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Title: Humorous Ghost Stories
Author: Scarborough, Dorothy, 1878-1935
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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HUMOROUS GHOST STORIES



HUMOROUS GHOST
STORIES

SELECTED, WITH AN INTRODUCTION

BY

DOROTHY SCARBOROUGH, PH.D.

LECTURER IN ENGLISH, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
AUTHOR OF "THE SUPERNATURAL IN MODERN ENGLISH FICTION,"
"FUGITIVE VERSES," "FROM A SOUTHERN PORCH," ETC.
COMPILER OF "FAMOUS MODERN GHOST STORIES"

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

NEW YORK AND LONDON

The Knickerbocker Press

1921

COPYRIGHT, 1921

BY

DOROTHY SCARBOROUGH

_Printed in the United States of America_



    To

    DR. AND MRS. JOHN T. HARRINGTON

    _Life flings miles and years between us,
        It is true,--
    But brings never to me dearer
        Friends than you!_



The Humorous Ghost

INTRODUCTION


The humorous ghost is distinctly a modern character. In early literature
wraiths took themselves very seriously, and insisted on a proper show of
respectful fear on the part of those whom they honored by haunting. A
mortal was expected to rise when a ghost entered the room, and in case
he was slow about it, his spine gave notice of what etiquette demanded.
In the event of outdoor apparition, if a man failed to bare his head in
awe, the roots of his hair reminded him of his remissness. Woman has
always had the advantage over man in such emergency, in that her locks,
being long and pinned up, are less easily moved--which may explain the
fact (if it be a fact!) that in fiction women have shown themselves more
self-possessed in ghostly presence than men. Or possibly a woman knows
that a masculine spook is, after all, only a man, and therefore may be
charmed into helplessness, while the feminine can be seen through by
another woman and thus disarmed. The majority of the comic apparitions,
curiously enough, are masculine. You don't often find women wraithed in
smiles--perhaps because they resent being made ridiculous, even after
they're dead. Or maybe the reason lies in the fact that men have
written most of the comic or satiric ghost stories, and have
chivalrously spared the gentler shades. And there are very few funny
child-ghosts--you might almost say none, in comparison with the number
of grown-ups. The number of ghost children of any or all types is small
proportionately--perhaps because it seems an unnatural thing for a child
to die under any circumstances, while to make of him a butt for jokes
would be unfeeling. There are a few instances, as in the case of the
ghost baby mentioned later, but very few.

Ancient ghosts were a long-faced lot. They didn't know how to play at
all. They had been brought up in stern repression of frivolities as
haunters--no matter how sportive they may have been in life--and in turn
they cowed mortals into a servile submission. No doubt they thought of
men and women as mere youngsters that must be taught their place, since
any living person, however senile, would be thought juvenile compared
with a timeless spook.

But in these days of individualism and radical liberalism, spooks as
well as mortals are expanding their personalities and indulging in
greater freedom. A ghost can call his shade his own now, and exhibit any
mood he pleases. Even young female wraiths, demanding latchkeys, refuse
to obey the frowning face of the clock, and engage in light-hearted
ebullience to make the ghost of Mrs. Grundy turn a shade paler in
horror. Nowadays haunters have more fun and freedom than the haunted. In
fact, it's money in one's pocket these days to be dead, for ghosts have
no rent problems, and dead men pay no bills. What officer would
willingly pursue a ghostly tenant to his last lodging in order to serve
summons on him? And suppose a ghost brought into court demanded trial by
a jury of his peers? No--manifestly death has compensations not
connected with the consolations of religion.

The marvel is that apparitions were so long in realizing their
possibilities, in improving their advantages. The specters in classic
and medieval literature were malarial, vaporous beings without energy to
do anything but threaten, and mortals never would have trembled with
fear at their frown if they had known how feeble they were. At best a
revenant could only rattle a rusty skeleton, or shake a moldy shroud, or
clank a chain--but as mortals cowered before his demonstrations, he
didn't worry. If he wished to evoke the extreme of anguish from his
host, he raised a menacing arm and uttered a windy word or two. Now it
takes more than that to produce a panic. The up-to-date ghost keeps his
skeleton in a garage or some place where it is cleaned and oiled and
kept in good working order. The modern wraith has sold his sheet to the
old clo'es man, and dresses as in life. Now the ghost has learned to
have a variety of good times, and he can make the living squirm far
more satisfyingly than in the past. The spook of to-day enjoys making
his haunted laugh even while he groans in terror. He knows that there's
no weapon, no threat, in horror, to be compared with ridicule.

Think what a solemn creature the Gothic ghost was! How little
originality and initiative he showed and how dependent he was on his own
atmosphere for thrills! His sole appeal was to the spinal column. The
ghost of to-day touches the funny bone as well. He adds new horrors to
being haunted, but new pleasures also. The modern specter can be a
joyous creature on occasion, as he can be, when he wishes, fearsome
beyond the dreams of classic or Gothic revenant. He has a keen sense of
humor and loves a good joke on a mortal, while he can even enjoy one on
himself. Though his fun is of comparatively recent origin--it's less
than a century since he learned to crack a smile--the laughing ghost is
very much alive and sportively active. Some of these new spooks are
notoriously good company. Many Americans there are to-day who would
court being haunted by the captain and crew of Richard Middleton's Ghost
Ship that landed in a turnip field and dispensed drink till they
demoralized the denizens of village and graveyard alike. After that show
of spirits, the turnips in that field tasted of rum, long after the
ghost ship had sailed away into the blue.

The modern spook is possessed not only of humor but of a caustic satire
as well. His jest is likely to have more than one point to it, and he
can haunt so insidiously, can make himself so at home in his host's
study or bedroom that a man actually welcomes a chat with him--only to
find out too late that his human foibles have been mercilessly flayed.
Pity the poor chap in H. C. Bunner's story, _The Interfering Spook_, for
instance, who was visited nightly by a specter that repeated to him all
the silly and trite things he had said during the day, a ghost,
moreover, that towered and swelled at every hackneyed phrase, till
finally he filled the room and burst after the young man proposed to his
admired one, and made subsequent remarks. Ghosts not only have
appallingly long memories, but they possess a mean advantage over the
living in that they have once been mortal, while the men and women they
haunt haven't yet been ghosts. Suppose each one of us were to be haunted
by his own inane utterances? True, we're told that we'll have to give
account Some Day for every idle word, but recording angels seem more
sympathetic than a sneering ghost at one's elbow. Ghosts can satirize
more fittingly than anyone else the absurdities of certain psychic
claims, as witness the delightful seriousness of the story _Back from
that Bourne_, which appeared as a front page news story in the New York
_Sun_ years ago. I should think that some of the futile, laggard
messenger-boy ghosts that one reads about nowadays would blush with
shame before the wholesome raillery of the porgy fisherman.

The modern humorous ghost satirizes everything from the old-fashioned
specter (he's very fond of taking pot-shots at him) to the latest
psychic manifestations. He laughs at ghosts that aren't experts in
efficiency haunting, and he has a lot of fun out of mortals for being
scared of specters. He loves to shake the lugubrious terrors of the past
before you, exposing their hollow futility, and he contrives to create
new fears for you magically while you are laughing at him.

The new ghost hates conventionality and uses the old thrills only to
show what dead batteries they come from. His really electrical effects
are his own inventions. He needs no dungeon keeps and monkish cells to
play about in--not he! He demands no rag nor bone nor clank of chain of
his old equipment to start on his career. He can start up a moving
picture show of his own, as in Ruth McEnery Stuart's _The Haunted
Photograph_, and demonstrate a new kind of apparition. The ghost story
of to-day gives you spinal sensations with a difference, as in the
immortal _Transferred Ghost_, by Frank R. Stockton, where the suitor on
the moonlit porch, attempting to tell his fair one that he dotes on her,
sees the ghost of her ferocious uncle (who isn't dead!) kicking his
heels against the railing, and hears his admonition that he'd better
hurry up, as the live uncle is coming in sight. The thrill with which
you read of the ghost in Ellis Parker Butler's _The Late John Wiggins_,
who deposits his wooden leg with the family he is haunting, on the plea
that it is too materialistic to be worn with ease, and therefore they
must take care of it for him, doesn't altogether leave you even when you
discover that the late John is a fraud, has never been a ghost nor used
a wooden leg. But a terrifying leg-acy while you do believe in it!

The new ghost has a more nimble and versatile tongue as well as wit. In
the older fiction and drama apparitions spoke seldom, and then merely as
_ghosts_, not as individuals. And ghosts, like kings in drama, were of a
dignity and must preserve it in their speech. Or perhaps the authors
were doubtful as to the dialogue of shades, and compromised on a few
stately ejaculations as being safely phantasmal speaking parts. But
compare that usage with the rude freedom of some modern spooks, as John
Kendrick Bangs's spectral cook of Bangletop, who lets fall her h's and
twists grammar in a rare and diverting manner. For myself, I'd hate to
be an old-fashioned ghost with no chance to keep up with the styles in
slang. Think of having always--and always--to speak a dead language!

The humorous ghost is not only modern, but he is distinctively American.
There are ghosts of all nationalities, naturally, but the spook that
provides a joke--on his host or on himself--is Yankee in origin and
development. The dry humor, the comic sense of the incongruous, the
willingness to laugh at himself as at others, carry over into
immaterialization as characteristic American qualities and are preserved
in their true flavor. I don't assert, of course, that Americans have
been the only ones in this field. The French and English selections in
this volume are sufficient to prove the contrary. Gautier's _The Mummy's
Foot_ has a humor of a lightness and grace as delicate as the princess's
little foot itself. There are various English stories of whimsical
haunting, some of actual spooks and some of the hoax type. Hoax ghosts
are fairly numerous in British as in American literature, one of the
early specimens of the kind being _The Specter of Tappington_ in the
_Ingoldsby Legends_. The files of _Blackwood's Magazine_ reveal several
examples, though not of high literary value.

Of the early specimens of the really amusing ghost that is an actual
revenant is _The Ghost Baby_, in _Blackwood's_, which shows originality
and humor, yet is too diffuse for printing here. In that we have a
conventional young bachelor, engaged to a charming girl, who is
entangled in social complications and made to suffer mental torment
because, without his consent, he has been chosen as the nurse and
guardian of a ghost baby that cradles after him wherever he goes. This
is a rich story almost spoiled by being poorly told. I sigh to think of
the laughs that Frank R. Stockton or John Kendrick Bangs or Gelett
Burgess could have got out of the situation. There are other comic
British spooks, as in Baring-Gould's _A Happy Release_, where a widow
and a widower in love are haunted by the jealous ghosts of their
respective spouses, till the phantom couple take a liking to each other
and decide to let the living bury their dead. This is suggestive of
Brander Matthews's earlier and cleverer story of a spectral courtship,
in _The Rival Ghosts_. Medieval and later literature gave us many
instances of a love affair or marriage between one spirit and one
mortal, but it remained for the modern American to celebrate the
nuptials of two ghosts. Think of being married when you know that you
and the other party are going to live ever after--whether happily or no!
Truly, the present terrors are more fearsome than the old!

The stories by Eden Phillpotts and Richard Middleton in this collection
show the diversity of the English humor as associated with apparitions,
and are entertaining in themselves. The _Canterville Ghost_, by Oscar
Wilde, is one of his best short stories and is in his happiest vein of
laughing satire. This travesty on the conventional traditions of the
wraith is preposterously delightful, one of the cleverest ghost stories
in our language. Zangwill has written engagingly of spooks, with a
laughable story about Samuel Johnson. And there are others. But the fact
remains that in spite of conceded and admirable examples, the humorous
ghost story is for the most part American in creation and spirit.
Washington Irving might be said to have started that fashion in
skeletons and shades, for he has given us various comic haunters, some
real and some make-believe. Frank R. Stockton gave his to funny spooks
with a riotous and laughing pen. The spirit in his _Transferred Ghost_
is impudently deathless, and has called up a train of subsequent
haunters. John Kendrick Bangs has made the darker regions seem
comfortable and homelike for us, and has created ghosts so human and so
funny that we look forward to being one--or more. We feel downright
neighborly toward such specters as the futile "last ghost" Nelson Lloyd
evokes for us, as we appreciate the satire of Rose O'Neill's
sophisticated wraith. The daring concept of Gelett Burgess's Ghost
Extinguisher is altogether American. The field is still comparatively
limited, but a number of Americans have done distinctive work in it. The
specter now wears motley instead of a shroud, and shakes his jester's
bells the while he rattles his bones. I dare any, however grouchy,
reader to finish the stories in this volume without having a kindlier
feeling toward ghosts!

D. S.

NEW YORK,
_March, 1921._



CONTENTS


                                     PAGE

INTRODUCTION: THE HUMOROUS GHOST      vii

THE CANTERVILLE GHOST                   3
  BY OSCAR WILDE

THE GHOST-EXTINGUISHER                 51
  BY GELETT BURGESS

"DEY AIN'T NO GHOSTS"                  69
  BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER

THE TRANSFERRED GHOST                  89
  BY FRANK R. STOCKTON

THE MUMMY'S FOOT                      109
  BY THÉOPHILE GAUTIER

THE RIVAL GHOSTS                      129
  BY BRANDER MATTHEWS

THE WATER GHOST OF HARROWBY HALL      159
  BY JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

BACK FROM THAT BOURNE                 175
  ANONYMOUS

THE GHOST-SHIP                        187
  BY RICHARD MIDDLETON

THE TRANSPLANTED GHOST                205
  BY WALLACE IRWIN

THE LAST GHOST IN HARMONY             229
  BY NELSON LLOYD

THE GHOST OF MISER BRIMPSON           247
  BY EDEN PHILLPOTTS

THE HAUNTED PHOTOGRAPH                275
  BY RUTH MCENERY STUART

THE GHOST THAT GOT THE BUTTON         295
  BY WILL ADAMS

THE SPECTER BRIDEGROOM                315
  BY WASHINGTON IRVING

THE SPECTER OF TAPPINGTON             341
  COMPILED BY RICHARD BARHAM

IN THE BARN                           385
  BY BURGES JOHNSON

A SHADY PLOT                          403
  BY ELSIE BROWN

THE LADY AND THE GHOST                425
  BY ROSE CECIL O'NEILL



HUMOROUS GHOST STORIES



THE CANTERVILLE GHOST

_An amusing chronicle of the tribulations of the Ghost of Canterville
Chase when his ancestral halls became the home of the American Minister
to the Court of St. James._

BY OSCAR WILDE



The Canterville Ghost

BY OSCAR WILDE


I

When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase,
everyone told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no
doubt at all that the place was haunted. Indeed, Lord Canterville
himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honor, had felt it his
duty to mention the fact to Mr. Otis when they came to discuss terms.

"We have not cared to live in the place ourselves," said Lord
Canterville, "since my grand-aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton, was
frightened into a fit, from which she never really recovered, by two
skeleton hands being placed on her shoulders as she was dressing for
dinner, and I feel bound to tell you, Mr. Otis, that the ghost has been
seen by several living members of my family, as well as by the rector of
the parish, the Rev. Augustus Dampier, who is a Fellow of King's
College, Cambridge. After the unfortunate accident to the Duchess, none
of our younger servants would stay with us, and Lady Canterville often
got very little sleep at night, in consequence of the mysterious noises
that came from the corridor and the library."

"My Lord," answered the Minister, "I will take the furniture and the
ghost at a valuation. I have come from a modern country, where we have
everything that money can buy; and with all our spry young fellows
painting the Old World red, and carrying off your best actors and
prima-donnas, I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in
Europe, we'd have it at home in a very short time in one of our public
museums, or on the road as a show."

"I fear that the ghost exists," said Lord Canterville, smiling, "though
it may have resisted the overtures of your enterprising impresarios. It
has been well known for three centuries, since 1584 in fact, and always
makes its appearance before the death of any member of our family."

"Well, so does the family doctor for that matter, Lord Canterville. But
there is no such thing, sir, as a ghost, and I guess the laws of Nature
are not going to be suspended for the British aristocracy."

"You are certainly very natural in America," answered Lord Canterville,
who did not quite understand Mr. Otis's last observation, "and if you
don't mind a ghost in the house, it is all right. Only you must remember
I warned you."

A few weeks after this, the purchase was concluded, and at the close of
the season the Minister and his family went down to Canterville Chase.
Mrs. Otis, who, as Miss Lucretia R. Tappan, of West 53d Street, had been
a celebrated New York belle, was now a very handsome, middle-aged woman,
with fine eyes, and a superb profile. Many American ladies on leaving
their native land adopt an appearance of chronic ill-health, under the
impression that it is a form of European refinement, but Mrs. Otis had
never fallen into this error. She had a magnificent constitution, and a
really wonderful amount of animal spirits. Indeed, in many respects, she
was quite English, and was an excellent example of the fact that we have
really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course,
language. Her eldest son, christened Washington by his parents in a
moment of patriotism, which he never ceased to regret, was a
fair-haired, rather good-looking young man, who had qualified himself
for American diplomacy by leading the German at the Newport Casino for
three successive seasons, and even in London was well known as an
excellent dancer. Gardenias and the peerage were his only weaknesses.
Otherwise he was extremely sensible. Miss Virginia E. Otis was a little
girl of fifteen, lithe and lovely as a fawn, and with a fine freedom in
her large blue eyes. She was a wonderful Amazon, and had once raced old
Lord Bilton on her pony twice round the park, winning by a length and a
half, just in front of the Achilles statue, to the huge delight of the
young Duke of Cheshire, who proposed for her on the spot, and was sent
back to Eton that very night by his guardians, in floods of tears.
After Virginia came the twins, who were usually called "The Stars and
Stripes," as they were always getting swished. They were delightful
boys, and, with the exception of the worthy Minister, the only true
republicans of the family.

As Canterville Chase is seven miles from Ascot, the nearest railway
station, Mr. Otis had telegraphed for a wagonette to meet them, and they
started on their drive in high spirits. It was a lovely July evening,
and the air was delicate with the scent of the pinewoods. Now and then
they heard a wood-pigeon brooding over its own sweet voice, or saw, deep
in the rustling fern, the burnished breast of the pheasant. Little
squirrels peered at them from the beech-trees as they went by, and the
rabbits scudded away through the brushwood and over the mossy knolls,
with their white tails in the air. As they entered the avenue of
Canterville Chase, however, the sky became suddenly overcast with
clouds, a curious stillness seemed to hold the atmosphere, a great
flight of rooks passed silently over their heads, and, before they
reached the house, some big drops of rain had fallen.

Standing on the steps to receive them was an old woman, neatly dressed
in black silk, with a white cap and apron. This was Mrs. Umney, the
housekeeper, whom Mrs. Otis, at Lady Canterville's earnest request, had
consented to keep in her former position. She made them each a low
curtsy as they alighted, and said in a quaint, old-fashioned manner, "I
bid you welcome to Canterville Chase." Following her, they passed
through the fine Tudor hall into the library, a long, low room, paneled
in black oak, at the end of which was a large stained glass window. Here
they found tea laid out for them, and, after taking off their wraps,
they sat down and began to look round, while Mrs. Umney waited on them.

Suddenly Mrs. Otis caught sight of a dull red stain on the floor just by
the fireplace, and, quite unconscious of what it really signified, said
to Mrs. Umney, "I am afraid something has been spilled there."

"Yes, madam," replied the old housekeeper in a low voice, "blood has
been spilled on that spot."

"How horrid!" cried Mrs. Otis; "I don't at all care for blood-stains in
a sitting-room. It must be removed at once."

The old woman smiled, and answered in the same low, mysterious voice,
"It is the blood of Lady Eleanore de Canterville, who was murdered on
that very spot by her own husband, Sir Simon de Canterville, in 1575.
Sir Simon survived her nine years, and disappeared suddenly under very
mysterious circumstances. His body has never been discovered, but his
guilty spirit still haunts the Chase. The blood-stain has been much
admired by tourists and others, and cannot be removed."

"That is all nonsense," cried Washington Otis; "Pinkerton's Champion
Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent will clean it up in no time," and
before the terrified housekeeper could interfere, he had fallen upon his
knees, and was rapidly scouring the floor with a small stick of what
looked like a black cosmetic. In a few moments no trace of the
blood-stain could be seen.

"I knew Pinkerton would do it," he exclaimed, triumphantly, as he looked
round at his admiring family; but no sooner had he said these words than
a terrible flash of lightning lit up the somber room, a fearful peal of
thunder made them all start to their feet, and Mrs. Umney fainted.

"What a monstrous climate!" said the American Minister, calmly, as he
lit a long cheroot. "I guess the old country is so overpopulated that
they have not enough decent weather for everybody. I have always been of
opinion that emigration is the only thing for England."

"My dear Hiram," cried Mrs. Otis, "what can we do with a woman who
faints?"

"Charge it to her like breakages," answered the Minister; "she won't
faint after that"; and in a few moments Mrs. Umney certainly came to.
There was no doubt, however, that she was extremely upset, and she
sternly warned Mr. Otis to beware of some trouble coming to the house.

"I have seen things with my own eyes, sir," she said, "that would make
any Christian's hair stand on end, and many and many a night I have not
closed my eyes in sleep for the awful things that are done here." Mr.
Otis, however, and his wife warmly assured the honest soul that they
were not afraid of ghosts, and, after invoking the blessings of
Providence on her new master and mistress, and making arrangements for
an increase of salary, the old housekeeper tottered off to her own room.


II

The storm raged fiercely all that night, but nothing of particular note
occurred. The next morning, however, when they came down to breakfast,
they found the terrible stain of blood once again on the floor. "I don't
think it can be the fault of the Paragon Detergent," said Washington,
"for I have tried it with everything. It must be the ghost." He
accordingly rubbed out the stain a second time, but the second morning
it appeared again. The third morning also it was there, though the
library had been locked up at night by Mr. Otis himself, and the key
carried upstairs. The whole family were now quite interested; Mr. Otis
began to suspect that he had been too dogmatic in his denial of the
existence of ghosts, Mrs. Otis expressed her intention of joining the
Psychical Society, and Washington prepared a long letter to Messrs.
Myers and Podmore on the subject of the Permanence of Sanguineous Stains
when connected with Crime. That night all doubts about the objective
existence of phantasmata were removed forever.

The day had been warm and sunny; and, in the cool of the evening, the
whole family went out to drive. They did not return home till nine
o'clock, when they had a light supper. The conversation in no way turned
upon ghosts, so there were not even those primary conditions of
receptive expectations which so often precede the presentation of
psychical phenomena. The subjects discussed, as I have since learned
from Mr. Otis, were merely such as form the ordinary conversation of
cultured Americans of the better class, such as the immense superiority
of Miss Fanny Devonport over Sarah Bernhardt as an actress; the
difficulty of obtaining green corn, buckwheat cakes, and hominy, even in
the best English houses; the importance of Boston in the development of
the world-soul; the advantages of the baggage-check system in railway
traveling; and the sweetness of the New York accent as compared to the
London drawl. No mention at all was made of the supernatural, nor was
Sir Simon de Canterville alluded to in any way. At eleven o'clock the
family retired, and by half-past all the lights were out. Some time
after, Mr. Otis was awakened by a curious noise in the corridor, outside
his room. It sounded like the clank of metal, and seemed to be coming
nearer every moment. He got up at once, struck a match, and looked at
the time. It was exactly one o'clock. He was quite calm, and felt his
pulse, which was not at all feverish. The strange noise still continued,
and with it he heard distinctly the sound of footsteps. He put on his
slippers, took a small oblong phial out of his dressing-case, and opened
the door. Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man
of terrible aspect. His eyes were as red burning coals; long gray hair
fell over his shoulders in matted coils; his garments, which were of
antique cut, were soiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung
heavy manacles and rusty gyves.

"My dear sir," said Mr. Otis, "I really must insist on your oiling those
chains, and have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the
Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator. It is said to be completely efficacious
upon one application, and there are several testimonials to that effect
on the wrapper from some of our most eminent native divines. I shall
leave it here for you by the bedroom candles, and will be happy to
supply you with more, should you require it." With these words the
United States Minister laid the bottle down on a marble table, and,
closing his door, retired to rest.

For a moment the Canterville ghost stood quite motionless in natural
indignation; then, dashing the bottle violently upon the polished floor,
he fled down the corridor, uttering hollow groans, and emitting a
ghastly green light. Just, however, as he reached the top of the great
oak staircase, a door was flung open, two little white-robed figures
appeared, and a large pillow whizzed past his head! There was evidently
no time to be lost, so, hastily adopting the Fourth dimension of Space
as a means of escape, he vanished through the wainscoting, and the
house became quite quiet.

On reaching a small secret chamber in the left wing, he leaned up
against a moonbeam to recover his breath, and began to try and realize
his position. Never, in a brilliant and uninterrupted career of three
hundred years, had he been so grossly insulted. He thought of the
Dowager Duchess, whom he had frightened into a fit as she stood before
the glass in her lace and diamonds; of the four housemaids, who had gone
into hysterics when he merely grinned at them through the curtains on
one of the spare bedrooms; of the rector of the parish, whose candle he
had blown out as he was coming late one night from the library, and who
had been under the care of Sir William Gull ever since, a perfect martyr
to nervous disorders; and of old Madame de Tremouillac, who, having
wakened up one morning early and seen a skeleton seated in an arm-chair
by the fire reading her diary, had been confined to her bed for six
weeks with an attack of brain fever, and, on her recovery, had become
reconciled to the Church, and broken off her connection with that
notorious skeptic, Monsieur de Voltaire. He remembered the terrible
night when the wicked Lord Canterville was found choking in his
dressing-room, with the knave of diamonds halfway down his throat, and
confessed, just before he died, that he had cheated Charles James Fox
out of £50,000 at Crockford's by means of that very card, and swore that
the ghost had made him swallow it. All his great achievements came back
to him again, from the butler who had shot himself in the pantry because
he had seen a green hand tapping at the windowpane, to the beautiful
Lady Stutfield, who was always obliged to wear a black velvet band round
her throat to hide the mark of five fingers burnt upon her white skin,
and who drowned herself at last in the carp-pond at the end of the
King's Walk. With the enthusiastic egotism of the true artist, he went
over his most celebrated performances, and smiled bitterly to himself as
he recalled to mind his last appearance as "Red Reuben, or the Strangled
Babe," his _début_ as "Gaunt Gibeon, the Blood-sucker of Bexley Moor,"
and the _furore_ he had excited one lovely June evening by merely
playing ninepins with his own bones upon the lawn-tennis ground. And
after all this some wretched modern Americans were to come and offer him
the Rising Sun Lubricator, and throw pillows at his head! It was quite
unbearable. Besides, no ghost in history had ever been treated in this
manner. Accordingly, he determined to have vengeance, and remained till
daylight in an attitude of deep thought.


III

The next morning, when the Otis family met at breakfast, they discussed
the ghost at some length. The United States Minister was naturally a
little annoyed to find that his present had not been accepted. "I have
no wish," he said, "to do the ghost any personal injury, and I must say
that, considering the length of time he has been in the house, I don't
think it is at all polite to throw pillows at him,"--a very just remark,
at which, I am sorry to say, the twins burst into shouts of laughter.
"Upon the other hand," he continued, "if he really declines to use the
Rising Sun Lubricator, we shall have to take his chains from him. It
would be quite impossible to sleep, with such a noise going on outside
the bedrooms."

For the rest of the week, however, they were undisturbed, the only thing
that excited any attention being the continual renewal of the
blood-stain on the library floor. This certainly was very strange, as
the door was always locked at night by Mr. Otis, and the windows kept
closely barred. The chameleon-like color, also, of the stain excited a
good deal of comment. Some mornings it was a dull (almost Indian) red,
then it would be vermilion, then a rich purple, and once when they came
down for family prayers, according to the simple rites of the Free
American Reformed Episcopalian Church, they found it a bright
emerald-green. These kaleidoscopic changes naturally amused the party
very much, and bets on the subject were freely made every evening. The
only person who did not enter into the joke was little Virginia, who,
for some unexplained reason, was always a good deal distressed at the
sight of the blood-stain, and very nearly cried the morning it was
emerald-green.

The second appearance of the ghost was on Sunday night. Shortly after
they had gone to bed they were suddenly alarmed by a fearful crash in
the hall. Rushing downstairs, they found that a large suit of old armor
had become detached from its stand, and had fallen on the stone floor,
while seated in a high-backed chair was the Canterville ghost, rubbing
his knees with an expression of acute agony on his face. The twins,
having brought their pea-shooters with them, at once discharged two
pellets on him, with that accuracy of aim which can only be attained by
long and careful practice on a writing-master, while the United States
Minister covered him with his revolver, and called upon him, in
accordance with Californian etiquette, to hold up his hands! The ghost
started up with a wild shriek of rage, and swept through them like a
mist, extinguishing Washington Otis's candle as he passed, and so
leaving them all in total darkness. On reaching the top of the staircase
he recovered himself, and determined to give his celebrated peal of
demoniac laughter. This he had on more than one occasion found extremely
useful. It was said to have turned Lord Raker's wig gray in a single
night, and had certainly made three of Lady Canterville's French
governesses give warning before their month was up. He accordingly
laughed his most horrible laugh, till the old vaulted roof rang and rang
again, but hardly had the fearful echo died away when a door opened,
and Mrs. Otis came out in a light blue dressing-gown. "I am afraid you
are far from well," she said, "and have brought you a bottle of Doctor
Dobell's tincture. If it is indigestion, you will find it a most
excellent remedy." The ghost glared at her in fury, and began at once to
make preparations for turning himself into a large black dog, an
accomplishment for which he was justly renowned, and to which the family
doctor always attributed the permanent idiocy of Lord Canterville's
uncle, the Hon. Thomas Horton. The sound of approaching footsteps,
however, made him hesitate in his fell purpose, so he contented himself
with becoming faintly phosphorescent, and vanished with a deep
churchyard groan, just as the twins had come up to him.

On reaching his room he entirely broke down, and became a prey to the
most violent agitation. The vulgarity of the twins, and the gross
materialism of Mrs. Otis, were naturally extremely annoying, but what
really distressed him most was that he had been unable to wear the suit
of mail. He had hoped that even modern Americans would be thrilled by
the sight of a Specter in armor, if for no more sensible reason, at
least out of respect for their national poet Longfellow, over whose
graceful and attractive poetry he himself had whiled away many a weary
hour when the Cantervilles were up in town. Besides it was his own suit.
He had worn it with great success at the Kenilworth tournament, and had
been highly complimented on it by no less a person than the Virgin Queen
herself. Yet when he had put it on, he had been completely overpowered
by the weight of the huge breastplate and steel casque, and had fallen
heavily on the stone pavement, barking both his knees severely, and
bruising the knuckles of his right hand.

For some days after this he was extremely ill, and hardly stirred out of
his room at all, except to keep the blood-stain in proper repair.
However, by taking great care of himself, he recovered, and resolved to
make a third attempt to frighten the United States Minister and his
family. He selected Friday, August 17th, for his appearance, and spent
most of that day in looking over his wardrobe, ultimately deciding in
favor of a large slouched hat with a red feather, a winding-sheet
frilled at the wrists and neck, and a rusty dagger. Towards evening a
violent storm of rain came on, and the wind was so high that all the
windows and doors in the old house shook and rattled. In fact, it was
just such weather as he loved. His plan of action was this. He was to
make his way quietly to Washington Otis's room, gibber at him from the
foot of the bed, and stab himself three times in the throat to the sound
of low music. He bore Washington a special grudge, being quite aware
that it was he who was in the habit of removing the famous Canterville
blood-stain by means of Pinkerton's Paragon Detergent. Having reduced
the reckless and foolhardy youth to a condition of abject terror, he
was then to proceed to the room occupied by the United States Minister
and his wife, and there to place a clammy hand on Mrs. Otis's forehead,
while he hissed into her trembling husband's ear the awful secrets of
the charnel-house. With regard to little Virginia, he had not quite made
up his mind. She had never insulted him in any way, and was pretty and
gentle. A few hollow groans from the wardrobe, he thought, would be more
than sufficient, or, if that failed to wake her, he might grabble at the
counterpane with palsy-twitching fingers. As for the twins, he was quite
determined to teach them a lesson. The first thing to be done was, of
course, to sit upon their chests, so as to produce the stifling
sensation of nightmare. Then, as their beds were quite close to each
other, to stand between them in the form of a green, icy-cold corpse,
till they became paralyzed with fear, and finally, to throw off the
winding-sheet, and crawl round the room, with white, bleached bones and
one rolling eyeball in the character of "Dumb Daniel, or the Suicide's
Skeleton," a _rôle_ in which he had on more than one occasion produced a
great effect, and which he considered quite equal to his famous part of
"Martin the Maniac, or the Masked Mystery."

At half-past ten he heard the family going to bed. For some time he was
disturbed by wild shrieks of laughter from the twins, who, with the
light-hearted gayety of schoolboys, were evidently amusing themselves
before they retired to rest, but at a quarter-past eleven all was still,
and, as midnight sounded, he sallied forth. The owl beat against the
window-panes, the raven croaked from the old yew-tree, and the wind
wandered moaning round the house like a lost soul; but the Otis family
slept unconscious of their doom, and high above the rain and storm he
could hear the steady snoring of the Minister for the United States. He
stepped stealthily out of the wainscoting, with an evil smile on his
cruel, wrinkled mouth, and the moon hid her face in a cloud as he stole
past the great oriel window, where his own arms and those of his
murdered wife were blazoned in azure and gold. On and on he glided, like
an evil shadow, the very darkness seeming to loathe him as he passed.
Once he thought he heard something call, and stopped; but it was only
the baying of a dog from the Red Farm, and he went on, muttering strange
sixteenth century curses, and ever and anon brandishing the rusty dagger
in the midnight air. Finally he reached the corner of the passage that
led to luckless Washington's room. For a moment he paused there, the
wind blowing his long gray locks about his head, and twisting into
grotesque and fantastic folds the nameless horror of the dead man's
shroud. Then the clock struck the quarter, and he felt the time was
come. He chuckled to himself, and turned the corner; but no sooner had
he done so than, with a piteous wail of terror, he fell back, and hid
his blanched face in his long, bony hands. Right in front of him was
standing a horrible specter, motionless as a carven image, and monstrous
as a madman's dream! Its head was bald and burnished; its face round,
and fat, and white; and hideous laughter seemed to have writhed its
features into an eternal grin. From the eyes streamed rays of scarlet
light, the mouth was a wide well of fire, and a hideous garment, like to
his own, swathed with its silent snows the Titan form. On its breast was
a placard with strange writing in antique characters, some scroll of
shame it seemed, some record of wild sins, some awful calendar of crime,
and, with its right hand, it bore aloft a falchion of gleaming steel.

Never having seen a ghost before, he naturally was terribly frightened,
and, after a second hasty glance at the awful phantom, he fled back to
his room, tripping up in his long winding-sheet as he sped down the
corridor, and finally dropping the rusty dagger into the Minister's
jack-boots, where it was found in the morning by the butler. Once in the
privacy of his own apartment, he flung himself down on a small
pallet-bed, and hid his face under the clothes. After a time, however,
the brave old Canterville spirit asserted itself, and he determined to
go and speak to the other ghost as soon as it was daylight. Accordingly,
just as the dawn was touching the hills with silver, he returned towards
the spot where he had first laid eyes on the grisly phantom, feeling
that, after all, two ghosts were better than one, and that, by the aid
of his new friend, he might safely grapple with the twins. On reaching
the spot, however, a terrible sight met his gaze. Something had
evidently happened to the specter, for the light had entirely faded from
its hollow eyes, the gleaming falchion had fallen from its hand, and it
was leaning up against the wall in a strained and uncomfortable
attitude. He rushed forward and seized it in his arms, when, to his
horror, the head slipped off and rolled on the floor, the body assumed a
recumbent posture, and he found himself clasping a white dimity
bed-curtain, with a sweeping-brush, a kitchen cleaver, and a hollow
turnip lying at his feet! Unable to understand this curious
transformation, he clutched the placard with feverish haste, and there,
in the gray morning light, he read these fearful words:

    YE OTIS GHOSTE
    Ye Onlie True and Originale Spook,
    Beware of Ye Imitationes.
    All others are counterfeite.

The whole thing flashed across him. He had been tricked, foiled, and
outwitted! The old Canterville look came into his eyes; he ground his
toothless gums together; and, raising his withered hands high above his
head, swore according to the picturesque phraseology of the antique
school, that, when Chanticleer had sounded twice his merry horn, deeds
of blood would be wrought, and murder walk abroad with silent feet.

Hardly had he finished this awful oath when, from the red-tiled roof of
a distant homestead, a cock crew. He laughed a long, low, bitter laugh,
and waited. Hour after hour he waited, but the cock, for some strange
reason, did not crow again. Finally, at half-past seven, the arrival of
the housemaids made him give up his fearful vigil, and he stalked back
to his room, thinking of his vain oath and baffled purpose. There he
consulted several books of ancient chivalry, of which he was exceedingly
fond, and found that, on every occasion on which this oath had been
used, Chanticleer had always crowed a second time. "Perdition seize the
naughty fowl," he muttered, "I have seen the day when, with my stout
spear, I would have run him through the gorge, and made him crow for me
an 'twere in death!" He then retired to a comfortable lead coffin, and
stayed there till evening.


IV

The next day the ghost was very weak and tired. The terrible excitement
of the last four weeks was beginning to have its effect. His nerves were
completely shattered, and he started at the slightest noise. For five
days he kept his room, and at last made up his mind to give up the point
of the blood-stain on the library floor. If the Otis family did not
want it, they clearly did not deserve it. They were evidently people on
a low, material plane of existence, and quite incapable of appreciating
the symbolic value of sensuous phenomena. The question of phantasmic
apparitions, and the development of astral bodies, was of course quite a
different matter, and really not under his control. It was his solemn
duty to appear in the corridor once a week, and to gibber from the large
oriel window on the first and third Wednesdays in every month, and he
did not see how he could honorably escape from his obligations. It is
quite true that his life had been very evil, but, upon the other hand,
he was most conscientious in all things connected with the supernatural.
For the next three Saturdays, accordingly, he traversed the corridor as
usual between midnight and three o'clock, taking every possible
precaution against being either heard or seen. He removed his boots,
trod as lightly as possible on the old worm-eaten boards, wore a large
black velvet cloak, and was careful to use the Rising Sun Lubricator for
oiling his chains. I am bound to acknowledge that it was with a good
deal of difficulty that he brought himself to adopt this last mode of
protection. However, one night, while the family were at dinner, he
slipped into Mr. Otis's bedroom and carried off the bottle. He felt a
little humiliated at first, but afterwards was sensible enough to see
that there was a great deal to be said for the invention, and, to a
certain degree, it served his purpose. Still, in spite of everything he
was not left unmolested. Strings were continually being stretched across
the corridor, over which he tripped in the dark, and on one occasion,
while dressed for the part of "Black Isaac, or the Huntsman of Hogley
Woods," he met with a severe fall, through treading on a butter-slide,
which the twins had constructed from the entrance of the Tapestry
Chamber to the top of the oak staircase. This last insult so enraged him
that he resolved to make one final effort to assert his dignity and
social position, and determined to visit the insolent young Etonians the
next night in his celebrated character of "Reckless Rupert, or the
Headless Earl."

He had not appeared in this disguise for more than seventy years; in
fact, not since he had so frightened pretty Lady Barbara Modish by means
of it, that she suddenly broke off her engagement with the present Lord
Canterville's grandfather, and ran away to Gretna Green with handsome
Jack Castletown, declaring that nothing in the world would induce her to
marry into a family that allowed such a horrible phantom to walk up and
down the terrace at twilight. Poor Jack was afterwards shot in a duel by
Lord Canterville on Wandsworth Common, and Lady Barbara died of a broken
heart at Tunbridge Wells before the year was out, so, in every way, it
had been a great success. It was, however, an extremely difficult
"make-up," if I may use such a theatrical expression in connection with
one of the greatest mysteries of the supernatural, or, to employ a more
scientific term, the higher-natural world, and it took him fully three
hours to make his preparations. At last everything was ready, and he was
very pleased with his appearance. The big leather riding-boots that went
with the dress were just a little too large for him, and he could only
find one of the two horse-pistols, but, on the whole, he was quite
satisfied, and at a quarter-past one he glided out of the wainscoting
and crept down the corridor. On reaching the room occupied by the twins,
which I should mention was called the Blue Bed Chamber on account of the
color of its hangings, he found the door just ajar. Wishing to make an
effective entrance, he flung it wide open, when a heavy jug of water
fell right down on him, wetting him to the skin, and just missing his
left shoulder by a couple of inches. At the same moment he heard stifled
shrieks of laughter proceeding from the four-post bed. The shock to his
nervous system was so great that he fled back to his room as hard as he
could go, and the next day he was laid up with a severe cold. The only
thing that at all consoled him in the whole affair was the fact that he
had not brought his head with him, for, had he done so, the consequences
might have been very serious.

He now gave up all hope of ever frightening this rude American family,
and contented himself, as a rule, with creeping about the passages in
list slippers, with a thick red muffler round his throat for fear of
draughts, and a small arquebus, in case he should be attacked by the
twins. The final blow he received occurred on the 19th of September. He
had gone downstairs to the great entrance-hall feeling sure that there,
at any rate, he would be quite unmolested, and was amusing himself by
making satirical remarks on the large Saroni photographs of the United
States Minister and his wife, which had now taken the place of the
Canterville family pictures. He was simply but neatly clad in a long
shroud, spotted with churchyard mold, had tied up his jaw with a strip
of yellow linen, and carried a small lantern and a sexton's spade. In
fact, he was dressed for the character of "Jonas the Graveless, or the
Corpse-Snatcher of Chertsey Barn," one of his most remarkable
impersonations, and one which the Cantervilles had every reason to
remember, as it was the real origin of their quarrel with their
neighbor, Lord Rufford. It was about a quarter-past two o'clock in the
morning, and, as far as he could ascertain, no one was stirring. As he
was strolling towards the library, however, to see if there were any
traces left of the blood-stain, suddenly there leaped out on him from a
dark corner two figures, who waved their arms wildly above their heads,
and shrieked out "BOO!" in his ear.

Seized with a panic, which, under the circumstances, was only natural,
he rushed for the staircase, but found Washington Otis waiting for him
there with the big garden-syringe, and being thus hemmed in by his
enemies on every side, and driven almost to bay, he vanished into the
great iron stove, which, fortunately for him, was not lit, and had to
make his way home through the flues and chimneys, arriving at his own
room in a terrible state of dirt, disorder, and despair.

After this he was not seen again on any nocturnal expedition. The twins
lay in wait for him on several occasions, and strewed the passages with
nutshells every night to the great annoyance of their parents and the
servants, but it was of no avail. It was quite evident that his feelings
were so wounded that he would not appear. Mr. Otis consequently resumed
his great work on the history of the Democratic party, on which he had
been engaged for some years; Mrs. Otis organized a wonderful clam-bake,
which amazed the whole county; the boys took to lacrosse, euchre, poker,
and other American national games, and Virginia rode about the lanes on
her pony, accompanied by the young Duke of Cheshire, who had come to
spend the last week of his holidays at Canterville Chase. It was
generally assumed that the ghost had gone away, and, in fact, Mr. Otis
wrote a letter to that effect to Lord Canterville, who, in reply,
expressed his great pleasure at the news, and sent his best
congratulations to the Minister's worthy wife.

The Otises, however, were deceived, for the ghost was still in the
house, and though now almost an invalid, was by no means ready to let
matters rest, particularly as he heard that among the guests was the
young Duke of Cheshire, whose grand-uncle, Lord Francis Stilton, had
once bet a hundred guineas with Colonel Carbury that he would play dice
with the Canterville ghost, and was found the next morning lying on the
floor of the card-room in such a helpless paralytic state that, though
he lived on to a great age, he was never able to say anything again but
"Double Sixes." The story was well known at the time, though, of course,
out of respect to the feelings of the two noble families, every attempt
was made to hush it up, and a full account of all the circumstances
connected with it will be found in the third volume of Lord Tattle's
_Recollections of the Prince Regent and his Friends_. The ghost, then,
was naturally very anxious to show that he had not lost his influence
over the Stiltons, with whom, indeed, he was distantly connected, his
own first cousin having been married _en secondes noces_ to the Sieur de
Bulkeley, from whom, as everyone knows, the Dukes of Cheshire are
lineally descended. Accordingly, he made arrangements for appearing to
Virginia's little lover in his celebrated impersonation of "The Vampire
Monk, or the Bloodless Benedictine," a performance so horrible that when
old Lady Startup saw it, which she did on one fatal New Year's Eve, in
the year 1764, she went off into the most piercing shrieks, which
culminated in violent apoplexy, and died in three days, after
disinheriting the Cantervilles, who were her nearest relations, and
leaving all her money to her London apothecary. At the last moment,
however, his terror of the twins prevented his leaving his room, and the
little Duke slept in peace under the great feathered canopy in the Royal
Bedchamber, and dreamed of Virginia.


V

A few days after this, Virginia and her curly-haired cavalier went out
riding on Brockley meadows, where she tore her habit so badly in getting
through a hedge that, on their return home, she made up her mind to go
up by the back staircase so as not to be seen. As she was running past
the Tapestry Chamber, the door of which happened to be open, she fancied
she saw someone inside, and thinking it was her mother's maid, who
sometimes used to bring her work there, looked in to ask her to mend her
habit. To her immense surprise, however, it was the Canterville ghost
himself! He was sitting by the window, watching the ruined gold of the
yellowing trees fly through the air, and the red leaves dancing madly
down the long avenue. His head was leaning on his hand, and his whole
attitude was one of extreme depression. Indeed, so forlorn, and so much
out of repair did he look, that little Virginia, whose first idea had
been to run away and lock herself in her room, was filled with pity, and
determined to try and comfort him. So light was her footfall, and so
deep his melancholy, that he was not aware of her presence till she
spoke to him.

"I am so sorry for you," she said, "but my brothers are going back to
Eton to-morrow, and then, if you behave yourself, no one will annoy
you."

"It is absurd asking me to behave myself," he answered, looking round in
astonishment at the pretty little girl who had ventured to address him,
"quite absurd. I must rattle my chains, and groan through keyholes, and
walk about at night, if that is what you mean. It is my only reason for
existing."

"It is no reason at all for existing, and you know you have been very
wicked. Mrs. Umney told us, the first day we arrived here, that you had
killed your wife."

"Well, I quite admit it," said the ghost, petulantly, "but it was a
purely family matter and concerned no one else."

"It is very wrong to kill anyone," said Virginia, who at times had a
sweet puritan gravity, caught from some old New England ancestor.

"Oh, I hate the cheap severity of abstract ethics! My wife was very
plain, never had my ruffs properly starched, and knew nothing about
cookery. Why, there was a buck I had shot in Hogley Woods, a magnificent
pricket, and do you know how she had it sent to table? However, it is no
matter now, for it is all over, and I don't think it was very nice of
her brothers to starve me to death, though I did kill her."

"Starve you to death? Oh, Mr. Ghost--I mean Sir Simon, are you hungry?
I have a sandwich in my case. Would you like it?"

"No, thank you, I never eat anything now; but it is very kind of you,
all the same, and you are much nicer than the rest of your horrid, rude,
vulgar, dishonest family."

"Stop!" cried Virginia, stamping her foot, "it is you who are rude, and
horrid, and vulgar, and as for dishonesty, you know you stole the paints
out of my box to try and furbish up that ridiculous blood-stain in the
library. First you took all my reds, including the vermilion, and I
couldn't do any more sunsets, then you took the emerald-green and the
chrome-yellow, and finally I had nothing left but indigo and Chinese
white, and could only do moonlight scenes, which are always depressing
to look at, and not at all easy to paint. I never told on you, though I
was very much annoyed, and it was most ridiculous, the whole thing; for
who ever heard of emerald-green blood?"

"Well, really," said the Ghost, rather meekly, "what was I to do? It is
a very difficult thing to get real blood nowadays, and, as your brother
began it all with his Paragon Detergent, I certainly saw no reason why I
should not have your paints. As for color, that is always a matter of
taste: the Cantervilles have blue blood, for instance, the very bluest
in England; but I know you Americans don't care for things of this
kind."

