: Shall I find it? Answer: Thou shalt.
          Shall I become rich? Thou wilt. Shall I live an
          object of envy? Thou wilt. Shall I die in my bed?
          Thou wilt.)

"A good specimen of the treasure-hunter's record--quite reminds one of
Mr. Minor-Canon Quatremain in 'Old St. Paul's,'" was Dennistoun's
comment, and he turned the leaf.

What he then saw impressed him, as he has often told me, more than he
could have conceived any drawing or picture capable of impressing him.
And, though the drawing he saw is no longer in existence, there is a
photograph of it (which I possess) which fully bears out that statement.
The picture in question was a sepia drawing at the end of the
seventeenth century, representing, one would say at first sight, a
Biblical scene; for the architecture (the picture represented an
interior) and the figures had that semi-classical flavor about them
which the artists of two hundred years ago thought appropriate to
illustrations of the Bible. On the right was a king on his throne, the
throne elevated on twelve steps, a canopy overhead, soldiers on either
side--evidently King Solomon. He was bending forward with outstretched
scepter, in attitude of command; his face expressed horror and disgust,
yet there was in it also the mark of imperious command and confident
power. The left half of the picture was the strangest, however. The
interest plainly centered there. On the pavement before the throne were
grouped four soldiers, surrounding a crouching figure which must be
described in a moment. A fifth soldier lay dead on the pavement, his
neck distorted, and his eyeballs starting from his head. The four
surrounding guards were looking at the King. In their faces the
sentiment of horror was intensified; they seemed, in fact, only
restrained from flight by their implicit trust in their master. All this
terror was plainly excited by the being that crouched in their midst.
I entirely despair of conveying by any words the impression which this
figure makes upon any one who looks at it. I recollect once showing the
photograph of the drawing to a lecturer on morphology--a person of, I
was going to say, abnormally sane and unimaginative habits of mind. He
absolutely refused to be alone for the rest of that evening, and he told
me afterwards that for many nights he had not dared to put out his light
before going to sleep. However, the main traits of the figure I can at
least indicate. At first you saw only a mass of coarse, matted black
hair; presently it was seen that this covered a body of fearful
thinness, almost a skeleton, but with the muscles standing out like
wires. The hands were of a dusky pallor, covered, like the body, with
long, coarse hairs, and hideously taloned. The eyes, touched in with a
burning yellow, had intensely black pupils, and were fixed upon the
throned king with a look of beast-like hate. Imagine one of the awful
bird-catching spiders of South America translated into human form, and
endowed with intelligence just less than human, and you will have some
faint conception of the terror inspired by the appalling effigy. One
remark is universally made by those to whom I have shown the picture:
"It was drawn from the life."

As soon as the first shock of his irresistible fright had subsided,
Dennistoun stole a look at his hosts. The sacristan's hands were pressed
upon his eyes; his daughter, looking up at the cross on the wall, was
telling her beads feverishly.

At last the question was asked, "Is this book for sale?"

There was the same hesitation, the same plunge of determination, that he
had noticed before, and then came the welcome answer, "If monsieur
pleases."

"How much do you ask for it?"

"I will take two hundred and fifty francs."

This was confounding. Even a collector's conscience is sometimes
stirred, and Dennistoun's conscience was tenderer than a collector's.

"My good man!" he said again and again, "your book is worth far more
than two hundred and fifty francs, I assure you--far more."

But the answer did not vary: "I will take two hundred and fifty francs,
not more."

There was really no possibility of refusing such a chance. The money was
paid, the receipt signed, a glass of wine drunk over the transaction,
and then the sacristan seemed to become a new man. He stood upright, he
ceased to throw those suspicious glances behind him, he actually laughed
or tried to laugh. Dennistoun rose to go.

"I shall have the honor of accompanying monsieur to his hotel?" said the
sacristan.

"Oh no, thanks! it isn't a hundred yards. I know the way perfectly, and
there is a moon."

The offer was pressed three or four times, and refused as often.

"Then, monsieur will summon me if--if he finds occasion; he will keep
the middle of the road, the sides are so rough."

"Certainly, certainly," said Dennistoun, who was impatient to examine
his prize by himself; and he stepped out into the passage with his book
under his arm.

Here he was met by the daughter; she, it appeared, was anxious to do a
little business on her own account; perhaps, like Gehazi, to "take
somewhat" from the foreigner whom her father had spared.

"A silver crucifix and chain for the neck; monsieur would perhaps be
good enough to accept it?"

Well, really, Dennistoun hadn't much use for these things. What did
mademoiselle want for it?

"Nothing--nothing in the world. Monsieur is more than welcome to it."

The tone in which this and much more was said was unmistakably genuine,
so that Dennistoun was reduced to profuse thanks, and submitted to have
the chain put round his neck. It really seemed as if he had rendered the
father and daughter some service which they hardly knew how to repay. As
he set off with his book they stood at the door looking after him, and
they were still looking when he waved them a last good-night from the
steps of the Chapeau Rouge.

Dinner was over, and Dennistoun was in his bedroom, shut up alone with
his acquisition. The landlady had manifested a particular interest in
him since he had told her that he had paid a visit to the sacristan and
bought an old book from him. He thought, too, that he had heard a
hurried dialogue between her and the said sacristan in the passage
outside the _salle à manger_; some words to the effect that "Pierre and
Bertrand would be sleeping in the house" had closed the conversation.

At this time a growing feeling of discomfort had been creeping over
him--nervous reaction, perhaps, after the delight of his discovery.
Whatever it was, it resulted in a conviction that there was some one
behind him, and that he was far more comfortable with his back to the
wall. All this, of course, weighed light in the balance as against the
obvious value of the collection he had acquired. And now, as I said, he
was alone in his bedroom, taking stock of Canon Alberic's treasures, in
which every moment revealed something more charming.

"Bless Canon Alberic!" said Dennistoun, who had an inveterate habit of
talking to himself. "I wonder where he is now? Dear me! I wish that
landlady would learn to laugh in a more cheering manner; it makes one
feel as if there was some one dead in the house. Half a pipe more, did
you say? I think perhaps you are right. I wonder what that crucifix is
that the young woman insisted on giving me? Last century, I suppose.
Yes, probably. It is rather a nuisance of a thing to have round one's
neck--just too heavy. Most likely her father had been wearing it for
years. I think I might give it a clean up before I put it away."

He had taken the crucifix off, and laid it on the table, when his
attention was caught by an object lying on the red cloth just by his
left elbow. Two or three ideas of what it might be flitted through his
brain with their own incalculable quickness.

"A penwiper? No, no such thing in the house. A rat? No, too black. A
large spider? I trust to goodness not--no. Good God! a hand like the
hand in that picture!"

In another infinitesimal flash he had taken it in. Pale, dusky skin,
covering nothing but bones and tendons of appalling strength; coarse
black hairs, longer than ever grew on a human hand; nails rising from
the ends of the fingers and curving sharply down and forward, gray,
horny and wrinkled.

He flew out of his chair with deadly, inconceivable terror clutching at
his heart. The shape, whose left hand rested on the table, was rising to
a standing posture behind his seat, its right hand crooked above his
scalp. There was black and tattered drapery about it; the coarse hair
covered it as in the drawing. The lower jaw was thin--what can I call
it?--shallow, like a beast's; teeth showed behind the black lips; there
was no nose; the eyes, of a fiery yellow, against which the pupils
showed black and intense, and the exulting hate and thirst to destroy
life which shone there, were the most horrifying feature in the whole
vision. There was intelligence of a kind in them--intelligence beyond
that of a beast, below that of a man.

The feelings which this horror stirred in Dennistoun were the intensest
physical fear and the most profound mental loathing. What did he do?
What could he do? He has never been quite certain what words he said,
but he knows that he spoke, that he grasped blindly at the silver
crucifix, that he was conscious of a movement towards him on the part of
the demon, and that he screamed with the voice of an animal in hideous
pain.

Pierre and Bertrand, the two sturdy little serving-men, who rushed in,
saw nothing, but felt themselves thrust aside by something that passed
out between them, and found Dennistoun in a swoon. They sat up with him
that night, and his two friends were at St. Bertrand by nine o'clock
next morning. He himself, though still shaken and nervous, was almost
himself by that time, and his story found credence with them, though not
until they had seen the drawing and talked with the sacristan.

Almost at dawn the little man had come to the inn on some pretense, and
had listened with the deepest interest to the story retailed by the
landlady. He showed no surprise.

"It is he--it is he! I have seen him myself," was his only comment; and
to all questionings but one reply was vouchsafed: "Deux fois je l'ai vu;
mille fois je l'ai senti." He would tell them nothing of the provenance
of the book, nor any details of his experiences. "I shall soon sleep,
and my rest will be sweet. Why should you trouble me?" he said.[B]

We shall never know what he or Canon Alberic de Mauléon suffered. At the
back of that fateful drawing were some lines of writing which may be
supposed to throw light on the situation:

            "Contradictio Salomonis cum demonio nocturno.
                  Albericus de Mauleone delineavit.
               V. Deus in adiutorium. Ps. Qui habitat.
    Sancte Bertrande, demoniorum effugator, intercede pro me miserrimo.
          Primum uidi nocte 12^{mi} Dec. 1694: uidebo mox ultimum.
      Peccaui et passus sum, plura adhuc passurus. Dec. 29, 1701."[C]

I have never quite understood what was Dennistoun's view of the events
I have narrated. He quoted to me once a test from Ecclesiasticus: "Some
spirits there be that are created for vengeance, and in their fury lay
on sore strokes." On another occasion he said: "Isaiah was a very
sensible man; doesn't he say something about night monsters living in
the ruins of Babylon? These things are rather beyond us at present."

Another confidence of his impressed me rather, and I sympathized with
it. We had been, last year, to Comminges, to see Canon Alberic's tomb.
It is a great marble erection with an effigy of the Canon in a large wig
and soutane, and an elaborate eulogy of his learning below. I saw
Dennistoun talking for some time with the Vicar of St. Bertrand's, and
as we drove away he said to me: "I hope it isn't wrong: you know I am a
Presbyterian--but I--I believe there will be 'saying of Mass and singing
of dirges' for Alberic de Mauléon's rest." Then he added, with a touch
of the Northern British in his tone, "I had no notion they came so
dear."

       *       *       *       *       *

The book is in the Wentworth Collection at Cambridge. The drawing was
photographed and then burnt by Dennistoun on the day when he left
Comminges on the occasion of his first visit.

FOOTNOTES:

[A] We now know that these leaves did contain a considerable fragment of
that work, if not of that actual copy of it.

[B] He died that summer; his daughter married, and settled at St.
Papoul. She never understood the circumstances of her father's
"obsession."

[C] _I.e._, The Dispute of Solomon with a demon of the night. Drawn by
Alberic de Mauléon. _Versicle._ O Lord, make haste to help me. _Psalm._
Whoso dwelleth (xci.).

Saint Bertrand, who puttest devils to flight, pray for me most unhappy.
I saw it first on the night of Dec. 12, 1694: soon I shall see it for
the last time. I have sinned and suffered, and have more to suffer yet.
Dec. 29, 1701.

The "Gallia Christiana" gives the date of the Canon's death as December
31, 1701, "in bed, of a sudden seizure." Details of this kind are not
common in the great work of the Sammarthani.



THE HAUNTED AND THE HAUNTERS

OR,

THE HOUSE AND THE BRAIN

BY EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON


A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to me
one day, as if between jest and earnest,--"Fancy! since we last met, I
have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London."

"Really haunted?--and by what? ghosts?"

"Well, I can't answer that question: all I know is this--six weeks ago
my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet
street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, 'Apartments
Furnished.' The situation suited us; we entered the house--liked the
rooms--engaged them by the week--and left them the third day. No power
on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I don't
wonder at it."

"What did you see?"

"Excuse me--I have no desire to be ridiculed as a superstitious
dreamer--nor, on the other hand, could I ask you to accept on my
affirmation what you would hold to be incredible without the evidence of
your own senses. Let me only say this, it was not so much what we saw or
heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes of our
own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that drove us
away, as it was an undefinable terror which seized both of us whenever
we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which we neither
saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all was, that for
once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman though she be--and
allowed, after the third night, that it was impossible to stay a fourth
in that house. Accordingly, on the fourth morning I summoned the woman
who kept the house and attended on us, and told her that the rooms did
not quite suit us, and we would not stay out our week. She said, dryly,
'I know why: you have stayed longer than any other lodger. Few ever
stayed a second night; none before you a third. But I take it they have
been very kind to you.'

"'They--who?' I asked, affecting to smile.

"'Why, they who haunt the house, whoever they are. I don't mind them;
I remember them many years ago, when I lived in this house, not as a
servant; but I know they will be the death of me some day. I don't
care--I'm old, and must die soon anyhow; and then I shall be with them,
and in this house still.' The woman spoke with so dreary a calmness,
that really it was a sort of awe that prevented my conversing with her
further. I paid for my week, and too happy were my wife and I to get off
so cheaply."

"You excite my curiosity," said I; "nothing I should like better than to
sleep in a haunted house. Pray give me the address of the one which you
left so ignominiously."

My friend gave me the address; and when we parted, I walked straight
towards the house thus indicated.

It is situated on the North side of Oxford Street (in a dull but
respectable thoroughfare). I found the house shut up--no bill at the
window, and no response to my knock. As I was turning away, a beer-boy,
collecting pewter pots at the neighboring areas, said to me, "Do you
want any one at that house, sir?"

"Yes, I heard it was to be let."

"Let!--why, the woman who kept it is dead--has been dead these three
weeks, and no one can be found to stay there, though Mr. J---- offered
ever so much. He offered mother, who chars for him, £1 a week just to
open and shut the windows, and she would not."

"Would not!--and why?"

"The house is haunted: and the old woman who kept it was found dead in
her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her."

"Pooh!--you speak of Mr. J----. Is he the owner of the house?"

"Yes."

"Where does he live?"

"In G---- Street, No. --."

"What is he?--in any business?"

"No, sir--nothing particular; a single gentleman."

I gave the pot-boy the gratuity earned by his liberal information, and
proceeded to Mr. J----, in G---- Street, which was close by the street
that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to find Mr. J---- at
home--an elderly man, with intelligent countenance and prepossessing
manners.

I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the house
was considered to be haunted--that I had a strong desire to examine a
house with so equivocal a reputation--that I should be greatly obliged
if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a night. I was willing
to pay for that privilege whatever he might be inclined to ask. "Sir,"
said Mr. J----, with great courtesy, "the house is at your service, for
as short or as long a time as you please. Rent is out of the
question--the obligation will be on my side should you be able to
discover the cause of the strange phenomena which at present deprive it
of all value. I cannot let it, for I cannot even get a servant to keep
it in order or answer the door. Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may
use that expression, not only by night, but by day; though at night the
disturbances are of a more unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming
character. The poor old woman who died in it three weeks ago was a
pauper whom I took out of a workhouse, for in her childhood she had been
known to some of my family, and had once been in such good circumstances
that she had rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior
education and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce
to remain in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and
the coroner's inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighborhood,
I have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house,
much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent-free for a year
to any one who would pay its rates and taxes."

"How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?"

"That I can scarcely tell you, but very many years since. The old woman
I spoke of said it was haunted when she rented it between thirty and
forty years ago. The fact is, that my life has been spent in the East
Indies, and in the civil service of the Company. I returned to England
last year, on inheriting the fortune of an uncle, among whose
possessions was the house in question. I found it shut up and
uninhabited. I was told that it was haunted, that no one would inhabit
it. I smiled at what seemed to me so idle a story. I spent some money in
repairing it--added to its old-fashioned furniture a few modern
articles--advertised it, and obtained a lodger for a year. He was a
colonel retired on half-pay. He came in with his family, a son and a
daughter, and four or five servants: they all left the house the next
day; and, although each of them declared that he had seen something
different from that which had scared the others, a something still was
equally terrible to all. I really could not in conscience sue, nor even
blame, the colonel for breach of agreement. Then I put in the old woman
I have spoken of, and she was empowered to let the house in apartments.
I never had one lodger who stayed more than three days. I do not tell
you their stories--to no two lodgers have there been exactly the same
phenomena repeated. It is better that you should judge for yourself,
than enter the house with an imagination influenced by previous
narratives; only be prepared to see and to hear something or other, and
take whatever precautions you yourself please."

"Have you never had a curiosity yourself to pass a night in that house?"

"Yes. I passed not a night, but three hours in broad daylight alone in
that house. My curiosity is not satisfied but it is quenched. I have no
desire to renew the experiment. You cannot complain, you see, sir, that
I am not sufficiently candid; and unless your interest be exceedingly
eager and your nerves unusually strong, I honestly add, that I advise
you not to pass a night in that house."

"My interest _is_ exceedingly keen," said I, "and though only a coward
will boast of his nerves in situations wholly unfamiliar to him, yet my
nerves have been seasoned in such variety of danger that I have the
right to rely on them--even in a haunted house."

Mr. J---- said very little more; he took the keys of the house out of
his bureau, gave them to me--and, thanking him cordially for his
frankness, and his urbane concession to my wish, I carried off my prize.

Impatient for the experiment, as soon as I reached home, I summoned my
confidential servant--a young man of gay spirits, fearless temper, and
as free from superstitious prejudices as any one I could think of.

"F----," said I, "you remember in Germany how disappointed we were at
not finding a ghost in that old castle, which was said to be haunted by
a headless apparition? Well, I have heard of a house in London which,
I have reason to hope, is decidedly haunted. I mean to sleep there
to-night. From what I hear, there is no doubt that something will allow
itself to be seen or to be heard--something, perhaps, excessively
horrible. Do you think if I take you with me, I may rely on your
presence of mind, whatever may happen?"

"Oh, sir! pray trust me," answered F----, grinning with delight.

"Very well; then here are the keys of the house--this is the address. Go
now--select for me any bedroom you please; and since the house has not
been inhabited for weeks, make up a good fire--air the bed well--see, of
course, that there are candles as well as fuel. Take with you my
revolver and my dagger--so much for my weapons--arm yourself equally
well; and if we are not a match for a dozen ghosts, we shall be but a
sorry couple of Englishmen."

I was engaged for the rest of the day on business so urgent that I had
not leisure to think much on the nocturnal adventure to which I had
plighted my honor. I dined alone, and very late, and while dining, read,
as is my habit. I selected one of the volumes of Macaulay's Essays.
I thought to myself that I would take the book with me; there was so
much of the healthfulness in the style, and practical life in the
subjects, that it would serve as an antidote against the influence of
superstitious fancy.

Accordingly, about half-past nine, I put the book into my pocket, and
strolled leisurely towards the haunted house. I took with me a favorite
dog--an exceedingly sharp, bold and vigilant bull-terrier--a dog fond of
prowling about strange ghostly corners and passages at night in search
of rats--a dog of dogs for a ghost.

It was a summer night, but chilly, the sky somewhat gloomy and overcast.
Still there was a moon--faint and sickly, but still a moon--and if the
clouds permitted, after midnight it would be brighter.

I reached the house, knocked, and my servant opened with a cheerful
smile.

"All right, sir, and very comfortable."

"Oh!" said I, rather disappointed; "have you not seen nor heard anything
remarkable?"

"Well, sir, I must own I have heard something queer."

"What?--what?"

"The sound of feet pattering behind me; and once or twice small noises
like whispers close at my ear--nothing more."

"You are not at all frightened?"

"I! not a bit of it, sir," and the man's bold look reassured me on one
point--viz., that happen what might, he would not desert me.

We were in the hall, the street-door closed, and my attention was now
drawn to my dog. He had at first run in eagerly enough, but had sneaked
back to the door, and was scratching and whining to get out. After
patting him on the head, and encouraging him gently, the dog seemed to
reconcile himself to the situation, and followed me and F---- through
the house, but keeping close at my heels instead of hurrying
inquisitively in advance, which was his usual and normal habit in all
strange places. We first visited the subterranean apartments, the
kitchen and other offices, and especially the cellars, in which last
there were two or three bottles of wine still left in a bin, covered
with cobwebs, and evidently, by their appearance, undisturbed for many
years. It was clear that the ghosts were not wine-bibbers. For the rest
we discovered nothing of interest. There was a gloomy little backyard
with very high walls. The stones of this yard were very damp; and what
with the damp, and what with the dust and smoke-grime on the pavement,
our feet left a slight impression where we passed.

And now appeared the first strange phenomenon witnessed by myself in
this strange abode. I saw, just before me, the print of a foot suddenly
form itself, as it were. I stopped, caught hold of my servant, and
pointed to it. In advance of that footprint as suddenly dropped another.
We both saw it. I advanced quickly to the place; the footprint kept
advancing before me, a small footprint--the foot of a child; the
impression was too faint thoroughly to distinguish the shape, but it
seemed to us both that it was the print of a naked foot. This phenomenon
ceased when we arrived at the opposite wall, nor did it repeat itself on
returning. We remounted the stairs, and entered the rooms on the ground
floor, a dining-parlor, a small back parlor, and a still smaller third
room that had been probably appropriated to a footman--all still as
death. We then visited the drawing-rooms, which seemed fresh and new. In
the front room I seated myself in an armchair. F---- placed on the table
the candlestick with which he had lighted us. I told him to shut the
door. As he turned to do so, a chair opposite to me moved from the wall
quickly and noiselessly, and dropped itself about a yard from my own
chair, immediately fronting it.

"Why, this is better than the turning tables," said I, with a
half-laugh; and as I laughed, my dog put back his head and howled.

F----, coming back, had not observed the movement of the chair. He
employed himself now in stilling the dog. I continued to gaze on the
chair, and fancied I saw on it a pale blue misty outline of a human
figure, but an outline so indistinct that I could only distrust my own
vision. The dog now was quiet.

"Put back that chair opposite me," said I to F----; "put it back to the
wall."

F---- obeyed. "Was that you, sir?" said he, turning abruptly.

"I!--what?"

"Why, something struck me. I felt it sharply on the shoulder--just
here."

"No," said I. "But we have jugglers present, and though we may not
discover their tricks, we shall catch _them_ before they frighten _us_."

We did not stay long in the drawing-rooms--in fact, they felt so damp
and so chilly that I was glad to get to the fire upstairs. We locked the
doors of the drawing-rooms--a precaution which, I should observe, we had
taken with all the rooms we had searched below. The bedroom my servant
had selected for me was the best on the floor--a large one, with two
windows fronting the street. The four-posted bed, which took up no
inconsiderable space, was opposite to the fire, which burnt clear and
bright; a door in the wall to the left, between the bed and the window,
communicated with the room which my servant appropriated to himself.
This last was a small room with a sofa-bed, and had no communication
with the landing-place--no other door but that which conducted to the
bedroom I was to occupy. On either side of my fireplace was a cupboard,
without locks, flush with the wall and covered with the same dull-brown
paper. We examined these cupboards--only hooks to suspend female
dresses--nothing else; we sounded the walls--evidently solid--the outer
walls of the building. Having finished the survey of these apartments,
warmed myself a few moments, and lighted my cigar, I then, still
accompanied by F----, went forth to complete my reconnoiter. In the
landing-place there was another door; it was closed firmly. "Sir," said
my servant, in surprise, "I unlocked this door with all the others when
I first came; it cannot have got locked from the inside, for----"

Before he had finished his sentence, the door, which neither of us then
was touching, opened quietly of itself. We looked at each other a single
instant. The same thought seized both--some human agency might be
detected here. I rushed in first, my servant followed. A small blank
dreary room without furniture--few empty boxes and hampers in a
corner--a small window--the shutters closed--not even a fireplace--no
other door than that by which we had entered--no carpet on the floor,
and the floor seemed very old, uneven, worm-eaten, mended here and
there, as was shown by the whiter patches on the wood; but no living
being, and no visible place in which a living being could have hidden.
As we stood gazing round, the door by which we had entered closed as
quietly as it had before opened: we were imprisoned.

For the first time I felt a creep of undefinable horror. Not so my
servant. "Why, they don't think to trap us, sir; I could break the
trumpery door with a kick of my foot."

"Try first if it will open to your hand," said I, shaking off the vague
apprehension that had seized me, "while I unclose the shutters and see
what is without."

I unbarred the shutters--the window looked on the little back yard I
have before described; there was no ledge without--nothing to break the
sheer descent of the wall. No man getting out of that window would have
found any footing till he had fallen on the stones below.

F----, meanwhile, was vainly attempting to open the door. He now turned
round to me and asked my permission to use force. And I should here
state, in justice to the servant, that, far from evincing any
superstitious terrors, his nerve, composure, and even gayety amidst
circumstances so extraordinary, compelled my admiration, and made me
congratulate myself on having secured a companion in every way fitted to
the occasion. I willingly gave him the permission he required. But
though he was a remarkably strong man, his force was as idle as his
milder efforts; the door did not even shake to his stoutest kick.
Breathless and panting, he desisted. I then tried the door myself,
equally in vain. As I ceased from the effort, again that creep of horror
came over me; but this time it was more cold and stubborn. I felt as if
some strange and ghastly exhalation were rising up from the chinks of
that rugged floor, and filling the atmosphere with a venomous influence
hostile to human life. The door now very slowly and quietly opened as
of its own accord. We precipitated ourselves into the landing-place. We
both saw a large pale light--as large as the human figure but shapeless
and unsubstantial--move before us, and ascend the stairs that led from
the landing into the attics. I followed the light, and my servant
followed me. It entered, to the right of the landing, a small garret, of
which the door stood open. I entered in the same instant. The light then
collapsed into a small globule, exceedingly brilliant and vivid; rested
a moment on a bed in the corner, quivered, and vanished.

We approached the bed and examined it--a half-tester, such as is
commonly found in attics devoted to servants. On the drawers that stood
near it we perceived an old faded silk kerchief, with the needle still
left in a rent half repaired. The kerchief was covered with dust;
probably it had belonged to the old woman who had last died in that
house, and this might have been her sleeping room. I had sufficient
curiosity to open the drawers: there were a few odds and ends of female
dress, and two letters tied round with a narrow ribbon of faded yellow.
I took the liberty to possess myself of the letters. We found nothing
else in the room worth noticing--nor did the light reappear; but we
distinctly heard, as we turned to go, a pattering footfall on the
floor--just before us. We went through the other attics (in all four),
the footfall still preceding us. Nothing to be seen--nothing but the
footfall heard. I had the letters in my hand: just as I was descending
the stairs I distinctly felt my wrist seized, and a faint soft effort
made to draw the letters from my clasp. I only held them the more
tightly, and the effort ceased.

We regained the bedchamber appropriated to myself, and I then remarked
that my dog had not followed us when we had left it. He was thrusting
himself close to the fire, and trembling. I was impatient to examine the
letters; and while I read them, my servant opened a little box in which
he had deposited the weapons I had ordered him to bring; took them out,
placed them on a table close at my bed-head, and then occupied himself
in soothing the dog, who, however, seemed to heed him very little.

The letters were short--they were dated; the dates exactly thirty-five
years ago. They were evidently from a lover to his mistress, or a
husband to some young wife. Not only the terms of expression, but a
distinct reference to a former voyage, indicated the writer to have been
a seafarer. The spelling and handwriting were those of a man imperfectly
educated, but still the language itself was forcible. In the expressions
of endearment there was a kind of rough wild love; but here and there
were dark and unintelligible hints at some secret not of love--some
secret that seemed of crime. "We ought to love each other," was one of
the sentences I remember, "for how every one else would execrate us if
all was known." Again: "Don't let any one be in the same room with you
at night--you talk in your sleep." And again: "What's done can't be
undone; and I tell you there's nothing against us unless the dead could
come to life." Here there was underlined in a better handwriting (a
female's), "They do!" At the end of the letter latest in date the same
female hand had written these words: "Lost at sea the 4th of June, the
same day as ----."

I put down the letters, and began to muse over their contents.

Fearing, however, that the train of thought into which I fell might
unsteady my nerves, I fully determined to keep my mind in a fit state to
cope with whatever of marvelous the advancing night might bring forth.
I roused myself--laid the letters on the table--stirred up the fire,
which was still bright and cheering--and opened my volume of Macaulay.
I read quietly enough till about half-past eleven. I then threw myself
dressed upon the bed, and told my servant he might retire to his own
room, but must keep himself awake. I bade him leave open the door between
the two rooms. Thus alone, I kept two candles burning on the table by my
bed-head. I placed my watch beside the weapons, and calmly resumed my
Macaulay. Opposite to me the fire burned clear; and on the hearthrug,
seemingly asleep, lay the dog. In about twenty minutes I felt an
exceedingly cold air pass by my cheek, like a sudden draught. I fancied
the door to my right, communicating with the landing-place, must have
got open; but no--it was closed. I then turned my glance to my left, and
saw the flame of the candles violently swayed as by a wind. At the same
moment the watch beside the revolver softly slid from the table--softly,
softly--no visible hand--it was gone. I sprang up, seizing the revolver
with the one hand, the dagger with other: I was not willing that my
weapons should share the fate of the watch. Thus armed, I looked round
the floor--no sign of the watch. Three slow, loud, distinct knocks were
now heard at the bed-head; my servant called out, "Is that you, sir?"

"No; be on your guard."

The dog now roused himself and sat on his haunches, his ears moving
quickly backwards and forwards. He kept his eyes fixed on me with a look
so strange that he concentered all my attention on himself. Slowly he
rose up, all his hair bristling, and stood perfectly rigid, and with the
same wild stare. I had no time, however, to examine the dog. Presently
my servant emerged from his room; and if ever I saw horror in the human
face, it was then. I should not have recognized him had we met in the
street, so altered was every lineament. He passed by me quickly, saying
in a whisper that seemed scarcely to come from his lips, "Run--run! it
is after me!" He gained the door to the landing, pulled it open, and
rushed forth. I followed him into the landing involuntarily, calling him
to stop; but, without heeding me, he bounded down the stairs, clinging
to the balusters, and taking several steps at a time. I heard, where I
stood, the street-door open--heard it again clap to. I was left alone in
the haunted house.

It was but for a moment that I remained undecided whether or not to
follow my servant; pride and curiosity alike forbade so dastardly a
flight. I re-entered my room, closing the door after me, and proceeded
cautiously into the interior chamber. I encountered nothing to justify
my servant's terror. I again carefully examined the walls, to see if
there were any concealed door. I could find no trace of one--not even a
seam in the dull-brown paper with which the room was hung. How, then,
had the THING, whatever it was, which had so scared him, obtained
ingress except through my own chamber?

I returned to my room, shut and locked the door that opened upon the
interior one, and stood on the hearth, expectant and prepared. I now
perceived that the dog had slunk into an angle of the wall, and was
pressing himself close against it, as if literally striving to force his
way into it. I approached the animal and spoke to it; the poor brute was
evidently beside itself with terror. It showed all its teeth, the slaver
dropping from its jaws, and would certainly have bitten me if I had
touched it. It did not seem to recognize me. Whoever has seen at the
Zoological Gardens a rabbit fascinated by a serpent, cowering in a
corner, may form some idea of the anguish which the dog exhibited.
Finding all efforts to soothe the animal in vain, and fearing that his
bite might be as venomous in that state as in the madness of
hydrophobia, I left him alone, placed my weapons on the table beside the
fire, seated myself, and recommenced my Macaulay.

Perhaps, in order not to appear seeking credit for a courage, or rather
a coolness, which the reader may conceive I exaggerate, I may be
pardoned if I pause to indulge in one or two egotistical remarks.

As I hold presence of mind, or what is called courage, to be precisely
proportioned to familiarity with the circumstances that lead to it, so I
should say that I had been long sufficiently familiar with all
experiments that appertain to the Marvelous. I had witnessed many very
extraordinary phenomena in various parts of the world--phenomena that
would be either totally disbelieved if I stated them, or ascribed to
supernatural agencies. Now, my theory is that the Supernatural is the
Impossible, and that what is called supernatural is only a something in
the laws of nature of which we have been hitherto ignorant. Therefore,
if a ghost rise before me, I have not the right to say, "So, then, the
supernatural is possible," but rather, "So, then, the apparition of a
ghost is, contrary to received opinion, within the laws of
nature--_i.e._, not supernatural."

Now, in all that I had hitherto witnessed, and indeed in all the wonders
which the amateurs of mystery in our age record as facts, a material
living agency is always required. On the continent you will find still
magicians who assert that they can raise spirits. Assume for the moment
that they assert truly, still the living material form of the magician
is present; and he is the material agency by which, from some
constitutional peculiarities, certain strange phenomena are represented
to your natural senses.

Accept, again, as truthful, the tales of spirit Manifestation in
America--musical or other sounds--writings on paper, produced by no
discernible hand--articles of furniture moved without apparent human
agency--or the actual sight and touch of hands, to which no bodies seem
to belong--still there must be found the MEDIUM or living being, with
constitutional peculiarities capable of obtaining these signs. In fine,
in all such marvels, supposing even that there is no imposture, there
must be a human being like ourselves by whom, or through whom, the
effects presented to human beings are produced. It is so with the now
familiar phenomena of mesmerism or electro-biology; the mind of the
person operated on is affected through a material living agent. Nor,
supposing it true that a mesmerized patient can respond to the will or
passes of a mesmerizer a hundred miles distant, is the response less
occasioned by a material fluid--call it Electric, call it Odic, call it
what you will--which has the power of traversing space and passing
obstacles, that the material effect is communicated from one to the
other. Hence all that I had hitherto witnessed, or expected to witness,
in this strange house, I believed to be occasioned through some agency
or medium as mortal as myself: and this idea necessarily prevented the
awe with which those who regard as supernatural, things that are not
within the ordinary operations of nature, might have been impressed by
the adventures of that memorable night.

As, then, it was my conjecture that all that was presented, or would be
presented to my senses, must originate in some human being gifted by
constitution with the power so to present them, and having some motive
so to do, I felt an interest in my theory which, in its way, was rather
philosophical than superstitious. And I can sincerely say that I was in
as tranquil a temper for observation as any practical experimentalist
could be in awaiting the effect of some rare, though perhaps perilous,
chemical combination. Of course, the more I kept my mind detached from
fancy, the more the temper fitted for observation would be obtained; and
I therefore riveted eye and thought on the strong daylight sense in the
page of my Macaulay.

I now became aware that something interposed between the page and the
light--the page was over-shadowed: I looked up, and I saw what I shall
find it very difficult, perhaps impossible, to describe.

It was a Darkness shaping itself forth from the air in very undefined
outline. I cannot say it was of a human form, and yet it had more
resemblance to a human form, or rather shadow, than to anything else. As
it stood, wholly apart and distinct from the air and the light around
it, its dimensions seemed gigantic, the summit nearly touching the
ceiling. While I gazed, a feeling of intense cold seized me. An iceberg
before me could not more have chilled me; nor could the cold of an
iceberg have been more purely physical. I feel convinced that it was not
the cold caused by fear. As I continued to gaze, I thought--but this I
cannot say with precision--that I distinguished two eyes looking down on
me from the height. One moment I fancied that I distinguished them
clearly, the next they seemed gone; but still two rays of a pale-blue
light frequently shot through the darkness, as from the height on which
I half believed, half doubted, that I had encountered the eyes.

I strove to speak--my voice utterly failed me; I could only think
to myself, "is this fear? it is _not_ fear!" I strove to rise--in
vain; I felt as if weighed down by an irresistible force. Indeed, my
impression was that of an immense and overwhelming Power opposed to any
volition;--that sense of utter inadequacy to cope with a force beyond
man's, which one may feel _physically_ in a storm at sea, in a
conflagration, or when confronting some terrible wild beast, or rather,
perhaps, the shark of the ocean, I felt _morally_. Opposed to my will
was another will, as far superior to its strength as storm, fire, and
shark are superior in material force to the force of man.

And now, as this impression grew on me--now came, at last,
horror--horror to a degree that no words can convey. Still I retained
pride, if not courage; and in my own mind I said, "This is horror, but
it is not fear; unless I fear I cannot be harmed; my reason rejects this
thing, it is an illusion--I do not fear." With a violent effort I
succeeded at last in stretching out my hand towards the weapon on the
table: as I did so, on the arm and shoulder I received a strange shock,
and my arm fell to my side powerless. And now, to add to my horror, the
light began slowly to wane from the candles, they were not, as it were,
extinguished, but their flame seemed very gradually withdrawn: it was
the same with the fire--the light was extracted from the fuel; in a few
minutes the room was in utter darkness.

The dread that came over me, to be thus in the dark with that dark
Thing, whose power was so intensely felt, brought a reaction of nerve.
In fact, terror had reached that climax, that either my senses must have
deserted me, or I must have burst through the spell. I did burst through
it. I found voice, though the voice was a shriek. I remember that I
broke forth with words like these--"I do not fear, my soul does not
fear"; and at the same time I found the strength to rise. Still in that
profound gloom I rushed to one of the windows--tore aside the
curtain--flung open the shutters; my first thought was--LIGHT.--And when
I saw the moon high, clear, and calm, I felt a joy that almost
compensated for the previous terror. There was the moon, there was also
the light from the gas-lamps in the deserted slumberous street. I turned
to look back into the room; the moon penetrated its shadow very palely
and partially--but still there was light. The dark Thing, whatever it
might be, was gone--except that I could yet see a dim shadow, which
seemed the shadow of that shade, against the opposite wall.

My eye now rested on the table, and from under the table (which was
without cloth or cover--an old mahogany round table) there rose a hand,
visible as far as the wrist. It was a hand, seemingly, as much of flesh
and blood as my own, but the hand of an aged person--lean, wrinkled,
small, too--a woman's hand. That hand very softly closed on the two
letters that lay on the table: hand and letters both vanished.

There then came the same three loud measured knocks I heard at the
bed-head before this extraordinary drama had commenced.

As those sounds slowly ceased, I felt the whole room vibrate sensibly;
and at the far end there rose, as from the floor, sparks or globules
like bubbles of light, many-colored--green, yellow, fire-red, azure. Up
and down, to and fro, hither, thither, as tiny Will-o'-the-Wisps the
sparks moved, slow or swift, each at his own caprice. A chair (as in the
drawing-room below) was now advanced from the wall without apparent
agency, and placed at the opposite side of the table. Suddenly as forth
from the chair, there grew a shape--a woman's shape. It was distinct as
a shape of life--ghastly as a shape of death. The face was that of
youth, with a strange mournful beauty: the throat and shoulders were
bare, the rest of the form in a loose robe of cloudy white. It began
sleeking its long yellow hair, which fell over its shoulders; its eyes
were not turned towards me, but to the door; it seemed listening,
watching, waiting. The shadow of the shade in the background grew
darker; and again I thought I beheld the eyes gleaming out from the
summit of the shadow--eyes fixed upon that shape.

As if from the door, though it did not open, there grew out another
shape, equally distinct, equally ghastly--a man's shape--a young man's.
It was in the dress of the last century, or rather in a likeness of such
dress (for both the male shape and the female, though defined, were
evidently unsubstantial, impalpable--simulacra--phantasms); and there
was something incongruous, grotesque, yet fearful, in the contrast
between the elaborate finery, the courtly precision of that
old-fashioned garb, with its ruffles and lace and buckles, and the
corpse-like aspect and ghost-like stillness of the flitting wearer. Just
as the male shape approached the female, the dark shadow started from
the wall, all three for a moment wrapped in darkness. When the pale
light returned, the two phantoms were as in the grasp of the shadow that
towered between them; and there was a blood-stain on the breast of the
female; and the phantom male was leaning on its phantom sword, and blood
seemed trickling fast from the ruffles, from the lace; and the darkness
of the intermediate Shadow swallowed them up--they were gone. And again
the bubbles of light shot, and sailed, and undulated, growing thicker
and thicker and more wildly confused in their movements.

The closet door to the right of the fireplace now opened, and from the
aperture there came the form of an aged woman. In her hand she held
letters,--the very letters over which I had seen _the_ Hand close; and
behind her I heard a footstep. She turned round as if to listen, and
then she opened the letters and seemed to read; and over her shoulder I
saw a livid face, the face as of a man long drowned--bloated, bleached,
seaweed tangled in its dripping hair; and at her feet lay a form as of a
corpse, and beside the corpse there cowered a child, a miserable squalid
child, with famine in its cheeks and fear in its eyes. And as I looked
in the old woman's face, the wrinkles and lines vanished and it became a
face of youth--hard-eyed, stony, but still youth; and the Shadow darted
forth, and darkened over these phantoms as it had darkened over the
last.

Nothing now was left but the Shadow, and on that my eyes were intently
fixed, till again eyes grew out of the Shadow--malignant, serpent eyes.
And the bubbles of light again rose and fell, and in their disorder,
irregular, turbulent maze, mingled with the wan moonlight. And now from
these globules themselves, as from the shell of an egg, monstrous things
burst out; the air grew filled with them; larvæ so bloodless and so
hideous that I can in no way describe them except to remind the reader
of the swarming life which the solar microscope brings before his eyes
in a drop of water--things transparent, supple, agile, chasing each
other, devouring each other--forms like nought ever beheld by the naked
eye. As the shapes were without symmetry, so their movements were
without order. In their very vagrancies there was no sport; they came
round me and round, thicker and faster and swifter, swarming over my
head, crawling over my right arm, which was outstretched in involuntary
command against all evil beings. Sometimes I felt myself touched, but
not by them; invisible hands touched me. Once I felt the clutch as of
cold soft fingers at my throat. I was still equally conscious that if I
gave way to fear I should be in bodily peril; and I concentrated all my
faculties in the single focus of resisting, stubborn will. And I turned
my sight from the Shadow--above all, from those strange serpent
eyes--eyes that had now become distinctly visible. For there, though in
nought else round me, I was aware that there was a WILL, and a will of
intense, creative, working evil, which might crush down my own.