"You know nothing about it, and the best thing you can do is to emigrate
and improve your mind. My father will be only too happy to give you a
free passage, and though there is a heavy duty on spirits of every kind,
there will be no difficulty about the Custom House, as the officers are
all Democrats. Once in New York, you are sure to be a great success. I
know lots of people there who would give a hundred thousand dollars to
have a grandfather, and much more than that to have a family ghost."

"I don't think I should like America."

"I suppose because we have no ruins and no curiosities," said Virginia,
satirically.

"No ruins! no curiosities!" answered the Ghost; "you have your navy and
your manners."

"Good evening; I will go and ask papa to get the twins an extra week's
holiday."

"Please don't go, Miss Virginia," he cried; "I am so lonely and so
unhappy, and I really don't know what to do. I want to go to sleep and I
cannot."

"That's quite absurd! You have merely to go to bed and blow out the
candle. It is very difficult sometimes to keep awake, especially at
church, but there is no difficulty at all about sleeping. Why, even
babies know how to do that, and they are not very clever."

"I have not slept for three hundred years," he said sadly, and
Virginia's beautiful blue eyes opened in wonder; "for three hundred
years I have not slept, and I am so tired."

Virginia grew quite grave, and her little lips trembled like
rose-leaves. She came towards him, and kneeling down at his side,
looked up into his old withered face.

"Poor, poor ghost," she murmured; "have you no place where you can
sleep?"

"Far away beyond the pinewoods," he answered, in a low, dreamy voice,
"there is a little garden. There the grass grows long and deep, there
are the great white stars of the hemlock flower, there the nightingale
sings all night long. All night long he sings, and the cold crystal moon
looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its giant arms over the
sleepers."

Virginia's eyes grew dim with tears, and she hid her face in her hands.

"You mean the Garden of Death," she whispered.

"Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth,
with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have
no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at
peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of death's
house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death is."

Virginia trembled, a cold shudder ran through her, and for a few moments
there was silence. She felt as if she was in a terrible dream.

Then the ghost spoke again, and his voice sounded like the sighing of
the wind.

"Have you ever read the old prophecy on the library window?"

"Oh, often," cried the little girl, looking up; "I know it quite well.
It is painted in curious black letters, and is difficult to read. There
are only six lines:

    "'When a golden girl can win
    Prayer from out the lips of sin,
    When the barren almond bears,
    And a little child gives away its tears,
    Then shall all the house be still
    And peace come to Canterville.'

"But I don't know what they mean."

"They mean," he said, sadly, "that you must weep with me for my sins,
because I have no tears, and pray with me for my soul, because I have no
faith, and then, if you have always been sweet, and good, and gentle,
the angel of death will have mercy on me. You will see fearful shapes in
darkness, and wicked voices will whisper in your ear, but they will not
harm you, for against the purity of a little child the powers of Hell
cannot prevail."

Virginia made no answer, and the ghost wrung his hands in wild despair
as he looked down at her bowed golden head. Suddenly she stood up, very
pale, and with a strange light in her eyes. "I am not afraid," she said
firmly, "and I will ask the angel to have mercy on you."

He rose from his seat with a faint cry of joy, and taking her hand bent
over it with old-fashioned grace and kissed it. His fingers were as cold
as ice, and his lips burned like fire, but Virginia did not falter, as
he led her across the dusky room. On the faded green tapestry were
broidered little huntsmen. They blew their tasseled horns and with their
tiny hands waved to her to go back. "Go back! little Virginia," they
cried, "go back!" but the ghost clutched her hand more tightly, and she
shut her eyes against them. Horrible animals with lizard tails and
goggle eyes blinked at her from the carven chimney-piece, and murmured,
"Beware! little Virginia, beware! we may never see you again," but the
ghost glided on more swiftly, and Virginia did not listen. When they
reached the end of the room he stopped, and muttered some words she
could not understand. She opened her eyes, and saw the wall slowly
fading away like a mist, and a great black cavern in front of her. A
bitter cold wind swept round them, and she felt something pulling at her
dress. "Quick, quick," cried the ghost, "or it will be too late," and in
a moment the wainscoting had closed behind them, and the Tapestry
Chamber was empty.


VI

About ten minutes later, the bell rang for tea, and, as Virginia did not
come down, Mrs. Otis sent up one of the footmen to tell her. After a
little time he returned and said that he could not find Miss Virginia
anywhere. As she was in the habit of going out to the garden every
evening to get flowers for the dinner-table, Mrs. Otis was not at all
alarmed at first, but when six o'clock struck, and Virginia did not
appear, she became really agitated, and sent the boys out to look for
her, while she herself and Mr. Otis searched every room in the house. At
half-past six the boys came back and said that they could find no trace
of their sister anywhere. They were all now in the greatest state of
excitement, and did not know what to do, when Mr. Otis suddenly
remembered that, some few days before, he had given a band of gipsies
permission to camp in the park. He accordingly at once set off for
Blackfell Hollow, where he knew they were, accompanied by his eldest son
and two of the farm-servants. The little Duke of Cheshire, who was
perfectly frantic with anxiety, begged hard to be allowed to go too, but
Mr. Otis would not allow him, as he was afraid there might be a scuffle.
On arriving at the spot, however, he found that the gipsies had gone,
and it was evident that their departure had been rather sudden, as the
fire was still burning, and some plates were lying on the grass. Having
sent off Washington and the two men to scour the district, he ran home,
and dispatched telegrams to all the police inspectors in the county,
telling them to look out for a little girl who had been kidnapped by
tramps or gipsies. He then ordered his horse to be brought round, and
after insisting on his wife and the three boys sitting down to dinner,
rode off down the Ascot road with a groom. He had hardly, however, gone
a couple of miles, when he heard somebody galloping after him, and,
looking round, saw the little Duke coming up on his pony, with his face
very flushed, and no hat. "I'm awfully sorry, Mr. Otis," gasped out the
boy, "but I can't eat any dinner as long as Virginia is lost. Please
don't be angry with me; if you had let us be engaged last year, there
would never have been all this trouble. You won't send me back, will
you? I can't go! I won't go!"

The Minister could not help smiling at the handsome young scapegrace,
and was a good deal touched at his devotion to Virginia, so leaning down
from his horse, he patted him kindly on the shoulders, and said, "Well,
Cecil, if you won't go back, I suppose you must come with me, but I must
get you a hat at Ascot."

"Oh, bother my hat! I want Virginia!" cried the little Duke, laughing,
and they galloped on to the railway station. There Mr. Otis inquired of
the station-master if anyone answering to the description of Virginia
had been seen on the platform, but could get no news of her. The
station-master, however, wired up and down the line, and assured him
that a strict watch would be kept for her, and, after having bought a
hat for the little Duke from a linen-draper, who was just putting up his
shutters, Mr. Otis rode off to Bexley, a village about four miles away,
which he was told was a well-known haunt of the gipsies, as there was a
large common next to it. Here they roused up the rural policeman, but
could get no information from him, and, after riding all over the
common, they turned their horses' heads homewards, and reached the Chase
about eleven o'clock, dead-tired and almost heart-broken. They found
Washington and the twins waiting for them at the gate-house with
lanterns, as the avenue was very dark. Not the slightest trace of
Virginia had been discovered. The gipsies had been caught on Brockley
meadows, but she was not with them, and they had explained their sudden
departure by saying that they had mistaken the date of Chorton Fair, and
had gone off in a hurry for fear they should be late. Indeed, they had
been quite distressed at hearing of Virginia's disappearance, as they
were very grateful to Mr. Otis for having allowed them to camp in his
park, and four of their number had stayed behind to help in the search.
The carp-pond had been dragged, and the whole Chase thoroughly gone
over, but without any result. It was evident that, for that night at any
rate, Virginia was lost to them; and it was in a state of the deepest
depression that Mr. Otis and the boys walked up to the house, the groom
following behind with the two horses and the pony. In the hall they
found a group of frightened servants, and lying on a sofa in the library
was poor Mrs. Otis, almost out of her mind with terror and anxiety, and
having her forehead bathed with eau de cologne by the old housekeeper.
Mr. Otis at once insisted on her having something to eat, and ordered up
supper for the whole party. It was a melancholy meal, as hardly anyone
spoke, and even the twins were awestruck and subdued, as they were very
fond of their sister. When they had finished, Mr. Otis, in spite of the
entreaties of the little Duke, ordered them all to bed, saying that
nothing more could be done that night, and that he would telegraph in
the morning to Scotland Yard for some detectives to be sent down
immediately. Just as they were passing out of the dining-room, midnight
began to boom from the clock tower, and when the last stroke sounded
they heard a crash and a sudden shrill cry; a dreadful peal of thunder
shook the house, a strain of unearthly music floated through the air, a
panel at the top of the staircase flew back with a loud noise, and out
on the landing, looking very pale and white, with a little casket in her
hand, stepped Virginia. In a moment they had all rushed up to her. Mrs.
Otis clasped her passionately in her arms, the Duke smothered her with
violent kisses, and the twins executed a wild war-dance round the group.

"Good heavens! child, where have you been?" said Mr. Otis, rather
angrily, thinking that she had been playing some foolish trick on them.
"Cecil and I have been riding all over the country looking for you, and
your mother has been frightened to death. You must never play these
practical jokes any more."

"Except on the ghost! except on the ghost!" shrieked the twins, as they
capered about.

"My own darling, thank God you are found; you must never leave my side
again," murmured Mrs. Otis, as she kissed the trembling child, and
smoothed the tangled gold of her hair.

"Papa," said Virginia, quietly, "I have been with the ghost. He is dead,
and you must come and see him. He had been very wicked, but he was
really sorry for all that he had done, and he gave me this box of
beautiful jewels before he died."

The whole family gazed at her in mute amazement, but she was quite grave
and serious; and, turning round, she led them through the opening in the
wainscoting down a narrow secret corridor, Washington following with a
lighted candle, which he had caught up from the table. Finally, they
came to a great oak door, studded with rusty nails. When Virginia
touched it, it swung back on its heavy hinges, and they found themselves
in a little low room, with a vaulted ceiling, and one tiny grated
window. Embedded in the wall was a huge iron ring, and chained to it was
a gaunt skeleton, that was stretched out at full length on the stone
floor, and seemed to be trying to grasp with its long fleshless fingers
an old-fashioned trencher and ewer, that were placed just out of its
reach. The jug had evidently been once filled with water, as it was
covered inside with green mold. There was nothing on the trencher but a
pile of dust. Virginia knelt down beside the skeleton, and, folding her
little hands together, began to pray silently, while the rest of the
party looked on in wonder at the terrible tragedy whose secret was now
disclosed to them.

"Hallo!" suddenly exclaimed one of the twins, who had been looking out
of the window to try and discover in what wing of the house the room was
situated. "Hallo! the old withered almond-tree has blossomed. I can see
the flowers quite plainly in the moonlight."

"God has forgiven him," said Virginia, gravely, as she rose to her feet,
and a beautiful light seemed to illumine her face.

"What an angel you are!" cried the young Duke, and he put his arm round
her neck, and kissed her.


VII

Four days after these curious incidents, a funeral started from
Canterville Chase at about eleven o'clock at night. The hearse was drawn
by eight black horses, each of which carried on its head a great tuft of
nodding ostrich-plumes, and the leaden coffin was covered by a rich
purple pall, on which was embroidered in gold the Canterville
coat-of-arms. By the side of the hearse and the coaches walked the
servants with lighted torches, and the whole procession was wonderfully
impressive. Lord Canterville was the chief mourner, having come up
specially from Wales to attend the funeral, and sat in the first
carriage along with little Virginia. Then came the United States
Minister and his wife, then Washington and the three boys, and in the
last carriage was Mrs. Umney. It was generally felt that, as she had
been frightened by the ghost for more than fifty years of her life, she
had a right to see the last of him. A deep grave had been dug in the
corner of the churchyard, just under the old yew-tree, and the service
was read in the most impressive manner by the Rev. Augustus Dampier.
When the ceremony was over, the servants, according to an old custom
observed in the Canterville family, extinguished their torches, and, as
the coffin was being lowered into the grave, Virginia stepped forward,
and laid on it a large cross made of white and pink almond-blossoms. As
she did so, the moon came out from behind a cloud, and flooded with its
silent silver the little churchyard, and from a distant copse a
nightingale began to sing. She thought of the ghost's description of the
Garden of Death, her eyes became dim with tears, and she hardly spoke a
word during the drive home.

The next morning, before Lord Canterville went up to town, Mr. Otis had
an interview with him on the subject of the jewels the ghost had given
to Virginia. They were perfectly magnificent, especially a certain ruby
necklace with old Venetian setting, which was really a superb specimen
of sixteenth-century work, and their value was so great that Mr. Otis
felt considerable scruples about allowing his daughter to accept them.

"My lord," he said, "I know that in this country mortmain is held to
apply to trinkets as well as to land, and it is quite clear to me that
these jewels are, or should be, heirlooms in your family. I must beg
you, accordingly, to take them to London with you, and to regard them
simply as a portion of your property which has been restored to you
under certain strange conditions. As for my daughter, she is merely a
child, and has as yet, I am glad to say, but little interest in such
appurtenances of idle luxury. I am also informed by Mrs. Otis, who, I
may say, is no mean authority upon Art,--having had the privilege of
spending several winters in Boston when she was a girl,--that these gems
are of great monetary worth, and if offered for sale would fetch a tall
price. Under these circumstances, Lord Canterville, I feel sure that you
will recognize how impossible it would be for me to allow them to remain
in the possession of any member of my family; and, indeed, all such vain
gauds and toys, however suitable or necessary to the dignity of the
British aristocracy, would be completely out of place among those who
have been brought up on the severe, and I believe immortal, principles
of Republican simplicity. Perhaps I should mention that Virginia is very
anxious that you should allow her to retain the box, as a memento of
your unfortunate but misguided ancestor. As it is extremely old, and
consequently a good deal out of repair, you may perhaps think fit to
comply with her request. For my own part, I confess I am a good deal
surprised to find a child of mine expressing sympathy with medievalism
in any form, and can only account for it by the fact that Virginia was
born in one of your London suburbs shortly after Mrs. Otis had returned
from a trip to Athens."

Lord Canterville listened very gravely to the worthy Minister's speech,
pulling his gray moustache now and then to hide an involuntary smile,
and when Mr. Otis had ended, he shook him cordially by the hand, and
said: "My dear sir, your charming little daughter rendered my unlucky
ancestor, Sir Simon, a very important service, and I and my family are
much indebted to her for her marvelous courage and pluck. The jewels are
clearly hers, and, egad, I believe that if I were heartless enough to
take them from her, the wicked old fellow would be out of his grave in a
fortnight, leading me the devil of a life. As for their being heirlooms,
nothing is an heirloom that is not so mentioned in a will or legal
document, and the existence of these jewels has been quite unknown. I
assure you I have no more claim on them than your butler, and when Miss
Virginia grows up, I dare say she will be pleased to have pretty things
to wear. Besides, you forget, Mr. Otis, that you took the furniture and
the ghost at a valuation, and anything that belonged to the ghost passed
at once into your possession, as, whatever activity Sir Simon may have
shown in the corridor at night, in point of law he was really dead, and
you acquired his property by purchase."

Mr. Otis was a good deal distressed at Lord Canterville's refusal, and
begged him to reconsider his decision, but the good-natured peer was
quite firm, and finally induced the Minister to allow his daughter to
retain the present the ghost had given her, and when, in the spring of
1890, the young Duchess of Cheshire was presented at the Queen's first
drawing-room on the occasion of her marriage her jewels were the
universal theme of admiration. For Virginia received the coronet, which
is the reward of all good little American girls, and was married to her
boy-lover as soon as he came of age. They were both so charming, and
they loved each other so much, that everyone was delighted at the match,
except the old Marchioness of Dumbleton, who had tried to catch the Duke
for one of her seven unmarried daughters, and had given no less than
three expensive dinner-parties for that purpose, and, strange to say,
Mr. Otis himself. Mr. Otis was extremely fond of the young Duke
personally, but, theoretically, he objected to titles, and, to use his
own words, "was not without apprehension lest, amid the enervating
influences of a pleasure-loving aristocracy, the true principles of
Republican simplicity should be forgotten." His objections, however,
were completely over-ruled, and I believe that when he walked up the
aisle of St. George's, Hanover Square, with his daughter leaning on his
arm, there was not a prouder man in the whole length and breadth of
England.

The Duke and Duchess, after the honeymoon was over, went down to
Canterville Chase, and on the day after their arrival they walked over
in the afternoon to the lonely churchyard by the pinewoods. There had
been a great deal of difficulty at first about the inscription on Sir
Simon's tombstone, but finally it had been decided to engrave on it
simply the initials of the old gentleman's name, and the verse from the
library window. The Duchess had brought with her some lovely roses,
which she strewed upon the grave, and after they had stood by it for
some time they strolled into the ruined chancel of the old abbey. There
the Duchess sat down on a fallen pillar, while her husband lay at her
feet smoking a cigarette and looking up at her beautiful eyes. Suddenly
he threw his cigarette away, took hold of her hand, and said to her,
"Virginia, a wife should have no secrets from her husband."

"Dear Cecil! I have no secrets from you."

"Yes, you have," he answered, smiling, "you have never told me what
happened to you when you were locked up with the ghost."

"I have never told anyone, Cecil," said Virginia, gravely.

"I know that, but you might tell me."

"Please don't ask me, Cecil, I cannot tell you. Poor Sir Simon! I owe
him a great deal. Yes, don't laugh, Cecil, I really do. He made me see
what Life is, and what Death signifies, and why Love is stronger than
both."

The Duke rose and kissed his wife lovingly.

"You can have your secret as long as I have your heart," he murmured.

"You have always had that, Cecil."

"And you will tell our children some day, won't you?"

Virginia blushed.



THE GHOST-EXTINGUISHER

BY GELETT BURGESS

From the _Cosmopolitan Magazine_, April, 1905. By permission of John
Brisben Walker and Gelett Burgess.



The Ghost-Extinguisher

BY GELETT BURGESS


My attention was first called to the possibility of manufacturing a
practicable ghost-extinguisher by a real-estate agent in San Francisco.

"There's one thing," he said, "that affects city property here in a
curious way. You know we have a good many murders, and, as a
consequence, certain houses attain a very sensational and undesirable
reputation. These houses it is almost impossible to let; you can
scarcely get a decent family to occupy them rent-free. Then we have a
great many places said to be haunted. These were dead timber on my hands
until I happened to notice that the Japanese have no objections to
spooks. Now, whenever I have such a building to rent, I let it to Japs
at a nominal figure, and after they've taken the curse off, I raise the
rent, the Japs move out, the place is renovated, and in the market
again."

The subject interested me, for I am not only a scientist, but a
speculative philosopher as well. The investigation of those phenomena
that lie upon the threshold of the great unknown has always been my
favorite field of research. I believed, even then, that the Oriental
mind, working along different lines than those which we pursue, has
attained knowledge that we know little of. Thinking, therefore, that
these Japs might have some secret inherited from their misty past, I
examined into the matter.

I shall not trouble you with a narration of the incidents which led up
to my acquaintance with Hoku Yamanochi. Suffice it to say that I found
in him a friend who was willing to share with me his whole lore of
quasi-science. I call it this advisedly, for science, as we Occidentals
use the term, has to do only with the laws of matter and sensation; our
scientific men, in fact, recognize the existence of nothing else. The
Buddhistic philosophy, however, goes further.

According to its theories, the soul is sevenfold, consisting of
different shells or envelopes--something like an onion--which are shed
as life passes from the material to the spiritual state. The first, or
lowest, of these is the corporeal body, which, after death, decays and
perishes. Next comes the vital principle, which, departing from the
body, dissipates itself like an odor, and is lost. Less gross than this
is the astral body, which, although immaterial, yet lies near to the
consistency of matter. This astral shape, released from the body at
death, remains for a while in its earthly environment, still preserving
more or less definitely the imprint of the form which it inhabited.

It is this relic of a past material personality, this outworn shell,
that appears, when galvanized into an appearance of life, partly
materialized, as a ghost. It is not the soul that returns, for the soul,
which is immortal, is composed of the four higher spiritual essences
that surround the ego, and are carried on into the next life. These
astral bodies, therefore, fail to terrify the Buddhists, who know them
only as shadows, with no real volition. The Japs, in point of fact, have
learned how to exterminate them.

There is a certain powder, Hoku informed me, which, when burnt in their
presence, transforms them from the rarefied, or semi-spiritual,
condition to the state of matter. The ghost, so to speak, is
precipitated into and becomes a material shape which can easily be
disposed of. In this state it is confined and allowed to disintegrate
slowly where it can cause no further annoyance.

This long-winded explanation piqued my curiosity, which was not to be
satisfied until I had seen the Japanese method applied. It was not long
before I had an opportunity. A particularly revolting murder having been
committed in San Francisco, my friend Hoku Yamanochi applied for the
house, and, after the police had finished their examination, he was
permitted to occupy it for a half-year at the ridiculous price of three
dollars a month. He invited me to share his quarters, which were large
and luxuriously furnished.

For a week, nothing abnormal occurred. Then, one night, I was awakened
by terrifying groans followed by a blood-curdling shriek which seemed
to emerge from a large closet in my room, the scene of the late
atrocity. I confess that I had all the covers pulled over my head and
was shivering with horror when my Japanese friend entered, wearing a
pair of flowered-silk pajamas. Hearing his voice, I peeped forth, to see
him smiling reassuringly.

"You some kind of very foolish fellow," he said. "I show you how to fix
him!"

He took from his pocket three conical red pastils, placed them upon a
saucer and lighted them. Then, holding the fuming dish in one
outstretched hand, he walked to the closed door and opened it. The
shrieks burst out afresh, and, as I recalled the appalling details of
the scene which had occurred in this very room only five weeks ago, I
shuddered at his temerity. But he was quite calm.

Soon, I saw the wraith-like form of the recent victim dart from the
closet. She crawled under my bed and ran about the room, endeavoring to
escape, but was pursued by Hoku, who waved his smoking plate with
indefatigable patience and dexterity.

At last he had her cornered, and the specter was caught behind a curtain
of odorous fumes. Slowly the figure grew more distinct, assuming the
consistency of a heavy vapor, shrinking somewhat in the operation. Hoku
now hurriedly turned to me.

"You hully up, bling me one pair bellows pletty quick!" he commanded.

I ran into his room and brought the bellows from his fireplace. These
he pressed flat, and then carefully inserting one toe of the ghost into
the nozzle and opening the handles steadily, he sucked in a portion of
the unfortunate woman's anatomy, and dexterously squirted the vapor into
a large jar, which had been placed in the room for the purpose. Two more
operations were necessary to withdraw the phantom completely from the
corner and empty it into the jar. At last the transfer was effected and
the receptacle securely stoppered and sealed.

"In formeryore-time," Hoku explained to me, "old pliests sucked ghost
with mouth and spit him to inside of vase with acculacy. Modern-time
method more better for stomach and epiglottis."

"How long will this ghost keep?" I inquired.

"Oh, about four, five hundled years, maybe," was his reply. "Ghost now
change from spilit to matter, and comes under legality of matter as
usual science."

"What are you going to do with her?" I asked.

"Send him to Buddhist temple in Japan. Old pliest use him for high
celemony," was the answer.

My next desire was to obtain some of Hoku Yamanochi's ghost-powder and
analyze it. For a while it defied my attempts, but, after many months of
patient research, I discovered that it could be produced, in all its
essential qualities, by means of a fusion of formaldehyde and
hypophenyltrybrompropionic acid in an electrified vacuum. With this
product I began a series of interesting experiments.

As it became necessary for me to discover the habitat of ghosts in
considerable numbers, I joined the American Society for Psychical
Research, thus securing desirable information in regard to haunted
houses. These I visited persistently, until my powder was perfected and
had been proved efficacious for the capture of any ordinary house-broken
phantom. For a while I contented myself with the mere sterilization of
these specters, but, as I became surer of success, I began to attempt
the transfer of ghosts to receptacles wherein they could be transported
and studied at my leisure, classified and preserved for future
reference.

Hoku's bellows I soon discarded in favor of a large-sized bicycle-pump,
and eventually I had constructed one of my own, of a pattern which
enabled me to inhale an entire ghost at a single stroke. With this
powerful instrument I was able to compress even an adult life-sized
ghost into a two-quart bottle, in the neck of which a sensitive valve
(patented) prevented the specter from emerging during process.

My invention was not yet, however, quite satisfactory. While I had no
trouble in securing ghosts of recent creation--spirits, that is, who
were yet of almost the consistency of matter--on several of my trips
abroad in search of material I found in old manor houses or ruined
castles many specters so ancient that they had become highly rarefied
and tenuous, being at times scarcely visible to the naked eye. Such
elusive spirits are able to pass through walls and elude pursuit with
ease. It became necessary for me to obtain some instrument by which
their capture could be conveniently effected.

The ordinary fire-extinguisher of commerce gave me the hint as to how
the problem could be solved. One of these portable hand-instruments I
filled with the proper chemicals. When inverted, the ingredients were
commingled in vacuo and a vast volume of gas was liberated. This was
collected in the reservoir provided with a rubber tube having a nozzle
at the end. The whole apparatus being strapped upon my back, I was
enabled to direct a stream of powerful precipitating gas in any desired
direction, the flow being under control through the agency of a small
stopcock. By means of this ghost-extinguisher I was enabled to pursue my
experiments as far as I desired.

So far my investigations had been purely scientific, but before long the
commercial value of my discovery began to interest me. The ruinous
effects of spectral visitations upon real estate induced me to realize
some pecuniary reward from my ghost-extinguisher, and I began to
advertise my business. By degrees, I became known as an expert in my
original line, and my professional services were sought with as much
confidence as those of a veterinary surgeon. I manufactured the Gerrish
Ghost-Extinguisher in several sizes, and put it on the market, following
this venture with the introduction of my justly celebrated Gerrish
Ghost-Grenades. These hand-implements were made to be kept in racks
conveniently distributed in country houses for cases of sudden
emergency. A single grenade, hurled at any spectral form, would, in
breaking, liberate enough formaldybrom to coagulate the most perverse
spirit, and the resulting vapor could easily be removed from the room by
a housemaid with a common broom.

This branch of my business, however, never proved profitable, for the
appearance of ghosts, especially in the United States, is seldom
anticipated. Had it been possible for me to invent a preventive as well
as a remedy, I might now be a millionaire; but there are limits even to
modern science.

Having exhausted the field at home, I visited England in the hope of
securing customers among the country families there. To my surprise, I
discovered that the possession of a family specter was considered as a
permanent improvement to the property, and my offers of service in
ridding houses of ghostly tenants awakened the liveliest resentment. As
a layer of ghosts I was much lower in the social scale than a layer of
carpets.

Disappointed and discouraged, I returned home to make a further study of
the opportunities of my invention. I had, it seemed, exhausted the
possibilities of the use of unwelcome phantoms. Could I not, I thought,
derive a revenue from the traffic in desirable specters? I decided to
renew my investigations.

The nebulous spirits preserved in my laboratory, which I had graded and
classified, were, you will remember, in a state of suspended animation.
They were, virtually, embalmed apparitions, their inevitable decay
delayed, rather than prevented. The assorted ghosts that I had now
preserved in hermetically sealed tins were thus in a state of unstable
equilibrium. The tins once opened and the vapor allowed to dissipate,
the original astral body would in time be reconstructed and the
warmed-over specter would continue its previous career. But this
process, when naturally performed, took years. The interval was quite
too long for the phantom to be handled in any commercial way. My problem
was, therefore, to produce from my tinned Essence of Ghost a specter
that was capable of immediately going into business and that could haunt
a house while you wait.

It was not until radium was discovered that I approached the solution of
my great problem, and even then months of indefatigable labor were
necessary before the process was perfected. It has now been well
demonstrated that the emanations of radiant energy sent forth by this
surprising element defy our former scientific conceptions of the
constitution of matter. It was for me to prove that the vibratory
activity of radium (whose amplitudes and intensity are undoubtedly
four-dimensional) effects a sort of allotropic modification in the
particles of that imponderable ether which seems to lie halfway between
matter and pure spirit. This is as far as I need to go in my
explanation, for a full discussion involves the use of quaternions and
the method of least squares. It will be sufficient for the layman to
know that my preserved phantoms, rendered radio-active, would, upon
contact with the air, resume their spectral shape.

The possible extension of my business now was enormous, limited only by
the difficulty in collecting the necessary stock. It was by this time
almost as difficult to get ghosts as it was to get radium. Finding that
a part of my stock had spoiled, I was now possessed of only a few dozen
cans of apparitions, many of these being of inferior quality. I
immediately set about replenishing my raw material. It was not enough
for me to pick up a ghost here and there, as one might get old mahogany;
I determined to procure my phantoms in wholesale lots.

Accident favored my design. In an old volume of _Blackwood's Magazine_ I
happened, one day, to come across an interesting article upon the battle
of Waterloo. It mentioned, incidentally, a legend to the effect that
every year, upon the anniversary of the celebrated victory, spectral
squadrons had been seen by the peasants charging battalions of ghostly
grenadiers. Here was my opportunity.

I made elaborate preparations for the capture of this job lot of
phantoms upon the next anniversary of the fight. Hard by the fatal ditch
which engulfed Napoleon's cavalry I stationed a corps of able
assistants provided with rapid-fire extinguishers ready to enfilade the
famous sunken road. I stationed myself with a No. 4 model magazine-hose,
with a four-inch nozzle, directly in the path which I knew would be
taken by the advancing squadron.

It was a fine, clear night, lighted, at first, by a slice of new moon;
but later, dark, except for the pale illumination of the stars. I have
seen many ghosts in my time--ghosts in garden and garret, at noon, at
dusk, at dawn, phantoms fanciful, and specters sad and spectacular--but
never have I seen such an impressive sight as this nocturnal charge of
cuirassiers, galloping in goblin glory to their time-honored doom. From
afar the French reserves presented the appearance of a nebulous mass,
like a low-lying cloud or fog-bank, faintly luminous, shot with
fluorescent gleams. As the squadron drew nearer in its desperate charge,
the separate forms of the troopers shaped themselves, and the galloping
guardsmen grew ghastly with supernatural splendor.

Although I knew them to be immaterial and without mass or weight, I was
terrified at their approach, fearing to be swept under the hoofs of the
nightmares they rode. Like one in a dream, I started to run, but in
another instant they were upon me, and I turned on my stream of
formaldybrom. Then I was overwhelmed in a cloud-burst of wild warlike
wraiths.

The column swept past me, over the bank, plunging to its historic fate.
The cut was piled full of frenzied, scrambling specters, as rank after
rank swept down into the horrid gut. At last the ditch swarmed full of
writhing forms and the carnage was dire.

My assistants with the extinguishers stood firm, and although almost
unnerved by the sight, they summoned their courage, and directed
simultaneous streams of formaldybrom into the struggling mass of
fantoms. As soon as my mind returned, I busied myself with the huge
tanks I had prepared for use as receivers. These were fitted with a
mechanism similar to that employed in portable forges, by which the
heavy vapor was sucked off. Luckily the night was calm, and I was
enabled to fill a dozen cylinders with the precipitated ghosts. The
segregation of individual forms was, of course, impossible, so that men
and horses were mingled in a horrible mixture of fricasseed spirits. I
intended subsequently to empty the soup into a large reservoir and allow
the separate specters to reform according to the laws of spiritual
cohesion.

Circumstances, however, prevented my ever accomplishing this result. I
returned home, to find awaiting me an order so large and important that
I had no time in which to operate upon my cylinders of cavalry.

My patron was the proprietor of a new sanatorium for nervous invalids,
located near some medicinal springs in the Catskills. His building was
unfortunately located, having been built upon the site of a once-famous
summer hotel, which, while filled with guests, had burnt to the ground,
scores of lives having been lost. Just before the patients were to be
installed in the new structure, it was found that the place was haunted
by the victims of the conflagration to a degree that rendered it
inconvenient as a health resort. My professional services were
requested, therefore, to render the building a fitting abode for
convalescents. I wrote to the proprietor, fixing my charge at five
thousand dollars. As my usual rate was one hundred dollars per ghost,
and over a hundred lives were lost at the fire, I considered this price
reasonable, and my offer was accepted.

The sanatorium job was finished in a week. I secured one hundred and two
superior spectral specimens, and upon my return to the laboratory, put
them up in heavily embossed tins with attractive labels in colors.

My delight at the outcome of this business was, however, soon
transformed to anger and indignation. The proprietor of the health
resort, having found that the specters from his place had been sold,
claimed a rebate upon the contract price equal to the value of the
modified ghosts transferred to my possession. This, of course, I could
not allow. I wrote, demanding immediate payment according to our
agreement, and this was peremptorily refused. The manager's letter was
insulting in the extreme. The Pied Piper of Hamelin was not worse
treated than I felt myself to be; so, like the piper, I determined to
have my revenge.

I got out the twelve tanks of Waterloo ghost-hash from the storerooms,
and treated them with radium for two days. These I shipped to the
Catskills billed as hydrogen gas. Then, accompanied by two trustworthy
assistants, I went to the sanatorium and preferred my demand for payment
in person. I was ejected with contumely. Before my hasty exit, however,
I had the satisfaction of noticing that the building was filled with
patients. Languid ladies were seated in wicker chairs upon the piazzas,
and frail anemic girls filled the corridors. It was a hospital of
nervous wrecks whom the slightest disturbance would throw into a panic.
I suppressed all my finer feelings of mercy and kindness and smiled
grimly as I walked back to the village.

That night was black and lowering, fitting weather for the pandemonium I
was about to turn loose. At ten o'clock, I loaded a wagon with the tanks
of compressed cohorts, and, muffled in heavy overcoats, we drove to the
sanatorium. All was silent as we approached; all was dark. The wagon
concealed in a grove of pines, we took out the tanks one by one, and
placed them beneath the ground-floor windows. The sashes were easily
forced open, and raised enough to enable us to insert the rubber tubes
connected with the iron reservoirs. At midnight everything was ready.

I gave the word, and my assistants ran from tank to tank, opening the
stopcocks. With a hiss as of escaping steam the huge vessels emptied
themselves, vomiting forth clouds of vapor, which, upon contact with the
air, coagulated into strange shapes as the white of an egg does when
dropped into boiling water. The rooms became instantly filled with
dismembered shades of men and horses seeking wildly to unite themselves
with their proper parts.

Legs ran down the corridors, seeking their respective trunks, arms
writhed wildly reaching for missing bodies, heads rolled hither and yon
in search of native necks. Horses' tails and hoofs whisked and hurried
in quest of equine ownership until, reorganized, the spectral steeds
galloped about to find their riders.

Had it been possible, I would have stopped this riot of wraiths long ere
this, for it was more awful than I had anticipated, but it was already
too late. Cowering in the garden, I began to hear the screams of
awakened and distracted patients. In another moment, the front door of
the hotel was burst open, and a mob of hysterical women in expensive
nightgowns rushed out upon the lawn, and huddled in shrieking groups.

I fled into the night.

I fled, but Napoleon's men fled with me. Compelled by I know not what
fatal astral attraction, perhaps the subtle affinity of the creature for
the creator, the spectral shells, moved by some mysterious mechanics of
spiritual being, pursued me with fatuous fury. I sought refuge, first,
in my laboratory, but, even as I approached, a lurid glare foretold me
of its destruction. As I drew nearer, the whole ghost-factory was seen
to be in flames; every moment crackling reports were heard, as the
over-heated tins of phantasmagoria exploded and threw their supernatural
contents upon the night. These liberated ghosts joined the army of
Napoleon's outraged warriors, and turned upon me. There was not enough
formaldybrom in all the world to quench their fierce energy. There was
no place in all the world safe for me from their visitation. No
ghost-extinguisher was powerful enough to lay the host of spirits that
haunted me henceforth, and I had neither time nor money left with which
to construct new Gatling quick-firing tanks.

It is little comfort to me to know that one hundred nervous invalids
were completely restored to health by means of the terrific shock which
I administered.



"DEY AIN'T NO GHOSTS"

BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER

From the _Century Magazine_, November, 1911. By permission of the
Century Company and Ellis Parker Butler.



"Dey Ain't No Ghosts"

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 jes 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 li'l' 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!"
an' 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 ain't 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'.

"'Ca'se 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.

"Wha' 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 doorstep 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
_ixact_ 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 it 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 de 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' annuder 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' offen 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:

"_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 congergation crowd round li'l' black Mose, an' dey am about leben
millium an' a few lift over. Yas, 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 _lasy 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 of 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 soun' 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-a-way.
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't 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't 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:

"'T ain't 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't 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' 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. He '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 de
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!



THE TRANSFERRED GHOST

BY FRANK R. STOCKTON

From _The Lady or the Tiger? and Other Stories_. Copyright, 1884, by
Charles Scribner's Sons. By permission of the publishers.



The Transferred Ghost

BY FRANK R. STOCKTON


The country residence of Mr. John Hinckman was a delightful place to me,
for many reasons. It was the abode of a genial, though somewhat
impulsive, hospitality. It had broad, smooth-shaven lawns and towering
oaks and elms; there were bosky shades at several points, and not far
from the house there was a little rill spanned by a rustic bridge with
the bark on; there were fruits and flowers, pleasant people, chess,
billiards, rides, walks, and fishing. These were great attractions; but
none of them, nor all of them together, would have been sufficient to
hold me to the place very long. I had been invited for the trout season,
but should, probably, have finished my visit early in the summer had it
not been that upon fair days, when the grass was dry, and the sun was
not too hot, and there was but little wind, there strolled beneath the
lofty elms, or passed lightly through the bosky shades, the form of my
Madeline.

This lady was not, in very truth, my Madeline. She had never given
herself to me, nor had I, in any way, acquired possession of her. But as
I considered her possession the only sufficient reason for the
continuance of my existence, I called her, in my reveries, mine. It may
have been that I would not have been obliged to confine the use of this
possessive pronoun to my reveries had I confessed the state of my
feelings to the lady.

But this was an unusually difficult thing to do. Not only did I dread,
as almost all lovers dread, taking the step which would in an instant
put an end to that delightful season which may be termed the
ante-interrogatory period of love, and which might at the same time
terminate all intercourse or connection with the object of my passion;
but I was, also, dreadfully afraid of John Hinckman. This gentleman was
a good friend of mine, but it would have required a bolder man than I
was at that time to ask him for the gift of his niece, who was the head
of his household, and, according to his own frequent statement, the main
prop of his declining years. Had Madeline acquiesced in my general views
on the subject, I might have felt encouraged to open the matter to Mr.
Hinckman; but, as I said before, I had never asked her whether or not
she would be mine. I thought of these things at all hours of the day and
night, particularly the latter.

I was lying awake one night, in the great bed in my spacious chamber,
when, by the dim light of the new moon, which partially filled the room,
I saw John Hinckman standing by a large chair near the door. I was very
much surprised at this for two reasons. In the first place, my host had
never before come into my room; and, in the second place, he had gone
from home that morning, and had not expected to return for several days.
It was for this reason that I had been able that evening to sit much
later than usual with Madeline on the moonlit porch. The figure was
certainly that of John Hinckman in his ordinary dress, but there was a
vagueness and indistinctness about it which presently assured me that it
was a ghost. Had the good old man been murdered? and had his spirit come
to tell me of the deed, and to confide to me the protection of his
dear--? My heart fluttered at what I was about to think, but at this
instant the figure spoke.

"Do you know," he said, with a countenance that indicated anxiety, "if
Mr. Hinckman will return to-night?"

I thought it well to maintain a calm exterior, and I answered:

"We do not expect him."

"I am glad of that," said he, sinking into the chair by which he stood.
"During the two years and a half that I have inhabited this house, that
man has never before been away for a single night. You can't imagine the
relief it gives me."

And as he spoke he stretched out his legs, and leaned back in the chair.
His form became less vague, and the colors of his garments more distinct
and evident, while an expression of gratified relief succeeded to the
anxiety of his countenance.

"Two years and a half!" I exclaimed. "I don't understand you."

"It is fully that length of time," said the ghost, "since I first came
here. Mine is not an ordinary case. But before I say anything more about
it, let me ask you again if you are sure Mr. Hinckman will not return
to-night."

"I am as sure of it as I can be of anything," I answered. "He left
to-day for Bristol, two hundred miles away."

"Then I will go on," said the ghost, "for I am glad to have the
opportunity of talking to someone who will listen to me; but if John
Hinckman should come in and catch me here, I should be frightened out of
my wits."

"This is all very strange," I said, greatly puzzled by what I had heard.
"Are you the ghost of Mr. Hinckman?"

This was a bold question, but my mind was so full of other emotions that
there seemed to be no room for that of fear.

"Yes, I am his ghost," my companion replied, "and yet I have no right to
be. And this is what makes me so uneasy, and so much afraid of him. It
is a strange story, and, I truly believe, without precedent. Two years
and a half ago, John Hinckman was dangerously ill in this very room. At
one time he was so far gone that he was really believed to be dead. It
was in consequence of too precipitate a report in regard to this matter
that I was, at that time, appointed to be his ghost. Imagine my
surprise and horror, sir, when, after I had accepted the position and
assumed its responsibilities, that old man revived, became convalescent,
and eventually regained his usual health. My situation was now one of
extreme delicacy and embarrassment. I had no power to return to my
original unembodiment, and I had no right to be the ghost of a man who
was not dead. I was advised by my friends to quietly maintain my
position, and was assured that, as John Hinckman was an elderly man, it
could not be long before I could rightfully assume the position for
which I had been selected. But I tell you, sir," he continued, with
animation, "the old fellow seems as vigorous as ever, and I have no idea
how much longer this annoying state of things will continue. I spend my
time trying to get out of that old man's way. I must not leave this
house, and he seems to follow me everywhere. I tell you, sir, he haunts
me."

"That is truly a queer state of things," I remarked. "But why are you
afraid of him? He couldn't hurt you."

"Of course he couldn't," said the ghost. "But his very presence is a
shock and terror to me. Imagine, sir, how you would feel if my case were
yours."

I could not imagine such a thing at all. I simply shuddered.

"And if one must be a wrongful ghost at all," the apparition continued,
"it would be much pleasanter to be the ghost of some man other than
John Hinckman. There is in him an irascibility of temper, accompanied
by a facility of invective, which is seldom met with. And what would
happen if he were to see me, and find out, as I am sure he would, how
long and why I had inhabited his house, I can scarcely conceive. I have
seen him in his bursts of passion; and, although he did not hurt the
people he stormed at any more than he would hurt me, they seemed to
shrink before him."

All this I knew to be very true. Had it not been for this peculiarity of
Mr. Hinckman, I might have been more willing to talk to him about his
niece.

"I feel sorry for you," I said, for I really began to have a sympathetic
feeling toward this unfortunate apparition. "Your case is indeed a hard
one. It reminds me of those persons who have had doubles, and I suppose
a man would often be very angry indeed when he found that there was
another being who was personating himself."

"Oh! the cases are not similar at all," said the ghost. "A double or
_doppelgänger_ lives on the earth with a man; and, being exactly like
him, he makes all sorts of trouble, of course. It is very different with
me. I am not here to live with Mr. Hinckman. I am here to take his
place. Now, it would make John Hinckman very angry if he knew that.
Don't you know it would?"

I assented promptly.

"Now that he is away I can be easy for a little while," continued the
ghost; "and I am so glad to have an opportunity of talking to you. I
have frequently come into your room, and watched you while you slept,
but did not dare to speak to you for fear that if you talked with me Mr.
Hinckman would hear you, and come into the room to know why you were
talking to yourself."

"But would he not hear you?" I asked.

"Oh, no!" said the other: "there are times when anyone may see me, but
no one hears me except the person to whom I address myself."

"But why did you wish to speak to me?" I asked.

"Because," replied the ghost, "I like occasionally to talk to people,
and especially to someone like yourself, whose mind is so troubled and
perturbed that you are not likely to be frightened by a visit from one
of us. But I particularly wanted to ask you to do me a favor. There is
every probability, so far as I can see, that John Hinckman will live a
long time, and my situation is becoming insupportable. My great object
at present is to get myself transferred, and I think that you may,
perhaps, be of use to me."

"Transferred!" I exclaimed. "What do you mean by that?"

"What I mean," said the other, "is this: Now that I have started on my
career I have got to be the ghost of somebody, and I want to be the
ghost of a man who is really dead."

"I should think that would be easy enough," I said. "Opportunities must
continually occur."

"Not at all! not at all!" said my companion quickly. "You have no idea
what a rush and pressure there is for situations of this kind. Whenever
a vacancy occurs, if I may express myself in that way, there are crowds
of applications for the ghost-ship."

"I had no idea that such a state of things existed," I said, becoming
quite interested in the matter. "There ought to be some regular system,
or order of precedence, by which you could all take your turns like
customers in a barber's shop."

"Oh dear, that would never do at all!" said the other. "Some of us would
have to wait forever. There is always a great rush whenever a good
ghost-ship offers itself--while, as you know, there are some positions
that no one would care for. And it was in consequence of my being in too
great a hurry on an occasion of the kind that I got myself into my
present disagreeable predicament, and I have thought that it might be
possible that you would help me out of it. You might know of a case
where an opportunity for a ghost-ship was not generally expected, but
which might present itself at any moment. If you would give me a short
notice, I know I could arrange for a transfer."

"What do you mean?" I exclaimed. "Do you want me to commit suicide? Or
to undertake a murder for your benefit?"

"Oh, no, no, no!" said the other, with a vapory smile. "I mean nothing
of that kind. To be sure, there are lovers who are watched with
considerable interest, such persons having been known, in moments of
depression, to offer very desirable ghost-ships; but I did not think of
anything of that kind in connection with you. You were the only person I
cared to speak to, and I hoped that you might give me some information
that would be of use; and, in return, I shall be very glad to help you
in your love affair."

"You seem to know that I have such an affair," I said.

"Oh, yes!" replied the other, with a little yawn. "I could not be here
so much as I have been without knowing all about that."

There was something horrible in the idea of Madeline and myself having
been watched by a ghost, even, perhaps, when we wandered together in the
most delightful and bosky places. But, then, this was quite an
exceptional ghost, and I could not have the objections to him which
would ordinarily arise in regard to beings of his class.

"I must go now," said the ghost, rising: "but I will see you somewhere
to-morrow night. And remember--you help me, and I'll help you."

I had doubts the next morning as to the propriety of telling Madeline
anything about this interview, and soon convinced myself that I must
keep silent on the subject. If she knew there was a ghost about the
house, she would probably leave the place instantly. I did not mention
the matter, and so regulated my demeanor that I am quite sure Madeline
never suspected what had taken place. For some time I had wished that
Mr. Hinckman would absent himself, for a day at least, from the
premises. In such case I thought I might more easily nerve myself up to
the point of speaking to Madeline on the subject of our future
collateral existence; and, now that the opportunity for such speech had
really occurred, I did not feel ready to avail myself of it. What would
become of me if she refused me?

I had an idea, however, that the lady thought that, if I were going to
speak at all, this was the time. She must have known that certain
sentiments were afloat within me, and she was not unreasonable in her
wish to see the matter settled one way or the other. But I did not feel
like taking a bold step in the dark. If she wished me to ask her to give
herself to me, she ought to offer me some reason to suppose that she
would make the gift. If I saw no probability of such generosity, I would
prefer that things should remain as they were.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening I was sitting with Madeline in the moonlit porch. It was
nearly ten o'clock, and ever since supper-time I had been working myself
up to the point of making an avowal of my sentiments. I had not
positively determined to do this, but wished gradually to reach the
proper point, when, if the prospect looked bright, I might speak. My
companion appeared to understand the situation--at least, I imagined
that the nearer I came to a proposal the more she seemed to expect it.
It was certainly a very critical and important epoch in my life. If I
spoke, I should make myself happy or miserable forever, and if I did not
speak I had every reason to believe that the lady would not give me
another chance to do so.

Sitting thus with Madeline, talking a little, and thinking very hard
over these momentous matters, I looked up and saw the ghost, not a dozen
feet away from us. He was sitting on the railing of the porch, one leg
thrown up before him, the other dangling down as he leaned against a
post. He was behind Madeline, but almost in front of me, as I sat facing
the lady. It was fortunate that Madeline was looking out over the
landscape, for I must have appeared very much startled. The ghost had
told me that he would see me some time this night, but I did not think
he would make his appearance when I was in the company of Madeline. If
she should see the spirit of her uncle, I could not answer for the
consequences. I made no exclamation, but the ghost evidently saw that I
was troubled.

"Don't be afraid," he said--"I shall not let her see me; and she cannot
hear me speak unless I address myself to her, which I do not intend to
do."

I suppose I looked grateful.

"So you need not trouble yourself about that," the ghost continued; "but
it seems to me that you are not getting along very well with your
affair. If I were you, I should speak out without waiting any longer.
You will never have a better chance. You are not likely to be
interrupted; and, so far as I can judge, the lady seems disposed to
listen to you favorably; that is, if she ever intends to do so. There is
no knowing when John Hinckman will go away again; certainly not this
summer. If I were in your place, I should never dare to make love to
Hinckman's niece if he were anywhere about the place. If he should catch
anyone offering himself to Miss Madeline, he would then be a terrible
man to encounter."

I agreed perfectly to all this.

"I cannot bear to think of him!" I ejaculated aloud.

"Think of whom?" asked Madeline, turning quickly toward me.

Here was an awkward situation. The long speech of the ghost, to which
Madeline paid no attention, but which I heard with perfect distinctness,
had made me forget myself.

It was necessary to explain quickly. Of course, it would not do to admit
that it was of her dear uncle that I was speaking; and so I mentioned
hastily the first name I thought of.

"Mr. Vilars," I said.

This statement was entirely correct; for I never could bear to think of
Mr. Vilars, who was a gentleman who had, at various times, paid much
attention to Madeline.

"It is wrong for you to speak in that way of Mr. Vilars," she said. "He
is a remarkably well educated and sensible young man, and has very
pleasant manners. He expects to be elected to the legislature this
fall, and I should not be surprised if he made his mark. He will do well
in a legislative body, for whenever Mr. Vilars has anything to say he
knows just how and when to say it."

This was spoken very quietly, and without any show of resentment, which
was all very natural, for if Madeline thought at all favorably of me she
could not feel displeased that I should have disagreeable emotions in
regard to a possible rival. The concluding words contained a hint which
I was not slow to understand. I felt very sure that if Mr. Vilars were
in my present position he would speak quickly enough.

"I know it is wrong to have such ideas about a person," I said, "but I
cannot help it."

The lady did not chide me, and after this she seemed even in a softer
mood. As for me, I felt considerably annoyed, for I had not wished to
admit that any thought of Mr. Vilars had ever occupied my mind.

"You should not speak aloud that way," said the ghost, "or you may get
yourself into trouble. I want to see everything go well with you,
because then you may be disposed to help me, especially if I should
chance to be of any assistance to you, which I hope I shall be."

I longed to tell him that there was no way in which he could help me so
much as by taking his instant departure. To make love to a young lady
with a ghost sitting on the railing nearby, and that ghost the
apparition of a much-dreaded uncle, the very idea of whom in such a
position and at such a time made me tremble, was a difficult, if not an
impossible, thing to do; but I forbore to speak, although I may have
looked my mind.

"I suppose," continued the ghost, "that you have not heard anything that
might be of advantage to me. Of course, I am very anxious to hear; but
if you have anything to tell me, I can wait until you are alone. I will
come to you to-night in your room, or I will stay here until the lady
goes away."

"You need not wait here," I said; "I have nothing at all to say to you."

Madeline sprang to her feet, her face flushed and her eyes ablaze.

"Wait here!" she cried. "What do you suppose I am waiting for? Nothing
to say to me indeed!--I should think so! What should you have to say to
me?"

"Madeline!" I exclaimed, stepping toward her, "let me explain."

But she had gone.

Here was the end of the world for me! I turned fiercely to the ghost.

"Wretched existence!" I cried. "You have ruined everything. You have
blackened my whole life. Had it not been for you----"

But here my voice faltered. I could say no more.

"You wrong me," said the ghost. "I have not injured you. I have tried
only to encourage and assist you, and it is your own folly that has
done this mischief. But do not despair. Such mistakes as these can be
explained. Keep up a brave heart. Good-by."

And he vanished from the railing like a bursting soap-bubble.

I went gloomily to bed, but I saw no apparitions that night except those
of despair and misery which my wretched thoughts called up. The words I
had uttered had sounded to Madeline like the basest insult. Of course,
there was only one interpretation she could put upon them.

As to explaining my ejaculations, that was impossible. I thought the
matter over and over again as I lay awake that night, and I determined
that I would never tell Madeline the facts of the case. It would be
better for me to suffer all my life than for her to know that the ghost
of her uncle haunted the house. Mr. Hinckman was away, and if she knew
of his ghost she could not be made to believe that he was not dead. She
might not survive the shock! No, my heart could bleed, but I would never
tell her.

The next day was fine, neither too cool nor too warm; the breezes were
gentle, and nature smiled. But there were no walks or rides with
Madeline. She seemed to be much engaged during the day, and I saw but
little of her. When we met at meals she was polite, but very quiet and
reserved. She had evidently determined on a course of conduct and had
resolved to assume that, although I had been very rude to her, she did
not understand the import of my words. It would be quite proper, of
course, for her not to know what I meant by my expressions of the night
before.

I was downcast and wretched, and said but little, and the only bright
streak across the black horizon of my woe was the fact that she did not
appear to be happy, although she affected an air of unconcern. The
moonlit porch was deserted that evening, but wandering about the house I
found Madeline in the library alone. She was reading, but I went in and
sat down near her. I felt that, although I could not do so fully, I must
in a measure explain my conduct of the night before. She listened
quietly to a somewhat labored apology I made for the words I had used.

"I have not the slightest idea what you meant," she said, "but you were
very rude."

I earnestly disclaimed any intention of rudeness, and assured her, with
a warmth of speech that must have made some impression upon her, that
rudeness to her would be an action impossible to me. I said a great deal
upon the subject, and implored her to believe that if it were not for a
certain obstacle I could speak to her so plainly that she would
understand everything.

She was silent for a time, and then she said, rather more kindly, I
thought, than she had spoken before:

"Is that obstacle in any way connected with my uncle?"

"Yes," I answered, after a little hesitation, "it is, in a measure,
connected with him."

She made no answer to this, and sat looking at her book, but not
reading. From the expression of her face, I thought she was somewhat
softened toward me. She knew her uncle as well as I did, and she may
have been thinking that, if he were the obstacle that prevented my
speaking (and there were many ways in which he might be that obstacle),
my position would be such a hard one that it would excuse some wildness
of speech and eccentricity of manner. I saw, too, that the warmth of my
partial explanations had had some effect on her, and I began to believe
that it might be a good thing for me to speak my mind without delay. No
matter how she should receive my proposition, my relations with her
could not be worse than they had been the previous night and day, and
there was something in her face which encouraged me to hope that she
might forget my foolish exclamations of the evening before if I began to
tell her my tale of love.

I drew my chair a little nearer to her, and as I did so the ghost burst
into the room from the doorway behind her. I say burst, although no door
flew open and he made no noise. He was wildly excited, and waved his
arms above his head. The moment I saw him, my heart fell within me. With
the entrance of that impertinent apparition, every hope fled from me. I
could not speak while he was in the room.

I must have turned pale; and I gazed steadfastly at the ghost, almost
without seeing Madeline, who sat between us.

"Do you know," he cried, "that John Hinckman is coming up the hill? He
will be here in fifteen minutes; and if you are doing anything in the
way of love-making, you had better hurry it up. But this is not what I
came to tell you. I have glorious news! At last I am transferred! Not
forty minutes ago a Russian nobleman was murdered by the Nihilists.
Nobody ever thought of him in connection with an immediate ghost-ship.
My friends instantly applied for the situation for me, and obtained my
transfer. I am off before that horrid Hinckman comes up the hill. The
moment I reach my new position, I shall put off this hated semblance.
Good-by. You can't imagine how glad I am to be, at last, the real ghost
of somebody."

"Oh!" I cried, rising to my feet, and stretching out my arms in utter
wretchedness, "I would to Heaven you were mine!"

"I _am_ yours," said Madeline, raising to me her tearful eyes.



THE MUMMY'S FOOT

BY THÉOPHILE GAUTIER

Translated for this volume by Sara Goldman.



The Mummy's Foot

By THÉOPHILE GAUTIER


I had sauntered idly into the shop of one of those dealers in old
curiosities--"bric-à-brac" as they say in that Parisian _argot_, so
absolutely unintelligible elsewhere in France.

You have no doubt often glanced through the windows of some of these
shops, which have become numerous since it is so fashionable to buy
antique furniture, that the humblest stockbroker feels obliged to have a
room furnished in medieval style.

Something is there which belongs alike to the shop of the dealer in old
iron, the warehouse of the merchant, the laboratory of the chemist, and
the studio of the painter: in all these mysterious recesses, where but a
discreet half-light filters through the shutters, the most obviously
antique thing is the dust: the cobwebs are more genuine than the laces,
and the old pear-tree furniture is more modern than the mahogany which
arrived but yesterday from America.

The warehouse of my dealer in bric-à-brac was a veritable Capharnaüm;
all ages and all countries seemed to have arranged a rendezvous there;
an Etruscan terra cotta lamp stood upon a Boule cabinet, with ebony
panels decorated with simple filaments of inlaid copper: a duchess of
the reign of Louis XV stretched nonchalantly her graceful feet under a
massive Louis XIII table with heavy, spiral oaken legs, and carvings of
intermingled flowers and grotesque figures.

In a corner glittered the ornamented breastplate of a suit of
damaskeened armor of Milan. The shelves and floor were littered with
porcelain cupids and nymphs, Chinese monkeys, vases of pale green
enamel, cups of Dresden and old Sèvres.

Upon the denticulated shelves of sideboards, gleamed huge Japanese
plaques, with red and blue designs outlined in gold, side by side with
the enamels of Bernard Palissy, with serpents, frogs, and lizards in
relief.

From ransacked cabinets tumbled cascades of silvery-gleaming China silk,
the shimmering brocade pricked into luminous beads by a slanting
sunbeam; while portraits of every epoch smiled through their yellowed
varnish from frames more or less tarnished.

The dealer followed me watchfully through the tortuous passages winding
between the piles of furniture, warding off with his hands the perilous
swing of my coat tail, observing my elbows with the disquieting concern
of an antiquarian and a usurer.

He was an odd figure--this dealer; an enormous skull, smooth as a knee,
was surrounded by a scant aureole of white hair, which, by contrast,
emphasized the salmon-colored tint of his complexion, and gave a wrong
impression of patriarchal benevolence, corrected, however, by the
glittering of two small, yellow eyes which shifted in their orbits like
two _louis d'or_ floating on quicksilver. The curve of his nose gave him
an aquiline silhouette, which suggested the Oriental or Jewish type. His
hands, long, slender, with prominent veins and sinews protruding like
the strings on a violin, with nails like the claws on the membraneous
wings of the bat moved with a senile trembling painful to behold, but
those nervously quivering hands became firmer than pincers of steel, or
the claws of a lobster, when they picked up any precious object, an onyx
cup, a Venetian glass, or a platter of Bohemian crystal. This curious
old fellow had an air so thoroughly rabbinical and cabalistic, that,
from mere appearance, he would have been burned at the stake three
centuries ago.

"Will you not buy something from me to-day, sir? Here is a kris from
Malay, with a blade which undulates like a flame; look at these grooves
for the blood to drip from, these teeth reversed so as to tear out the
entrails in withdrawing the weapon; it is a fine specimen of a ferocious
weapon, and will be an interesting addition to your trophies; this
two-handed sword is very beautiful--it is the work of Joseph de la Herz;
and this _cauchelimarde_ with its carved guard--what superb
workmanship!"

"No, I have enough weapons and instruments of carnage; I should like to
have a small figure, any sort of object which can be used for a paper
weight; for I cannot endure those commonplace bronzes for sale at the
stationers which one sees invariably on everybody's desk."

The old gnome, rummaging among his ancient wares, displayed before me
some antique bronzes--pseudo-antique, at least, fragments of malachite,
little Hindu and Chinese idols, jade monkeys, incarnations of Brahma and
Vishnu, marvelously suitable for the purpose--scarcely divine--of
holding papers and letters in place.

I was hesitating between a porcelain dragon covered with constellations
of warts, its jaws embellished with teeth and tusks, and a hideous
little Mexican fetish, representing realistically the god
Vitziliputzili, when I noticed a charming foot, which at first I
supposed was a fragment of some antique Venus.

It had that beautiful tawny reddish tint, which gives the Florentine
bronzes their warm, life-like appearance, so preferable to the verdigris
tones of ordinary bronzes, which might be taken readily for statues in a
state of putrefaction; a satiny luster gleamed over its curves, polished
by the amorous kisses of twenty centuries; for it must have been a
Corinthian bronze, a work of the finest period, molded perhaps by
Lysippus himself.

"That foot will do," I said to the dealer, who looked at me with an
ironical, crafty expression, as he handed me the object I asked for, so
that I might examine it more carefully.

I was surprised at its lightness. It was not a metal foot but in reality
a foot of flesh, an embalmed foot, a mummy's foot; on examining it more
closely, one could distinguish the grain of the skin, and the almost
imperceptible imprint of the weave of the wrappings. The toes were
slender, delicate, with perfect nails, pure and transparent as agate;
the great toe, slightly separated from the others, in the antique manner
was in pleasing contrast to the position of the other toes, and gave a
suggestion of the freedom and lightness of a bird's foot. The sole,
faintly streaked with almost invisible lines, showed that it had never
touched the ground, or come in contact with anything but the finest mats
woven from the rushes of the Nile, and the softest rugs of panther skin.

"Ha, ha! You want the foot of the Princess Hermonthis," said the dealer
with a strange, mocking laugh, staring at me with his owlish eyes. "Ha,
ha, ha, for a paper weight! An original idea! an artist's idea! If
anyone had told old Pharaoh that the foot of his adored daughter would
be used for a paper weight, particularly whilst he was having a mountain
of granite hollowed out in which to place her triple coffin, painted and
gilded, covered with hieroglyphics, and beautiful pictures of the
judgment of souls, it would truly have surprised him," continued the
queer little dealer, in low tones, as though talking to himself.

"How much will you charge me for this fragment of a mummy?"

"Ah, as much as I can get; for it is a superb piece; if I had the mate
to it, you could not have it for less than five hundred francs--the
daughter of a Pharaoh! there could be nothing more choice."

"Assuredly it is not common; but, still, how much do you want for it?
First, however, I want to acquaint you with one fact, which is, that my
fortune consists of only five louis. I will buy anything that costs five
louis, but nothing more expensive. You may search my vest pockets, and
my most secret bureau drawers, but you will not find one miserable five
franc piece besides."

"Five louis for the foot of the Princess Hermonthis! It is very little,
too little, in fact, for an authentic foot," said the dealer, shaking
his head and rolling his eyes with a peculiar rotary motion. "Very well,
take it, and I will throw in the outer covering," he said, rolling it in
a shred of old damask--"very beautiful, genuine damask, which has never
been redyed; it is strong, yet it is soft," he muttered, caressing the
frayed tissue, in accordance with his dealer's habit of praising an
article of so little value, that he himself thought it good for nothing
but to give away.

He dropped the gold pieces into a kind of medieval pouch which was
fastened at his belt, while he repeated:

"The foot of the Princess Hermonthis to be used for a paper weight!"

Then, fastening upon me his phosphorescent pupils he said, in a voice
strident as the wails of a cat which has just swallowed a fish bone:

"Old Pharaoh will not be pleased; he loved his daughter--that dear man."

"You speak of him as though you were his contemporary; no matter how old
you may be, you do not date back to the pyramids of Egypt," I answered
laughingly from the threshold of the shop.

I returned home, delighted with my purchase.

To make use of it at once, I placed the foot of the exalted Princess
Hermonthis on a stack of papers--sketches of verses, undecipherable
mosaics of crossed out words, unfinished articles, forgotten letters,
posted in the desk drawer, a mistake often made by absent-minded people;
the effect was pleasing, bizarre, and romantic.

Highly delighted with this decoration, I went down into the street, and
took a walk with all the importance and pride proper to a man who has
the inexpressible advantage over the passersby he elbows, of possessing
a fragment of the Princess Hermonthis, daughter of Pharaoh.

I thought people who did not possess, like myself, a paper weight so
genuinely Egyptian, were objects of ridicule, and it seemed to me the
proper business of the sensible man to have a mummy's foot upon his
desk.

Happily, an encounter with several friends distracted me from my
raptures over my recent acquisition, I went to dinner with them, for it
would have been hard for me to dine alone.

When I returned at night, with my brain somewhat muddled by the effects
of a few glasses of wine, a vague whiff of oriental perfume tickled
delicately my olfactory nerves. The heat of the room had warmed the
natron, the bitumen, and the myrrh in which the _paraschites_ who
embalmed the dead had bathed the body of the Princess; it was a
delicate, yet penetrating perfume, which four thousand years had not
been able to dissipate.

The Dream of Egypt was for the Eternal; its odors have the solidity of
granite, and last as long.

In a short time I drank full draughts from the black cup of sleep; for
an hour or two all remained in obscurity; Oblivion and Nothingness
submerged me in their somber waves.

Nevertheless the haziness of my perceptions gradually cleared away,
dreams began to brush me lightly in their silent flight.

The eyes of my soul opened, and I saw my room as it was in reality. I
might have believed myself awake, if I had not had a vague consciousness
that I was asleep, and that something very unusual was about to take
place.

The odor of myrrh had increased in intensity, and I had a slight
headache, which I very naturally attributed to several glasses of
champagne that we had drunk to unknown gods, and to our future success.

I scrutinized my room with a feeling of expectation, which there was
nothing to justify. Each piece of furniture was in its usual place; the
lamp, softly shaded by the milky whiteness of its ground crystal globe,
burned upon the console, the water colors glowed from under the Bohemian
glass; the curtains hung in heavy drooping folds; everything suggested
tranquility and slumber.

Nevertheless, after a few moments the quiet of the room was disturbed,
the woodwork creaked furtively, the ash-covered log suddenly spurted out
a blue flame, and the surfaces of the plaques seemed like metallic eyes,
watching, like myself, for what was about to happen.

By chance my eyes fell on the table on which I had placed the foot of
the Princess Hermonthis.

Instead of remaining in the state of immobility proper to a foot which
has been embalmed for four thousand years, it moved about in an agitated
manner, twitching, leaping about over the papers like a frightened frog;
one might have thought it in contact with a galvanic battery; I could
hear distinctly the quick tap of the little heel, hard as the hoof of a
gazelle.

I became rather dissatisfied with my purchase, for I like paper weights
of sedentary habits--besides I found it very unnatural for feet to move
about without legs, and I began to feel something closely resembling
fear.

Suddenly I noticed a movement of one of the folds of my curtains, and I
heard a stamping like that made by a person hopping about on one foot.
I must admit that I grew hot and cold by turns, that I felt a mysterious
breeze blowing down my back, and that my hair stood on end so suddenly
that it forced my night-cap to a leap of several degrees.

The curtains partly opened, and I saw the strangest figure possible
advancing.

It was a young girl, as coffee-coloured as Amani the dancer, and of a
perfect beauty of the purest Egyptian type. She had slanting
almond-shaped eyes, with eyebrows so black that they appeared blue; her
nose was finely chiseled, almost Grecian in its delicacy; she might have
been taken for a Corinthian statue of bronze, had not her prominent
cheekbones and rather African fullness of lips indicated without a doubt
the hieroglyphic race which dwelt on the banks of the Nile.

Her arms, thin, spindle shaped, like those of very young girls, were
encircled with a kind of metal ornament, and bracelets of glass beads;
her hair was twisted into little cords; on her breast hung a green paste
idol, identified by her whip of seven lashes as Isis, guide of souls--a
golden ornament shone on her forehead, and slight traces of rouge were
visible on the coppery tints of her cheeks.

As for her costume, it was very odd.

Imagine a _pagne_ made of narrow strips bedizened with red and black
hieroglyphics, weighted with bitumen, and apparently belonging to a
mummy newly unswathed.

In one of those flights of fancy usual in dreams, I could hear the
hoarse, rough voice of the dealer of bric-à-brac reciting in a
monotonous refrain, the phrase he had kept repeating in his shop in so
enigmatic a manner.

"Old Pharaoh will not be pleased--he loved his daughter very much--that
dear man."

One peculiar detail, which was hardly reassuring, was that the
apparition had but one foot, the other was broken off at the ankle.

She approached the table, where the mummy's foot was fidgeting and
tossing about with redoubled energy. She leaned against the edge, and I
saw her eyes fill with pearly tears.

Although she did not speak, I fully understood her feelings. She looked
at the foot, for it was in truth her own, with an expression of
coquettish sadness, which was extremely charming; but the foot kept
jumping and running about as though it were moved by springs of steel.

Two or three times she stretched out her hand to grasp it, but did not
succeed.

Then began between the Princess Hermonthis and her foot, which seemed to
be endowed with an individuality of its own, a very bizarre dialogue, in
an ancient Coptic tongue, such as might have been spoken thirty
centuries before, among the sphinxes of the Land of Ser; fortunately,
that night I understood Coptic perfectly.

The Princess Hermonthis said in a tone of voice sweet and tremulous as
the tones of a crystal bell:

"Well, my dear little foot, you always flee from me, yet I took the best
of care of you; I bathed you with perfumed water, in a basin of
alabaster; I rubbed your heel with pumice stone, mixed with oil of palm;
your nails were cut with golden scissors, and polished with a
hippopotamus' tooth; I was careful to select for you painted and
embroidered _tatbebs_, with turned up toes, which were the envy of all
the young girls of Egypt; on your great toe, you wore rings representing
the sacred Scarab, and you supported one of the lightest bodies that
could be desired by a lazy foot."

The foot answered in a pouting, regretful voice:

"You know well that I no longer belong to myself. I have been bought and
paid for; the old dealer knew what he was about. He bears you a grudge
for having refused to marry him. This is a trick he has played on you.
The Arab who forced open your royal tomb, in the subterranean pits of
the Necropolis of Thebes, was sent there by him. He wanted to prevent
you from attending the reunion of the shades, in the cities of the lower
world. Have you five pieces of gold with which to ransom me?"

"Alas, no! My jewels, my rings, my purses of gold and of silver have all
been stolen from me," answered the Princess Hermonthis with a sigh.

"Princess," I then cried out, "I have never kept possession of anyone's
foot unjustly; even though you have not the five louis which it cost me,
I will return it to you gladly; I should be wretched, were I the cause
of the lameness of so charming a person as the Princess Hermonthis."

I delivered this discourse in a courtly, troubadour-like manner, which
must have astonished the beautiful Egyptian.

She looked at me with an expression of deepest gratitude, and her eyes
brightened with bluish lights.

She took her foot, which this time submitted, and, like a woman about to
put on her brodekin, she adjusted it to her leg with great dexterity.

This operation finished, she took a few steps about the room, as though
to assure herself that she was in reality no longer lame.

"Ah, how happy my father will be, he who was so wretched because of my
mutilation--he who, from the day of my birth, set a whole nation to work
to hollow out a tomb so deep that he might preserve me intact until that
supreme last day, when souls must be weighed in the scales of Amenti!
Come with me to my father; he will be happy to receive you, for you have
given me back my foot."

I found this proposition quite natural. I decked myself out in a
dressing-gown of huge sprawling design, which gave me an extremely
Pharaohesque appearance; I hurriedly put on a pair of Turkish slippers,
and told the Princess Hermonthis that I was ready to follow her.

Before setting out, Hermonthis detached from her necklace the little
green paste image and placed it on the scattered papers which strewed
the table.

"It is no more than right," she said smilingly, "that I should replace
your paper weight."

She gave me her hand, which was soft and cool as the skin of a serpent,
and we departed.

For a time we sped with the rapidity of an arrow, through a misty
expanse of space, in which almost indistinguishable silhouettes flashed
by us, on the right and left.

For an instant we saw nothing but sea and sky.

A few minutes later, towering obelisks, pillars, the sloping outlines of
the sphinx, were designed against the horizon.

We had arrived.

The princess conducted me to the side of a mountain of red granite in
which there was an aperture so low and narrow that, had it not been
marked by two monoliths covered with bizarre carvings, it would have
been difficult to distinguish from the fissures in the rock.

Hermonthis lighted a torch and led the way.

The corridors were hewn through the living rock. The walls, with panels
covered with hieroglyphics, and representations of allegorical
processions, must have been the work of thousands of hands for thousands
of years; the corridors, of an interminable length, ended in square
rooms, in the middle of which pits had been constructed, to which we
descended by means of _crampons_ or spiral staircases. These pits led us
into other rooms, from which opened out other corridors embellished in
the same bizarre manner with sparrow-hawks, serpents coiled in circles,
the symbolic tau, pedum, and baris, prodigious works which no living eye
should ever see, interminable legends in granite which only the dead
throughout eternity have time to read.

At last we reached a hall so vast, so boundless, so immeasurable, that
its limits could not be discerned. As far as the eye could see, extended
files of gigantic columns, between which sparkled livid stars of yellow
light. These glittering points of light revealed incalculable depths
beyond.

The Princess Hermonthis, still holding my hand, greeted graciously the
mummies of her acquaintance.

My eyes gradually became accustomed to the shadowy twilight, and I began
to distinguish the objects around me.

I saw, seated upon their thrones, the kings of the subterranean races.
They were dignified old personages, or dried up, shriveled,
wrinkled-like parchment, and blackened with naphtha and bitumen. On
their heads they wore pschents of gold, and their breastplates and
gorgets scintillated with precious stones; their eyes had the fixedness
of the sphinx, and their long beards were whitened by the snows of
centuries. Behind them stood their embalmed subjects, in the rigid and
constrained postures of Egyptian art, preserving eternally the attitudes
prescribed by the hieratic code. Behind the subjects, the cats, ibixes,
and crocodiles contemporary with them, rendered still more monstrous by
their wrappings, mewed, beat their wings, and opened and closed their
huge jaws in foolish grimaces.

All the Pharaohs were there--Cheops, Chephrenes, Psammetichus, Sesostri,
Amenoteph, all the dark-skinned rulers of the country of the pyramids,
and the royal sepulchers; on a still higher platform sat enthroned the
kings Chronos, and Xixouthros, who were contemporary with the deluge,
and Tubal-Cain, who preceded it.

The beard of King Xixouthros had grown to such lengths that it had
already wound itself seven times around the granite table against which
he leaned, lost in reverie, as though in slumber.

Further in the distance, through a dim exhalation, across the mists of
eternities, I beheld vaguely the seventy-two pre-Adamite kings, with
their seventy-two peoples, vanished forever.

The Princess Hermonthis, after allowing me a few moments to enjoy this
dizzying spectacle, presented me to Pharaoh, her father, who nodded to
me in a most majestic manner.

"I have found my foot--I have found my foot!" cried the Princess,
clapping her little hands, with every indication of uncontrollable joy.
"It was this gentleman who returned it to me."

The races of Kheme, the races of Nahasi, all the races, black, bronze,
and copper-colored, repeated in a chorus:

"The Princess Hermonthis has found her foot."

Xixouthros himself was deeply affected.

He raised his heavy eyelids, stroked his moustache, and regarded me with
his glance charged with the centuries.

"By Oms, the dog of Hell, and by Tmei, daughter of the Sun and of Truth,
here is a brave and worthy young man," said Pharaoh, extending toward me
his scepter which terminated in a lotus flower. "What recompense do you
desire?"

Eagerly, with that audacity which one has in dreams, where nothing seems
impossible, I asked him for the hand of the Princess Hermonthis. Her
hand in exchange for her foot, seemed to me an antithetical recompense,
in sufficiently good taste.

Pharaoh opened wide his eyes of glass, surprised at my pleasantry, as
well as my request.

"From what country are you, and what is your age?"

"I am a Frenchman, and I am twenty-seven years old, venerable Pharaoh."

"Twenty-seven years old! And he wishes to espouse the Princess
Hermonthis, who is thirty centuries old!" exclaimed in a chorus all the
thrones, and all the circles of nations.

Hermonthis alone did not seem to think my request improper.

"If you were even two thousand years old," continued the old king, "I
would gladly bestow upon you the Princess; but the disproportion is too
great; besides, our daughters must have husbands who will last, and you
no longer know how to preserve yourselves. Of the last persons who were
brought here, scarcely fifteen centuries ago, nothing now remains but a
pinch of ashes. Look! my flesh is as hard as basalt, my bones are bars
of steel. I shall be present on the last day, with the body and features
I had in life. My daughter Hermonthis will last longer than a statue of
bronze. But at that time the winds will have dissipated the last grains
of your dust, and Isis herself, who knew how to recover the fragments of
Osiris, would hardly be able to recompose your being. See how vigorous I
still am, and how powerful is the strength of my arm," said he, shaking
my hand in the English fashion, in a way that cut my fingers with my
rings.

His grasp was so strong that I awoke, and discovered my friend Alfred,
who was pulling me by the arm, and shaking me, to make me get up.

"Oh, see here, you maddening sleeper! Must I have you dragged into the
middle of the street, and have fireworks put off close to your ear, in
order to waken you? It is afternoon. Don't you remember that you
promised to call for me and take me to see the Spanish pictures of M.
Aguada?"

"Good heavens! I forgot all about it," I answered, dressing hurriedly.
"We can go there at once--I have the permit here on my table." I crossed
over to get it; imagine my astonishment when I saw, not the mummy's foot
I had bought the evening before, but the little green paste image left
in its place by the Princess Hermonthis!



THE RIVAL GHOSTS

BY BRANDER MATTHEWS

From _Tales of Fantasy and Fact_, by Brander Matthews. Copyright, 1886,
by Harper Brothers. By permission of the publishers and Brander
Matthews.



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 sha'n'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 stateroom 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 sun rise 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 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'm 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. Ghost, 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 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 this ancestry
was noble. His mother left him her full share of Yankee grit and a
little old house in Salem which had 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?" asked Uncle Larry.

"That's an argument in favor of cremation, at any rate," replied Dear
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 afterwards
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?" the young lady asked.

"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 more 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 son, 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 transatlantic
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 to 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 letter 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 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 that 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, sceptically.

"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 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
gripsack 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
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 afterwards?" 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 & 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," Uncle Larry responded.

"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 Fé, 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 Winipiseogee. As he
handed her into the boat he resolved to do it, and he had a glimmer of
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, impersonally.

"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 were, 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
got to know a good deal about the girls she went to school with; and
Kitty soon 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 towards the end of
the summer, the wedding-day having been appointed for early in
September, she told him that she didn't want a 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 listened in silence, and
Eliphalet 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 tenant 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
to 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 that they had 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 shotguns, 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 those 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 pursuaded 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, 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 hanged for murdering her.
Then the Duncan ghost drew attention to the great disparity in 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.
Afterwards 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 woman'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 WATER GHOST OF HARROWBY HALL

BY JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

From _The Water Ghost, and other Stories_, by John Kendrick Bangs.
Copyright, 1904, by Harper Brothers. By permission of the publishers and
John Kendrick Bangs.



The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall

BY JOHN KENDRICK BANGS


The trouble with Harrowby Hall was that it was haunted, and, what was
worse, the ghost did not content itself with merely appearing at the
bedside of the afflicted person who saw it, but persisted in remaining
there for one mortal hour before it would disappear.

It never appeared except on Christmas Eve, and then as the clock was
striking twelve, in which respect alone was it lacking in that
originality which in these days is a _sine qua non_ of success in
spectral life. The owners of Harrowby Hall had done their utmost to rid
themselves of the damp and dewy lady who rose up out of the best bedroom
floor at midnight, but without avail. They had tried stopping the clock,
so that the ghost would not know when it was midnight; but she made her
appearance just the same, with that fearful miasmatic personality of
hers, and there she would stand until everything about her was
thoroughly saturated.

Then the owners of Harrowby Hall caulked up every crack in the floor
with the very best quality of hemp, and over this were placed layers of
tar and canvas; the walls were made waterproof, and the doors and
windows likewise, the proprietors having conceived the notion that the
unexorcised lady would find it difficult to leak into the room after
these precautions had been taken; but even this did not suffice. The
following Christmas Eve she appeared as promptly as before, and
frightened the occupant of the room quite out of his senses by sitting
down alongside of him and gazing with her cavernous blue eyes into his;
and he noticed, too, that in her long, aqueously bony fingers bits of
dripping seaweed were entwined, the ends hanging down, and these ends
she drew across his forehead until he became like one insane. And then
he swooned away, and was found unconscious in his bed the next morning
by his host, simply saturated with sea-water and fright, from the
combined effects of which he never recovered, dying four years later of
pneumonia and nervous prostration at the age of seventy-eight.

The next year the master of Harrowby Hall decided not to have the best
spare bedroom opened at all, thinking that perhaps the ghost's thirst
for making herself disagreeable would be satisfied by haunting the
furniture, but the plan was as unavailing as the many that had preceded
it.

The ghost appeared as usual in the room--that is, it was supposed she
did, for the hangings were dripping wet the next morning, and in the
parlor below the haunted room a great damp spot appeared on the
ceiling. Finding no one there, she immediately set out to learn the
reason why, and she chose none other to haunt than the owner of the
Harrowby himself. She found him in his own cosey room drinking
whiskey--whiskey undiluted--and felicitating himself upon having foiled
her ghost-ship, when all of a sudden the curl went out of his hair, his
whiskey bottle filled and overflowed, and he was himself in a condition
similar to that of a man who has fallen into a water-butt. When he
recovered from the shock, which was a painful one, he saw before him the
lady of the cavernous eyes and seaweed fingers. The sight was so
unexpected and so terrifying that he fainted, but immediately came to,
because of the vast amount of water in his hair, which, trickling down
over his face, restored his consciousness.

Now it so happened that the master of Harrowby was a brave man, and
while he was not particularly fond of interviewing ghosts, especially
such quenching ghosts as the one before him, he was not to be daunted by
an apparition. He had paid the lady the compliment of fainting from the
effects of his first surprise, and now that he had come to he intended
to find out a few things he felt he had a right to know. He would have
liked to put on a dry suit of clothes first, but the apparition declined
to leave him for an instant until her hour was up, and he was forced to
deny himself that pleasure. Every time he would move she would follow
him, with the result that everything she came in contact with got a
ducking. In an effort to warm himself up he approached the fire, an
unfortunate move as it turned out, because it brought the ghost directly
over the fire, which immediately was extinguished. The whiskey became
utterly valueless as a comforter to his chilled system, because it was
by this time diluted to a proportion of ninety per cent of water. The
only thing he could do to ward off the evil effects of his encounter he
did, and that was to swallow ten two-grain quinine pills, which he
managed to put into his mouth before the ghost had time to interfere.
Having done this, he turned with some asperity to the ghost, and said:

"Far be it from me to be impolite to a woman, madam, but I'm hanged if
it wouldn't please me better if you'd stop these infernal visits of
yours to this house. Go sit out on the lake, if you like that sort of
thing; soak the water-butt, if you wish; but do not, I implore you, come
into a gentleman's house and saturate him and his possessions in this
way. It is damned disagreeable."

"Henry Hartwick Oglethorpe," said the ghost, in a gurgling voice, "you
don't know what you are talking about."

"Madam," returned the unhappy householder, "I wish that remark were
strictly truthful. I was talking about you. It would be shillings and
pence--nay, pounds, in my pocket, madam, if I did not know you."

"That is a bit of specious nonsense," returned the ghost, throwing a
quart of indignation into the face of the master of Harrowby. "It may
rank high as repartee, but as a comment upon my statement that you do
not know what you are talking about, it savors of irrelevant
impertinence. You do not know that I am compelled to haunt this place
year after year by inexorable fate. It is no pleasure to me to enter
this house, and ruin and mildew everything I touch. I never aspired to
be a shower-bath, but it is my doom. Do you know who I am?"

"No, I don't," returned the master of Harrowby. "I should say you were
the Lady of the Lake, or Little Sallie Waters."

"You are a witty man for your years," said the ghost.

"Well, my humor is drier than yours ever will be," returned the master.

"No doubt. I'm never dry. I am the Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall, and
dryness is a quality entirely beyond my wildest hope. I have been the
incumbent of this highly unpleasant office for two hundred years
to-night."

"How the deuce did you ever come to get elected?" asked the master.

"Through a suicide," replied the specter. "I am the ghost of that fair
maiden whose picture hangs over the mantelpiece in the drawing-room. I
should have been your great-great-great-great-great-aunt if I had lived,
Henry Hartwick Oglethorpe, for I was the own sister of your
great-great-great-great-grandfather."

"But what induced you to get this house into such a predicament?"

"I was not to blame, sir," returned the lady. "It was my father's fault.
He it was who built Harrowby Hall, and the haunted chamber was to have
been mine. My father had it furnished in pink and yellow, knowing well
that blue and gray formed the only combination of color I could
tolerate. He did it merely to spite me, and, with what I deem a proper
spirit, I declined to live in the room; whereupon my father said I could
live there or on the lawn, he didn't care which. That night I ran from
the house and jumped over the cliff into the sea."

"That was rash," said the master of Harrowby.

"So I've heard," returned the ghost. "If I had known what the
consequences were to be I should not have jumped; but I really never
realized what I was doing until after I was drowned. I had been drowned
a week when a sea-nymph came to me and informed me that I was to be one
of her followers forever afterwards, adding that it should be my doom to
haunt Harrowby Hall for one hour every Christmas Eve throughout the rest
of eternity. I was to haunt that room on such Christmas Eves as I found
it inhabited; and if it should turn out not to be inhabited, I was and
am to spend the allotted hour with the head of the house."

"I'll sell the place."

"That you cannot do, for it is also required of me that I shall appear
as the deeds are to be delivered to any purchaser, and divulge to him
the awful secret of the house."

"Do you mean to tell me that on every Christmas Eve that I don't happen
to have somebody in that guest-chamber, you are going to haunt me
wherever I may be, ruining my whiskey, taking all the curl out of my
hair, extinguishing my fire, and soaking me through to the skin?"
demanded the master.

"You have stated the case, Oglethorpe. And what is more," said the water
ghost, "it doesn't make the slightest difference where you are, if I
find that room empty, wherever you may be I shall douse you with my
spectral pres----"

Here the clock struck one, and immediately the apparition faded away. It
was perhaps more of a trickle than a fade, but as a disappearance it was
complete.

"By St. George and his Dragon!" ejaculated the master of Harrowby,
wringing his hands. "It is guineas to hot-cross buns that next Christmas
there's an occupant of the spare room, or I spend the night in a
bathtub."

But the master of Harrowby would have lost his wager had there been
anyone there to take him up, for when Christmas Eve came again he was in
his grave, never having recovered from the cold contracted that awful
night. Harrowby Hall was closed, and the heir to the estate was in
London, where to him in his chambers came the same experience that his
father had gone through, saving only that, being younger and stronger,
he survived the shock. Everything in his rooms was ruined--his clocks
were rusted in the works; a fine collection of water-color drawings was
entirely obliterated by the onslaught of the water ghost; and what was
worse, the apartments below his were drenched with the water soaking
through the floors, a damage for which he was compelled to pay, and
which resulted in his being requested by his landlady to vacate the
premises immediately.

The story of the visitation inflicted upon his family had gone abroad,
and no one could be got to invite him out to any function save afternoon
teas and receptions. Fathers of daughters declined to permit him to
remain in their houses later than eight o'clock at night, not knowing
but that some emergency might arise in the supernatural world which
would require the unexpected appearance of the water ghost in this on
nights other than Christmas Eve, and before the mystic hour when weary
churchyards, ignoring the rules which are supposed to govern polite
society, begin to yawn. Nor would the maids themselves have aught to do
with him, fearing the destruction by the sudden incursion of aqueous
femininity of the costumes which they held most dear.

So the heir of Harrowby Hall resolved, as his ancestors for several
generations before him had resolved, that something must be done. His
first thought was to make one of his servants occupy the haunted room at
the crucial moment; but in this he failed, because the servants
themselves knew the history of that room and rebelled. None of his
friends would consent to sacrifice their personal comfort to his, nor
was there to be found in all England a man so poor as to be willing to
occupy the doomed chamber on Christmas Eve for pay.

Then the thought came to the heir to have the fireplace in the room
enlarged, so that he might evaporate the ghost at its first appearance,
and he was felicitating himself upon the ingenuity of his plan, when he
remembered what his father had told him--how that no fire could
withstand the lady's extremely contagious dampness. And then he
bethought him of steam-pipes. These, he remembered, could lie hundreds
of feet deep in water, and still retain sufficient heat to drive the
water away in vapor; and as a result of this thought the haunted room
was heated by steam to a withering degree, and the heir for six months
attended daily the Turkish baths, so that when Christmas Eve came he
could himself withstand the awful temperature of the room.

The scheme was only partially successful. The water ghost appeared at
the specified time, and found the heir of Harrowby prepared; but hot as
the room was, it shortened her visit by no more than five minutes in the
hour, during which time the nervous system of the young master was
well-nigh shattered, and the room itself was cracked and warped to an
extent which required the outlay of a large sum of money to remedy. And
worse than this, as the last drop of the water ghost was slowly
sizzling itself out on the floor, she whispered to her would-be
conqueror that his scheme would avail him nothing, because there was
still water in great plenty where she came from, and that next year
would find her rehabilitated and as exasperatingly saturating as ever.

It was then that the natural action of the mind, in going from one
extreme to the other, suggested to the ingenious heir of Harrowby the
means by which the water ghost was ultimately conquered, and happiness
once more came within the grasp of the house of Oglethorpe.

The heir provided himself with a warm suit of fur under-clothing.
Donning this with the furry side in, he placed over it a rubber garment,
tight-fitting, which he wore just as a woman wears a jersey. On top of
this he placed another set of under-clothing, this suit made of wool,
and over this was a second rubber garment like the first. Upon his head
he placed a light and comfortable diving helmet, and so clad, on the
following Christmas Eve he awaited the coming of his tormentor.

It was a bitterly cold night that brought to a close this twenty-fourth
day of December. The air outside was still, but the temperature was
below zero. Within all was quiet, the servants of Harrowby Hall awaiting
with beating hearts the outcome of their master's campaign against his
supernatural visitor.

The master himself was lying on the bed in the haunted room, clad as
has already been indicated, and then----

The clock clanged out the hour of twelve.

There was a sudden banging of doors, a blast of cold air swept through
the halls, the door leading into the haunted chamber flew open, a splash
was heard, and the water ghost was seen standing at the side of the heir
of Harrowby, from whose outer dress there streamed rivulets of water,
but whose own person deep down under the various garments he wore was as
dry and as warm as he could have wished.

"Ha!" said the young master of Harrowby. "I'm glad to see you."

"You are the most original man I've met, if that is true," returned the
ghost. "May I ask where did you get that hat?"

"Certainly, madam," returned the master, courteously. "It is a little
portable observatory I had made for just such emergencies as this. But,
tell me, is it true that you are doomed to follow me about for one
mortal hour--to stand where I stand, to sit where I sit?"

"That is my delectable fate," returned the lady.

"We'll go out on the lake," said the master, starting up.

"You can't get rid of me that way," returned the ghost. "The water won't
swallow me up; in fact, it will just add to my present bulk."

"Nevertheless," said the master, firmly, "we will go out on the lake."

"But, my dear sir," returned the ghost, with a pale reluctance, "it is
fearfully cold out there. You will be frozen hard before you've been out
ten minutes."

"Oh no, I'll not," replied the master. "I am very warmly dressed. Come!"
This last in a tone of command that made the ghost ripple.

And they started.

They had not gone far before the water ghost showed signs of distress.

"You walk too slowly," she said. "I am nearly frozen. My knees are so
stiff now I can hardly move. I beseech you to accelerate your step."

"I should like to oblige a lady," returned the master, courteously, "but
my clothes are rather heavy, and a hundred yards an hour is about my
speed. Indeed, I think we would better sit down here on this snowdrift,
and talk matters over."

"Do not! Do not do so, I beg!" cried the ghost. "Let me move on. I feel
myself growing rigid as it is. If we stop here, I shall be frozen
stiff."

"That, madam," said the master slowly, and seating himself on an
ice-cake--"that is why I have brought you here. We have been on this
spot just ten minutes; we have fifty more. Take your time about it,
madam, but freeze, that is all I ask of you."

"I cannot move my right leg now," cried the ghost, in despair, "and my
overskirt is a solid sheet of ice. Oh, good, kind Mr. Oglethorpe, light
a fire, and let me go free from these icy fetters."

"Never, madam. It cannot be. I have you at last."

"Alas!" cried the ghost, a tear trickling down her frozen cheek. "Help
me, I beg. I congeal!"

"Congeal, madam, congeal!" returned Oglethorpe, coldly. "You have
drenched me and mine for two hundred and three years, madam. To-night
you have had your last drench."

"Ah, but I shall thaw out again, and then you'll see. Instead of the
comfortably tepid, genial ghost I have been in my past, sir, I shall be
iced-water," cried the lady, threateningly.

"No, you won't, either," returned Oglethorpe; "for when you are frozen
quite stiff, I shall send you to a cold-storage warehouse, and there
shall you remain an icy work of art forever more."

"But warehouses burn."

"So they do, but this warehouse cannot burn. It is made of asbestos and
surrounding it are fireproof walls, and within those walls the
temperature is now and shall forever be 416 degrees below the zero
point; low enough to make an icicle of any flame in this world--or the
next," the master added, with an ill-suppressed chuckle.

"For the last time let me beseech you. I would go on my knees to you,
Oglethorpe, were they not already frozen. I beg of you do not doo----"

Here even the words froze on the water-ghost's lips and the clock struck
one. There was a momentary tremor throughout the ice-bound form, and the
moon, coming out from behind a cloud, shone down on the rigid figure of
a beautiful woman sculptured in clear, transparent ice. There stood the
ghost of Harrowby Hall, conquered by the cold, a prisoner for all time.

The heir of Harrowby had won at last, and to-day in a large storage
house in London stands the frigid form of one who will never again flood
the house of Oglethorpe with woe and sea-water.

As for the heir of Harrowby, his success in coping with a ghost has made
him famous, a fame that still lingers about him, although his victory
took place some twenty years ago; and so far from being unpopular with
the fair sex, as he was when we first knew him, he has not only been
married twice, but is to lead a third bride to the altar before the year
is out.



BACK FROM THAT BOURNE

ANONYMOUS

From the New York _Sun_. By permission of the editor.



Back from That Bourne

ANONYMOUS

     _Practical Working of Materialization in Maine. A
     Strange Story from Pocock Island--A Materialized Spirit
     that Will not Go back. The First Glimpse of what May
     yet Cause very Extensive Trouble in this World._

(The _Sun_, Saturday, December 19, 1874.)


We are permitted to make extracts from a private letter which bears the
signature of a gentleman well known in business circles, and whose
veracity we have never heard called in question. His statements are
startling and well-nigh incredible, but if true, they are susceptible of
easy verification. Yet the thoughtful mind will hesitate about accepting
them without the fullest proof, for they spring upon the world a social
problem of stupendous importance. The dangers apprehended by Mr. Malthus
and his followers become remote and commonplace by the side of this new
and terrible issue.

The letter is dated at Pocock Island, a small township in Washington
County, Maine, about seventeen miles from the mainland and nearly
midway between Mt. Desert and the Grand Menan. The last state census
accords to Pocock Island a population of 311, mostly engaged in the
porgy fisheries. At the Presidential election of 1872 the island gave
Grant a majority of three. These two facts are all that we are able to
learn of the locality from sources outside of the letter already
referred to.