The pale atmosphere in the room began now to redden as if in the air of
some near conflagration. The larvæ grew lurid as things that live in
fire. Again the room vibrated; again were heard the three measured
knocks; and again all things were swallowed up in the darkness of the
dark Shadow, as if out of that darkness all had come, into that darkness
all returned.

As the gloom receded, the Shadow was wholly gone. Slowly as it had been
withdrawn, the flame grew again into the candles on the table, again
into the fuel in the grate. The whole room came once more calmly,
healthfully into sight.

The two doors were still closed, the door communicating with the
servant's room still locked. In the corner of the wall into which he had
so convulsively niched himself, lay the dog. I called to him--no
movement; I approached--the animal was dead; his eyes protruded; his
tongue out of his mouth; the froth gathered round his jaws. I took him
in my arms; I brought him to the fire, I felt acute grief for the loss
of my poor favorite--acute self-reproach; I accused myself of his death;
I imagined he had died of fright. But what was my surprise on finding
that his neck was actually broken. Had this been done in the dark?--must
it not have been by a hand human as mine?--must there not have been
a human agency all the while in that room? Good cause to suspect it.
I cannot tell. I cannot do more than state the fact fairly; the reader
may draw his own inference.

Another surprising circumstance--my watch was restored to the table from
which it had been so mysteriously withdrawn; but it had stopped at the
very moment it was so withdrawn; nor, despite all the skill of the
watchmaker, has it ever gone since--that is, it will go in a strange
erratic way for a few hours, and then come to a dead stop--it is
worthless.

Nothing more chanced for the rest of the night. Nor, indeed, had I long
to wait before the dawn broke. Nor till it was broad daylight did I quit
the haunted house. Before I did so, I revisited the little blind room in
which my servant and myself had been for a time imprisoned. I had a
strong impression--for which I could not account--that from that room
had originated the mechanism of the phenomena--if I may use the
term--which had been experienced in my chamber. And though I entered it
now in the clear day, with the sun peering through the filmy window I
still felt, as I stood on its floor, the creep of the horror which I had
first there experienced the night before, and which had been so
aggravated by what had passed in my own chamber. I could not, indeed,
bear to stay more than half a minute within those walls. I descended the
stairs, and again I heard the footfall before me; and when I opened the
street door, I thought I could distinguish a very low laugh. I gained my
own home, expecting to find my runaway servant there. But he had not
presented himself; nor did I hear more of him for three days, when I
received a letter from him, dated from Liverpool to this effect:--

          "HONORED SIR,--I humbly entreat your pardon,
          though I can scarcely hope that you will think I
          deserve it, unless--which Heaven forbid--you saw
          what I did. I feel that it will be years before
          I can recover myself: and as to being fit for
          service, it is out of the question. I am therefore
          going to my brother-in-law at Melbourne. The ship
          sails to-morrow. Perhaps the long voyage may set
          me up. I do nothing now but start and tremble, and
          fancy IT is behind me. I humbly beg you, honored
          sir, to order my clothes, and whatever wages are
          due to me, to be sent to my mother's, at
          Walworth.--John knows her address."

The letter ended with additional apologies, somewhat incoherent, and
explanatory details as to effects that had been under the writer's
charge.

This flight may perhaps warrant a suspicion that the man wished to go to
Australia, and had been somehow or other fraudulently mixed up with the
events of the night. I say nothing in refutation of that conjecture;
rather, I suggest it as one that would seem to many persons the most
probable solution of improbable occurrences. My belief in my own theory
remained unshaken. I returned in the evening to the house, to bring away
in a hack cab the things I had left there, with my poor dog's body. In
this task I was not disturbed, nor did any incident worth note befall
me, except that still, on ascending and descending the stairs, I heard
the same footfall in advance. On leaving the house, I went to Mr. J.'s.
He was at home. I returned him the keys, told him that my curiosity was
sufficiently gratified, and was about to relate quickly what had passed,
when he stopped me, and said, though with much politeness, that he had
no longer any interest in a mystery which none had ever solved.

I determined at least to tell him of the two letters I had read, as well
as of the extraordinary manner in which they had disappeared, and I then
inquired if he thought they had been addressed to the woman who had died
in the house, and if there were anything in her early history which
could possibly confirm the dark suspicions to which the letters gave
rise. Mr. J---- seemed startled, and, after musing a few moments,
answered, "I am but little acquainted with the woman's earlier history,
except, as I before told you, that her family were known to mine. But
you revive some vague reminiscences to her prejudice. I will make
inquiries, and inform you of their result. Still, even if we could admit
the popular superstition that a person who had been either the
perpetrator or the victim of dark crimes in life could revisit, as a
restless spirit, the scene in which those crimes had been committed, I
should observe that the house was infested by strange sights and sounds
before the old woman died--you smile--what would you say?"

"I would say this, that I am convinced, if we could get to the bottom of
these mysteries, we should find a living human agency."

"What! you believe it is all an imposture? for what object?"

"Not an imposture in the ordinary sense of the word. If suddenly I were
to sink into a deep sleep, from which you could not awake me, but in
that sleep could answer questions with an accuracy which I could not
pretend to when awake--tell you what money you had in your pocket--nay,
describe your very thoughts--it is not necessarily an imposture, any
more than it is necessarily supernatural. I should be, unconsciously to
myself, under a mesmeric influence, conveyed to me from a distance by a
human being who had acquired power over me by previous _rapport_."

"But if a mesmerizer could so affect another living being, can you
suppose that a mesmerizer could also affect inanimate objects: move
chairs--open and shut doors?"

"Or impress our senses with the belief in such effects--we never having
been _en rapport_ with the person acting on us? No. What is commonly
called mesmerism could not do this; but there may be a power akin to
mesmerism, and superior to it--the power that in the old days was called
Magic. That such a power may extend to all inanimate objects of matter I
do not say; but if so, it would not be against nature--it would be only
a rare power in nature which might be given to constitutions with
certain peculiarities, and cultivated by practice to an extraordinary
degree. That such a power might extend over the dead--that is, over
certain thoughts and memories that the dead may still retain--and
compel, not that which ought properly to be called the SOUL, and which
is far beyond human reach, but rather a phantom of what has been most
earth-stained on earth, to make itself apparent to our senses--is a very
ancient though obsolete theory, upon which I will hazard no opinion. But
I do not conceive the power would be supernatural. Let me illustrate
what I mean from an experiment which Paracelsus describes as not
difficult, and which the author of the _Curiosities of Literature_ cites
as credible:--A flower perishes; you burn it. Whatever were the elements
of that flower while it lived are gone, dispersed, you know not whither;
you can never discover nor recollect them. But you can, by chemistry,
out of the burnt dust of that flower, raise a spectrum of the flower,
just as it seemed in life. It may be the same with the human being. The
soul has as much escaped you as the essence or elements of the flower.
Still you may make a spectrum of it.

"And this phantom, though in the popular superstition it is held to be
the soul of the departed, must not be confounded with the true soul; it
is but eidolon of the dead form. Hence, like the best attested stories
of ghosts or spirits, the thing that most strikes us is the absence of
what we hold to be soul; that is, of superior emancipated intelligence.
These apparitions come for little or no object--they seldom speak when
they do come; if they speak, they utter no ideas above those of an
ordinary person on earth. American spirit-seers have published volumes
of communications in prose and verse, which they assert to be given in
the names of the most illustrious dead--Shakespeare, Bacon--heaven knows
whom. Those communications, taking the best, are certainly not a whit of
higher order than would be communications from living persons of fair
talent and education; they are wondrously inferior to what Bacon,
Shakespeare, and Plato said and wrote when on earth. Nor, what is more
noticeable, do they ever contain an idea that was not on the earth
before. Wonderful, therefore, as such phenomena may be (granting them to
be truthful), I see much that philosophy may question, nothing that it
is incumbent on philosophy to deny, viz., nothing supernatural. They are
but ideas conveyed somehow or other (we have not yet discovered the
means) from one mortal brain to another. Whether, in so doing, tables
walk of their own accord, or fiend-like shapes appear in a magic circle,
or bodyless hands rise and remove material objects, or a Thing of
Darkness, such as presented itself to me, freeze our blood--still am I
persuaded that these are but agencies conveyed, as if by electric wires,
to my own brain from the brain of another. In some constitutions there
is a natural chemistry, and these constitutions may produce chemic
wonders--in others a natural fluid, call it electricity, and these may
produce electric wonders.

"But the wonders differ from Normal Science in this--they are alike
objectless, purposeless, puerile, frivolous. They lead on to no grand
results; and therefore the world does not heed, and true sages have not
cultivated them. But sure I am, that of all I saw or heard, a man,
human as myself, was the remote originator; and I believe unconsciously
to himself as to the exact effects produced, for this reason: no two
persons, you say, have ever told you that they experienced exactly the
same thing. Well, observe, no two persons ever experience exactly the
same dream. If this were an ordinary imposture, the machinery would be
arranged for results that would but little vary; if it were a
supernatural agency permitted by the Almighty, it would surely be for
some definite end. These phenomena belong to neither class; my
persuasion is, that they originate in some brain now far distant; that
that brain had no distinct volition in anything that occurred; that what
does occur reflects but its devious, motley, ever-shifting, half-formed
thoughts; in short, that it has been but the dreams of such a brain put
into action and invested with a semi-substance. That this brain is of
immense power, that it can set matter into movement, that it is
malignant and destructive, I believe; some material force must have
killed my dog; the same force might, for aught I know, have sufficed to
kill myself, had I been as subjugated by terror as the dog--had my
intellect or my spirit given me no countervailing resistance in my
will."

"It killed your dog! that is fearful! indeed it is strange that no
animal can be induced to stay in that house; not even a cat. Rats and
mice are never found in it."

"The instincts of the brute creation detect influences deadly to their
existence. Man's reason has a sense less subtle, because it has a
resisting power more supreme. But enough; do you comprehend my theory?"

"Yes, though imperfectly--and I accept any crotchet (pardon the word),
however odd, rather than embrace at once the notion of ghosts and
hob-goblins we imbibed in our nurseries. Still, to my unfortunate house
the evil is the same. What on earth can I do with the house?"

"I will tell you what I would do. I am convinced from my own internal
feelings that the small unfurnished room at right angles to the door of
the bedroom which I occupied, forms a starting-point or receptacle for
the influences which haunt the house; and I strongly advise you to have
the walls opened, the floor removed--nay, the whole room pulled down.
I observe that it is detached from the body of the house, built over the
small back-yard, and could be removed without injury to the rest of the
building."

"And you think, if I did that----"

"You would cut off the telegraph wires. Try it. I am so persuaded that I
am right, that I will pay half the expense if you will allow me to
direct the operations."

"Nay, I am well able to afford the cost; for the rest, allow me to write
to you."

About ten days afterwards I received a letter from Mr. J----, telling me
that he had visited the house since I had seen him; that he had found
the two letters I had described replaced in the drawer from which I had
taken them; that he had read them with misgivings like my own; that he
had instituted a cautious inquiry about the woman to whom I rightly
conjectured they had been written. It seemed that thirty-six years ago
(a year before the date of the letters) she had married, against the
wish of her relations, an American of very suspicious character, in
fact, he was generally believed to have been a pirate. She herself was
the daughter of very respectable tradespeople, and had served in the
capacity of nursery governess before her marriage. She had a brother, a
widower, who was considered wealthy, and who had one child of about six
years old. A month after the marriage, the body of this brother was
found in the Thames, near London Bridge; there seemed some marks of
violence about his throat, but they were not deemed sufficient to
warrant the inquest in any other verdict than that of "found drowned."

The American and his wife took charge of the little boy, the deceased
brother having by his will left his sister the guardian of his only
child--and in the event of the child's death, the sister inherited. The
child died about six months afterwards--it was supposed to have been
neglected and ill-treated. The neighbors deposed to have heard it shriek
at night. The surgeon who had examined it after death said that it was
emaciated as if from want of nourishment, and the body was covered with
livid bruises. It seemed that one winter night the child had sought to
escape--crept out into the back-yard--tried to scale the wall--fallen
back exhausted, and been found at morning on the stones in a dying
state. But though there was some evidence of cruelty, there was none of
murder; and the aunt and her husband had sought to palliate cruelty by
alleging the exceeding stubbornness and perversity of the child, who was
declared to be half-witted. Be that is it may, at the orphan's death the
aunt inherited her brother's fortune. Before the first wedded year was
out the American quitted England abruptly, and never returned to it. He
obtained a cruising vessel, which was lost in the Atlantic two years
afterwards. The widow was left in affluence; but reverses of various
kinds had befallen her; a bank broke--an investment failed--she went
into a small business and became insolvent--then she entered into
service, sinking lower and lower, from housekeeper down to maid-of-all
work--never long retaining a place, though nothing decided against her
character was ever alleged. She was considered sober, honest, and
peculiarly quiet in her ways; still nothing prospered with her. And so
she had dropped into the workhouse, from which Mr. J---- had taken her,
to be placed in charge of the very house which she had rented as
mistress in the first year of her wedded life.

Mr. J---- added that he had passed an hour alone in the unfurnished room
which I had urged him to destroy, and that his impressions of dread
while there were so great, though he had neither heard nor seen
anything, that he was eager to have the walls bared and the floors
removed as I had suggested. He had engaged persons for the work, and
would commence any day I would name.

The day was accordingly fixed. I repaired to the haunted house--he went
into the blind dreary room, took up the skirting, and then the floors.
Under the rafters, covered with rubbish, was found a trap-door, quite
large enough to admit a man. It was closely nailed down, with clamps and
rivets of iron. On removing these we descended into a room below, the
existence of which had never been suspected. In this room there had been
a window and a flue, but they had been bricked over, evidently for many
years. By the help of candles we examined this place; it still retained
some mouldering furniture--three chairs, an oak settle, a table--all of
the fashion of about eighty years ago. There was a chest of drawers
against the wall, in which we found, half-rotted away, old-fashioned
articles of a man's dress, such as might have been worn eighty or a
hundred years ago by a gentleman of some rank--costly steel buckles and
buttons, like those yet worn in court-dresses, a handsome court
sword--in a waistcoat which had once been rich with gold-lace, but which
was now blackened and foul with damp, we found five guineas, a few
silver coins, and an ivory ticket, probably for some place of
entertainment long since passed away. But our main discovery was in a
kind of iron safe fixed to the wall, the lock of which it cost us much
trouble to get picked.

In this safe were three shelves, and two small drawers. Ranged on the
shelves were several small bottles of crystal, hermetically stopped.
They contained colorless volatile essences, of the nature of which I
shall only say that they were not poisons--phosphor and ammonia entered
into some of them. There were also some very curious glass tubes, and a
small pointed rod of iron, with a large lump of rock-crystal, and
another of amber--also a loadstone of great power.

In one of the drawers we found a miniature portrait set in gold, and
retaining the freshness of its colors most remarkably, considering the
length of time it had probably been there. The portrait was that of a
man who might be somewhat advanced in middle life, perhaps forty-seven
or forty-eight.

It was a remarkable face--a most impressive face. If you could fancy
some mighty serpent transformed into a man, preserving in the human
lineaments the old serpent type, you would have a better idea of that
countenance than long descriptions can convey: the width and flatness of
frontal--the tapering elegance of contour disguising the strength of the
deadly jaw--the long, large, terrible eye, glittering and green as the
emerald--and withal a certain ruthless calm, as if from the
consciousness of an immense power.

Mechanically I turned round the miniature to examine the back of it,
and on the back was engraved a pentacle; in the middle of the pentacle a
ladder, and the third step of the ladder was formed by the date 1765.
Examining still more minutely, I detected a spring; this, on being
pressed, opened the back of the miniature as a lid. Withinside the lid
were engraved, "Marianna to thee--be faithful in life and in death
to----." Here follows a name that I will not mention, but it was not
unfamiliar to me. I had heard it spoken of by old men in my childhood as
the name borne by a dazzling charlatan who had made a great sensation in
London for a year or so, and had fled the country on the charge of a
double murder within his own house--that of his mistress and his rival.
I said nothing of this to Mr. J----, to whom reluctantly I resigned the
miniature.

We had found no difficulty in opening the first drawer within the iron
safe; we found great difficulty in opening the second: it was not
locked, but it resisted all efforts, till we inserted in the clinks the
edge of a chisel. When we had thus drawn it forth we found a very
singular apparatus in the nicest order. Upon a small thin book, or
rather tablet, was placed a saucer of crystal: this saucer was filled
with a clear liquid--on that liquid floated a kind of compass, with a
needle shifting rapidly round; but instead of the usual points of a
compass were seven strange characters, not very unlike those used by
astrologers to denote the planets.

A peculiar, but not strong nor displeasing odor came from this drawer,
which was lined with a wood that we afterwards discovered to be hazel.
Whatever the cause of this odor, it produced a material effect on the
nerves. We all felt it, even the two workmen who were in the room--a
creeping tingling sensation from the tips of the fingers to the roots of
the hair. Impatient to examine the tablet, I removed the saucer. As I
did so the needle of the compass went round and round with exceeding
swiftness, and I felt a shock that ran through my whole frame, so that
I dropped the saucer on the floor. The liquid was spilt--the saucer was
broken--the compass rolled to the end of the room--and at that instant
the walls shook to and fro, as if a giant had swayed and rocked them.

The two workmen were so frightened that they ran up the ladder by which
we had descended from the trap-door; but seeing that nothing more
happened, they were easily induced to return.

Meanwhile I had opened the tablet: it was bound in plain red leather,
with a silver clasp; it contained but one sheet of thick vellum, and on
that sheet were inscribed within a double pentacle, words in old monkish
Latin, which are literally to be translated thus: "On all that it can
reach within these walls--sentient or inanimate, living or dead--as
moves the needle, so work my will! Accursed be the house, and restless
be the dwellers therein."

We found no more. Mr. J---- burnt the tablet and its anathema. He razed
to the foundations the part of the building containing the secret room
with the chamber over it. He had then the courage to inhabit the house
himself for a month, and a quieter, better-conditioned house could not
be found in all London. Subsequently he let it to advantage, and his
tenant has made no complaints.



THE SILENT WOMAN[D]

BY LEOPOLD KOMPERT


The uproarious merriment of a wedding-feast burst forth into the night
from a brilliantly lighted house in the "gasse" (narrow street). It was
one of those nights touched with the warmth of spring, but dark and full
of soft mist. Most fitting it was for a celebration of the union of two
yearning hearts to share the same lot, a lot that may possibly dawn in
sunny brightness, but also become clouded and sullen--for a long, long
time! But how merry and joyous they were over there, those people of the
happy olden times! They, like us, had their troubles and trials, and
when misfortune visited them it came not to them with soft cushions and
tender pressures of the hand. Rough and hard, with clinched fist, it
laid hold upon them. But when they gave vent to their happy feelings and
sought to enjoy themselves, they were like swimmers in cooling waters.
They struck out into the stream with freshness and courage, suffered
themselves to be borne along by the current whithersoever it took its
course. This was the cause of such a jubilee, such a thoughtlessly noisy
outburst of all kinds of soul-possessing gayety from this house of
nuptials.

"And if I had known," the bride's father, the rich Ruben Klattaner, had
just said, "that it would take the last gulden in my pocket, then out it
would have come."

In fact, it did appear as if the last groschen had really taken flight,
and was fluttering about in the form of platters heaped up with geese
and pastry-tarts. Since two o'clock--that is, since the marriage
ceremony had been performed out in the open street--until nearly
midnight, the wedding-feast had been progressing, and even yet the
_sarvers_, or waiters, were hurrying from room to room. It was as if a
twofold blessing had descended upon all this abundance of food and
drink, for, in the first place, they did not seem to diminish; secondly,
they ever found a new place for disposal. To be sure, this appetite was
sharpened by the presence of a little dwarf-like, unimportant-looking
man. He was esteemed, however, none the less highly by every one. They
had specially written to engage the celebrated "Leb Narr," of Prague.
And when was ever a mood so out of sorts, a heart so imbittered as not
to thaw out and laugh if Leb Narr played one of his pranks. Ah, thou art
now dead, good fool! Thy lips, once always ready with a witty reply, are
closed. Thy mouth, then never still, now speaks no more! But when the
hearty peals of laughter once rang forth at thy command, intercessors,
as it were, in thy behalf before the very throne of God, thou hadst
nothing to fear. And the joy of that "other" world was thine, that joy
that has ever belonged to the most pious of country rabbis!

In the mean time the young people had assembled in one of the rooms to
dance. It was strange how the sound of violins and trumpets accorded
with the drolleries of the wit from Prague. In one part the outbursts of
merriment were so boisterous that the very candles on the little table
seemed to flicker with terror; in another an ordinary conversation was
in progress, which now and then only ran over into a loud tittering,
when some old lady slipped into the circle and tried her skill at a
redowa, then altogether unknown to the young people. In the very midst
of the tangle of dancers was to be seen the bride in a heavy silk
wedding-gown. The point of her golden hood hung far down over her face.
She danced continuously. She danced with every one that asked her. Had
one, however, observed the actions of the young woman, they would
certainly have seemed to him hurried, agitated, almost wild. She looked
no one in the eye, not even her own bridegroom. He stood for the most
part in the door-way, and evidently took more pleasure in the witticisms
of the fool than in the dance or the lady dancers. But who ever thought
for a moment why the young woman's hand burned, why her breath was so
hot when one came near to her lips? Who should have noticed so strange
a thing? A low whispering already passed through the company, a stealthy
smile stole across many a lip. A bevy of ladies was seen to enter the
room suddenly. The music dashed off into one of its loudest pieces, and,
as if by enchantment, the newly made bride disappeared behind the
ladies. The bridegroom, with his stupid, smiling mien, was still left
standing on the threshold. But it was not long before he too vanished.
One could hardly say how it happened. But people understand such
skillful movements by experience, and will continue to understand them
as long as there are brides and grooms in the world.

This disappearance of the chief personages, little as it seemed to be
noticed, gave, however, the signal for general leave-taking. The dancing
became drowsy; it stopped all at once, as if by appointment. That noisy
confusion now began which always attends so merry a wedding-party.
Half-drunken voices could be heard still intermingled with a last,
hearty laugh over a joke of the fool from Prague echoing across the
table. Here and there some one, not quite sure of his balance, was
fumbling for the arm of his chair or the edge of the table. This
resulted in his overturning a dish that had been forgotten, or in
spilling a beer-glass. While this, in turn, set up a new hubbub, some
one else, in his eagerness to betake himself from the scene, fell flat
into the very débris. But all this tumult was really hushed the moment
they all pressed to the door, for at that very instant shrieks, cries of
pain, were heard issuing from the entrance below. In an instant the
entire outpouring crowd with all possible force pushed back into the
room, but it was a long time before the stream was pressed back again.
Meanwhile, painful cries were again heard from below, so painful,
indeed, that they restored even the most drunken to a state of
consciousness.

"By the living God!" they cried to each other, "what is the matter down
there? Is the house on fire?"

"She is gone! she is gone!" shrieked a woman's voice from the entry
below.

"Who? who?" groaned the wedding-guests, seized, as it were, with an icy
horror.

"Gone! gone!" cried the woman from the entry, and hurrying up the stairs
came Selde Klattaner, the mother of the bride, pale as death, her eyes
dilated with most awful fright, convulsively grasping a candle in her
hand. "For God's sake, what has happened?" was heard on every side of
her.

The sight of so many people about her, and the confusion of voices,
seemed to release the poor woman from a kind of stupor. She glanced
shyly about her then, as if overcome with a sense of shame stronger than
her terror, and said, in a suppressed tone:

"Nothing, nothing, good people. In God's name, I ask, what was there to
happen?"

Dissimulation, however, was too evident to suffice to deceive them.

"Why, then, did you shriek so, Selde," called out one of the guests to
her, "if nothing happened?"

"Yes, she has gone," Selde now moaned in heart-rending tones, "and she
has certainly done herself some harm!"

The cause of this strange scene was now first discovered. The bride has
disappeared from the wedding-feast. Soon after that she had vanished in
such a mysterious way, the bridegroom went below to the dimly-lighted
room to find her, but in vain. At first thought this seemed to him to be
a sort of bashful jest; but not finding her here, a mysterious
foreboding seized him. He called to the mother of the bride:

"Woe to me! This woman has gone!"

Presently this party, that had so admirably controlled itself, was again
thrown into commotion. "There was nothing to do," was said on all sides,
"but to ransack every nook and corner. Remarkable instances of such
disappearances of brides had been known. Evil spirits were wont to lurk
about such nights and to inflict mankind with all sorts of sorceries."
Strange as this explanation may seem, there were many who believed it at
this very moment, and, most of all, Selde Klattaner herself. But it was
only for a moment, for she at once exclaimed:

"No, no, my good people, she is gone; I know she is gone!"

Now for the first time many of them, especially the mothers, felt
particularly uneasy, and anxiously called their daughters to them. Only
a few showed courage, and urged that they must search and search, even
if they had to turn aside the river Iser a hundred times. They urgently
pressed on, called for torches and lanterns, and started forth. The
cowardly ran after them up and down the stairs. Before any one perceived
it the room was entirely forsaken.

Ruben Klattaner stood in the hall entry below, and let the people hurry
past him without exchanging a word with any. Bitter disappointment and
fear had almost crazed him. One of the last to stay in the room above
with Selde was, strange to say, Leb Narr, of Prague. After all had
departed, he approached the miserable mother, and, in a tone least
becoming his general manner, inquired:

"Tell me, now, Mrs. Selde, did she not wish to have 'him'?"

"Whom? whom?" cried Selde, with renewed alarm, when she found herself
alone with the fool.

"I mean," said Leb, in a most sympathetic manner, approaching still
nearer to Selde, "that maybe you had to make your daughter marry him."

"Make? And have we, then, made her?" moaned Selde, staring at the fool
with a look of uncertainty.

"Then nobody needs to search for her," replied the fool, with a
sympathetic laugh, at the same time retreating. "It's better to leave
her where she is."

Without saying thanks or good-night, he was gone.

Meanwhile the cause of all this disturbance had arrived at the end of
her flight.

Close by the synagogue was situated the house of the rabbi. It was built
in an angle of a very narrow street, set in a framework of tall
shade-trees. Even by daylight it was dismal enough. At night it was
almost impossible for a timid person to approach it, for people declared
that the low supplications of the dead could be heard in the dingy house
of God when at night they took the rolls of the law from the ark to
summon their members by name.

Through this retired street passed, or rather ran, at this hour a shy
form. Arriving at the dwelling of the rabbi, she glanced backward to see
whether any one was following her. But all was silent and gloomy enough
about her. A pale light issued from one of the windows of the synagogue;
it came from the "eternal lamp" hanging in front of the ark of the
covenant. But at this moment it seemed to her as if a supernatural eye
was gazing upon her. Thoroughly affrighted, she seized the little iron
knocker of the door and struck it gently. But the throb of her beating
heart was even louder, more violent, than this blow. After a pause,
footsteps were heard passing slowly along the hallway.

The rabbi had not occupied this lonely house a long time. His
predecessor, almost a centenarian in years, had been laid to rest a few
months before. The new rabbi had been called, from a distant part of the
country. He was unmarried, and in the prime of life. No one had known
him before his coming. But his personal nobility and the profundity of
his scholarship made up for his deficiency in years. An aged mother had
accompanied him from their distant home, and she took the place of wife
and child.

"Who is there?" asked the rabbi, who had been busy at his desk even at
this late hour and thus had not missed hearing the knocker.

"It is I," the figure without responded, almost inaudibly.

"Speak louder, if you wish me to hear you," replied the rabbi.

"It is I, Ruben Klattaner's daughter," she repeated.

The name seemed to sound strange to the rabbi. He as yet knew too few of
his congregation to understand that this very day he performed the
marriage ceremony of the person who had just repeated her name.
Therefore he called out, after a moment's pause, "What do you wish so
late at night?"

"Open the door, rabbi," she answered, pleadingly, "or I shall die at
once!"

The bolt was pushed back. Something gleaming, rustling, glided past the
rabbi into the dusky hall. The light of the candle in his hand was not
sufficient to allow him to descry it. Before he had time to address her,
she had vanished past him and had disappeared through the open door
into the room. Shaking his head, the rabbi again bolted the door.

On reëntering the room he saw a woman's form sitting in the chair which
he usually occupied. She had her back turned to him. Her head was bent
low over her breast. Her golden wedding-hood, with its shading lace, was
pulled down over her forehead. Courageous and pious as the rabbi was, he
could not rid himself of a feeling of terror.

"Who are you?" he demanded, in a loud tone, as if its sound alone would
banish the presence of this being that seemed to him at this moment to
be the production of all the enchantments of evil spirits.

She raised herself, and cried in a voice that seemed to come from the
agony of a human being:

"Do you not know me--me, whom you married a few hours since under the
_chuppe_ (marriage-canopy) to a husband?"

On hearing this familiar voice the rabbi stood speechless. He gazed at
the young woman. Now, indeed, he must regard her as one bereft of
reason, rather than as a specter.

"Well, if you are she," he stammered out, after a pause, for it was with
difficulty that he found words to answer, "why are you here and not in
the place where you belong?"

"I know no other place to which I belong more than here where I now am!"
she answered, severely.

These words puzzled the rabbi still more. Is it really an insane woman
before him? He must have thought so, for he now addressed her in a
gentle tone of voice, as we do those suffering from this kind of
sickness, in order not to excite her, and said:

"The place where you belong, my daughter, is in the house of your
parents, and, since you have to-day been made a wife, your place is in
your husband's house."

The young woman muttered something which failed to reach the rabbi's
ear. Yet he only continued to think that he saw before him some poor
unfortunate whose mind was deranged. After a pause, he added, in a still
gentler tone: "What is your name, then, my child?"

"God, god," she moaned, in the greatest anguish, "he does not even yet
know my name!"

"How should I know you," he continued, apologetically, "for I am a
stranger in this place?"

This tender remark seemed to have produced the desired effect upon her
excited mind.

"My name is Veile," she said, quietly, after a pause.

The rabbi quickly perceived that he had adopted the right tone towards
his mysterious guest.

"Veile," he said, approaching nearer her, "what do you wish of me?"

"Rabbi, I have a great sin resting heavily upon my heart," she replied
despondently. "I do not know what to do."

"What can you have done," inquired the rabbi, with a tender look, "that
cannot be discussed at any other time than just now? Will you let me
advise you, Veile?"

"No, no," she cried again, violently, "I will not be advised. I see, I
know what oppresses me. Yes, I can grasp it by the hand, it lies so near
before me. Is that what you call to be advised?"

"Very well," returned the rabbi, seeing that this was the very way to
get the young woman to talk--"very well, I say, you are not imagining
anything. I believe that you have greatly sinned. Have you come here
then to confess this sin? Do your parents or your husband know anything
about it?"

"Who is my husband?" she interrupted him, impetuously.

Thoughts welled up in the rabbi's heart like a tumultuous sea in which
opposing conjectures cross and recross each other's course. Should he
speak with her as with an ordinary sinner?

"Were you, perhaps, forced to be married?" he inquired, as quietly as
possible, after a pause.

A suppressed sob, a strong inward struggle, manifesting itself in the
whole trembling body, was the only answer to this question.

"Tell me, my child," said the rabbi, encouragingly.

In such tones as the rabbi had never before heard, so strange, so
surpassing any human sounds, the young woman began:

"Yes, rabbi, I will speak, even though I know that I shall never go from
this place alive, which would be the very best thing for me! No, rabbi,
I was not forced to be married. My parents have never once said to me
'you must,' but my own will, my own desire, rather, has always been
supreme. My husband is the son of a rich man in the community. To enter
his family was to be made the first lady in the _gasse_, to sit buried
in gold and silver. And that very thing, nothing else, was what
infatuated me with him. It was for that that I forced myself, my heart
and will, to be married to him, hard as it was for me. But in my
innermost heart I detested him. The more he loved me, the more I hated
him. But the gold and silver had an influence over me. More and more
they cried to me, 'You will be the first lady in the _gasse_!'"

"Continue," said the rabbi, when she ceased, almost exhausted by these
words.

"What more shall I tell you, rabbi?" she began again. "I was never a
liar, when a child, or older, and yet during my whole engagement it has
seemed to me as if a big, gigantic lie had followed me step by step.
I have seen it on every side of me. But to-day, when I stood under the
_chuppe_, rabbi, and he took the ring from his finger and put it on
mine, and when I had to dance at my own wedding with him, whom I now
recognized, now for the first time, as the lie, and--when they led me
away----"

This sincere confession escaping from the lips of the young woman, she
sobbed aloud and bowed her head still deeper over her breast. The rabbi
gazed upon her in silence. No insane woman ever spoke like that! Only a
soul conscious of its own sin, but captivated by a mysterious power,
could suffer like this!

It was not sympathy which he felt with her; it was much more a living
over the sufferings of the woman. In spite of the confused story, it was
all clear to the rabbi. The cause of the flight from the father's house
at this hour also required no explanation. "I know what you mean," he
longed to say, but he could only find words to say: "Speak further,
Veile!"

The young woman turned towards him. He had not yet seen her face. The
golden hood with the shading lace hung deeply over it.

"Have I not told you everything?" she said, with a flush of scorn.

"Everything?" repeated the rabbi, inquiringly. He only said this,
moreover, through embarrassment.

"Do you tell me now," she cried, at once passionately and mildly, "what
am I to do?"

"Veile!" exclaimed the rabbi, entertaining now, for the first time, a
feeling of repugnance for this confidential interview.

"Tell me now!" she pleaded; and before the rabbi could prevent it the
young woman threw herself down at his feet and clasped his knees in her
arms. This hasty act had loosened the golden wedding-hood from her head,
and thus exposed her face to view, a face of remarkable beauty.

So overcome was the young rabbi by the sight of it that he had to shade
his eyes with his hands, as if before a sudden flash of lightning.

"Tell me now, what shall I do?" she cried again. "Do you think that I
have come from my parents' home merely to return again without help? You
alone in the world must tell me. Look at me! I have kept all my hair
just as God gave it me. It has never been touched by the shears. Should
I, then, do anything to please my husband? I am no wife. I will not be a
wife! Tell me, tell me, what am I to do?"

"Arise, arise," bade the rabbi; but his voice quivered, sounded almost
painful.

"Tell me first," she gasped; "I will not rise till then!"

"How can I tell you?" he moaned, almost inaudibly.

"Naphtali!" shrieked the kneeling woman.

But the rabbi staggered backward. The room seemed ablaze before him,
like a bright fire. A sharp cry rang from his breast, as if one
suffering from some painful wound had been seized by a rough hand. In
his hurried attempt to free himself from the embrace of the young
woman, who still clung to his knees, it chanced that her head struck
heavily against the floor.

"Naphtali!" she cried once again.

"Silence, silence," groaned the rabbi, pressing both hands against his
head.

And still again she called out this name, but not with that agonizing
cry. It sounded rather like a commingling of exultation and lamentation.

And again he demanded, "Silence! silence!" but this time so imperiously,
so forcibly, that the young woman lay on the floor as if conjured, not
daring to utter a single word.

The rabbi paced almost wildly up and down the room. There must have been
a hard, terrible struggle in his breast. It seemed to the one lying on
the floor that she heard him sigh from the depths of his soul. Then his
pacing became calmer; but it did not last long. The fierce conflict
again assailed him. His step grew hurried; it echoed loudly through the
awful stillness of the room. Suddenly he neared the young woman, who
seemed to lie there scarcely breathing. He stopped in front of her. Had
any one seen the face of the rabbi at this moment the expression on it
would have filled him with terror. There was a marvelous tranquillity
overlying it, the tranquillity of a struggle for life or death.

"Listen to me now, Veile," he began, slowly. "I will talk with you."

"I listen, rabbi," she whispered.

"But do you hear me well?"

"Only speak," she returned.

"But will you do what I advise you? Will you not oppose it? For I am
going to say something that will terrify you."

"I will do anything that you say. Only tell me," she moaned.

"Will you swear?"

"I will," she groaned.

"No, do not swear yet, until you have heard me," he cried. "I will not
force you."

This time came no answer.

"Hear me, then, daughter of Ruben Klattaner," he began, after a pause.
"You have a twofold sin upon your soul, and each is so great, so
criminal, that it can only be forgiven by severe punishment. First you
permitted yourself to be infatuated by the gold and silver, and then you
forced your heart to lie. With the lie you sought to deceive the man,
even though he had intrusted you with his all when he made you his wife.
A lie is truly a great sin! Streams of water cannot drown them. They
make men false and hateful to themselves. The worst that has been
committed in the world was led in by a lie. That is the one sin."

"I know, I know," sobbed the young woman.

"Now hear me further," began the rabbi again, with a wavering voice,
after a short pause. "You have committed a still greater sin than the
first. You have not only deceived your husband, but you have also
destroyed the happiness of another person. You could have spoken, and
you did not. For life you have robbed him of his happiness, his light,
his joy, but you did not speak. What can he now do, when he knows what
has been lost to him?"

"Naphtali!" cried the young woman.

"Silence! silence! do not let that name pass your lips again," he
demanded, violently. "The more you repeat it the greater becomes your
sin. Why did you not speak when you could have spoken? God can never
easily forgive you that. To be silent, to keep secret in one's breast
what would have made another man happier than the mightiest monarch!
Thereby you have made him more than unhappy. He will nevermore have the
desire to be happy. Veile, God in heaven cannot forgive you for that."

"Silence! silence!" groaned the wretched woman.

"No, Veile," he continued, with a stronger voice, "let me talk now. You
are certainly willing to hear me speak? Listen to me. You must do severe
penance for this sin, the twofold sin which rests upon your head. God is
long-suffering and merciful. He will perhaps look down upon your misery,
and will blot out your guilt from the great book of transgressions. But
you must become penitent. Hear, now, what it shall be."

The rabbi paused. He was on the point of saying the severest thing that
had ever passed his lips.

"You were silent, Veile," then he cried, "when you should have spoken.
Be silent now forever to all men and to yourself. From the moment you
leave this house, until I grant it, you must be dumb; you dare not let a
loud word pass from your mouth. Will you undergo this penance?"

"I will do all you say," moaned the young woman.

"Will you have strength to do it?" he asked, gently.

"I shall be as silent as death," she replied.

"And one thing more I have to say to you," he continued. "You are the
wife of your husband. Return home and be a Jewish wife."

"I understand you," she sobbed in reply.

"Go to your home now, and bring peace to your parents and husband. The
time will come when you may speak, when your sin will be forgiven you.
Till then bear what has been laid upon you."

"May I say one thing more?" she cried, lifting up her head.

"Speak," he said.

"Naphtali!"

The rabbi covered his eyes with one hand, with the other motioned her to
be silent. But she grasped his hand, drew it to her lips. Hot tears fell
upon it.

"Go now," he sobbed, completely broken down.

She let go the hand. The rabbi had seized the candle, but she had
already passed him, and glided through the dark hall. The door was left
open. The rabbi locked it again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Veile returned to her home, as she had escaped, unnoticed. The narrow
street was deserted, as desolate as death. The searchers were to be
found everywhere except there where they ought first to have sought for
the missing one. Her mother, Selde, still sat on the same chair on which
she had sunk down an hour ago. The fright had left her like one
paralyzed, and she was unable to rise. What a wonderful contrast this
wedding-room, with the mother sitting alone in it, presented to the
hilarity reigning here shortly before! On Veile's entrance her mother
did not cry out. She had no strength to do so. She merely said: "So you
have come at last, my daughter?" as if Veile had only returned from a
walk somewhat too long. But the young woman did not answer to this and
similar questions. Finally she signified by gesticulations that she
could not speak. Fright seized the wretched mother a second time, and
the entire house was filled with her lamentations.

Ruben Klattaner and Veile's husband having now returned from their
fruitless search, were horrified on perceiving the change which Veile
had undergone. Being men, they did not weep. With staring eyes they
gazed upon the silent young woman, and beheld in her an apparition which
had been dealt with by God's visitation in a mysterious manner.

From this hour began the terrible penance of the young woman.

The impression which Veile's woeful condition made upon the people of
the _gasse_ was wonderful. Those who had danced with her that evening on
the wedding now first recalled her excited state. Her wild actions were
now first remembered by many. It must have been an "evil eye," they
concluded--a jealous, evil eye, to which her beauty was hateful. This
alone could have possessed her with a demon of unrest. She was driven by
this evil power into the dark night, a sport of these malicious
potencies which pursue men step by step, especially on such occasions.
The living God alone knows what she must have seen that night. Nothing
good, else one would not become dumb. Old legends and tales were
revived, each more horrible than the other. Hundreds of instances were
given to prove that this was nothing new in the _gasse_. Despite this
explanation, it is remarkable that the people did not believe that the
young woman was dumb. The most thought that her power of speech had been
paralyzed by some awful fright, but that with time it would be restored.
Under this supposition they called her "Veile the Silent."

There is a kind of human eloquence more telling, more forcible than the
loudest words, than the choicest diction--the silence of woman!
Ofttimes they cannot endure the slightest vexation, but some great,
heart-breaking sorrow, some pain from constant renunciation,
self-sacrifice, they suffer with sealed lips--as if, in very truth, they
were bound with bars of iron.

It would be difficult to fully describe that long "silent" life of the
young woman. It is almost impossible to cite more than one incident.
Veile accompanied her husband to his home, that house resplendent with
that gold and silver which had infatuated her. She was, to be sure, the
"first" woman in the _gasse_; she had everything in abundance. Indeed,
the world supposed that she had but little cause for complaint. "Must
one have everything?" was sometimes queried in the _gasse_. "One has one
thing; another, another." And, according to all appearances, the people
were right. Veile continued to be the beautiful, blooming woman. Her
penance of silence did not deprive her of a single charm. She was so
very happy, indeed, that she did not seem to feel even the pain of her
punishment. Veile could laugh and rejoice, but never did she forget to
be silent. The seemingly happy days, however, were only qualified to
bring about the proper time of trials and temptations. The beginning was
easy enough for her, the middle and end were times of real pain. The
first years of their wedded life were childless. "It is well," the
people in the _gasse_ said, "that she has no children, and God has
rightly ordained it to be so. A mother who cannot talk to her child,
that would be something awful!" Unexpectedly to all, she rejoiced one
day in the birth of a daughter. And when that affectionate young
creature, her own offspring, was laid upon her breast, and the first
sounds were uttered by its lips--that nameless, eloquent utterance of an
infant--she forgot herself not; she was silent!

She was silent also when from day to day that child blossomed before her
eyes into fuller beauty. Nor had she any words for it when, in effusions
of tenderness, it stretched forth its tiny arms, when in burning fever
it sought for the mother's hand. For days--yes, weeks--together she
watched at its bedside. Sleep never visited her eyes. But she ever
remembered her penance.

Years fled by. In her arms she carried another child. It was a boy. The
father's joy was great. The child inherited its mother's beauty. Like
its sister, it grew in health and strength. The noblest, richest mother,
they said, might be proud of such children! And Veile was proud, no
doubt, but this never passed her lips. She remained silent about things
which mothers in their joy often cannot find words enough to express.
And although her face many times lighted up with beaming smiles, yet she
never renounced the habitual silence imposed upon her.

The idea that the slightest dereliction of her penance would be
accompanied with a curse upon her children may have impressed itself
upon her mind. Mothers will understand better than other persons what
this mother suffered from her penalty of silence.

Thus a part of those years sped away which we are wont to call the best.
She still flourished in her wonderful beauty. Her maiden daughter was
beside her, like the bud beside the full-blown rose. Suitors were
already present from far and near, who passed in review before the
beautiful girl. The most of them were excellent young men, and any
mother might have been proud in having her own daughter sought by such.
Even then Veile did not undo her penance. Those busy times of
intercourse which keep mothers engaged in presenting the superiorities
of their daughters in the best light were not allowed her. The choice of
one of the most favored suitors was made. Never before did any couple in
the _gasse_ equal this in beauty and grace. A few weeks before the
appointed time for the wedding a malignant disease stole on, spreading
sorrow and anxiety over the greater part of the land. Young girls were
principally its victims. It seemed to pass scornfully over the aged and
infirm. Veile's daughter was also laid hold upon by it. Before three
days had passed there was a corpse in the house--the bride!

Even then Veile did not forget her penance. When they bore away the
corpse to the "good place," she did utter a cry of anguish which long
after echoed in the ears of the people; she did wring her hands in
despair, but no one heard a word of complaint. Her lips seemed dumb
forever. It was then, when she was seated on the low stool in the seven
days of mourning, that the rabbi came to her, to bring to her the usual
consolation for the dead. But he did not speak with her. He addressed
words only to her husband. She herself dared not look up. Only when he
turned to go did she lift her eyes. They, in turn, met the eyes of the
rabbi, but he departed without a farewell.

After her daughter's death Veile was completely broken down. Even that
which at her time of life is still called beauty had faded away within a
few days. Her cheeks had become hollow, her hair gray. Visitors wondered
how she could endure such a shock, how body and spirit could hold
together. They did not know that that silence was an iron fetter firmly
imprisoning the slumbering spirits. She had a son, moreover, to whom, as
to something last and dearest, her whole being still clung.

The boy was thirteen years old. His learning in the Holy Scriptures was
already celebrated for miles around. He was the pupil of the rabbi, who
had treated him with a love and tenderness becoming his own father. He
said that he was a remarkable child, endowed with rare talents. The boy
was to be sent to Hungary, to one of the most celebrated teachers of the
times, in order to lay the foundation for his sacred studies under this
instructor's guidance and wisdom. Years might perhaps pass before she
would see him again. But Veile let her boy go from her embrace. She did
not say a blessing over him when he went; only her lips twitched with
the pain of silence.

Long years expired before the boy returned from the strange land, a
full-grown, noble youth. When Veile had her son with her again a smile
played about her mouth, and for a moment it seemed as if her former
beauty had enjoyed a second spring. The extraordinary ability of her son
already made him famous. Wheresoever he went people were delighted with
his beauty, and admired the modesty of his manner, despite such great
scholarship.

The next Sabbath the young disciple of the Talmud, scarcely twenty years
of age, was to demonstrate the first marks of this great learning.

The people crowded shoulder to shoulder in this great synagogue. Curious
glances were cast through the lattice-work of the women's gallery above
upon the dense throng. Veile occupied one of the foremost seats. She
could see everything that took place below. Her face was extremely pale.
All eyes were turned towards her--the mother, who was permitted to see
such a day for her son! But Veile did not appear to notice what was
happening before her. A weariness, such as she had never felt before,
even in her greatest suffering, crept over her limbs. It was as if she
must sleep during her son's address. He had hardly mounted the stairs
before the ark of the laws--hardly uttered his first words--when a
remarkable change crossed her face. Her cheeks burned. She arose. All
her vital energy seemed aroused. Her son meanwhile was speaking down
below. She could not have told what he was saying. She did not hear
him--she only heard the murmur of approbation, sometimes low, sometimes
loud, which came to her ears from the quarters of the men. The people
were astonished at the noble bearing of the speaker, his melodious
speech, and his powerful energy. When he stopped at certain times to
rest it seemed as if one were in a wood swept by a storm. She could now
and then hear a few voices declaring that such a one had never before
been listened to. The women at her side wept; she alone could not. A
choking pain pressed from her breast to her lips. Forces were astir in
her heart which struggled for expression. The whole synagogue echoed
with buzzing voices, but to her it seemed as if she must speak louder
than these. At the very moment her son had ended she cried out
unconsciously, violently throwing herself against the lattice-work:

"God! living God! shall I not now speak?" A dead silence followed this
outcry. Nearly all had recognized this voice as that of the "silent
woman." A miracle had taken place!

"Speak! speak!" resounded the answer of the rabbi from the men's seats
below. "You may now speak!"

But no reply came. Veile had fallen back into her seat, pressing both
hands against her breast. When the women sitting beside her looked at
her they were terrified to find that the "silent woman" had fainted.
She was dead! The unsealing of her lips was her last moment.

Long years afterwards the rabbi died. On his death-bed he told those
standing about him this wonderful penance of Veile.

Every girl in the _gasse_ knew the story of the "silent woman."

FOOTNOTE:

[D] Copyright, 1890, by Harper Bros.



BANSHEES[E]

Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogles, the Banshee (sometimes called
locally the "Boh[=ee]ntha" or "Bank[=ee]ntha") is the best known to the
general public: indeed, cross-Channel visitors would class her with
pigs, potatoes, and other fauna and flora of Ireland, and would expect
her to make manifest her presence to them as being one of the sights of
the country. She is a spirit with a lengthy pedigree--how lengthy no man
can say, as its roots go back into the dim, mysterious past. The most
famous Banshee of ancient times was that attached to the kingly house of
O'Brien, Aibhill, who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe, near
the old palace of Kincora. In A.D. 1014 was fought the battle of
Clontarf, from which the aged king, Brian Boru, knew that he would never
come away alive, for the previous night Aibhill had appeared to him to
tell him of his impending fate. The Banshee's method of foretelling
death in olden times differed from that adopted by her at the present
day: now she wails and wrings her hands, as a general rule, but in the
old Irish tales she is to be found washing human heads and limbs, or
blood-stained clothes, till the water is all dyed with human blood--this
would take place before a battle. So it would seem that in the course of
centuries her attributes and characteristics have changed somewhat.

Very different descriptions are given of her personal appearance.
Sometimes she is young and beautiful, sometimes old and of a fearsome
appearance. One writer describes her as "a tall, thin woman with
uncovered head, and long hair that floated round her shoulders, attired
in something which seemed either a loose white cloak, or a sheet thrown
hastily around her, uttering piercing cries." Another person, a
coachman, saw her one evening sitting on a stile in the yard; she seemed
to be a very small woman, with blue eyes, long light hair, and wearing
a red cloak. Other descriptions will be found in this chapter. By the
way, it does not seem to be true that the Banshee exclusively follows
families of Irish descent, for the last incident had reference to the
death of a member of a Co. Galway family English by name and origin.

One of the oldest and best-known Banshee stories is that related in the
_Memoirs_ of Lady Fanshaw.[F] In 1642 her husband, Sir Richard, and she
chanced to visit a friend, the head of an Irish sept, who resided in his
ancient baronial castle, surrounded with a moat. At midnight she was
awakened by a ghastly and supernatural scream, and looking out of bed,
beheld in the moonlight a female face and part of the form hovering at
the window. The distance from the ground, as well as the circumstance of
the moat, excluded the possibility that what she beheld was of this
world. The face was that of a young and rather handsome woman, but pale,
and the hair, which was reddish, was loose and disheveled. The dress,
which Lady Fanshaw's terror did not prevent her remarking accurately,
was that of the ancient Irish. This apparition continued to exhibit
itself for some time, and then vanished with two shrieks similar to that
which had first excited Lady Fanshaw's attention. In the morning, with
infinite terror, she communicated to her host what she had witnessed,
and found him prepared not only to credit, but to account for the
superstition. "A near relation of my family," said he; "expired last
night in this castle. We disguised our certain expectation of the event
from you, lest it should throw a cloud over the cheerful reception which
was your due. Now, before such an event happens in this family or
castle, the female specter whom you have seen is always visible. She is
believed to be the spirit of a woman of inferior rank, whom one of my
ancestors degraded himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate
the dishonor done to his family, he caused to be drowned in the moat."
In strictness this woman could hardly be termed a Banshee. The motive
for the haunting is akin to that in the tale of the Scotch "Drummer of
Cortachy," where the spirit of the murdered man haunts the family out of
revenge, and appears before a death.

Mr. T.J. Westropp, M.A., has furnished the following story: "My maternal
grandmother heard the following tradition from her mother, one of the
Miss Ross-Lewins, who witnessed the occurrence. Their father, Mr.
Harrison Ross-Lewin, was away in Dublin on law business, and in his
absence the young people went off to spend the evening with a friend who
lived some miles away. The night was fine and lightsome as they were
returning, save at one point where the road ran between trees or high
hedges not far to the west of the old church of Kilchrist. The latter,
like many similar ruins, was a simple oblong building, with long
side-walls and high gables, and at that time it and its graveyard were
unenclosed, and lay in the open fields. As the party passed down the
long dark lane they suddenly heard in the distance loud keening and
clapping of hands, as the country-people were accustomed to do when
lamenting the dead. The Ross-Lewins hurried on, and came in sight of the
church, on the side wall of which a little gray-haired old woman, clad
in a dark cloak, was running to and fro, chanting and wailing, and
throwing up her arms. The girls were very frightened, but the young men
ran forward and surrounded the ruin, and two of them went into the
church, the apparition vanishing from the wall as they did so. They
searched every nook, and found no one, nor did any one pass out. All
were now well scared, and got home as fast as possible. On reaching
their home their mother opened the door, and at once told them that she
was in terror about their father, for, as she sat looking out the window
in the moonlight, a huge raven with fiery eyes lit on the sill, and
tapped three times on the glass. They told her their story, which only
added to their anxiety, and as they stood talking, taps came to the
nearest window, and they saw the bird again. A few days later news
reached them that Mr. Ross-Lewin had died suddenly in Dublin. This
occurred about 1776."

Mr. Westropp also writes that the sister of a former Roman Catholic
Bishop told his sisters that when she was a little girl she went out
one evening with some other children for a walk. Going down the road,
they passed the gate of the principal demesne near the town. There was a
rock, or large stone, beside the road, on which they saw something.
Going nearer, they perceived it to be a little dark, old woman, who
began crying and clapping her hands. Some of them attempted to speak to
her, but got frightened, and all finally ran home as quickly as they
could. Next day the news came that the gentleman near whose gate the
Banshee had cried, was dead, and it was found on inquiry that he had
died at the very hour at which the children had seen the specter.

A lady who is a relation of one of the compilers, and a member of a Co.
Cork family of English descent, sends the two following experiences of a
Banshee in her family. "My mother, when a young girl, was standing
looking out of the window in their house at Blackrock, near Cork. She
suddenly saw a white figure standing on a bridge which was easily
visible from the house. The figure waved her arms towards the house, and
my mother heard the bitter wailing of the Banshee. It lasted some
seconds, and then the figure disappeared. Next morning my grandfather
was walking as usual into the city of Cork. He accidentally fell, hit
his head against the curbstone, and never recovered consciousness.

"In March, 1900, my mother was very ill, and one evening the nurse and I
were with her arranging her bed. We suddenly heard the most extraordinary
wailing, which seemed to come in waves round and under her bed. We
naturally looked everywhere to try and find the cause, but in vain. The
nurse and I looked at one another, but made no remark, as my mother did
not seem to hear it. My sister was downstairs sitting with my father.
She heard it, and thought some terrible thing had happened to her little
boy, who was in bed upstairs. She rushed up, and found him sleeping
quietly. My father did not hear it. In the house next door they heard
it, and ran downstairs, thinking something had happened to the servant;
but the latter at once said to them, 'Did you hear the Banshee? Mrs.
P---- must be dying.'"

A few years ago (_i.e._ before 1894) a curious incident occurred in a
public school in connection with the belief in the Banshee. One of the
boys, happening to become ill, was at once placed in a room by himself,
where he used to sit all day. On one occasion, as he was being visited
by the doctor, he suddenly started up from his seat, and affirmed that
he heard somebody crying. The doctor, of course, who could hear or see
nothing, came to the conclusion that the illness had slightly affected
his brain. However, the boy, who appeared quite sensible, still
persisted that he heard some one crying, and furthermore said, "It is
the Banshee, as I have heard it before." The following morning the
head-master received a telegram saying that the boy's brother had been
accidentally shot dead.[G]

That the Banshee is not confined within the geographical limits of
Ireland, but that she can follow the fortunes of a family abroad, and
there foretell their death, is clearly shown by the following story. A
party of visitors were gathered together on the deck of a private yacht
on one of the Italian lakes, and during a lull in the conversation one
of them, a Colonel, said to the owner, "Count, who's that queer-looking
woman you have on board?" The Count replied that there was nobody except
the ladies present, and the stewardess, but the speaker protested that
he was correct, and suddenly, with a scream of horror, he placed his
hands before his eyes, and exclaimed, "Oh, my God, what a face!" For
some time he was overcome with terror, and at length reluctantly looked
up, and cried:

"Thank Heavens, it's gone!"

"What was it?" asked the Count.

"Nothing human," replied the Colonel--"nothing belonging to this world.
It was a woman of no earthly type, with a queer-shaped, gleaming face, a
mass of red hair, and eyes that would have been beautiful but for their
expression, which was hellish. She had on a green hood, after the
fashion of an Irish peasant."

An American lady present suggested that the description tallied with
that of the Banshee, upon which the Count said:

"I am an O'Neill--at least I am descended from one. My family name is,
as you know, Neilsini, which, little more than a century ago, was
O'Neill. My great-grandfather served in the Irish Brigade, and on its
dissolution at the time of the French Revolution had the good fortune to
escape the general massacre of officers, and in company with an O'Brien
and a Maguire fled across the frontier and settled in Italy. On his
death his son, who had been born in Italy, and was far more Italian than
Irish, changed his name to Neilsini, by which name the family has been
known ever since. But for all that we are Irish."

"The Banshee was yours, then!" ejaculated the Colonel. "What exactly
does it mean?"

"It means," the Count replied solemnly, "the death of some one very
nearly associated with me. Pray Heaven it is not my wife or daughter."

On that score, however, his anxiety was speedily removed, for within two
hours he was seized with a violent attack of angina pectoris, and died
before morning.[H]

Mr. Elliott O'Donnell, to whose article on "Banshees" we are indebted
for the above, adds: "The Banshee never manifests itself to the person
whose death it is prognosticating. Other people may see or hear it, but
the fated one never, so that when every one present is aware of it but
one, the fate of that one may be regarded as pretty well certain."

FOOTNOTES:

[E] From "True Irish Ghost Stories."

[F] Scott's _Lady of the Lake_, notes to Canto III (edition of 1811).

[G] A.G. Bradley, _Notes on some Irish Superstitions_, p. 9.

[H] _Occult Review_ for September, 1913.



THE MAN WHO WENT TOO FAR

BY E.F. BENSON


The little village of St. Faith's nestles in a hollow of wooded hill up
on the north bank of the river Fawn in the county of Hampshire, huddling
close round its gray Norman church as if for spiritual protection
against the fays and fairies, the trolls and "little people," who might
be supposed still to linger in the vast empty spaces of the New Forest,
and to come after dusk and do their doubtful businesses. Once outside
the hamlet you may walk in any direction (so long as you avoid the high
road which leads to Brockenhurst) for the length of a summer afternoon
without seeing sign of human habitation, or possibly even catching sight
of another human being. Shaggy wild ponies may stop their feeding for a
moment as you pass, the white scuts of rabbits will vanish into their
burrows, a brown viper perhaps will glide from your path into a clump of
heather, and unseen birds will chuckle in the bushes, but it may easily
happen that for a long day you will see nothing human. But you will not
feel in the least lonely; in summer, at any rate, the sunlight will be
gay with butterflies, and the air thick with all those woodland sounds
which like instruments in an orchestra combine to play the great
symphony of the yearly festival of June. Winds whisper in the birches,
and sigh among the firs; bees are busy with their redolent labor among
the heather, a myriad birds chirp in the green temples of the forest
trees, and the voice of the river prattling over stony places, bubbling
into pools, chuckling and gulping round corners, gives you the sense
that many presences and companions are near at hand.

Yet, oddly enough, though one would have thought that these benign and
cheerful influences of wholesome air and spaciousness of forest were
very healthful comrades for a man, in so far as nature can really
influence this wonderful human genus which has in these centuries
learned to defy her most violent storms in its well-established houses,
to bridle her torrents and make them light its streets, to tunnel her
mountains and plow her seas, the inhabitants of St. Faith's will not
willingly venture into the forest after dark. For in spite of the
silence and loneliness of the hooded night it seems that a man is not
sure in what company he may suddenly find himself, and though it is
difficult to get from these villagers any very clear story of occult
appearances, the feeling is widespread. One story indeed I have heard
with some definiteness, the tale of a monstrous goat that has been seen
to skip with hellish glee about the woods and shady places, and this
perhaps is connected with the story which I have here attempted to piece
together. It too is well-known to them; for all remember the young
artist who died here not long ago, a young man, or so he struck the
beholder, of great personal beauty, with something about him that made
men's faces to smile and brighten when they looked on him. His ghost
they will tell you "walks" constantly by the stream and through the
woods which he loved so, and in especial it haunts a certain house, the
last of the village, where he lived, and its garden in which he was done
to death. For my part I am inclined to think that the terror of the
Forest dates chiefly from that day. So, such as the story is, I have set
it forth in connected form. It is based partly on the accounts of the
villagers, but mainly on that of Darcy, a friend of mine and a friend of
the man with whom these events were chiefly concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day had been one of untarnished midsummer splendor, and as the sun
drew near to its setting, the glory of the evening grew every moment
more crystalline, more miraculous. Westward from St. Faith's the
beechwood which stretched for some miles toward the heathery upland
beyond already cast its veil of clear shadow over the red roofs of the
village, but the spire of the gray church, over-topping all, still
pointed a flaming orange finger into the sky. The river Fawn, which runs
below, lay in sheets of sky-reflected blue, and wound its dreamy devious
course round the edge of this wood, where a rough two-planked bridge
crossed from the bottom of the garden of the last house in the village,
and communicated by means of a little wicker gate with the wood itself.
Then once out of the shadow of the wood the stream lay in flaming pools
of the molten crimson of the sunset, and lost itself in the haze of
woodland distances.

This house at the end of the village stood outside the shadow, and the
lawn which sloped down to the river was still flecked with sunlight.
Garden-beds of dazzling color lined its gravel walks, and down the
middle of it ran a brick pergola, half-hidden in clusters of
rambler-rose and purple with starry clematis. At the bottom end of it,
between two of its pillars, was slung a hammock containing a
shirt-sleeved figure.

The house itself lay somewhat remote from the rest of the village, and a
footpath leading across two fields, now tall and fragrant with hay, was
its only communication with the high road. It was low-built, only two
stories in height, and like the garden, its walls were a mass of
flowering roses. A narrow stone terrace ran along the garden front, over
which was stretched an awning, and on the terrace a young silent-footed
man-servant was busied with the laying of the table for dinner. He was
neat-handed and quick with his job, and having finished it he went back
into the house, and reappeared again with a large rough bath-towel on
his arm. With this he went to the hammock in the pergola.

"Nearly eight, sir," he said.

"Has Mr. Darcy come yet?" asked a voice from the hammock.

"No, sir."

"If I'm not back when he comes, tell him that I'm just having a bathe
before dinner."

The servant went back to the house, and after a moment or two Frank
Halton struggled to a sitting posture, and slipped out on to the grass.
He was of medium height and rather slender in build, but the supple ease
and grace of his movements gave the impression of great physical
strength: even his descent from the hammock was not an awkward
performance. His face and hands were of very dark complexion, either
from constant exposure to wind and sun, or, as his black hair and dark
eyes tended to show, from some strain of southern blood. His head was
small, his face of an exquisite beauty of modeling, while the smoothness
of its contour would have led you to believe that he was a beardless lad
still in his teens. But something, some look which living and experience
alone can give, seemed to contradict that, and finding yourself
completely puzzled as to his age, you would next moment probably cease
to think about that, and only look at this glorious specimen of young
manhood with wondering satisfaction.

He was dressed as became the season and the heat, and wore only a shirt
open at the neck, and a pair of flannel trousers. His head, covered very
thickly with a somewhat rebellious crop of short curly hair, was bare as
he strolled across the lawn to the bathing-place that lay below. Then
for a moment there was silence, then the sound of splashed and divided
waters, and presently after, a great shout of ecstatic joy, as he swam
up-stream with the foamed water standing in a frill round his neck. Then
after some five minutes of limb-stretching struggle with the flood, he
turned over on his back, and with arms thrown wide, floated down-stream,
ripple-cradled and inert. His eyes were shut, and between half-parted
lips he talked gently to himself.

"I am one with it," he said to himself, "the river and I, I and the
river. The coolness and splash of it is I, and the water-herbs that wave
in it are I also. And my strength and my limbs are not mine but the
river's. It is all one, all one, dear Fawn."

       *       *       *       *       *

A quarter of an hour later he appeared again at the bottom of the lawn,
dressed as before, his wet hair already drying into its crisp short
curls again. There he paused a moment, looking back at the stream with
the smile with which men look on the face of a friend, then turned
towards the house. Simultaneously his servant came to the door leading
on to the terrace, followed by a man who appeared to be some half-way
through the fourth decade of his years. Frank and he saw each other
across the bushes and garden-beds, and each quickening his step, they
met suddenly face to face round an angle of the garden walk, in the
fragrance of syringa.

"My dear Darcy," cried Frank, "I am charmed to see you."

But the other stared at him in amazement.

"Frank!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, that is my name," he said laughing, "what is the matter?"

Darcy took his hand.

"What have you done to yourself?" he asked. "You are a boy again."

"Ah, I have a lot to tell you," said Frank. "Lots that you will hardly
believe, but I shall convince you----"

He broke off suddenly, and held up his hand.

"Hush, there is my nightingale," he said.

The smile of recognition and welcome with which he had greeted his
friend faded from his face, and a look of rapt wonder took its place, as
of a lover listening to the voice of his beloved. His mouth parted
slightly, showing the white line of teeth, and his eyes looked out and
out till they seemed to Darcy to be focused on things beyond the vision
of man. Then something perhaps startled the bird, for the song ceased.

"Yes, lots to tell you," he said. "Really I am delighted to see you. But
you look rather white and pulled down; no wonder after that fever. And
there is to be no nonsense about this visit. It is June now, you stop
here till you are fit to begin work again. Two months at least."

"Ah, I can't trespass quite to that extent."

Frank took his arm and walked him down the grass.

"Trespass? Who talks of trespass? I shall tell you quite openly when I
am tired of you, but you know when we had the studio together, we used
not to bore each other. However, it is ill talking of going away on the
moment of your arrival. Just a stroll to the river, and then it will be
dinner-time."

Darcy took out his cigarette case, and offered it to the other.

Frank laughed.

"No, not for me. Dear me, I suppose I used to smoke once. How very odd!"

"Given it up?"

"I don't know. I suppose I must have. Anyhow I don't do it now. I would
as soon think of eating meat."

"Another victim on the smoking altar of vegetarianism?"

"Victim?" asked Frank. "Do I strike you as such?"

He paused on the margin of the stream and whistled softly. Next moment a
moor-hen made its splashing flight across the river, and ran up the
bank. Frank took it very gently in his hands and stroked its head, as
the creature lay against his shirt.

"And is the house among the reeds still secure?" he half-crooned to it.
"And is the missus quite well, and are the neighbors flourishing? There,
dear, home with you," and he flung it into the air.

"That bird's very tame," said Darcy, slightly bewildered.

"It is rather," said Frank, following its flight.

       *       *       *       *       *

During dinner Frank chiefly occupied himself in bringing himself
up-to-date in the movements and achievements of this old friend whom he
had not seen for six years. Those six years, it now appeared, had been
full of incident and success for Darcy; he had made a name for himself
as a portrait painter which bade fair to outlast the vogue of a couple
of seasons, and his leisure time had been brief. Then some four months
previously he had been through a severe attack of typhoid, the result of
which as concerns this story was that he had come down to this
sequestered place to recruit.

"Yes, you've got on," said Frank at the end. "I always knew you would.
A.R.A. with more in prospect. Money? You roll in it, I suppose, and, O
Darcy, how much happiness have you had all these years? That is the only
imperishable possession. And how much have you learned? Oh, I don't mean
in Art. Even I could have done well in that."

Darcy laughed.

"Done well? My dear fellow, all I have learned in these six years you
knew, so to speak, in your cradle. Your old pictures fetch huge prices.
Do you never paint now?"

Frank shook his head.

"No, I'm too busy," he said.

"Doing what? Please tell me. That is what every one is for ever asking
me."

"Doing? I suppose you would say I do nothing."

Darcy glanced up at the brilliant young face opposite him.

"It seems to suit you, that way of being busy," he said. "Now, it's your
turn. Do you read? Do you study? I remember you saying that it would do
us all--all us artists, I mean--a great deal of good if we would study
any one human face carefully for a year, without recording a line. Have
you been doing that?"

Frank shook his head again.

"I mean exactly what I say," he said, "I have been _doing_ nothing. And
I have never been so occupied. Look at me; have I not done something to
myself to begin with?"

"You are two years younger than I," said Darcy, "at least you used to
be. You therefore are thirty-five. But had I never seen you before I
should say you were just twenty. But was it worth while to spend six
years of greatly-occupied life in order to look twenty? Seems rather
like a woman of fashion."

Frank laughed boisterously.

"First time I've ever been compared to that particular bird of prey," he
said. "No, that has not been my occupation--in fact I am only very
rarely conscious that one effect of my occupation has been that. Of
course, it must have been if one comes to think of it. It is not very
important. Quite true my body has become young. But that is very little;
I have become young."

Darcy pushed back his chair and sat sideways to the table looking at the
other.

"Has that been your occupation then?" he asked.

"Yes, that anyhow is one aspect of it. Think what youth means! It is the
capacity for growth, mind, body, spirit, all grow, all get stronger, all
have a fuller, firmer life every day. That is something, considering
that every day that passes after the ordinary man reaches the
full-blown flower of his strength, weakens his hold on life. A man
reaches his prime, and remains, we say, in his prime, for ten years, or
perhaps twenty. But after his primest prime is reached, he slowly,
insensibly weakens. These are the signs of age in you, in your body, in
your art probably, in your mind. You are less electric than you were.
But I, when I reach my prime--I am nearing it--ah, you shall see."

The stars had begun to appear in the blue velvet of the sky, and to the
east the horizon seen above the black silhouette of the village was
growing dove-colored with the approach of moon-rise. White moths hovered
dimly over the garden-beds, and the footsteps of night tip-toed through
the bushes. Suddenly Frank rose.

"Ah, it is the supreme moment," he said softly. "Now more than at any
other time the current of life, the eternal imperishable current runs so
close to me that I am almost enveloped in it. Be silent a minute."

He advanced to the edge of the terrace and looked out standing stretched
with arms outspread. Darcy heard him draw a long breath into his lungs,
and after many seconds expel it again. Six or eight times he did this,
then turned back into the lamplight.

"It will sound to you quite mad, I expect," he said, "but if you want to
hear the soberest truth I have ever spoken and shall ever speak, I will
tell you about myself. But come into the garden if it is not too damp
for you. I have never told any one yet, but I shall like to tell you. It
is long, in fact, since I have even tried to classify what I have
learned."

They wandered into the fragrant dimness of the pergola, and sat down.
Then Frank began:

"Years ago, do you remember," he said, "we used often to talk about the
decay of joy in the world. Many impulses, we settled, had contributed to
this decay, some of which were good in themselves, others that were
quite completely bad. Among the good things, I put what we may call
certain Christian virtues, renunciation, resignation, sympathy with
suffering, and the desire to relieve sufferers. But out of those things
spring very bad ones, useless renunciations, asceticism for its own
sake, mortification of the flesh with nothing to follow, no
corresponding gain that is, and that awful and terrible disease which
devastated England some centuries ago, and from which by heredity of
spirit we suffer now, Puritanism. That was a dreadful plague, the brutes
held and taught that joy and laughter and merriment were evil: it was a
doctrine the most profane and wicked. Why, what is the commonest crime
one sees? A sullen face. That is the truth of the matter.

"Now all my life I have believed that we are intended to be happy, that
joy is of all gifts the most divine. And when I left London, abandoned
my career, such as it was, I did so because I intended to devote my life
to the cultivation of joy, and, by continuous and unsparing effort, to
be happy. Among people, and in constant intercourse with others, I did
not find it possible; there were too many distractions in towns and
work-rooms, and also too much suffering. So I took one step backwards or
forwards, as you may choose to put it, and went straight to Nature, to
trees, birds, animals, to all those things which quite clearly pursue
one aim only, which blindly follow the great native instinct to be
happy without any care at all for morality, or human law or divine law.
I wanted, you understand, to get all joy first-hand and unadulterated,
and I think it scarcely exists among men; it is obsolete."

Darcy turned in his chair.

"Ah, but what makes birds and animals happy?" he asked. "Food, food and
mating."

Frank laughed gently in the stillness.

"Do not think I became a sensualist," he said. "I did not make that
mistake. For the sensualist carries his miseries pick-a-back, and round
his feet is wound the shroud that shall soon enwrap him. I may be mad,
it is true, but I am not so stupid anyhow as to have tried that. No,
what is it that makes puppies play with their own tails, that sends cats
on their prowling ecstatic errands at night?".

He paused a moment.

"So I went to Nature," he said. "I sat down here in this New Forest,
sat down fair and square, and looked. That was my first difficulty, to
sit here quiet without being bored, to wait without being impatient, to
be receptive and very alert, though for a long time nothing particular
happened. The change in fact was slow in those early stages."

"Nothing happened?" asked Darcy rather impatiently, with the sturdy
revolt against any new idea which to the English mind is synonymous with
nonsense. "Why, what in the world _should_ happen?"

Now Frank as he had known him was the most generous but most
quick-tempered of mortal men; in other words his anger would flare to a
prodigious beacon, under almost no provocation, only to be quenched
again under a gust of no less impulsive kindliness. Thus the moment
Darcy had spoken, an apology for his hasty question was half-way up his
tongue. But there was no need for it to have traveled even so far, for
Frank laughed again with kindly, genuine mirth.

"Oh, how I should have resented that a few years ago," he said. "Thank
goodness that resentment is one of the things I have got rid of.
I certainly wish that you should believe my story--in fact, you are
going to--but that you at this moment should imply that you do not,
does not concern me."

"Ah, your solitary sojournings have made you inhuman," said Darcy, still
very English.

"No, human," said Frank. "Rather more human, at least rather less of an
ape."

"Well, that was my first quest," he continued, after a moment, "the
deliberate and unswerving pursuit of joy, and my method, the eager
contemplation of Nature. As far as motive went, I daresay it was purely
selfish, but as far as effect goes, it seems to me about the best thing
one can do for one's fellow-creatures, for happiness is more infectious
than small-pox. So, as I said, I sat down and waited; I looked at happy
things, zealously avoided the sight of anything unhappy, and by degrees
a little trickle of the happiness of this blissful world began to filter
into me. The trickle grew more abundant, and now, my dear fellow, if I
could for a moment divert from me into you one half of the torrent of
joy that pours through me day and night, you would throw the world, art,
everything aside, and just live, exist. When a man's body dies, it
passes into trees and flowers. Well, that is what I have been trying to
do with my soul before death."

The servant had brought into the pergola a table with syphons and
spirits, and had set a lamp upon it. As Frank spoke he leaned forward
towards the other, and Darcy for all his matter-of-fact commonsense
could have sworn that his companion's face shone, was luminous in
itself. His dark brown eyes glowed from within, the unconscious smile of
a child irradiated and transformed his face. Darcy felt suddenly
excited, exhilarated.

"Go on," he said. "Go on. I can feel you are somehow telling me sober
truth. I daresay you are mad; but I don't see that matters."

Frank laughed again.

"Mad?" he said. "Yes, certainly, if you wish. But I prefer to call it
sane. However, nothing matters less than what anybody chooses to call
things. God never labels his gifts; He just puts them into our hands;
just as he put animals in the garden of Eden, for Adam to name if he
felt disposed."

"So by the continual observance and study of things that were happy,"
continued he, "I got happiness, I got joy. But seeking it, as I did,
from Nature, I got much more which I did not seek, but stumbled upon
originally by accident. It is difficult to explain, but I will try.

"About three years ago I was sitting one morning in a place I will show
you to-morrow. It is down by the river brink, very green, dappled with
shade and sun, and the river passes there through some little clumps of
reeds. Well, as I sat there, doing nothing, but just looking and
listening, I heard the sound quite distinctly of some flute-like
instrument playing a strange unending melody. I thought at first it was
some musical yokel on the highway and did not pay much attention. But
before long the strangeness and indescribable beauty of the tune struck
me. It never repeated itself, but it never came to an end, phrase after
phrase ran its sweet course, it worked gradually and inevitably up to a
climax, and having attained it, it went on; another climax was reached
and another and another. Then with a sudden gasp of wonder I localized
where it came from. It came from the reeds and from the sky and from the
trees. It was everywhere, it was the sound of life. It was, my dear
Darcy, as the Greeks would have said, it was Pan playing on his pipes,
the voice of Nature. It was the life-melody, the world-melody."

Darcy was far too interested to interrupt, though there was a question
he would have liked to ask, and Frank went on:

"Well, for the moment I was terrified, terrified with the impotent
horror of nightmare, and I stopped my ears and just ran from the place
and got back to the house panting, trembling, literally in a panic.
Unknowingly, for at that time I only pursued joy, I had begun, since I
drew my joy from Nature, to get in touch with Nature. Nature, force,
God, call it what you will, had drawn across my face a little gossamer
web of essential life. I saw that when I emerged from my terror, and I
went very humbly back to where I had heard the Pan-pipes. But it was
nearly six months before I heard them again."

"Why was that?" asked Darcy.

"Surely because I had revolted, rebelled, and worst of all been
frightened. For I believe that just as there is nothing in the world
which so injures one's body as fear, so there is nothing that so much
shuts up the soul. I was afraid, you see, of the one thing in the world
which has real existence. No wonder its manifestation was withdrawn."

"And after six months?"

"After six months one blessed morning I heard the piping again. I wasn't
afraid that time. And since then it has grown louder, it has become more
constant. I now hear it often, and I can put myself into such an
attitude towards Nature that the pipes will almost certainly sound. And
never yet have they played the same tune, it is always something new,
something fuller, richer, more complete than before."

"What do you mean by 'such an attitude towards Nature'?" asked Darcy.

"I can't explain that; but by translating it into a bodily attitude it
is this."

Frank sat up for a moment quite straight in his chair, then slowly sunk
back with arms outspread and head drooped.

"That," he said, "an effortless attitude, but open, resting, receptive.
It is just that which you must do with your soul."

Then he sat up again.

"One word more," he said, "and I will bore you no further. Nor unless
you ask me questions shall I talk about it again. You will find me, in
fact, quite sane in my mode of life. Birds and beasts you will see
behaving somewhat intimately to me, like that moor-hen, but that is all.
I will walk with you, ride with you, play golf with you, and talk with
you on any subject you like. But I wanted you on the threshold to know
what has happened to me. And one thing more will happen."

He paused again, and a slight look of fear crossed his eyes.

"There will be a final revelation," he said, "a complete and blinding
stroke which will throw open to me, once and for all, the full
knowledge, the full realization and comprehension that I am one, just as
you are, with life. In reality there is no 'me,' no 'you,' no 'it.'
Everything is part of the one and only thing which is life. I know that
that is so, but the realization of it is not yet mine. But it will be,
and on that day, so I take it, I shall see Pan. It may mean death, the
death of my body, that is, but I don't care. It may mean immortal,
eternal life lived here and now and for ever. Then having gained that,
ah, my dear Darcy, I shall preach such a gospel of joy, showing myself
as the living proof of the truth, that Puritanism, the dismal religion
of sour faces, shall vanish like a breath of smoke, and be dispersed and
disappear in the sunlit air. But first the full knowledge must be mine."

Darcy watched his face narrowly.

"You are afraid of that moment," he said.

Frank smiled at him.

"Quite true; you are quick to have seen that. But when it comes I hope I
shall not be afraid."

For some little time there was silence; then Darcy rose.

"You have bewitched me, you extraordinary boy," he said. "You have been
telling me a fairy-story, and I find myself saying, 'Promise me it is
true.'"

"I promise you that," said the other.

"And I know I shan't sleep," added Darcy.

Frank looked at him with a sort of mild wonder as if he scarcely
understood.

"Well, what does that matter?" he said.

"I assure you it does. I am wretched unless I sleep."

"Of course I can make you sleep if I want," said Frank in a rather bored
voice.

"Well, do."

"Very good: go to bed. I'll come upstairs in ten minutes."

Frank busied himself for a little after the other had gone, moving the
table back under the awning of the veranda and quenching the lamp. Then
he went with his quick silent tread upstairs and into Darcy's room. The
latter was already in bed, but very wide-eyed and wakeful, and Frank
with an amused smile of indulgence, as for a fretful child, sat down on
the edge of the bed.

"Look at me," he said, and Darcy looked.

"The birds are sleeping in the brake," said Frank softly, "and the winds
are asleep. The sea sleeps, and the tides are but the heaving of its
breast. The stars swing slow, rocked in the great cradle of the Heavens,
and----"

He stopped suddenly, gently blew out Darcy's candle, and left him
sleeping.

Morning brought to Darcy a flood of hard commonsense, as clear and crisp
as the sunshine that filled his room. Slowly as he woke he gathered
together the broken threads of the memories of the evening which had
ended, so he told himself, in a trick of common hypnotism. That
accounted for it all; the whole strange talk he had had was under a
spell of suggestion from the extraordinary vivid boy who had once been a
man; all his own excitement, his acceptance of the incredible had been
merely the effect of a stronger, more potent will imposed on his own.
How strong that will was, he guessed from his own instantaneous
obedience to Frank's suggestion of sleep. And armed with impenetrable
commonsense he came down to breakfast. Frank had already begun, and was
consuming a large plateful of porridge and milk with the most prosaic
and healthy appetite.