The letter, omitting certain passages which refer solely to private
matters, reads as follows:

"But enough of the disagreeable business that brought me here to this
bleak island in the month of November. I have a singular story to tell
you. After our experience together at Chittenden I know you will not
reject statements because they are startling.

"My friend, there is upon Pocock Island a materialized spirit which (or
who) refuses to be dematerialized. At this moment and within a quarter
of a mile from me as I write, a man who died and was buried four years
ago, and who has exploited the mysteries beyond the grave, walks, talks,
and holds interviews with the inhabitants of the island, and is, to all
appearances, determined to remain permanently upon this side of the
river. I will relate the circumstances as briefly as I can."


JOHN NEWBEGIN

"In April, 1870, John Newbegin died and was buried in the little
cemetery on the landward side of the island. Newbegin was a man of
about forty-eight, without family or near connections, and eccentric to
a degree that sometimes inspired questions as to his sanity. What money
he had earned by many seasons' fishing upon the banks was invested in
quarters of two small mackerel schooners, the remainder of which
belonged to John Hodgeson, the richest man on Pocock, who was estimated
by good authorities to be worth thirteen or fourteen thousand dollars.

"Newbegin was not without a certain kind of culture. He had read a good
deal of the odds and ends of literature and, as a simple-minded islander
expressed it in my hearing, knew more bookfuls than anybody on the
island. He was naturally an intelligent man; and he might have attained
influence in the community had it not been for his utter aimlessness of
character, his indifference to fortune, and his consuming thirst for
rum.

"Many yachtsmen who have had occasion to stop at Pocock for water or for
harbor shelter during eastern cruises, will remember a long, listless
figure, astonishingly attired in blue army pants, rubber boots, loose
toga made of some bright chintz material, and very bad hat, staggering
through the little settlement, followed by a rabble of jeering brats,
and pausing to strike uncertain blows at those within reach of the dead
sculpin which he usually carried round by the tail. This was John
Newbegin."


HIS SUDDEN DEATH

"As I have already remarked, he died four years ago last April. The
_Mary Emmeline_, one of the little schooners in which he owned, had
returned from the eastward, and had smuggled, or 'run in' a quantity of
St. John brandy. Newbegin had a solitary and protracted debauch. He was
missed from his accustomed walks for several days, and when the
islanders broke into the hovel where he lived, close down to the seaweed
and almost within reach of the incoming tide, they found him dead on the
floor, with an emptied demijohn hard by his head.

"After the primitive custom of the island, they interred John Newbegin's
remains without coroner's inquest, burial certificate, or funeral
services, and in the excitement of a large catch of porgies that summer,
soon forgot him and his friendless life. His interest in the _Mary
Emmeline_ and the _Prettyboat_ recurred to John Hodgeson; and as nobody
came forward to demand an administration of the estate, it was never
administered. The forms of law are but loosely followed in some of these
marginal localities."


HIS REAPPEARANCE AT POCOCK

"Well, my dear ----, four years and four months had brought their quota
of varying seasons to Pocock Island when John Newbegin reappeared under
the following circumstances:

"In the latter part of last August, as you may remember, there was a
heavy gale all along our Atlantic coast. During this storm the squadron
of the Naugatuck Yacht Club, which was returning from a summer cruise as
far as Campobello, was forced to take shelter in the harbor to the
leeward of Pocock Island. The gentlemen of the club spent three days at
the little settlement ashore. Among the party was Mr. R---- E----, by
which name you will recognize a medium of celebrity, and one who has
been particularly successful in materializations. At the desire of his
companions, and to relieve the tedium of their detention, Mr.
E---- improvised a cabinet in the little schoolhouse at Pocock, and gave
a _séance_, to the delight of his fellow yachtsmen and the utter
bewilderment of such natives as were permitted to witness the
manifestations.

"The conditions appeared unusually favorable to spirit appearances and
the _séance_ was upon the whole perhaps the most remarkable that Mr.
E---- ever held. It was all the more remarkable because the surroundings
were such that the most prejudiced skeptic could discover no possibility
of trickery.

"The first form to issue from the wood closet which constituted the
cabinet, when Mr. E---- had been tied therein by a committee of old
sailors from the yachts, was that of an Indian chief who announced
himself as Hock-a-mock, and who retired after dancing a 'Harvest Moon'
_pas seul_, and declaring himself in very emphatic terms, as opposed to
the present Indian policy of the Administration. Hock-a-mock was
succeeded by the aunt of one of the yachtsmen, who identified herself
beyond question by allusion to family matters and by displaying the scar
of a burn upon her left arm, received while making tomato catsup upon
earth. Then came successively a child whom none present recognized, a
French Canadian who could not talk English, and a portly gentleman who
introduced himself as William King, first Governor of Maine. These in
turn reëntered the cabinet and were seen no more.

"It was some time before another spirit manifested itself, and Mr. E----
gave directions that the lights be turned down still further. Then the
door of the wood closet was slowly opened and a singular figure in
rubber boots and a species of Dolly Varden garment emerged, bringing a
dead fish in his right hand."


HIS DETERMINATION TO REMAIN

"The city men who were present, I am told, thought that the medium was
masquerading in grotesque habiliments for the more complete astonishment
of the islanders, but these latter rose from their seats and exclaimed
with one consent: 'It is John Newbegin!' And then, in not unnatural
terror of the apparition they turned and fled from the schoolroom,
uttering dismal cries.

"John Newbegin came calmly forward and turned up the solitary kerosene
lamp that shed uncertain light over the proceedings. He then sat down in
the teacher's chair, folded his arms, and looked complacently about him.

"'You might as well untie the medium,' he finally remarked. 'I propose
to remain in the materialized condition.'

"And he did remain. When the party left the schoolhouse among them
walked John Newbegin, as truly a being of flesh and blood as any man of
them. From that day to this, he has been a living inhabitant of Pocock
Island, eating, drinking, (water only) and sleeping after the manner of
men. The yachtsmen who made sail for Bar Harbor the very next morning,
probably believe that he was a fraud hired for the occasion by Mr.
E----. But the people of Pocock, who laid him out, dug his grave, and
put him into it four years ago, know that John Newbegin has come back to
them from a land they know not of."


A SINGULAR MEMBER OF SOCIETY

"The idea, of having a ghost--somewhat more condensed it is true than
the traditional ghost--as a member was not at first overpleasing to the
311 inhabitants of Pocock Island. To this day, they are a little
sensitive upon the subject, feeling evidently that if the matter got
abroad, it might injure the sale of the really excellent porgy oil
which is the product of their sole manufacturing interest. This
reluctance to advertise the skeleton in their closet, superadded to the
slowness of these obtuse, fishy, matter-of-fact people to recognize the
transcendent importance of the case, must be accepted as explanation of
the fact that John Newbegin's spirit has been on earth between three and
four months, and yet the singular circumstance is not known to the whole
country.

"But the Pocockians have at last come to see that a spirit is not
necessarily a malevolent spirit, and accepting his presence as a fact in
their stolid, unreasoning way, they are quite neighborly and sociable
with Mr. Newbegin.

"I know that your first question will be: 'Is there sufficient proof of
his ever having been dead?' To this I answer unhesitatingly, 'Yes.' He
was too well-known a character and too many people saw the corpse to
admit of any mistake on this point. I may add here that it was at one
time proposed to disinter the original remains, but that project was
abandoned in deference to the wishes of Mr. Newbegin, who feels a
natural delicacy about having his first set of bones disturbed from
motives of mere curiosity."


AN INTERVIEW WITH A DEAD MAN

"You will readily believe that I took occasion to see and converse with
John Newbegin. I found him affable and even communicative. He is
perfectly aware of his doubtful status as a being, but is in hopes that
at some future time there may be legislation that shall correctly define
his position and the position of any spirit who may follow him into the
material world. The only point upon which he is reticent is his
experience during the four years that elapsed between his death and his
reappearance at Pocock. It is to be presumed that the memory is not a
pleasant one: at least he never speaks of this period. He candidly
admits, however, that he is glad to get back to earth and that he
embraced the very first opportunity to be materialized.

"Mr. Newbegin says that he is consumed with remorse for the wasted years
of his previous existence. Indeed, his conduct during the past three
months would show that this regret is genuine. He has discarded his
eccentric costume, and dresses like a reasonable spirit. He has not
touched liquor since his reappearance. He has embarked in the porgy oil
business, and his operations already rival that of Hodgeson, his old
partner in the _Mary Emmeline_ and the _Prettyboat_. By the way,
Newbegin threatens to sue Hodgeson for his individed quarter in each of
these vessels, and this interesting case therefore bids fair to be
thoroughly investigated in the courts.

"As a business man, he is generally esteemed on the Island, although
there is a noticeable reluctance to discount his paper at long dates. In
short, Mr. John Newbegin is a most respectable citizen (if a dead man
can be a citizen) and has announced his intention of running for the
next Legislature!"


IN CONCLUSION

"And now, my dear ----, I have told you the substance of all I know
respecting this strange, strange case. Yet, after all, why so strange?
We accepted materialization at Chittenden. Is this any more than the
logical issue of that admission? If the spirit may return to earth,
clothed in flesh and blood and all the physical attributes of humanity,
why may it not remain on earth as long as it sees fit?

"Thinking of it from whatever standpoint, I cannot but regard John
Newbegin as the pioneer of a possibly large immigration from the spirit
world. The bars once down, a whole flock will come trooping back to
earth. Death will lose its significance altogether. And when I think of
the disturbance which will result in our social relations, of the
overthrow of all accepted institutions, and of the nullification of all
principles of political economy, law, and religion, I am lost in
perplexity and apprehension."



THE GHOST-SHIP

BY RICHARD MIDDLETON

From _The Ghost-Ship_ by Richard Middleton. Published by permission of
Mitchell Kennerley, and taken from the volume, _The Ghost-Ship and Other
Stories_.



The Ghost-Ship

BY RICHARD MIDDLETON


Fairfield is a little village lying near the Portsmouth Road, about
halfway between London and the sea. Strangers, who now and then find it
by accident, call it a pretty, old-fashioned place; we who live in it
and call it home don't find anything very pretty about it, but we should
be sorry to live anywhere else. Our minds have taken the shape of the
inn and the church and the green, I suppose. At all events, we never
feel comfortable out of Fairfield.

Of course the cockneys, with their vasty houses and noise-ridden
streets, can call us rustics if they choose; but for all that, Fairfield
is a better place to live in than London. Doctor says that when he goes
to London his mind is bruised with the weight of the houses, and he was
a cockney born. He had to live there himself when he was a little chap,
but he knows better now. You gentlemen may laugh--perhaps some of you
come from London-way, but it seems to me that a witness like that is
worth a gallon of arguments.

Dull? Well, you might find it dull, but I assure you that I've listened
to all the London yarns you have spun to-night, and they're absolutely
nothing to the things that happen at Fairfield. It's because of our way
of thinking, and minding our own business. If one of your Londoners was
set down on the green of a Saturday night when the ghosts of the lads
who died in the war keep tryst with the lasses who lie in the
churchyard, he couldn't help being curious and interfering, and then the
ghosts would go somewhere where it was quieter. But we just let them
come and go and don't make any fuss, and in consequence Fairfield is the
ghostiest place in all England. Why, I've seen a headless man sitting on
the edge of the well in broad daylight, and the children playing about
his feet as if he were their father. Take my word for it, spirits know
when they are well off as much as human beings.

Still, I must admit that the thing I'm going to tell you about was queer
even for our part of the world, where three packs of ghost-hounds hunt
regularly during the season, and blacksmith's great-grandfather is busy
all night shoeing the dead gentlemen's horses. Now that's a thing that
wouldn't happen in London, because of their interfering ways; but
blacksmith he lies up aloft and sleeps as quiet as a lamb. Once when he
had a bad head he shouted down to them not to make so much noise, and
in the morning he found an old guinea left on the anvil as an apology.
He wears it on his watch-chain now. But I must get on with my story; if
I start telling you about the queer happenings at Fairfield, I'll never
stop.

It all came of the great storm in the spring of '97, the year that we
had two great storms. This was the first one, and I remember it well,
because I found in the morning that it had lifted the thatch of my
pigsty into the widow's garden as clean as a boy's kite. When I looked
over the hedge, widow--Tom Lamport's widow that was--was prodding for
her nasturtiums with a daisy grubber. After I had watched her for a
little I went down to the Fox and Grapes to tell landlord what she had
said to me. Landlord he laughed, being a married man and at ease with
the sex. "Come to that," he said, "the tempest has blowed something into
my field. A kind of a ship I think it would be."

I was surprised at that until he explained that it was only a
ghost-ship, and would do no hurt to the turnips. We argued that it had
been blown up from the sea at Portsmouth, and then we talked of
something else. There were two slates down at the parsonage and a big
tree in Lumley's meadow. It was a rare storm.

I reckon the wind had blown our ghosts all over England. They were
coming back for days afterward with foundered horses, and as footsore as
possible, and they were so glad to get back to Fairfield that some of
them walked up the street crying like little children. Squire said that
his great-grandfather's great-grandfather hadn't looked so dead-beat
since the battle of Naseby, and he's an educated man.

What with one thing and another, I should think it was a week before we
got straight again, and then one afternoon I met the landlord on the
green, and he had a worried face. "I wish you'd come and have a look at
that ship in my field," he said to me. "It seems to me it's leaning real
hard on the turnips. I can't bear thinking what the missus will say when
she sees it."

I walked down the lane with him, and, sure enough, there was a ship in
the middle of his field, but such a ship as no man had seen on the water
for three hundred years, let alone in the middle of a turnipfield. It
was all painted black, and covered with carvings, and there was a great
bay-window in the stern, for all the world like the squire's
drawing-room. There was a crowd of little black cannon on deck and
looking out of her port-holes, and she was anchored at each end to the
hard ground. I have seen the wonders of the world on picture-postcards,
but I have never seen anything to equal that.

"She seems very solid for a ghost-ship," I said, seeing that landlord
was bothered.

"I should say it's a betwixt and between," he answered, puzzling it
over; "but it's going to spoil a matter of fifty turnips, and missus
she'll want it moved." We went up to her and touched the side, and it
was as hard as a real ship. "Now, there's folks in England would call
that very curious," he said.

Now, I don't know much about ships, but I should think that that
ghost-ship weighed a solid two hundred tons, and it seemed to me that
she had come to stay; so that I felt sorry for landlord, who was a
married man. "All the horses in Fairfield won't move her out of my
turnips," he said, frowning at her.

Just then we heard a noise on her deck, and we looked up and saw that a
man had come out of her front cabin and was looking down at us very
peaceably. He was dressed in a black uniform set off with rusty gold
lace, and he had a great cutlass by his side in a brass sheath. "I'm
Captain Bartholomew Roberts," he said in a gentleman's voice, "put in
for recruits. I seem to have brought her rather far up the harbor."

"Harbor!" cried landlord. "Why, you're fifty miles from the sea!"

Captain Roberts didn't turn a hair. "So much as that, is it?" he said
coolly. "Well, it's of no consequence."

Landlord was a bit upset at this. "I don't want to be unneighborly," he
said, "but I wish you hadn't brought your ship into my field. You see,
my wife sets great store on these turnips."

The captain took a pinch of snuff out of a fine gold box that he pulled
out of his pocket, and dusted his fingers with a silk handkerchief in a
very genteel fashion. "I'm only here for a few months," he said, "but
if a testimony of my esteem would pacify your good lady, I should be
content," and with the words he loosed a great gold brooch from the neck
of his coat and tossed it down to landlord.

Landlord blushed as red as a strawberry. "I'm not denying she's fond of
jewelry," he said; "but it's too much for half a sackful of turnips."
Indeed it was a handsome brooch.

The captain laughed. "Tut, man!" he said, "it's a forced sale, and you
deserve a good price. Say no more about it," and nodding good day to us,
he turned on his heel and went into the cabin. Landlord walked back up
the lane like a man with a weight off his mind. "That tempest has blowed
me a bit of luck," he said; "the missus will be main pleased with that
brooch. It's better than blacksmith's guinea any day."

'97 was Jubilee year--the year of the second Jubilee, you remember, and
we had great doings at Fairfield, so that we hadn't much time to bother
about the ghost-ship, though, anyhow, it isn't our way to meddle in
things that don't concern us. Landlord he saw his tenant once or twice
when he was hoeing his turnips, and passed the time of day and
landlord's wife wore her new brooch to church every Sunday. But we
didn't mix much with the ghosts at any time, all except an idiot lad
there was in the village, and he didn't know the difference between a
man and a ghost, poor innocent! On Jubilee day, however, somebody told
Captain Roberts why the church bells were ringing, and he hoisted a
flag and fired off his guns like a loyal Englishman. 'T is true the guns
were shotted, and one of the round shot knocked a hole in Farmer
Johnstone's barn, but nobody thought much of that in such a season of
rejoicing.

It wasn't till our celebrations were over that we noticed that anything
was wrong in Fairfield. 'T was shoemaker who told me first about it one
morning at the Fox and Grapes. "You know my great-great-uncle?" he said
to me.

"You mean Joshua, the quiet lad?" I answered, knowing him well.

"Quiet!" said shoemaker, indignantly. "Quiet you call him, coming home
at three o'clock every morning as drunk as a magistrate and waking up
the whole house with his noise!"

"Why, it can't be Joshua," I said, for I knew him for one of the most
respectable young ghosts in the village.

"Joshua it is," said shoemaker; "and one of these nights he'll find
himself out in the street if he isn't careful."

This kind of talk shocked me, I can tell you, for I don't like to hear a
man abusing his own family, and I could hardly believe that a steady
youngster like Joshua had taken to drink. But just then in came butcher
Aylwin in such a temper that he could hardly drink his beer. "The young
puppy! The young puppy!" he kept on saying, and it was some time before
shoemaker and I found out that he was talking about his ancestor that
fell at Senlac.

"Drink?" said shoemaker, hopefully, for we all like company in our
misfortunes, and butcher nodded grimly. "The young noodle!" he said,
emptying his tankard.

Well, after that I kept my ears open, and it was the same story all over
the village. There was hardly a young man among all the ghosts of
Fairfield who didn't roll home in the small hours of the morning the
worse for liquor. I used to wake up in the night and hear them stumble
past my house, singing outrageous songs. The worst of it was that we
couldn't keep the scandal to ourselves, and the folk at Greenhill began
to talk of "sodden Fairfield" and taught their children to sing a song
about us:

    Sodden Fairfield, sodden Fairfield,
      Has no use for bread and butter,
    Rum for breakfast, rum for dinner,
      Rum for tea, and rum for supper!

We are easy-going in our village, but we didn't like that.

Of course we soon found out where the young fellows went to get the
drink, and landlord was terribly cut up that his tenant should have
turned out so badly; but his wife wouldn't hear of parting with the
brooch, so he couldn't give the captain notice to quit. But as time went
on, things grew from bad to worse, and at all hours of the day you
would see those young reprobates sleeping it off on the village green.
Nearly every afternoon a ghost-wagon used to jolt down to the ship with
a lading of rum, and though the older ghosts seemed inclined to give the
captain's hospitality the go-by, the youngsters were neither to hold nor
to bind.

So one afternoon when I was taking my nap, I heard a knock at the door,
and there was parson, looking very serious, like a man with a job before
him that he didn't altogether relish.

"I'm going down to talk to the captain about all this drunkenness in the
village, and I want you to come with me," he said straight out.

I can't say that I fancied the visit much myself, and I tried to hint to
parson that as, after all, they were only a lot of ghosts, it didn't
much matter.

"Dead or alive, I'm responsible for their good conduct," he said, "and
I'm going to do my duty and put a stop to this continued disorder. And
you are coming with me, John Simmons."

So I went, parson being a persuasive kind of man.

We went down to the ship, and as we approached her, I could see the
captain tasting the air on deck. When he saw parson, he took off his hat
very politely, and I can tell you that I was relieved to find that he
had a proper respect for the cloth. Parson acknowledged his salute, and
spoke out stoutly enough.

"Sir, I should be glad to have a word with you."

"Come on board, sir; come on board," said the captain, and I could tell
by his voice that he knew why we were there.

Parson and I climbed up an uneasy kind of ladder, and the captain took
us into the great cabin at the back of the ship, where the bay-window
was. It was the most wonderful place you ever saw in your life, all full
of gold and silver plate, swords with jeweled scabbards, carved oak
chairs, and great chests that looked as though they were bursting with
guineas. Even parson was surprised, and he did not shake his head very
hard when the captain took down some silver cups and poured us out a
drink of rum. I tasted mine, and I don't mind saying that it changed my
view of things entirely. There was nothing betwixt and between about
that rum, and I felt that it was ridiculous to blame the lads for
drinking too much of stuff like that. It seemed to fill my veins with
honey and fire.

Parson put the case squarely to the captain, but I didn't listen much to
what he said. I was busy sipping my drink and looking through the window
at the fishes swimming to and fro over landlord's turnips. Just then it
seemed the most natural thing in the world that they should be there,
though afterward, of course, I could see that that proved it was a
ghost-ship.

But even then I thought it was queer when I saw a drowned sailor float
by in the thin air, with his hair and beard all full of bubbles. It was
the first time I had seen anything quite like that at Fairfield.

All the time I was regarding the wonders of the deep, parson was telling
Captain Roberts how there was no peace or rest in the village owing to
the curse of drunkenness, and what a bad example the youngsters were
setting to the older ghosts. The captain listened very attentively, and
put in a word only now and then about boys being boys and young men
sowing their wild oats. But when parson had finished his speech, he
filled up our silver cups and said to parson with a flourish:

"I should be sorry to cause trouble anywhere where I have been made
welcome, and you will be glad to hear that I put to sea to-morrow night.
And now you must drink me a prosperous voyage."

So we all stood up and drank the toast with honor, and that noble rum
was like hot oil in my veins.

After that, captain showed us some of the curiosities he had brought
back from foreign parts, and we were greatly amazed, though afterward I
couldn't clearly remember what they were. And then I found myself
walking across the turnips with parson, and I was telling him of the
glories of the deep that I had seen through the window of the ship. He
turned on me severely.

"If I were you, John Simmons," he said, "I should go straight home to
bed." He has a way of putting things that wouldn't occur to an ordinary
man, has parson, and I did as he told me.

Well, next day it came on to blow, and it blew harder and harder, till
about eight o'clock at night I heard a noise and looked out into the
garden. I dare say you won't believe me,--it seems a bit tall even to
me,--but the wind had lifted the thatch of my pigsty into the widow's
garden a second time. I thought I wouldn't wait to hear what widow had
to say about it, so I went across the green to the Fox and Grapes, and
the wind was so strong that I danced along on tiptoe like a girl at the
fair. When I got to the inn, landlord had to help me shut the door. It
seemed as though a dozen goats were pushing against it to come in out of
the storm.

"It's a powerful tempest," he said, drawing the beer. "I hear there's a
chimney down at Dickory End."

"It's a funny thing how these sailors know about the weather," I
answered. "When captain said he was going to-night, I was thinking it
would take a capful of wind to carry the ship back to sea; and now
here's more than a capful."

"Ah, yes," said landlord; "it's to-night he goes true enough, and mind
you, though he treated me handsome over the rent, I'm not sure it's a
loss to the village. I don't hold with gentrice, who fetch their drink
from London instead of helping local traders to get their living."

"But you haven't got any rum like his," I said, to draw him out.

His neck grew red above his collar, and I was afraid I'd gone too far;
but after a while he got his breath with a grunt.

"John Simmons," he said, "if you've come down here this windy night to
talk a lot of fool's talk, you've wasted a journey."

Well, of course then I had to smooth him down with praising his rum, and
Heaven forgive me for swearing it was better than captain's. For the
like of that rum no living lips have tasted save mine and parson's. But
somehow or other I brought landlord round, and presently we must have a
glass of his best to prove its quality.

"Beat that if you can," he cried, and we both raised our glasses to our
mouths, only to stop halfway and look at each other in amaze. For the
wind that had been howling outside like an outrageous dog had all of a
sudden turned as melodious as the carol-boys of a Christmas eve.

"Surely that's not my Martha," whispered landlord, Martha being his
great-aunt who lived in the loft overhead.

We went to the door, and the wind burst it open so that the handle was
driven clean into the plaster of the wall, but we didn't think about
that at the time; for over our heads, sailing very comfortably through
the windy stars, was the ship that had passed the summer in landlord's
field. Her port-holes and her bay-window were blazing with lights, and
there was a noise of singing and fiddling on her decks. "He's gone!"
shouted landlord above the storm, "and he's taken half the village with
him." I could only nod in answer, not having lungs like bellows of
leather.

In the morning we were able to measure the strength of the storm, and
over and above my pigsty, there was damage enough wrought in the village
to keep us busy. True it is that the children had to break down no
branches for the firing that autumn, since the wind had strewn the woods
with more than they could carry away. Many of our ghosts were scattered
abroad, but this time very few came back, all the young men having
sailed with captain; and not only ghosts, for a poor half-witted lad was
missing, and we reckoned that he had stowed himself away or perhaps
shipped as cabin-boy, not knowing any better.

What with the lamentations of the ghost girls and the grumblings of
families who had lost ancestors, the village was upset for a while, and
the funny thing was that it was the folk who had complained most of the
carryings-on of the youngsters who made most noise now that they were
gone. I hadn't any sympathy with shoemaker or butcher, who ran about
saying how much they missed their lads, but it made me grieve to hear
the poor bereaved girls calling their lovers by name on the village
green at nightfall. It didn't seem fair to me that they should have lost
their men a second time, after giving up life in order to join them, as
like as not. Still, not even a spirit can be sorry forever, and after a
few months we made up our mind that the folk who had sailed in the ship
were never coming back; and we didn't talk about it any more.

And then one day, I dare say it would be a couple of years after, when
the whole business was quite forgotten, who should come trapesing along
the road from Portsmouth but the daft lad who had gone away with the
ship without waiting till he was dead to become a ghost. You never saw
such a boy as that in all your life. He had a great rusty cutlass
hanging to a string at his waist, and he was tattooed all over in fine
colors, so that even his face looked like a girl's sampler. He had a
handkerchief in his hand full of foreign shells and old-fashioned pieces
of small money, very curious, and he walked up to the well outside his
mother's house and drew himself a drink as if he had been nowhere in
particular.

The worst of it was that he had come back as soft-headed as he went, and
try as we might, we couldn't get anything reasonable out of him. He
talked a lot of gibberish about keelhauling and walking the plank and
crimson murders--things which a decent sailor should know nothing about,
so that it seemed to me that for all his manners captain had been more
of a pirate than a gentleman mariner. But to draw sense out of that boy
was as hard as picking cherries off a crab-tree. One silly tale he had
that he kept on drifting back to, and to hear him you would have thought
that it was the only thing that happened to him in his life.

"We was at anchor," he would say, "off an island called the Basket of
Flowers, and the sailors had caught a lot of parrots and we were
teaching them to swear. Up and down the decks, up and down the decks,
and the language they used was dreadful. Then we looked up and saw the
masts of the Spanish ship outside the harbor. Outside the harbor they
were, so we threw the parrots into the sea, and sailed out to fight. And
all the parrots were drowneded in the sea, and the language they used
was dreadful."

That's the sort of boy he was--nothing but silly talk of parrots when we
asked him about the fighting. And we never had a chance of teaching him
better, for two days after he ran away again, and hasn't been seen
since.

That's my story, and I assure you that things like that are happening at
Fairfield all the time. The ship has never come back, but somehow, as
people grow older, they seem to think that one of these windy nights
she'll come sailing in over the hedges with all the lost ghosts on
board. Well, when she comes, she'll be welcome. There's one ghost lass
that has never grown tired of waiting for her lad to return. Every night
you'll see her out on the green, straining her poor eyes with looking
for the mast-lights among the stars. A faithful lass you'd call her, and
I'm thinking you'd be right.

Landlord's field wasn't a penny the worse for the visit; but they do say
that since then the turnips that have been grown in it have tasted of
rum.



THE TRANSPLANTED GHOST

A CHRISTMAS STORY

BY WALLACE IRWIN

From _Everybody's Magazine_. By permission of _Everybody's_ and Wallace
Irwin.



The Transplanted Ghost

A CHRISTMAS STORY

BY WALLACE IRWIN


When Aunt Elizabeth asked me to spend Christmas with her at Seven Oaks
she appended a peculiar request to her letter. "Like a good fellow," she
wrote, "won't you drop off at Perkinsville, Ohio, on your way, and take
a look at Gauntmoor Castle? They say it's a wonderful old pile; and its
history is in many ways connected with that of our own family. As long
as you're the last of the Geoffray Pierreponts, such things ought to
interest you." Like her auburn namesake who bossed the Thames of yore,
sweet, red-haired, romantic autocrat, Aunt Elizabeth! Her wishes were
commands.

"What the deuce is Aunt Elizabeth up to now?" I asked Tim Cole, my law
partner, whom I found in my rooms smoking my tobacco. "Why should I be
inspecting Gauntmoor Castle--and what is a castle named Gauntmoor doing
in Perkinsville, Ohio, anyway? Perkinsville sounds like the Middle West,
and Gauntmoor sounds like the Middle Ages."

"Right in both analyses," said the pipe-poaching Tim. "Castle Gauntmoor
_is_ from the Middle Ages, and we all know about where in Ohio
Perkinsville is. But is it possible that you, twenty-seven years old and
a college graduate, haven't heard of Thaddeus Hobson, the Marvelous
Millionaire?" I shook my head. "The papers have been full of Hobson in
the past two or three years," said Tim. "It was in 1898, I think, that
Fate jumped Thaddeus Hobson to the golden Olympus. He was first head
salesman in the village hardware store, then he formulated so successful
a scheme to clean up the Tin Plate Combine that he put away a fabulous
number of millions in a year, and subsequently went to England. Finally
he set his heart on Norman architecture. After a search he found the
ancient Castle Gauntmoor still habitable and for sale. He thrilled the
British comic papers by his offer to buy the castle and move it to
America. Hobson saw the property, telegraphed to London, and closed the
deal in two hours. And an army of laborers at once began taking the
Gauntmoor to pieces, stone by stone.

"Transporting that relic to America involved a cost in labor and
ingenuity comparable with nothing that has yet happened. Moving the
Great Pyramid would be a lighter job, perhaps. Thousands of tons of
scarred and medieval granite were carried to the railroads, freighted to
the sea, and dragged across the Atlantic in whopping big lighters
chartered for the job. And the next the newspapers knew, the monster
was set up in Perkinsville, Ohio."

"But why did he do it?" I asked.

"Who knows?" said Tim. "Ingrowing sentiment--unlimited capital--wanted
to do something for the Home Town, probably; wanted to beautify the
village that gave him his start--and didn't know how to go at it. Well,
so long!" he called out, as I seized my hat and streaked for the train.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was dinner time when the train pulled in at Perkinsville. The town
was as undistinguished as I expected. I was too hungry to care about
castles at the moment, so I took the 'bus for the Commercial Hotel, an
establishment that seemed to live up to its name, both in sentiment and
in accommodation. The landlord, Mr. Spike, referred bitterly to the
castle, which, he explained, was, by its dominating presence, "spoilin'
the prosperous appearance of Perkinsville." Dinner over, he led me to a
side porch.

"How does Perkinsville look with that--with that curio squattin' on top
of it?" asked Mr. Spike sternly, as he pointed over the local livery
stable, over Smith Brothers' Plow Works, over Odd Fellows' Hall, and up,
up to the bleak hills beyond, where, poised like a stony coronet on a
giant's brow, rose the great Norman towers and frowning buttresses of
Gauntmoor Castle. I rubbed my eyes. No, it _couldn't_ be real--it must
be a wizard's work!

"What's old Hobson got out of it?" said Mr. Spike in my ear. "Nothin'
but an old stone barn, where he can set all day nursin' a grouch and
keepin' his daughter Anita--they do say he does--under lock and key for
fear somebody's goin' to marry her for her money."

Mr. Spike looked up at the ramparts defiantly, even as the Saxon churl
must have gazed in an earlier, far sadder land.

"It's romantic," I suggested.

"Yes, _darn_ rheumatic," agreed Mr. Spike.

"Is it open for visitors?" I asked innocently.

"Hobson?" cackled Spike. "He'd no more welcome a stranger to that place
than he'd welcome--a ghost. He's a hol-ee terror, Hobson!"

Mr. Spike turned away to referee a pool game down in the barroom.

The fires of a December sunset flared behind Gauntmoor and cast the grim
shadows of Medievalism over Mediocrity, which lay below. Presently the
light faded, and I grew tired of gazing. Since Hobson would permit no
tourists to inspect his castle, why was I here on this foolish trip?
Already I was planning to wire Aunt Elizabeth a sarcastic reference to
being marooned at Christmas with a castle on my hands, when a voice at
my shoulder said suddenly:

"Mr. Hobson sends his compliments, sir, and wants to know would Mr.
Pierrepont come up to Gauntmoor for the night?"

A groom in a plum-colored livery stood at my elbow. A light station
wagon was waiting just outside. How the deuce did Hobson know my name?
What did he want of me at Gauntmoor this time of night? Yet prospects of
bed and breakfast away from the Commercial lured me strangely.

"Sure, Mr. Pierrepont will be delighted," I announced, leaping into the
vehicle, and soon we were mounting upward, battling with the winds
around the time-scarred walls. The wagon stopped at the great gate. A
horn sounded from within, the gate swung open, a drawbridge fell with a
hideous creaking of machinery, and we passed in, twenty or thirty feet
above the snow-drifted moat. Beyond the portcullis a dim door swung
open. Some sort of seneschal met us with a light and led us below the
twilight arches, where beyond, I could catch glimpses of the baileys and
courts and the donjon tower against the heavy ramparts.

The wind hooted through the high galleries as we passed; but the west
wing, from its many windows and loopholes, blazed with cheerful yellow
light. It looked nearly cozy. Into a tall, gaunt tower we plunged, down
a winding staircase, and suddenly we came into a vast hall, stately with
tapestries and innumerable monkish carvings--and all brightly lighted
with electricity!

A little fat man sat smoking in a chair near the fire. When I entered he
was in his shirt sleeves, reading a newspaper, but when a footman
announced my name the little man, in a state of great nervousness,
jumped to his feet and threw on a coat, fidgeting painfully with the
armholes. As he came toward me, I noticed that he was perfectly bald. He
looked dyspeptic and discontented, like a practical man trying vainly to
adjust his busy habits to a lazy life. Obviously he didn't go with the
rest of the furniture.

"Pleased to see you, Mr. Pierrepont," he said, looking me over carefully
as if he thought of buying me. "Geoffray Pierrepont--tut, tut!--ain't it
queer!"

"Queer!" I said rather peevishly. "What's queer about it?"

"Excuse me, did I say queer? I didn't mean to be impolite, sir--I was
just thinking, that's all."

You could hear the demon Army of the Winds scaling the walls outside.

"Maybe you thought it kind of abrupt, Mr. Pierrepont, me asking you up
here so unceremonious," he said. "My daughter Annie, she tells me I
ought to live up to the looks of the place; but I've got my notions. To
tell you the truth, I'm in an awful quandary about this Antique Castle
business and when I heard you was at the hotel, I thought you might help
me out some way. You see you----"

He led me to a chair and offered me a fat cigar.

"Young man," he said, "when you get your head above water and make good
in the world--if you ever do--don't fool with curios, don't monkey with
antiques. Keep away from castles. They're like everything else sold by
curio dealers--all humbug. Look nice, yes. But get 'em over to America
and they either fall to pieces or the paint comes off. Whether it's a
chair or a castle--same old story. The sly scalawags that sell you the
goods won't live up to their contracts."

"Hasn't Gauntmoor all the ancient inconveniences a Robber Baron could
wish?" I asked.

"It ain't," announced Mr. Hobson. "Though it looks all right to a
stranger, perhaps. There may be castles in the Old World got it on
Gauntmoor for size--thank God I didn't buy 'em!--but for looks you can't
beat Gauntmoor."

"Comfortable?" I asked.

"Can't complain. Modern plumbed throughout. Hard to heat, but I put an
electric-light plant in the cellar. Daughter Annie's got a Colonial
suite in the North Tower."

"Well," I suggested, "if there's anything the castle lacks, you can buy
it."

"There's one thing money _can't_ buy," said Mr. Hobson, leaning very
close and speaking in a sibilant whisper. "And that's ghosts!"

"But who wants ghosts?" I inquired.

"Now look here," said Mr. Hobson. "I'm a business man. When I bought
Gauntmoor, the London scalawags that sold it to me gave me distinctly to
understand that this was a Haunted Castle. They showed me a haunted
chamber, showed me the haunted wall where the ghost walks, guaranteed
the place to be the Spook Headquarters of the British Isles--and see
what I got!" He snapped his fingers in disgust.

"No results?"

"Results? Stung! I've slept in that haunted room upstairs for a solid
year. I've gazed night after night over the haunted rampart. I've even
hired spiritualists to come and cut their didoes in the towers and
donjon keep. No use. You can't get ghosts where they ain't."

I expressed my sympathy.

"I'm a plain man," said Hobson. "I ain't got any ancestors back of
father, who was a blacksmith, and a good one, when sober. Somebody
else's ancestors is what I looked for in this place--and I've got 'em,
too, carved in wood and stone in the chapel out back of the tower. But
statues and carvings ain't like ghosts to add tone to an ancient
lineage."

"Is there any legend?" I asked.

"Haven't you heard it?" he exclaimed, looking at me sharply out of his
small gray eyes. "It seems, 'way back in the sixteenth century, there
was a harum-scarum young feller living in a neighboring castle, and he
took an awful shine to Lady Katherine, daughter of the Earl of Cummyngs,
who was boss of this place at that time. Now the young man who loved
Miss--I mean Lady--Katherine was a sort of wild proposition. Old man
wouldn't have him around the place; but young man kept hanging on till
Earl ordered him off. Finally the old gent locked Lady Kitty in the
donjon tower," said Mr. Hobson.

"Too much shilly-shallying in _this_ generation," he went on. "Every
house that's got a pretty girl ought to have a donjon keep. I've got
both." He paused and wiped his brow.

"This fresh young kid I'm telling you about, he thought he knew more
than the old folks, so he got a rope ladder and climbed up the masonry
one night, intending to bust into the tower where the girl was. But just
as he got half across the wall--out yonder--his foot slipped and he
broke his neck in the moat below. Consequence, Lady Kitty goes crazy and
old Earl found dead a week later in his room. It was Christmas Eve when
the boy was killed. That's the night his ghost's supposed to walk along
the ramparts, give a shriek, and drop off--but the irritating thing
about it all is, it don't ever happen."

"And now, Mr. Hobson," I said, throwing away the butt of my cigar, "why
am _I_ here? What have _I_ got to do with all this ghost business?"

"I _want_ you to stay," said Hobson, beseechingly. "To-morrow night's
Christmas Eve. I've figured it out that your influence, somehow, you
being of the same blood, as it were, might encourage the ghost to come
out and save the reputation of the castle."

A servant brought candles, and Hobson turned to retire.

"The same blood!" I shouted after him. "What on earth is the _name_ of
the ghost?"

"When he was alive his name was--Sir Geoffray de Pierrepont," said
Thaddeus Hobson, his figure fading into the dimness beyond.

I followed the servant with the candle aloft through chill and carven
corridors, through galleries lined with faded portraits of forgotten
lords. "Wheels!" I kept saying to myself. "The old man evidently thinks
it takes a live Pierrepont to coax a dead one," and I laughed nervously
as I entered the vast brown bedroom. I had to get on a chair in order to
climb into the four-poster, a cheerful affair that looked like a royal
funeral barge. At my head I noticed a carved device, seven mailed hands
snatching at a sword with the motto: "CAVE ADSUM!"

"Beware, I am here!" I translated. Who was here? Ghosts? Fudge! What
hideous scenes had this chamber beheld of yore? What might not happen
here now? Where, by the way, was old Hobson's daughter, Anita? Might not
anything be possible? I covered my head with the bedclothes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning being mild and bright for December, and Thaddeus Hobson and
his mysterious daughter not having showed up for breakfast, I amused
myself by inspecting the exterior of the castle. In daylight I could see
that Gauntmoor, as now restored, consisted of only a portion of the
original structure. On the west side, near a sheer fall of forty or
fifty feet, stood the donjon tower, a fine piece of medieval barbarism
with a peaked roof. And, sure enough! I saw it all now. Running along
the entire west side of the castle was a wonderful wall, stretching
above the moat to a dizzy height. It was no difficult matter to mount
this wall from the courtyard, above which it rose no more than eight or
ten feet. I ascended by a rude sentry's staircase, and once on top I
gazed upward at the tall medieval prison-place, which reared above me
like a clumsy stone chimney. Just as I stood, at the top of the wall, I
was ten or twelve feet below the lowest window of the donjon tower.
This, then, was the wall that the ancient Pierrepont had scaled, and
yonder was the donjon window that he had planned to plunder on that
fatal night so long ago. And this was where Pierrepont the Ghost was
supposed to appear!

How the lover of spectral memory had managed to scale that wall from the
outside, I could not quite make out. But once _on_ the wall, it was no
trick to snatch the damsel from her durance vile. Just drop a long rope
ladder from the wall to the moat, then crawl along the narrow ledge--got
to be careful with a job like that--then up to the window of the donjon
keep, and away with the Lady Fair. Why, that window above the ramparts
would be an easy climb for a fellow with strong arms and a little nerve,
as the face of the tower from the wall to the window was studded with
ancient spikes and the projecting ends of beams.

I counted the feet, one, two, three--and as I looked up at the window,
a small, white hand reached out and a pink slip of paper dropped at my
feet. It read:

DEAR SIR: I'm Miss Hobson. I'm locked in the donjon tower. Father always
locks me here when there's a young man about. It's a horrid,
uncomfortable place. Won't you hurry and go?

Yours respectfully,

A. HOBSON.

I knew it was easy. I swung myself aloft on the spikes and stones
leading to the donjon window. When I was high enough I gazed in, my chin
about even with the sill. And there I saw the prettiest girl I ever
beheld, gazing down at a book tranquilly, as though gentlemanly rescuers
were common as toads around that tower. She wore something soft and
golden; her hair was night-black, and her eyes were that peculiar shade
of gray that--but what's the use?

"Pardon," I said, holding on with my right hand, lifting my hat with my
left. "Pardon, am I addressing Miss Annie Hobson?"

"You are not," she replied, only half looking up. "You are addressing
Miss Anita Hobson. Calling me Annie is another little habit father ought
to break himself of." She went on reading.

"Is that a very interesting book?" I asked, because I didn't like to go
without saying something more.

"It isn't!" She arose suddenly and hurled the book into a corner. "It's
Anthony Hope--and if there's anything I hate it's him. Father always
gives me _Prisoner of Zenda_ and _Ivanhoe_ to read when he locks me into
this donjon. Says I ought to read up on the situation. Do you think so?"

"There are some other books in the library," I suggested. "Bernard Shaw
and Kipling, you know. I'll run over and get you one."

"That's fine--but no!" she besought, reaching out her hand to detain me.
"No, don't go! If you went away you'd never come back. They never do."

"Who never do?"

"The young men. The very instant father sees one coming he pops me in
the tower and turns the key. You see," she explained, "when I was in
Italy I was engaged to a duke--he was a silly little thing and I was
glad when he turned out bogus. But father took the deception awfully to
heart and swore I should never be married for my money. Yet I don't see
what else a young girl can expect," she added quite simply.

I could have mentioned several hundred things.

"He has no right!" I said sternly. "It's barbarous for him to treat a
girl that way--especially his daughter."

"Hush!" she said. "Dad's a good sort. But you can't measure him by other
people's standards. And yet--oh, it's maddening, this life! Day after
day--loneliness. Nothing but stone walls and rusty armor and books.
We're rich, but what do we get out of it? I have nobody of my own age
to talk to. How the years are passing! After a while--I'll be--an old
maid. I'm twenty-one now!" I heard a sob. Her pretty head was bowed in
her hands.

Desperately I seized the bars of the window and miraculously they
parted. I leaned across the sill and drew her hands gently down.

"Listen to me," I said. "If I break in and steal you away from this,
will you go?"

"Go?" she said. "Where?"

"My aunt lives at Seven Oaks, less than an hour from here by train. You
can stay there till your father comes to his reason."

"It's quite like father _never_ to come to his reason," she reflected.
"Then I should have to be self-supporting. Of course, I should
appreciate employment in a candy shop--I think I know all the principal
kinds."

"Will you go?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied simply, "I'll go. But how can I get away from here?"

"To-night," I said, "is Christmas Eve, when Pierrepont the Ghost is
supposed to walk along the wall--right under this window. You don't
believe that fairy story, do you?"

"No."

"Neither do I. But can't you see? The haunted wall begins at my window
on one end of the castle and ends at your window on the other. The bars
of your cell, I see, are nearly all loose."

"Yes," she laughed, "I pried them out with a pair of scissors."

I could hear Hobson's voice across the court giving orders to servants.

"Your father's coming. Remember to-night," I whispered.

"Midnight," she said softly, smiling out at me. I could have faced
flocks and flocks of dragons for her at that moment. The old man was
coming nearer. I swung to the ground and escaped into a ruined court.

Well, the hours that followed were anxious and busy for me. I worked in
the glamour of romance like a soldier about to do some particularly
brave and foolish thing. From the window of my room I looked down on the
narrow, giddy wall below. It _was_ a brave and foolish thing. Among the
rubbish in an old armory I found a coil of stout rope, forty or fifty
feet of it. This I smuggled away. From a remote hall I borrowed a
Crusader's helmet and spent the balance of the afternoon in my room
practicing with a sheet across my shoulders, shroud-fashion.

We dined grandly at eight, the old man and I. He drank thirstily and
chatted about the ghost, as you might discuss the chances in a coming
athletic event. After what seemed an age he looked at his watch and
cried: "Whillikens! Eleven o'clock already! Well, I'll be going up to
watch from the haunted room. I think, Jeff, that you'll bring me luck
to-night."

"I am sure I shall!" I answered sardonically, as he departed.

Three quarters of an hour later, wearing the Crusader's helmet and
swathed in a bedsheet, I let myself down from the window to the haunted
wall below. It was moonlight, bitter cold as I crouched on the wall,
waiting for the stroke of twelve, when I should act the spook and walk
along that precarious ledge to rescue Anita.

The "haunted wall," I observed from where I stood, was shaped like an
irregular crescent, being in plain view of Hobson's "haunted room" at
the middle, but not so at its north and south ends, where my chamber and
Anita's tower were respectively situated. I pulled out my watch from
under my winding-sheet. Three minutes of twelve. I drew down the vizor
of my helmet and gathered up my cerements preparatory to walking the
hundred feet of wall which would bring me in sight of the haunted room
where old Hobson kept his vigil. Two minutes, one minute I waited,
when--I suddenly realized I was not alone.

A man wearing a long cloak and a feather in his cap was coming toward me
along the moonlit masonry. Aha! So I was not the only masquerading swain
calling on the captive princess in the prison tower. A jealous pang shot
through me as I realized this.

The man was within twenty feet of me, when I noticed something. He was
not walking on the wall. _He was walking on air, three or four feet
above the wall._ Nearer and nearer came the man--the Thing--now into
the light of the moon, whose beams seemed to strike through his misty
tissue like the thrust of a sword. I was horribly scared. My knees
loosened under me, and I clutched the vines at my back to save me from
falling into the moat below. Now I could see his face, and somehow fear
seemed to leave me. His expression was so young and human.

"Ghost of the Pierrepont," I thought, "whether you walk in shadow or in
light, you lived among a race of Men!"

His noble, pallid face seemed to burn with its own pale light, but his
eyes were in darkness. He was now within two yards of me. I could see
the dagger at his belt. I could see the gory cut on his forehead. I
attempted to speak, but my voice creaked like a rusty hinge. He neither
heeded nor saw me; and when he came to the spot where I stood, he did
not turn out for me. He walked _through_ me! And when next I saw him he
was a few feet beyond me, standing in mid-air over the moat and gazing
up at the high towers like one revisiting old scenes. Again he floated
toward me and poised on the wall four feet from where I stood.