"Slept well?" he asked.

"Yes, of course. Where did you learn hypnotism?"

"By the side of the river."

"You talked an amazing quantity of nonsense last night," remarked Darcy,
in a voice prickly with reason.

"Rather. I felt quite giddy. Look, I remembered to order a dreadful
daily paper for you. You can read about money markets or politics or
cricket matches."

Darcy looked at him closely. In the morning light Frank looked even
fresher, younger, more vital than he had done the night before, and the
sight of him somehow dinted Darcy's armor of commonsense.

"You are the most extraordinary fellow I ever saw," he said. "I want to
ask you some more questions."

"Ask away," said Frank.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the next day or two Darcy plied his friend with many questions,
objections and criticisms on the theory of life and gradually got out of
him a coherent and complete account of his experience. In brief then,
Frank believed that "by lying naked," as he put it, to the force which
controls the passage of the stars, the breaking of a wave, the budding
of a tree, the love of a youth and maiden, he had succeeded in a way
hitherto undreamed of in possessing himself of the essential principle
of life. Day by day, so he thought, he was getting nearer to, and in
closer union with the great power itself which caused all life to be,
the spirit of nature, of force, or the spirit of God. For himself, he
confessed to what others would call paganism; it was sufficient for him
that there existed a principle of life. He did not worship it, he did
not pray to it, he did not praise it. Some of it existed in all human
beings, just as it existed in trees and animals; to realize and make
living to himself the fact that it was all one, was his sole aim and
object.

Here perhaps Darcy would put in a word of warning. "Take care," he said.
"To see Pan meant death, did it not?"

Frank's eyebrows would rise at this.

"What does that matter?" he said. "True, the Greeks were always right,
and they said so, but there is another possibility. For the nearer I get
to it, the more living, the more vital and young I become."

"What then do you expect the final revelation will do for you?"

"I have told you," said he. "It will make me immortal."

But it was not so much from speech and argument that Darcy grew to grasp
his friend's conception, as from the ordinary conduct of his life. They
were passing, for instance, one morning down the village street, when an
old woman, very bent and decrepit, but with an extraordinary
cheerfulness of face, hobbled out from her cottage. Frank instantly
stopped when he saw her.

"You old darling! How goes it all?" he said.

But she did not answer, her dim old eyes were riveted on his face; she
seemed to drink in like a thirsty creature the beautiful radiance which
shone there. Suddenly she put her two withered old hands on his
shoulders.

"You're just the sunshine itself," she said, and he kissed her and
passed on.

But scarcely a hundred yards further a strange contradiction of such
tenderness occurred. A child running along the path towards them fell on
its face, and set up a dismal cry of fright and pain. A look of horror
came into Frank's eyes, and, putting his fingers in his ears, he fled at
full speed down the street, and did not pause till he was out of
hearing. Darcy, having ascertained that the child was not really hurt,
followed him in bewilderment.

"Are you without pity then?" he asked.

Frank shook his head impatiently.

"Can't you see?" he asked. "Can't you understand that that sort of
thing, pain, anger, anything unlovely throws me back, retards the
coming of the great hour! Perhaps when it comes I shall be able to piece
that side of life on to the other, on to the true religion of joy. At
present I can't."

"But the old woman. Was she not ugly?"

Frank's radiance gradually returned.

"Ah, no. She was like me. She longed for joy, and knew it when she saw
it, the old darling."

Another question suggested itself.

"Then what about Christianity?" asked Darcy.

"I can't accept it. I can't believe in any creed of which the central
doctrine is that God who is Joy should have had to suffer. Perhaps it
was so; in some inscrutable way I believe it may have been so, but I
don't understand how it was possible. So I leave it alone; my affair is
joy."

They had come to the weir above the village, and the thunder of riotous
cool water was heavy in the air. Trees dipped into the translucent
stream with slender trailing branches, and the meadow where they stood
was starred with midsummer blossomings. Larks shot up caroling into the
crystal dome of blue, and a thousand voices of June sang round them.
Frank, bare-headed as was his wont, with his coat slung over his arm and
his shirt sleeves rolled up above the elbow, stood there like some
beautiful wild animal with eyes half-shut and mouth half-open, drinking
in the scented warmth of the air. Then suddenly he flung himself face
downwards on the grass at the edge of the stream, burying his face in
the daisies and cowslips, and lay stretched there in wide-armed ecstasy,
with his long fingers pressing and stroking the dewy herbs of the field.
Never before had Darcy seen him thus fully possessed by his idea; his
caressing fingers, his half-buried face pressed close to the grass, even
the clothed lines of his figure were instinct with a vitality that
somehow was different from that of other men. And some faint glow from
it reached Darcy, some thrill, some vibration from that charged
recumbent body passed to him, and for a moment he understood as he had
not understood before, despite his persistent questions and the candid
answers they received, how real, and how realized by Frank, his idea
was.

Then suddenly the muscles in Frank's neck became stiff and alert, and
he half-raised his head, whispering, "The Pan-pipes, the Pan-pipes.
Close, oh, so close."

Very slowly, as if a sudden movement might interrupt the melody, he
raised himself and leaned on the elbow of his bent arm. His eyes opened
wider, the lower lids drooped as if he focused his eyes on something
very far away, and the smile on his face broadened and quivered like
sunlight on still water, till the exultance of its happiness was
scarcely human. So he remained motionless and rapt for some minutes,
then the look of listening died from his face, and he bowed his head
satisfied.

"Ah, that was good," he said. "How is it possible you did not hear? Oh,
you poor fellow! Did you really hear nothing?"

A week of this outdoor and stimulating life did wonders in restoring to
Darcy the vigor and health which his weeks of fever had filched from
him, and as his normal activity and higher pressure of vitality
returned, he seemed to himself to fall even more under the spell which
the miracle of Frank's youth cast over him. Twenty times a day he found
himself saying to himself suddenly at the end of some ten minutes'
silent resistance to the absurdity of Frank's idea: "But it isn't
possible; it can't be possible," and from the fact of his having to
assure himself so frequently of this, he knew that he was struggling and
arguing with a conclusion which already had taken root in his mind. For
in any case a visible living miracle confronted him, since it was
equally impossible that this youth, this boy, trembling on the verge of
manhood, was thirty-five. Yet such was the fact.

July was ushered in by a couple of days of blustering and fretful rain,
and Darcy, unwilling to risk a chill, kept to the house. But to Frank
this weeping change of weather seemed to have no bearing on the behavior
of man, and he spent his days exactly as he did under the suns of June,
lying in his hammock, stretched on the dripping grass, or making huge
rambling excursions into the forest, the birds hopping from tree to tree
after him, to return in the evening, drenched and soaked, but with the
same unquenchable flame of joy burning within him.

"Catch cold?" he would ask, "I've forgotten how to do it, I think.
I suppose it makes one's body more sensible always to sleep out-of-doors.
People who live indoors always remind me of something peeled and
skinless."

"Do you mean to say you slept out-of-doors last night in that deluge?"
asked Darcy. "And where, may I ask?"

Frank thought a moment.

"I slept in the hammock till nearly dawn," he said. "For I remember the
light blinked in the east when I awoke. Then I went--where did I go?--oh,
yes, to the meadow where the Pan-pipes sounded so close a week ago. You
were with me, do you remember? But I always have a rug if it is wet."

And he went whistling upstairs.

Somehow that little touch, his obvious effort to recall where he had
slept, brought strangely home to Darcy the wonderful romance of which he
was the still half-incredulous beholder. Sleep till close on dawn in a
hammock, then the tramp--or probably scamper--underneath the windy and
weeping heavens to the remote and lonely meadow by the weir! The picture
of other such nights rose before him; Frank sleeping perhaps by the
bathing-place under the filtered twilight of the stars, or the white
blaze of moon-shine, a stir and awakening at some dead hour, perhaps a
space of silent wide-eyed thought, and then a wandering through the
hushed woods to some other dormitory, alone with his happiness, alone
with the joy and the life that suffused and enveloped him, without other
thought or desire or aim except the hourly and never-ceasing communion
with the joy of nature.

They were in the middle of dinner that night, talking on indifferent
subjects, when Darcy suddenly broke off in the middle of a sentence.

"I've got it," he said. "At last I've got it."

"Congratulate you," said Frank. "But what?"

"The radical unsoundness of your idea. It is this: All nature from
highest to lowest is full, crammed full of suffering; every living
organism in nature preys on another, yet in your aim to get close to, to
be one with nature, you leave suffering altogether out; you run away
from it, you refuse to recognize it. And you are waiting, you say, for
the final revelation."

Frank's brow clouded slightly.

"Well?" he asked, rather wearily.

"Cannot you guess then when the final revelation will be? In joy you are
supreme, I grant you that; I did not know a man could be so master of
it. You have learned perhaps practically all that nature can teach. And
if, as you think, the final revelation is coming to you, it will be the
revelation of horror, suffering, death, pain in all its hideous forms.
Suffering does exist: you hate it and fear it."

Frank held up his hand.

"Stop; let me think," he said.

There was silence for a long minute.

"That never struck me," he said at length. "It is possible that what you
suggest is true. Does the sight of Pan mean that, do you think? Is it
that nature, take it altogether, suffers horribly, suffers to a hideous
inconceivable extent? Shall I be shown all the suffering?"

He got up and came round to where Darcy sat.

"If it is so, so be it," he said. "Because, my dear fellow, I am near,
so splendidly near to the final revelation. To-day the pipes have
sounded almost without pause. I have even heard the rustle in the
bushes, I believe, of Pan's coming. I have seen, yes, I saw to-day, the
bushes pushed aside as if by a hand, and piece of a face, not human,
peered through. But I was not frightened, at least I did not run away
this time."

He took a turn up to the window and back again.

"Yes, there is suffering all through," he said, "and I have left it all
out of my search. Perhaps, as you say, the revelation will be that. And
in that case, it will be good-bye. I have gone on one line. I shall have
gone too far along one road, without having explored the other. But I
can't go back now. I wouldn't if I could; not a step would I retrace! In
any case, whatever the revelation is, it will be God. I'm sure of that."

The rainy weather soon passed, and with the return of the sun Darcy
again joined Frank in long rambling days. It grew extraordinarily
hotter, and with the fresh bursting of life, after the rain, Frank's
vitality seemed to blaze higher and higher. Then, as is the habit of the
English weather, one evening clouds began to bank themselves up in the
west, the sun went down in a glare of coppery thunder-rack, and the
whole earth broiling under an unspeakable oppression and sultriness
paused and panted for the storm. After sunset the remote fires of
lightning began to wink and flicker on the horizon, but when bed-time
came the storm seemed to have moved no nearer, though a very low
unceasing noise of thunder was audible. Weary and oppressed by the
stress of the day, Darcy fell at once into a heavy uncomforting sleep.

He woke suddenly into full consciousness, with the din of some appalling
explosion of thunder in his ears, and sat up in bed with racing heart.
Then for a moment, as he recovered himself from the panic-land which
lies between sleeping and waking, there was silence, except for the
steady hissing of rain on the shrubs outside his window. But suddenly
that silence was shattered and shredded into fragments by a scream from
somewhere close at hand outside in the black garden, a scream of supreme
and despairing terror. Again, and once again it shrilled up, and then a
babble of awful words was interjected. A quivering sobbing voice that he
knew, said:

"My God, oh, my God; oh, Christ!"

And then followed a little mocking, bleating laugh. Then was silence
again; only the rain hissed on the shrubs.

All this was but the affair of a moment, and without pause either to put
on clothes or light a candle, Darcy was already fumbling at his
door-handle. Even as he opened it he met a terror-stricken face outside,
that of the man-servant who carried a light.

"Did you hear?" he asked.

The man's face was bleached to a dull shining whiteness.

"Yes, sir," he said. "It was the master's voice."

       *       *       *       *       *

Together they hurried down the stairs, and through the dining-room where
an orderly table for breakfast had already been laid, and out on to the
terrace. The rain for the moment had been utterly stayed, as if the tap
of the heavens had been turned off, and under the lowering black sky,
not quite dark, since the moon rode somewhere serene behind the
conglomerated thunder-clouds, Darcy stumbled into the garden, followed
by the servant with the candle. The monstrous leaping shadow of himself
was cast before him on the lawn; lost and wandering odors of rose and
lily and damp earth were thick about him, but more pungent was some
sharp and acrid smell that suddenly reminded him of a certain châlet in
which he had once taken refuge in the Alps. In the blackness of the hazy
light from the sky, and the vague tossing of the candle behind him, he
saw that the hammock in which Frank so often lay was tenanted. A gleam
of white shirt was there, as if a man sitting up in it, but across that
there was an obscure dark shadow, and as he approached the acrid odor
grew more intense.

He was now only some few yards away, when suddenly the black shadow
seemed to jump into the air, then came down with tappings of hard hoofs
on the brick path that ran down the pergola, and with frolicsome
skippings galloped off into the bushes. When that was gone Darcy could
see quite clearly that a shirted figure sat up in the hammock. For one
moment, from sheer terror of the unseen, he hung on his step, and the
servant joining him they walked together to the hammock.

It was Frank. He was in shirt and trousers only, and he sat up with
braced arms. For one half-second he stared at them, his face a mask of
horrible contorted terror. His upper lip was drawn back so that the gums
of the teeth appeared, and his eyes were focused not on the two who
approached him but on something quite close to him; his nostrils were
widely expanded, as if he panted for breath, and terror incarnate and
repulsion and deathly anguish ruled dreadful lines on his smooth cheeks
and forehead. Then even as they looked the body sank backwards, and the
ropes of the hammock wheezed and strained.

Darcy lifted him out and carried him indoors. Once he thought there was
a faint convulsive stir of the limbs that lay with so dead a weight in
his arms, but when they got inside, there was no trace of life. But the
look of supreme terror and agony of fear had gone from his face, a boy
tired with play but still smiling in his sleep was the burden he laid on
the floor. His eyes had closed, and the beautiful mouth lay in smiling
curves, even as when a few mornings ago, in the meadow by the weir, it
had quivered to the music of the unheard melody of Pan's pipes. Then
they looked further.

Frank had come back from his bath before dinner that night in his usual
costume of shirt and trousers only. He had not dressed, and during
dinner, so Darcy remembered, he had rolled up the sleeves of his shirt
to above the elbow. Later, as they sat and talked after dinner on the
close sultriness of the evening, he had unbuttoned the front of his
shirt to let what little breath of wind there was play on his skin. The
sleeves were rolled up now, the front of the shirt was unbuttoned, and
on his arms and on the brown skin of his chest were strange
discolorations which grew momently more clear and defined, till they saw
that the marks were pointed prints, as if caused by the hoofs of some
monstrous goat that had leaped and stamped upon him.



THE WOMAN'S GHOST STORY[I]

BY ALGERNON BLACKWOOD

"Yes," she said, from her seat in the dark corner, "I'll tell you an
experience if you care to listen. And, what's more, I'll tell it
briefly, without trimmings--I mean without unessentials. That's a thing
story-tellers never do, you know," she laughed. "They drag in all the
unessentials and leave their listeners to disentangle; but I'll give you
just the essentials, and you can make of it what you please. But on one
condition: that at the end you ask no questions, because I can't explain
it and have no wish to."

We agreed. We were all serious. After listening to a dozen prolix
stories from people who merely wished to "talk" but had nothing to tell,
we wanted "essentials."

"In those days," she began, feeling from the quality of our silence that
we were with her, "in those days I was interested in psychic things, and
had arranged to sit up alone in a haunted house in the middle of London.
It was a cheap and dingy lodging-house in a mean street, unfurnished.
I had already made a preliminary examination in daylight that afternoon,
and the keys from the caretaker, who lived next door, were in my pocket.
The story was a good one--satisfied me, at any rate, that it was worth
investigating; and I won't weary you with details as to the woman's
murder and all the tiresome elaboration as to _why_ the place was
_alive_. Enough that it was.

"I was a good deal bored, therefore, to see a man, whom I took to be the
talkative old caretaker, waiting for me on the steps when I went in at
11 P.M., for I had sufficiently explained that I wished to be there
alone for the night.

"'I wished to show you _the_ room,' he mumbled, and of course I couldn't
exactly refuse, having tipped him for the temporary loan of a chair and
table.

"'Come in, then, and let's be quick,' I said.

"We went in, he shuffling after me through the unlighted hall up to the
first floor where the murder had taken place, and I prepared myself to
hear his inevitable account before turning him out with the half-crown
his persistence had earned. After lighting the gas I sat down in the
arm-chair he had provided--a faded, brown plush arm-chair--and turned
for the first time to face him and get through with the performance as
quickly as possible. And it was in that instant I got my first shock.
The man was _not_ the caretaker. It was not the old fool, Carey, I had
interviewed earlier in the day and made my plans with. My heart gave a
horrid jump.

"'Now who are _you_, pray?' I said. 'You're not Carey, the man I
arranged with this afternoon. Who are you?'

"I felt uncomfortable, as you may imagine. I was a 'psychical
researcher,' and a young woman of new tendencies, and proud of my
liberty, but I did not care to find myself in an empty house with a
stranger. Something of my confidence left me. Confidence with women, you
know, is all humbug after a certain point. Or perhaps you don't know,
for most of you are men. But anyhow my pluck ebbed in a quick rush, and
I felt afraid.

"'Who are you?' I repeated quickly and nervously. The fellow was well
dressed, youngish and good-looking, but with a face of great sadness.
I myself was barely thirty. I am giving you essentials, or I would not
mention it. Out of quite ordinary things comes this story. I think
that's why it has value.

"'No,' he said; 'I'm the man who was frightened to death.'

"His voice and his words ran through me like a knife, and I felt ready
to drop. In my pocket was the book I had bought to make notes in. I felt
the pencil sticking in the socket. I felt, too, the extra warm things
I had put on to sit up in, as no bed or sofa was available--a hundred
things dashed through my mind, foolishly and without sequence or
meaning, as the way is when one is really frightened. Unessentials
leaped up and puzzled me, and I thought of what the papers might say if
it came out, and what my 'smart' brother-in-law would think, and whether
it would be told that I had cigarettes in my pocket, and was a
free-thinker.

"'The man who was frightened to death!' I repeated aghast.

"'That's me,' he said stupidly.

"I stared at him just as you would have done--any one of you men now
listening to me--and felt my life ebbing and flowing like a sort of hot
fluid. You needn't laugh! That's how I felt. Small things, you know,
touch the mind with great earnestness when terror is there--_real
terror_. But I might have been at a middle-class tea-party, for all the
ideas I had: they were so ordinary!

"'But I thought you were the caretaker I tipped this afternoon to let me
sleep here!' I gasped. 'Did--did Carey send you to meet me?'

"'No,' he replied in a voice that touched my boots somehow. 'I am the
man who was frightened to death. And what is more, I am frightened
_now_!'

"'So am I!' I managed to utter, speaking instinctively. 'I'm simply
terrified.'

"'Yes,' he replied in that same odd voice that seemed to sound within
me. 'But you are still in the flesh, and I--_am not_!'

"I felt the need for vigorous self-assertion. I stood up in that empty,
unfurnished room, digging the nails into my palms and clenching my
teeth. I was determined to assert my individuality and my courage as a
new woman and a free soul.

"'You mean to say you are not in the flesh!' I gasped. 'What in the
world are you talking about?'

"The silence of the night swallowed up my voice. For the first time I
realized that darkness was over the city; that dust lay upon the stairs;
that the floor above was untenanted and the floor below empty. I was
alone in an unoccupied and haunted house, unprotected, and a woman.
I chilled. I heard the wind round the house, and knew the stars were
hidden. My thoughts rushed to policemen and omnibuses, and everything
that was useful and comforting. I suddenly realized what a fool I was to
come to such a house alone. I was icily afraid. I thought the end of my
life had come. I was an utter fool to go in for psychical research when
I had not the necessary nerve.

"'Good God!' I gasped. 'If you're not Carey, the man I arranged with,
who are you?'

"I was really stiff with terror. The man moved slowly towards me across
the empty room. I held out my arm to stop him, getting up out of my
chair at the same moment, and he came to halt just opposite to me, a
smile on his worn, sad face.

"'I told you who I am,' he repeated quietly with a sigh, looking at me
with the saddest eyes I have ever seen, 'and I am frightened _still_.'

"By this time I was convinced that I was entertaining either a rogue or
a madman, and I cursed my stupidity in bringing the man in without
having seen his face. My mind was quickly made up, and I knew what to
do. Ghosts and psychic phenomena flew to the winds. If I angered the
creature my life might pay the price. I must humor him till I got to the
door, and then race for the street. I stood bolt upright and faced him.
We were about of a height, and I was a strong, athletic woman who played
hockey in winter and climbed Alps in summer. My hand itched for a stick,
but I had none.

"'Now, of course, I remember,' I said with a sort of stiff smile that
was very hard to force. 'Now I remember your case and the wonderful way
you behaved . . . .'

"The man stared at me stupidly, turning his head to watch me as I backed
more and more quickly to the door. But when his face broke into a smile
I could control myself no longer. I reached the door in a run, and shot
out on to the landing. Like a fool, I turned the wrong way, and stumbled
over the stairs leading to the next story. But it was too late to
change. The man was after me, I was sure, though no sound of footsteps
came; and I dashed up the next flight, tearing my skirt and banging my
ribs in the darkness, and rushed headlong into the first room I came
to. Luckily the door stood ajar, and, still more fortunate, there was a
key in the lock. In a second I had slammed the door, flung my whole
weight against it, and turned the key.

"I was safe, but my heart was beating like a drum. A second later it
seemed to stop altogether, for I saw that there was some one else in the
room besides myself. A man's figure stood between me and the windows,
where the street lamps gave just enough light to outline his shape
against the glass. I'm a plucky woman, you know, for even then I didn't
give up hope, but I may tell you that I have never felt so vilely
frightened in all my born days. I had locked myself in with him!

"The man leaned against the window, watching me where I lay in a
collapsed heap upon the floor. So there were two men in the house with
me, I reflected. Perhaps other rooms were occupied too! What could it
all mean? But, as I stared something changed in the room, or in me--hard
to say which--and I realized my mistake, so that my fear, which had so
far been physical, at once altered its character and became _psychical_.
I became afraid in my soul instead of in my heart, and I knew
immediately who this man was.

"'How in the world did you get up here?' I stammered to him across the
empty room, amazement momentarily stemming my fear.

"'Now, let me tell you,' he began, in that odd faraway voice of his that
went down my spine like a knife. 'I'm in different space, for one thing,
and you'd find me in any room you went into; for according to your way
of measuring, I'm _all over the house_. Space is a bodily condition, but
I am out of the body, and am not affected by space. It's my condition
that keeps me here. I want something to change my condition for me, for
then I could get away. What I want is sympathy. Or, really, more than
sympathy; I want affection--I want _love_!'

"While he was speaking I gathered myself slowly upon my feet. I wanted
to scream and cry and laugh all at once, but I only succeeded in
sighing, for my emotion was exhausted and a numbness was coming over me.
I felt for the matches in my pocket and made a movement towards the gas
jet.

"'I should be much happier if you didn't light the gas,' he said at
once, 'for the vibrations of your light hurt me a good deal. You need
not be afraid that I shall injure you. I can't touch your body to begin
with, for there's a great gulf fixed, you know; and really this
half-light suits me best. Now, let me continue what I was trying to say
before. You know, so many people have come to this house to see me, and
most of them have seen me, and one and all have been terrified. If only,
oh, if only some one would be _not_ terrified, but kind and loving to
me! Then, you see, I might be able to change my condition and get away.'

"His voice was so sad that I felt tears start somewhere at the back of
my eyes; but fear kept all else in check, and I stood shaking and cold
as I listened to him.

"'Who are you then? Of course Carey didn't send you, I know now,' I
managed to utter. My thoughts scattered dreadfully and I could think of
nothing to say. I was afraid of a stroke.

"'I know nothing about Carey, or who he is,' continued the man quietly,
'and the name my body had I have forgotten, thank God; but I am the man
who was frightened to death in this house ten years ago, and I have been
frightened ever since, and am frightened still; for the succession of
cruel and curious people who come to this house to see the ghost, and
thus keep alive its atmosphere of terror, only helps to render my
condition worse. If only some one would be kind to me--_laugh_, speak
gently and rationally with me, cry if they like, pity, comfort, soothe
me--anything but come here in curiosity and tremble as you are now doing
in that corner. Now, madam, won't you take pity on me?' His voice rose
to a dreadful cry. 'Won't you step out into the middle of the room and
try to love me a little?'

"A horrible laughter came gurgling up in my throat as I heard him, but
the sense of pity was stronger than the laughter, and I found myself
actually leaving the support of the wall and approaching the center of
the floor.

"'By God!' he cried, at once straightening up against the window, 'you
have done a kind act. That's the first attempt at sympathy that has
been shown me since I died, and I feel better already. In life, you
know, I was a misanthrope. Everything went wrong with me, and I came to
hate my fellow men so much that I couldn't bear to see them even. Of
course, like begets like, and this hate was returned. Finally I suffered
from horrible delusions, and my room became haunted with demons that
laughed and grimaced, and one night I ran into a whole cluster of them
near the bed--and the fright stopped my heart and killed me. It's hate
and remorse, as much as terror, that clogs me so thickly and keeps me
here. If only some one could feel pity, and sympathy, and perhaps a
little love for me, I could get away and be happy. When you came this
afternoon to see over the house I watched you, and a little hope came to
me for the first time. I saw you had courage, originality,
resource--_love_. If only I could touch your heart, without frightening
you, I knew I could perhaps tap that love you have stored up in your
being there, and thus borrow the wings for my escape!'

"Now I must confess my heart began to ache a little, as fear left me and
the man's words sank their sad meaning into me. Still, the whole affair
was so incredible, and so touched with unholy quality, and the story of
a woman's murder I had come to investigate had so obviously nothing to
do with this thing, that I felt myself in a kind of wild dream that
seemed likely to stop at any moment and leave me somewhere in bed after
a nightmare.

"Moreover, his words possessed me to such an extent that I found it
impossible to reflect upon anything else at all, or to consider
adequately any ways or means of action or escape.

"I moved a little nearer to him in the gloom, horribly frightened, of
course, but with the beginnings of a strange determination in my heart.

"'You women,' he continued, his voice plainly thrilling at my approach,
'you wonderful women, to whom life often brings no opportunity of
spending your great love, oh, if you only could know how many of _us_
simply yearn for it! It would save our souls, if but you knew. Few might
find the chance that you now have, but if you only spent your love
freely, without definite object, just letting it flow openly for all who
need, you would reach hundreds and thousands of souls like me, and
_release us_! Oh, madam, I ask you again to feel with me, to be kind and
gentle--and if you can to love me a little!'

"My heart did leap within me and this time the tears did come, for I
could not restrain them. I laughed too, for the way he called me 'madam'
sounded so odd, here in this empty room at midnight in a London street,
but my laughter stopped dead and merged in a flood of weeping when I saw
how my change of feeling affected him. He had left his place by the
window and was kneeling on the floor at my feet, his hands stretched out
towards me, and the first signs of a kind of glory about his head.

"'Put your arms round me and kiss me, for the love of God!' he cried.
'Kiss me, oh, kiss me, and I shall be freed! You have done so much
already--now do this!'

"I stuck there, hesitating, shaking, my determination on the verge of
action, yet not quite able to compass it. But the terror had almost
gone.

"'Forget that I'm a man and you're a woman,' he continued in the most
beseeching voice I ever heard. 'Forget that I'm a ghost, and come out
boldly and press me to you with a great kiss, and let your love flow
into me. Forget yourself just for one minute and do a brave thing! Oh,
love me, _love me_, LOVE ME! and I shall be free!'

"The words, or the deep force they somehow released in the center of my
being, stirred me profoundly, and an emotion infinitely greater than
fear surged up over me and carried me with it across the edge of action.
Without hesitation I took two steps forward towards him where he knelt,
and held out my arms. Pity and love were in my heart at that moment,
genuine pity, I swear, and genuine love. I forgot myself and my little
tremblings in a great desire to help another soul.

"'I love you! poor, aching, unhappy thing! I love you,' I cried through
hot tears; 'and I am not the least bit afraid in the world.'

"The man uttered a curious sound, like laughter, yet not laughter, and
turned his face up to me. The light from the street below fell on it,
but there was another light, too, shining all round it that seemed to
come from the eyes and skin. He rose to his feet and met me, and in that
second I folded him to my breast and kissed him full on the lips again
and again."

All our pipes had gone out, and not even a skirt rustled in that dark
studio as the story-teller paused a moment to steady her voice, and put
a hand softly up to her eyes before going on again.

"Now, what can I say, and how can I describe to you, all you skeptical
men sitting there with pipes in your mouths, the amazing sensation I
experienced of holding an intangible, impalpable thing so closely to my
heart that it touched my body with equal pressure all the way down, and
then melted away somewhere into my very being? For it was like seizing a
rush of cool wind and feeling a touch of burning fire the moment it had
struck its swift blow and passed on. A series of shocks ran all over and
all through me; a momentary ecstasy of flaming sweetness and wonder
thrilled down into me; my heart gave another great leap--and then I was
alone.

"The room was empty. I turned on the gas and struck a match to prove it.
All fear had left me, and something was singing round me in the air and
in my heart like the joy of a spring morning in youth. Not all the
devils or shadows or hauntings in the world could then have caused me a
single tremor.

"I unlocked the door and went all over the dark house, even into kitchen
and cellar and up among the ghostly attics. But the house was empty.
Something had left it. I lingered a short hour, analyzing, thinking,
wondering--you can guess what and how, perhaps, but I won't detail, for
I promised only essentials, remember--and then went out to sleep the
remainder of the night in my own flat, locking the door behind me upon a
house no longer haunted.

"But my uncle, Sir Henry, the owner of the house, required an account of
my adventure, and of course I was in duty bound to give him some kind of
a true story. Before I could begin, however, he held up his hand to stop
me.

"'First,' he said, 'I wish to tell you a little deception I ventured to
practice on you. So many people have been to that house and seen the
ghost that I came to think the story acted on their imaginations, and
I wished to make a better test. So I invented for their benefit another
story, with the idea that if you did see anything I could be sure it was
not due merely to an excited imagination.'

"'Then what you told me about a woman having been murdered, and all
that, was not the true story of the haunting?'

"'It was not. The true story is that a cousin of mine went mad in that
house, and killed himself in a fit of morbid terror following upon years
of miserable hypochondriasis. It is his figure that investigators see.'

"'That explains, then,' I gasped----

"'Explains what?'

"I thought of that poor struggling soul, longing all these years for
escape, and determined to keep my story for the present to myself.

"'Explains, I mean, why I did not see the ghost of the murdered woman,'
I concluded.

"'Precisely,' said Sir Henry, 'and why, if you had seen anything, it
would have had value, inasmuch as it could not have been caused by the
imagination working upon a story you already knew.'"

FOOTNOTE:

[I] Taken by permission from "The Listener and Other Stories,"--E.P.
Dutton & Co.



THE PHANTOM 'RICKSHAW

BY RUDYARD KIPLING

          "May no ill dreams disturb my rest,
           Nor Powers of Darkness me molest."
                        --_Evening Hymn._


One of the few advantages that India has over England is a certain great
Knowability. After five years' service a man is directly or indirectly
acquainted with the two or three hundred Civilians in his Province, all
the Messes of ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some fifteen
hundred other people of the non-official castes. In ten years his
knowledge should be doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or knows
something about, almost every Englishman in the Empire, and may travel
anywhere and everywhere without paying hotel-bills.

Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within my
memory, blunted this open-heartedness, but, none the less, to-day if you
belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a bear nor a black sheep all
houses are open to you and our small world is very kind and helpful.

Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of Kumaon, some fifteen years
ago. He meant to stay two nights only, but was knocked down by rheumatic
fever, and for six weeks disorganized Polder's establishment, stopped
Polder's work, and nearly died in Polder's bed-room. Polder behaves as
though he had been placed under eternal obligation by Rickett, and
yearly sends the little Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It is the
same everywhere. The men who do not take the trouble to conceal from you
their opinion that you are an incompetent ass, and the women who blacken
your character and misunderstand your wife's amusements, will work
themselves to the bone in your behalf if you fall sick or into serious
trouble.

Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his regular practice, a
hospital on his private account--an arrangement of loose-boxes for
Incurables, his friends called it--but it was really a sort of
fitting-up shed for craft that had been damaged by stress of weather.
The weather in India is often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is a
fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work
overtime and get no thanks, men occasionally break down and become as
mixed as the metaphors in this sentence.

Heatherlegh is the nicest doctor that ever was, and his invariable
prescription to all his patients is "lie low, go slow, and keep cool."
He says that more men are killed by overwork than the importance of this
world justifies. He maintains that overwork slew Pansay who died under
his hands about three years ago. He has, of course, the right to speak
authoritatively, and he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in
Pansay's head and a little bit of the Dark World came through and
pressed him to death. "Pansay went off the handle," says Heatherlegh,
"after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have
behaved like a blackguard to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is that
the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he
took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation. He
certainly was engaged to Miss Mannering, and she certainly broke off the
engagement. Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense about
ghosts developed itself. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight,
and killed him, poor devil. Write him off to the System--one man to do
the work of two-and-a-half men."

I do not believe this. I used to sit up with Pansay sometimes when
Heatherlegh was called out to visit patients and I happened to be within
claim. The man would make me most unhappy by describing in a low, even
voice the procession of men, women, children, and devils that was always
passing at the bottom of his bed. He had a sick man's command of
language. When he recovered I suggested that he should write out the
whole affair from beginning to end, knowing that ink might assist him to
ease his mind. When little boys have learned a new bad word they are
never happy till they have chalked it up on a door. And this also is
Literature.

He was in a high fever while he was writing, and the blood-and-thunder
Magazine style he adopted did not calm him. Two months afterwards he was
reported fit for duty, but, in spite of the fact that he was urgently
needed to help an undermanned Commission stagger through a deficit, he
preferred to die; vowing at the last that he was hag-ridden. I secured
his manuscript before he died, and this is his version of the affair,
dated 1885:--

       *       *       *       *       *

My doctor tells me that I need rest and change of air. It is not
improbable that I shall get both ere long--rest that neither the
red-coated orderly nor the mid-day gun can break, and change of air far
beyond that which any homeward-bound steamer can give me. In the
meantime I am resolved to stay where I am; and, in flat defiance of my
doctor's orders, to take all the world into my confidence. You shall
learn for yourselves the precise nature of my malady; and shall, too,
judge for yourselves whether any man born of woman on this weary earth
was ever so tormented as I.

Speaking now as a condemned criminal might speak ere the drop-bolts are
drawn, my story, wild and hideously improbable as it may appear, demands
at least attention. That it will ever receive credence I utterly
disbelieve. Two months ago I should have scouted as mad or drunk the man
who had dared tell me the like. Two months ago I was the happiest man in
India. To-day, from Peshawar to the sea, there is no one more wretched.
My doctor and I are the only two who know this. His explanation is that
my brain, digestion and eyesight are all slightly affected; giving rise
to my frequent and persistent "delusions." Delusions, indeed! I call him
a fool; but he attends me still with the same unwearied smile, the same
bland professional manner, the same neatly-trimmed red whiskers, till I
begin to suspect that I am an ungrateful, evil-tempered invalid. But you
shall judge for yourselves.

Three years ago it was my fortune--my great misfortune--to sail from
Gravesend to Bombay, on return from long leave, with one Agnes
Keith-Wessington, wife of an officer on the Bombay side. It does not in
the least concern you to know what manner of woman she was. Be content
with the knowledge that, ere the voyage had ended, both she and I were
desperately and unreasoningly in love with one another. Heaven knows
that I can make the admission now without one particle of vanity. In
matters of this sort there is always one who gives and another who
accepts. From the first day of our ill-omened attachment, I was
conscious that Agnes's passion was a stronger, a more dominant, and--if
I may use the expression--a purer sentiment than mine. Whether she
recognized the fact then, I do not know. Afterwards it was bitterly
plain to both of us.

Arrived at Bombay in the spring of the year, we went our respective
ways, to meet no more for the next three or four months, when my leave
and her love took us both to Simla. There we spent the season together;
and there my fire of straw burnt itself out to a pitiful end with the
closing year. I attempt no excuse. I make no apology. Mrs. Wessington
had given up much for my sake, and was prepared to give up all. From my
own lips, in August, 1882, she learnt that I was sick of her presence,
tired of her company, and weary of the sound of her voice. Ninety-nine
women out of a hundred would have wearied of me as I wearied of them;
seventy-five of that number would have promptly avenged themselves by
active and obtrusive flirtation with other men. Mrs. Wessington was the
hundredth. On her neither my openly-expressed aversion, nor the cutting
brutalities with which I garnished our interviews had the least effect.

"Jack, darling!" was her one eternal cuckoo-cry, "I'm sure it's all a
mistake--a hideous mistake; and we'll be good friends again some day.
_Please_ forgive me, Jack, dear."

I was the offender, and I knew it. That knowledge transformed my pity
into passive endurance, and, eventually, into blind hate--the same
instinct, I suppose, which prompts a man to savagely stamp on the spider
he has but half killed. And with this hate in my bosom the season of
1882 came to an end.

Next year we met again at Simla--she with her monotonous face and timid
attempts at reconciliation, and I with loathing of her in every fiber of
my frame. Several times I could not avoid meeting her alone; and on each
occasion her words were identically the same. Still the unreasoning wail
that it was all a "mistake"; and still the hope of eventually "making
friends." I might have seen, had I cared to look, that that hope only
was keeping her alive. She grew more wan and thin month by month. You
will agree with me, at least, that such conduct would have driven any
one to despair. It was uncalled for, childish, unwomanly. I maintain
that she was much to blame. And again, sometimes, in the black,
fever-stricken night watches, I have begun to think that I might have
been a little kinder to her. But that really _is_ a "delusion." I could
not have continued pretending to love her when I didn't; could I? It
would have been unfair to us both.

Last year we met again--on the same terms as before. The same weary
appeals, and the same curt answers from my lips. At least I would make
her see how wholly wrong and hopeless were her attempts at resuming the
old relationship. As the season wore on, we fell apart--that is to say,
she found it difficult to meet me, for I had other and more absorbing
interests to attend to. When I think it over quietly in my sick-room,
the season of 1884 seems a confused nightmare wherein light and shade
were fantastically intermingled--my courtship of little Kitty Mannering;
my hopes, doubts and fears; our long rides together; my trembling avowal
of attachment; her reply; and now and again a vision of a white face
flitting by in the 'rickshaw with the black and white liveries I once
watched for so earnestly; the wave of Mrs. Wessington's gloved hand;
and, when she met me alone, which was but seldom, the irksome monotony
of her appeal. I loved Kitty Mannering, honestly, heartily loved her,
and with my love for her grew my hatred for Agnes. In August Kitty and I
were engaged. The next day I met those accursed "magpie" _jhampanies_ at
the back of Jakko, and, moved by some passing sentiment of pity, stopped
to tell Mrs. Wessington everything. She knew it already.

"So I hear you're engaged, Jack dear." Then, without a moment's pause:
"I'm sure it's all a mistake--a hideous mistake. We shall be as good
friends some day, Jack, as we ever were."

My answer might have made even a man wince. It cut the dying woman
before me like the blow of a whip. "Please forgive me, Jack; I didn't
mean to make you angry; but it's true, it's true!"

And Mrs. Wessington broke down completely. I turned away and left her to
finish her journey in peace, feeling, but only for a moment or two, that
I had been an unutterably mean hound. I looked back, and saw that she
had turned her 'rickshaw with the idea, I suppose, of overtaking me.

The scene and its surroundings were photographed on my memory. The
rain-swept sky (we were at the end of the wet weather), the sodden,
dingy pines, the muddy road, and the black powder-riven cliffs formed a
gloomy background against which the black and white liveries of the
_jhampanies_, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw and Mrs. Wessington's
down-bowed golden head stood out clearly. She was holding her
handkerchief in her left hand and was leaning back exhausted against the
'rickshaw cushions. I turned my horse up a bypath near the Sanjowlie
Reservoir and literally ran away. Once I fancied I heard a faint call of
"Jack!" This may have been imagination. I never stopped to verify it.
Ten minutes later I came across Kitty on horseback; and, in the delight
of a long ride with her, forgot all about the interview.

A week later Mrs. Wessington died, and the inexpressible burden of her
existence was removed from my life. I went Plainsward perfectly happy.
Before three months were over I had forgotten all about her, except that
at times the discovery of some of her old letters reminded me
unpleasantly of our bygone relationship. By January I had disinterred
what was left of our correspondence from among my scattered belongings
and had burnt it. At the beginning of April of this year, 1885, I was at
Simla--semi-deserted Simla--once more, and was deep in lover's talks and
walks with Kitty. It was decided that we should be married at the end of
June. You will understand, therefore, that, loving Kitty as I did, I am
not saying too much when I pronounce myself to have been, at the time,
the happiest man in India.