"What do you here to-night?" suddenly spoke, or seemed to speak, a voice
that was like the echo of a silence.

No answer came from my frozen tongue. Yet I would gladly have spoken,
because somehow I felt a great sympathy for this boyish spirit.

"It has been many earth-years," he said, "since I have walked these
towers. And ah, cousin, it has been many miles that I have been called
to-night to answer the summons of my race. And this fortress--what power
has moved it overseas to this mad kingdom? Magic!"

His eyes seemed suddenly to blaze through the shadows.

"Cousin," he again spoke, "it is to you that I come from my far-off
English tomb. It was your need called me. It is no pious deed brings you
to this wall to-night. You are planning to pillage these towers
unworthily, even as I did yesterday. Death was my portion, and broken
hearts to the father I wronged and the girl I sought."

"But it is the father wrongs the girl here," I heard myself saying.

"He who rules these towers to-day is of stern mind but loving heart,"
said the ghost. "Patience. By the Star that redeems the world, love
should not be won _to-night_ by stealth, but by--love."

He raised his hands toward the tower, his countenance radiant with an
undying passion.

"_She_ called to me and died," he said, "and her little ghost comes not
to earth again for any winter moon or any summer wind."

"But you--you come often?" my voice was saying.

"No," said the ghost, "only on Christmas Eve. Yule is the tide of
specters; for then the thoughts of the world are so beautiful that they
enter our dreams and call us back."

He turned to go, and a boyish, friendly smile rested a moment on his
pale face.

"Farewell, Sir Geoffray de Pierrepont," he called to me.

Into the misty moonlight the ghost floated to that portion of the wall
directly opposite the haunted room. From where I stood I could not see
this chamber. After a moment I shook my numb senses to life. My first
instinct was one of strong human curiosity, which impelled me to follow
far enough to see the effect of the apparition on old Hobson, who must
be watching at the window.

I tiptoed a hundred feet along the wall and peered around a turret up to
a room above, where Hobson's head could easily be seen in a patch of
light. The ghost, at that moment, was walking just below, and the effect
on the old man, appalling though it was, was ludicrous as well. He was
leaning far out of the window, his mouth wide open; and the entire disk
of his fat, hairless head was as pallid as the moon itself. The specter,
who was now rounding the curve of the wall near the tower, swerved
suddenly, and as suddenly seemed to totter headlong into the abyss
below. As he dropped, a wild laugh broke through the frosty air. It
wasn't from the ghost. It came from above--yes, it emanated from
Thaddeus Hobson, who had, apparently, fallen back, leaving the window
empty. Lights began breaking out all over the castle. In another moment
I should be caught in my foolish disguise. With the courage of a coward,
I turned and ran full tilt along the dizzy ledge and back to my window,
where I lost no seconds scrambling up the rope that led to my room.

With all possible haste I threw aside my sheet and helmet and started
downstairs. I had just wrestled with a ghost; I would now have it out
with the old man. The castle seemed ablaze below. I saw the flash of a
light skirt in the picture gallery, and Anita, pale as the vision I had
so lately beheld, came running toward me.

"Father--saw it!" she panted. "He had some sort of sinking spell--he's
better now--isn't it awful!" She clung to me, sobbing hysterically.

Before I realized what I had done, I was holding her close in my arms.

"Don't!" I cried. "It was a good ghost--he had a finer spirit than mine.
He came to-night for you, dear, and for me. It was a foolish thing we
planned."

"Yes, but I wanted, I wanted to go!" she sobbed now crying frankly on my
shoulder.

"You _are_ going with me," I said fiercely, raising her head. "But not
over any ghost-ridden breakneck wall. We're going this time through the
big front door of this old castle, American fashion, and there'll be an
automobile waiting outside and a parson at the other end of the line."

We found Thaddeus Hobson alone, in the vast hall looking blankly at the
fire.

"Jeff," he said solemnly, "you sure brought me luck to-night if you can
call it such being scared into a human icicle. Br-r-r! Shall I ever get
the cold out of my backbone? But somehow, somehow that foggy feller
outside sort of changed my look on things. It made me feel _kinder_
toward living folks. Ain't it strange!"

"Mr. Hobson," I said, "I think the ghost has made us _all_ see things
differently. In a word, sir, I have a confession to make--if you don't
mind."

And I told him briefly of my accidental meeting with Anita in the
donjon, of the practical joke we planned, of our sudden meeting with the
_real_ ghost on the ramparts. Mr. Hobson listened, his face growing
redder and redder. At the finish of my story he suddenly leaped to his
feet and brought his fist down on the table with a bang.

"Well, you little devils!" he said admiringly, and burst into loud
laughter. "You're a spunky lad, Jeff. And there ain't any doubt that the
de Pierreponts are as good stuff as you can get in the ancestry
business. The Christmas supper is spread in the banquet hall. Come, de
Pierrepont, will you sup with the old Earl?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The huge oaken banquet hall, lined with rich hangings, shrunk us to
dwarfs by its vastness. Golden goblets were at each place. A butler,
dressed in antique livery, threw a red cloak over Hobson's fat
shoulders. It was a whim of the old man's.

As we took our places, I noticed the table was set for four.

"Whose is the extra place?" I asked.

The old man at first made no reply. At last he turned to me earnestly
and said: "Do you believe in ghosts?"

"No," I replied. "Yet how else can I explain that vision I saw on the
ramparts?"

"Is the fourth place for him?" Anita almost whispered.

The old man nodded mutely and raised a golden goblet.

"To the Transplanted Ghost!" I said. It was an empty goblet that I
touched to my lips.



THE LAST GHOST IN HARMONY

BY NELSON LLOYD

From _Scribner's Magazine_. Copyright, 1907, by Charles Scribner's Sons.
By permission of the publishers and Nelson Lloyd.



The Last Ghost in Harmony

BY NELSON LLOYD


From his perch on the blacksmith's anvil he spoke between the puffs of
his post-prandial pipe. The fire in the forge was out and the day was
going slowly, through the open door of the shop and the narrow windows,
westward to the mountains. In the advancing shadow, on the pile of
broken wheels on the work-bench, on keg and barrel, they sat puffing
their post-prandial pipes and listening.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a partner in business I want a truthful man, but for a companion
give me one with imagination. To my mind imagination is the spice of
life. There is nothing so uninteresting as a fact, for when you know it
that is the end of it. When life becomes nothing but facts it won't be
worth living; yet in a few years the race will have no imagination left.
It is being educated out. Look at the children. When I was young the
bogey man was as real to me as pa and nearly as much to be feared of,
but just yesterday I was lectured for merely mentioning him to my neffy.
So with ghosts. We was taught to believe in ghosts the same as we was in
Adam or Noar. Nowadays nobody believes in them. It is unscientific, and
if you are superstitious you are considered ignorant and laughed at.
Ghosts are the product of the imagination, but if I imagine I see one he
is as real to me as if he actually exists, isn't he? Therefore he does
exist. That's logic. You fellows have become scientific and admits only
what you see and feel, and don't depend on your imagination for
anything. Such being the case, I myself admit that the sperrits no
longer ha'nt the burying-ground or play around your houses. I admit it
because the same condition exact existed in Harmony when I was there,
and because of what was told me by Robert J. Dinkle about two years
after he died, and because of what occurred between me and him and the
Rev. Mr. Spiegelnail.

Harmony was a highly intellectual town. About the last man there with
any imagination or interesting ideas, excepting me, of course, was
Robert J. Dinkle. Yet he had an awful reputation, and when he died it
was generally stated privately that the last landmark of ignorance and
superstition had been providentially removed. You know he had always
been seeing things, but we set it down to his fondness for hard cider or
his natural prepensity for joshing. With him gone there was no one left
to report the doings of the sperrit-world. In fact, so widespread was
the light of reason, as the Rev. Mr. Spiegelnail called it, that the
burying-ground became a popular place for moonlight strolls. Even I
walked through it frequent on my way home from Miss Wheedle's, with
whom I was keeping company, and it never occurred to me to go any faster
there, or to look back over my shoulder, for I didn't believe in such
foolishness. But to the most intellectual there comes times of doubt
about things they know nothing of nor understand. Such a time come to
me, when the wind was more mournfuller than usual in the trees, and the
clouds scudded along overhead, casting peculiar shadders. My imagination
got the best of my intellect. I hurried. I looked back over my shoulder.
I shivered, kind of. Natural I see nothing in the burying-ground, yet at
the end of town I was still uneasy-like, though half laughing at myself.
It was so quiet; not a light burned anywhere, and the square seemed
lonelier than the cemetery, and the store was so deserted, so ghostly in
the moonlight, that I just couldn't keep from peering around at it.

Then, from the empty porch, from the empty bench--empty, I swear, for I
could see plain, so clear was the night--from absolute nothing come as
pleasant a voice as ever I hear.

"Hello!" it says.

My blood turned icy-like and the chills waved up and down all through
me. I couldn't move.

The voice came again, so natural, so familiar, that I warmed some, and
rubbed my eyes and stared.

There, sitting on the bench, in his favorite place, was the late Robert
J. Dinkle, gleaming in the moonlight, the front door showing right
through him.

"I must appear pretty distinct," he says in a proud-like way. "Can't you
see me very plain?"

See him plain! I should think so. Even the patches on his coat was
visible, and only for the building behind him, he never looked more
natural, and hearing him so pleasant, set me thinking. This, says I, is
the sperrit of the late Robert J. Dinkle. In life he never did me any
harm and in his present misty condition is likely to do less; if he is
looking for trouble I'm not afraid of a bit of fog. Such being the case,
I says, I shall address him as soon as I am able.

But Robert got tired waiting, and spoke again in an anxious tone, a
little louder, and ruther complaining, "Don't I show up good?" says he.

"I never see you looking better," I answered, for my voice had came
back, and the chills were quieter, and I was fairly ca'm and dared even
to move a little nearer.

A bright smile showed on his pale face. "It is a relief to be seen at
last," he cried, most cheerful. "For years I've been trying to do a
little ha'nting around here, and no one would notice me. I used to think
mebbe my material was too delicate and gauzy, but I've conceded that,
after all, the stuff is not to blame."

He heaved a sigh so natural that I forgot all about his being a ghost.
Indeed, taken all in all, I see that he had improved, was solemner, had
a sweeter expression and wasn't likely to give in to his old prepensity
for joshing.

"Set down and we will talk it over," he went on most winning. "Really, I
can't do any harm, but please be a little afraid and then I will show up
distincter. I must be getting dim now."

"You are," says I, for though I was on the porch edging nearer him most
bold, I could hardly see him.

Without any warning he gave an awful groan that brought the chills
waving back most violent. I jumped and stared, and as I stared he stood
out plainer and solider in the moonlight.

"That's better," he said with a jolly chuckle; "now you do believe in
me, don't you? Well, set there nervous-like, on the edge of the bench
and don't be too ca'm-like, or I'll disappear."

The ghost's orders were followed explicit. But with him setting there so
natural and pleasant it was hard to be frightened and more than once I
forgot. He, seeing me peering like my eyesight was bad, would give a
groan that made my blood curdle. Up he would flare again, gleaming in
the moonlight full and strong.

"Harmony's getting too scientific, too intellectual," he said, speaking
very melancholic. "What can't be explained by arithmetic or geography is
put down as impossible. Even the preachers encourage such idees and talk
about Adam and Eve being allegories. As a result, the graveyard has
become the slowest place in town. You simply can't ha'nt anything
around here. A man hears a groan in his room and he gets up and closes
the shutters tighter, or throws a shoe at a rat, or swears at the wind
in the chimney. A few sperrits were hanging around when I was first
dead, but they were complaining very bad about the hard times. There
used to be plenty of good society in the burying-ground, they said, but
one by one they had to quit. All the old Berrys had left. Mr. Whoople
retired when he was taken for a white mule. Mrs. Morris A. Klump, who
once oppyrated 'round the deserted house beyond the mill had gave up in
disgust just a week before my arrival. I tried to encourage the few
remaining, explained how the sperritualists were working down the valley
and would strike town any time, but they had lost all hope--kept fading
away till only me was left. If things don't turn for the better soon I
must go, too. It's awful discouraging. And lonely! Why folks ramble
around the graves like even I wasn't there. Just last night my boy Ossy
came strolling along with the lady he is keeping company with, and where
do you s'pose they set down to rest, and look at the moon and talk about
the silliest subjecks? Right on my headstone! I stood in front of them
and did the ghostliest things till I was clean tired out and
discouraged. They just would not pay the least attention."

The poor old ghost almost broke down and cried. Never in life had I
known him so much affected, and it went right to my heart to see him
wiping his eyes with his handkercher and snuffling.

"Mebbe you don't make enough noise when you ha'nt," says I most
sympathetic.

"I do all the regular acts," says he, a bit het up by my remark. "We
always were kind of limited. I float around and groan, and talk foolish,
and sometimes I pull off bedclothes or reveal the hiding-place of buried
treasure. But what good does it do in a town so intellectual as
Harmony?"

I have seen many folks who were down on their luck, but never one who so
appealed to me as the late Robert J. Dinkle. It was the way he spoke,
the way he looked, his general patheticness, his very helplessness, and
deservingness. In life I had known him well, and as he was now I liked
him better. So I did want to do something for him. We sat studying for a
long time, him smoking very violent, blowing clouds of fog outen his
pipe, me thinking up some way to help him. And idees allus comes to them
who sets and waits.

"The trouble is partly as you say, Robert," I allowed after a bit, "and
again partly because you can't make enough noise to awaken the
slumbering imagination of intellectual Harmony. With a little natural
help from me though, you might stir things up in this town."

You never saw a gladder smile or a more gratefuller look than that poor
sperrit gave me.

"Ah," he says, "with your help I could do wonders. Now who'll we begin
on?"

"The Rev. Mr. Spiegelnail," says I, "has about all the imagination left
in Harmony--of course excepting me."

Robert's face fell visible. "I have tried him repeated and often," he
says, kind of argumentative-like. "All the sign he made was to complain
that his wife talked in her sleep."

I wasn't going to argue--not me. I was all for action, and lost no time
in starting. Robert J., he followed me like a dog, up through town to
our house, where I went in, leaving him outside so as not to disturb
mother. There I got me a hammer and nails with the heavy lead sinker
offen my fishnet, and it wasn't long before the finest tick-tack you
ever saw was working against the Spiegelnails' parlor window, with me in
a lilac-bush operating the string that kept the weight a-swinging.
Before the house was an open spot where the moon shone full and clear,
where Robert J. walked up and down, about two feet off the ground,
waving his arms slow-like and making the melancholiest groans. Now I
have been to _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ frequent, but in all my life I never
see such acting. Yet what was the consequences? Up went the window
above, and the Rev. Mr. Spiegelnail showed out plain in the moonlight.

"Who is there?" he called very stern. You had otter see Robert then. It
was like tonic to him. He rose up higher and began to beat his arms most
violent and to gurgle tremendous. But the preacher never budged.

"You boys otter be ashamed of yourselves," he says in a severe voice.

"Louder, louder," I calls to Robert J., in answering which he began the
most awful contortions.

"You can hear me perfectly plain," says the dominie, now kind of
sad-like. "It fills my old heart with sorrow to see that yous all have
gone so far astray."

Hearing that, so calm, so distinct, so defiant, made Robert J. stop
short and stare. To remind him I gave the weight an extra thump, and it
was so loud as to bring forth Mrs. Spiegelnail, her head showing plain
as she peered out over the preacher's shoulder. The poor discouraged
ghost took heart, striking his tragicest attitude, one which he told me
afterwards was his pride and had been got out of a book. But what was
the result?

"Does you hear anyone in the bushes, dear?" inquires Mr. Spiegelnail,
cocking his ears and listening.

"It must be Ossy Dinkle and them bad friends of his," says she, in her
sour tone.

Poor Robert! Hearing that, he about gave up hope.

"Don't I show up good?" he asks in an anxious voice.

"I can see you distinct," says I, very sharp. "You never looked better."

Down went the window--so sudden, so unexpected that I did not know what
to make of it. Robert J. thought he did, and over me he came floating,
most delighted.

"I must have worked," he said, laughing like he'd die, a-doubling up and
holding his sides to keep from splitting. "At last I have showed up
distinct; at last I am of some use in the world. You don't realize what
a pleasure it is to know that you are fulfilling your mission and living
up to your reputation."

Poor old ghost! He was for talking it all over then and there and
settled down on a soft bunch of lilacs, and fell to smoking fog and
chattering. It did me good to see him so happy and I was inclined to
puff up a bit at my own success in the ha'nting line. But it was not for
long. The rattle of keys warned us. The front door flew open and out
bounded the Rev. Mr. Spiegelnail, clearing the steps with a jump, and
flying over the lawn. All thought of the late Robert J. Dinkle left me
then, for I had only a few feet start of my pastor. You see I shouldn't
a-hurried so only I sung bass in the choir and I doubt if I could have
convinced him that I was working in the interests of Science and Truth.
Fleeing was instinct. Gates didn't matter. They were took on the wing,
and down the street I went with the preacher's hot breath on my neck.
But I beat him. He tired after the first spurt and was soon left behind,
so I could double back home to bed.

Robert, he was for giving up entirely.

"I simply won't work," says he to me, when I met him on the store porch
that next night. "A hundred years ago such a bit of ha'nting would have
caused the town to be abandoned; to-day it is attributed to natural
causes."

"Because," says I, "we left behind such evidences of material
manifestations as strings and weights on the parlor window."

"S'pose we work right in the house?" says he, brightening up. "You can
hide in the closet and groan while I act."

Now did you ever hear anything innocenter than that? Yet he meant it so
well I did not even laugh.

"I'm too fond of my pastor," I says, "to let him catch me in his closet.
A far better spot for our work is the short cut he takes home from
church after Wednesday evening meeting. We won't be so loud, but more
dignified, melancholier, and tragic. You overacted last night, Robert,"
I says. "Next time pace up and down like you were deep in thought and
sigh gentle. Then if he should see you it would be nice to take his arm
and walk home with him."

I think I had the right idea of ha'nting, and had I been able to keep up
Robert J. Dinkle's sperrits and to train him regular I could have
aroused the slumbering imagination of Harmony, and brought life to the
burying-ground. But he was too easy discouraged. He lacked perseverance.
For if ever Mr. Spiegelnail was on the point of seeing things it was
that night as he stepped out of the woods. He had walked slow and
meditating till he come opposite where I was. Now I didn't howl or
groan or say anything particular. What I did was to make a noise that
wasn't animal, neither was it human, nor was it regulation ghostly. As I
had stated to the late Robert J. Dinkle, what was needed for ha'nting
was something new and original. And it certainly ketched Mr.
Spiegelnail's attention. I see him stop. I see his lantern shake. It
appeared like he was going to dive into the bushes for me, but he
changed his mind. On he went, quicker, kind as if he wasn't afraid, yet
was, on to the open, where the moon brought out Robert beautiful as he
paced slowly up and down, his head bowed like he was studying. Still the
preacher never saw him, stepped right through him, in fact. I give the
dreadful sound again. That stopped him. He turned, raised the lantern
before him, put his hand to his ear, and seemed to be looking intense
and listening. Hardly ten feet away stood Robert, all a-trembling with
excitement, but the light that showed through him was as steady as a
rock, as the dominie watched and listened, so quiet and ca'm. He lowered
the lantern, rubbed his hands across his eyes, stepped forward and
looked again. The ghost was perfect. As I have stated, he was excited
and his sigh shook a little, but he was full of dignity and sadity. He
shouldn't have lost heart so soon. I was sure then that he almost showed
up plain to the preacher and he would have grown on Mr. Spiegelnail had
he kept on ha'nting him instead of giving in because that one night the
pastor walked on to the house fairly cool. He did walk quicker, I know,
and he did peer over his shoulder twicet and I did hear the kitchen door
bang in a relieved way. But when we consider the stuff that ghosts are
made of we hadn't otter expect them to be heroes. They are too foggy and
gauzy to have much perseverance--judging at least from Robert J.

"I simply can't work any more," says he, when I came up to him, as he
sat there in the path, his elbows on his knees, his head on his hands,
his eyes studying the ground most mournful.

"But Robert----" I began, thinking to cheer him up.

He didn't hear; he wouldn't listen--just faded away.

Had he only held out there is no telling what he might have done in his
line. Often, since then, have I thought of him and figgered on his
tremendous possibilities. That he had possibilities I am sure. Had I
only realized it that last night we went out ha'nting, he never would
have got away from me. But the realization came too late. It came in
church the very next Sunday, with the usual announcements after the long
prayer, as Mr. Spiegelnail was leaning over the pulpit eying the
congregation through big smoked glasses.

Says he in a voice that was full of sadness: "I regret to announce that
for the first time in twenty years union services will be held in this
town next Sabbath." Setting in the choir, reading my music marks, I
heard the preacher's words and started, for I saw at once that something
unusual was happening, or had happened, or was about to happen.
"Unfortunately," said Mr. Spiegelnail, continuing, "I shall have to turn
my pulpit over to Brother Spiker of the Baptist Church, for my failing
eyesight renders it necessary that I go at once to Philadelphia, to
consult an oculist. Some of my dear brethren may think this an unusual
step, but I should not desert them without cause. They may think,
perhaps, that I am making much ado about nothing and could be treated
just as well in Harrisburg. To such let me explain that I am suffering
from astigmatism. It is not so much that I cannot see, but that I sees
things which I know are not there--a defect in sight which I feel needs
the most expert attention. Sunday-school at half-past nine; divine
service at eleven. I take for my text 'And the old men shall see
visions.'"

How I did wish the late Robert J. Dinkle could have been in church that
morning. It would have so gladdened his heart to hear that he had partly
worked, for if he worked partly, then surely, in time, he would have
worked complete. For me, I was just wild with excitement, and was so
busy thinking of him and how glad he would be, that I didn't hear the
sermon at all, and in planning new ways of ha'nting I forgot to sing in
the last anthem. You see, I figgered lively times ahead for Harmony--a
general return to the good old times when folks had imagination and had
something more in their heads than facts. I had only to get Robert
again, and with him working it would not be long till all the old Berrys
and Mrs. Klump showed up distinct and plain. But I wasn't well posted in
the weak characters of shades, for I thought, of course, I could find my
sperrit friend easy when night came. Yet I didn't. I set on the store
porch shivering till the moon was high up over the ridge. He just
wouldn't come. I called for him soft-like and got no answer. Down to the
burying-ground I went and set on his headstone. It was the quietest
place you ever see. The clouds was scudding overhead; the wind was
sighing among the leaves; and through the trees the moon was gleaming so
clear and distinct you could almost read the monnyments. It was just a
night when things should have been lively there--a perfect night for
ha'nting. I called for Robert. I listened. He never answered. I heard
only a bull-frog a-bellering in the pond, a whippoor-will whistling in
the grove, and a dog howling at the moon.



THE GHOST OF MISER BRIMPSON

BY EDEN PHILLPOTTS

From _Tales of the Tenements_, by Eden Phillpotts. Published in America
by John Lane Company, and in England by John Murray. By permission of
the publishers and Eden Phillpotts.



The Ghost of Miser Brimpson

BY EDEN PHILLPOTTS


I

Penniless and proud he was; and that pair don't draw a man to pleasant
places when they be in double harness. There's only one thing can stop
'em if they take the bit between their teeth, and that's a woman. So
there, you might say, lies the text of the tale of Jonathan Drake, of
Dunnabridge Farm, a tenement in the Forest of Dartymoor. 'Twas Naboth's
vineyard to Duchy, and the greedy thing would have given a very fair
price for it, without a doubt; but the Drake folk held their land, and
wouldn't part with it, and boasted a freehold of fifty acres in the very
midst of the Forest. They did well, too, and moved with the times, and
kept their heads high for more generations than I can call home; and
then they comed to what all families, whether gentle or simple, always
come to soon or late. And that's a black sheep for bell-wether. Bad uns
there'll be in every generation of a race; but the trouble begins when a
bad un chances to be up top; and if the head of the family is a
drunkard, or a spendthrift, or built on too free and flowing a pattern
for this work-a-day shop, then the next generation may look out for
squalls, as the sailor-men say.

'Twas Jonathan's grandfather that did the harm at Dunnabridge. He had
sport in his blood, on his mother's side, and 'twas horses ran him into
trouble. He backed 'em, and was ruined; and then his son bred 'em, and
didn't do very much better. So, when the pair of 'em dropped out of the
hunt, and died with their backs to the wall, one after t'other, it
looked as if the game was up for them to follow. By good chance,
however, Tom Drake had but one child--a boy--the Jonathan as I be
telling about; and when his father and grandfather passed away, within a
year of each other, Dunnabridge was left to Tom's widow and her son, him
then being twenty-two. She was for selling Dunnabridge and getting away
from Dartymoor, because the place had used her bad, and she hated the
sight of it; but Jonathan, a proud chap even then, got the lawyers to
look into the matter, and they told him that 'twasn't vital for
Dunnabridge to be sold, though it might ease his pocket, and smooth his
future to do so, 'specially as Duchy wanted the place rather bad, and
had offered the value of it. And Jonathan's mother was on the side of
Duchy, too, and went on her knees to the man to sell; but he wouldn't.
He had a bee in his bonnet sometimes, and he said that all the Drakes
would rise out of their graves to Widecombe churchyard, and haunt his
rising up and going down if he were to do such a thing, just to suit
his own convenience, and be rid of the place. So he made a plan with the
creditors. It figured out that his father and grandfather had owed near
a thousand pound between them; and Jonathan actually set himself to pay
it off to the last penny. 'Twas the labor of years; but by the time he
was thirty-three he done it--at what cost of scrimping and screwing,
only his mother might have told. She never did tell, however, for she
died two year before the last item was paid. Some went as far as to
declare that 'twas her son's miserly ways hurried her into her grave;
and, for all I know, they may have done so, for 'tis certain, in her
husband's life, she had a better time. Tom was the large-hearted, juicy,
easy sort, as liked meat on the table, and plenty to wash it down; and
he loved Mercy Jane Drake very well; and, when he died, the only thought
that troubled him was leaving her; and the last thing he advised his son
was to sell Dunnabridge, and take his mother off the Moor down to the
"in country" where she'd come from.

But Jonathan was made of different stuff, and 'twas rumored by old
people that had known the family for several generations that he favored
an ancient forefather by name of Brimpson Drake. This bygone man was a
miser and the richest of the race. He'd lived in the days when we were
at war with France and America, and when Princetown sprang up, and a
gert war-prison was built there to cage all the chaps we got on our
hands through winning such a lot o' sea battles. And Miser Brimpson was
said to have made thousands by helping rich fellows to escape from the
prison. Truth and falsehood mixed made up his story as 'twas handed
down. But one thing appeared to be fairly true about it; which was, that
when the miser died, and Dunnabridge went to his cousin, the horseracer,
not a penny of his fortune ever came into the sight of living men. So
some said 'twas all nonsense, and he never had no money at all, but only
pretended to it; and others again, declared that he knew too well who'd
follow in his shoes at Dunnabridge, and hid his money accordingly, so
that no Drake should have it. For he hated his heirs as only a miser can
hate 'em.

So things stood when Mercy Jane died and Jonathan was left alone. He
paid all his relations' debts, and he had his trouble and the honor of
being honorable for his pains. Everybody respected him something
wonderful; but, all the same, a few of his mother's friends always did
say that 'twas a pity he put his dead father's good name afore his
living mother's life. However, we'm not built in the pattern of our
fellow-creatures, and 'tis only fools that waste time blaming a man for
being himself.

Jonathan went his stern way; and then, in the lonely days after his
parent was taken, when he lived at Dunnabridge, with nought but two
hinds and a brace of sheep-dogs, 'twas suddenly borne in upon his narrow
sight that there might be other women still in the world, though his
mother had gone out of it. And he also discovered, doubtless, that a
home without a woman therein be merely the cruel mockery of what a home
should be.

A good few folk watched Jonathan to see what he'd do about it, and no
doubt a maiden here and there was interested too; because, though a
terrible poor man, he wasn't bad to look at, though rather hard about
the edge of the jaw, and rather short and stern in his manners to human
creatures and beasts alike.

And then beginned his funny courting--if you can call it courting, where
a poor man allows hisself the luxury of pride at the wrong time, and
makes a show of hisself in consequence. At least that's my view; but you
must know that a good few, quite as wise as me, took t'other side, and
held that Jonathan covered his name with glory when he changed his mind
about Hyssop Burges. That was her bitter name, but a pleasanter girl
never walked on shoe-leather. She was Farmer Stonewer's niece to White
Works, and he took her in for a charity, and always said that 'twas the
best day's work as ever he had done. A straight, hardworking, cheerful
sort of a girl, with nothing to name about her very special save a fine
shape and a proud way of holding her head in the air and looking her
fellow creatures in the eyes. Proud she was for certain, and terrible
partickler as to her friends; but there happened to be that about
Jonathan that made flint to her steel. He knowed she was penniless, or
he'd not have looked at her twice; and when, after a short, fierce sort
of courting, she took him, everybody felt pleased about it but Farmer
Stonewer, who couldn't abide the thought of losing Hyssop, though his
wife had warned him any time this four year that 'twas bound to happen.

Farmer and the girl were sitting waiting for Jonathan one night; and she
was a bit nervous, and he was trying for to calm her.

"Jonathan must be told," she says. "It can't go on no longer."

"Then tell him," says her uncle. "Good powers!" he says; "to see you,
one would think the news was the worst as could ever fall between a pair
o' poor lovers, instead of the best."

"I know him a lot better than you," she tells Farmer; "and I know how
plaguey difficult he can be where money's the matter. He very near
throwed me over when, in a weak moment, I axed him to let me buy my own
tokening-ring. Red as a turkey's wattles did he flame, and said I'd
insulted him; and now, when he hears the secret, I can't for the life of
me guess how he'll take it."

"'Twas a pity you didn't tell him when he offered for you," declared
Hyssop's aunt. "Proud he is as a silly peacock, and terrible frightened
of seeming to look after money, or even casting his eye where it bides;
but he came to you without any notion of the windfall, and he loved you
for yourself, like an honest man; and you loved him the same way; and
right well you know that if your old cousin had left you five thousand
pound instead of five hundred, Jonathan Drake was the right chap for
you. He can't blame himself, for not a soul on Dartymoor but us three
has ever heard tell about the money."

"But he'll blame me for having money at all," answered the girl. "He
said a dozen times afore he offered for me, that he'd never look at a
woman if she'd got more cash than what he had himself. That's why I
couldn't bring myself to confess to it--and lose him. And, after we was
tokened, it got to be harder still."

"Why not bide till you'm married, then?" asked Mrs. Stonewer. "Since it
have gone so long, let it go longer, and surprise him with the news on
the wedding-night--eh, James?"

"No," answered Farmer. "'Enough is as good as a feast.' 'Tis squandering
blessings to do that at such a time. Keep the news till some rainy day,
when he's wondering how to get round a tight corner. That's the moment
to tell him; and that's the moment he's least likely to make a face at
the news."

But Hyssop wouldn't put it off no more; she said as she'd not have any
further peace till the murder was out. And that very night, sure enough
when Jonathan comed over from Dunnabridge for his bit of love-making,
and the young couple had got the farm parlor to themselves, she plumped
it out, finding him in a very kindly mood. They never cuddled much, for
he wasn't built that way; but he'd not disdain to sit beside her and
put his arm around her now and again, when she picked up his hand and
drew it round. Then, off and on, she'd rub her cheek against his
mutton-chop whiskers, till he had to kiss her in common politeness.

Well, Hyssop got it out--Lord alone knows how, as she said afterwards.
She got it out, and told him that an old, aged cousin had died, and left
her a nice little skuat[1] of money; and how she'd never touched a penny
but let it goody in the bank; and how she prayed and hoped 'twould help
'em to Dunnabridge; and how, of course, he must have the handling of it,
being a man, and so cruel clever in such things. She went on and on,
pretty well frightened to stop and hear him. But, after she'd said it
over about a dozen times, her breath failed her, and she shut her mouth,
and tried to smile, and looked up terrible anxious and pleading at
Jonathan.

His hard gray eyes bored into her like a brace of gimlets, and in return
for all her talk he axed but one question.

"How long have you had this here money?" he said.

She told the truth, faltering and shaking under his glare.

"Four years and upwards, Jonathan."

"That's years and years afore I axed you to marry me?"

"Yes, Jonathan."

"And you remember what I said about never marrying anybody as had more
than what I have?"

"Yes, Jonathan."

"And you full know how many a time I told you that, after I paid off all
my father's debts, I had nought left, and 'twould be years afore I could
build up anything to call money?"

"Yes, Jonathan."

"Very well, then!" he cried out, and his brow crooked down and his fists
clenched. "Very well, you've deceived me deliberate, and if you'd do
that in one thing, you would in another. I'm going out of this house
this instant moment, and you can tell your relations why 'tis. I'm
terrible sorry, Hyssop Burges, for no man will ever love you better than
what I did; and so you'd have lived to find out when all this here
courting tomfoolery was over, and you'd come to be my wife. But now I'll
have none of you, for you've played with me. And so--so I'll bid you
good-bye!"

He went straight out without more speech; and she tottered, weeping, to
her uncle and aunt. They couldn't believe their senses; and Jimmy
Stonewer declared thereon that any man who could make himself such a
masterpiece of a fool as Jonathan had done that night, was better out of
the marriage state than in it. He told Hyssop as she'd had a marvelous
escape from a prize zany; and his wife said the same. But the girl
couldn't see it like that. She knowed Jonathan weren't a prize zany,
and his raging pride didn't anger her, for she admired it something
wonderful, and it only made her feel her loss all the crueller to see
what a terrible rare, haughty sort of a chap he was. There were a lot of
other men would have had her, and twice as many again, if they'd known
about the money; but they all seemed as tame as robins beside her hawk
of a Jonathan. She had plenty of devil in her, too, when it came to the
fighting pitch; and now, while he merely said that the match was broken
off through a difference of opinion, and gave no reason for it, she set
to work with all her might to get him back again, and used her
love-sharpened wits so well as she knew how, to best him into matrimony.


II

In truth she made poor speed. Jonathan was always civil afterwards; but
you might as soon have tried to thaw an iceberg with a box of matches as
to get him round again by gentleness and affection. He was the sort that
can't be won with kindness. He felt he'd treated the world better than
the world had treated him, and the thought shriveled his heart a bit.
Always shy and suspicious, you might say; and yet, underneath it, the
most honorable and upright and high-minded man you could wish to meet.
Hyssop loved him like her life, and she got a bit poorly in health after
their sad quarrel. Then chance willed it that, going down from
Princetown to Plymouth by train--to see a chemist, and get something to
make her eat--who should be in the selfsame carriage but Mr. Drake and
his hind, Thomas Parsons.

There was others there, too; and it fell out that an old fellow as
knowed Jonathan's grandfather before him, brought up the yarn about
Miser Brimpson, and asked young Drake if he took any stock in it.

Of course the man pooh-poohed such foolery, and told the old chap not to
talk nonsense like that in the ear of the nineteenth century; but when
Jonathan and Parsons had got out of the train--which they did do at
Yelverton station--Hyssop, as knowed the old man, axed him to tell more
about the miser; and he explained, so well as he knew how, that Brimpson
Drake had made untold thousands out of the French and American
prisoners, and that, without doubt, 'twas all hidden even to this day at
Dunnabridge.

"Of course Jonathan's too clever to believe such a tale--like his father
before him; but his grandfather believed it, and the old blid spent half
his time poking about the farm. Only, unfortunately, he didn't have no
luck. But 'tis there for sure; and if Jonathan had enough faith he'd
come by it--not by digging and wasting time and labor, but by doing what
is right and proper when you'm dealing with such matters."

"And what might that be?" axed Miss Burges.

Just then, however, the train for Plymouth ran up, and the old man told
her that he'd explain some other time.

"This generation laughs at such things," he said; "but they laugh best
who laugh last, and, for all we can say to the contrary, 'tis nought but
his conceit and pride be standing between that stiff-necked youth and
the wealth of a bank."

Hyssop, she thought a lot upon this; but she hadn't no need to go to the
old chap again, as she meant to do, for when she got home, her
uncle--Farmer Stonewer--knowed all about the matter, and told her how
'twas a very rooted opinion among the last generation that a miser's
spirit never could leave its hidden hoard till the stuff was brought to
light, and in human hands once more.

"Millions of good money has been found in that manner, if all we hear is
true," declared Farmer Jimmy; "and if one miser has been known to walk,
which nobody can deny, then why shouldn't another? Them as believe in
such dark things--and I don't say I do, and I don't say I don't--them as
know of such mysteries happening in their own recollection, or in the
memory of their friends, would doubtless say that Miser Brimpson still
creeps around his gold now and again; and if that money be within the
four corners of Dunnabridge Farm, and if Jonathan happed to be on the
lookout on the rightful night and at the rightful moment, 'tis almost
any odds but he might see his forbear sitting over his money-bags like a
hen on a clutch of eggs, and so recover the hoard."

"But faith's needed for such a deed," Mrs. Stonewer told her niece; "and
that pig-headed creature haven't no faith. Too proud, he is, to believe
in anything he don't understand. 'Twas even so with Lucifer afore him.
If you told him--Jonathan--this news, he'd rather let the money go than
set off ghost-hunting in cold blood. Yet there it is: and a
humbler-minded fashion of chap, with the Lord on his side, and a
trustful heart in his bosom, might very like recover all them tubs of
cash the miser come by."

"And then he'd have thousands to my poor tens," said Hyssop. "Not that
he'd ever come back to me now, I reckon."

But, all the same, she knowed by the look in Jonathan's eye when they
met, that he loved her still, and that his silly, proud heart was
hungering after her yet, though he'd rather have been drawn under a
harrow than show a spark of what was burning there.

And so, upon this nonsense about a buried treasure she set to work again
to use her brains, and see if there might be any road out of the trouble
by way of Miser Brimpson's ghost.

What she did, none but them as helped her ever knew, until the story
comed round to me; but 'twas the cleverest thing that ever I heard of a
maiden doing, and it worked a wonder. In fact, I can't see but a single
objection to the plot, though that was a serious thing for the girl. It
lay in the fact that there had to be a secret between Hyssop and her
husband; and she kept it close as the grave until the grave itself
closed over him. Yet 'twas an innocent secret, too; and, when all's
said, 'tisn't a wedded pair in five hundred as haven't each their one
little cupboard fast locked, with the key throwed away.

Six months passed by, and Jonathan worked as only he knowed how to work,
and tried to forget his sad disappointment by dint of toil. Early and
late he labored, and got permission to reclaim a bit of moor for a
"newtake," and so added a very fair three acres to his farm. He noticed
about this time that his hind, Parsons, did oft drag up the subject of
Miser Brimpson Drake; and first Jonathan laughed, and then he was
angered, and bade Thomas hold his peace. But, though a very obedient and
humble sort of man, Parsons would hark back to the subject, and tell how
his father had known a man who was own brother to a miser; and how, when
the miser died, his own brother had seen him clear as truth in the
chimley-corner of his room three nights after they'd buried him; and how
they made search, and found, not three feet from where the ghost had
stood, a place in the wall with seventeen golden sovereigns hid in it,
and a white witch's cure for glanders. Thomas Parsons swore on the Book
to this; and he said, as a certain fact, that New Year's Night was the
time most misers walked; and he advised Jonathan not to be dead to his
own interests.

"At least, as a thinking man, that believes in religion and the powers
of the air, in Bible word, you might give it a chance," said Thomas; and
then Jonathan told him to shut his mouth, and not shame Dunnabridge by
talking such childish nonsense.

The next autumn Jonathan went up beyond Exeter to buy some of they
black-faced, horned Scotch sheep, and he wanted for Parsons to go with
him; but his man falled ill the night afore, and so young Hacker went
instead.

Drake reckoned then that Thomas Parsons would have to leave, for
Dunnabridge weren't a place for sick folk; and he'd made up his mind
after he came back to turn the old chap off; but Thomas was better when
the master got home, so the question of sacking him was let be, and
Jonathan contented himself by telling Tom that, if he falled ill again,
'twould be the last time. And Parsons said that was as it should be; but
he hoped that at his age--merely sixty-five or thereabout--he wouldn't
be troubled with his breathing parts again for half a score o' years at
least. He added that he'd done his work as usual while the master was
away; but he didn't mention that Hyssop Burges had made so bold as to
call at Dunnabridge with a pony and cart, and that she'd spent a tidy
long time there, and gone all over the house and farmyard, among other
places, afore she drove off again.

And the next chapter of the story was told by Jonathan himself to his
two men on the first day of the following year.

There was but little light of morning just then, and the three of 'em
were putting down some bread and bacon and a quart of tea by candlelight
in the Dunnabridge kitchen, when Thomas saw that his master weren't
eating nothing to name. Instead, he went out to the barrel and drawed
himself a pint of ale, and got along by the peat fire with it, and stuck
his boots so nigh the scads as he dared without burning 'em.

"What's amiss?" said Thomas. "Don't say you'm sick, master. And if you
be, I lay no liquor smaller than brandy will fetch you round."

"I ban't sick," answered Jonathan shortly.

He seemed in doubt whether to go on. Then he resolved to do so.

"There was a man in the yard last night," he said; "and, if I thought as
either of you chaps knowed anything about it, I'd turn you off this
instant, afore you'd got the bacon out of your throats."

"A man? Never!" cried Parsons.

"How was it the dog didn't bark?" asked Hacker.

"How the devil do I know why he didn't bark?" answered Jonathan, dark as
night, and staring in the fire. One side of his face was red with the
flames, and t'other side blue as steel along of the daylight just
beginning to filter in at the window.

"All I can say is this," he added. "I turned in at half-after ten, just
after that brace of old fools to Brownberry went off to see the New Year
in. I slept till midnight; then something woke me with a start. What
'twas, I can't tell, but some loud sound near at hand, no doubt. I was
going off again when I heard more row--a steady sound repeated over and
over. And first I thought 'twas owls; and then I heard 'twas not. You
might have said 'twas somebody thumping on a barrel; but, at any rate, I
woke up, and sat up, and found the noise was in the yard.

"I looked out of my chamber window then, and the moon was bright as day,
and the stars sparkling likewise; and there, down by 'the Judge's Table'
where the thorn-tree grows, I see a man standing by the old barrel as
plain as I see you chaps now."

"The Judge's Table" be a wonnerful curiosity at Dunnabridge, and if you
go there you'll do well to ax to see it. 'Tis a gert slab of moorstone
said to have come from Crokern Torr, where the tinners held theer
parliament in the ancient times. Now it bides over a water-trough with a
white-thorn tree rising up above.

Jonathan took his breath when he'd got that far, and fetched his pipe
out of his pocket and lighted it. Then he drank off half the beer, and
spat in the fire, and went on.

"A man so tall as me, if not taller. He'd got one of them old white
beaver hats on his head, and he wore a flowing white beard, so long as
my plough-horse's tail, and he walked up and down, up and down over the
stones, like a sailor walks up and down on the deck of a ship. I shouted
to the chap, but he didn't take no more notice than the moon. Up and
down he went; and then I told him, if he wasn't off inside two minutes,
I'd get my fowling-piece and let fly. Still he paid no heed; and I don't
mind saying to you men that, for half a second, I felt creepy-crawly and
goose-flesh down the back. But 'twas only the cold, I reckon, for my
window was wide open, and I'd been leaning out of it for a good while
into ten degrees of frost.

"After that, I got angry, and went down house and hitched the gun off
the hooks over the mantelpiece, and ran out, just as I was, in nought
but my boots and my nightshirt. The hour was so still as the grave at
first, and the moon shone on the river far below and lit up the eaves
and windows; and then, through the silence, I heard Widecombe bells
ringing in the New Year. But the old night-bird in his top hat was gone.
Not a hair of his beard did he leave behind. I looked about, and then up
came the dog, barking like fury, not knowing who I was, dressed that
way, till he heard my voice. And that's the tale; and who be that
curious old rascal I'd much like to know."

They didn't answer at first, and the daylight gained on 'em. Then old
Parsons spoke up, and wagged his head and swore that 'twas no man his
master had seen, but a creature from the other world.

"I'll lay my life," he said, "'twas the spectrum of Miser Brimpson as
you saw walking; and I'll take oath by the New Year that 'twas his way
to show where his stuff be buried. For God's sake," he says, "if you
don't want to get into trouble with unknown creatures, go out and pull
up the cobblestones, and see if there's anything underneath 'em."

But Jonathan made as though the whole thing was nonsense, and wouldn't
let neither Thomas nor Hacker move a pebble. Only, the next day, he went
off to a very old chap called Samuel Windeatt, whose father had been a
boy at the time of the War Prison, and was said to have seen and known
Miser Brimpson in the flesh. And the old man declared that, in his
childish days, he'd heard of the miser, and that he certainly wore a
beaver hat and had a white beard a yard long. So Jonathan came home
again more thoughtful than afore, and finally--though he declared that
he was ashamed to do it--he let Tom overpersuade him; and two days after
the three men set to work where Drake had seen the spectrum.

They dug and they dug, this way and that; and Jonathan found nought, and
Parsons found nought; but Hacker came upon a box, and they dragged it
out of the earth, and underneath of it was another box like the first.
They was a pair of old rotten wood chests, by the look of them, made of
boards nailed together with rusty nails. No locks or keys they had; but
that was no matter, for they fell abroad at a touch, and inside of them
was a lot of plate--candlesticks, snuffers, tea-kettles, table silver,
and the like.

"Thunder!" cried out Jonathan. "'Tis all pewter trash, not worth a
five-pound note! Us'll dig again."

And dig they did for a week, till the farmyard in that place was turned
over like a trenched kitchen-garden. But not another teaspoon did they
find.

Meantime, however, somebody as understood such things explained to young
Drake that the stuff unearthed was not pewter, nor yet Britannia metal
neither, but old Sheffield plate, and worth plenty of good money at
that.

Jonathan felt too mazed with the event to do anything about it for a
month; then he went to Plymouth, and took a few pieces of the find in
his bag. And the man what he showed 'em to was so terrible interested
that nothing would do but he must come up to Dunnabridge and see the
lot. He offered two hundred and fifty pound for the things on the nail;
so Jonathan saw very clear that they must be worth a good bit more. They
haggled for a week, and finally the owner went up to Exeter and got
another chap to name a price. In the long run, the dealers halved the
things, and Jonathan comed out with a clear three hundred and fifty-four
pound.


III

He wasn't very pleased to talk about his luck, and inquisitive people
got but little out of him on the subject; but, of course, Parsons and
Hacker spoke free and often on the subject, for 'twas the greatest
adventure as had ever come to them in their lives; and, from telling the
tale over and over old Parsons got to talk about it as if he'd seen the
ghost himself.

Then, after he'd chewed over the matter for a space of three or four
months, and spring was come again, Jonathan Drake went off one night to
White Works, just the same as he used to do when he was courting Hyssop
Burges; and there was the little party as usual, with Mrs. Stonewer
knitting, and Farmer reading yesterday's newspaper, and Hyssop sewing in
her place by her aunt.

"Well!" says Farmer Jimmy, "wonders never cease! And to see you again
here be almost so big a wonder as that they tell about of the old
miser's tea-things. I'm sure we all give you joy, Jonathan; and I
needn't tell you as we was cruel pleased to hear about it."

The young man thanked them very civilly, and said how 'twas a coorious
come-along-of-it, and he didn't hardly know what to think of the matter
even to that day.

"I should reckon 'twas a bit of nonsense what I'd dreamed," he said;
"but money's money, as who should know better than me? And, by the same
token, I want a few words with Hyssop if she'm willing to give me ten
minutes of her time."

"You'm welcome, Mr. Drake," she said.

He started at the surname; but she got up, and they went off just in
the usual way to the parlor; and when they was there, she sat down in
her old corner of the horsehair sofa and looked at him. But he didn't
sit down--not at first. He walked about fierce and talked fierce.