Fourteen delightful days passed almost before I noticed their flight.
Then, aroused to the sense of what was proper among mortals
circumstanced as we were, I pointed out to Kitty that an engagement-ring
was the outward and visible sign of her dignity as an engaged girl; and
that she must forthwith come to Hamilton's to be measured for one. Up to
that moment, I give you my word, we had completely forgotten so trivial
a matter. To Hamilton's we accordingly went on the 15th of April, 1885.
Remember that--whatever my doctor may say to the contrary--I was then in
perfect health, enjoying a well-balanced mind and an absolutely tranquil
spirit. Kitty and I entered Hamilton's shop together, and there,
regardless of the order of affairs, I measured Kitty's finger for the
ring in the presence of the amused assistant. The ring was a sapphire
with two diamonds. We then rode out down the slope that leads to the
Combermere Bridge and Peliti's shop.

While my Waler was cautiously feeling his way over the loose shale, and
Kitty was laughing and chattering at my side--while all Simla, that is
to say as much of it as had then come from the Plains, was grouped round
the Reading-room and Peliti's veranda--I was aware that some one,
apparently at a vast distance, was calling me by my Christian name. It
struck me that I had heard the voice before, but when and where I could
not at once determine. In the short space it took to cover the road
between the path from Hamilton's shop and the first plank of the
Combermere Bridge I had thought over half-a-dozen people who might have
committed such a solecism, and had eventually decided that it must have
been some singing in my ears. Immediately opposite Peliti's shop my eye
was arrested by the sight of four _jhampanies_ in black and white
livery, pulling a yellow-paneled, cheap, bazar 'rickshaw. In a moment my
mind flew back to the previous season and Mrs. Wessington with a sense
of irritation and disgust. Was it not enough that the woman was dead and
done with, without her black and white servitors re-appearing to spoil
the day's happiness? Whoever employed them now I thought I would call
upon, and ask as a personal favor to change her _jhampanies'_ livery.
I would hire the men myself, and, if necessary, buy their coats from off
their backs. It is impossible to say here what a flood of undesirable
memories their presence evoked.

"Kitty," I cried, "there are poor Mrs. Wessington's _jhampanies_ turned
up again! I wonder who has them now?"

Kitty had known Mrs. Wessington slightly last season, and had always
been interested in the sickly woman.

"What? Where?" she asked. "I can't see them anywhere."

Even as she spoke, her horse, swerving from a laden mule, threw himself
directly in front of the advancing 'rickshaw. I had scarcely time to
utter a word of warning when, to my unutterable horror, horse and rider
passed _through_ men and carriage as if they had been thin air.

"What's the matter?" cried Kitty; "what made you call out so foolishly,
Jack? If I _am_ engaged I don't want all creation to know about it.
There was lots of space between the mule and the veranda; and, if you
think I can't ride--There!"

Whereupon willful Kitty set off, her dainty little head in the air, at a
hand-gallop in the direction of the Band-stand; fully expecting, as she
herself afterwards told me, that I should follow her. What was the
matter? Nothing, indeed. Either that I was mad or drunk, or that Simla
was haunted with devils. I reined in my impatient cob, and turned round.
The 'rickshaw had turned too, and now stood immediately facing me, near
the left railing of the Combermere Bridge.

"Jack! Jack, darling." (There was no mistake about the words this time:
they rang through my brain as if they had been shouted in my ear.) "It's
some hideous mistake, I'm sure. _Please_ forgive me, Jack, and let's be
friends again."

The 'rickshaw-hood had fallen back, and inside, as I hope and daily pray
for the death I dread by night, sat Mrs. Keith-Wessington, handkerchief
in hand, and golden head bowed on her breast.

How long I stared motionless I do not know. Finally, I was aroused by my
groom taking the Waler's bridle and asking whether I was ill. I tumbled
off my horse and dashed, half fainting, into Peliti's for a glass of
cherry-brandy. There two or three couples were gathered round the
coffee-tables discussing the gossip of the day. Their trivialities were
more comforting to me just then than the consolations of religion could
have been. I plunged into the midst of the conversation at once;
chatted, laughed and jested with a face (when I caught a glimpse of it
in a mirror) as white and drawn as that of a corpse. Three or four men
noticed my condition; and, evidently setting it down to the results of
over many pegs, charitably endeavored to draw me apart from the rest of
the loungers. But I refused to be led away. I wanted the company of my
kind--as a child rushes into the midst of the dinner-party after a
fright in the dark. I must have talked for about ten minutes or so,
though it seemed an eternity to me, when I heard Kitty's dear voice
outside inquiring for me. In another minute she had entered the shop,
prepared to roundly upbraid me for failing so signally in my duties.
Something in my face stopped her.

"Why, Jack," she cried, "what _have_ you been doing? What _has_
happened? Are you ill?" Thus driven into a direct lie, I said that the
sun had been a little too much for me. It was close upon five o'clock of
a cloudy April afternoon, and the sun had been hidden all day. I saw my
mistake as soon as the words were out of my mouth: attempted to recover
it; blundered hopelessly and followed Kitty, in a regal rage, out of
doors, amid the smiles of my acquaintances. I made some excuse (I have
forgotten what) on the score of my feeling faint; and cantered away to
my hotel, leaving Kitty to finish the ride by herself.

In my room I sat down and tried calmly to reason out the matter. Here
was I, Theobald Jack Pansay, a well-educated Bengal Civilian in the year
of grace 1885, presumably sane, certainly healthy, driven in terror from
my sweetheart's side by the apparition of a woman who had been dead and
buried eight months ago. These were facts that I could not blink.
Nothing was further from my thought than any memory of Mrs. Wessington
when Kitty and I left Hamilton's shop. Nothing was more utterly
commonplace than the stretch of wall opposite Peliti's. It was broad
daylight. The road was full of people; and yet here, look you, in
defiance of every law of probability, in direct outrage of Nature's
ordinance, there had appeared to me a face from the grave.

Kitty's Arab had gone _through_ the 'rickshaw: so that my first hope
that some woman marvelously like Mrs. Wessington had hired the carriage
and the coolies with their old livery was lost. Again and again I went
round this treadmill of thought; and again and again gave up baffled and
in despair. The voice was as inexplicable as the apparition. I had
originally some wild notion of confiding it all to Kitty; of begging her
to marry me at once; and in her arms defying the ghostly occupant of the
'rickshaw. "After all," I argued, "the presence of the 'rickshaw is in
itself enough to prove the existence of a spectral illusion. One may see
ghosts of men and women, but surely never of coolies and carriages. The
whole thing is absurd. Fancy the ghost of a hill-man!"

Next morning I sent a penitent note to Kitty, imploring her to overlook
my strange conduct of the previous afternoon. My Divinity was still very
wroth, and a personal apology was necessary. I explained, with a fluency
born of night-long pondering over a falsehood, that I had been attacked
with a sudden palpitation of the heart--the result of indigestion. This
eminently practical solution had its effect; and Kitty and I rode out
that afternoon with the shadow of my first lie dividing us.

Nothing would please her save a canter round Jakko. With my nerves still
unstrung from the previous night I feebly protested against the notion,
suggesting Observatory Hill, Jutogh, the Boileaugunge road--anything
rather than the Jakko round. Kitty was angry and a little hurt, so I
yielded from fear of provoking further misunderstanding, and we set out
together towards Chota Simla. We walked a greater part of the way, and,
according to our custom, cantered from a mile or so below the Convent to
the stretch of level road by the Sanjowlie Reservoir. The wretched
horses appeared to fly, and my heart beat quicker and quicker as we
neared the crest of the ascent. My mind had been full of Mrs. Wessington
all the afternoon; and every inch of the Jakko road bore witness to our
old-time walks and talks. The boulders were full of it; the pines sang
it aloud overhead; the rain-fed torrents giggled and chuckled unseen
over the shameful story; and the wind in my ears chanted the iniquity
aloud.

As a fitting climax, in the middle of the level men call the Ladies'
Mile, the Horror was awaiting me. No other 'rickshaw was in sight--only
the four black and white _jhampanies_, the yellow-paneled carriage, and
the golden head of the woman within--all apparently just as I had left
them eight months and one fortnight ago! For an instant I fancied that
Kitty must see what I saw--we were so marvelously sympathetic in all
things. Her next words undeceived me--"Not a soul in sight! Come along,
Jack, and I'll race you to the Reservoir buildings!" Her wiry little
Arab was off like a bird, my Waler following close behind, and in this
order we dashed under the cliffs. Half a minute brought us within fifty
yards of the 'rickshaw. I pulled my Waler and fell back a little. The
'rickshaw was directly in the middle of the road: and once more the Arab
passed through it, my horse following. "Jack, Jack, dear! _Please_
forgive me," rang with a wail in my ears, and, after an interval: "It's
all a mistake, a hideous mistake!"

I spurred my horse like a man possessed. When I turned my head at the
Reservoir works the black and white liveries were still
waiting--patiently waiting--under the gray hillside, and the wind
brought me a mocking echo of the words I had just heard. Kitty bantered
me a good deal on my silence throughout the remainder of the ride. I had
been talking up till then wildly and at random. To save my life I could
not speak afterwards naturally, and from Sanjowlie to the Church wisely
held my tongue.

I was to dine with the Mannerings that night and had barely time to
canter home to dress. On the road to Elysium Hill I overheard two men
talking together in the dusk--"It's a curious thing," said one, "how
completely all trace of it disappeared. You know my wife was insanely
fond of the woman (never could see anything in her myself) and wanted
me to pick up her old 'rickshaw and coolies if they were to be got for
love or money. Morbid sort of fancy I call it, but I've got to do what
the _Memsahib_ tells me. Would you believe that the man she hired it
from tells me that all four of the men, they were brothers, died of
cholera, on the way to Hardwár, poor devils; and the 'rickshaw has been
broken up by the man himself. Told me he never used a dead _Memsahib's_
'rickshaw. Spoilt his luck. Queer notion, wasn't it? Fancy poor little
Mrs. Wessington spoiling any one's luck except her own!" I laughed aloud
at this point; and my laugh jarred on me as I uttered it. So there
_were_ ghosts of 'rickshaws after all, and ghostly employments in the
other world! How much did Mrs. Wessington give her men? What were their
hours? Where did they go?

And for visible answer to my last question I saw the infernal thing
blocking my path in the twilight. The dead travel fast and by short-cuts
unknown to ordinary coolies. I laughed aloud a second time and checked
my laughter suddenly, for I was afraid I was going mad. Mad to a certain
extent I must have been, for I recollect that I reined in my horse at
the head of the 'rickshaw, and politely wished Mrs. Wessington "good
evening." Her answer was one I knew only too well. I listened to the
end; and replied that I had heard it all before, but should be delighted
if she had anything further to say. Some malignant devil stronger than I
must have entered into me that evening, for I have a dim recollection of
talking the commonplaces of the day for five minutes to the thing in
front of me.

"Mad as a hatter, poor devil--or drunk. Max, try and get him to come
home."

Surely _that_ was not Mrs. Wessington's voice! The two men had overheard
me speaking to the empty air, and had returned to look after me. They
were very kind and considerate, and from their words evidently gathered
that I was extremely drunk. I thanked them confusedly and cantered away
to my hotel, there changed, and arrived at the Mannerings' ten minutes
late. I pleaded the darkness of the night as an excuse; was rebuked by
Kitty for my unlover-like tardiness; and sat down.

The conversation had already become general; and, under cover of it, I
was addressing some tender small talk to my sweetheart when I was aware
that at the further end of the table a short red-whiskered man was
describing with much broidery his encounter with a mad unknown that
evening. A few sentences convinced me that he was repeating the incident
of half an hour ago. In the middle of the story he looked round for
applause, as professional story-tellers do, caught my eye, and
straightway collapsed. There was a moment's awkward silence, and the
red-whiskered man muttered something to the effect that he had
"forgotten the rest"; thereby sacrificing a reputation as a good
story-teller which he had built up for six seasons past. I blessed him
from the bottom of my heart and--went on with my fish.

In the fullness of time that dinner came to an end; and with genuine
regret I tore myself away from Kitty--as certain as I was of my own
existence that It would be waiting for me outside the door. The
red-whiskered man, who had been introduced to me as Dr. Heatherlegh of
Simla, volunteered to bear me company as far as our roads lay together.
I accepted his offer with gratitude.

My instinct had not deceived me. It lay in readiness in the Mall, and,
in what seemed devilish mockery of our ways, with a lighted head-lamp.
The red-whiskered man went to the point at once, in a manner that showed
he had been thinking over it all dinner time.

"I say, Pansay, what the deuce was the matter with you this evening on
the Elysium road?" The suddenness of the question wrenched an answer
from me before I was aware.

"That!" said I, pointing to It.

"_That_ may be either _D.T._ or eyes for aught I know. Now you don't
liquor. I saw as much at dinner, so it can't be _D.T._ There's nothing
whatever where you're pointing, though you're sweating and trembling
with fright like a scared pony. Therefore, I conclude that it's eyes.
And I ought to understand all about them. Come along home with me. I'm
on the Blessington lower road."

To my intense delight the 'rickshaw instead of waiting for us kept about
twenty yards ahead--and this, too, whether we walked, trotted, or
cantered. In the course of that long night ride I had told my companion
almost as much as I have told you here.

"Well, you've spoilt one of the best tales I've ever laid tongue to,"
said he, "but I'll forgive you for the sake of what you've gone through.
Now come home and do what I tell you; and when I've cured you, young
man, let this be a lesson to you to steer clear of women and
indigestible food till the day of your death."

The 'rickshaw kept steadily in front; and my red-whiskered friend seemed
to derive great pleasure from my account of its exact whereabouts.

"Eyes, Pansay--all eyes, brain and stomach; and the greatest of these
three is stomach. You've too much conceited brain, too little stomach,
and thoroughly unhealthy eyes. Get your stomach straight and the rest
follows. And all that's French for a liver pill. I'll take sole medical
charge of you from this hour; for you're too interesting a phenomenon to
be passed over."

By this time we were deep in the shadow of the Blessington lower road
and the 'rickshaw came to a dead stop under a pine-clad, overhanging
shale cliff. Instinctively I halted too, giving my reason. Heatherlegh
rapped out an oath.

"Now, if you think I'm going to spend a cold night on the hillside for
the sake of a stomach-_cum_-brain-_cum_-eye illusion . . . . Lord ha'
mercy! What's that?"

There was a muffled report, a blinding smother of dust just in front of
us, a crack, the noise of rent boughs, and about ten yards of the
cliffside--pines, undergrowth, and all--slid down into the road below,
completely blocking it up. The uprooted trees swayed and tottered for a
moment like drunken giants in the gloom, and then fell prone among their
fellows with a thunderous crash. Our two horses stood motionless and
sweating with fear. As soon as the rattle of falling earth and stone had
subsided, my companion muttered: "Man, if we'd gone forward we should
have been ten feet deep in our graves by now! 'There are more things in
heaven and earth' . . . Come home, Pansay, and thank God. I want a drink
badly."

We retraced our way over the Church Ridge, and I arrived at Dr.
Heatherlegh's house shortly after midnight.

His attempts towards my cure commenced almost immediately, and for a
week I never left his sight. Many a time in the course of that week did
I bless the good fortune which had thrown me in contact with Simla's
best and kindest doctor. Day by day my spirits grew lighter and more
equable. Day by day, too, I became more and more inclined to fall in
with Heatherlegh's "spectral illusion" theory, implicating eyes, brain,
and stomach. I wrote to Kitty, telling her that a slight sprain caused
by a fall from my horse kept me indoors for a few days; and that I
should be recovered before she had time to regret my absence.

Heatherlegh's treatment was simple to a degree. It consisted of
liver-pills, cold-water baths and strong exercise, taken in the dusk or
at early dawn--for, as he sagely observed: "A man with a sprained ankle
doesn't walk a dozen miles a day, and your young woman might be
wondering if she saw you."

At the end of the week, after much examination of pupil and pulse and
strict injunctions as to diet and pedestrianism, Heatherlegh dismissed
me as brusquely as he had taken charge of me. Here is his parting
benediction: "Man, I certify to your mental cure, and that's as much as
to say I've cured most of your bodily ailments. Now, get your traps out
of this as soon as you can; and be off to make love to Miss Kitty."

I was endeavoring to express my thanks for his kindness. He cut me
short:

"Don't think I did this because I like you. I gather that you've behaved
like a blackguard all through. But, all the same you're a phenomenon,
and as queer a phenomenon as you are a blackguard. Now, go out and see
if you can find the eyes-brain-and-stomach business again. I'll give you
a lakh for each time you see it."

Half an hour later I was in the Mannerings' drawing-room with
Kitty--drunk with the intoxication of present happiness and the
foreknowledge that I should never more be troubled with It's hideous
presence. Strong in the sense of my new-found security, I proposed a
ride at once; and, by preference, a canter round Jakko.

Never have I felt so well, so overladen with vitality and mere animal
spirits as I did on the afternoon of the 30th of April. Kitty was
delighted at the change in my appearance, and complimented me on it in
her delightfully frank and outspoken manner. We left the Mannerings'
house together, laughing and talking, and cantered along the Chota Simla
road as of old.

I was in haste to reach the Sanjowlie Reservoir and there make my
assurance doubly sure. The horses did their best, but seemed all too
slow to my impatient mind. Kitty was astonished at my boisterousness.
"Why, Jack!" she cried at last, "you are behaving like a child! What are
you doing?"

We were just below the Convent, and from sheer wantonness I was making
my Waler plunge and curvet across the road as I tickled it with the loop
of my riding-whip.

"Doing," I answered, "nothing, dear. That's just it. If you'd been doing
nothing for a week except lie up, you'd be as riotous as I.

          'Singing and murmuring in your feastful mirth,
             Joying to feel yourself alive;
           Lord over nature, Lord of the visible Earth,
             Lord of the senses five.'"

My quotation was hardly out of my lips before we had rounded the corner
above the Convent; and a few yards further on could see across to
Sanjowlie. In the center of the level road stood the black and white
liveries, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw and Mrs. Keith-Wessington.
I pulled up, looked, rubbed my eyes, and, I believe, must have said
something. The next thing I knew was that I was lying face downward on
the road, with Kitty kneeling above me in tears.

"Has it gone, child?" I gasped. Kitty only wept more bitterly.

"Has what gone? Jack dear: what does it all mean? There must be a
mistake somewhere, Jack. A hideous mistake." Her last words brought me
to my feet--mad--raving for the time being.

"Yes, there _is_ a mistake somewhere." I repeated, "a hideous mistake.
Come and look at It!"

I have an indistinct idea that I dragged Kitty by the wrist along the
road up to where It stood, and implored her for pity's sake to speak to
it; to tell It that we were betrothed! that neither Death nor Hell could
break the tie between us; and Kitty only knows how much more to the same
effect. Now and again I appealed passionately to the Terror in the
'rickshaw to bear witness to all I had said, and to release me from a
torture that was killing me. As I talked I suppose I must have told
Kitty of my old relations with Mrs. Wessington, for I saw her listen
intently with white face and blazing eyes.

"Thank you, Mr. Pansay," she said, "that's _quite_ enough. Bring my
horse."

The grooms, impassive as Orientals always are, had come up with the
recaptured horses; and as Kitty sprang into her saddle I caught hold of
the bridle entreating her to hear me out and forgive. My answer was the
cut of her riding-whip across my face from mouth to eye, and a word or
two of farewell that even now I cannot write down. So I judged, and
judged rightly, that Kitty knew all; and I staggered back to the side of
the 'rickshaw. My face was cut and bleeding, and the blow of the
riding-whip had raised a livid blue weal on it. I had no self-respect.
Just then, Heatherlegh, who must have been following Kitty and me at a
distance, cantered up.

"Doctor," I said, pointing to my face, "here's Miss Mannering's
signature to my order of dismissal and . . . I'll thank you for that
lakh as soon as convenient."

Heatherlegh's face, even in my abject misery, moved me to laugh.

"I'll stake my professional reputation"--he began. "Don't be a fool,"
I whispered. "I've lost my life's happiness and you'd better take me
home."

As I spoke the 'rickshaw was gone. Then I lost all knowledge of what was
passing. The crest of Jakko seemed to heave and roll like the crest of a
cloud and fall in upon me.

Seven days later (on the 7th of May, that is to say) I was aware that
I was lying in Heatherlegh's room as weak as a little child. Heatherlegh
was watching me intently from behind the papers on his writing table.
His first words were not very encouraging; but I was too far spent to
be much moved by them.

"Here's Miss Kitty has sent back your letters. You corresponded a good
deal, you young people. Here's a packet that looks like a ring, and a
cheerful sort of a note from Mannering Papa, which I've taken the
liberty of reading and burning. The old gentleman's not pleased with
you."

"And Kitty?" I asked dully.

"Rather more drawn than her father from what she says. By the same token
you must have been letting out any number of queer reminiscences just
before I met you. Says that a man who would have behaved to a woman as
you did to Mrs. Wessington ought to kill himself out of sheer pity for
his kind. She's a hot-headed little virago, your mash. Will have it too
that you were suffering from _D.T._ when that row on the Jakko road
turned up. Says she'll die before she ever speaks to you again."

I groaned and turned over on the other side.

"Now you've got your choice, my friend. This engagement has to be broken
off; and the Mannerings don't want to be too hard on you. Was it broken
through _D.T._ or epileptic fits? Sorry I can't offer you a better
exchange unless you'd prefer hereditary insanity. Say the word and I'll
tell 'em it's fits. All Simla knows about that scene on the Ladies'
Mile. Come! I'll give you five minutes to think over it."

During those five minutes I believe that I explored thoroughly the
lowest circles of the Inferno which it is permitted man to tread on
earth. And at the same time I myself was watching myself faltering
through the dark labyrinths of doubt, misery, and utter despair.
I wondered, as Heatherlegh in his chair might have wondered, which
dreadful alternative I should adopt. Presently I heard myself answering
in a voice that I hardly recognized:

"They're confoundedly particular about morality in these parts. Give 'em
fits, Heatherlegh, and my love. Now let me sleep a bit longer."

Then my two selves joined, and it was only I (half crazed, devil-driven
I) that tossed in my bed, tracing step by step the history of the past
month.

"But I am in Simla," I kept repeating to myself. "I, Jack Pansay, am in
Simla, and there are no ghosts here. It's unreasonable of that woman to
pretend there are. Why couldn't Agnes have left me alone? I never did
her any harm. It might just as well have been me as Agnes. Only I'd
never have come back on purpose to kill _her_. Why can't I be left
alone--left alone and happy?"

It was high noon when I first awoke: and the sun was low in the sky
before I slept--slept as the tortured criminal sleeps on his rack, too
worn to feel further pain.

Next day I could not leave my bed. Heatherlegh told me in the morning
that he had received an answer from Mr. Mannering, and that, thanks to
his (Heatherlegh's) friendly offices, the story of my affliction had
traveled through the length and breadth of Simla, where I was on all
sides much pitied.

"And that's rather more than you deserve," he concluded pleasantly,
"though the Lord knows you've been going through a pretty severe mill.
Never mind; we'll cure you yet, you perverse phenomenon."

I declined firmly to be cured. "You've been much too good to me already,
old man," said I; "but I don't think I need trouble you further."

In my heart I knew that nothing Heatherlegh could do would lighten the
burden that had been laid upon me.

With that knowledge came also a sense of hopeless, impotent rebellion
against the unreasonableness of it all. There were scores of men no
better than I whose punishments had at least been reserved for another
world and I felt that it was bitterly, cruelly unfair that I alone
should have been singled out for so hideous a fate. This mood would in
time give place to another where it seemed that the 'rickshaw and I were
the only realities in a world of shadows; that Kitty was a ghost; that
Mannering, Heatherlegh, and all the other men and women I knew were all
ghosts and the great, gray hills themselves but vain shadows devised to
torture me. From mood to mood I tossed backwards and forwards for seven
weary days, my body growing daily stronger and stronger, until the
bed-room looking-glass told me that I had returned to everyday life, and
was as other men once more. Curiously enough, my face showed no signs
of the struggle I had gone through. It was pale indeed, but as
expressionless and commonplace as ever. I had expected some permanent
alteration--visible evidence of the disease that was eating me away.
I found nothing.

On the 15th of May I left Heatherlegh's house at eleven o'clock in the
morning; and the instinct of the bachelor drove me to the Club. There
I found that every man knew my story as told by Heatherlegh, and was, in
clumsy fashion, abnormally kind and attentive. Nevertheless I recognized
that for the rest of my natural life I should be among, but not of, my
fellows; and I envied very bitterly indeed the laughing coolies on the
Mall below. I lunched at the Club, and at four o'clock wandered
aimlessly down the Mall in the vague hope of meeting Kitty. Close to the
Band-stand the black and white liveries joined me; and I heard Mrs.
Wessington's old appeal at my side. I had been expecting this ever since
I came out; and was only surprised at her delay. The phantom 'rickshaw
and I went side by side along the Chota Simla road in silence. Close to
the bazaar, Kitty and a man on horseback overtook and passed us. For any
sign she gave I might have been a dog in the road. She did not even pay
me the compliment of quickening her pace; though the rainy afternoon had
served for an excuse.

So Kitty and her companion, and I and my ghostly Light-o'-Love, crept
round Jakko in couples. The road was streaming with water; the pines
dripped like roof-pipes on the rocks below, and the air was full of
fine, driving rain. Two or three times I found myself saying to myself
almost aloud: "I'm Jack Pansay on leave at Simla--_at Simla!_ Everyday,
ordinary Simla. I mustn't forget that--I mustn't forget that." Then I
would try to recollect some of the gossip I had heard at the Club; the
prices of So-and-So's horses--anything, in fact, that related to the
work-a-day Anglo-Indian world I knew so well. I even repeated the
multiplication-table rapidly to myself, to make quite sure that I was
not taking leave of my senses. It gave me much comfort; and must have
prevented my hearing Mrs. Wessington for a time.

Once more I wearily climbed the Convent slope and entered the level
road. Here Kitty and the man started off at a canter, and I was left
alone with Mrs. Wessington. "Agnes," said I, "will you put back your
hood and tell me what it all means?" The hood dropped noiselessly and
I was face to face with my dead and buried mistress. She was wearing
the dress in which I had last seen her alive: carried the same tiny
handkerchief in her right hand; and the same card-case in her left. (A
woman eight months dead with a card-case!) I had to pin myself down to
the multiplication-table, and to set both hands on the stone parapet of
the road to assure myself that that at least was real.

"Agnes," I repeated, "for pity's sake tell me what it all means." Mrs.
Wessington leant forward, with that odd, quick turn of the head I used
to know so well, and spoke.

If my story had not already so madly overleaped the bounds of all human
belief I should apologize to you now. As I know that no one--no, not
even Kitty, for whom it is written as some sort of justification of my
conduct--will believe me, I will go on. Mrs. Wessington spoke and I
walked with her from the Sanjowlie road to the turning below the
Commander-in-Chief's house as I might walk by the side of any living
woman's 'rickshaw, deep in conversation. The second and most tormenting
of my moods of sickness had suddenly laid hold upon me, and like the
prince in Tennyson's poem, "I seemed to move amid a world of ghosts."
There had been a garden-party at the Commander-in-Chief's, and we two
joined the crowd of homeward-bound folk. As I saw them then it seemed
that _they_ were the shadows--impalpable fantastic shadows--that divided
for Mrs. Wessington's 'rickshaw to pass through. What we said during the
course of that weird interview I cannot--indeed, I dare not--tell.
Heatherlegh's comment would have been a short laugh and a remark that I
had been "mashing a brain-eye-and-stomach chimera." It was a ghastly and
yet in some indefinable way a marvelously dear experience. Could it be
possible, I wondered, that I was in this life to woo a second time the
woman I had killed by my own neglect and cruelty?

I met Kitty on the homeward road--a shadow among shadows.

If I were to describe all the incidents of the next fortnight in their
order, my story would never come to an end; and your patience would be
exhausted. Morning after morning and evening after evening the ghostly
'rickshaw and I used to wander through Simla together. Wherever I went,
there the four black and white liveries followed me and bore me company
to and from my hotel. At the theater I found them amid the crowd of
yelling _jhampanies_; outside the club veranda, after a long evening of
whist; at the birthday ball, waiting patiently for my reappearance; and
in broad daylight when I went calling. Save that it cast no shadow, the
'rickshaw was in every respect as real to look upon as one of wood and
iron. More than once, indeed, I have had to check myself from warning
some hard-riding friend against cantering over it. More than once I have
walked down the Mall deep in conversation with Mrs. Wessington to the
unspeakable amazement of the passers-by.

Before I had been out and about a week I learnt that the "fit" theory
had been discarded in favor of insanity. However, I made no change in my
mode of life. I called, rode, and dined out as freely as ever. I had a
passion for the society of my kind which I had never felt before; I
hungered to be among the realities of life; and at the same time I felt
vaguely unhappy when I had been separated too long from my ghostly
companion. It would be almost impossible to describe my varying moods
from the 15th of May up to to-day.

The presence of the 'rickshaw filled me by turns with horror, blind
fear, a dim sort of pleasure, and utter despair. I dared not leave
Simla; and I knew that my stay there was killing me. I knew, moreover,
that it was my destiny to die slowly and a little every day. My only
anxiety was to get the penance over as quietly as might be. Alternately
I hungered for a sight of Kitty and watched her outrageous flirtations
with my successor--to speak more accurately, my successors--with amused
interest. She was as much out of my life as I was out of hers. By day
I wandered with Mrs. Wessington almost content. By night I implored
Heaven to let me return to the world as I used to know it. Above all
these varying moods lay the sensation of dull, numbing wonder that the
seen and the unseen should mingle so strangely on this earth to hound
one poor soul to its grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

_August 27th._--Heatherlegh has been indefatigable in his attendance on
me; and only yesterday told me that I ought to send in an application
for sick-leave. An application to escape the company of a phantom! A
request that the Government would graciously permit me to get rid of
five ghosts and an airy 'rickshaw by going to England! Heatherlegh's
proposition moved me to almost hysterical laughter. I told him that
I should await the end quietly at Simla; and I am sure that the end is
not far off. Believe me that I dread its advent more than any word can
say; and I torture myself nightly with a thousand speculations as to
the manner of my death.

Shall I die in my bed decently and as an English gentlemen should die;
or, in one last walk on the Mall, will my soul be wrenched from me to
take its place for ever and ever by the side of that ghastly phantasm?
Shall I return to my old lost allegiance in the next world, or shall
I meet Agnes loathing her and bound to her side through all eternity?
Shall we two hover over the scene of our lives till the end of time? As
the day of my death draws nearer, the intense horror that all living
flesh feels towards escaped spirits from beyond the grave grows more and
more powerful. It is an awful thing to go down quick among the dead with
scarcely one half of your life completed. It is a thousand times more
awful to wait as I do in your midst, for I know not what unimaginable
terror. Pity me, at least on the score of my "delusion," for I know you
will never believe what I have written here. Yet as surely as ever a man
was done to death by the Powers of Darkness I am that man.

In justice, too, pity her. For as surely as ever woman was killed by
man, I killed Mrs. Wessington. And the last portion of my punishment is
even now upon me.



THE RIVAL GHOSTS

BY BRANDER MATTHEWS


The good ship sped on her way across the calm Atlantic. It was an
outward passage, according to the little charts which the company had
charily distributed, but most of the passengers were homeward bound,
after a summer of rest and recreation, and they were counting the days
before they might hope to see Fire Island Light. On the lee side of the
boat, comfortably sheltered from the wind, and just by the door of the
captain's room (which was theirs during the day), sat a little group of
returning Americans. The Duchess (she was down on the purser's list as
Mrs. Martin, but her friends and familiars called her the Duchess of
Washington Square) and Baby Van Rensselaer (she was quite old enough to
vote, had her sex been entitled to that duty, but as the younger of two
sisters she was still the baby of the family)--the Duchess and Baby Van
Rensselaer were discussing the pleasant English voice and the not
unpleasant English accent of a manly young lordling who was going to
America for sport. Uncle Larry and Dear Jones were enticing each other
into a bet on the ship's run of the morrow.

"I'll give you two to one she don't make 420," said Dear Jones.

"I'll take it," answered Uncle Larry. "We made 427 the fifth day last
year." It was Uncle Larry's seventeenth visit to Europe, and this was
therefore his thirty-fourth voyage.

"And when did you get in?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer. "I don't care a
bit about the run, so long as we get in soon."

"We crossed the bar Sunday night, just seven days after we left
Queenstown, and we dropped anchor off Quarantine at three o'clock on
Monday morning."

"I hope we shan't do that this time. I can't seem to sleep any when the
boat stops."

"I can; but I didn't," continued Uncle Larry; "because my state-room was
the most for'ard in the boat, and the donkey-engine that let down the
anchor was right over my head."

"So you got up and saw the sunrise over the bay," said Dear Jones, "with
the electric lights of the city twinkling in the distance, and the first
faint flush of the dawn in the east just over Fort Lafayette, and the
rosy tinge which spread softly upward, and----"

"Did you both come back together?" asked the Duchess.

"Because he has crossed thirty-four times you must not suppose that he
has a monopoly in sunrises," retorted Dear Jones. "No, this was my own
sunrise; and a mighty pretty one it was, too."

"I'm not matching sunrises with you," remarked Uncle Larry, calmly; "but
I'm willing to back a merry jest called forth by my sunrise against any
two merry jests called forth by yours."

"I confess reluctantly that my sunrise evoked no merry jest at all."
Dear Jones was an honest man, and would scorn to invent a merry jest on
the spur of the moment.

"That's where my sunrise has the call," said Uncle Larry, complacently.

"What was the merry jest?" was Baby Van Rensselaer's inquiry, the
natural result of a feminine curiosity thus artistically excited.

"Well, here it is. I was standing aft, near a patriotic American and a
wandering Irishman, and the patriotic American rashly declared that you
couldn't see a sunrise like that anywhere in Europe, and this gave the
Irishman his chance, and he said, 'Sure ye don't have 'em here till
we're through with 'em over there.'"

"It is true," said Dear Jones, thoughtfully, "that they do have some
things over there better than we do; for instance, umbrellas."

"And gowns," added the Duchess.

"And antiquities,"--this was Uncle Larry's contribution.

"And we do have some things so much better in America!" protested Baby
Van Rensselaer, as yet uncorrupted by any worship of the effete
monarchies of despotic Europe. "We make lots of things a great deal
nicer than you can get them in Europe--especially ice-cream."

"And pretty girls," added Dear Jones; but he did not look at her.

"And spooks," remarked Uncle Larry casually.

"Spooks?" queried the Duchess.

"Spooks. I maintain the word. Ghosts, if you like that better, or
specters. We turn out the best quality of spook----"

"You forget the lovely ghost stories about the Rhine, and the Black
Forest," interrupted Miss Van Rensselaer, with feminine inconsistency.

"I remember the Rhine and the Black Forest and all the other haunts of
elves and fairies and hobgoblins; but for good honest spooks there is no
place like home. And what differentiates our spook--_Spiritus
Americanus_--from the ordinary ghost of literature is that it responds
to the American sense of humor. Take Irving's stories for example. _The
Headless Horseman_, that's a comic ghost story. And Rip Van
Winkle--consider what humor, and what good-humor, there is in the
telling of his meeting with the goblin crew of Hendrik Hudson's men! A
still better example of this American way of dealing with legend and
mystery is the marvelous tale of the rival ghosts."

"The rival ghosts?" queried the Duchess and Baby Van Rensselaer
together. "Who were they?"

"Didn't I ever tell you about them?" answered Uncle Larry, a gleam of
approaching joy flashing from his eye.

"Since he is bound to tell us sooner or later, we'd better be resigned
and hear it now," said Dear Jones.

"If you are not more eager, I won't tell it at all."

"Oh, do, Uncle Larry; you know I just dote on ghost stories," pleaded
Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Once upon a time," began Uncle Larry--"in fact, a very few years
ago--there lived in the thriving town of New York a young American
called Duncan--Eliphalet Duncan. Like his name, he was half Yankee and
half Scotch, and naturally he was a lawyer, and had come to New York to
make his way. His father was a Scotchman, who had come over and settled
in Boston, and married a Salem girl. When Eliphalet Duncan was about
twenty he lost both of his parents. His father left him with enough
money to give him a start, and a strong feeling of pride in his Scotch
birth; you see there was a title in the family in Scotland, and although
Eliphalet's father was the younger son of a younger son, yet he always
remembered, and always bade his only son to remember, that his ancestry
was noble. His mother left him her full share of Yankee grit, and a
little house in Salem which has belonged to her family for more than two
hundred years. She was a Hitchcock, and the Hitchcocks had been settled
in Salem since the year 1. It was a great-great-grandfather of Mr.
Eliphalet Hitchcock who was foremost in the time of the Salem witchcraft
craze. And this little old house which she left to my friend Eliphalet
Duncan was haunted.

"By the ghost of one of the witches, of course," interrupted Dear Jones.

"Now how could it be the ghost of a witch, since the witches were all
burned at the stake? You never heard of anybody who was burned having a
ghost, did you?"

"That's an argument in favor of cremation, at any rate," replied Jones,
evading the direct question.

"It is, if you don't like ghosts; I do," said Baby Van Rensselaer.

"And so do I," added Uncle Larry. "I love a ghost as dearly as an
Englishman loves a lord."

"Go on with your story," said the Duchess, majestically overruling all
extraneous discussion.

"This little old house at Salem was haunted," resumed Uncle Larry. "And
by a very distinguished ghost--or at least by a ghost with very
remarkable attributes."

"What was he like?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with a premonitory shiver
of anticipatory delight.

"It had a lot of peculiarities. In the first place, it never appeared to
the master of the house. Mostly it confined its visitations to unwelcome
guests. In the course of the last hundred years it had frightened away
four successive mothers-in-law, while never intruding on the head of the
household."

"I guess that ghost had been one of the boys when he was alive and in
the flesh." This was Dear Jones's contribution to the telling of the
tale.

"In the second place," continued Uncle Larry, "it never frightened
anybody the first time it appeared. Only on the second visit were the
ghost-seers scared; but then they were scared enough for twice, and they
rarely mustered up courage enough to risk a third interview. One of the
most curious characteristics of this well-meaning spook was that it had
no face--or at least that nobody ever saw its face."

"Perhaps he kept his countenance veiled?" queried the Duchess, who was
beginning to remember that she never did like ghost stories.

"That was what I was never able to find out. I have asked several people
who saw the ghost, and none of them could tell me anything about its
face, and yet while in its presence they never noticed its features, and
never remarked on their absence or concealment. It was only afterward
when they tried to recall calmly all the circumstances of meeting with
the mysterious stranger, that they became aware that they had not seen
its face. And they could not say whether the features were covered, or
whether they were wanting, or what the trouble was. They knew only that
the face was never seen. And no matter how often they might see it, they
never fathomed this mystery. To this day nobody knows whether the ghost
which used to haunt the little old house in Salem had a face, or what
manner of face it had."

"How awfully weird!" said Baby Van Rensselaer. "And why did the ghost go
away?"

"I haven't said it went away," answered Uncle Larry, with much dignity.

"But you said it _used_ to haunt the little old house at Salem, so I
supposed it had moved. Didn't it?"

"You shall be told in due time. Eliphalet Duncan used to spend most of
his summer vacations at Salem, and the ghost never bothered him at all,
for he was the master of the house--much to his disgust, too, because
he wanted to see for himself the mysterious tenant at will of his
property. But he never saw it, never. He arranged with friends to call
him whenever it might appear, and he slept in the next room with the
door open; and yet when their frightened cries waked him the ghost was
gone, and his only reward was to hear reproachful sighs as soon as he
went back to bed. You see, the ghost thought it was not fair of
Eliphalet to seek an introduction which was plainly unwelcome."

Dear Jones interrupted the story-teller by getting up and tucking a
heavy rug snugly around Baby Van Rensselaer's feet, for the sky was now
overcast and gray, and the air was damp and penetrating.

"One fine spring morning," pursued Uncle Larry, "Eliphalet Duncan
received great news. I told you that there was a title in the family in
Scotland, and that Eliphalet's father was the younger son of a younger
son. Well, it happened that all Eliphalet's father's brothers and uncles
had died off without male issue except the eldest son of the eldest, and
he, of course, bore the title, and was Baron Duncan of Duncan. Now the
great news that Eliphalet Duncan received in New York one fine spring
morning was that Baron Duncan and his only son had been yachting in the
Hebrides, and they had been caught in a black squall, and they were both
dead. So my friend Eliphalet Duncan inherited the title and the
estates."

"How romantic!" said the Duchess. "So he was a baron!"

"Well," answered Uncle Larry, "he was a baron if he chose. But he didn't
choose."

"More fool he," said Dear Jones sententiously.

"Well," answered Uncle Larry, "I'm not so sure of that. You see,
Eliphalet Duncan was half Scotch and half Yankee, and he had two eyes to
the main chance. He held his tongue about his windfall of luck until he
could find out whether the Scotch estates were enough to keep up the
Scotch title. He soon discovered that they were not, and that the late
Lord Duncan, having married money, kept up such state as he could out of
the revenues of the dowry of Lady Duncan. And Eliphalet, he decided
that he would rather be a well-fed lawyer in New York, living
comfortably on his practice, than a starving lord in Scotland, living
scantily on his title."