"I'll ax one question afore I go on, and, if the answer's what I fear,
I'll trouble you no more," he said. "In a word, be you tokened again? I
suppose you be, for you're not the sort to go begging. Say it quick if
'tis so, and I'll be off and trouble you no further."

"No, Mr. Drake. I'm free as the day you--you throwed me over," she
answered, in a very quiet little voice.

He snorted at that, but was too mighty thankful to quarrel with the
words. She could see he began to grow terrible excited now; and he
walked up and down, taking shorter and shorter strides this way and
that, like a hungry caged tiger as knows his bit of horse-flesh be on
the way.

At last he bursts out again.

"There was a lot of lies told about that old plate us found at
Dunnabridge. But the truth of the matter is, that I sold it for three
hundred and fifty-four pounds."

"So Tom Parsons told uncle. A wonderful thing; and we sat up all night
talking about it, Mr. Drake."

"For God's sake call me 'Jonathan'!" he cried out; "and tell me--tell me
what the figure of your legacy was. You must tell me--you can't withhold
it. 'Tis life or death--to me."

She'd never seen him so excited, but very well knowed what was in his
mind.

"If you must know, you must," she answered. "I thought I told you
when--when----"

"No, you didn't. I wouldn't bide to hear. Whatever 'twas, you'd got more
than me, and that was all I cared about; but now, if by good fortune
'tis less than mine, you understand----"

"Of course 'tis less. A hundred and eighty pound and the interest--a
little over two hundred in all--is what I've gotten."

"Thank God!" he said.

Then he axed her if she could marry him still, or if she knew too much
about his ways and his ideas to care about doing so.

And she took him again.

       *       *       *       *       *

You see, Hyssop Burges was my mother, and when father died I had the
rights of the story from her. By that time the old people at White Works
and Tom Parsons was all gone home, and the secret remained safe enough
with Hyssop herself.

The great difficulty was to put half her money and more, slap into
Jonathan's hands without his knowing how it got there; and, even when
the game with the ghost was hit upon, 'twas hard to know how to do it
clever. Hyssop wanted to hide golden sovereigns at Dunnabridge; but her
uncle, with wonnerful wit, pointed out that they'd all be dated; and to
get three hundred sovereigns and more a hundred years old could never
have been managed. Then old Thomas, who was in the secret, of course,
and played the part of Miser Brimpson, and got five pounds for doing it
so clever, and another five after from his master, when the stuff was
found--he thought upon trinkums and jewels; and finally Mrs. Stonewer,
as had a friend in the business, said that Sheffield plate would do the
trick. And she was right. The plate was bought for three hundred and
eighty pound, and kept close at White Works till 'twas known that
Jonathan meant to go away and bide away some days. Then my mother drove
across with it; and Thomas made the cases wi' old rotten boards, and
they drove a slant hole under the cobbles, and got all vitty again long
afore young Drake came back home.

"Me and Jonathan was wedded in the fall of that year," said my mother to
me when she told the tale. "And, come the next New Year's Night, he was
at our chamber window as the clock struck twelve, and bided there
looking out into the yard for an hour, keen as the hawk that he was. He
thought I must be asleep; but well I knowed he was seeking for an old
man in a beaver hat wi' a long white beard, and well I knowed he'd never
see him again. Of course your father took good care not to tell me the
next morning that he'd been on the lookout for the ghost."

And my mother, in her own last days, oft dwelt on that trick; and
sometimes she'd say, as the time for meeting father got nearer and
nearer, "I wonder if 'twill make any difference in heaven, where no
secrets be hid?" And, knowing father so well as I had, I felt very sure
as it might make a mighty lot of difference. So, in my crafty way, I
hedged, and told mother that, for my part, I felt sartain there were
some secrets that wouldn't even be allowed to come out at Judgment Day,
for fear of turning heaven into t'other place; and that this was one of
'em. She always used to fret at that, however.

"I want for it to come out," she'd say. "And, if Jonathan don't know, I
shall certainly tell him. I've kept it in long enough, and I can't trust
myself to do it no more. He've got to know, and, with all eternity to
get over it and forgive me in, I have a right to be hopeful that he
will."

Hyssop Drake died in that fixed resolve; and I'm sure I trust that, when
'tis my turn to join my parents again, I shall find no shadow between
'em. But there's a lot of doubt about it--knowing father.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Skuat, windfall.



THE HAUNTED PHOTOGRAPH

BY RUTH McENERY STUART

From _Harper's Bazar_, June, 1909. By permission of _Harper's Bazar_.



The Haunted Photograph

BY RUTH McENERY STUART


To the ordinary observer it was just a common photograph of a cheap
summer hotel. It hung sumptuously framed in plush, over the Widow
Morris's mantel, the one resplendent note in an otherwise modest home,
in a characteristic Queen Anne village.

One had only to see the rapt face of its owner as she sat in her weeds
before the picture, which she tearfully pronounced "a strikin'
likeness," to sympathize with the townsfolk who looked askance at the
bereaved woman, even while they bore with her delusion, feeling sure
that her sudden sorrow had set her mind agog.

When she had received the picture through the mail, some months before
the fire which consumed the hotel--a fire through which she had not
passed, but out of which she had come a widow--she proudly passed it
around among the friends waiting with her at the post-office, replying
to their questions as they admired it:

"Oh, yes! That's where he works--if you can call it work. He's the head
steward in it. All that row o' winders where you see the awnin's down,
they're his--an' them that ain't down, they're his, too--that is to say,
it's his jurisdiction.

"You see, he's got the whip hand over the cook an' the sto'eroom, an'
that key don't go out o' his belt unless he knows who's gettin'
what--an' he's firm. Morris always was. He's like the iron law of the
Ephesians."

"What key?"

It was an old lady who held the picture at arm's length, the more
closely to scan it, who asked the question. She asked it partly to know,
as neither man nor key appeared in the photograph, and partly to parry
the "historic allusion"--a disturbing sort of fire for which Mrs. Morris
was rather noted and which made some of her most loyal townsfolk a bit
shy of her.

"Oh, I ain't referrin' to the picture," she hastened to explain. "I mean
the keys thet he always carries in his belt. The reg'lar joke there is
to call him 'St. Peter,' an' he takes it in good part, for, he declares,
if there _is_ such a thing _as_ a similitude to the kingdom o' Heaven
_in_ a hotel, why, it's in the providential supply department which, in
a manner, hangs to his belt. He always humors a joke--'specially on
himself."

No one will ever know through what painful periods of unrequited longing
the Widow Morris had sought solace in this, her only cherished "relic,"
after the "half hour of sky-works" which had made her, in her own
vernacular, "a lonely, conflagrated widow, with a heart full of ashes,"
before the glad moment when it was given her to discern in it an
unsuspected and novel value. First had come, as a faint gleam of
comfort, the reflection that although her dear lost one was not in
evidence in the picture, he had really been inside the building when the
photograph was taken, and so, of course, _he must be in there yet_!

At first she experienced a slight disappointment that her man was not
visible, at door or window. But it was only a passing regret. It was
really better to feel him surely and broadly within--at large in the
great house, free to pass at will from one room to another. To have had
him fixed, no matter how effectively, would have been a limitation. As
it was, she pressed the picture to her bosom as she wondered if,
perchance, he would not some day come out of his hiding to meet her.

It was a muffled pleasure and tremulously entertained at first, but the
very whimsicality of it was an appeal to her sensitized imagination, and
so, when finally the thing did really happen, it is small wonder that it
came somewhat as a shock.

It appears that one day, feeling particularly lonely and forlorn, and
having no other comfort, she was pressing her tear-stained face against
the row of window-shutters in the room without awnings, this being her
nearest approach to the alleged occupant's bosom, when she was suddenly
startled by a peculiar swishing sound, as of wind-blown rain, whereupon
she lifted her face to perceive that it was indeed raining, and then,
glancing back at the photograph, she distinctly saw her husband rushing
from one window to another, drawing down the sashes on the side of the
house that would have been exposed to the real shower whose music was in
her ears.

This was a great discovery, and, naturally enough, it set her weeping,
for, she sobbed, it made her feel, for a minute, that she had lost her
widowhood and that, after the shower, he'd be coming home.

It might well make any one cry to suddenly lose the pivot upon which his
emotions are swung. At any rate, Mrs. Morris cried. She said that she
cried all night, first because it seemed so spooky to see him whose
remains she had so recently buried on faith, waiving recognition in the
débris, dashing about now in so matter-of-fact a way.

And then she wept because, after all, he did not come.

This was the formal beginning of her sense of personal companionship in
the picture--companionship, yes, of delight in it, for there is even
delight in tears--in some situations in life. Especially is this true of
one whose emotions are her only guides, as seems to have been the case
with the Widow Morris.

After seeing him draw the window-sashes--and he had drawn them _down_,
ignoring her presence--she sat for hours, waiting for the rain to stop.
It seemed to have set in for a long spell, for when she finally fell
asleep, "from sheer disappointment, 'long towards morning," it was
still raining, but when she awoke the sun shone and all the windows in
the picture were up again.

This was a misleading experience, however, for she soon discovered that
she could not count upon any line of conduct by the man in the hotel, as
the fact that it had one time rained in the photograph at the same time
that it rained outside was but a coincidence and she was soon surprised
to perceive all quiet along the hotel piazza, not even an awning
flapping, while the earth, on her plane, was torn by storms.

On one memorable occasion when her husband had appeared, flapping the
window-panes from within with a towel, she had thought for one brief
moment that he was beckoning to her, and that she might have to go to
him, and she was beginning to experience terror, with shortness of
breath and other premonitions of sudden passing, when she discovered
that he was merely killing flies, and she flurriedly fanned herself with
the asbestos mat which she had seized from the stove beside her, and
staggered out to a seat under the mulberries, as she stammered:

"I do declare, Morris'll be the death of me yet. He's 'most as much care
to me dead as he was alive--I made sure--made sure he'd come after me!"

Then, feeling her own fidelity challenged, she hastened to add:

"Not that I hadn't rather go to him than to take any trip in the world,
but--but I never did fancy that hotel, and since I've got used to seein'
him there so constant, I feel sure that's where we'd put up. My belief
is, anyway, that if there's hereafters for some things, there's
hereafters for all. From what I can gather, I reckon I'm a kind of a
cross between a Swedenborgian and a Gates-ajar--that, of course,
engrafted on to a Methodist. Now, that hotel, when it was consumed by
fire, which to it was the same as mortal death, why, it either ascended
into Heaven, in smoke, or it fell, in ashes--to the other place. If it
died worthy, like as not it's undergoin' repairs now for a 'mansion,'
jasper cupalos, an'--but, of course, such as that could be run up in a
twinklin'.

"Still, from what I've heard, it's more likely gone _down_ to its
deserts. It would seem hard for a hotel with so many awned-off corridors
an' palmed embrasures with teet-a-teet sofas, to live along without
sin."

She stood on her step-ladder, wiping the face of the picture as she
spoke, and as she began to back down she discovered the cat under her
elbow, glaring at the picture.

"Yes, Kitty! Spit away!" she exclaimed. "Like as not you see even more
than I do!"

And as she slipped the ladder back into the closet, she remarked--this
to herself, strictly:

"If it hadn't 'a' been for poor puss, I'd 'a' had a heap more pleasure
out o' this picture than what I have had--or will be likely to have
again. The way she's taken on, I've almost come to hate it!"

A serpent had entered her poor little Eden--even the green-eyed monster
constrictor, who, if given full swing, would not spare a bone of her
meager comfort.

A neighbor who chanced to come in at the time, unobserved overheard the
last remark, and Mrs. Morris, seeing that she was there, continued in an
unchanged tone, while she gave her a chair:

"Of course, Mis' Withers, you can easy guess who I refer to. I mean that
combly-featured wench that kep' the books an' answered the telephone at
the hotel--when she found the time from her meddlin'. Somehow, I never
thought about her bein' _burned in_ with Morris till puss give her away.
Puss never did like the girl when she was alive, an' the first time I
see her scratch an' spit at the picture, just the way she used to do
whenever _she_ come in sight, why, it just struck me like a clap o'
thunder out of a clear sky that puss knew who she was a-spittin' at--an'
I switched around sudden--an' glanced up sudden--an'----

"Well, what I seen, I seen! There was that beautied-up typewriter
settin' in the window-sill o' Morris's butler's pantry--an' if she
didn't wink at me malicious, then I don't know malice when I see it. An'
she used her fingers against her nose, too, most defiant and impolite.
So I says to puss I says, 'Puss,' I says, 'there's _goin's on_ in that
hotel, sure as fate. Annabel Bender has got the better o' me, for
once!' An', tell the truth, it did spoil the photograph for me for a
while, for, of course, after that, if I didn't see him somewheres on the
watch for his faithful spouse, I'd say to myself, 'He's inside there
with that pink-featured hussy!'

"You know, a man's a man, Mis' Withers--'specially Morris, an' with his
lawful wife cut off an' indefinitely divorced by a longevitied
family--an' another burned in with him--well, his faithfulness is put to
a trial by fire, as you might say. So, as I say, it spoiled the picture
for me, for a while.

"An', to make matters worse, it wasn't any time before I recollected
that Campbellite preacher thet was burned in with them, an' with that my
imagination run riot, an' I'd think to myself, '_If_ they're inclined,
they cert'n'y have things handy!' Then I'd ketch myself an' say,
'Where's your faith in Scripture, Mary Marthy Matthews, named after two
Bible women an' born daughter to an apostle? What's the use?' I'd say,
an' so, first an' last, I'd get a sort o' alpha an' omega comfort out o'
the passage about no givin' in marriage. Still, there'd be times, pray
as I would, when them three would loom up, him an' her--_an'_ the
Campbellite preacher. I know his license to marry would run out _in
time_, but for eternity, of course we don't know. Seem like everything
would last forever--an' then again, if I've got a widow's freedom,
Morris must be classed as a widower, if he's anything.

"Then I'd get some relief in thinkin' about his disposition. Good as he
was, Morris was fickle-tasted, not in the long run, but day in an' day
out, an' even if he'd be taken up with her he'd get a distaste the
minute he reelized she'd be there interminable. That's Morris. Why,
didn't he used to get nervous just seein' _me_ around, an' me his own
selected? An' didn't I use to make some excuse to send him over to Mame
Maddern's ma's ma's--so's he'd be harmlessly diverted? She was full o'
talk, and she was ninety-odd an' asthmatic, but he'd come home from them
visits an' call me his child wife. I've had my happy moments!

"You know a man'll get tired of himself, even, if he's condemned to it
too continual, and think of that blondinetted typewriter for a steady
diet--to a man like Morris! Imagine her when her hair dye started to
give out--green streaks in that pompadour! So, knowin' my man, I'd take
courage an' I'd think, 'Seein' me cut off, he'll soon be wantin' me more
than ever'--an' so he does. It's got so now that, glance up at that
hotel any time I will, I can generally find him on the lookout, an'
many's the time I've stole in an' put on a favoryte apron o' his with
blue bows on it, when we'd be alone an' nobody to remark about me
breakin' my mournin'. Dear me, how full o' b'oyancy he was--a regular
boy at thirty-five, when he passed away!"

Was it any wonder that her friends exchanged glances while Mrs. Morris
entertained them in so droll a way? Still, as time passed and she not
only brightened in the light of her delusion, but proceeded to meet the
conditions of her own life by opening a small shop in her home, and when
she exhibited a wholesome sense of profit and loss, her neighbors were
quite ready to accept her on terms of mental responsibility.

With occupation and a modest success, emotional disturbance was surely
giving place to an even calm, when, one day, something happened.

Mrs. Morris sat behind her counter, sorting notions, puss asleep beside
her, when she heard the swish of thin silk, with a breath of familiar
perfume, and, looking up, whom did she see but the blond lady of her
troubled dreams striding bodily up to the counter, smiling as she
swished.

At the sight the good woman first rose to her feet, and then as suddenly
dropped--flopped--breathless and white--backward--and had to be revived,
so that for the space of some minutes things happened very fast--that
is, if we may believe the flurried testimony of the blonde, who, in
going over it, two hours later, had more than once to stop for breath.

"Well, say!" she panted. "Did you ever! _Such_ a turn as took her! I
hadn't no more 'n stepped in the door when she succumbed, green as the
Ganges, into her own egg-basket--an' it full! An' she was on the eve o'
floppin' back into the prunin' scizzor points up, when I scrambled over
the counter, breakin' my straight-front in two, which she's welcome to,
poor thing! Then I loaned her my smellin'-salts, which she held her
breath against until it got to be a case of smell or die, an' she
smelt! Then it was a case of temporary spasms for a minute, the salts
spillin' out over her face, but when the accident evaporated, an' she
opened her eyes, rational, I thought to myself, 'Maybe she don't know
she's keeled an' would be humiliated if she did,' so I acted callous,
an' I says, offhand like, I says, pushin' her apron around behind her
over its _vice versa_, so's to cover up the eggs, which I thought had
better be broke to her gently, I says, 'I just called in, Mis' Morris,
to borry your recipe for angel-cake--or maybe get you to bake one for
us' (I knew she baked on orders). An' with that, what does she do but go
over again, limp as wet starch, down an' through every egg in that
basket, solid _an'_ fluid!

"Well, by this time, a man who had seen her at her first worst an' run
for a doctor, he come in with three, an' whilst they were bowin' to each
other an' backin', I giv' 'er stimulus an' d'rectly she turned upon me
one rememberable gaze, an' she says, 'Doctors,' says she, 'would you
think they'd have the gall to try to get me to cook for 'em? They've
ordered angel-ca----' An' with that, over she toppled again, no pulse
nor nothin', same as the dead!"

While the blonde talked she busied herself with her loosely falling
locks, which she tried vainly to entrap.

"An' yet you say she ain't classed as crazy? I'd say it of her, sure!
An' so old Morris is dead--burned in that old hotel! Well, well! Poor
old fellow! Dear old place! What times I've had!"

She spoke through a mouthful of gilt hairpins and her voice was as an
Æolian harp.

"An' he burned in it--an' she's a widow yet! Yes, I did hear there'd
been a fire, but you never can tell. I thought the chimney might 'a'
burned out--an' I was in the thick of bein' engaged to the night clerk
at the Singin' Needles Hotel at Pineville at the time--an' there's no
regular mail there. I thought the story might be exaggerated. Oh no, I
didn't marry the night clerk. I'm a bride now, married to the head
steward, same rank as poor old Morris--an' we're just _as_ happy! I used
to pleg Morris about _her_ hair, but I'd have to let up on that now.
Mine's as red again as hers. No, not my hair--_mine's_ hair. It's as red
as a flannen drawer, every bit an' grain!

"But, say," she added, presently, "when she gets better, just tell her
never mind about that reci-pe. I copied it out of her reci-pe book
whilst she was under the weather, an' dropped a dime in her cash-drawer.
I recollect how old Morris used to look forward to her angel-cakes
week-ends he'd be goin' home, an' you know there's nothin' like havin'
ammunition, in marriage, even if you never need it. Mine's in that frame
of mind now that transforms my gingerbread into angel-cake, but the time
may come when I'll have to beat my eggs to a fluff even for angel-cake,
so's not to have it taste like gingerbread to him.

"Oh no, he's not with me this trip. I just run down for a lark to show
my folks my ring an' things, an' let 'em see it's really so. He give me
considerable jewelry. His First's taste run that way, an' they ain't no
children.

"Yes, this amethyst is the weddin'-ring. I selected that on account of
him bein' a widower. It's the nearest I'd come to wearin' second
mournin' for a woman I can't exactly grieve after. The year not bein' up
is why he stayed home this trip. He didn't like to be seen traversin'
the same old haunts with Another till it _was_ up. I wouldn't wait
because, tell the truth, I was afraid. He ain't like a married man with
me about money yet, an' it's liable to seize him any day. He might say
that he couldn't afford the trip, or that we couldn't, which would
amount to the same thing. I rather liked him bein' a little ticklish
about goin' around with me for a while. It's one thing to do a thing an'
another to be brazen about it--it----

"But if she don't get better"--the reversion was to the Widow
Morris--"if she don't get her mind poor thing! there's a fine insane
asylum just out of Pineville, an' I'd like the best in the world to look
out for her. It would make an excuse for me to go in. They say they have
high old times there. Some days they let the inmates do 'most any old
thing that's harmless. They even give 'em unpoisonous paints an' let 'em
paint each other up. One man insisted he was a barber-pole an' ringed
himself accordingly, an' then another chased him around for a stick of
peppermint candy. Think of all that inside a close fence, an' a town so
dull an' news-hungry----

"Yes, they say Thursdays is paint days, an', of course, Fridays, they
are scrub days. They pass around turpentine an' hide the matches. But,
of course, Mis' Morris may get the better of it. 'Tain' every woman that
can stand widowin', an' sometimes them that has got the least out of
marriage will seem the most deprived to lose it--so they say."

The blonde was a person of words.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Mrs. Morris had fully revived and, after a restoring "night's
sleep" had got her bearings, and when she realized clearly that her
supposed rival had actually shown up in the flesh, she visibly braced
up. Her neighbors understood that it must have been a shock "to be
suddenly confronted with any souvenir of the hotel fire"--so one had
expressed it--and the incident soon passed out of the village mind.

It was not long after this incident that the widow confided to a friend
that she was coming to depend upon Morris for advice in her business.

"Standing as he does, in that hotel door--between two worlds, as you
might say--why, he sees both ways, and oftentimes he'll detect an event
_on the way to happening_, an' if it don't move too fast, why, I can
hustle an' get the better of things." It was as if she had a private
wire for advance information--and she declared herself happy.

Indeed, a certain ineffable light such as we sometimes see in the eyes
of those newly in love came to shine from the face of the widow, who did
not hesitate to affirm, looking into space as she said it:

"Takin' all things into consideration, I can truly say that I have never
been so truly and ideely married as since my widowhood." And she smiled
as she added:

"Marriage, the earthly way, is vicissitudinous, for everybody knows that
anything is liable to happen to a man at large."

There had been a time when she lamented that her picture was not
"life-sized" as it would seem so much more natural, but she immediately
reflected that that hotel would never have gotten into her little house,
and that, after all, the main thing was having "him" under her own roof.

As the months passed Mrs. Morris, albeit she seemed serene and of
peaceful mind, grew very white and still. Fire is white in its ultimate
intensity. The top, spinning its fastest, is said to "sleep"--and the
dancing dervish is "still." So, misleading signs sometimes mark the
danger-line.

"Under-eating and over-thinking" was what the doctor said while he felt
her translucent wrist and prescribed nails in her drinking-water. If he
secretly knew that kind nature was gently letting down the bars so that
a waiting spirit might easily pass--well, he was a doctor, not a
minister. His business was with the body, and he ordered repairs.

She was only thirty-seven and "well" when she passed painlessly out of
life. It seemed to be simply a case of going.

There were several friends at her bedside the night she went, and to
them she turned, feeling the time come:

"I just wanted to give out that the first thing I intend to do when I'm
relieved is to call by there for Morris"--she lifted her weary eyes to
the picture as she spoke--"for Morris--and I want it understood that
it'll be a vacant house from the minute I depart. So, if there's any
other woman that's calculatin' to have any carryin's-on from them
windows--why, she'll be disappointed--she or they. The one obnoxious
person I thought was in it _wasn't_. My imagination was tempted of Satan
an' I was misled. So it must be sold for just what it is--just a
photographer's photograph. If it's a picture with a past, why, everybody
knows what that past is, and will respect it. I have tried to conquer
myself enough to bequeath it to the young lady I suspicioned, but human
nature is frail, an' I can't quite do it, although doubtless she would
like it as a souvenir. Maybe she'd find it a little too souvenirish to
suit my wifely taste, and yet--if a person is going to die----

"I suppose I might legate it to her, partly to recompense her for her
discretion in leaving that hotel when she did--an' partly for undue
suspicion----

"There's a few debts to be paid, but there's eggs an' things that'll pay
them, an' there's no need to have the hen settin' in the window showcase
any longer. It was a good advertisement, but I've often thought it
might be embarrassin' to her." She was growing weaker, but she roused
herself to amend:

"Better raffle the picture for a dollar a chance an' let the proceeds go
to my funeral--an' I want to be buried in the hotel-fire general grave,
commingled with him--an' what's left over after the debts are paid, I
bequeath to _her_--to make amends--an' if she don't care to come for it,
let every widow in town draw for it. But she'll come. 'Most any woman'll
take any trip, if it's paid for--But look!" she raised her eyes
excitedly toward the mantel, "Look! What's that he's wavin'? It
looks--oh yes, it is--it's our wings--two pairs--mine a little smaller.
I s'pose it'll be the same old story--I'll never be able to keep up--to
keep up with him--an' I've been so hap----

"Yes, Morris--I'm comin'----"

And she was gone--into a peaceful sleep from which she easily passed
just before dawn.

When all was well over, the sitting women rose with one accord and went
to the mantel, where one even lighted an extra candle more clearly to
scan the mysterious picture.

Finally one said:

"You may think I'm queer, but it does look different to me already!"

"So it does," said another, taking the candle. "Like a house for rent. I
declare, it gives me the cold shivers."

"I'll pay my dollar gladly, and take a chance for it," whispered a
third, "but I wouldn't let such a thing as that enter my happy home----"

"Neither would I!"

"Nor me, neither. I've had trouble enough. My husband's first wife's
portrait has brought me discord enough--an' it was a straight likeness.
I don't want any more pictures to put in the hen-house loft."

So the feeling ran among the wives.

"Well," said she who was blowing out the candle, "I'll draw for it--an'
take it if I win it, an' consider it a sort of inheritance. I never
inherited anything but indigestion."

The last speaker was a maiden lady, and so was she who answered,
chuckling:

"That's what I say! Anything for a change. There'd be some excitement in
a picture where a man was liable to show up. It's more than I've got
now. I do declare it's just scandalous the way we're gigglin', an' the
poor soul hardly out o' hearin'. She had a kind heart, Mis' Morris had,
an' she made herself happy with a mighty slim chance----"

"Yes, she did--and I only wish there'd been a better man waitin' for her
in that hotel."



THE GHOST THAT GOT THE BUTTON

BY WILL ADAMS

From _Collier's Weekly_, May 24, 1913. By permission of _Collier's
Weekly_ and Will Adams.



The Ghost that Got the Button

BY WILL ADAMS


One autumn evening, when the days were shortening and the darkness fell
early on Hotchkiss and the frost was beginning to adorn with its fine
glistening lace the carbine barrels of the night sentries as they walked
post, Sergeants Hansen and Whitney and Corporal Whitehall had come to
Stone's room after supper, feeling the need common to all men in the
first cold nights of the year for a cozy room, a good smoke, and
congenial companionship.

The steam heat, newly turned on, wheezed and whined through the
radiator: the air was blue and dense with tobacco smoke; the three
sergeants reposed in restful, if inelegant attitudes, and Whitehall, his
feet on the window sill and his wooden chair tilted back, was holding
forth between puffs at a very battered pipe about an old colored woman
who kept a little saloon in town.

"So she got mad at those K troop men," he said. "An' nex' day when
Turner stopped there for a drink she says: 'You git outer yere! You men
fum de Arsenic wid de crossbones on you caps, I ain't lettin' you in;
but de Medical Corpses an' de Non-efficient Officers, dey may come.'"

The laugh that followed was interrupted by the approach of a raucous,
shrieking noise that rose and fell in lugubrious cadence. "What the
deuce!" exclaimed Whitehall, starting up.

"That's Bill," explained Stone. "Bill Sullivan. He thinks he's singin'.
Funny you never heard him before, Kid, but then he's not often taken
that way, thank the Lord."

"Come in, Bill," he called, "an' tell us what's the matter. Feel sick?
Where's the pain?" he asked as big Bill appeared in the doorway.

"Come in, hombre, an' rest yo'self," invited Whitney, and hospitably
handed over his tobacco-pouch. "What was that tune yo'all were singin'
out yonder?"

"Thanks," responded Bill, settling down. "That there tune was 'I Wonder
Where You Are To-night, My Love.'"

"Sounded like 'Sister's Teeth Are Plugged with Zinc,'" commented
Whitney.

"Or 'Lookin' Through the Knot Hole in Papa's Wooden Leg,'" said
Whitehall.

"Or 'He Won't Buy the Ashman a Manicure Set,'" added Stone.

"No," reiterated Bill solemnly. "It was like I told yer; 'I Wonder Where
You Are To-night, My Love,' and it's a corker, too! I seen a feller an'
a goil sing it in Kelly's Voddyville Palace out ter Cheyenne onct. Foist
he'd sing one voise an' then she'd sing the nex'. He was dressed like a
soldier, an' while he sang they was showin' tabloids o' what the goil
was a-doin' behind him; an' then when she sang her voise he'd be in the
tabloid, an' when it got ter the last voise, an' he was dyin' on a
stretcher in a ambulance, everybody in the house was a-cryin' so yer
could hardly hear her. It was great! My!" continued Bill, spreading out
his great paws over the radiator, "ain't this the snappy evenin'? Real
cold. Somehow it 'minds me of the cold we had in China that time of the
Boxers, after we'd got ter the Legations; the nights was cold just like
this is."

"Why, Bill," said Whitney, "I never knew yo'all were there then. Why did
yo' never tell us befo'? What were yo' with?"

"Fourteenth Infantry," responded Bill proudly. "It's a great ol'
regiment--don't care if they _are_ doughboys."

"What company was you in?" inquired Hansen, ponderously taking his pipe
from his mouth and breaking silence for the first time.

"J Company, same as this."

At this reply Stone opened his mouth abruptly to say something, but
thought better of it and shut up again.

"It was blame cold them nights a week or so after we was camped in the
Temple of Agriculture (that's what they called it--I dunno why), but
say! the heat comin' up from Tientsin was fryin'! It was jus' boilin',
bakin', an' bubblin'--worse a heap than anythin' we'd had in the
islands. We chucked away mos' every last thing on that hike but canteens
an' rifles. It was a darn fool thing ter do--the chuckin' was, o'
course--but it come out all right, 'cause extree supplies follered us up
on the Pie-ho in junks. Ain't that a funny name fer a river? Pie-ho?
Every time I got homesick I'd say that river, an' then I'd see Hogan's
Dairy Lunch fer Ladies an' Gents on the ol' Bowery an' hear the kid Mick
Hogan yellin': 'Draw one in the dark! White wings--let her flop!
Pie-ho!' an' it helped me a heap." Bill settled himself and stretched.

"But what I really wanted to tell youse about," said he, "was somepin'
that happened one o' these here cold nights. It gits almighty cold there
in September, an' it was sure the spookiest show I ever seen. Even Marm
Haggerty's table rappin's in Hester Street never come up to it.

"There was three of us fellers who ran in a bunch them days: me an' Buck
Dugan, my bunkie, from the Bowery like me (he was a corporal), an' Ranch
Fields--we called him that 'cause he always woiked on a ranch before he
come into the Fourteenth. They was great fellers, Buck an' Ranch was.
Buck, now--yer couldn't phase him, yer couldn't never phase him, no
matter what sort o' job yer put him up against he'd slide through slick
as a greased rat. The Cap'n, he knew it, too. Onct when we was fightin'
an' hadn't no men to spare, he lef' Buck on guard over about
twenty-five Boxer prisoners in a courtyard an' tells him he dassent let
one escape. But Buck wants ter git into the fight with the rest of the
boys, an' when he finds that if he leaves them Chinos loose in the yard
alone they'll git out plenty quick, what does he do but tie 'em tight up
by their pigtails to some posts. He knows they can't undo them tight
knots backwards, an' no Chink would cut his pigtail if he _did_ have a
knife--he'd die foist--an' so Buck skidoos off to the fight, an', sure
enough, when the Cap'n wants them Boxers, they're ready, tied up an'
waitin'. That was his sort, an', gee, but he was smart!

"We was all right int'rested in them Allies, o' course, an' watched 'em
clost; but, 'Bill,' says Buck ter me one night, 'its been woikin in me
nut that these here fellers ain't so different from what we know
a'ready. Excep' fer their uniform an' outfits, we've met 'em all before
but the Japs. Why, look a-here,' says he, 'foist, there's the white
men--the English--ain't they jus' like us excep' that they're thicker
an' we're longer? An' their Injun niggers--ain't we seen their clothes
in the comic op'ras an' them without their clothes in the monkey cage at
Central Park? An' their Hong-kong China Regiment an' all the other
Chinos is jus' the same as yer meet in the pipe joints in Mott Street.
Then,' says he, 'come all the Dagos. These leather necks of Macaroni
Dagos we've seen a swarmin' all over Mulberry Bend an' Five Points; the
Sauerkraut Dagos looks fer all the woild like they was goin' ter a
Schützenfest up by High Bridge; the Froggie Dagos you'll find packed in
them Frenchy restaraws in the Thirties--where yer git blue wine--and
them Vodki Dagos only needs a pushcart ter make yer think yer in Baxter
Street.'

"Buck, he could sure talk, but Ranch, he wasn't much on chin-chin.
Little an' dark an' quiet he was, an' jus' crazy fer dogs. Any old
mutt'd do fer him--jus' so's it was in the shape of a pup. He was fair
wild fer 'em. He picked up a yeller cur out there the day after the
Yangtsin fight, an' that there no-account, mangy, flea-bitten mutt had
ter stay with us the whole time. If the pup didn't stand in me an' Buck
an' Ranch, he swore he'd quit too, so we had to let him come, an' he
messed an' bunked with our outfit right along. Ranch named him Daggett,
after the Colonel, which was right hard on the C. O., but I bet Ranch
thought he was complimentin' him. Why, Ranch considered himself honored
if any of the pup's fleas hopped off on him. The pup he kep' along with
us right through everything; Ranch watchin' him like the apple of his
eye, an' he hardly ever was out of our sight, till one night about a
week after we quartered in the temple he didn't turn up fer supper. He
was always so reg'lar at his chow that Ranch he begin ter git the
squirms an' when come taps an' Daggett hadn't reported, Ranch had the
razzle-dazzles.

"Nex' mornin' the foist thing he must go hunt that pup, an' went a
scoutin' all day, me an' Buck helpin' him--but nary pup; an' come
another supper without that miser'ble mutt, an' Ranch was up an alley
all right, all right. He was all wore out, an' I made him hit the bunk
early an' try ter sleep; but, Lord! No sooner he'd drop off 'n he git
ter twitchin' an' hitchin' an' wake up a-yelpin' fer Daggett. Long about
taps, Buck, who's been out on a private reconnoissance, comes back an'
whispers ter me: 'Ssst, Bill! The cur's found! Don't tell Ranch; the
bloke'd die of heart failure. I struck his trail an' follered it--an'
say, Bill, what'n thunder do yer think? Them heathen Chinos has _et
him_!' Lord, now, wouldn't that jolt youse? Them Chinos a-eatin'
Daggett! It give me an awful jar, an' Buck he felt it, too. That there
mutt had acted right decent, an' we knew Ranch would have bats in the
belfry fer fair if he hoid tell o' the pup's finish; so says Buck;
'Let's not tell him, 'cause he's takin' on now like he'd lost mother an'
father an' best goil an' all, an' if he knew Daggett was providin' chow
fer Chinos he'd go clean bug house an' we'd have ter ship him home ter
St. Elizabeth.'

"I says O. K. ter that, an' we made it up not ter let on ter Ranch; an'
now here comes the spook part yer been a-waitin' fer.

"Four or five nights later I was on guard, an' my post was the farthest
out we had on the north. There was an ol' road out over that way, an'
I'd hoid tell it led ter a ol' graveyard, but I hadn't never been there
myself an' hadn't thought much about it till 'long between two an'
three o'clock, as I was a-hikin' up an down, when somepin' comes
a-zizzin' down the road hell-fer-leather on to me, a-yellin' somepin'
fierce. Gee, but I was skeered! I made sure it was a spook, an' there
wasn't a bit o' breath left in me. I was all to the bad that time fer
sure. Before I had time ter think even, that screamin', streakin' thing
was on me an a-grabbin' roun' my knees; an' then I see it was one o'
them near-Christian Chinos, an' he's skeered more'n me even. His eyes
had popped clean out'n their slits, an' his tongue was hangin' out by
the roots, he was that locoed. I raised the long yell fer corporal of
the guard, which happened, by good luck, ter be Buck, an' when he come
a-runnin', thinkin' from the whoops I give we was bein' rushed by the
hole push of Boxers, the two of us began proddin' at the Chink ter find
out what was doin'. Took us some time, too, with him bein' in such a
flutter an' hardly able ter even hand out his darn ol' pigeon English,
that sounds like language comin' out of a sausage machine. When we did
savvy his line of chop-suey talk, we found out he'd seen a ghost in the
graveyard, an' not only seen it but he knew who the spook was an' all
about him. We was gittin' some serious ourselves an' made him tell us.

"Seems it was a mandarin--that's a sort o' Chink police-court judge
(till I got ter Tientsin I always thought they was little oranges), an'
this tangerine's--I mean mandarin's--name was Wu Ti Ming, an' he'd been
a high mucky-muckraker in his day, which was two or three hundred years
back. But the Emprer caught him deep in some sort o' graft an' _took
away his button_ an' all o' his dough.

"'Lord!' says Buck when we come ter this, 'don't that prove what
heathens Chinks is? Only one button ter keep on their clothes with, an'
the Emprer he kin take it away! What did this here Judge Ming do then,
John? Use string or pins?' This here John didn't seem ter savvy, but he
said that the mandarin took on so fer his button an' his loss of pull in
the ward that it was sure sad ter see, an' by an' by the Emprer got busy
again with him an' had him finished up fer keeps; had him die the 'death
of a thousand cuts,' says John. It sounded fierce ter me, but Buck he
says:

"'Pshaw! Anybody who's been shaved reg'lar by them lady barbers on
Fourth Avenyer would 'a' give the Emprer the merry ha-ha----'

"After Ming was cut up they took the remains of his corpse an' planted
him in this here graveyard up the road; but he wouldn't stay planted an'
began doin' stunts at night, 'topside walkee-walkee' an' a-huntin' fer
his lost button. He'd used ter have the whole country scared up, but fer
the last twenty years he'd kep' right quiet an' had hardly ever come
out; but now sence the foreign devils come (ain't that a sweet name fer
us?) he's up an' at it again worse than ever, an' the heathens is on
their ear. Fer four nights now they'd seen him, wrapped in a blue robe,
waitin' an' a-huntin' behind tombstones an' walkin' round an' round the
graveyard lie a six days' race fer the belt at Madison Square. John had
jus' seen him on the wall, an' that was why he come chargin' down the
road like forty cats.

"'Will Mr. Ming's sperrit walk till he gits that button back?' Buck
asts. John says: 'Sure.'

"'Well,' says Buck, 'why don't yer give him one?'

"'No can give. Only Emplor, only Son of Heaven give.'

"'Well, look here,' says Buck, 'we sand rabbits ain't no sons of Heaven,
but I'll be darned if we couldn't spare a button ter lay the ghost of a
pore busted police-court judge, who's lost his job an' his tin, if
_that's_ all he wants back. What time does he come out at, John? Could
we see him ter-morrer night?' 'Sure could we,' says John; 'he'll show us
the way, but he won't wait with us; he's bad enough fer his.'

"So Buck takes John an' goes back ter the guard shack, as it's most time
fer relief, an' after I got back we told John ter git the hook, an' we
talked things over, an' Buck he was just wild ter see if he couldn't lay
that Chino ghost. His talents was achin' ter git action on him; anythin'
like that got up his spunk. Says I:

"'Maybe Ranch kin help. We'll tell him ter-morrer after guard mount.
It'll take his mind off Daggett.'

"'No, yer don't,' says Buck. 'Don't yer dare tell him. He's nervous as a
cat over the pup as it is, an' this spook business is awful skeery; I'm
feelin' woozy over it meself. I'm all off when it comes ter ghosts--that
is, if it's a real ghost. And things here in Pekin' is so funny the odds
is all in favor of its bein' the sure thing. I ain't afeard o' no kinds
o' people, but I sure git cold feet when I'm up against a ghost.
Wouldn't that jar youse? An' me a soldier; when it's a soldier's whole
business not ter _git_ cold feet. But I'm bound I'll have a show at that
ol' spook even if it _does_ skeer me out o' my growth. Only don't yer
dare tell Ranch.'

"Nex' night, right after eleven o'clock rounds, me an' Buck slipped
outer our blankets, sneaked out past the guard, an' met John, who was
waitin' fer us in the road jus' beyond where the last sentry woulder
seen him. It was cold as git out. Jus' the same kind o' early cold as
to-night, an' John's teeth was chatterin' like peas in a box--he was
some loco with skeer, too, you bet.

"'Which way?' says Buck, an' John spouts a lot o' dope-joint lingo an'
takes us up a side alley, where there's a whole bunch o' Chinos waitin'
fer us, an' they begun a kowtowin' an' goin' on like we was the whole
cheese. Turned out that John had jollied 'em that the Melican soldier
mans was big medicine an' would make Judge Ming quit the midnight hike
an' cut out scarin' 'em blue. That jus' suited Buck; he was all there
when it come ter play commander in chief. He swelled up an' give 'em a
bundle o' talk that John put in Chino fer 'em, an' then finished up by
showin' 'em a button--a ol' United States Army brass button he'd cut off
his blue blouse--an' tol' 'em he was goin' ter bury it in Ming's grave
so as ter keep him bedded down.

"An' them simple idiots was pleased ter death, an' the whole outfit
escorted us over ter the graveyard, but they shied at the gate (Lord, I
hated ter see 'em go--even if they _was_ heathens!), an' let John take
us in an' show us where ter wait. He put us in behind a pile o' little
rocks in about the middle o' the place near where Judge Ming hung out,
an' then retired on the main body at the double, leavin' us two in
outpost alone there together. I hadn't never been ter a Chino buryin'
ground before, an' night time wasn't extree pleasant fer a foist
introduce. There was a new moon that night--a little shavin' of a thing
that hardly gave no light, an' from where we was there was a twisty pine
tree branch that struck out right acrost it like a picture card--two fer
five. The graveyard was all dark an' quiet, with little piles o' rocks
an' stone tables ter mark the graves, an' a four- or five-foot wall
runnin' all round it; an' somehow, without nothin' stirrin' at all, the
whole blame place seemed chock full o' movin' shadders. There wasn't a
sound neither; not the least little thing; jus' them shadders; an' the
harder yous'd look at 'em the more they seemed ter move. It was cold,
too, like I told yer--bitin' cold--an' me an' Buck squatted there tight
together an' mos' friz. We waited, an' we waited, an' _we waited_, an'
we got skeerder, an' skeerder, an' _skeerder_, an', gee! how we
shivered! Every minute we thought we'd see Judge Ming, but a long time
went by an' he didn't come an' he _didn't_ come. There we set, strung up
tight an' ready ter snap like a banjo string, but nothin' ter see but
the shakin' shadders an' nothin' ter hear--nothin' but jus' dead, dead
silence.

"All of a suddent Buck (he kin hear a pin drop a mile away) nearly nips
a piece out'n my arm as he grips me. 'Listen!' says he.

"I listened an' listened, but I didn't hear nothin', an' I told him so.

"'Yes, yer do, yer bloke yer,' he whispers, 'Listen. Strain your years.'

"Then way off I did begin ter hear somepin'. It was a long, funny, waily
cry, sort o' like the way cats holler at each other at night. 'Oh-oo-oo,
oh-oo-oo!' like that, an' it come nearer an' nearer. Then all of a
suddent somepin' popped up on the graveyard wall about a hundred yards
away--somepin' all blue-gray against the hook o' the moon--an' began
walkin' up an' down an' hollerin'. I knew it was sayin' words, but I was
so far to the bad I didn't know nothin' an' couldn't make it out. I
never thought a feller's heart could bang so hard against his ribs
without bustin' out, an' me hair riz so high me campaign hat was three
inches off'n me head. I hope ter the Lord I'll never be so frightened
again in all my livin' days. I set there in a transom from fear an' friz
ter the spot. I don't know nothin' o' what Buck was doin', as my lamps
was glued ter the spook. It jumped down from the wall, callin' an'
whistlin' an' begin runnin' round the little stone heaps. I seen it was
comin' our way, but I couldn't move or make a sound; I jus' set. All of
a suddent Buck he jumps up an' makes a dash an' a leap at the spook, an'
there's a terrible yellin' an' they both comes down crash at the foot of
a rock pile, rollin' on the little pebbles; but Buck is on top an' the
spook underneath an' lettin' off the most awful screeches. Gosh, they
jus' ripped the air, them spooks' yells did, an' they turned my spell
loose an' I howled fer all I was worth. Then Buck, he commenced
a-yawpin' too, but me an' the spook we was both raisin' so much noise I
didn't savvy what he said fer some time. Then I found he was cussin' me
out.

"'Come here, you forsaken ---- ----,' he howls. 'Quit yellin'! I say _quit
yellin'_! Don't yer see who this is? Come here an' help me.'

"'You think I'm goin' ter tech that Ming spook?' I shrieks.

"'You miser'ble loony,' he yells back, 'can't yer see it ain't no Ming?
It's Ranch!'

"Well, so it was. It was Ranch skeered stiff an' hollerin' fer dear life
at bein' jumped on an' waked up in the middle of a graveyard that-a-way.
Pore ol' feller had had Daggett on his mind, an' went sleepwalkin' an'
huntin' wrapped in his blanket.

"'An',' says Buck ter me, 'if youse hadn't been in such a dope dream
with skeer, you'd 'a' sensed what he was a-yellin'. He was callin'
"Oh-oo-oo, oh-oo-oo, here Daggett! Here, boy!" an' then he'd whistle an'
call again: "Here, Daggett! Here, Daggett!" That's how I knew it was
Ranch; an', besides, he told me onct that he sleepwalked when he got
worried. But you, you white livered--' an' then he cussed me out some
more.

"'Smarty,' I says, 'if yer knew so blame well it was Ranch, why did yer
give him the flyin' tackle like yer done an' git him all woiked up like
this?'

"'Well,' says Buck sort o' sheepy, 'I was some woiked up meself, an'
time he come along I give him the spook's tackle without thinkin'; I was
too skeered ter think. Hush, Ranch. Hush, old boy. It's jus' me'n Bill.
Nobody shan't hoit yer.'

"We comforted pore ol' Ranch an' fixed him up, an' then when he felt
better told him about things--all but how Daggett was et--an' I wrapped
his blanket around him an' took him back ter quarters while Buck went
a-lookin' fer John an' his gang.

"He found 'em about half a mile off, in front of a Mott Street joss
house, all prayin' an' burnin' punk an' huddled together, skeered green
from the yellin's they'd heard. Buck, he give 'em a long chin-chin about
layin' the ghost, an' how Judge Ming wouldn't never come back no more;
an' then he dragged 'em all back (they pullin' at the halter shanks with
years laid back an' eyes rollin'), ter him bury his United States button
on Ming's rock pile. He dropped it in solemn, an' said what the Chinks
took ter be a prayer; but it was really the oath he said. Buck havin'
onct been a recruitin' sergeant, knew it by heart all the way from 'I do
solemnly swear' ter 'so help me, Gawd.' Buck says I oughter seen them
grateful Chinos then: they'd 'a' give him the whole Chino Umpire if they
could. They got down an' squirmed an' kissed his hands an' his feet an'
his sleeve. They wanted ter escort him back ter camp, but he bucked at
that, an' said no, as he was out without pass an' not itchin' fer his
arrival ter be noticed none.

"After that we took toins watchin' Ranch at night, an' got him another
mutt ter love, an' he didn't wander any more, so Judge Ming seemed
satisfied with his United States button, an' kep' quiet. But them Chinks
was the gratefullest gang yer ever seen. They brought us presents;
things ter eat--fruit, poultry, eggs, an' all sorts of chow, some of it
mighty funny lookin', but it tasted all right; we lived high, we three.
The other fellers was wild ter know how we woiked it. An' I tell yer I
ain't never been skeered o' ghosts sence--that is, not ter speak
of--_much_!"

Bill, paused, drew a long breath, and looked at the clock. "Gee!" said
he, "most nine o'clock. I got ter go over ter K troop ter see Sergeant
Keefe a minute--I promised him. Adios, fellers. Thanks fer the smokin'."

"Keep the change, hombre. Thanks for yo' tale," shouted Whitney after
him as he disappeared down the hall.

"Well!!" said Stone, and looked at Hansen.

"Well!!" responded Hansen. The big Swede shook with laughter. "Iss he
not the finest liar! Yess? I wass in the Fourteenth myselluf. That wass
my company--Chay. He wass not even the army in then--in nineteen
hund'erd."

"Yes," said Stone, "I knew, but I wasn't goin' to spoil his bloomin'
yarn. I happened to see his enlistment card only this mornin', and the
only thing he was ever in before was the Twenty-third Infantry after
they came back from the Islands. He's never even been out of the
States."

"But where did he get it from?" asked Whitney. "His imagination is equal
to most anything but gettin' so many facts straight. Of co'se I noticed
things yere an' there--but the most of it was O. K."

"I tell you," said Hansen, grinning, "he got it from an old Fourteenth
man--Dan Powerss--at practice camp last Chuly. He an' I wass often
talking of China. He wuss in my old company an' wass then telling me how
he an' the other fellerss all that extra chow got. I tank Bill he hass a
goot memory."

"But the nerve of him!" cried Whitehall, "tryin' ter pass that off on us
with Hansen sittin' right there."

"It iss one thing he may have forgot," smiled Hansen.

"Well, who cares anyway?" said Stone. "It was a blame good story. An'
now clear out, all of you. I want to hit the bunk. Reveille does seem to
come so early these cold mornin's. Gee! I wish I knew of some kind of
button that would keep _me_ lyin' down when Shorty wants me to get up
an' call the roll."



THE SPECTER BRIDEGROOM

BY WASHINGTON IRVING



The Specter Bridegroom

A TRAVELER'S TALE[2]

BY WASHINGTON IRVING

    He that supper for is dight,
    He lyes full cold, I trow, this night!
    Yestreen to chamber I him led,
    This night Gray-Steel has made his bed.
    SIR EGER, SIR GRAHAME, AND SIR GRAY-STEEL.


On the summit of one of the heights of the Odenwald, a wild and romantic
tract of Upper Germany, that lies not far from the confluence of the
Main and the Rhine, there stood, many, many years since, the Castle of
the Baron Von Landshort. It is now quite fallen to decay, and almost
buried among beech trees and dark firs; above which, however, its old
watch tower may still be seen, struggling, like the former possessor I
have mentioned, to carry a high head, and look down upon the neighboring
country.

The baron was a dry branch of the great family of Katzenellenbogen,[3]
and inherited the relics of the property, and all the pride of his
ancestors. Though the warlike disposition of his predecessors had much
impaired the family possessions, yet the baron still endeavored to keep
up some show of former state. The times were peaceable, and the German
nobles, in general, had abandoned their inconvenient old castles,
perched like eagles' nests among the mountains, and had built more
convenient residences in the valleys; still the baron remained proudly
drawn up in his little fortress, cherishing with hereditary inveteracy,
all the old family feuds; so that he was on ill terms with some of his
nearest neighbors, on account of disputes that had happened between
their great-great-grandfathers.

The baron had but one child, a daughter; but nature, when she grants but
one child, always compensates by making it a prodigy; and so it was with
the daughter of the baron. All the nurses, gossips, and country cousins
assured her father that she had not her equal for beauty in all Germany;
and who should know better than they? She had, moreover, been brought up
with great care under the superintendence of two maiden aunts, who had
spent some years of their early life at one of the little German
courts, and were skilled in all branches of knowledge necessary to the
education of a fine lady. Under their instructions she became a miracle
of accomplishments. By the time she was eighteen, she could embroider to
admiration, and had worked whole histories of the saints in tapestry,
with such strength of expression in their countenances, that they looked
like so many souls in purgatory. She could read without great
difficulty, and had spelled her way through several church legends, and
almost all the chivalric wonders of the Heldenbuch. She had even made
considerable proficiency in writing; could sign her own name without
missing a letter, and so legibly, that her aunts could read it without
spectacles. She excelled in making little elegant good-for-nothing
lady-like nicknacks of all kinds; was versed in the most abstruse
dancing of the day; played a number of airs on the harp and guitar; and
knew all the tender ballads of the Minnelieders by heart.

Her aunts, too, having been great flirts and coquettes in their younger
days, were admirably calculated to be vigilant guardians and strict
censors of the conduct of their niece; for there is no duenna so rigidly
prudent, and inexorably decorous, as a superannuated coquette. She was
rarely suffered out of their sight; never went beyond the domains of the
castle, unless well attended, or rather well watched; had continual
lectures read to her about strict decorum and implicit obedience; and,
as to the men--pah!--she was taught to hold them at such a distance, and
in such absolute distrust, that, unless properly authorized, she would
not have cast a glance upon the handsomest cavalier in the world--no,
not if he were even dying at her feet.

The good effects of this system were wonderfully apparent. The young
lady was a pattern of docility and correctness. While others were
wasting their sweetness in the glare of the world, and liable to be
plucked and thrown aside by every hand, she was coyly blooming into
fresh and lovely womanhood under the protection of those immaculate
spinsters, like a rosebud blushing forth among guardian thorns. Her
aunts looked upon her with pride and exultation, and vaunted that though
all the other young ladies in the world might go astray, yet, thank
Heaven, nothing of the kind could happen to the heiress of
Katzenellenbogen.

But, however scantily the Baron Von Landshort might be provided with
children, his household was by no means a small one; for Providence had
enriched him with abundance of poor relations. They, one and all,
possessed the affectionate disposition common to humble relatives; were
wonderfully attached to the baron, and took every possible occasion to
come in swarms and enliven the castle. All family festivals were
commemorated by these good people at the baron's expense; and when they
were filled with good cheer, they would declare that there was nothing
on earth so delightful as these family meetings, these jubilees of the
heart.

The baron, though a small man, had a large soul, and it swelled with
satisfaction at the consciousness of being the greatest man in the
little world about him. He loved to tell long stories about the dark old
warriors whose portraits looked grimly down from the walls around, and
he found no listeners equal to those that fed at his expense. He was
much given to the marvelous, and a firm believer in all those
supernatural tales with which every mountain and valley in Germany
abounds. The faith of his guests exceeded even his own: they listened to
every tale of wonder with open eyes and mouth, and never failed to be
astonished, even though repeated for the hundredth time. Thus lived the
Baron Von Landshort, the oracle of his table, the absolute monarch of
his little territory, and happy, above all things, in the persuasion
that he was the wisest man of the age.

At the time of which my story treats, there was a great family gathering
at the castle, on an affair of the utmost importance: it was to receive
the destined bridegroom of the baron's daughter. A negotiation had been
carried on between the father and an old nobleman of Bavaria, to unite
the dignity of their houses by the marriage of their children. The
preliminaries had been conducted with proper punctilio. The young people
were betrothed without seeing each other, and the time was appointed for
the marriage ceremony. The young Count Von Altenburg had been recalled
from the army for the purpose, and was actually on his way to the
baron's to receive his bride. Missives had even been received from him
from Wurtzburg, where he was accidentally detained, mentioning the day
and hour when he might be expected to arrive.

The castle was in a tumult of preparation to give him a suitable
welcome. The fair bride had been decked out with uncommon care. The two
aunts had superintended her toilet, and quarreled the whole morning
about every article of her dress. The young lady had taken advantage of
their contest to follow the bent of her own taste; and fortunately it
was a good one. She looked as lovely as youthful bridegroom could
desire; and the flutter of expectation heightened the luster of her
charms.

The suffusions that mantled her face and neck, the gentle heaving of the
bosom, the eye now and then lost in reverie, all betrayed the soft
tumult that was going on in her little heart. The aunts were continually
hovering around her; for maiden aunts are apt to take great interest in
affairs of this nature. They were giving her a world of staid counsel
how to deport herself, what to say, and in what manner to receive the
expected lover.

The baron was no less busied in preparations. He had, in truth, nothing
exactly to do; but he was naturally a fuming bustling little man, and
could not remain passive when all the world was in a hurry. He worried
from top to bottom of the castle with an air of infinite anxiety; he
continually called the servants from their work to exhort them to be
diligent; and buzzed about every hall and chamber, as idly restless and
importunate as a blue-bottle fly on a warm summer's day.

In the meantime the fatted calf had been killed; the forests had rung
with the clamor of the huntsmen; the kitchen was crowded with good
cheer; the cellars had yielded up whole oceans of _Rheinwein_ and
_Fernewein_; and even the great Heidelberg tun had been laid under
contribution. Everything was ready to receive the distinguished guest
with _Saus und Braus_ in the true spirit of German hospitality--but the
guest delayed to make his appearance. Hour rolled after hour. The sun,
that had poured his downward rays upon the rich forest of the Odenwald,
now just gleamed along the summits of the mountains. The baron mounted
the highest tower, and strained his eyes in hope of catching a distant
sight of the count and his attendants. Once he thought he beheld them;
the sounds of horns came floating from the valley, prolonged by the
mountain echoes. A number of horsemen were seen far below, slowly
advancing along the road; but when they had nearly reached the foot of
the mountain, they suddenly struck off in a different direction. The
last ray of sunshine departed--the bats began to flit by in the
twilight--the road grew dimmer and dimmer to the view; and nothing
appeared stirring in it but now and then a peasant lagging homeward
from his labor.

While the old castle at Landshort was in this state of perplexity, a
very interesting scene was transacting in a different part of the
Odenwald.

The young Count Von Altenburg was tranquilly pursuing his route in that
sober jog-trot way in which a man travels toward matrimony when his
friends have taken all the trouble and uncertainty of courtship off his
hands, and a bride is waiting for him, as certainly as a dinner at the
end of his journey. He had encountered at Wurtzburg a youthful companion
in arms with whom he had seen some service on the frontiers: Herman Von
Starkenfaust, one of the stoutest hands and worthiest hearts of German
chivalry, who was now returning from the army. His father's castle was
not far distant from the old fortress of Landshort, although an
hereditary feud rendered the families hostile, and strangers to each
other.

In the warm-hearted moment of recognition, the young friends related all
their past adventures and fortunes, and the count gave the whole history
of his intended nuptials with a young lady whom he had never seen, but
of whose charms he had received the most enrapturing descriptions.

As the route of the friends lay in the same direction, they agreed to
perform the rest of their journey together; and, that they might do it
the more leisurely, set off from Wurtzburg at an early hour, the count
having given directions for his retinue to follow and overtake him.

They beguiled their wayfaring with recollections of their military
scenes and adventures; but the count was apt to be a little tedious, now
and then, about the reputed charms of his bride and the felicity that
awaited him.

In this way they had entered among the mountains of the Odenwald, and
were traversing one of its most lonely and thickly wooded passes. It is
well known that the forests of Germany have always been as much infested
by robbers as its castles by specters; and at this time the former were
particularly numerous, from the hordes of disbanded soldiers wandering
about the country. It will not appear extraordinary, therefore, that the
cavaliers were attacked by a gang of these stragglers, in the midst of
the forest. They defended themselves with bravery, but were nearly
overpowered, when the count's retinue arrived to their assistance. At
sight of them the robbers fled, but not until the count had received a
mortal wound. He was slowly and carefully conveyed back to the city of
Wurtzburg, and a friar summoned from a neighboring convent who was
famous for his skill in administering to both soul and body; but half of
his skill was superfluous; the moments of the unfortunate count were
numbered.

With his dying breath he entreated his friend to repair instantly to the
castle of Landshort, and explain the fatal cause of his not keeping his
appointment with his bride. Though not the most ardent of lovers, he
was one of the most punctilious of men, and appeared earnestly
solicitous that his mission should be speedily and courteously executed.
"Unless this is done," said he, "I shall not sleep quietly in my grave!"
He repeated these last words with peculiar solemnity. A request, at a
moment so impressive, admitted no hesitation. Starkenfaust endeavored to
soothe him to calmness; promised faithfully to execute his wish, and
gave him his hand in solemn pledge. The dying man pressed it in
acknowledgment, but soon lapsed into delirium--raved about his
bride--his engagements--his plighted word; ordered his horse, that he
might ride to the castle of Landshort; and expired in the fancied act of
vaulting into the saddle.

Starkenfaust bestowed a sigh and a soldier's tear on the untimely fate
of his comrade, and then pondered on the awkward mission he had
undertaken. His heart was heavy, and his head perplexed; for he was to
present himself an unbidden guest among hostile people, and to damp
their festivity with tidings fatal to their hopes. Still, there were
certain whisperings of curiosity in his bosom to see this far-famed
beauty of Katzenellenbogen, so cautiously shut up from the world; for he
was a passionate admirer of the sex, and there was a dash of
eccentricity and enterprise in his character that made him fond of all
singular adventure.

Previous to his departure he made all due arrangements with the holy
fraternity of the convent for the funeral solemnities of his friend, who
was to be buried in the cathedral of Wurtzburg near some of his
illustrious relatives; and the mourning retinue of the count took charge
of his remains.

It is now high time that we should return to the ancient family of
Katzenellenbogen, who were impatient for their guest, and still more for
their dinner; and to the worthy little baron, whom we left airing
himself on the watch-tower.

Night closed in, but still no guest arrived. The baron descended from
the tower in despair. The banquet, which had been delayed from hour to
hour, could no longer be postponed. The meats were already overdone; the
cook in an agony; and the whole household had the look of a garrison
that had been reduced by famine. The baron was obliged reluctantly to
give orders for the feast without the presence of the guest. All were
seated at table, and just on the point of commencing, when the sound of
a horn from without the gate gave notice of the approach of a stranger.
Another long blast filled the old courts of the castle with its echoes,
and was answered by the warder from the walls. The baron hastened to
receive his future son-in-law.

The drawbridge had been let down, and the stranger was before the gate.
He was a tall, gallant cavalier mounted on a black steed. His
countenance was pale, but he had a beaming, romantic eye, and an air of
stately melancholy.

The baron was a little mortified that he should have come in this
simple, solitary style. His dignity for a moment was ruffled, and he
felt disposed to consider it a want of proper respect for the important
occasion, and the important family with which he was to be connected. He
pacified himself, however, with the conclusion, that it must have been
youthful impatience which had induced him thus to spur on sooner than
his attendants.

"I am sorry," said the stranger, "to break in upon you thus
unseasonably----"

Here the baron interrupted with a world of compliments and greetings;
for, to tell the truth, he prided himself upon his courtesy and
eloquence.

The stranger attempted, once or twice, to stem the torrent of words, but
in vain, so he bowed his head and suffered it to flow on. By the time
the baron had come to a pause, they had reached the inner court of the
castle; and the stranger was again about to speak, when he was once more
interrupted by the appearance of the female part of the family leading
forth the shrinking and blushing bride. He gazed on her for a moment as
one entranced; it seemed as if his whole soul beamed forth in the gaze,
and rested upon that lovely form. One of the maiden aunts whispered
something in her ear; she made an effort to speak; her moist blue eye
was timidly raised; gave a shy glance of inquiry on the stranger; and
was cast again to the ground. The words died away; but there was a
sweet smile playing about her lips, and a soft dimpling of the cheek
that showed her glance had not been unsatisfactory. It was impossible
for a girl of the fond age of eighteen, highly predisposed for love and
matrimony, not to be pleased with so gallant a cavalier.

The late hour at which the guest had arrived left no time for parley.
The baron was peremptory, and deferred all particular conversation until
the morning, and led the way to the untasted banquet.

It was served up in the great hall of the castle. Around the walls hung
the hard-favored portraits of the heroes of the house of
Katzenellenbogen, and the trophies which they had gained in the field
and in the chase. Hacked corselets, splintered jousting spears, and
tattered banners were mingled with the spoils of sylvan warfare; the
jaws of the wolf and the tusks of the boar grinned horribly among
cross-bows and battle-axes, and a huge pair of antlers branched
immediately over the head of the youthful bridegroom.

The cavalier took but little notice of the company or the entertainment.
He scarcely tasted the banquet, but seemed absorbed in admiration of his
bride. He conversed in a low tone that could not be overheard--for the
language of love is never loud; but where is the female ear so dull that
it cannot catch the softest whisper of the lover? There was a mingled
tenderness and gravity in his manner, that appeared to have a powerful
effect upon the young lady. Her color came and went as she listened with
deep attention. Now and then she made some blushing reply, and when his
eye was turned away, she would steal a sidelong glance at his romantic
countenance and heave a gentle sigh of tender happiness. It was evident
that the young couple were completely enamored. The aunts, who were
deeply versed in the mysteries of the heart, declared that they had
fallen in love with each other at first sight.

The feast went on merrily, or at least noisily, for the guests were all
blessed with those keen appetites that attend upon light purses and
mountain air. The baron told his best and longest stories, and never had
he told them so well, or with such great effect. If there was anything
marvelous, his auditors were lost in astonishment; and if anything
facetious, they were sure to laugh exactly in the right place. The
baron, it is true, like most great men, was too dignified to utter any
joke but a dull one; it was always enforced, however, by a bumper of
excellent Hockheimer; and even a dull joke, at one's own table, served
up with jolly old wine, is irresistible. Many good things were said by
poorer and keener wits that would not bear repeating, except on similar
occasions; many sly speeches whispered in ladies' ears, that almost
convulsed them with suppressed laughter; and a song or two roared out by
a poor, but merry and broad-faced cousin of the baron that absolutely
made the maiden aunts hold up their fans.

Amidst all this revelry, the stranger guest maintained a most singular
and unseasonable gravity. His countenance assumed a deeper cast of
dejection as the evening advanced; and, strange as it may appear, even
the baron's jokes seemed only to render him the more melancholy. At
times he was lost in thought, and at times there was a perturbed and
restless wandering of the eye that bespoke a mind but ill at ease. His
conversations with the bride became more and more earnest and
mysterious. Lowering clouds began to steal over the fair serenity of her
brow, and tremors to run through her tender frame.

All this could not escape the notice of the company. Their gayety was
chilled by the unaccountable gloom of the bridegroom; their spirits were
infected; whispers and glances were interchanged, accompanied by shrugs
and dubious shakes of the head. The song and the laugh grew less and
less frequent; there were dreary pauses in the conversation, which were
at length succeeded by wild tales and supernatural legends. One dismal
story produced another still more dismal, and the baron nearly
frightened some of the ladies into hysterics with the history of the
goblin horseman that carried away the fair Leonora; a dreadful story
which has since been put into excellent verse, and is read and believed
by all the world.

The bridegroom listened to this tale with profound attention. He kept
his eyes steadily fixed on the baron, and, as the story drew to a close,
began gradually to rise from his seat, growing taller and taller, until,
in the baron's entranced eye, he seemed almost to tower into a giant.
The moment the tale was finished, he heaved a deep sigh and took a
solemn farewell of the company. They were all amazement. The baron was
perfectly thunder-struck.

"What! going to leave the castle at midnight? Why, everything was
prepared for his reception; a chamber was ready for him if he wished to
retire."

The stranger shook his head mournfully and mysteriously; "I must lay my
head in a different chamber to-night!"

There was something in this reply, and the tone in which it was uttered,
that made the baron's heart misgive him; but he rallied his forces and
repeated his hospitable entreaties.

The stranger shook his head silently, but positively, at every offer;
and, waving his farewell to the company, stalked slowly out of the hall.
The maiden aunts were absolutely petrified--the bride hung her head, and
a tear stole to her eye.

The baron followed the stranger to the great court of the castle, where
the black charger stood pawing the earth and snorting with impatience.
When they had reached the portal, whose deep archway was dimly lighted
by a cresset, the stranger paused, and addressed the baron in a hollow
tone of voice which the vaulted roof rendered still more sepulchral.

"Now that we are alone," said he, "I will impart to you the reason of my
going. I have a solemn, an indispensable engagement----"

"Why," said the baron, "cannot you send someone in your place?"

"It admits of no substitute--I must attend it in person--I must away to
Wurtzburg cathedral----"

"Ay," said the baron, plucking up spirit, "but not until
to-morrow--to-morrow you shall take your bride there."

"No! no!" replied the stranger, with tenfold solemnity, "my engagement
is with no bride--the worms! the worms expect me! I am a dead man--I
have been slain by robbers--my body lies at Wurtzburg--at midnight I am
to be buried--the grave is waiting for me--I must keep my appointment!"

He sprang on his black charger, dashed over the drawbridge, and the
clattering of his horses' hoofs was lost in the whistling of the night
blast.

The baron returned to the hall in the utmost consternation, and related
what had passed. Two ladies fainted outright, others sickened at the
idea of having banqueted with a specter. It was the opinion of some,
that this might be the wild huntsman, famous in German legend. Some
talked of mountain sprites, of wood-demons, and of other supernatural
beings, with which the good people of Germany have been so grievously
harassed since time immemorial. One of the poor relations ventured to
suggest that it might be some sportive evasion of the young cavalier,
and that the very gloominess of the caprice seemed to accord with so
melancholy a personage. This, however, drew on him the indignation of
the whole company, and especially of the baron, who looked upon him as
little better than an infidel; so that he was fain to abjure his heresy
as speedily as possible, and come into the faith of the true believers.

But whatever may have been the doubts entertained, they were completely
put to an end by the arrival, next day, of regular missives confirming
the intelligence of the young count's murder, and his interment in
Wurtzburg cathedral.

The dismay at the castle may well be imagined. The baron shut himself up
in his chamber. The guests, who had come to rejoice with him, could not
think of abandoning him in his distress. They wandered about the courts,
or collected in groups in the hall, shaking their heads and shrugging
their shoulders at the troubles of so good a man; and sat longer than
ever at table, and ate and drank more stoutly than ever, by way of
keeping up their spirits. But the situation of the widowed bride was the
most pitiable. To have lost a husband before she had even embraced
him--and such a husband! if the very specter could be so gracious and
noble, what must have been the living man! She filled the house with
lamentations.

On the night of the second day of her widowhood, she had retired to her
chamber, accompanied by one of her aunts who insisted on sleeping with
her. The aunt, who was one of the best tellers of ghost stories in all
Germany, had just been recounting one of her longest, and had fallen
asleep in the very midst of it. The chamber was remote, and overlooked a
small garden. The niece lay pensively gazing at the beams of the rising
moon, as they trembled on the leaves of an aspen-tree before the
lattice. The castle-clock had just tolled midnight, when a soft strain
of music stole up from the garden. She rose hastily from her bed, and
stepped lightly to the window. A tall figure stood among the shadows of
the trees. As it raised its head, a beam of moonlight fell upon the
countenance. Heaven and earth! she beheld the Specter Bridegroom! A loud
shriek at that moment burst upon her ear, and her aunt, who had been
awakened by the music, and had followed her silently to the window, fell
into her arms. When she looked again, the specter had disappeared.

Of the two females, the aunt now required the most soothing, for she was
perfectly beside herself with terror. As to the young lady, there was
something, even in the specter of her lover, that seemed endearing.
There was still the semblance of manly beauty; and though the shadow of
a man is but little calculated to satisfy the affections of a love-sick
girl, yet, where the substance is not to be had, even that is consoling.
The aunt declared she would never sleep in that chamber again; the
niece, for once, was refractory, and declared as strongly that she would
sleep in no other in the castle: the consequence was, that she had to
sleep in it alone: but she drew a promise from her aunt not to relate
the story of the specter, lest she should be denied the only melancholy
pleasure left her on earth--that of inhabiting the chamber over which
the guardian shade of her lover kept its nightly vigils.

How long the good old lady would have observed this promise is
uncertain, for she dearly loved to talk of the marvelous, and there is a
triumph in being the first to tell a frightful story; it is, however,
still quoted in the neighborhood, as a memorable instance of female
secrecy, that she kept it to herself for a whole week; when she was
suddenly absolved from all further restraint, by intelligence, brought
to the breakfast table one morning, that the young lady was not to be
found. Her room was empty--the bed had not been slept in--the window was
open, and the bird had flown!

The astonishment and concern with which the intelligence was received,
can only be imagined by those who have witnessed the agitation which the
mishaps of a great man cause among his friends. Even the poor relations
paused for a moment from the indefatigable labors of the trencher, when
the aunt, who had at first been struck speechless, wrung her hands, and
shrieked out, "The goblin! the goblin! She's carried away by the
goblin!"

In a few words she related the fearful scene of the garden, and
concluded that the specter must have carried off his bride. Two of the
domestics corroborated the opinion, for they had heard the clattering of
a horse's hoofs down the mountain about midnight, and had no doubt that
it was the specter on his black charger, bearing her away to the tomb.
All present were struck with the direful probability; for events of the
kind are extremely common in Germany, as many well-authenticated
histories bear witness.

What a lamentable situation was that of the poor baron! What a
heart-rending dilemma for a fond father, and a member of the great
family of Katzenellenbogen! His only daughter had either been rapt away
to the grave, or he was to have some wood-demon for a son-in-law, and,
perchance, a troop of goblin grandchildren. As usual, he was completely
bewildered and all the castle in an uproar. The men were ordered to take
horse, and scour every road and path and glen of the Odenwald. The baron
himself had just drawn on his jack-boots, girded on his sword, and was
about to mount his steed to sally forth on the doubtful quest, when he
was brought to a pause by a new apparition. A lady was seen approaching
the castle, mounted on a palfrey, attended by a cavalier on horseback.
She galloped up to the gate, sprang from her horse, and falling at the
baron's feet, embraced his knees. It was his lost daughter, and her
companion--the Specter Bridegroom! The baron was astounded. He looked at
his daughter, then at the specter, and almost doubted the evidence of
his senses. The latter, too, was wonderfully improved in his appearance
since his visit to the world of spirits. His dress was splendid, and set
off a noble figure of manly symmetry. He was no longer pale and
melancholy. His fine countenance was flushed with the glow of youth, and
joy rioted in his large dark eye.

The mystery was soon cleared up. The cavalier (for in truth, as you must
have known all the while, he was no goblin) announced himself as Sir
Herman Von Starkenfaust. He related his adventure with the young count.
He told how he had hastened to the castle to deliver the unwelcome
tidings, but that the eloquence of the baron had interrupted him in
every attempt to tell his tale. How the sight of the bride had
completely captivated him, and that to pass a few hours near her, he had
tacitly suffered the mistake to continue. How he had been sorely
perplexed in what way to make a decent retreat, until the baron's goblin
stories had suggested his eccentric exit. How, fearing the feudal
hostility of the family, he had repeated his visits by stealth--had
haunted the garden beneath the young lady's window--had wooed--had
won--had borne away in triumph--and, in a word, had wedded the fair.

Under any other circumstances the baron would have been inflexible, for
he was tenacious of paternal authority, and devoutly obstinate in all
family feuds; but he loved his daughter; he had lamented her as lost; he
rejoiced to find her still alive; and, though her husband was of a
hostile house, yet, thank Heaven, he was not a goblin. There was
something, it must be acknowledged, that did not exactly accord with his
notions of strict veracity, in the joke the knight had passed upon him
of his being a dead man; but several old friends present, who had served
in the wars, assured him that every stratagem was excusable in love, and
that the cavalier was entitled to especial privilege, having lately
served as a trooper.

Matters, therefore, were happily arranged. The baron pardoned the young
couple on the spot. The revels at the castle were resumed. The poor
relations overwhelmed this new member of the family with loving
kindness; he was so gallant, so generous--and so rich. The aunts, it is
true, were somewhat scandalized that their system of strict seclusion
and passive obedience should be so badly exemplified, but attributed it
all to their negligence in not having the windows grated. One of them
was particularly mortified at having her marvelous story marred, and
that the only specter she had ever seen should turn out a counterfeit;
but the niece seemed perfectly happy at having found him substantial
flesh and blood--and so the story ends.


FOOTNOTES:

[2] The erudite reader, well versed in good-for-nothing lore, will
perceive that the above Tale must have been suggested to the old Swiss
by a little French anecdote, a circumstance said to have taken place at
Paris.

[3] _I. e._, CAT'S-ELBOW. The name of a family of those parts very
powerful in former times. The appellation, we are told, was given in
compliment to a peerless dame of the family, celebrated for her fine
arm.



THE SPECTER OF TAPPINGTON

COMPILED BY RICHARD BARHAM



The Specter of Tappington

From _The Ingoldsby Legends_

COMPILED BY RICHARD BARHAM


"It is very odd, though; what can have become of them?" said Charles
Seaforth, as he peeped under the valance of an old-fashioned bedstead,
in an old-fashioned apartment of a still more old-fashioned manor-house;
"'tis confoundedly odd, and I can't make it out at all. Why, Barney,
where are they?--and where the d----l are you?"

No answer was returned to this appeal; and the lieutenant, who was, in
the main, a reasonable person--at least as reasonable a person as any
young gentleman of twenty-two in "the service" can fairly be expected to
be--cooled when he reflected that his servant could scarcely reply
extempore to a summons which it was impossible he should hear.

An application to the bell was the considerate result; and the footsteps
of as tight a lad as ever put pipe-clay to belt sounded along the
gallery.

"Come in!" said his master. An ineffectual attempt upon the door
reminded Mr. Seaforth that he had locked himself in. "By Heaven! this
is the oddest thing of all," said he, as he turned the key and admitted
Mr. Maguire into his dormitory.

"Barney, where are my pantaloons?"

"Is it the breeches?" asked the valet, casting an inquiring eye round
the apartment;--"is it the breeches, sir?"

"Yes, what have you done with them?"

"Sure then your honor had them on when you went to bed, and it's
hereabouts they'll be, I'll be bail"; and Barney lifted a fashionable
tunic from a cane-backed arm-chair, proceeding in his examination. But
the search was vain; there was the tunic aforesaid, there was a
smart-looking kerseymere waistcoat; but the most important article of
all in a gentleman's wardrobe was still wanting.

"Where _can_ they be?" asked the master, with a strong accent on the
auxiliary verb.

"Sorrow a know I knows," said the man.

"It _must_ have been the devil, then, after all, who has been here and
carried them off!" cried Seaforth, staring full into Barney's face.

Mr. Maguire was not devoid of the superstition of his countrymen, still
he looked as if he did not quite subscribe to the _sequitur_.

His master read incredulity in his countenance. "Why, I tell you,
Barney, I put them there, on that arm-chair, when I got into bed; and,
by Heaven! I distinctly saw the ghost of the old fellow they told me
of, come in at midnight, put on my pantaloons, and walk away with them."

"May be so," was the cautious reply.

"I thought, of course, it was a dream; but then--where the d----l are
the breeches?"

The question was more easily asked than answered. Barney renewed his
search, while the lieutenant folded his arms, and, leaning against the
toilet, sunk into a reverie.

"After all, it must be some trick of my laughter-loving cousins," said
Seaforth.

"Ah! then, the ladies!" chimed in Mr. Maguire, though the observation
was not addressed to him; "and will it be Miss Caroline or Miss Fanny,
that's stole your honor's things?"

"I hardly know what to think of it," pursued the bereaved lieutenant,
still speaking in soliloquy, with his eye resting dubiously on the
chamber-door. "I locked myself in, that's certain; and--but there must
be some other entrance to the room--pooh! I remember--the private
staircase; how could I be such a fool?" and he crossed the chamber to
where a low oaken doorcase was dimly visible in a distant corner. He
paused before it. Nothing now interfered to screen it from observation;
but it bore tokens of having been at some earlier period concealed by
tapestry, remains of which yet clothed the walls on either side the
portal.

"This way they must have come," said Seaforth; "I wish with all my heart
I had caught them!"

"Och! the kittens!" sighed Mr. Barney Maguire.

But the mystery was yet as far from being solved as before. True, there
_was_ the "other door"; but then that, too, on examination, was even
more firmly secured than the one which opened on the gallery--two heavy
bolts on the inside effectually prevented any _coup de main_ on the
lieutenant's _bivouac_ from that quarter. He was more puzzled than ever;
nor did the minutest inspection of the walls and floor throw any light
upon the subject: one thing only was clear--the breeches were gone! "It
is _very_ singular," said the lieutenant.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tappington (generally called Tapton) Everard is an antiquated but
commodious manor-house in the eastern division of the county of Kent. A
former proprietor had been high-sheriff in the days of Elizabeth, and
many a dark and dismal tradition was yet extant of the licentiousness of
his life, and the enormity of his offenses. The Glen, which the keeper's
daughter was seen to enter, but never known to quit, still frowns darkly
as of yore; while an ineradicable blood-stain on the oaken stair yet
bids defiance to the united energies of soap and sand. But it is with
one particular apartment that a deed of more especial atrocity is said
to be connected. A stranger guest--so runs the legend--arrived
unexpectedly at the mansion of the "Bad Sir Giles." They met in
apparent friendship; but the ill-concealed scowl on their master's brow
told the domestics that the visit was not a welcome one; the banquet,
however, was not spared; the wine-cup circulated freely--too freely,
perhaps--for sounds of discord at length reached the ears of even the
excluded serving-men, as they were doing their best to imitate their
betters in the lower hall. Alarmed, some of them ventured to approach
the parlor, one, an old and favored retainer of the house, went so far
as to break in upon his master's privacy. Sir Giles, already high in
oath, fiercely enjoined his absence, and he retired; not, however,
before he had distinctly heard from the stranger's lips a menace that
"there was that within his pocket which could disprove the knight's
right to issue that or any other command within the walls of Tapton."

The intrusion, though momentary, seemed to have produced a beneficial
effect; the voices of the disputants fell, and the conversation was
carried on thenceforth in a more subdued tone, till, as evening closed
in, the domestics, when summoned to attend with lights, found not only
cordiality restored, but that a still deeper carouse was meditated.
Fresh stoups, and from the choicest bins, were produced; nor was it till
at a late, or rather early hour, that the revelers sought their
chambers.

The one allotted to the stranger occupied the first floor of the
eastern angle of the building, and had once been the favorite apartment
of Sir Giles himself. Scandal ascribed this preference to the facility
which a private staircase, communicating with the grounds, had afforded
him, in the old knight's time, of following his wicked courses unchecked
by parental observation; a consideration which ceased to be of weight
when the death of his father left him uncontrolled master of his estate
and actions. From that period Sir Giles had established himself in what
were called the "state apartments," and the "oaken chamber" was rarely
tenanted, save on occasions of extraordinary festivity, or when the yule
log drew an unusually large accession of guests around the Christmas
hearth.

On this eventful night it was prepared for the unknown visitor, who
sought his couch heated and inflamed from his midnight orgies, and in
the morning was found in his bed a swollen and blackened corpse. No
marks of violence appeared upon the body; but the livid hue of the lips,
and certain dark-colored spots visible on the skin, aroused suspicions
which those who entertained them were too timid to express. Apoplexy,
induced by the excesses of the preceding night, Sir Giles's confidential
leech pronounced to be the cause of his sudden dissolution. The body was
buried in peace; and though some shook their heads as they witnessed the
haste with which the funeral rites were hurried on, none ventured to
murmur. Other events arose to distract the attention of the retainers;
men's minds became occupied by the stirring politics of the day; while
the near approach of that formidable armada, so vainly arrogating itself
a title which the very elements joined with human valor to disprove,
soon interfered to weaken, if not obliterate, all remembrance of the
nameless stranger who had died within the walls of Tapton Everard.

Years rolled on: the "Bad Sir Giles" had himself long since gone to his
account, the last, as it was believed, of his immediate line; though a
few of the older tenants were sometimes heard to speak of an elder
brother, who had disappeared in early life, and never inherited the
estate. Rumors, too, of his having left a son in foreign lands, were at
one time rife; but they died away, nothing occurring to support them:
the property passed unchallenged to a collateral branch of the family,
and the secret, if secret there were, was buried in Denton churchyard,
in the lonely grave of the mysterious stranger. One circumstance alone
occurred, after a long-intervening period, to revive the memory of these
transactions. Some workmen employed in grubbing an old plantation, for
the purpose of raising on its site a modern shrubbery, dug up, in the
execution of their task, the mildewed remnants of what seemed to have
been once a garment. On more minute inspection, enough remained of
silken slashes and a coarse embroidery, to identify the relics as having
once formed part of a pair of trunk hose; while a few papers which fell
from them, altogether illegible from damp and age, were by the unlearned
rustics conveyed to the then owner of the estate.

Whether the squire was more successful in deciphering them was never
known; he certainly never alluded to their contents; and little would
have been thought of the matter but for the inconvenient memory of one
old woman, who declared she heard her grandfather say, that when the
"strange guest" was poisoned, though all the rest of his clothes were
there, his breeches, the supposed repository of the supposed documents,
could never be found. The master of Tapton Everard smiled when he heard
Dame Jones's hint of deeds which might impeach the validity of his own
title in favor of some unknown descendant of some unknown heir; and the
story was rarely alluded to, save by one or two miracle-mongers, who had
heard that others had seen the ghost of old Sir Giles, in his night-cap,
issue from the postern, enter the adjoining copse, and wring his shadowy
hands in agony, as he seemed to search vainly for something hidden among
the evergreens. The stranger's death-room had, of course, been
occasionally haunted from the time of his decease; but the periods of
visitation had latterly become very rare--even Mrs. Botherby, the
housekeeper, being forced to admit that, during her long sojourn at the
manor, she had never "met with anything worse than herself"; though, as
the old lady afterwards added upon more mature reflection, "I must say I
think I saw the devil _once_."

Such was the legend attached to Tapton Everard, and such the story which
the lively Caroline Ingoldsby detailed to her equally mercurial cousin,
Charles Seaforth, lieutenant in the Hon. East India Company's second
regiment of Bombay Fencibles, as arm-in-arm they promenaded a gallery
decked with some dozen grim-looking ancestral portraits, and, among
others, with that of the redoubted Sir Giles himself. The gallant
commander had that very morning paid his first visit to the house of his
maternal uncle, after an absence of several years passed with his
regiment on the arid plains of Hindostan, whence he was now returned on
a three years' furlough. He had gone out a boy--he returned a man; but
the impression made upon his youthful fancy by his favorite cousin
remained unimpaired, and to Tapton he directed his steps, even before he
sought the home of his widowed mother--comforting himself in this breach
of filial decorum by the reflection that, as the manor was so little out
of his way, it would be unkind to pass, as it were, the door of his
relatives, without just looking in for a few hours.

But he found his uncle as hospitable, and his cousin more charming than
ever; and the looks of one, and the requests of the other, soon
precluded the possibility of refusing to lengthen the "few hours" into
a few days, though the house was at the moment full of visitors.

The Peterses were from Ramsgate; and Mr., Mrs., and the two Miss
Simpkinsons, from Bath, had come to pass a month with the family; and
Tom Ingoldsby had brought down his college friend the Honorable Augustus
Sucklethumbkin, with his groom and pointers, to take a fortnight's
shooting. And then there was Mrs. Ogleton, the rich young widow, with
her large black eyes, who, people did say, was setting her cap at the
young squire, though Mrs. Botherby did not believe it; and, above all,
there was Mademoiselle Pauline, her _femme de chambre_, who
"_mon-Dieu'd_" everything and everybody, and cried "_Quel horreur!_" at
Mrs. Botherby's cap. In short, to use the last-named and much-respected
lady's own expression, the house was "choke-full" to the very
attics--all save the "oaken chamber," which, as the lieutenant expressed
a most magnanimous disregard of ghosts, was forthwith appropriated to
his particular accommodation. Mr. Maguire meanwhile was fain to share
the apartment of Oliver Dobbs, the squire's own man; a jocular proposal
of joint occupancy having been first indignantly rejected by
"Mademoiselle," though preferred with the "laste taste in life" of Mr.
Barney's most insinuating brogue.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Come, Charles, the urn is absolutely getting cold; your breakfast will
be quite spoiled: what can have made you so idle?" Such was the morning
salutation of Miss Ingoldsby to the _militaire_ as he entered the
breakfast-room half an hour after the latest of the party.

"A pretty gentleman, truly, to make an appointment with," chimed in Miss
Frances. "What is become of our ramble to the rocks before breakfast?"

"Oh! the young men never think of keeping a promise now," said Mrs.
Peters, a little ferret-faced woman with underdone eyes.

"When I was a young man," said Mr. Peters, "I remember I always made a
point of----"

"Pray, how long ago was that?" asked Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

"Why, sir, when I married Mrs. Peters, I was--let me see--I was----"

"Do pray hold your tongue, P., and eat your breakfast!" interrupted his
better half, who had a mortal horror of chronological references; "it's
very rude to tease people with your family affairs."

The lieutenant had by this time taken his seat in silence--a
good-humored nod, and a glance, half-smiling, half-inquisitive, being
the extent of his salutation. Smitten as he was, and in the immediate
presence of her who had made so large a hole in his heart, his manner
was evidently _distrait_, which the fair Caroline in her secret soul
attributed to his being solely occupied by her _agrèmens_: how would she
have bridled had she known that they only shared his meditations with a
pair of breeches!

Charles drank his coffee and spiked some half-dozen eggs, darting
occasionally a penetrating glance at the ladies, in hope of detecting
the supposed waggery by the evidence of some furtive smile or conscious
look. But in vain; not a dimple moved indicative of roguery, nor did the
slightest elevation of eyebrow rise confirmative of his suspicions.
Hints and insinuations passed unheeded--more particular inquiries were
out of the question--the subject was unapproachable.

In the meantime, "patent cords" were just the thing for a morning's
ride; and, breakfast ended, away cantered the party over the downs,
till, every faculty absorbed by the beauties, animate and inanimate,
which surrounded him. Lieutenant Seaforth of the Bombay Fencibles
bestowed no more thought upon his breeches than if he had been born on
the top of Ben Lomond.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another night had passed away; the sun rose brilliantly, forming with
his level beams a splendid rainbow in the far-off west, whither the
heavy cloud, which for the last two hours had been pouring its waters on
the earth, was now flying before him.

"Ah! then, and it's little good it'll be the claning of ye,"
apostrophized Mr. Barney Maguire, as he deposited, in front of his
master's toilet, a pair of "bran new" jockey boots, one of Hoby's
primest fits, which the lieutenant had purchased in his way through
town. On that very morning had they come for the first time under the
valet's depurating hand, so little soiled, indeed, from the turfy ride
of the preceding day, that a less scrupulous domestic might, perhaps,
have considered the application of "Warren's Matchless," or oxalic acid,
altogether superfluous. Not so Barney: with the nicest care had he
removed the slightest impurity from each polished surface, and there
they stood, rejoicing in their sable radiance. No wonder a pang shot
across Mr. Maguire's breast as he thought on the work now cut out for
them, so different from the light labors of the day before; no wonder he
murmured with a sigh, as the scarce dried window-panes disclosed a road
now inch deep in mud! "Ah! then, it's little good claning of ye!"--for
well had he learned in the hall below that eight miles of a stiff clay
soil lay between the manor and Bolsover Abbey, whose picturesque ruins,

    "Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay,"

the party had determined to explore. The master had already commenced
dressing, and the man was fitting straps upon a light pair of
crane-necked spurs, when his hand was arrested by the old
question--"Barney, where are the breeches?"

They were nowhere to be found!

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Seaforth descended that morning, whip in hand, and equipped in a
handsome green riding-frock, but no "breeches and boots to match" were
there: loose jean trousers, surmounting a pair of diminutive
Wellingtons, embraced, somewhat incongruously, his nether man, _vice_
the "patent cords," returned, like yesterday's pantaloons, absent
without leave. The "top-boots" had a holiday.

"A fine morning after the rain," said Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

"Just the thing for the 'ops," said Mr. Peters. "I remember when I was a
boy----"

"Do hold your tongue, P.," said Mrs. Peters--advice which that exemplary
matron was in the constant habit of administering to "her P." as she
called him, whenever he prepared to vent his reminiscences. Her precise
reason for this it would be difficult to determine, unless, indeed, the
story be true which a little bird had whispered into Mrs. Botherby's
ear--Mr. Peters, though now a wealthy man had received a liberal
education at a charity school, and was apt to recur to the days of his
muffin-cap and leathers. As usual, he took his wife's hint in good part,
and "paused in his reply."

"A glorious day for the ruins!" said young Ingoldsby. "But Charles, what
the deuce are you about? you don't mean to ride through our lanes in
such toggery as that?"

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "won't yo' be very wet?"

"You had better take Tom's cab," quoth the squire.

But this proposition was at once over-ruled; Mrs. Ogleton had already
nailed the cab, a vehicle of all others the best adapted for a snug
flirtation.

"Or drive Miss Julia in the phaeton?" No; that was the post of Mr.
Peters, who, indifferent as an equestrian, had acquired some fame as a
whip while traveling through the midland counties for the firm of
Bagshaw, Snivelby, and Ghrimes.

"Thank you, I shall ride with my cousins," said Charles, with as much
_nonchalance_ as he could assume--and he did so; Mr. Ingoldsby, Mrs.
Peters, Mr. Simpkinson from Bath, and his eldest daughter with her
_album_, following in the family coach. The gentleman-commoner "voted
the affair d----d slow," and declined the party altogether in favor of
the gamekeeper and a cigar. "There was 'no fun' in looking at old
houses!" Mrs. Simpkinson preferred a short _séjour_ in the still-room
with Mrs. Botherby, who had promised to initiate her in that grand
_arcanum_, the transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Did you ever see an old abbey before, Mrs. Peters?"

"Yes, miss, a French one; we have got one at Ramsgate; he teaches the
Miss Joneses to parley-voo and is turned of sixty."

Miss Simpkinson closed her album with an air of ineffable disdain.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath was a professed antiquary, and one of the
first water; he was master of Gwillim's Heraldry, and Mill's History of
the Crusades; knew every plate in the Monasticon; had written an essay
on the origin and dignity of the office of overseer, and settled the
date on a Queen Anne's farthing. An influential member of the
Antiquarian Society, to whose "Beauties of Bagnigge Wells" he had been a
liberal subscriber, procured him a seat at the board of that learned
body, since which happy epoch Sylvanus Urban had not a more
indefatigable correspondent. His inaugural essay on the President's
cocked hat was considered a miracle of erudition; and his account of the
earliest application of gilding to gingerbread, a masterpiece of
antiquarian research. His eldest daughter was of a kindred spirit: if
her father's mantle had not fallen upon her, it was only because he had
not thrown it off himself; she had caught hold of its tail, however,
while it yet hung upon his honored shoulders. To souls so congenial,
what a sight was the magnificent ruin of Bolsover! its broken arches,
its mouldering pinnacles, and the airy tracery of its half-demolished
windows. The party were in raptures; Mr. Simpkinson began to meditate an
essay, and his daughter an ode: even Seaforth, as he gazed on these
lonely relics of the olden time, was betrayed into a momentary
forgetfulness of his love and losses; the widow's eye-glass turned from
her _cicisbeo's_ whiskers to the mantling ivy; Mrs. Peters wiped her
spectacles; and "her P." supposed the central tower "had once been the
county jail." The squire was a philosopher, and had been there often
before, so he ordered out the cold tongue and chickens.

"Bolsover Priory," said Mr. Simpkinson, with the air of a
connoisseur--"Bolsover Priory was founded in the reign of Henry the
Sixth, about the beginning of the eleventh century. Hugh de Bolsover had
accompanied that monarch to the Holy Land, in the expedition undertaken
by way of penance for the murder of his young nephews in the Tower. Upon
the dissolution of the monasteries, the veteran was enfeoffed in the
lands and manor, to which he gave his own name of Bowlsover, or
Bee-owls-over (by corruption Bolsover)--a Bee in chief, over three Owls,
all proper, being the armorial ensigns borne by this distinguished
crusader at the siege of Acre."

"Ah! that was Sir Sidney Smith," said Mr. Peters; "I've heard tell of
him, and all about Mrs. Partington, and----"

"P. be quiet, and don't expose yourself!" sharply interrupted his lady.
P. was silenced, and betook himself to the bottled stout.

"These lands," continued the antiquary, "were held in grand serjeantry
by the presentation of three white owls and pot of honey----"

"Lassy me! how nice!" said Miss Julia. Mr. Peters licked his lips.

"Pray give me leave, my dear--owls and honey, whenever the king should
come a rat-catching into this part of the country."