"But he kept his title?" asked the Duchess.

"Well," answered Uncle Larry, "he kept it quiet. I knew it, and a friend
or two more. But Eliphalet was a sight too smart to put Baron Duncan of
Duncan, Attorney and Counselor at Law, on his shingle."

"What has all this got to do with your ghost?" asked Dear Jones
pertinently.

"Nothing with that ghost, but a good deal with another ghost. Eliphalet
was very learned in spirit lore--perhaps because he owned the haunted
house at Salem, perhaps because he was a Scotchman by descent. At all
events, he had made a special study of the wraiths and white ladies and
banshees and bogies of all kinds whose sayings and doings and warnings
are recorded in the annals of the Scottish nobility. In fact, he was
acquainted with the habits of every reputable spook in the Scotch
peerage. And he knew that there was a Duncan ghost attached to the
person of the holder of the title of Baron Duncan of Duncan."

"So, besides being the owner of a haunted house in Salem, he was also a
haunted man in Scotland?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Just so. But the Scotch ghost was not unpleasant, like the Salem ghost,
although it had one peculiarity in common with its trans-Atlantic
fellow-spook. It never appeared to the holder of the title, just as the
other never was visible to the owner of the house. In fact, the Duncan
ghost was never seen at all. It was a guardian angel only. Its sole duty
was to be in personal attendance on Baron Duncan of Duncan, and to warn
him of impending evil. The traditions of the house told that the Barons
of Duncan had again and again felt a premonition of ill fortune. Some of
them had yielded and withdrawn from the venture they had undertaken, and
it had failed dismally. Some had been obstinate, and had hardened their
hearts, and had gone on reckless of defeat and to death. In no case had
a Lord Duncan been exposed to peril without fair warning."

"Then how came it that the father and son were lost in the yacht off the
Hebrides?" asked Dear Jones.

"Because they were too enlightened to yield to superstition. There is
extant now a letter of Lord Duncan, written to his wife a few minutes
before he and his son set sail, in which he tells her how hard he has
had to struggle with an almost overmastering desire to give up the trip.
Had he obeyed the friendly warning of the family ghost, the latter would
have been spared a journey across the Atlantic."

"Did the ghost leave Scotland for America as soon as the old baron
died?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with much interest.

"How did he come over," queried Dear Jones--"in the steerage, or as a
cabin passenger?"

"I don't know," answered Uncle Larry calmly, "and Eliphalet, he didn't
know. For as he was in no danger, and stood in no need of warning, he
couldn't tell whether the ghost was on duty or not. Of course he was on
the watch for it all the time. But he never got any proof of its
presence until he went down to the little old house of Salem, just
before the Fourth of July. He took a friend down with him--a young
fellow who had been in the regular army since the day Fort Sumter was
fired on, and who thought that after four years of the little
unpleasantness down South, including six months in Libby, and after ten
years of fighting the bad Indians on the plains, he wasn't likely to be
much frightened by a ghost. Well, Eliphalet and the officer sat out on
the porch all the evening smoking and talking over points in military
law. A little after twelve o'clock, just as they began to think it was
about time to turn in, they heard the most ghastly noise in the house.
It wasn't a shriek, or a howl, or a yell, or anything they could put a
name to. It was an undeterminate, inexplicable shiver and shudder of
sound, which went wailing out of the window. The officer had been at
Cold Harbor, but he felt himself getting colder this time. Eliphalet
knew it was the ghost who haunted the house. As this weird sound died
away, it was followed by another, sharp, short, blood-curdling in its
intensity. Something in this cry seemed familiar to Eliphalet, and he
felt sure that it proceeded from the family ghost, the warning wraith
of the Duncans."

"Do I understand you to intimate that both ghosts were there together?"
inquired the Duchess anxiously.

"Both of them were there," answered Uncle Larry. "You see, one of them
belonged to the house, and had to be there all the time, and the other
was attached to the person of Baron Duncan, and had to follow him there;
wherever he was there was the ghost also. But Eliphalet, he had scarcely
time to think this out when he heard both sounds again, not one after
another, but both together, and something told him--some sort of an
instinct he had--that those two ghosts didn't agree, didn't get on
together, didn't exactly hit it off; in fact, that they were
quarreling."

"Quarreling ghosts! Well, I never!" was Baby Van Rensselaer's remark.

"It is a blessed thing to see ghosts dwell together in unity," said Dear
Jones.

And the Duchess added, "It would certainly be setting a better example."

"You know," resumed Uncle Larry, "that two waves of light or of sound
may interfere and produce darkness or silence. So it was with these
rival spooks. They interfered, but they did not produce silence or
darkness. On the contrary, as soon as Eliphalet and the officer went
into the house, there began at once a series of spiritualistic
manifestations, a regular dark séance. A tambourine was played upon, a
bell was rung, and a flaming banjo went singing around the room."

"Where did they get the banjo?" asked Dear Jones skeptically.

"I don't know. Materialized it, maybe, just as they did the tambourine.
You don't suppose a quiet New York lawyer kept a stock of musical
instruments large enough to fit out a strolling minstrel troupe just on
the chance of a pair of ghosts coming to give him a surprise party, do
you? Every spook has its own instrument of torture. Angels play on
harps, I'm informed, and spirits delight in banjos and tambourines.
These spooks of Eliphalet Duncan's were ghosts with all the modern
improvements, and I guess they were capable of providing their own
musical weapons. At all events, they had them there in the little old
house at Salem the night Eliphalet and his friend came down. And they
played on them, and they rang the bell, and they rapped here, there, and
everywhere. And they kept it up all night."

"All night?" asked the awe-stricken Duchess.

"All night long," said Uncle Larry solemnly; "and the next night, too.
Eliphalet did not get a wink of sleep, neither did his friend. On the
second night the house ghost was seen by the officer; on the third night
it showed itself again; and the next morning the officer packed his
grip-sack and took the first train to Boston. He was a New Yorker, but
he said he'd sooner go to Boston than see that ghost again. Eliphalet,
he wasn't scared at all, partly because he never saw either the
domiciliary or the titular spook, and partly because he felt himself on
friendly terms with the spirit world, and didn't scare easily. But after
losing three nights' sleep and the society of his friend, he began to be
a little impatient, and to think that the thing had gone far enough. You
see, while in a way he was fond of ghosts, yet he liked them best one at
a time. Two ghosts were one too many. He wasn't bent on making a
collection of spooks. He and one ghost were company, but he and two
ghosts were a crowd."

"What did he do?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Well, he couldn't do anything. He waited awhile, hoping they would get
tired; but he got tired out first. You see, it comes natural to a spook
to sleep in the daytime, but a man wants to sleep nights, and they
wouldn't let him sleep nights. They kept on wrangling and quarreling
incessantly; they manifested and they dark-séanced as regularly as the
old clock on the stairs struck twelve; they rapped and they rang bells
and they banged the tambourine and they threw the flaming banjo about
the house, and worse than all, they swore."

"I did not know that spirits were addicted to bad language," said the
Duchess.

"How did he know they were swearing? Could he hear them?" asked Dear
Jones.

"That was just it," responded Uncle Larry; "he could not hear them--at
least not distinctly. There were inarticulate murmurs and stifled
rumblings. But the impression produced on him was that they were
swearing. If they had only sworn right out, he would not have minded it
so much, because he would have known the worst. But the feeling that the
air was full of suppressed profanity was very wearing and after standing
it for a week, he gave up in disgust and went to the White Mountains."

"Leaving them to fight it out, I suppose," interjected Baby Van
Rensselaer.

"Not at all," explained Uncle Larry. "They could not quarrel unless he
was present. You see, he could not leave the titular ghost behind him,
and the domiciliary ghost could not leave the house. When he went away
he took the family ghost with him, leaving the house ghost behind. Now
spooks can't quarrel when they are a hundred miles apart any more than
men can."

"And what happened afterward?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with a pretty
impatience.

"A most marvelous thing happened. Eliphalet Duncan went to the White
Mountains, and in the car of the railroad that runs to the top of Mount
Washington he met a classmate whom he had not seen for years, and this
classmate introduced Duncan to his sister, and this sister was a
remarkably pretty girl, and Duncan fell in love with her at first sight,
and by the time he got to the top of Mount Washington he was so deep in
love that he began to consider his own unworthiness, and to wonder
whether she might ever be induced to care for him a little--ever so
little."

"I don't think that is so marvelous a thing," said Dear Jones glancing
at Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Who was she?" asked the Duchess, who had once lived in Philadelphia.

"She was Miss Kitty Sutton, of San Francisco, and she was a daughter of
old Judge Sutton, of the firm of Pixley and Sutton."

"A very respectable family," assented the Duchess.

"I hope she wasn't a daughter of that loud and vulgar old Mrs. Sutton
whom I met at Saratoga, one summer, four or five years ago?" said Dear
Jones.

"Probably she was."

"She was a horrid old woman. The boys used to call her Mother Gorgon."

"The pretty Kitty Sutton with whom Eliphalet Duncan had fallen in love
was the daughter of Mother Gorgon. But he never saw the mother, who was
in 'Frisco, or Los Angeles, or Santa Fe, or somewhere out West, and he
saw a great deal of the daughter, who was up in the White Mountains. She
was traveling with her brother and his wife, and as they journeyed from
hotel to hotel, Duncan went with them, and filled out the quartette.
Before the end of the summer he began to think about proposing. Of
course he had lots of chances, going on excursions as they were every
day. He made up his mind to seize the first opportunity, and that very
evening he took her out for a moonlight row on Lake Winnipiseogee. As he
handed her into the boat he resolved to do it, and he had a glimmer of a
suspicion that she knew he was going to do it, too."

"Girls," said Dear Jones, "never go out in a rowboat at night with a
young man unless you mean to accept him."

"Sometimes it's best to refuse him, and get it over once for all," said
Baby Van Rensselaer.

"As Eliphalet took the oars he felt a sudden chill. He tried to shake it
off, but in vain. He began to have a growing consciousness of impending
evil. Before he had taken ten strokes--and he was a swift oarsman--he
was aware of a mysterious presence between him and Miss Sutton."

"Was it the guardian-angel ghost warning him off the match?" interrupted
Dear Jones.

"That's just what it was," said Uncle Larry. "And he yielded to it, and
kept his peace, and rowed Miss Sutton back to the hotel with his
proposal unspoken."

"More fool he," said Dear Jones. "It will take more than one ghost to
keep me from proposing when my mind is made up." And he looked at Baby
Van Rensselaer.

"The next morning," continued Uncle Larry, "Eliphalet overslept
himself, and when he went down to a late breakfast he found that the
Suttons had gone to New York by the morning train. He wanted to follow
them at once, and again he felt the mysterious presence overpowering his
will. He struggled two days, and at last he roused himself to do what he
wanted in spite of the spook. When he arrived in New York it was late in
the evening. He dressed himself hastily and went to the hotel where the
Suttons put up, in the hope of seeing at least her brother. The guardian
angel fought every inch of the walk with him, until he began to wonder
whether, if Miss Sutton were to take him, the spook would forbid the
banns. At the hotel he saw no one that night, and he went home
determined to call as early as he could the next afternoon, and make an
end of it. When he left his office about two o'clock the next day to
learn his fate, he had not walked five blocks before he discovered that
the wraith of the Duncans had withdrawn his opposition to the suit.
There was no feeling of impending evil, no resistance, no struggle, no
consciousness of an opposing presence. Eliphalet was greatly encouraged.
He walked briskly to the hotel; he found Miss Sutton alone. He asked her
the question, and got his answer."

"She accepted him, of course," said Baby Van Rensselaer.

"Of course," said Uncle Larry. "And while they were in the first flush
of joy, swapping confidences and confessions, her brother came into the
parlor with an expression of pain on his face and a telegram in his
hand. The former was caused by the latter, which was from 'Frisco, and
which announced the sudden death of Mrs. Sutton, their mother."

"And that was why the ghost no longer opposed the match?" questioned
Dear Jones.

"Exactly. You see, the family ghost knew that Mother Gorgon was an awful
obstacle to Duncan's happiness, so it warned him. But the moment the
obstacle was removed, it gave its consent at once."

The fog was lowering its thick damp curtain, and it was beginning to be
difficult to see from one end of the boat to the other. Dear Jones
tightened the rug which enwrapped Baby Van Rensselaer, and then withdrew
again into his own substantial coverings.

Uncle Larry paused in his story long enough to light another of the tiny
cigars he always smoked.

"I infer that Lord Duncan"--the Duchess was scrupulous in the bestowal
of titles--"saw no more of the ghosts after he was married."

"He never saw them at all, at any time, either before or since. But they
came very near breaking off the match, and thus breaking two young
hearts."

"You don't mean to say that they knew any just cause or impediment why
they should not forever after hold their peace?" asked Dear Jones.

"How could a ghost, or even two ghosts, keep a girl from marrying the
man she loved?" This was Baby Van Rensselaer's question.

"It seems curious, doesn't it?" and Uncle Larry tried to warm himself by
two or three sharp pulls at his fiery little cigar. "And the
circumstances are quite as curious as the fact itself. You see, Miss
Sutton wouldn't be married for a year after her mother's death, so she
and Duncan had lots of time to tell each other all they knew. Eliphalet,
he got to know a good deal about the girls she went to school with, and
Kitty, she learned all about his family. He didn't tell her about the
title for a long time, as he wasn't one to brag. But he described to her
the little old house at Salem. And one evening toward the end of the
summer, the wedding-day having been appointed for early in September,
she told him that she didn't want to bridal tour at all; she just wanted
to go down to the little old house at Salem to spend her honeymoon in
peace and quiet, with nothing to do and nobody to bother them. Well,
Eliphalet jumped at the suggestion. It suited him down to the ground.
All of a sudden he remembered the spooks, and it knocked him all of a
heap. He had told her about the Duncan Banshee, and the idea of having
an ancestral ghost in personal attendance on her husband tickled her
immensely. But he had never said anything about the ghost which haunted
the little old house at Salem. He knew she would be frightened out of
her wits if the house ghost revealed itself to her, and he saw at once
that it would be impossible to go to Salem on their wedding trip. So he
told her all about it, and how whenever he went to Salem the two ghosts
interfered, and gave dark séances and manifested and materialized and
made the place absolutely impossible. Kitty, she listened in silence,
and Eliphalet, he thought she had changed her mind. But she hadn't done
anything of the kind."

"Just like a man--to think she was going to," remarked Baby Van
Rensselaer.

"She just told him she could not bear ghosts herself, but she would not
marry a man who was afraid of them."

"Just like a girl--to be so inconsistent," remarked Dear Jones.

Uncle Larry's tiny cigar had long been extinct. He lighted a new one,
and continued: "Eliphalet protested in vain. Kitty said her mind was
made up. She was determined to pass her honeymoon in the little old
house at Salem, and she was equally determined not to go there as long
as there were any ghosts there. Until he could assure her that the
spectral tenants had received notice to quit, and that there was no
danger of manifestations and materializing, she refused to be married at
all. She did not intend to have her honeymoon interrupted by two
wrangling ghosts, and the wedding could be postponed until he had made
ready the house for her."

"She was an unreasonable young woman," said the Duchess.

"Well, that's what Eliphalet thought, much as he was in love with her.
And he believed he could talk her out of her determination. But he
couldn't. She was set. And when a girl is set, there's nothing to do but
yield to the inevitable. And that's just what Eliphalet did. He saw he
would either have to give her up or to get the ghosts out; and as he
loved her and did not care for the ghosts, he resolved to tackle the
ghosts. He had clear grit, Eliphalet had--he was half Scotch and half
Yankee, and neither breed turns tail in a hurry. So he made his plans
and he went down to Salem. As he said good-by to Kitty he had an
impression that she was sorry she had made him go, but she kept up
bravely, and put a bold face on it, and saw him off, and went home and
cried for an hour, and was perfectly miserable until he came back the
next day."

"Did he succeed in driving the ghosts away?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer,
with great interest.

"That's just what I'm coming to," said Uncle Larry, pausing at the
critical moment, in the manner of the trained story teller. "You see,
Eliphalet had got a rather tough job, and he would gladly have had an
extension of time on the contract, but he had to choose between the girl
and the ghosts, and he wanted the girl. He tried to invent or remember
some short and easy way with ghosts, but he couldn't. He wished that
somebody had invented a specific for spooks--something that would make
the ghosts come out of the house and die in the yard. He wondered if he
could not tempt the ghosts to run in debt, so that he might get the
sheriff to help him. He wondered also whether the ghosts could not be
overcome with strong drink--a dissipated spook, a spook with delirium
tremens, might be committed to the inebriate asylum. But none of these
things seemed feasible."

"What did he do?" interrupted Dear Jones. "The learned counsel will
please speak to the point."

"You will regret this unseemly haste," said Uncle Larry, gravely, "when
you know what really happened."

"What was it, Uncle Larry?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer. "I'm all
impatience."

And Uncle Larry proceeded:

"Eliphalet went down to the little old house at Salem, and as soon as
the clock struck twelve the rival ghosts began wrangling as before. Raps
here, there, and everywhere, ringing bells, banging tambourines,
strumming banjos sailing about the room, and all the other
manifestations and materializations followed one another just as they
had the summer before. The only difference Eliphalet could detect was a
stronger flavor in the spectral profanity; and this, of course, was only
a vague impression, for he did not actually hear a single word. He
waited awhile in patience, listening and watching. Of course he never
saw either of the ghosts, because neither of them could appear to him.
At last he got his dander up, and he thought it was about time to
interfere, so he rapped on the table, and asked for silence. As soon as
he felt that the spooks were listening to him he explained the situation
to them. He told them he was in love, and that he could not marry unless
they vacated the house. He appealed to them as old friends, and he laid
claim to their gratitude. The titular ghost had been sheltered by the
Duncan family for hundreds of years, and the domiciliary ghost had had
free lodging in the little old house at Salem for nearly two centuries.
He implored them to settle their differences, and to get him out of his
difficulty at once. He suggested they'd better fight it out then and
there, and see who was master. He had brought down with him all needful
weapons. And he pulled out his valise, and spread on the table a pair of
navy revolvers, a pair of shot-guns, a pair of dueling swords, and a
couple of bowie-knives. He offered to serve as second for both parties,
and to give the word when to begin. He also took out of his valise a
pack of cards and a bottle of poison, telling them that if they wished
to avoid carnage they might cut the cards to see which one should take
the poison. Then he waited anxiously for their reply. For a little space
there was silence. Then he became conscious of a tremulous shivering in
one corner of the room, and he remembered that he had heard from that
direction what sounded like a frightened sigh when he made the first
suggestion of the duel. Something told him that this was the domiciliary
ghost, and that it was badly scared. Then he was impressed by a certain
movement in the opposite corner of the room, as though the titular ghost
were drawing himself up with offended dignity. Eliphalet couldn't
exactly see these things, because he never saw the ghosts, but he felt
them. After a silence of nearly a minute a voice came from the corner
where the family ghost stood--a voice strong and full, but trembling
slightly with suppressed passion. And this voice told Eliphalet it was
plain enough that he had not long been the head of the Duncans, and that
he had never properly considered the characteristics of his race if now
he supposed that one of his blood could draw his sword against a woman.
Eliphalet said he had never suggested that the Duncan ghost should raise
his hand against a woman and all he wanted was that the Duncan ghost
should fight the other ghost. And then the voice told Eliphalet that the
other ghost was a woman."

"What?" said Dear Jones, sitting up suddenly. "You don't mean to tell me
that the ghost which haunted the house was a woman?"

"Those were the very words Eliphalet Duncan used," said Uncle Larry;
"but he did not need to wait for the answer. All at once he recalled the
traditions about the domiciliary ghost, and he knew that what the
titular ghost said was the fact. He had never thought of the sex of a
spook, but there was no doubt whatever that the house ghost was a woman.
No sooner was this firmly fixed in Eliphalet's mind than he saw his way
out of the difficulty. The ghosts must be married!--for then there would
be no more interference, no more quarreling, no more manifestations and
materializations, no more dark séances, with their raps and bells and
tambourines and banjos. At first the ghosts would not hear of it. The
voice in the corner declared that the Duncan wraith had never thought of
matrimony. But Eliphalet argued with them, and pleaded and persuaded and
coaxed, and dwelt on the advantages of matrimony. He had to confess, of
course, that he did not know how to get a clergyman to marry them; but
the voice from the corner gravely told him that there need be no
difficulty in regard to that, as there was no lack of spiritual
chaplains. Then, for the first time, the house ghost spoke, in a low,
clear, gentle voice, and with a quaint, old-fashioned New England
accent, which contrasted sharply with the broad Scotch speech of the
family ghost. She said that Eliphalet Duncan seemed to have forgotten
that she was married. But this did not upset Eliphalet at all; he
remembered the whole case clearly, and he told her she was not a married
ghost, but a widow, since her husband had been hung for murdering her.
Then the Duncan ghost drew attention to the great disparity of their
ages, saying that he was nearly four hundred and fifty years old, while
she was barely two hundred. But Eliphalet had not talked to juries for
nothing; he just buckled to, and coaxed those ghosts into matrimony.
Afterward he came to the conclusion that they were willing to be coaxed,
but at the time he thought he had pretty hard work to convince them of
the advantages of the plan."

"Did he succeed?" asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with a young lady's
interest in matrimony.

"He did," said Uncle Larry. "He talked the wraith of the Duncans and the
specter of the little old house at Salem into a matrimonial engagement.
And from the time they were engaged he had no more trouble with them.
They were rival ghosts no longer. They were married by their spiritual
chaplain the very same day that Eliphalet Duncan met Kitty Sutton in
front of the railing of Grace Church. The ghostly bride and bridegroom
went away at once on their bridal tour, and Lord and Lady Duncan went
down to the little old house at Salem to pass their honeymoon."

Uncle Larry stopped. His tiny cigar was out again. The tale of the rival
ghosts was told. A solemn silence fell on the little party on the deck
of the ocean steamer, broken harshly by the hoarse roar of the
fog-horn.



THE DAMNED THING

BY AMBROSE BIERCE


I

ONE DOES NOT ALWAYS EAT WHAT IS ON THE TABLE

By the light of a tallow candle which had been placed on one end of a
rough table a man was reading something written in a book. It was an old
account book, greatly worn; and the writing was not, apparently, very
legible, for the man sometimes held the page close to the flame of the
candle to get a stronger light on it. The shadow of the book would then
throw into obscurity a half of the room, darkening a number of faces and
figures; for besides the reader, eight other men were present. Seven of
them sat against the rough log walls, silent, motionless, and the room
being small, not very far from the table. By extending an arm any one of
them could have touched the eighth man, who lay on the table, face
upward, partly covered by a sheet, his arms at his sides. He was dead.

The man with the book was not reading aloud, and no one spoke; all
seemed to be waiting for something to occur; the dead man only was
without expectation. From the blank darkness outside came in, through
the aperture that served for a window, all the ever unfamiliar noises of
night in the wilderness--the long nameless note of a distant coyote; the
stilly pulsing thrill of tireless insects in trees; strange cries of
night birds, so different from those of the birds of day; the drone of
great blundering beetles, and all that mysterious chorus of small sounds
that seem always to have been but half heard when they have suddenly
ceased, as if conscious of an indiscretion. But nothing of all this was
noted in that company; its members were not overmuch addicted to idle
interest in matters of no practical importance; that was obvious in
every line of their rugged faces--obvious even in the dim light of the
single candle. They were evidently men of the vicinity--farmers and
woodsmen.

The person reading was a trifle different; one would have said of him
that he was of the world, worldly, albeit there was that in his attire
which attested a certain fellowship with the organisms of his
environment. His coat would hardly have passed muster in San Francisco;
his foot-gear was not of urban origin, and the hat that lay by him on
the floor (he was the only one uncovered) was such that if one had
considered it as an article of mere personal adornment he would have
missed its meaning. In countenance the man was rather prepossessing,
with just a hint of sternness; though that he may have assumed or
cultivated, as appropriate to one in authority. For he was a coroner. It
was by virtue of his office that he had possession of the book in which
he was reading; it had been found among the dead man's effects--in his
cabin, where the inquest was now taking place.

When the coroner had finished reading he put the book into his breast
pocket. At that moment the door was pushed open and a young man entered.
He, clearly, was not of mountain birth and breeding: he was clad as
those who dwell in cities. His clothing was dusty, however, as from
travel. He had, in fact, been riding hard to attend the inquest.

The coroner nodded; no one else greeted him.

"We have waited for you," said the coroner. "It is necessary to have
done with this business to-night."

The young man smiled. "I am sorry to have kept you," he said. "I went
away, not to evade your summons, but to post to my newspaper an account
of what I suppose I am called back to relate."

The coroner smiled.

"The account that you posted to your newspaper," he said, "differs,
probably, from that which you will give here under oath."

"That," replied the other, rather hotly and with a visible flush, "is as
you please. I used manifold paper and have a copy of what I sent. It
was not written as news, for it is incredible, but as fiction. It may go
as a part of my testimony under oath."

"But you say it is incredible."

"That is nothing to you, sir, if I also swear that it is true."

The coroner was silent for a time, his eyes upon the floor. The men
about the sides of the cabin talked in whispers, but seldom withdrew
their gaze from the face of the corpse. Presently the coroner lifted his
eyes and said: "We will resume the inquest."

The men removed their hats. The witness was sworn.

"What is your name?" the coroner asked.

"William Harker."

"Age?"

"Twenty-seven."

"You knew the deceased, Hugh Morgan?"

"Yes."

"You were with him when he died?"

"Near him."

"How did that happen--your presence, I mean?"

"I was visiting him at this place to shoot and fish. A part of my
purpose, however, was to study him and his odd, solitary way of life. He
seemed a good model for a character in fiction. I sometimes write
stories."

"I sometimes read them."

"Thank you."

"Stories in general--not yours."

Some of the jurors laughed. Against a somber background humor shows high
lights. Soldiers in the intervals of battle laugh easily, and a jest in
the death chamber conquers by surprise.

"Relate the circumstances of this man's death," said the coroner. "You
may use any notes or memoranda that you please."

The witness understood. Pulling a manuscript from his breast pocket he
held it near the candle and turning the leaves until he found the
passage that he wanted began to read.


II

WHAT MAY HAPPEN IN A FIELD OF WILD OATS

". . . The sun had hardly risen when we left the house. We were looking
for quail, each with a shotgun, but we had only one dog. Morgan said
that our best ground was beyond a certain ridge that he pointed out, and
we crossed it by a trail through the _chaparral_. On the other side was
comparatively level ground, thickly covered with wild oats. As we
emerged from the _chaparral_ Morgan was but a few yards in advance.
Suddenly we heard, at a little distance to our right and partly in
front, a noise as of some animal thrashing about in the bushes, which we
could see were violently agitated.

"'We've started a deer,' I said. 'I wish we had brought a rifle.'

"Morgan, who had stopped and was intently watching the agitated
_chaparral_, said nothing, but had cocked both barrels of his gun and
was holding it in readiness to aim. I thought him a trifle excited,
which surprised me, for he had a reputation for exceptional coolness,
even in moments of sudden and imminent peril.

"'O, come,' I said. 'You are not going to fill up a deer with
quail-shot, are you?'

"Still he did not reply; but catching a sight of his face as he turned
it slightly toward me I was struck by the intensity of his look. Then I
understood that we had serious business in hand and my first conjecture
was that we had 'jumped' a grizzly. I advanced to Morgan's side, cocking
my piece as I moved.

"The bushes were now quiet and the sounds had ceased, but Morgan was as
attentive to the place as before.

"'What is it? What the devil is it?' I asked.

"'That Damned Thing!' he replied, without turning his head. His voice
was husky and unnatural. He trembled visibly.

"I was about to speak further, when I observed the wild oats near the
place of the disturbance moving in the most inexplicable way. I can
hardly describe it. It seemed as if stirred by a streak of wind, which
not only bent it, but pressed it down--crushed it so that it did not
rise; and this movement was slowly prolonging itself directly toward us.

"Nothing that I had ever seen had affected me so strangely as this
unfamiliar and unaccountable phenomenon, yet I am unable to recall any
sense of fear. I remember--and tell it here because, singularly enough,
I recollected it then--that once in looking carelessly out of an open
window I momentarily mistook a small tree close at hand for one of a
group of larger trees at a little distance away. It looked the same size
as the others, but being more distinctly and sharply defined in mass and
detail seemed out of harmony with them. It was a mere falsification of
the law of aerial perspective, but it startled, almost terrified me. We
so rely upon the orderly operation of familiar natural laws that any
seeming suspension of them is noted as a menace to our safety, a warning
of unthinkable calamity. So now the apparently causeless movement of the
herbage and the slow, undeviating approach of the line of disturbances
were distinctly disquieting. My companion appeared actually frightened,
and I could hardly credit my senses when I saw him suddenly throw his
gun to his shoulder and fire both barrels at the agitated grain! Before
the smoke of the discharge had cleared away I heard a loud savage cry--a
scream like that of a wild animal--and flinging his gun upon the ground
Morgan sprang away and ran swiftly from the spot. At the same instant I
was thrown violently to the ground by the impact of something unseen in
the smoke--some soft, heavy substance that seemed thrown against me with
great force.

"Before I could get upon my feet and recover my gun, which seemed to
have been struck from my hands, I heard Morgan crying out as if in
mortal agony, and mingling with his cries were such hoarse, savage
sounds as one hears from fighting dogs. Inexpressibly terrified, I
struggled to my feet and looked in the direction of Morgan's retreat;
and may Heaven in mercy spare me from another sight like that! At a
distance of less than thirty yards was my friend, down upon one knee,
his head thrown back at a frightful angle, hatless, his long hair in
disorder and his whole body in violent movement from side to side,
backward and forward. His right arm was lifted and seemed to lack the
hand--at least, I could see none. The other arm was invisible. At times,
as my memory now reports this extraordinary scene, I could discern but a
part of his body; it was as if he had been partly blotted out--I cannot
otherwise express it--then a shifting of his position would bring it all
into view again.

"All this must have occurred within a few seconds, yet in that time
Morgan assumed all the postures of a determined wrestler vanquished by
superior weight and strength. I saw nothing but him, and him not always
distinctly. During the entire incident his shouts and curses were heard,
as if through an enveloping uproar of such sounds of rage and fury as I
had never heard from the throat of man or brute!

"For a moment only I stood irresolute, then throwing down my gun I ran
forward to my friend's assistance. I had a vague belief that he was
suffering from a fit, or some form of convulsion. Before I could reach
his side he was down and quiet. All sounds had ceased, but with a
feeling of such terror as even these awful events had not inspired I now
saw again the mysterious movement of the wild oats, prolonging itself
from the trampled area about the prostrate man toward the edge of a
wood. It was only when it had reached the wood that I was able to
withdraw my eyes and look at my companion. He was dead."


III

A MAN THOUGH NAKED MAY BE IN RAGS

The coroner rose from his seat and stood beside the dead man. Lifting an
edge of the sheet he pulled it away, exposing the entire body,
altogether naked and showing in the candle-light a claylike yellow. It
had, however, broad maculations of bluish black, obviously caused by
extravasated blood from contusions. The chest and sides looked as if
they had been beaten with a bludgeon. There were dreadful lacerations;
the skin was torn in strips and shreds.

The coroner moved round to the end of the table and undid a silk
handkerchief which had been passed under the chin and knotted on the top
of the head. When the handkerchief was drawn away it exposed what had
been the throat. Some of the jurors who had risen to get a better view
repented their curiosity and turned away their faces. Witness Harker
went to the open window and leaned out across the sill, faint and sick.
Dropping the handkerchief upon the dead man's neck the coroner stepped
to an angle of the room and from a pile of clothing produced one garment
after another, each of which he held up a moment for inspection. All
were torn, and stiff with blood. The jurors did not make a closer
inspection. They seemed rather uninterested. They had, in truth, seen
all this before; the only thing that was new to them being Harker's
testimony.

"Gentlemen," the coroner said, "we have no more evidence, I think. Your
duty has been already explained to you; if there is nothing you wish to
ask you may go outside and consider your verdict."

The foreman rose--a tall, bearded man of sixty, coarsely clad.

"I should like to ask one question, Mr. Coroner," he said. "What asylum
did this yer last witness escape from?"

"Mr. Harker," said the coroner, gravely and tranquilly, "from what
asylum did you last escape?"

Harker flushed crimson again, but said nothing, and the seven jurors
rose and solemnly filed out of the cabin.

"If you have done insulting me, sir," said Harker, as soon as he and the
officer were left alone with the dead man, "I suppose I am at liberty to
go?"

"Yes."

Harker started to leave, but paused, with his hand on the door latch.
The habit of his profession was strong in him--stronger than his sense
of personal dignity. He turned about and said:

"The book that you have there--I recognize it as Morgan's diary. You
seemed greatly interested in it; you read in it while I was testifying.
May I see it? The public would like----"

"The book will cut no figure in this matter," replied the official,
slipping it into his coat pocket; "all the entries in it were made
before the writer's death."

As Harker passed out of the house the jury reëntered and stood about the
table, on which the now covered corpse showed under the sheet with sharp
definition. The foreman seated himself near the candle, produced from
his breast pocket a pencil and scrap of paper and wrote rather
laboriously the following verdict, which with various degrees of effort
all signed:

"We, the jury, do find that the remains come to their death at the hands
of a mountain lion, but some of us thinks, all the same, they had fits."


IV

AN EXPLANATION FROM THE TOMB

In the diary of the late Hugh Morgan are certain interesting entries
having, possibly, a scientific value as suggestions. At the inquest upon
his body the book was not put in evidence; possibly the coroner thought
it not worth while to confuse the jury. The date of the first of the
entries mentioned cannot be ascertained; the upper part of the leaf is
torn away; the part of the entry remaining follows:

". . . would run in a half-circle, keeping his head turned always toward
the center, and again he would stand still, barking furiously. At last
he ran away into the brush as fast as he could go. I thought at first
that he had gone mad, but on returning to the house found no other
alteration in his manner than what was obviously due to fear of
punishment.

"Can a dog see with his nose? Do odors impress some cerebral center with
images of the thing that emitted them? . . .

"Sept. 2.--Looking at the stars last night as they rose above the crest
of the ridge east of the house, I observed them successively
disappear--from left to right. Each was eclipsed but an instant, and
only a few at the same time, but along the entire length of the ridge
all that were within a degree or two of the crest were blotted out. It
was as if something had passed along between me and them; but I could
not see it, and the stars were not thick enough to define its outline.
Ugh! I don't like this." . . .

Several weeks' entries are missing, three leaves being torn from the
book.

"Sept. 27.--It has been about here again--I find evidences of its
presence every day. I watched again all last night in the same cover,
gun in hand, double-charged with buckshot. In the morning the fresh
footprints were there, as before. Yet I would have sworn that I did not
sleep--indeed, I hardly sleep at all. It is terrible, insupportable! If
these amazing experiences are real I shall go mad; if they are fanciful
I am mad already.

"Oct. 3.--I shall not go--it shall not drive me away. No, this is _my_
house, _my_ land. God hates a coward. . . .

"Oct. 5.--I can stand it no longer; I have invited Harker to pass a few
weeks with me--he has a level head. I can judge from his manner if he
thinks me mad.

"Oct. 7.--I have the solution of the mystery; it came to me last
night--suddenly, as by revelation. How simple--how terribly simple!

"There are sounds that we cannot hear. At either end of the scale are
notes that stir no chord of that imperfect instrument, the human ear.
They are too high or too grave. I have observed a flock of blackbirds
occupying an entire tree-top--the tops of several trees--and all in full
song. Suddenly--in a moment--at absolutely the same instant--all spring
into the air and fly away. How? They could not all see one
another--whole tree-tops intervened. At no point could a leader have
been visible to all. There must have been a signal of warning or
command, high and shrill above the din, but by me unheard. I have
observed, too, the same simultaneous flight when all were silent, among
not only blackbirds, but other birds--quail, for example, widely
separated by bushes--even on opposite sides of a hill.

"It is known to seamen that a school of whales basking or sporting on
the surface of the ocean, miles apart, with the convexity of the earth
between, will sometimes dive at the same instant--all gone out of sight
in a moment. The signal has been sounded--too grave for the ear of the
sailor at the masthead and his comrades on the deck--who nevertheless
feel its vibrations in the ship as the stones of a cathedral are stirred
by the bass of the organ.

"As with sounds, so with colors. At each end of the solar spectrum the
chemist can detect the presence of what are known as 'actinic' rays.
They represent colors--integral colors in the composition of
light--which we are unable to discern. The human eye is an imperfect
instrument; its range is but a few octaves of the real 'chromatic
scale.' I am not mad; there are colors that we cannot see.

"And, God help me! the Damned Thing is of such a color!"



THE INTERVAL[J]

BY VINCENT O'SULLIVAN

From _The Boston Evening Transcript_


Mrs. Wilton passed through a little alley leading from one of the gates
which are around Regent's Park, and came out on the wide and quiet
street. She walked along slowly, peering anxiously from side to side so
as not to overlook the number. She pulled her furs closer round her;
after her years in India this London damp seemed very harsh. Still, it
was not a fog to-day. A dense haze, gray and tinged ruddy, lay between
the houses, sometimes blowing with a little wet kiss against the face.
Mrs. Wilton's hair and eyelashes and her furs were powdered with tiny
drops. But there was nothing in the weather to blur the sight; she could
see the faces of people some distance off and read the signs on the
shops.

Before the door of a dealer in antiques and second-hand furniture she
paused and looked through the shabby uncleaned window at an unassorted
heap of things, many of them of great value. She read the Polish name
fastened on the pane in white letters.

"Yes; this is the place."

She opened the door, which met her entrance with an ill-tempered jangle.
From somewhere in the black depths of the shop the dealer came forward.
He had a clammy white face, with a sparse black beard, and wore a skull
cap and spectacles. Mrs. Wilton spoke to him in a low voice.

A look of complicity, of cunning, perhaps of irony, passed through the
dealer's cynical and sad eyes. But he bowed gravely and respectfully.

"Yes, she is here, madam. Whether she will see you or not I do not know.
She is not always well; she has her moods. And then, we have to be so
careful. The police--Not that they would touch a lady like you. But the
poor alien has not much chance these days."

Mrs. Wilton followed him to the back of the shop, where there was a
winding staircase. She knocked over a few things in her passage and
stooped to pick them up, but the dealer kept muttering, "It does not
matter--surely it does not matter." He lit a candle.

"You must go up these stairs. They are very dark; be careful. When you
come to a door, open it and go straight in."

He stood at the foot of the stairs holding the light high above his head
and she ascended.

The room was not very large, and it seemed very ordinary. There were
some flimsy, uncomfortable chairs in gilt and red. Two large palms were
in corners. Under a glass cover on the table was a view of Rome. The
room had not a business-like look, thought Mrs. Wilton; there was no
suggestion of the office or waiting-room where people came and went all
day; yet you would not say that it was a private room which was lived
in. There were no books or papers about; every chair was in the place it
had been placed when the room was last swept; there was no fire and it
was very cold.

To the right of the window was a door covered with a plush curtain. Mrs.
Wilton sat down near the table and watched this door. She thought it
must be through it that the soothsayer would come forth. She laid her
hands listlessly one on top of the other on the table. This must be the
tenth seer she had consulted since Hugh had been killed. She thought
them over. No, this must be the eleventh. She had forgotten that
frightening man in Paris who said he had been a priest. Yet of them all
it was only he who had told her anything definite. But even he could do
no more than tell the past. He told of her marriage; he even had the
duration of it right--twenty-one months. He told too of their time in
India--at least, he knew that her husband had been a soldier, and said
he had been on service in the "colonies." On the whole, though, he had
been as unsatisfactory as the others. None of them had given her the
consolation she sought. She did not want to be told of the past. If Hugh
was gone forever, then with him had gone all her love of living, her
courage, all her better self. She wanted to be lifted out of the
despair, the dazed aimless drifting from day to day, longing at night
for the morning, and in the morning for the fall of night, which had
been her life since his death. If somebody could assure her that it was
not all over, that he was somewhere, not too far away, unchanged from
what he had been here, with his crisp hair and rather slow smile and
lean brown face, that he saw her sometimes, that he had not forgotten
her. . . .

"Oh, Hugh, darling!"

When she looked up again the woman was sitting there before her. Mrs.
Wilton had not heard her come in. With her experience, wide enough now,
of seers and fortune-tellers of all kinds, she saw at once that this
woman was different from the others. She was used to the quick
appraising look, the attempts, sometimes clumsy, but often cleverly
disguised, to collect some fragments of information whereupon to erect a
plausible vision. But this woman looked as if she took it out of
herself.

Not that her appearance suggested intercourse with the spiritual world
more than the others had done; it suggested that, in fact, considerably
less. Some of the others were frail, yearning, evaporated creatures, and
the ex-priest in Paris had something terrible and condemned in his look.
He might well sup with the devil, that man, and probably did in some way
or other.

But this was a little fat, weary-faced woman about fifty, who only did
not look like a cook because she looked more like a sempstress. Her
black dress was all covered with white threads. Mrs. Wilton looked at
her with some embarrassment. It seemed more reasonable to be asking a
woman like this about altering a gown than about intercourse with the
dead. That seemed even absurd in such a very commonplace presence. The
woman seemed timid and oppressed: she breathed heavily and kept rubbing
her dingy hands, which looked moist, one over the other; she was always
wetting her lips, and coughed with a little dry cough. But in her these
signs of nervous exhaustion suggested overwork in a close atmosphere,
bending too close over the sewing-machine. Her uninteresting hair, like
a rat's pelt, was eked out with a false addition of another color. Some
threads had got into her hair too.

Her harried, uneasy look caused Mrs. Wilton to ask compassionately: "Are
you much worried by the police?"

"Oh, the police! Why don't they leave us alone? You never know who comes
to see you. Why don't they leave me alone? I'm a good woman. I only
think. What I do is no harm to any one." . . .

She continued in an uneven querulous voice, always rubbing her hands
together nervously. She seemed to the visitor to be talking at random,
just gabbling, like children do sometimes before they fall asleep.

"I wanted to explain----" hesitated Mrs. Wilton.

But the woman, with her head pressed close against the back of the
chair, was staring beyond her at the wall. Her face had lost whatever
little expression it had; it was blank and stupid. When she spoke it was
very slowly and her voice was guttural.

"Can't you see him? It seems strange to me that you can't see him. He is
so near you. He is passing his arm round your shoulders."

This was a frequent gesture of Hugh's. And indeed at that moment she
felt that somebody was very near her, bending over her. She was
enveloped in tenderness. Only a very thin veil, she felt, prevented her
from seeing. But the woman saw. She was describing Hugh minutely, even
the little things like the burn on his right hand.

"Is he happy? Oh, ask him does he love me?"

The result was so far beyond anything she had hoped for that she was
stunned. She could only stammer the first thing that came into her head.
"Does he love me?"

"He loves you. He won't answer, but he loves you. He wants me to make
you see him; he is disappointed, I think, because I can't. But I can't
unless you do it yourself."

After a while she said:

"I think you will see him again. You think of nothing else. He is very
close to us now."

Then she collapsed, and fell into a heavy sleep and lay there
motionless, hardly breathing. Mrs. Wilton put some notes on the table
and stole out on tip-toe.

       *       *       *       *       *

She seemed to remember that downstairs in the dark shop the dealer with
the waxen face detained her to show some old silver and jewelry and such
like. But she did not come to herself, she had no precise recollection
of anything, till she found herself entering a church near Portland
Place. It was an unlikely act in her normal moments. Why did she go in
there? She acted like one walking in her sleep.

The church was old and dim, with high black pews. There was nobody
there. Mrs. Wilton sat down in one of the pews and bent forward with her
face in her hands.

After a few minutes she saw that a soldier had come in noiselessly and
placed himself about half-a-dozen rows ahead of her. He never turned
round; but presently she was struck by something familiar in the figure.
First she thought vaguely that the soldier looked like her Hugh. Then,
when he put up his hand, she saw who it was.

She hurried out of the pew and ran towards him. "Oh, Hugh, Hugh, have
you come back?"

He looked round with a smile. He had not been killed. It was all a
mistake. He was going to speak. . . .

Footsteps sounded hollow in the empty church. She turned and glanced
down the dim aisle.

It was an old sexton or verger who approached. "I thought I heard you
call," he said.

"I was speaking to my husband." But Hugh was nowhere to be seen.

"He was here a moment ago." She looked about in anguish. "He must have
gone to the door."

"There's nobody here," said the old man gently. "Only you and me. Ladies
are often taken funny since the war. There was one in here yesterday
afternoon said she was married in this church and her husband had
promised to meet her here. Perhaps you were married here?"

"No," said Mrs. Wilton, desolately. "I was married in India."

       *       *       *       *       *

It might have been two or three days after that, when she went into a
small Italian restaurant in the Bayswater district. She often went out
for her meals now: she had developed an exhausting cough, and she found
that it somehow became less troublesome when she was in a public place
looking at strange faces. In her flat there were all the things that
Hugh had used; the trunks and bags still had his name on them with the
labels of places where they had been together. They were like stabs. In
the restaurant, people came and went, many soldiers too among them, just
glancing at her in her corner.

This day, as it chanced, she was rather late and there was nobody there.
She was very tired. She nibbled at the food they brought her. She could
almost have cried from tiredness and loneliness and the ache in her
heart.

Then suddenly he was before her, sitting there opposite at the table. It
was as it was in the days of their engagement, when they used sometimes
to lunch at restaurants. He was not in uniform. He smiled at her and
urged her to eat, just as he used in those days. . . .

I met her that afternoon as she was crossing Kensington Gardens, and she
told me about it.

"I have been with Hugh." She seemed most happy.

"Did he say anything?"

"N-no. Yes. I think he did, but I could not quite hear. My head was so
very tired. The next time----"

       *       *       *       *       *

I did not see her for some time after that. She found, I think, that by
going to places where she had once seen him--the old church, the little
restaurant--she was more certain to see him again. She never saw him at
home. But in the street or the park he would often walk along beside
her. Once he saved her from being run over. She said she actually felt
his hand grabbing her arm, suddenly, when the car was nearly upon her.

She had given me the address of the clairvoyant; and it is through that
strange woman that I know--or seem to know--what followed.

Mrs. Wilton was not exactly ill last winter, not so ill, at least, as to
keep to her bedroom. But she was very thin, and her great handsome eyes
always seemed to be staring at some point beyond, searching. There was a
look in them that seamen's eyes sometimes have when they are drawing on
a coast of which they are not very certain. She lived almost in
solitude: she hardly ever saw anybody except when they sought her out.
To those who were anxious about her she laughed and said she was very
well.

One sunny morning she was lying awake, waiting for the maid to bring her
tea. The shy London sunlight peeped through the blinds. The room had a
fresh and happy look.

When she heard the door open she thought that the maid had come in. Then
she saw that Hugh was standing at the foot of the bed. He was in uniform
this time, and looked as he had looked the day he went away.

"Oh, Hugh, speak to me! Will you not say just one word?"

He smiled and threw back his head, just as he used to in the old days at
her mother's house when he wanted to call her out of the room without
attracting the attention of the others. He moved towards the door, still
signing to her to follow him. He picked up her slippers on his way and
held them out to her as if he wanted her to put them on. She slipped out
of bed hastily. . . .

       *       *       *       *       *

It is strange that when they came to look through her things after her
death the slippers could never be found.

FOOTNOTE:

[J] Copyright, 1917, by The Boston Transcript Co. Copyright, 1918, by
Vincent O'Sullivan.



"DEY AIN'T NO GHOSTS"[K]

BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER


Once 'pon a time dey was a li'l' black boy whut he name was Mose. An'
whin he come erlong to be 'bout knee-high to a mewel, he 'gin to git
powerful 'fraid ob ghosts, 'ca'se dat am sure a mighty ghostly location
whut he lib' in, 'ca'se dey's a grabeyard in de hollow, an' a
buryin'-ground on de hill, an' a cemuntary in betwixt an' between, an'
dey ain't nuffin' but trees nowhar excipt in de clearin' by de shanty
an' down de hollow whar de pumpkin-patch am.

An' whin de night come' erlong, dey ain't no sounds _at_ all whut kin be
heard in dat locality but de rain-doves, whut mourn out,
"Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" jes dat trembulous _an'_ scary, an' de owls, whut mourn
out, "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!" more trembulous an' scary dan dat, an' de
wind, whut mourn out, "You-_you_-o-o-o!" mos' scandalous' trembulous an'
scary ob all. Dat a powerful onpleasant locality for a li'l' black boy
whut he name was Mose.

'Ca'se dat li'l' black boy he so specially black he can't be seen in de
dark _at_ all 'cept by de whites ob he eyes. So whin he go' outen de
house _at_ night, he ain't dast shut he eyes, 'ca'se den ain't nobody
can see him in de least. He jest as invidsible as nuffin'. An' who know'
but whut a great, big ghost bump right into him 'ca'se it can't see him?
An' dat shore w'u'd scare dat li'l' black boy powerful' bad, 'ca'se
yever'body knows whut a cold, damp pussonality a ghost is.

So whin dat li'l' black Mose go' outen de shanty at night, he keep' he
eyes wide open, you may be shore. By day he eyes 'bout de size ob
butter-pats, an' come sundown he eyes 'bout de size ob saucers; but whin
he go' outen de shanty at night, he eyes am de size ob de white chiny
plate whut set on de mantel; an' it powerful' hard to keep eyes whut am
de size ob dat from a-winkin' an' a-blinkin'.

So whin Hallowe'en come erlong, dat lil' black Mose he jes mek' up he
mind he ain't gwine outen he shack _at_ all. He cogitate' he gwine stay
right snug in de shack wid he pa an' he ma, 'ca'se de rain-doves tek
notice dat de ghosts are philanderin' roun' de country, 'ca'se dey mourn
out, "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" an' de owls dey mourn out, "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!"
and de wind mourn out, "You-_you_-o-o-o!" De eyes ob dat li'l' black
Mose dey as big as de white chiny plate whut set on de mantel by side de
clock, an' de sun jes a-settin'.

So dat all right. Li'l' black Mose he scrooge' back in de corner by de
fireplace, an' he 'low' he gwine stay dere till he gwine _to_ bed. But
byme-by Sally Ann, whut live' up de road, draps in, an' Mistah Sally
Ann, whut is her husban', he draps in, an' Zack Badget an' de
school-teacher whut board' at Unc' Silas Diggs's house drap in, an' a
powerful lot ob folks drap in. An' li'l' black Mose he seen dat gwine be
one s'prise-party, an' he right down cheerful 'bout dat.

So all dem folks shake dere hands an' 'low "Howdy," an' some ob dem say:
"Why, dere 's li'l Mose! Howdy, li'l' Mose?" An' he so please' he jes
grin' an' grin', 'ca'se he aint reckon whut gwine happen. So byme-by
Sally Ann, whut live up de road, she say', "Ain't no sort o' Hallowe'en
lest we got a jack-o'-lantern." An' de school-teacher, whut board at
Unc' Silas Diggs's house, she 'low', "Hallowe'en jes no Hallowe'en _at_
all 'thout we got a jack-o'-lantern." An' li'l' black Mose he stop'
a-grinnin', an' he scrooge' so far back in de corner he 'mos' scrooge
frough de wall. But dat ain't no use, 'ca'se he ma say', "Mose, go on
down to de pumpkin-patch an' fotch a pumpkin."

"I ain't want to go," say' li'l' black Mose.

"Go on erlong wid yo'," say' he ma, right commandin'.

"I ain't want to go," say' Mose ag'in.

"Why ain't yo' want to go?" he ma ask'.

"'Case I 's afraid ob de ghosts," say' li'l' black Mose, an' dat de
particular truth an' no mistake.

"Dey ain't no ghosts," say' de school-teacher, whut board at Unc' Silas
Diggs's house, right peart.

"'Co'se dey ain't no ghosts," say' Zack Badget, whut dat 'fear'd ob
ghosts he ain't dar' come to li'l' black Mose's house ef de
school-teacher ain't ercompany him.

"Go 'long wid your ghosts!" say' li'l' black Mose's ma.

"What' yo' pick up dat nomsense?" say' he pa. "Dey ain't no ghosts."

An' dat whut all dat s'prise-party 'low: dey ain't no ghosts. An' dey
'low dey mus' hab a jack-o'-lantern or de fun all sp'iled. So dat li'l'
black boy whut he name is Mose he done got to fotch a pumpkin from de
pumpkin-patch down de hollow. So he step' outen de shanty an' he stan'
on de door-step twell he get' he eyes pried open as big as de bottom ob
he ma's wash-tub, mostly, an' he say', "Dey ain't no ghosts." An' he
put' one foot on de ground, an' dat was de fust step.

An' de rain-dove say', "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!"

An' li'l' black Mose he tuck anudder step.

An' de owl mourn' out, "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!"

An' li'l' black Mose he tuck anudder step.

An' de wind sob' out, "You-_you_-o-o-o!"

An' li'l' black Mose he tuck one look ober he shoulder, an' he shut he
eyes so tight dey hurt round de aidges, an' he pick' up he foots an'
run. Yas, sah, he run' right peart fast. An' he say': "Dey ain't no
ghosts. Dey ain't no ghosts." An' he run' erlong de paff whut lead' by
de buryin'-ground on de hill, 'ca'se dey ain't no fince eround dat
buryin'-ground _at_ all.

No fince; jes de big trees whut de owls an' de rain-doves sot in an'
mourn an' sob, an' whut de wind sigh an' cry frough. An' byme-by
somefin' jes _brush'_ li'l' Mose on de arm, which mek' him run jes a bit
more faster. An' byme-by somefin' jes _brush'_ li'l' Mose on de cheek,
which mek' him run erbout as fast as he can. An' byme-by somefin'
_grab'_ li'l' Mose by de aidge of he coat, an' he fight' an' struggle'
an' cry' out: "Dey ain't no ghosts. Dey ain't no ghosts." An' dat ain't
nuffin' but de wild brier whut grab' him, an' dat ain't nuffin' but de
leaf ob a tree whut brush' he cheek, an' dat ain't nuffin' but de branch
ob a hazel-bush whut brush he arm. But he downright scared jes de same,
an' he ain't lose no time, 'ca'se de wind an' de owls an' de rain-doves
dey signerfy whut ain't no good. So he scoot' past dat buryin'-ground
whut on de hill, an' dat cemuntary whut betwixt an' between, an' dat
grabeyard in de hollow, twell he come' to de pumpkin-patch, an' he
rotch' down an' tek' erhold ob de bestest pumpkin whut in de patch. An'
he right smart scared. He jes de mostest scared li'l' black boy whut
yever was. He ain't gwine open he eyes fo' nuffin', 'ca'se de wind go,
"You-_you_-o-o-o!" an' de owls go, "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!" an' de
rain-doves go, "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!"

He jes speculate', "Dey ain't no ghosts," an' wish' he hair don't stand
on ind dat way. An' he jes cogitate', "Dey ain't no ghosts," an' wish'
he goose-pimples don't rise up dat way. An' he jes 'low', "Dey ain't no
ghosts," an' wish' he backbone ain't all trembulous wid chills dat way.
So he rotch' down, an' he rotch' down, twell he git' a good hold on dat
pricklesome stem of dat bestest pumpkin whut in de patch, an' he jes
yank' dat stem wid all he might.

"_Let loosen my head!_" say' a big voice all on a suddent.

Dat li'l' black boy whut he name is Mose he jump' 'most outen he skin.
He open' he eyes, an' he 'gin' to shake like de aspen-tree, 'ca'se whut
dat a-standin' right dar behint him but a 'mendjous big ghost! Yas, sah,
dat de bigges', whites' ghost whut yever was. An' it ain't got no head.
Ain't got no head _at_ all! Li'l' black Mose he jes drap' on he knees
an' he beg' an' pray':

"Oh, 'scuse me! 'Scuse me, Mistah Ghost!" he beg'. "Ah ain't mean no
harm _at_ all."

"Whut for you try to take my head?" ask' de ghost in dat fearsome voice
whut like de damp wind outen de cellar.

"'Scuse me! 'Scuse me!" beg' li'l' Mose. "Ah ain't know dat was yo'
head, an' I ain't know you was dar _at_ all. 'Scuse me!"

"Ah 'scuse you ef you do me dis favor," say' de ghost. "Ah got somefin'
powerful _im_portant to say unto you, an' Ah can't say hit 'ca'se Ah
ain't got no head; an' whin Ah ain't got no head, Ah ain't got no mouf,
an' whin Ah ain't got no mouf, Ah can't talk _at_ all."

An' dat right logical fo' shore. Can't nobody talk whin he ain't got no
mouf, an' can't nobody have no mouf whin he ain't got no head, an' whin
li'l' black Mose he look', he see' dat ghost ain't got no head _at_ all.
Nary head.

So de ghost say':

"Ah come on down yere fo' to git a pumpkin fo' a head, an' Ah pick' dat
_ix_act pumpkin whut yo' gwine tek, an' Ah don't like dat one bit. No,
sah. Ah feel like Ah pick yo' up an' carry yo' away, an' nobody see you
no more for yever. But Ah got somefin' powerful _im_portant to say unto
yo', an' if yo' pick up dat pumpkin an' sot in on de place whar my head
ought to be, Ah let you off dis time, 'ca'se Ah ain't been able to talk
fo' so long Ah right hongry to say somefin'."

So li'l' black Mose he heft up dat pumpkin, an' de ghost he bend' down,
an' li'l' black Mose he sot dat pumpkin on dat ghostses neck. An' right
off dat pumpkin head 'gin' to wink an' blink like a jack-o'-lantern, an'
right off dat pumpkin head 'gin' to glimmer an' glow frough de mouf like
a jack-o'-lantern, an' right off dat ghost start' to speak. Yas, sah,
dass so.

"Whut yo' want to say unto me?" _in_quire' li'l' black Mose.

"Ah want to tell yo'," say' de ghost, "dat yo' ain't need yever be
skeered of ghosts, 'ca'se dey ain't no ghosts."

An' whin he say dat, de ghost jes vanish' away like de smoke in July. He
ain't even linger round dat locality like de smoke in Yoctober. He jes
dissipate' outen de air, an' he gone _in_tirely.

So li'l' Mose he grab' up de nex' bestest pumpkin an' he scoot'. An'
whin he come' to be grabeyard in de hollow, he goin' erlong same as
yever, on'y faster, whin he reckon' he 'll pick up a club _in_ case he
gwine have trouble. An' he rotch' down an' rotch' down an' tek' hold of
a likely appearin' hunk o' wood whut right dar. An' whin he grab' dat
hunk of wood----

"_Let loosen my leg!_" say' a big voice all on a suddent.

Dat li'l' black boy 'most jump' outen he skin, 'ca'se right dar in de
paff is six 'mendjus big ghostes, an' de bigges' ain't got but one leg.
So li'l' black Mose jes natchully handed dat hunk of wood to dat
bigges' ghost, an' he say':

"'Scuse me, Mistah Ghost; Ah ain't know dis your leg."

An' whut dem six ghostes do but stand round an' confabulate? Yas, sah,
dass so. An' whin dey do so, one say':

"'Pears like dis a mighty likely li'l' black boy. Whut we gwine do fo'
to _re_ward him fo' politeness?"

An' anudder say':

"Tell him whut de truth is 'bout ghostes."

So de bigges' ghost he say':

"Ah gwine tell yo' somefin' _im_portant whut yever'body don't know: Dey
_ain't_ no ghosts."

An' whin he say' dat, de ghostes jes natchully vanish away, an' li'l'
black Mose he proceed' up de paff. He so scared he hair jes yank' at de
roots, an' whin de wind go', "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" an' de owl go',
"Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!" an' de rain-doves go, "You-_you_-o-o-o!" he jes
tremble' an' shake'. An' byme-by he come' to de cemuntary whut betwixt
an' between, an' he shore is mighty skeered, 'ca'se dey is a whole
comp'ny of ghostes lined up along de road, an' he 'low' he ain't gwine
spind no more time palaverin' wid ghostes. So he step' often de road fo'
to go round erbout, an' he step' on a pine-stump whut lay right dar.

"_Git offen my chest!_" say' a big voice all on a suddent, 'ca'se dat
stump am been selected by de captain ob de ghostes for to be he chest,
'ca'se he ain't got no chest betwixt he shoulders an' he legs. An' li'l'
black Mose he hop' offen dat stump right peart. Yes, _sah_; right peart.

"'Scuse me! 'Scuse me!" dat li'l' black Mose beg' an' plead, an' de
ghostes ain't know whuther to eat him all up or not, 'ca'se he step' on
de boss ghostes's chest dat a-way. But byme-by they 'low they let him go
'ca'se dat was an accident, an' de captain ghost he say', "Mose, you
Mose, Ah gwine let you off dis time, 'ca'se you ain't nuffin' but a
misabul li'l' tremblin' nigger; but Ah want you should _re_mimimber one
thing mos' particular'."

"Ya-yas, sah," say' dat li'l' black boy; "Ah'll remimber. Whut is dat Ah
got to remimber?"

De captain ghost he swell' up, an' he swell' up, twell he as big as a
house, an' he say' in a voice whut shake' de ground:

"Dey ain't no ghosts."

So li'l' black Mose he bound to remimber dat, an' he rise' up an' mek' a
bow, an' he proceed' toward home right libely. He do, indeed.

An' he gwine along jes as fast as he kin' whin he come' to de aidge ob
de buryin'-ground whut on de hill, an' right dar he bound to stop,
'ca'se de kentry round about am so populate' he ain't able to go frough.
Yas, sah, seem' like all de ghostes in de world habin' a conferince
right dar. Seem' like all de ghosteses whut yever was am havin' a
convintion on dat spot. An' dat li'l' black Mose so skeered he jes fall'
down on a' old log whut dar an' screech' an' moan'. An' all on a suddent
de log up and spoke to li'l' Mose:

"_Get offen me! Get offen me!_" yell' dat log.

So li'l' black Mose he git' offen dat log, an' no mistake.

An' soon as he git' offen de log, de log uprise, an' li'l' black Mose he
see' dat dat log am de king ob all de ghostes. An' whin de king uprise,
all de congregation crowd round li'l' black Mose, an' dey am about leben
millium an' a few lift over. Yes, sah; dat de reg'lar annyul Hallowe'en
convintion whut li'l' black Mose interrup'. Right dar am all de sperits
in de world, an' all de ha'nts in de world, an' all de hobgoblins in de
world, an' all de ghouls in de world, an' all de spicters in de world,
an' all de ghostes in de world. An' whin dey see li'l' black Mose, dey
all gnash dey teef an' grin' 'ca'se it gettin' erlong toward dey-all's
lunch-time. So de king, whut he name old Skull-an'-Bones, he step' on
top ob li'l' Mose's head, an' he say':

"Gin'l'min, de convintion will come to order. De sicretary please note
who is prisint. De firs' business whut come' before de convintion am:
whut we gwine do to a li'l' black boy whut stip' on de king an' maul'
all ober de king an' treat' de king dat disrespictful'."

An' li'l' black Mose jes moan' an' sob':

"'Scuse me! 'Scuse me, Mistah King! Ah ain't mean no harm _at_ all."

But nobody ain't pay no _at_tintion to him _at_ all, 'ca'se yevery one
lookin' at a monstrous big ha'nt whut name Bloody Bones, whut rose up
an' spoke.

"Your Honor, Mistah King, an' gin'l'min _an'_ ladies," he say', "dis am
a right bad case ob _lazy majesty_, 'ca'se de king been step on. Whin
yivery li'l' black boy whut choose' gwine wander round _at_ night an'
stip on de king ob ghostes, it ain't no time for to palaver, it ain't no
time for to prevaricate, it ain't no time for to cogitate, it ain't no
time do nuffin' but tell de truth, an' de whole truth, an' nuffin' but
de truth."

An' all dem ghostes sicond de motion, an' dey confabulate out loud
erbout dat, an' de noise soun' like de rain-doves goin',
"Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" an' de owls goin', "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!" an' de wind
goin', "You-_you_-o-o-o!" So dat risolution am passed unanermous, an' no
mistake.

So de king ob de ghostes, whut name old Skull-an'-Bones, he place' he
hand on de head ob li'l' black Mose, an' he hand feel like a wet rag,
an' he say':

"Dey ain't no ghosts."

An' one ob de hairs whut on de head ob li'l' black Mose turn' white.

An' de monstrous big ha'nt whut he name Bloody Bones he lay he hand on
de head ob li'l' black Mose, an' he hand feel like a toadstool in de
cool ob de day, an' he say':

"Dey ain't no ghosts."

An' anudder ob de hairs whut on de head ob li'l' black Mose turn' white.

An' a heejus sperit whut he name Moldy Pa'm place' he hand on de head ob
li'l' black Mose, an' he hand feel like de yunner side ob a lizard, an'
he say':

"Dey ain't no ghosts."

An' anudder ob de hairs whut on de head ob li'l' black Mose turn' white
_as_ snow.

An' a perticklar bend-up hobgoblin he put' he hand on de head ob li'l'
black Mose, an' he mek' dat same _re_mark, an' dat whole convintion ob
ghostes an' spicters an' ha'nts an' yiver-thing, which am more 'n a
millium, pass by so quick dey-all's hands feel lak de wind whut blow
outen de cellar whin de day am hot, an' dey-all say, "Dey ain't no
ghosts." Yas, sah, dey-all say dem wo'ds so fas' it souun' like de wind
whin it moan frough de turkentine-trees whut behind de cider-priss. An'
yivery hair whut on li'l' black Mose's head turn' white. Dat whut
happen' whin a li'l' black boy gwine meet a ghost convintion dat-away.
Dat's so he ain' gwine forgit to remimber dey ain't no ghostes. 'Ca'se
ef a li'l' black boy gwine imaginate dey _is_ ghostes, he gwine be
skeered in de dark. An' dat a foolish thing for to imaginate.

So prisintly all de ghostes am whiff away, like de fog outen de holler
whin de wind blow' on it, an' li'l' black Mose he ain' see no ca'se for
to remain in dat locality no longer. He rotch' down, an' he raise' up de
pumpkin, an' he perambulate' right quick to he ma's shack, an' he lift'
up de latch, an' he open' de do', an' he yenter' in. An' he say':

"Yere's de pumpkin."

An' he ma an' he pa, an' Sally Ann, whut live up de road, an' Mistah
Sally Ann, whut her husban', an' Zack Badget, an' de school-teacher whut
board at Unc'-Silas Diggs's house, an' all de powerful lot of folks whut
come to de doin's, dey all scrooged back in de cornder ob de shack,
'ca'se Zack Badget he been done tell a ghost-tale, an' de rain-doves
gwine, "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" an' de owls am gwine, "Whut-_whoo_-o-o-o!" and
de wind it gwine, "You-_you_-o-o-o!" an' yiver-body powerful skeered.
'Ca'se li'l' black Mose he come' a-fumblin' an' a-rattlin' at de do' jes
whin dat ghost-tale mos' skeery, an' yiver'body gwine imaginate dat he a
ghost a-fumblin' an' a-rattlin' at de do'. Yas, sah. So li'l' black Mose
he turn' he white head, an' he look' roun' an' peer' roun', an' he say':

"Whut you all skeered fo'?"

'Ca'se ef anybody skeered, he want' to be skeered, too. Dat 's natural.
But de school-teacher, whut live at Unc' Silas Diggs's house, she say':

"Fo' de lan's sake, we fought you was a ghost!"

So li'l' black Mose he sort ob sniff an' he sort ob sneer, an' he 'low':

"Huh! dey ain't no ghosts."

Den he ma she powerful took back dat li'l' black Mose he gwine be so
uppetish an' contrydict folks whut know 'rifmeticks an' algebricks an'
gin'ral countin' widout fingers, like de school-teacher whut board at
Unc' Silas Diggs's house knows, an' she say':

"Huh! whut you know 'bout ghosts, anner ways?"

An' li'l' black Mose he jes kinder stan' on one foot, an' he jes kinder
suck' he thumb, an' he jes kinder 'low':

"I don' know nuffin' erbout ghosts, 'ca'se dey ain't no ghosts."

So he pa gwine whop him fo' tellin' a fib 'bout dey ain' no ghosts whin
yiver'body know' dey is ghosts; but de school-teacher, whut board at
Unc' Silas Diggs's house, she tek' note de hair ob li'l' black Mose's
head am plumb white, an' she tek' note li'l' black Mose's face am de
color ob wood-ash, so she jes retch' one arm round dat li'l' black boy,
an' she jes snuggle' him up, an' she say':

"Honey lamb, don't you be skeered; ain' nobody gwine hurt you. How you
know dey ain't no ghosts?"

An' li'l' black Mose he kinder lean' up 'g'inst de school-teacher whut
board at Unc' Silas Diggs's house, an' he 'low':

"'Ca'se--'ca'se--'ca'se I met de cap'n ghost, an' I met de gin'ral
ghost, an' I met de king ghost, an' I met all de ghostes whut yiver was
in de whole worl', an' yivery ghost say' de same thing: 'Dey ain't no
ghosts.' An' if de cap'n ghost an' de gin'ral ghost an' de king ghost
an' all de ghostes in de whole worl' don' know ef dar am ghostes, who
does?"

"Das right; das right, honey lamb," say' de school-teacher. And she
say': "I been s'picious dey ain' no ghostes dis long whiles, an' now I
know. Ef all de ghostes say dey ain' no ghosts, dey _ain'_ no ghosts."

So yiver'body 'low' dat so 'cep' Zack Badget, whut been tellin' de
ghost-tale, an' he ain' gwine say "Yis" an' he ain' gwine say "No,"
'ca'se he right sweet on de school-teacher; but he know right well he
done seen plinty ghostes in he day. So he boun' to be sure fust. So he
say' to li'l' black Mose:

"'Tain' likely you met up wid a monstrous big ha'nt whut live' down de
lane whut he name Bloody Bones?"

"Yas," say' li'l' black Mose, "I done met up wid him."

"An' did old Bloody Bones done tol' you dey ain' no ghosts?" say Zack
Badget.

"Yas," say' li'l' black Mose, "he done tell me perzackly dat."

"Well, if _he_ tol' you dey ain't no ghosts," say' Zack Badget, "I got
to 'low dey ain't no ghosts, 'ca'se he ain' gwine tell no lie erbout it.
I know dat Bloody Bones ghost sence I was a piccaninny, an' I done met
up wif him a powerful lot o' times, an' he ain' gwine tell no lie erbout
it. Ef dat perticklar ghost say' dey ain't no ghosts, dey _ain't_ no
ghosts."

So yiver-body say':

"Das right; dey ain't no ghosts."

An' dat mek' li'l' black Mose feel mighty good, 'ca'se he ain' lak
ghostes. He reckon' he gwine be a heap mo' comfortable in he mind sence
he know' dey ain' no ghosts, an' he reckon' he ain' gwine be skeered of
nuffin' never no more. He ain' gwine min' de dark, an' he ain' gwine
min' de rain-doves whut go', "Oo-_oo_-o-o-o!" an' he ain' gwine min' de
owls whut go', "Who-_whoo_-o-o-o!" an' he ain' gwine min' de wind whut
go', "You-_you_-o-o-o!" nor nuffin', nohow. He gwine be brave as a lion,
sence he know' fo' sure dey ain' no ghosts. So prisintly he ma say':

"Well, time fo' a li'l' black boy whut he name is Mose to be gwine up de
ladder to de loft to bed."

An' li'l' black Mose he 'low' he gwine wait a bit. He 'low' he gwine jes
wait a li'l' bit. How 'low' he gwine be no trouble _at_ all ef he jes
been let wait twell he ma she gwine up de ladder to de loft to bed, too.
So he ma she say':

"Git erlong wid yo'! Whut yo' skeered ob whin dey ain't no ghosts?"

An' li'l' black Mose he scrooge', and he twist', an' he pucker' up he
mouf, an' he rub' he eyes, an' prisintly he say' right low:

"I ain' skeered ob ghosts whut am, 'ca'se dey ain' no ghosts."

"Den whut _am_ yo' skeered ob?" ask he ma.

"Nuffin'," say' de li'l' black boy whut he name is Mose; "but I jes feel
kinder oneasy 'bout de ghosts whut ain't."

Jes lak white folks! Jes lak white folks!

FOOTNOTE:

[K] Copyright, 1913, by The Century Company.



SOME REAL AMERICAN GHOSTS

THE GIANT GHOST

(Philadelphia _Press_, Sept. 13, 1896)


A case in point is the Benton, Indiana, ghost, which is attracting much
attention. It has been seen and investigated by many people with
reputations for intelligence and good sense, but so far no explanation
of the strange appearance has been found.

A farmer named John W. French and his wife were the first to see this
apparition. They live in the country near Benton, and were driving home
one night from a neighbor's. The road passed an old church, moss-covered
and surrounded by a graveyard, overgrown with shrubbery and filled with
the bones of hundreds who once tilled the soil in the locality. Ten
years ago an aged man who lived alone not far from the old church and
visited the graveyard almost daily to pray over the resting place of
some relative was foully murdered for the store of gold he was supposed
to have hidden about his hermit abode. The robbers and murderers escaped
justice, and the luckless graybeard was buried in the graveyard where he
spent so much time. Just as French and his wife drew within sight of the
white headstones in the churchyard the horses reared back on their
haunches and snorted in terror. French was alarmed, and suspecting
highwaymen had been scented by the horses, he reached for a shotgun
which lay in the bottom of the wagon for just such an emergency. But
before his hand touched it he was startled by a scream from his wife.
Clutching his arm she pointed straight ahead and gasped: "Look, John,
look!"

Far down the road, just beside the glimmering monuments of the old
graveyard, he saw an apparition. It was that of a man with a long white
beard sweeping over his breast. The figure appeared to be eight feet in
height and in one hand it carried a club, such as the brains of the old
man had been beaten out with ten years before. Slowly raising one arm
the ghost with a majestic sweep beckoned French to come ahead. He was
too startled to do anything except try to restrain the prancing horses,
which were straining at the harness in attempts to break away and run. A
cold sweat started out all over the body of the farmer as he realized
that he was at last looking at a ghost, and then the sound of his wife's
voice came to him begging him to return the way they had come and escape
the doom which seemed impending. French was still too much scared and
excited to control the horses, and as he gazed steadfastly at the
fearful white object in the road it slowly began to move toward the
wagon. The club was now raised to its shoulder, as a soldier carries a
rifle, and it seemed to move forward without touching the ground, like a
winged thing.

Then the farmer recovered his faculties and, whirling his team around,
he lashed the horses into a run and began the trip to the house of the
friend he had just left. When they arrived there both the man and his
wife were almost fainting from fright.

The next man to see the ghost was Milton Moon. He had the reputation for
being not only a man of intelligence but one without fear. His
experience was much the same as that of the Frenches and it brought
about several investigations by parties of citizens. In each case they
saw and were convinced of the actual presence of the ghost without being
able to discover any satisfactory explanation.


SOME FAMOUS GHOSTS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITOL

(Philadelphia _Press_, Oct. 2, 1898)

The Capitol at Washington is probably the most thoroughly haunted
building in the world.

Not less than fifteen well-authenticated ghosts infest it, and some of
them are of a more than ordinarily alarming character.

What particularly inspires this last remark is the fact that the Demon
Cat is said to have made its appearance again, after many years of
absence. This is a truly horrific apparition, and no viewless specter
such as the invisible grimalkin that even now trips people up on the
stairs of the old mansion which President Madison and his wife, Dolly,
occupied, at the corner of Eighteenth Street and New York Avenue, after
the White House was burned by the British. That, indeed, is altogether
another story; but the feline spook of the Capitol possesses attributes
much more remarkable, inasmuch as it has the appearance of an ordinary
pussy when first seen, and presently swells up to the size of an
elephant before the eyes of the terrified observer.

The Demon Cat, in whose regard testimony of the utmost seeming
authenticity was put on record thirty-five years ago, has been missing
since 1862. One of the watchmen on duty in the building shot at it then,
and it disappeared. Since then, until now, nothing more has been heard
of it, though one or two of the older policemen of the Capitol force
still speak of the spectral animal in awed whispers.

Their work, when performed in the night, requires more than ordinary
nerve, inasmuch as the interior of the great structure is literally
alive with echoes and other suggestions of the supernatural. In the
daytime, when the place is full of people and the noises of busy life,
the professional guides make a point of showing persons how a whisper
uttered when standing on a certain marble block is distinctly audible at
another point quite a distance away, though unheard in the space
between.

A good many phenomena of this kind are observable in various parts of
the Capitol, and the extent to which they become augmented in
strangeness during the silence of the night may well be conceived. The
silence of any ordinary house is oppressive sometimes to the least
superstitious individual. There are unaccountable noises, and a weird
and eerie sort of feeling comes over him, distracting him perhaps from
the perusal of his book. He finds himself indulging in a vague sense of
alarm, though he cannot imagine any cause for it.

Such suggestions of the supernatural are magnified a thousand fold in
the Capitol, when the watchman pursues his lonely beat through the great
corridors whose immense spaces impress him with a sense of solitariness,
while the shadows thrown by his lantern gather into strange and menacing
forms.

One of the most curious and alarming of the audible phenomena observable
in the Capitol, so all the watchmen say, is a ghostly footstep that
seems to follow anybody who crosses Statuary Hall at night. It was in
this hall, then the chamber of the House of Representatives, that John
Quincy Adams died--at a spot indicated now by a brass tablet set in a
stone slab, where stood his desk. Whether or not it is his ghost that
pursues is a question open to dispute, though it is to be hoped that the
venerable ex-President rests more quietly in his grave. At all events,
the performance is unpleasant, and even gruesome for him who walks
across that historic floor, while the white marble statues of dead
statesmen placed around the walls seem to point at him with outstretched
arms derisively. Like the man in Coleridge's famous lines he

          "--walks in fear and dread,
           Because he knows a frightful fiend doth close behind him tread."

At all events he is uncertain lest such may be the case. And, of course,
the duties of the watchman oblige him, when so assigned, to patrol the
basement of the building, where all sorts of hobgoblins lie in wait.

One of the Capitol policemen was almost frightened out of his wits one
night when a pair of flaming eyes looked out at him from the vaults
under the chamber of the House of Representatives where the wood is
stored for the fires. It was subsequently ascertained that the eyes in
question were those of a fox, which, being chevied through the town, had
sought refuge in the cellar of the edifice occupied by the national
Legislature. The animal was killed for the reason which obliges a white
man to slay any innocent beast that comes under his power.

But, speaking of the steps which follow a person at night across the
floor of Statuary Hall, a bold watchman attempted not long ago to
investigate them on scientific principles. He suspected a trick, and so
bought a pair of rubber shoes, with the aid of which he proceeded to
examine into the question. In the stillness of the night he made a
business of patrolling that portion of the principal Government edifice,
and, sure enough, the footsteps followed along behind him. He cornered
them; it was surely some trickster! There was no possibility for the
joker to get away. But, a moment later, the steps were heard in another
part of the hall; they had evaded him successfully. Similar experiments
were tried on other nights, but they all ended in the same way.

Four years ago there died in Washington an old gentleman who had been
employed for thirty-five years in the Library of Congress. The quarters
of that great book collection, while housed in the Capitol, were
distressingly restricted, and much of the cataloguing was done by the
veteran mentioned in a sort of vault in the sub-cellar. This vault was
crammed with musty tomes from floor to ceiling, and practically no air
was admitted. It was a wonder that he lived so long, but, when he came
to die, he did it rather suddenly. Anyhow, he became paralyzed and
unable to speak, though up to the time of his actual demise he was able
to indicate his wants by gestures. Among other things, he showed plainly
by signs that he wished to be conveyed to the old library.

This wish of his was not obeyed, for reasons which seemed sufficient to
his family, and, finally, he relinquished it by giving up the ghost. It
was afterward learned that he had hidden, almost undoubtedly, $6000
worth of registered United States bonds among the books in his
sub-cellar den--presumably, concealed between the leaves of some of the
moth-eaten volumes of which he was the appointed guardian. Certainly,
there could be no better or less-suspected hiding-place, but this was
just where the trouble came in for the heirs, in whose interest the
books were vainly searched and shaken, when the transfer of the library
from the old to its new quarters was accomplished. The heirs cannot
secure a renewal of the bonds by the Government without furnishing proof
of the loss of the originals, which is lacking, and, meanwhile, it is
said that the ghost of the old gentleman haunts the vault in the
sub-basement which he used to inhabit, looking vainly for the missing
securities.

The old gentleman referred to had some curious traits, though he was by
no means a miser--such as the keeping of every burnt match that he came
across. He would put them away in the drawer of his private desk,
together with expired street-car transfers--the latter done up in neat
bundles, with India-rubber bands.

Quite an intimate friend he had, named Twine, who lost his grip on the
perch, so to speak, about six years back. Mr. Twine dwelt during the
working hours of the day in a sort of cage of iron, like that of
Dreyfus, in the basement of the Capitol. As a matter of fact, Dreyfus
does not occupy a cage at all; the notion that he does so arises from a
misunderstanding of the French word "case," which signifies a hut.

However, Twine's cage was a real one of iron wire, and inside of it he
made a business of stamping the books of the library with a mixture made
of alcohol and lampblack. If the observation of casual employees about
the Capitol is to be trusted, Mr. Twine's ghost is still engaged at
intervals in the business of stamping books at the old stand, though his
industry must be very unprofitable since the Government's literary
collection has been moved out of the Capitol.

Ghosts are supposed to appertain most appropriately to the lower
regions, inasmuch as the ancients who described them first consigned
the blessed as well as the damned to a nether world. Consequently, it is
not surprising to find that phantoms of the Capitol are mostly relegated
to the basement.

Exceptions are made in the case of Vice-President Wilson, who, as will
be remembered, died in his room at the Senate end of the building, and
also with respect to John Quincy Adams, whose nocturnal perambulations
are so annoying to the watchmen. Mr. Wilson is only an occasional
visitor on the premises, it is understood, finding his way thither,
probably, when nothing else of importance is "up," so to speak, in the
spiritual realm which now claims him for its own. It is related that on
one occasion he nearly frightened to death a watchman who was guarding
the coffin of a Tennessee Senator who was lying in state in the Senate
Chamber. The startle was doubtless uncontemplated, inasmuch as the
Senator was too well bred a man to take anybody unpleasantly by
surprise.

There was a watchman, employed quite a while ago as a member of the
Capitol police, who was discharged finally for drunkenness. No faith,
therefore, is to be placed in his sworn statement, which was actually
made, to the effect that on a certain occasion he passed through the old
Hall of Representatives--now Statuary Hall--and saw in session the
Congress of 1848, with John Quincy Adams and many other men whose names
have long ago passed into history. It was, if the word of the witness is
to be believed, a phantom legislative crew, resembling in kind if not in
character the goblins which Rip Van Winkle encountered on his trip to
the summits of the storied Catskills.

But--to come down to things that are well authenticated and sure,
comparatively speaking--the basement of the Capitol, as has been said,
is the part of the building chiefly haunted. Beneath the hall of the
House of Representatives strolls by night a melancholy specter, with
erect figure, a great mustache, and his hands clasped behind him. Who he
is nobody has ever surmised; he might be, judging from his aspect, a
foreigner in the diplomatic service, but that is merely guess. Watchmen
at night have approached him in the belief that he was an intruder, but
he has faded from sight instantly, like a picture on a magic-lantern
slide.

At precisely 12.30 of the clock every night, so it is said, the door of
the room occupied by the Committee on Military and Militia of the Senate
opens silently, and there steps forth the figure of General Logan,
recognizable by his long black hair, military carriage, and the hat he
was accustomed to wear in life.

Logan was the chairman of this committee, and, if report be credited, he
is still supervising its duties.


A GENUINE GHOST

(Philadelphia _Press_, March 25, 1884)

DAYTON, O., March 25.--A thousand people surround the grave yard in
Miamisburg, a town near here, every night to witness the antics of what
appears to be a genuine ghost. There is no doubt about the existence of
the apparition, as Mayor Marshall, the revenue collector and hundreds of
prominent citizens all testify to having seen it. Last night several
hundred people, armed with clubs and guns, assaulted the specter, which
appeared to be a woman in white. Clubs, bullets and shot tore the air in
which the mystic figure floated without disconcerting it in the least. A
portion of the town turned out en masse to-day and began exhuming all
the bodies in the cemetery.

The remains of the Buss family, composed of three people, have already
been exhumed. The town is visited daily by hundreds of strangers and
none are disappointed, as the apparition is always on duty promptly at 9
o'clock. The strange figure was at once recognized by the inhabitants of
the town as a young lady supposed to have been murdered several years
ago. Her attitude while drifting among the graves is one of deep
thought, with the head inclined forward and hands clasped behind.


THE BAGGAGEMAN'S GHOST

"The corpses of the passengers killed in the disaster up at Spuyten
Duyvil was fetched down here and laid out in[1] The room was darkened
and I could just make out the out that storage room," said a Grand
Central depot baggageman. "That's what give it the name of morgue. Some
of the boys got scared of going in after that, 'specially in the dark;
and a lot of stories was started about spooks. We had a helper (a
drunken chap that didn't know whether he saw a thing or dreamed it), and
he swore to the toughest of the yarns. He says he went in to get a
trunk. It was a whopper, and he braced himself for a big strain; but,
when he gripped it, it come up just as if there wasn't nothing in it
more'n air or gas. That unexpected kind of a lift is like kicking at
nothing--it's hurtful, don't you know?"

"I should think so."

"Well, Joe felt as light-headed as the trunk, he says, but he brought it
out. When he was putting it down he was stunned to see a ghost sitting
straddle of it."

"What did the ghost look like?"

"Joe was so scared that he can't tell, except that it had grave-clothes
on. And it went out of sight as soon as he got out into the
daylight--floated off, and at the same instant the trunk became as heavy
as such a trunk generally is. Some of us believe Joe's story, and some
don't, and he's one of them that does. He throwed up his job rather than
go into the morgue again."


DRUMMERS SEE A SPECTER

(St Louis _Globe-Democrat_, Oct. 6, 1887)

[The last man in the world to be accused of a belief in the supernatural
would be your go-ahead, hard-headed American "drummer" or traveling-man.
Yet here is a plain tale of how not one but two of the western
fraternity saw a genuine ghost in broad daylight a few years ago.--ED.]

JACKSON, MO., October 6. At a place on the Turnpike road, between Cape
Girardeau and Jackson, is what is familiarly known as Spooks' Hollow.
The place is situated fours miles from the Cape and is awfully dismal
looking where the road curves gracefully around a high bluff.

Two drummers, representing a single leading wholesale house of St.
Louis, were recently making the drive from Jackson to the Cape, when
their attention was suddenly attracted at the Spooks' Hollow by a white
and airy object which arose in its peculiar form so as to be plainly
visible and then maneuvered in every imaginable manner, finally taking a
zigzag wayward journey through the low dismal-looking surroundings,
disappearing suddenly into the mysterious region from whence it came.

More than one incident of dreadful experience has been related of this
gloomy abode, and the place is looked upon by the midnight tourist and
the lonesome citizen on his nocturnal travels as an unpleasant spot,
isolated from the beautiful country which surrounds it.


DR. FUNK SEES THE SPIRIT OF BEECHER

(New York _Herald_, April 4, 1903)

While he will not admit that he is a believer in spiritualism, the Rev.
Dr. Isaac Funk, head of the publishing house of Funk & Wagnalls, is so
impressed with manifestations he has received from the spirit of Henry
Ward Beecher that he has laid the entire matter before the Boston
Society for Psychical Research, and is anxiously awaiting a solution or
explanation of what appears to him, after twenty-five years' study of
the subject, the most remarkable test of the merit of the claims of
spiritualists that has ever come within his observation.

Although he has resorted to every means within his power to discover any
fraud that may have been practiced upon him, he has been unable to
explain away not only messages to him from the great minister, but the
actual appearance to him of Mr. Beecher in the flesh.

Dr. Funk and Mr. Beecher were intimate friends, and it would be
difficult to practice deception as to Mr. Beecher's appearance. When the
apparition appeared to Dr. Funk at a séance a short time ago Dr. Funk
was less than three feet distant from it, and had plenty of opportunity
to detect a fraud if it was being perpetrated, he believes.

"Every feature stood out distinctly," Dr. Funk said yesterday, in
describing his experience, "even to the hair and eyes, the color of the
skin and the expression of the mouth.[1] lines of the body, but it was
still light enough to make the face plainly visible. I had a short
conversation with the embodied spirit, and then it appeared to sink to
the floor and fade away."


MYSTERY OF THE COINS

Dr. Funk was especially anxious to have an opportunity to see and talk
with Mr. Beecher, in the hope that light would be thrown on the mystery
which surrounds a previous manifestation. Through the spirit of one
"Jack" Rakestraw, who says he used to lead the choir in one of Mr.
Beecher's churches, but frankly admits that he cannot remember exactly
where the church was located--even spirits have a way of forgetting
things, spiritualists declare--Dr. Funk was informed that Mr. Beecher
was troubled because the publisher had failed to return a coin, known as
the "widow's mite," which he had borrowed some years ago, from the late
Professor Charles E. West, a well known numismatist, to make a cut to
illustrate a dictionary. Dr. Funk supposed the coin had been returned a
long time ago, but upon looking the matter up found it in a drawer of a
safe, among some old papers, exactly as Mr. Rakestraw maintained.

When Mr. Beecher appeared to him in person, so far as he could
determine, Dr. Funk asked him several direct questions, to which the
replies, he admits, were somewhat sublime. Although Dr. Funk has found
the long-lost coin--which, by the way, is said to be worth $2,500--he is
not certain to whom it should be returned, now that Professor West is
dead and his collection of coins sold. Should the "widow's mite" go to
Professor West's heirs or to the purchaser of the collection? is a
question which has as yet remained unanswered.

"That is a matter I am leaving to be determined by the Society for
Psychical Research and Mrs. Piper, who ought to be able to learn from
the spirit world what disposition Professor West wishes to have made of
the coin," said Dr. Funk. It is at any rate a matter that does not
appear to concern the spirit of Mr. Beecher.


MR. BEECHER APPEASED

"When what seemed to be Mr. Beecher's embodied spirit appeared to me,"
Dr. Funk said, "I asked that very question. He smiled and replied that
it was not a matter that concerned him especially, and that the whole
thing was in the nature of a test, to prove to me that there actually
are spirits, and that it is possible to have communication with them
when all the conditions are favorable. He remarked that he was glad the
old coin had been found, but seemed to consider the disposition of it a
matter of minor importance. He told me he was glad I was taking interest
in the subject, as he believed it would result in good for the world,
and then, excusing himself on the ground that he had an engagement which
it was necessary for him to keep, the apparition disappeared."

Dr. Funk borrowed the coin from Professor West's collection, as a
lighter colored one he already had was of doubtful authenticity. Both
coins were sent to the government expert in Philadelphia and the lighter
one was declared to be the genuine one. By the spirits it is now
declared, however, that a mistake was made and that the darker one
belonging to Professor West has the greater value.

"I found both the light and the dark one in the drawer," said Dr. Funk,
"and remembered distinctly that it was the darker of the two which I had
borrowed from Professor West. I went to the next séance, and when
Rakestraw's spirit arrived I asked him to find out which one was to be
returned. After a brief interval his voice came to me.

"'Return the dark one, of course,' he said. 'That is the genuine coin
and is the one you borrowed from Dr. Beecher's friend.'

"While I do not wish to be classed as a believer in Spiritualism, I
certainly am open to conviction after what has come under my personal
observation," Dr. Funk concluded. "I am confident that no fraud was
practiced on me at the séance at which I was told about the old coin.
The medium is an elderly woman living in Brooklyn, who never appears in
public, and the only persons present were members of her family and
known to me. But none of them knew any more about the coin being in my
safe than I did."


MARYLAND GHOSTS

(_Baltimore American_, May, 1886)

For forty years the Rev. Dr. B. has been the rector of a prominent
parish on the Eastern Shore. He had, when the scenes recorded below
happened twenty-two years ago, a mission charge sixteen miles distant
from the town in which he resided, and he was therefore constantly
traveling between these two places. About six miles distant was the
country residence of Judge S., a well-known and venerable parishioner of
the worthy doctor. The sod had been turned above this gentleman's grave
only about six weeks, when Dr. B. chanced to be returning from his
mission charge in company with a friend. It was broad daylight, just
about sunset, and not far from Judge S.'s gate, when a carriage, drawn
by a white horse, passed them rapidly from behind and was soon out of
sight.

"That fellow must be in a hurry to reach C.," remarked the doctor.

"Did you notice anything peculiar about that vehicle?" inquired his
companion.

"Only that it moves very quietly. I heard no sound as it went by."

"Nor did I," said his friend. "Neither rattling of wheels nor noise of
hoofs. It is certainly strange."

       *       *       *       *       *

The matter, however, was soon forgotten in other conversation, and they
had traveled perhaps a mile, when suddenly, the same horse and carriage
passed them as before. Nothing was discernible of the driver except his
feet, the carriage curtains hiding his body. There was no cross road by
which a vehicle in front could possibly have got behind without making a
circuit of many miles and consuming several hours. Yet there was not the
shadow of a doubt as to the identity of the vehicle, and the two
gentlemen gazed at each other in blank amazement, and with a certain
defined sense of awe which precluded any discussion of the matter,
particularly as the horse was to all appearances the well-known white
habitually driven by the deceased Judge. A half mile brought them in
sight of Judge S.'s gate, when for the third time the ghostly team
dashed by in the same dreadful mysterious silence. This time it turned
in full view into the gate. Without a word of comment the doctor
quickened his horse's speed, and reached the gate only a few yards
behind the silent driver. Both gentlemen peered eagerly up the long,
open lane leading to the house; but neither carriage nor wheel-track was
visible, though it was still clear daylight, and there was no outlet
from the lane, nor could any vehicle in the time occupied accomplish
half the distance. The peculiar features of this strange incident are
that it was equally and simultaneously evident to two witnesses, both
entirely unprepared for any such manifestation, and differing widely in
temperament, habits of life, mental capacity and educational
attainments, and by mere accident making this journey together, and that
to this day both of them--witnesses, be it noted, of unimpeachable
credibility--attest it, and fully corroborate each other, but without
being able to suggest the slightest explanation.


THE GHOST OF PEG ALLEY'S POINT

Peg Alley's Point is a long and narrow strip of wooded land, situated
between the main stream of Miles river and one of the navigable creeks
which flow into it. This little peninsula is about two miles long, from
fifty to three hundred yards in width and is bounded by deep water and
is overgrown with pine and thick underbrush. There is extant a tradition
to the effect that many years ago a party of Baltimore oystermen
encamped on the point, among whom was a man named Alley, who had
abandoned his wife. The deserted woman followed up her husband, and
found him at the camp. After some conversation had passed between them,
the man induced her, upon some unknown pretext, to accompany him into a
thicket. The poor wife never came out alive. Her husband cruelly
murdered her with a club. The point of land has ever since been known by
Peg Alley's name, and her perturbed spirit has been supposed to haunt
the scene of her untimely taking off. About twelve years ago a gang of
rail-splitters were at work on the point, and one day the foreman flatly
refused to go back, declaring that queer things happened down there, and
that he had seen a ghost. Mr. Kennedy, his employer, laughed at him and
dismissed the matter from his mind. Some time after this Mr. Kennedy had
occasion to ride through the woods to look after some sheep, there being
but one road and the water on either side. As he approached the point
his horse started violently and refused to go on, regardless of whip or
spur. Glancing about for the cause of this unnatural fright, he saw a
woman rise up from a log, a few yards in advance, and stand by the
roadside, looking at him. She was very poorly clad in a faded calico
dress, and wore a limp sun-bonnet, from beneath which her thin,
jet-black hair straggled down on her shoulders; her face was thin and
sallow and her eyes black and piercing. Knowing that she had no business
there, and occupied in controlling his horse, he called to her somewhat
angrily to get out of the way, as his animal was afraid of her. Slowly
she turned and walked into the thicket, uttering not a syllable and
looking reproachfully at him as she went. With much difficulty he forced
his horse to the spot, hoping to find out who the strange intruder might
be, but the most careful search failed to reveal the trace of any one,
although there was no place of concealment and no possible way of
escape, for which, indeed, there was not sufficient time.


AN APPARITION AND DEATH

The old family seat of the T.'s, one of the most prominent names in the
community, is not far from the scenes of the above-mentioned adventure.
In all this region of lovely situations and charming water views, its
site is one of the most beautiful. The brick mansion, with all the
strangely mixed comforts and discomforts of ancient architecture, rears
its roof up from an elevated lawn, while the silvery thread of a
land-locked stream winds nearly around the whole. Over the further bank
dance the sparkling waters of a broad estuary, flashing in the glance of
the sunshine or tossing its white-capped billows in angry mimicry of the
sea. The gleam of white sails is never lacking to add variety and
picturesqueness to the scene. In the dead, hushed calm of a summer
evening, when the lifted oar rests on the gunwale, unwilling to disturb
with its dip the glassy surface, one has a strange, dreamy sense of
being suspended in space, the sky, in all its changing beauties, being
accurately reflected in illimitable depth by the still water, until the
charm is broken by the splash and ripple of a school of nomadic alewives
or the gliding, sinuous fin of a piratical shark. In this lovely home it
was wont for the family to assemble on the occasion of certain domestic
celebrations, and it was at one of these that the following incident
occurred: All were present except one member, who was detained by
sickness at her residence, fifteen miles away. It was in early afternoon
that one of the ladies standing at an open window, suddenly exclaimed:
"Why, there's Aunt Milly crossing the flower garden!" The party
approached the window, and beheld, in great surprise, the lady, in her
ordinary costume, slowly strolling among the flowers. She paused and
looked earnestly at the group, her features plainly visible; then turned
and disappeared amidst the shrubbery. No trace of her presence being
discoverable, it was natural that a gloom fell upon the company. A few
hours later a messenger arrived with the intelligence of her death. The
time of her apparition and the time of her death coincided.


AN IDIOT GHOST WITH BRASS BUTTONS

(Philadelphia _Press_, June 16, 1889)

In a pretty but old-fashioned house in Stuyvesant square--ghosts like
squares, I think--is another ghost. This house stood empty for several
years, and about six years ago a gentleman, his wife and little daughter
moved in there, and while fitting up allowed the child to play about
the empty attic, which had apparently been arranged for a children's
playroom long ago. There was a fireplace and a large fireboard in front
of it.

When the house was about finished down stairs the mother began to pay
more attention to the little girl and tried to keep her down there with
her, but the child always stole away and went back up stairs again and
again, until finally the mother asked why she liked to go up there so
much. She replied that she liked to play with the funny little boy.
Investigation showed that it was utterly impossible for any person, man
or child, to get in that place or be concealed there, but the little
girl insisted and told her parents that he "went in there," pointing to
the fireboard.

The parents were seriously concerned, believing that their daughter was
telling them an untruth, and threatened to punish her for it, but she
insisted so strongly that she saw and played with a "funny little boy,
with lots of brass buttons on his jacket," that they finally gave up
threatening and resolved to investigate.

The father, who is an old sea captain, found out that this house had
been occupied by an Englishman named Cowdery who had had three
children--two boys and a girl. One of the boys was an idiot. This idiot
was supposed to have fallen into the East River, as his cap was found
there, and he had always shown a liking for the river when his nurse
took him out. Soon after this Mr. Cowdery moved West.

This was enough for my friend's friend, who had the fireboard taken
down, and short work in the wall by the side of the chimney brought the
body of the unfortunate idiot boy. The back of his skull was crushed in.
He still had the dark blue jacket on, with four rows of buttons on the
front. The poor little bones were buried and the affair kept quiet, but
the captain left the house.


A MODEL GHOST STORY

(Boston _Courier_, Aug. 10)

A very singular story which forms one of the sensational social topics
of the day is the best authenticated of the many stories of the
supernatural that have been lately told. Only a short time ago a young
and well-known artist, Mr. A., was invited to pay a visit to his
distinguished friend, Mr. Izzard. The house was filled with guests, but
a large and handsome room was placed at his disposal, apparently one of
the best in the house. For three days he had a delightful visit;
delightful in all particulars save one, he had each night a horrible
dream. He dreamed he was--or was really--suddenly awakened by some
person entering his room, and in looking around saw the room brilliantly
lighted, while at the window stood a lady elegantly attired, in the act
of throwing something out. This accomplished, she turned her face toward
the only spectator showing a countenance so distorted by evil passions
that he was thrilled with horror. Soon the light and the figure with the
dreadful face disappeared, leaving the artist suffering from a frightful
nightmare. On returning to his city home he was so haunted by the
fearful countenance which had for three consecutive nights troubled him,
that he made a sketch of it, and so real that the evil expression seemed
to horrify every one who saw it. Not a great while after, the artist
went to make an evening visit on Mr. Izzard; that gentleman invited him
to his picture gallery, as he wished to show him some remarkable, old
family portraits. What was Mr. A.'s surprise to recognize among them, in
the likeness of a stately, well-dressed lady, the one who had so
troubled his slumbers on his previous visit, lacking, however, the
revolting, wicked expression. Soon as he saw it he involuntarily
exclaimed, "Why, I have seen that lady!" "Indeed!" said Mr. I., smiling,
"that is hardly possible, as she died more than a hundred years ago. She
was the second wife of my great-grandfather, and reflected anything but
credit on the family. She was strongly suspected of having murdered her
husband's son by a former marriage, in order to make her own child heir
to the property. The unfortunate boy broke his neck in a fall from a
window, and there was every reason to believe that he was precipitated
from the window by his stepmother." The artist then told his host the
circumstances of his thrice-repeated experience, or dream, and sent for
his sketch, which, so far as the features were concerned, was identical
with the portrait in Mr. Izzard's gallery. The sketch has since been
photographed, but from its hideous expression is not very pleasant to
look upon.


A GHOST THAT WILL NOT DOWN

(Cincinnati _Enquirer_, Sept. 30, 1884)

GRANTSVILLE, W. VA., September 30.--The ghost of Betts' farm will not
lay. Something over a year ago the _Enquirer_ contained an account or an
occult influence or manifestation at the farm house of Mr. Collins
Betts, about three miles below this town, in which story were delineated
a number of weird, strange instances of ghostly manifestations, all of
which were verified by the testimony of honest, brave and reliable
citizens, the names of many of whom were mentioned. That story went the
rounds of newspapers all over the country and resulted in the proprietor
of the place receiving hundreds of letters from all over the country.

Since then the old house has been torn down, the family of Mr. Betts
rebuilding a home place on a different portion of the farm. This act, it
was believed, would lay or forever quiet the ramblings and queer doings
of the inexplicable mystery. But such has not been the case. Since the
building has been razed the mysterious manifestation has made itself
visible at places sometimes quite a distance from the scene of its
former domicile.

At a distance of several hundred yards from the old Betts place a
neighboring farmer had erected a house in which he intended to reside,
and in fact did reside a short time, but the "Cale Betts ghost," as the
manifestation is commonly called for a distance of many miles, was no
respecter of persons and oblivious of distance, and it so annoyed and
frightened the farmer and his family at untoward times that he has
removed his house to the opposite end of the farm, leaving his garden,
orchard and all the improvements usually made about a farm-house to take
care of themselves.

This in itself was considered strange enough, but the ghostly visitant
did not stop there. The high road, running some distance away, has been
the theater of almost numberless scenes of frights and frightful
appearances. Among those who have lately seen the ghost is a young man
named Vandevener, whose father had once been frightened nearly to death,
as related in a former letter. Young Vandevener had frequently made
sport of the old man's fright, but he does so no more--in fact, the
young man is willing to make affidavit that the old man's story was
mildly drawn.

The young man was driving along quietly one night about half a mile from
the Betts place, when he saw a strange being, which, in the pale light
of the moon, he took to be a man walking at the head of his horses. A
few minutes later the man, or whatever it was, glided, without making a
particle of noise, around the horses' heads and got into the wagon and
took a seat by his side.

Young Vandevener says it rode along with him several hundred yards, and
spoke to him. It first told him not to be afraid, as it did not intend
to injure him in the least. What it said he will not tell, except that
it admonished him not to say anything about it until a certain time.
After it had spoken to him Vandevener says it got up and glided off into
the woods and disappeared. He says the shape was that of a headless man,
and that while it was with him he felt a cold chill run over him,
although it was a warm evening, and this chilly feeling did not leave
him until the disappearance of the shape.

Since then Vandevener can not be induced to go over the ground after
night. He still persists in the same story, and as he is a truthful
young fellow, the people who know him are satisfied that he really saw
what he claims to have seen.

Only one day last week another young man, Henry Stephens I believe, on
his way past the same place, saw a peculiar shape rise out of the brush
by the side of the road and glide along by the side of the wagon.
Stephens got out of his wagon and gathered together a handful of rocks,
which he threw at the object. Some of the stones appeared to go through
it, but did not seem to affect it in the least. It still continued to
float along at a short distance away until Stephens became frightened
and whipped up his horses until they flew at a two-minute gait down the
road, the object following at some distance until quite away from the
scene of its first appearance, when it disappeared like a cloud of
vapor. There are dozens of authentic stories of the ghostly
peculiarities of the Betts ghost which are new and peculiar.

It appears, since the destruction of the Betts homestead, to have taken
up its quarters near the highway, and here it appears to people who have
generally scoffed and laughed at the former stories. That it is
bullet-proof does not need testimony, located, as it is, in a section of
country which has for years been noted for its fearless men--such as the
Duskys, Downs and others of national fame as sharp-shooters, scouts,
etc., during the late war. None of these men have succeeded in "laying"
or putting a quietus to it. There is a story that a couple of men had
been murdered or disappeared in this vicinity, and that the ghost is the
uneasy spirit of one of these men, but there is no real evidence that
anybody was ever killed there.

There is no doubt that Calhoun County has a mystery which neither time,
bullets, courage nor philosophy can either drive away or explain. It has
come to stay. If you meet a Calhouner just mention it, and he will tell
you that the "Betts ghost" is a county possession which it will gladly
dispose of at any price.


TOM CYPHER'S PHANTOM ENGINE

(Seattle _Press-Times_, Jan. 10, 1892)

Locomotive engineers are as a class said to be superstitious, but J.M.
Pinckney, an engineer known to almost every Brotherhood man, is an
exception to the rule. He has never been able to believe the different
stories told of apparitions suddenly appearing on the track, but he had
an experience last Sunday night on the Northern Pacific east-bound
overland that made his hair stand on end.

By the courtesy of the engineer, also a Brotherhood man, Mr. Pinckney
was riding on the engine. They were recounting experiences, and the
fireman, who was a green hand, was getting very nervous as he listened
to the tales of wrecks and disasters, the horrors of which were
graphically described by the veteran engineers.

The night was clear and the rays from the headlight flashed along the
track, and, although they were interested in spinning yarns, a sharp
lookout was kept, for they were rapidly nearing Eagle gorge, in the
Cascades, the scene of so many disasters and the place which is said to
be the most dangerous on the 2,500 miles of road. The engineer was
relating a story and was just coming to the climax when he suddenly
grasped the throttle, and in a moment had "thrown her over," that is,
reversed the engine. The air brakes were applied and the train brought
to a standstill within a few feet of the place where Engineer Cypher met
his death two years ago. By this time the passengers had become curious
as to what was the matter, and all sorts of questions were asked the
trainmen. The engineer made an excuse that some of the machinery was
loose, and in a few moments the train was speeding on to her
destination.

"What made you stop back there?" asked Pinckney. "I heard your excuse,
but I have run too long on the road not to know that your excuse is not
the truth."

His question was answered by the engineer pointing ahead and saying
excitedly:

"There! Look there! Don't you see it?"

"Looking out of the cab window," said Mr. Pinckney, "I saw about 300
yards ahead of us the headlight of a locomotive."

"Stop the train, man," I cried, reaching for the lever.

"Oh, it's nothing. It's what I saw back at the gorge. It's Tom Cypher's
engine, No. 33. There's no danger of a collision. The man who is
running that ahead of us can run it faster backward than I can this one
forward. Have I seen it before? Yes, twenty times. Every engineer on the
road knows that engine, and he's always watching for it when he gets to
the gorge."

"The engine ahead of us was running silently, but smoke was puffing from
the stack and the headlight threw out rays of red, green, and white
light. It kept a short distance ahead of us for several miles, and then
for a moment we saw a figure on the pilot. Then the engine rounded a
curve and we did not see it again. We ran by a little station, and at
the next, when the operator warned us to keep well back from a wild
engine that was ahead, the engineer said nothing. He was not afraid of a
collision. Just to satisfy my own mind on the matter I sent a telegram
to the engine wiper at Sprague, asking him if No. 33 was in. I received
a reply stating that No. 33 had just come in, and that her coal was
exhausted and boxes burned out. I suppose you'll be inclined to laugh at
the story, but just ask any of the boys, although many of them won't
talk about it. I would not myself if I were running on the road. It's
unlucky to do so."

With this comment upon the tale Mr. Pinckney boarded a passing caboose
and was soon on his way to Tacoma. It is believed by Northern Pacific
engineers that Thomas Cypher's spirit still hovers near Eagle gorge.


GHOSTS IN CONNECTICUT

(N.Y. _Sun_, Sept. 1, 1885)

"There is as much superstition in New-England to-day as there was in
those old times when they slashed Quakers and built bonfires for
witches." It was a New York man who gave expression to this rather
startling statement. He has been summering in Connecticut, and he avers
that his talk about native superstition is founded on close observation.
Perhaps it is; anyhow he regaled the _Times's_ correspondent with some
entertaining incidents which he claims establish the truth of his
somewhat astonishing theories.

Old Stratford, the whitewashed town between this place and Bridgeport,
made famous by mysterious "rappings" many years ago, and more recently
celebrated as the scene of poor Rose Clark Ambler's strange murder, is
much concerned over a house which the almost universal verdict
pronounces "haunted." The family of Elihu Osborn lives in this house,
and ghosts have been clambering through it lately in a wonderfully
promiscuous fashion. Two or three families were compelled to vacate the
premises before the Osborns, proud and skeptical, took possession of
them. Now the Osborns are hunting for a new home. Children of the family
have been awakened at midnight by visitors which persisted in shaking
them out of bed; Mrs. Osborn has been confronted with ghostly
spectacles, and through the halls and vacant rooms strange footsteps are
frequently heard when all the family are trying to sleep; sounds loud
enough to arouse every member of the household. Then the manifestations
sometimes change to moanings and groanings sufficiently vehement and
pitiful to distract all who hear them. Once upon a time, perhaps a dozen
years ago, Jonathan Riggs lived in this house, and as the local gossips
assert, Riggs caused the death of his wife by his brutal conduct and
then swallowed poison to end his own life. The anniversary of the
murderous month in the Riggs family has arrived and the manifestations
are so frequent and so lively that "the like has never been seen
before," as is affirmed by a veteran Stratford citizen. There is no
shadow of doubt in Stratford that the spirits of the Riggses are spryly
cavorting around their former abode.

Over at the Thimble Islands, off Stony Creek, is an acre or two of soil
piled high on a lot of rocks. The natives call it Frisbie Island. Not
more than a hundred yards off shore it contains a big bleak looking
house which was built about twenty years ago to serve as a Summer hotel
when Connecticut capitalists were deep in schemes to tempt New Yorkers
to this part of the Sound shore to spend their Summers. New Yorkers
declined to be tempted, and the old house is rapidly approaching decay.
It has recently assumed a peculiar interest for the residents of Stony
Creek. Midnight lights have suddenly appeared in all its windows at
frequent intervals, fitfully flashing up and down like the blaze in the
Long Island lighthouses. Ghosts! This is the universal verdict. Nobody
disputes it. Once or twice a hardy crew of local sailors have
volunteered to go out and investigate the mystery, but when the time for
the test has arrived, there somehow have always been reasons for
postponing the excursion. Cynical people profess to believe that
practical jokers are at the root of the manifestations, but such a
profane view is not widely entertained among the good people who have
their homes at Stony Creek.

Over near Middletown is a farmer named Edgar G. Stokes, a gentleman who
is said to have graduated with honor in a New England college more than
a quarter of a century ago. He enjoys, perhaps, the most notable bit of
superstition to be found anywhere in this country, in or out of
Connecticut. He owns the farm on which he lives, and it is valuable; not
quite so valuable though as it once was, for Mr. Stokes's eccentric
disposition has somewhat changed the usual tactics that farmers pursue
when they own fertile acres. The average man clears his soil of stones;
Mr. Stokes has been piling rocks all over his land. Little by little the
weakness--or philosophy--has grown upon him; and not only from every
part of Middlesex County, but from every part of this State he has been
accumulating wagonloads of pebbles and rocks. He seeks for no peculiar
stone either in shape, color, or quality. If they are stones that is
sufficient. And his theory is that stones have souls--souls, too, that
are not so sordid and earthly as the souls that animate humanity. They
are souls purified and exalted. In the rocks are the spirits of the
greatest men who have lived in past ages, developed by some divinity
until they have become worthy of their new abode. Napoleon Bonaparte's
soul inhabits a stone, so does Hannibal's, so does Cæsar's, but poor
plebeian John Smith and William Jenkins, they never attained such
immortality.

Farmer Stokes has dumped his rocks with more or less reverence all along
his fields, and this by one name and that by another he knows and hails
them all. A choice galaxy of the distinguished lights of the old days
are in his possession, and just between the burly bits of granite at
the very threshold of his home is a smooth-faced crystal from the Rocky
Mountains. This stone has no soul yet. The rough, jagged rock on its
left is George Washington. The granite spar on the right is glorified
with the spirit of good Queen Bess. The smooth-faced crystal one of
these days is to know the bliss of swallowing up the spirit of good
Farmer Edgar Garton Stokes. It was not until recently that mystified
neighbors obtained the secret of the vast accumulation of rough stones
on the Stokes farm. Mr. Stokes has a family. They all seem to be
intelligent, practical business people. There may be a will contested in
Middletown one of these days.


THE SPOOK OF DIAMOND ISLAND

(St. Louis _Globe-Democrat_, Sept. 18, 1888)

HARDEN, Ill., Sept. 18.--For some time past rumors have been circulated
in Hardin to the effect that Diamond Island, in the river about two
miles from this place, was the home of a ghost. The stories concerning
the movements of the alleged spook were, of course, not given any
credence at first, but later, when several reputable citizens of Hardin
announced that they had positively seen an uncanny looking object moving
about on the island at night, the rumors were more seriously considered.
Now, after investigation, the mysterious something is no longer
considered a myth.

Along toward midnight a peculiar light is seen at the foot of the
island. It has the appearance of a huge ball of fire, and is about the
size and shape of an ordinary barrel.

A few nights ago a party of young men from this place determined to
visit the island and fathom the mystery if possible. Equipped with
revolvers, knives, shotguns, and clubs, the party secured a boat and
were soon cutting through the water at a good speed for a point on the
island near where the specter usually made its appearance. Arriving at
the landing place, the skiff was hauled up on the shore and the young
men took up a position in a clump of trees close at hand to watch and
wait.

Suddenly the whole point of the island was illumined as a bright red
object rose apparently from the water and glided up into the air.
Ascending probably to a height of forty yards, the watchers saw the
lurid ball fade away. The investigating party had seen all they wanted.
They made a mad rush for the boat, but, just as they reached the place
where it had been left, they were horrified to see the little craft
moving out on the water from the island. At first its only occupant
seemed to be the red ball of fire, but the next moment the watchers saw
the crimson object gradually take the form of a man, and they saw him,
too, dip the oars at regular intervals and pull a long, steady stroke.
The man's features were fully concealed by a wide-rimmed slouch hat,
which was drawn over his face. A peculiar light illumined the boat and
the waters around it, making the craft and its mysterious occupant
perfectly discernible to the party on the shore, who stood paralyzed
with fear, unable to speak or move, their eyes riveted by some
mysterious influence they could not resist on the spectral object before
them.

The boat was now about in midstream, and suddenly the group of watchers
saw the skiff's occupant change again into the crimson ball. Then it
slowly began to move upward, and when it was about parallel with the
tops of the trees on the island it disappeared. Next instant the
watchers looking across the river saw nothing but the flickering lights
in Hardin.

The cries of the crowd on the island awakened a sleeping fisherman on
the opposite side of the river, and he kindly pulled across and rescued
the ghost-seeking youths. The fiery spook, it is said, still makes its
nightly trips to Diamond Island, but no more investigating parties have
ventured across to solve the mystery.

It is said that some years ago a foul murder was committed on this
island, and by the superstitious the crimson object is believed to be
the restless spirit of the slain man.


THE GHOST'S FULL HOUSE

(N.Y. _Sun_, April 10, 1891)

The Bleecker street ghost drew as large a "house" last night as Barnum's
Circus or any of the theaters. There was a bigger crowd about
"Cohnfeld's Folly" than there was three weeks ago when the flames gutted
the buildings from Mercer to Greene streets and did damage away up in
the millions. The wraith was not due till midnight, but the street was
packed with watchers as early as 9 o'clock. The crowd was so dense that
pedestrians with difficulty forced their way through it and twice a
squad of blue-coats descended on the mob and routed it. Five minutes
after the police had retired the street was as impassable as before.

In the midst of the ruins of the big fire a single wall towers away
above the surrounding brick partitions. It looks feeble and almost
tottering and the shop-keepers in the vicinity say that when there is a
high wind it sways to and fro and threatens to come down in a heap.
After dark the outlines of the summit of this wall are very indistinct.
The detail of the wreck could not be made out even in last night's
bright starlight. There is a sheet of tin, however, on the top of the
wall, which was probably a cornice before the fire. Only one side of it
is attached to the brickwork, and when there is any wind it trembles in
the breeze and rattles with an uncertain sound. It may have been that
the sheen of the tin in the starlight or a windy night first suggested
the idea of a ghost to some weird imagination.

There is an old Frenchman living in the vicinity, however, who avers
that three nights ago he saw with his own eyes a lady in white standing
out against the darkened sky on the very summit of the tottering wall.
Her long, flowing robes fluttered in the breeze, and even while he
watched there came a low, wailing sound, and the wraith dissolved into
air. He kept his eye fixed on the spot for a full minute, but the vision
did not reappear, and as he turned to walk away he thought he heard
groaning as of a lost spirit. The sound, he says, made his blood run
cold and kept him shivering the whole night through.

The alleged appearance of the ghost has set the whole neighborhood a
talking, and some of the "old residenters" have recalled a murder which
took place in the vicinity many years ago, when A.T. Stewart lived there
and the street was one of the fashionable places of residence of the
town. There was a wealthy old gentleman of foreign birth who lived in
the street and was quite a recluse. He would pass the time of day with
his neighbors when he met them in the street, but he was never known to
enter into conversation with any one. The blinds were always drawn in
his front windows, and at night there was not a ray of light to be seen
about the house. His only servants were a couple somewhat advanced in
years, who were as foreign and uncommunicative as himself. The master of
the house would be away for months at a time and the neighbors had all
sorts of theories as to his disappearances. Some thought he was engaged
in unlawful business, others suggested that his absence might be
attributed to the supernatural, but those who were less flighty
concluded that he simply went off on periodical visits to his native
land.

On his return from one of these visits, however, the old gentleman
brought with him a beautiful young girl. She was little more than a
child in appearance, and had the soft eyes, olive complexion and lithe,
graceful figure of a Spaniard. She was never seen alive after she passed
the shadow of the old man's doorway. A few weeks later the old gentleman
disappeared as mysteriously as if he had been snatched up into the
clouds. The old couple who kept his home walked away one day and never
returned. There was an investigation, and in a hole dug in the cellar
was found the body of the beautiful young girl. There were no marks on
her body, and it was supposed she had been smothered. The exact date of
this tragedy is not fixed. Inspector Byrnes says that if it ever
occurred it was before his time.

The ghost, if ghost there is, is undoubtedly the spirit of this
unfortunate and nameless young woman. A _World_ reporter watched the
Bleecker street ruins with the crowd last night and was there at the
midnight hour, but never a sign of a ghost did he see. There were those
in the crowd, nevertheless, who thought or pretended to think that they
did. Once there was a rattling sound in the ruins, which caused a
commotion among the lookers-on, but it was only because a small boy had
shied a brick at the old wall. The living spirits boomed the liquor
business in the saloons of the vicinity. A skull and cross-bones over
one of these bars was surmounted with the somewhat appropriate legend
freshly painted:

"In the midst of life we are in debt."


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FOOTNOTE:

[1] Transcriber's Note: The original is missing text following this
mark. Both it and a reprint of the same were searched and were printed
in this way.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's notes:

   Obvious printing punctuation errors were repaired.

   On pages 50-51, the top paragraph had a printing problem in the
   page gutter. From the letters that were left, the following changes
   were made in the text. (Changes noted by **)

   Nothing more chanced for the rest of the night. Nor, indeed,
   had I long to wait before the dawn broke. Nor till it**
   was broad daylight did I quit the haunted house. Before
   I did so, I revisited the little blind room in which my servant
   and myself had been for a time imprisoned. I had a**
   strong impression--for which I could not account--that

   On page 51:

   nothing in refutation of that conjecture; rather, I suggest
   it as one that would seem to many persons the most
   probable solution of improbable occurrences. My belief
   in** my own theory remained unshaken. I returned in the
   evening to the house, to bring away in a hack cab the things
   I** had left there, with my poor dog's body. In this task I
   was not disturbed, nor did any incident worth note befall
   me, except that still, on ascending and descending the stairs,
   I** heard the same footfall in advance. On leaving the house,
   I went to Mr. J.'s. He was at home. I returned him the
   keys, told him that my curiosity was sufficiently gratified,
   and was about to relate quickly what had passed,
   when he stopped me, and said, though with much politeness,
   that he had no longer any interest in a mystery which
   none had ever solved.

   I determined at least to tell him of the two letters I
   had** read, as well as of the extraordinary manner in which
   they** had disappeared, and I then inquired if he thought
   they** had been addressed to the woman who had died in the

   Page 62, "weding-party" changed to "wedding-party": (so merry a
   wedding-party)

   Page 63: "sad" changed to "said" (and said, in a suppressed tone)

   Page 72: "hed" changed to "had" (had ever passed his lip.)

   Page 73: "woful" changed to "woeful" (woeful condition)

   Page 102: "frace" change to "face" (from his face)

   Page 147: "be" changed to "he" (But he kept his title?)

   Page 172: "breathd" changed to "breathed" (she breathed heavily)





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