"Rat-catching!" ejaculated the squire, pausing abruptly in the
mastication of a drumstick.

"To be sure, my dear sir; don't you remember the rats came under the
forest laws--a minor species of venison? 'Rats and mice, and such small
deer,' eh?--Shakespeare, you know. Our ancestors ate rats ('The nasty
fellows!' shuddered Miss Julia, in a parenthesis); and owls, you know,
are capital mousers----"

"I've seen a howl," said Mr. Peters; "there's one in the Sohological
Gardens--a little hook-nosed chap in a wig--only its feathers and----"

Poor P. was destined never to finish a speech.

"_Do_ be quiet!" cried the authoritative voice; and the would-be
naturalist shrank into his shell, like a snail in the "Sohological
Gardens."

"You should read Blount's _Jocular Tenures_, Mr. Ingoldsby," pursued
Simpkinson. "A learned man was Blount! Why, sir, His Royal Highness the
Duke of York once paid a silver horse-shoe to Lord Ferrers----"

"I've heard of him," broke in the incorrigible Peters; "he was hanged at
the Old Bailey in a silk rope for shooting Dr. Johnson."

The antiquary vouchsafed no notice of the interruption; but, taking a
pinch of snuff, continued his harangue.

"A silver horse-shoe, sir, which is due from every scion of royalty who
rides across one of his manors; and if you look into the penny county
histories, now publishing by an eminent friend of mine, you will find
that Langhale in Co. Norf. was held by one Baldwin _per saltum,
sufflatum, et pettum_; that is, he was to come every Christmas into
Westminster Hall, there to take a leap, cry hem! and----"

"Mr. Simpkinson, a glass of sherry?" cried Tom Ingoldsby, hastily.

"Not any, thank you, sir. This Baldwin, surnamed _Le----_"

"Mrs. Ogleton challenges you, sir; she insists upon it," said Tom still
more rapidly, at the same time filling a glass, and forcing it on the
_sçavant_, who, thus arrested in the very crisis of his narrative,
received and swallowed the potation as if it had been physic.

"What on earth has Miss Simpkinson discovered there?" continued Tom;
"something of interest. See how fast she is writing."

The diversion was effectual; every one looked towards Miss Simpkinson,
who, far too ethereal for "creature comforts," was seated apart on the
dilapidated remains of an altar-tomb, committing eagerly to paper
something that had strongly impressed her; the air--the eye in a "fine
frenzy rolling"--all betokened that the divine _afflarus_ was come. Her
father rose, and stole silently towards her.

"What an old boar!" muttered young Ingoldsby; alluding, perhaps, to a
slice of brawn which he had just begun to operate upon, but which, from
the celerity with which it disappeared, did not seem so very difficult
of mastication.

But what had become of Seaforth and his fair Caroline all this while?
Why, it so happened that they had been simultaneously stricken with the
picturesque appearance of one of those high and pointed arches, which
that eminent antiquary, Mr. Horseley Curties, has described in his
_Ancient Records_, as "a _Gothic_ window of the _Saxon_ order"; and then
the ivy clustered so thickly and so beautifully on the other side, that
they went round to look at that; and then their proximity deprived it of
half its effect, and so they walked across to a little knoll, a hundred
yards off, and in crossing a small ravine, they came to what in Ireland
they call "a bad step," and Charles had to carry his cousin over it; and
then when they had to come back, she would not give him the trouble
again for the world, so they followed a better but more circuitous
route, and there were hedges and ditches in the way, and stiles to get
over and gates to get through, so that an hour or more had elapsed
before they were able to rejoin the party.

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "how long you have been gone!"

And so they had. The remark was a very just as well as a very natural
one. They were gone a long while, and a nice cosy chat they had; and
what do you think it was all about, my dear miss?

"O lassy me! love, no doubt, and the moon, and eyes, and nightingales,
and----"

Stay, stay, my sweet young lady; do not let the fervor of your feelings
run away with you! I do not pretend to say, indeed, that one or more of
these pretty subjects might not have been introduced; but the most
important and leading topic of the conference was--Lieutenant Seaforth's
breeches.

"Caroline," said Charles, "I have had some very odd dreams since I have
been at Tappington."

"Dreams, have you?" smiled the young lady, arching her taper neck like a
swan in pluming. "Dreams, have you?"

"Ah, dreams--or dream, perhaps, I should say; for, though repeated, it
was still the same. And what do you imagine was its subject?"

"It is impossible for me to divine," said the tongue; "I have not the
least difficulty in guessing," said the eye, as plainly as ever eye
spoke.

"I dreamt--of your great-grandfather!"

There was a change in the glance--"My great-grandfather?"

"Yes, the old Sir Giles, or Sir John, you told me about the other day:
he walked into my bedroom in his short cloak of murrey-colored velvet,
his long rapier, and his Raleigh-looking hat and feather, just as the
picture represents him; but with one exception."

"And what was that?"

"Why, his lower extremities, which were visible, were those of a
skeleton."

"Well?"

"Well, after taking a turn or two about the room, and looking round him
with a wistful air, he came to the bed's foot, stared at me in a manner
impossible to describe--and then he--he laid hold of my pantaloons;
whipped his long bony legs into them in a twinkling; and strutting up to
the glass, seemed to view himself in it with great complacency. I tried
to speak, but in vain. The effort, however, seemed to excite his
attention; for, wheeling about, he showed me the grimmest-looking
death's head you can well imagine, and with an indescribable grin
strutted out of the room."

"Absurd! Charles. How can you talk such nonsense?"

"But, Caroline--the breeches are really gone."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following morning, contrary to his usual custom, Seaforth was the
first person in the breakfast parlor. As no one else was present, he did
precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have done; he
walked up to the mantelpiece, established himself upon the rug, and
subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards the fire
that portion of the human frame which it is considered equally
indecorous to present to a friend or an enemy. A serious, not to say
anxious, expression was visible upon his good-humored countenance, and
his mouth was fast buttoning itself up for an incipient whistle, when
little Flo, a tiny spaniel of the Blenheim breed--the pet object of Miss
Julia Simpkinson's affections--bounced out from beneath a sofa, and
began to bark at--his pantaloons.

They were cleverly "built," of a light-grey mixture, a broad stripe of
the most vivid scarlet traversing each seam in a perpendicular direction
from hip to ankle--in short, the regimental costume of the Royal Bombay
Fencibles. The animal, educated in the country, had never seen such a
pair of breeches in her life--_Omne ignotum pro magnifico!_ The scarlet
streak, inflamed as it was by the reflection of the fire, seemed to act
on Flora's nerves as the same color does on those of bulls and turkeys;
she advanced at the _pas de charge_, and her vociferation, like her
amazement, was unbounded. A sound kick from the disgusted officer
changed its character, and induced a retreat at the very moment when the
mistress of the pugnacious quadruped entered to the rescue.

"Lassy me! Flo, what _is_ the matter?" cried the sympathizing lady, with
a scrutinizing glance leveled at the gentleman.

It might as well have lighted on a feather bed. His air of imperturbable
unconsciousness defied examination; and as he would not, and Flora could
not, expound, that injured individual was compelled to pocket up her
wrongs. Others of the household soon dropped in, and clustered round the
board dedicated to the most sociable of meals; the urn was paraded
"hissing hot," and the cups which "cheer, but not inebriate," steamed
redolent of hyson and pekoe; muffins and marmalade, newspapers, and
Finnan haddies, left little room for observation on the character of
Charles's warlike "turn-out." At length a look from Caroline, followed
by a smile that nearly ripened to a titter, caused him to turn abruptly
and address his neighbor. It was Miss Simpkinson, who, deeply engaged in
sipping her tea and turning over her album, seemed, like a female
Chrononotonthologos, "immersed in cogibundity of cogitation." An
interrogatory on the subject of her studies drew from her the confession
that she was at that moment employed in putting the finishing touches to
a poem inspired by the romantic shades of Bolsover. The entreaties of
the company were of course urgent. Mr. Peters, "who liked verses," was
especially persevering, and Sappho at length compliant. After a
preparatory hem! and a glance at the mirror to ascertain that her look
was sufficiently sentimental, the poetess began:--

    "There is a calm, a holy feeling,
      Vulgar minds, can never know,
    O'er the bosom softly stealing,--
      Chasten'd grief, delicious woe!
    Oh! how sweet at eve regaining
      Yon lone tower's sequester'd shade--
    Sadly mute and uncomplaining----"

"--Yow!--yeough!--yeough!--yow!--yow!" yelled a hapless sufferer from
beneath the table. It was an unlucky hour for quadrupeds; and if "every
dog will have his day," he could not have selected a more unpropitious
one than this. Mrs. Ogleton, too, had a pet--a favorite pug--whose squab
figure, black muzzle, and tortuosity of tail, that curled like a head of
celery in a salad-bowl, bespoke his Dutch extraction. Yow! yow! yow!
continued the brute--a chorus in which Flo instantly joined. Sooth to
say, pug had more reason to express his dissatisfaction than was given
him by the muse of Simpkinson; the other only barked for company.
Scarcely had the poetess got through her first stanza, when Tom
Ingoldsby, in the enthusiasm of the moment, became so lost in the
material world, that, in his abstraction, he unwarily laid his hand on
the cock of the urn. Quivering with emotion, he gave it such an unlucky
twist, that the full stream of its scalding contents descended on the
gingerbread hide of the unlucky Cupid. The confusion was complete; the
whole economy of the table disarranged--the company broke up in most
admired disorder--and "vulgar minds will never know" anything more of
Miss Simpkinson's ode till they peruse it in some forthcoming Annual.

Seaforth profited by the confusion to take the delinquent who had caused
this "stramash" by the arm, and to lead him to the lawn, where he had a
word or two for his private ear. The conference between the young
gentlemen was neither brief in its duration nor unimportant in its
result. The subject was what the lawyers call tripartite, embracing the
information that Charles Seaforth was over head and ears in love with
Tom Ingoldsby's sister; secondly, that the lady had referred him to
"papa" for his sanction; thirdly, and lastly, his nightly visitations
and consequent bereavement. At the two first times Tom smiled
suspiciously--at the last he burst out into an absolute "guffaw."

"Steal your breeches! Miss Bailey over again, by Jove," shouted
Ingoldsby. "But a gentleman, you say--and Sir Giles, too. I am not sure,
Charles, whether I ought not to call you out for aspersing the honor of
the family."

"Laugh as you will, Tom--be as incredulous as you please. One fact is
incontestable--the breeches are gone! Look here--I am reduced to my
regimentals; and if these go, to-morrow I must borrow of you!"

Rochefoucault says, there is something in the misfortunes of our very
best friends that does not displease us; assuredly we can, most of us,
laugh at their petty inconveniences, till called upon to supply them.
Tom composed his features on the instant, and replied with more gravity,
as well as with an expletive, which, if my Lord Mayor had been within
hearing might have cost him five shillings.

"There is something very queer in this, after all. The clothes, you say,
have positively disappeared. Somebody is playing you a trick; and, ten
to one, your servant had a hand in it. By the way, I heard something
yesterday of his kicking up a bobbery in the kitchen, and seeing a
ghost, or something of that kind, himself. Depend upon it, Barney is in
the plot."

It now struck the lieutenant at once, that the usually buoyant spirits
of his attendant had of late been materially sobered down, his loquacity
obviously circumscribed, and that he, the said lieutenant, had actually
rung his bell three several times that very morning before he could
procure his attendance. Mr. Maguire was forthwith summoned, and
underwent a close examination. The "bobbery" was easily explained. Mr.
Oliver Dobbs had hinted his disapprobation of a flirtation carrying on
between the gentleman from Munster and the lady from the Rue St. Honoré.
Mademoiselle had boxed Mr. Maguire's ears, and Mr. Maguire had pulled
Mademoiselle upon his knee, and the lady had _not_ cried _Mon Dieu_! And
Mr. Oliver Dobbs said it was very wrong; and Mrs. Botherby said it was
"scandalous," and what ought not to be done in any moral kitchen; and
Mr. Maguire had got hold of the Honorable Augustus Sucklethumbkin's
powder-flask, and had put large pinches of the best Double Dartford into
Mr. Dobbs's tobacco-box; and Mr. Dobbs's pipe had exploded, and set fire
to Mrs. Botherby's Sunday cap; and Mr. Maguire had put it out with the
slop-basin, "barring the wig"; and then they were all so "cantankerous,"
that Barney had gone to take a walk in the garden; and then--then Mr.
Barney had seen a ghost.

"A what? you blockhead!" asked Tom Ingoldsby.

"Sure then, and it's meself will tell your honor the rights of it," said
the ghost-seer. "Meself and Miss Pauline, sir--or Miss Pauline and
meself, for the ladies comes first anyhow--we got tired of the
hobstroppylous scrimmaging among the ould servants, that didn't know a
joke when they seen one: and we went out to look at the comet--that's
the rorybory-alehouse, they calls him in this country--and we walked
upon the lawn--and divil of any alehouse there was there at all; and
Miss Pauline said it was bekase of the shrubbery maybe, and why wouldn't
we see it better beyonst the tree? and so we went to the trees, but
sorrow a comet did meself see there, barring a big ghost instead of it."

"A ghost? And what sort of a ghost, Barney?"

"Och, then, divil a lie I'll tell your honor. A tall ould gentleman he
was, all in white, with a shovel on the shoulder of him, and a big torch
in his fist--though what he wanted with that it's meself can't tell, for
his eyes were like gig-lamps, let alone the moon and the comet, which
wasn't there at all--and 'Barney,' says he to me--'cause why he knew
me--'Barney,' says he, 'what is it you're doing with the _colleen_
there, Barney?'--Divil a word did I say. Miss Pauline screeched, and
cried murther in French, and ran off with herself; and of course meself
was in a mighty hurry after the lady, and had no time to stop palavering
with him any way: so I dispersed at once, and the ghost vanished in a
flame of fire!"

Mr. Maguire's account was received with avowed incredulity by both
gentlemen; but Barney stuck to his text with unflinching pertinacity. A
reference to Mademoiselle was suggested, but abandoned, as neither party
had a taste for delicate investigations.

"I'll tell you what, Seaforth," said Ingoldsby, after Barney had
received his dismissal, "that there is a trick here, is evident; and
Barney's vision may possibly be a part of it. Whether he is most knave
or fool, you best know. At all events, I will sit up with you to-night,
and see if I can convert my ancestor into a visiting acquaintance.
Meanwhile your finger on your lip!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    'Twas now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn, and graves give up their dead.

Gladly would I grace my tale with decent horror, and therefore I do
beseech the "gentle reader" to believe, that if all the _succedanea_ to
this mysterious narrative are not in strict keeping, he will ascribe it
only to the disgraceful innovations of modern degeneracy upon the sober
and dignified habits of our ancestors. I can introduce him, it is true,
into an old and high-roofed chamber, its walls covered in three sides
with black oak wainscoting, adorned with carvings of fruit and flowers
long anterior to those of Grinling Gibbons; the fourth side is clothed
with a curious remnant of dingy tapestry, once elucidatory of some
Scriptural history, but of _which_ not even Mrs. Botherby could
determine. Mr. Simpkinson, who had examined it carefully, inclined to
believe the principal figure to be either Bathsheba, or Daniel in the
lions' den; while Tom Ingoldsby decided in favor of the king of Bashan.
All, however, was conjecture, tradition being silent on the subject. A
lofty arched portal led into, and a little arched portal led out of,
this apartment; they were opposite each other, and each possessed the
security of massy bolts on its interior. The bedstead, too, was not one
of yesterday, but manifestly coeval with days ere Seddons was, and when
a good four-post "article" was deemed worthy of being a royal bequest.
The bed itself, with all the appurtenances of palliasse, mattresses,
etc., was of far later date, and looked most incongruously comfortable;
the casements, too, with their little diamond-shaped panes and iron
binding, had given way to the modern heterodoxy of the sash-window. Nor
was this all that conspired to ruin the costume, and render the room a
meet haunt for such "mixed spirits" only as could condescend to don at
the same time an Elizabethan doublet and Bond Street inexpressibles.

With their green morocco slippers on a modern fender, in front of a
disgracefully modern grate, sat two young gentlemen, clad in "shawl
pattern" dressing-gowns and black silk stocks, much at variance with
the high cane-backed chairs which supported them. A bunch of
abomination, called a cigar, reeked in the left-hand corner of the mouth
of one, and in the right-hand corner of the mouth of the other--an
arrangement happily adapted for the escape of the noxious fumes up the
chimney, without that unmerciful "funking" each other, which a less
scientific disposition of the weed would have induced. A small pembroke
table filled up the intervening space between them, sustaining, at each
extremity, an elbow and a glass of toddy--thus in "lonely pensive
contemplation" were the two worthies occupied, when the "iron tongue of
midnight had tolled twelve."

"Ghost-time's come!" said Ingoldsby, taking from his waistcoat pocket a
watch like a gold half-crown, and consulting it as though he suspected
the turret-clock over the stables of mendacity.

"Hush!" said Charles; "did I not hear a footstep?"

There was a pause--there _was_ a footstep--it sounded distinctly--it
reached the door it hesitated, stopped, and--passed on.

Tom darted across the room, threw open the door, and became aware of
Mrs. Botherby toddling to her chamber, at the other end of the gallery,
after dosing one of the housemaids with an approved julep from the
Countess of Kent's "Choice Manual."

"Good-night, sir!" said Mrs. Botherby.

"Go to the d----l!" said the disappointed ghost-hunter.

An hour--two--rolled on, and still no spectral visitation; nor did aught
intervene to make night hideous; and when the turret-clock sounded at
length the hour of three, Ingoldsby, whose patience and grog were alike
exhausted, sprang from his chair, saying:

"This is all infernal nonsense, my good fellow. Deuce of any ghost shall
we see to-night; it's long past the canonical hour. I'm off to bed; and
as to your breeches, I'll insure them for the next twenty-four hours at
least, at the price of the buckram."

"Certainly.--Oh! thank'ee--to be sure!" stammered Charles, rousing
himself from a reverie, which had degenerated into an absolute snooze.

"Good-night, my boy! Bolt the door behind me; and defy the Pope, the
Devil, and the Pretender!"

Seaforth followed his friend's advice, and the next morning came down to
breakfast dressed in the habiliments of the preceding day. The charm was
broken, the demon defeated; the light greys with the red stripe down the
seams were yet _in rerum naturâ_, and adorned the person of their lawful
proprietor.

Tom felicitated himself and his partner of the watch on the result of
their vigilance; but there is a rustic adage, which warns us against
self-gratulation before we are quite "out of the wood."--Seaforth was
yet within its verge.

       *       *       *       *       *

A rap at Tom Ingoldsby's door the following morning startled him as he
was shaving--he cut his chin.

"Come in, and be d----d to you!" said the martyr, pressing his thumb on
the scarified epidermis. The door opened, and exhibited Mr. Barney
Maguire.

"Well, Barney, what is it?" quoth the sufferer, adopting the vernacular
of his visitant.

"The master, sir----"

"Well, what does he want?"

"The loanst of a breeches, plase your honor."

"Why, you don't mean to tell me--By Heaven, this is too good!" shouted
Tom, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. "Why, Barney, you
don't mean to say the ghost has got them again?"

Mr. Maguire did not respond to the young squire's risibility; the cast
of his countenance was decidedly serious.

"Faith, then, it's gone they are sure enough! Hasn't meself been looking
over the bed, and under the bed, and _in_ the bed, for the matter of
that, and divil a ha'p'orth of breeches is there to the fore at
all:--I'm bothered entirely!"

"Hark'ee! Mr. Barney," said Tom, incautiously removing his thumb, and
letting a crimson stream "incarnadine the multitudinous" lather that
plastered his throat--"this may be all very well with your master, but
you don't humbug _me_, sir:--Tell me instantly what have you done with
the clothes?"

This abrupt transition from "lively to severe" certainly took Maguire by
surprise, and he seemed for an instant as much disconcerted as it is
possible to disconcert an Irish gentleman's gentleman.

"Me? is it meself, then, that's the ghost to your honor's thinking?"
said he after a moment's pause, and with a slight shade of indignation
in his tones; "is it I would stale the master's things--and what would I
do with them?"

"That you best know: what your purpose is I can't guess, for I don't
think you mean to 'stale' them, as you call it; but that you are
concerned in their disappearance, I am satisfied. Confound this
blood!--give me a towel, Barney."

Maguire acquitted himself of the commission. "As I've a sowl, your
honor," said he, solemnly, "little it is meself knows of the matter: and
after what I seen----"

"What you've seen! Why, what _have_ you seen?--Barney, I don't want to
inquire into your flirtations; but don't suppose you can palm off your
saucer eyes and gig-lamps upon me!"

"Then, as sure as your honor's standing there, I saw him: and why
wouldn't I, when Miss _Pauline_ was to the fore as well as meself,
and----"

"Get along with your nonsense--leave the room, sir!"

"But the master?" said Barney, imploringly; "and without a
breeches?--sure he'll be catching cowld----!"

"Take that, rascal!" replied Ingoldsby, throwing a pair of pantaloons
at, rather than to, him: "but don't suppose, sir, you shall carry on
your tricks here with impunity; recollect there is such a thing as a
treadmill, and that my father is a county magistrate."

Barney's eye flashed fire--he stood erect, and was about to speak; but,
mastering himself, not without an effort, he took up the garment, and
left the room as perpendicular as a Quaker.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ingoldsby," said Charles Seaforth, after breakfast, "this is now past a
joke; to-day is the last of my stay; for, notwithstanding the ties which
detain me, common decency obliges me to visit home after so long an
absence. I shall come to an immediate explanation with your father on
the subject nearest my heart, and depart while I have a change of dress
left. On his answer will my return depend! In the meantime tell me
candidly--I ask it in all seriousness, and as a friend--am I not a dupe
to your well-known propensity to hoaxing? have you not a hand in----"

"No, by heaven, Seaforth; I see what you mean: on my honor, I am as much
mystified as yourself; and if your servant----"

"Not he:--If there be a trick, he at least is not privy to it."

"If there _be_ a trick? why, Charles, do you, think----"

"I know not _what_ to think, Tom. As surely as you are a living man, so
surely did that spectral anatomy visit my room again last night, grin in
my face, and walk away with my trousers; nor was I able to spring from
my bed, or break the chain which seemed to bind me to my pillow."

"Seaforth!" said Ingoldsby, after a short pause, "I will--But hush! here
are the girls and my father. I will carry off the females, and leave you
a clear field with the governor: carry your point with him, and we will
talk about your breeches afterwards."

Tom's diversion was successful; he carried off the ladies _en masse_ to
look at a remarkable specimen of the class _Dodecandria
Monogynia_--which they could not find--while Seaforth marched boldly up
to the encounter, and carried "the governor's" outworks by a _coup de
main_. I shall not stop to describe the progress of the attack; suffice
it that it was as successful as could have been wished, and that
Seaforth was referred back again to the lady. The happy lover was off at
a tangent; the botanical party was soon overtaken; and the arm of
Caroline, whom a vain endeavor to spell out the Linnæan name of a
daffy-down-dilly had detained a little in the rear of the others, was
soon firmly locked in his own.

        What was the world to them,
    Its noise, its nonsense and its "breeches" all?

Seaforth was in the seventh heaven; he retired to his room that night as
happy as if no such thing as a goblin had ever been heard of, and
personal chattels were as well fenced in by law as real property. Not so
Tom Ingoldsby: the mystery--for mystery there evidently was--had not
only piqued his curiosity, but ruffled his temper. The watch of the
previous night had been unsuccessful, probably because it was
undisguised. To-night he would "ensconce himself"--not indeed "behind
the arras"--for the little that remained was, as we have seen, nailed to
the wall--but in a small closet which opened from one corner of the
room, and by leaving the door ajar, would give to its occupant a view of
all that might pass in the apartment. Here did the young ghost-hunter
take up a position, with a good stout sapling under his arm, a full
half-hour before Seaforth retired for the night. Not even his friend did
he let into his confidence, fully determined that if his plan did not
succeed, the failure should be attributed to himself alone.

At the usual hour of separation for the night, Tom saw, from his
concealment, the lieutenant enter his room, and after taking a few turns
in it, with an expression so joyous as to betoken that his thoughts were
mainly occupied by his approaching happiness, proceed slowly to disrobe
himself. The coat, the waistcoat, the black silk stock, were gradually
discarded; the green morocco slippers were kicked off, and then--ay, and
then--his countenance grew grave; it seemed to occur to him all at once
that this was his last stake--nay, that the very breeches he had on were
not his own--that to-morrow morning was his last, and that if he lost
_them_--A glance showed that his mind was made up; he replaced the
single button he had just subducted, and threw himself upon the bed in a
state of transition--half chrysalis, half grub.

Wearily did Tom Ingoldsby watch the sleeper by the flickering light of
the night-lamp, till the clock striking one, induced him to increase the
narrow opening which he had left for the purpose of observation. The
motion, slight as it was, seemed to attract Charles's attention; for he
raised himself suddenly to a sitting posture, listened for a moment, and
then stood upright upon the floor. Ingoldsby was on the point of
discovering himself, when, the light flashing full upon his friend's
countenance, he perceived that, though his eyes were open, "their sense
was shut"--that he was yet under the influence of sleep. Seaforth
advanced slowly to the toilet, lit his candle at the lamp that stood on
it, then, going back to the bed's foot, appeared to search eagerly for
something which he could not find. For a few moments he seemed restless
and uneasy, walking round the apartment and examining the chairs, till,
coming fully in front of a large swing-glass that flanked the
dressing-table, he paused as if contemplating his figure in it. He now
returned towards the bed; put on his slippers, and, with cautious and
stealthy steps, proceeded towards the little arched doorway that opened
on the private staircase.

As he drew the bolt, Tom Ingoldsby emerged from his hiding-place; but
the sleep-walker heard him not; he proceeded softly downstairs, followed
at a due distance by his friend; opened the door which led out upon the
gardens; and stood at once among the thickest of the shrubs, which there
clustered round the base of a corner turret, and screened the postern
from common observation. At this moment Ingoldsby had nearly spoiled all
by making a false step: the sound attracted Seaforth's attention--he
paused and turned; and, as the full moon shed her light directly upon
his pale and troubled features, Tom marked, almost with dismay, the
fixed and rayless appearance of his eyes:

    There was no speculation in those orbs
    That he did glare withal.

The perfect stillness preserved by his follower seemed to reassure him;
he turned aside, and from the midst of a thickest laurustinus drew forth
a gardener's spade, shouldering which he proceeded with great rapidity
into the midst of the shrubbery. Arrived at a certain point where the
earth seemed to have been recently disturbed, he set himself heartily
to the task of digging, till, having thrown up several shovelfuls of
mould, he stopped, flung down his tool, and very composedly began to
disencumber himself of his pantaloons.

Up to this moment Tom had watched him with a wary eye; he now advanced
cautiously, and, as his friend was busily engaged in disentangling
himself from his garment, made himself master of the spade. Seaforth,
meanwhile, had accomplished his purpose: he stood for a moment with

    His streamers waving in the wind,

occupied in carefully rolling up the small-clothes into as compact a
form as possible, and all heedless of the breath of heaven, which might
certainly be supposed at such a moment, and in such a plight, to "visit
his frame too roughly."

He was in the act of stooping low to deposit the pantaloons in the grave
which he had been digging for them, when Tom Ingoldsby came close behind
him, and with the flat side of the spade----

       *       *       *       *       *

The shock was effectual; never again was Lieutenant Seaforth known to
act the part of a somnambulist. One by one, his breeches--his
trousers--his pantaloons--his silk-net tights--his patent cords--his
showy greys with the broad red stripe of the Bombay Fencibles were
brought to light--rescued from the grave in which they had been buried,
like the strata of a Christmas pie; and after having been well aired by
Mrs. Botherby, became once again effective.

The family, the ladies especially, laughed; the Peterses laughed; the
Simpkinsons laughed;--Barney Maguire cried "Botheration!" and _Ma'mselle
Pauline_, "_Mon Dieu!_"

Charles Seaforth, unable to face the quizzing which awaited him on all
sides, started off two hours earlier than he had proposed:--he soon
returned, however; and having, at his father-in-law's request, given up
the occupation of Rajah-hunting and shooting Nabobs, led his blushing
bride to the altar.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath did not attend the ceremony, being engaged at
the Grand Junction meeting of _Sçavans_, then, congregating from all
parts of the known world in the city of Dublin. His essay, demonstrating
that the globe is a great custard, whipped into coagulation by
whirlwinds and cooked by electricity--a little too much baked in the
Isle of Portland, and a thought underdone about the Bog of Allen--was
highly spoken of, and narrowly escaped obtaining a Bridgewater prize.

Miss Simpkinson and her sister acted as brides-maids on the occasion;
the former wrote an _epithalamium_, and the latter cried "Lassy me!" at
the clergyman's wig. Some years have since rolled on; the union has been
crowned with two or three tidy little off-shoots from the family tree,
of whom Master Neddy is "grandpapa's darling," and Mary Anne mamma's
particular "Sock." I shall only add, that Mr. and Mrs. Seaforth are
living together quite as happily as two good-hearted, good-tempered
bodies, very fond of each other, can possibly do; and that, since the
day of his marriage, Charles has shown no disposition to jump out of
bed, or ramble out of doors o' nights--though from his entire devotion
to every wish and whim of his young wife, Tom insinuates that the fair
Caroline does still occasionally take advantage of it so far as to "slip
on the breeches."



IN THE BARN

BY BURGES JOHNSON

From the _Century Magazine_, June, 1920. By permission of the Century
Company and Burges Johnson.



In the Barn

BY BURGES JOHNSON


The moment we had entered the barn, I regretted the rash good nature
which prompted me to consent to the plans of those vivacious young
students. Miss Anstell and Miss Royce and one or two others, often
leaders in student mischief, I suspect, were the first to enter, and
they amused themselves by hiding in the darkness and greeting the rest
of our party as we entered with sundry shrieks and moans such as are
commonly attributed to ghosts. My wife and I brought up the rear,
carrying the two farm lanterns. She had selected the place after an
amused consideration of the question, and I confess I hardly approved
her judgment. But she is native to this part of the country, and she had
assured us that there were some vague traditions hanging about the
building that made it most suitable for our purposes.

It was a musty old place, without even as much tidiness as is usually
found in barns, and there was a dank smell about it, as though
generations of haymows had decayed there. There were holes in the floor,
and in the dusk of early evening it was necessary for us to pick our
way with the greatest care. It occurred to me then, in a premonitory
sort of way, that if some young woman student sprained her ankle in this
absurd environment, I should be most embarrassed to explain it.
Apparently it was a hay barn, whose vague dimensions were lost in
shadow. Rafters crossed its width about twenty feet above our heads, and
here and there a few boards lay across the rafters, furnishing foothold
for anyone who might wish to operate the ancient pulley that was
doubtless once used for lifting bales. The northern half of the floor
was covered with hay to a depth of two or three feet. How long it had
actually been there I cannot imagine. It was extremely dusty, and I
feared a recurrence of my old enemy, hay fever; but it was too late to
offer objection on such grounds, and my wife and I followed our
chattering guides, who disposed themselves here and there on this
ancient bed of hay, and insisted that we should find places in the
center of their circle.

At my suggestion, the two farm lanterns had been left at a suitable
distance, in fact, quite at the other side of the barn, and our only
light came from the rapidly falling twilight of outdoors, which found
its way through a little window and sundry cracks high in the eaves
above the rafters.

There was something about the place, now that we were settled and no
longer occupied with adjustments of comfort, that subdued our spirits,
and it was with much less hilarity that the young people united in
demanding a story. I looked across at my wife, whose face was faintly
visible within the circle. I thought that even in the half-light I
glimpsed the same expression of amused incredulity which she had worn
earlier in the day when I had yielded to the importunities of a
deputation of my students for this ghost-story party on the eve of a
holiday.

"There is no reason," I thought to myself, repeating the phrases I had
used then--"there is no reason why I should not tell a ghost story.
True, I had never done so before, but the literary attainments which
have enabled me to perfect my recent treatise upon the 'Disuse of the
Comma' are quite equal to impromptu experimentation in the field of
psychic phenomena." I was aware that the young people themselves hardly
expected serious acquiescence, and that, too, stimulated me. I cleared
my throat in a prefatory manner, and silence fell upon the group. A
light breeze had risen outside, and the timbers of the barn creaked
persistently. From the shadows almost directly overhead there came a
faint clanking. It was evidently caused by the rusty pulley-wheel which
I had observed there as we entered. An iron hook at the end of an
ancient rope still depended from it, and swung in the lightly stirring
air several feet above our heads, directly over the center of our
circle.

Some curious combination of influences--perhaps the atmosphere of the
place, added to the stimulation of the faintly discernible faces around
me, and my impulse to prove my own ability in this untried field of
narration--gave me a sudden sense of being inspired. I found myself
voicing fancies as though they were facts, and readily including
imaginary names and data which certainly were not in any way
premeditated.

"This barn stands on the old Creed place," I began. "Peter Creed was its
last owner, but I suppose that it has always been and always will be
known as the Turner barn. A few yards away to the south you will find
the crumbling brick-work and gaping hollows of an old foundation, now
overgrown with weeds that almost conceal a few charred timbers. That is
all that is left of the old Ashley Turner house."

I cleared my throat again, not through any effort to gain time for my
thoughts, but to feel for a moment the satisfaction arising from the
intent attitude of my audience, particularly my wife, who had leaned
forward and was looking at me with an expression of startled surprise.

"Ashley Turner must have had a pretty fine-looking farm here thirty
years or so ago," I continued, "when he brought his wife to it. This
barn was new then. But he was a ne'er-do-well, with nothing to be said
in his favor, unless you admit his fame as a practical joker. Strange
how the ne'er-do-well is often equipped with an extravagant sense of
humor! Turner had a considerable retinue among the riffraff boys of the
neighborhood, who made this barn a noisy rendezvous and followed his
hints in much whimsical mischief. But he committed most of his practical
jokes when drunk, and in his sober moments he abused his family and let
his wife struggle to keep up the acres, assisted only by a
half-competent man of all work. Finally he took to roving. No one knew
how he got pocket-money; his wife could not have given him any. Then
someone discovered that he was going over to Creed's now and then, and
everything was explained."

This concise data of mine was evidently not holding the close attention
of my youthful audience. They annoyed me by frequent pranks and
whisperings. No one could have been more surprised at my glibness than I
myself, except perhaps my wife, whose attitude of strained attention had
not relaxed. I resumed my story.

"Peter Creed was a good old-fashioned usurer of the worst type. He went
to church regularly one day in the week and gouged his neighbors--any
that he could get into his clutches--on the other six. He must have been
lending Turner drinking money, and everyone knew what the security must
be.

"At last there came a day when the long-suffering wife revolted. Turner
had come home extra drunk and in his most maudlin humor. Probably he
attempted some drunken prank upon his over-taxed helpmate. Old Ike, the
hired man, said that he thought Turner had rigged up some scare for her
in the barn and that he had never heard anything so much like straight
talking from his mistress, either before or since, and he was working in
the woodshed at the time, with the door shut. Shortly after that tirade
Ashley Turner disappeared, and no one saw or heard of him or thought
about him for a couple of years except when the sight of his
tired-looking wife and scrawny children revived the recollection.

"At last, on a certain autumn day, old Peter Creed turned up here at the
Turner place. I imagine Mrs. Turner knew what was in store for her when
his rusty buggy came in sight around the corner of the barn. At any
rate, she made no protest, and listened meekly to his curt statement
that he held an overdue mortgage, with plenty of back interest owing,
and it was time for her to go. She went. Neither she nor anyone else
doubted Creed's rights in the matter, and, after all, I believe it got a
better home for her somewhere in the long run."

I paused here in my narration to draw breath and readjust my leg, which
had become cramped. There was a general readjustment and shifting of
position, with some levity. It was darker now. The rafters above us were
invisible, and the faces about me looked oddly white against the shadowy
background. After a moment or two of delay I cleared my throat sharply
and continued.

"Old Creed came thus into possession of this place, just as he had come
to own a dozen others in the county. He usually lived on one until he
was able to sell it at a good profit over his investment; so he settled
down in the Turner house, and kept old Ike because he worked for little
or nothing. But he seemed to have a hard time finding a purchaser.

"It must have been about a year later when an unexpected thing happened.
Creed had come out here to the barn to lock up--he always did that
himself--when he noticed something unusual about the haymow--this
haymow--which stood then about six feet above the barn floor. He looked
closer through the dusk, and saw a pair of boots; went nearer, and found
that they were fitted to a pair of human legs whose owner was sound
asleep in his hay. Creed picked up a short stick and beat on one boot.

"'Get out of here,' he said, 'or I'll have you locked up.' The sleeper
woke in slow fashion, sat up, grinned, and said:

"'Hello, Peter Creed.' It was Ashley Turner, beyond question. Creed
stepped back a pace or two and seemed at a loss for words. An object
slipped from Turner's pocket as he moved, slid along the hay, and fell
to the barn floor. It was a half-filled whisky-flask.

"No one knows full details of the conversation that ensued, of course.
Such little as I am able to tell you of what was said and done comes
through old Ike, who watched from a safe distance outside the barn,
ready to act at a moment's notice as best suited his own safety and
welfare. Of one thing Ike was certain--Creed lacked his usual
browbeating manner. He was apparently struggling to assume an unwonted
friendliness. Turner was very drunk, but triumphant, and his
satisfaction over what he must have felt was the practical joke of his
life seemed to make him friendly.

"'I kept 'em all right,' he said again and again. 'I've got the proof. I
wasn't working for nothing all these months. I ain't fool enough yet to
throw away papers even when I'm drunk.'

"To the watchful Ike's astonishment, Creed evidently tried to persuade
him to come into the house for something to eat. Turner slid off the
haymow, found his steps too unsteady, laughed foolishly, and suggested
that Creed bring some food to him there. 'Guess I've got a right to
sleep in the barn or house, whichever I want,' he said, leering into
Creed's face. The old usurer stood there for a few minutes eying Turner
thoughtfully. Then he actually gave him a shoulder back onto the hay,
said something about finding a snack of supper, and started out of the
barn. In the doorway he turned, looked back, then walked over to the
edge of the mow and groped on the floor until he found the whisky-flask,
picked it up, tossed it into Turner's lap, and stumbled out of the barn
again."

I was becoming interested in my own story and somewhat pleased with the
fluency of it, but my audience annoyed me. There was intermittent
whispering, with some laughter, and I inferred that one or another
would occasionally stimulate this inattention by tickling a companion
with a straw. Miss Anstell, who is so frivolous by nature that I
sometimes question her right to a place in my classroom, I even
suspected of irritating the back of my own neck in the same fashion.
Naturally, I ignored it.

"Peter Creed," I repeated, "went into the house. Ike hung around the
barn, waiting. He was frankly curious. In a few minutes his employer
reappeared, carrying a plate heaped with an assortment of scraps. Ike
peered and listened then without compunction.

"'It's the best I've got,' he heard Creed say grudgingly. Turner's tones
were now more drunkenly belligerent.

"'It had better be,' he said loudly. 'And I'll take the best bed after
to-night.' Evidently he was eating and muttering between mouthfuls. 'You
might have brought me another bottle.'

"'I did,' said Creed, to the listening Ike's great astonishment. Turner
laughed immoderately.

"A long silence followed. Turner was either eating or drinking. Then he
spoke again, more thickly and drowsily.

"'Damn unpleasant that rope. Why don't you haul it up out of my way?'

"'It don't hurt you any,' said Creed.

"'Don't you wish it would?' said Turner, with drunken shrewdness. 'But I
don't like it. Haul it away.'

"'I will,' said Creed.

"There was a longer silence, and then there came an intermittent rasping
sound. A moment later Creed came suddenly from the barn. Ike fumbled
with a large rake, and made as though to hang it on its accustomed peg
near the barn door. Creed eyed him sharply. 'Get along to bed,' he
ordered, and Ike obeyed.

"That was a Saturday night. On Sunday morning Ike went to the barn later
than usual and hesitatingly. Even then he was first to enter. He found
the drunkard's body hanging here over the mow, just about where we are
sitting, stark and cold. It was a gruesome end to a miserable
home-coming."

My audience was quiet enough now. Miss Anstell and one or two others
giggled loudly, but it was obviously forced, and found no further echo.
The breeze which had sprung up some time before was producing strange
creakings and raspings in the old timbers, and the pulley-wheel far
above us clanked with a dismal repetitious sound, like the tolling of a
cracked bell.

I waited a moment, well satisfied with the effect, and then continued.

"The coroner's jury found it suicide, though some shook their heads
meaningly. Turner had apparently sobered up enough to stand, and, making
a simple loop around his neck by catching the rope through its own hook,
had then slid off the mow. The rope which went over the pulley-wheel up
there in the roof ran out through a window under the eaves, and was made
fast near the barn door outside, where anyone could haul on it. Creed
testified the knot was one he had tied many days before. Ike was a
timorous old man, with a wholesome fear of his employer, and he
supported the testimony and made no reference to his eavesdropping of
the previous evening, though he heard Creed swear before the jury that
he did not recognize the tramp he had fed and lodged. There were no
papers in Turner's pockets; only a few coins, and a marked pocket-knife
that gave the first clue to his identity.

"A few of the neighbors said that it was a fitting end, and that the
verdict was a just one. Nevertheless, whisperings began and increased.
People avoided Creed and the neighborhood. Rumors grew that the barn was
haunted. Passers-by on the road after dark said they heard the old
pulley-wheel clanking when no breeze stirred, much as you hear it now.
Some claim to have heard maudlin laughter. Possible purchasers were
frightened away, and Creed grew more and more solitary and misanthropic.
Old Ike hung on, Heaven knows why, though I suppose Creed paid him some
sort of wage.

"Rumors grew. Folks said that neither Ike nor Creed entered this barn
after a time, and no hay was put in, though Creed would not have been
Creed if he had not sold off the bulk of what he had, ghost or no ghost.
I can imagine him slowly forking it out alone, daytimes, and the amount
of hay still here proves that even he finally lost courage."

I paused a moment, but though there was much uneasy stirring about, and
the dismal clanking directly above us was incessant, no one of my
audience spoke. It was wholly dark now, and I think all had drawn closer
together.

"About ten years ago people began calling Creed crazy." Here I was
forced to interrupt my own story. "I shall have to ask you, Miss
Anstell, to stop annoying me. I have been aware for some moments that
you are brushing my head with a straw, but I have ignored it for the
sake of the others." Out of the darkness came Miss Anstell's voice,
protesting earnestly, and I realized from the direction of the sound
that in the general readjustment she must have settled down in the very
center of our circle, and could not be the one at fault. One of the
others was childish enough to simulate a mocking burst of raucous
laughter, but I chose to ignore it.

"Very well," said I, graciously; "shall I go on?"

"Go on," echoed a subdued chorus.

"It was the night of the twenty-eighth of May, ten years ago----"

"Not the twenty-eighth," broke in my wife's voice, sharply; "that is
to-day's date." There was a note in her voice that I hardly recognized,
but it indicated that she was in some way affected by my narration, and
I felt a distinct sense of triumph.

"It was the night of May twenty-eighth," I repeated firmly.

"Are you making up this story?" my wife's voice continued, still with
the same odd tone.

"I am, my dear, and you are interrupting it."

"But an Ashley Turner and later a Peter Creed owned this place," she
persisted almost in a whisper, "and I am sure you never heard of them."

I confess that I might wisely have broken off my story then and called
for a light. There had been an hysterical note in my wife's voice, and I
was startled at her words, for I had no conscious recollection of either
name; yet I felt a resultant exhilaration. Our lanterns had grown
strangely dim, though I was certain both had been recently trimmed and
filled; and from their far corner of the barn they threw no light
whatever into our circle. I faced an utter blackness.

"On that night," said I, "old Ike was wakened by sounds as of someone
fumbling to unbar and open the housedoor. It was an unwonted hour, and
he peered from the window of his little room. By the dim starlight--it
was just before dawn--he could see all of the open yard and roadway
before the house, with the great barn looming like a black and sinister
shadow as its farther barrier. Crossing this space, he saw the figure of
Peter Creed, grotesquely stooped and old in the obscuring gloom, moving
slowly, almost gropingly, and yet directly, as though impelled, toward
the barn's overwhelming shadow. Slowly he unbarred the great door,
swung it open, and entered the blacker shadows it concealed. The door
closed after him.

"Ike in his secure post of observation did not stir. He could not. Even
to his crude imagining there was something utterly horrible in the
thought of Creed alone at that hour in just such black darkness as this,
with the great timbered chamber haunted at least by its dread memories.
He could only wait, tense and fearful of he knew not what.

"A shriek that pierced the silence relaxed his tension, bringing almost
a sense of relief, so definite had been his expectancy. But it was a
burst of shrill laughter, ribald, uncanny, undeniable, accompanying the
shriek that gave him power of motion. He ran half naked a quarter of a
mile to the nearest neighbor's and told his story."

       *       *       *       *       *

"They found Creed hanging, the rope hooked simply around his neck. It
was a silent jury that filed from the barn that morning after viewing
the body. 'Suicide,' said they, after Ike, shivering and stammering, had
testified, harking back to the untold evidence of that other morning
years before. Yes, Creed was dead, with a terrible look on his wizen
face, and the dusty old rope ran through its pulley-wheel and was fast
to a beam high above.

"'He must of climbed to the beam, made the rope fast, and jumped,' said
the foreman, solemnly. 'He must of, he must of,' repeated the man,
parrot-like, while the sweat stood out on his forehead, 'because there
wasn't no other way; but as God is my judge, the knot in the rope and
the dust on the beam ain't been disturbed for years.'"

At this dramatic climax there was an audible sigh from my audience. I
sat quietly for a time, content to allow the silence and the atmosphere
of the place, which actually seemed surcharged with influences not of my
creation, to add to the effect my story had caused. There was scarcely a
movement in our circle; of that I felt sure. And yet once more, out of
the almost tangible darkness above me, something seemed to reach down
and brush against my head. A slight motion of air, sufficient to disturb
my rather scanty locks, was additional proof that I was the butt of some
prank that had just missed its objective. Then, with a fearful
suddenness, close to my ear burst a shrill discord of laughter, so
uncanny and so unlike the usual sound of student merriment that I
started up, half wondering if I had heard it. Almost immediately after
it the heavy darkness was torn again by a shriek so terrible in its
intensity as completely to differentiate it from the other cries which
followed.

"Bring a light!" cried a voice that I recognized as that of my wife,
though strangely distorted by emotion. There was a great confusion.
Young women struggled from their places and impeded one another in the
darkness; but finally, and it seemed an unbearable delay, someone
brought a single lantern.

Its frail light revealed Miss Anstell half upright from her place in the
center of our circle, my wife's arms sustaining her weight. Her face, as
well as I could see it, seemed darkened and distorted, and when we
forced her clutching hands away from her bared throat we could see, even
in that light, the marks of an angry, throttling scar entirely
encircling it. Just above her head the old pulley-rope swayed menacingly
in the faint breeze.

My recollection is even now confused as to the following moments and our
stumbling escape from that gruesome spot. Miss Anstell is now at her
home, recovering from what her physician calls mental shock. My wife
will not speak of it. The questions I would ask her are checked on my
lips by the look of utter terror in her eyes. As I have confessed to
you, my own philosophy is hard put to it to withstand not so much the
community attitude toward what they are pleased to call my taste in
practical joking, but to assemble and adjust the facts of my
experience.



A SHADY PLOT

BY ELSIE BROWN

This story was submitted as a class exercise in one of my short-story
classes at Columbia University. At my request the author, Elsie Brown,
contributed it to this volume.



A Shady Plot

BY ELSIE BROWN


So I sat down to write a ghost story.

Jenkins was responsible.

"Hallock," he had said to me, "give us another on the supernatural this
time. Something to give 'em the horrors; that's what the public wants,
and your ghosts are live propositions."

Well, I was in no position to contradict Jenkins, for, as yet, his
magazine had been the only one to print my stuff. So I had said,
"Precisely!" in the deepest voice I was capable of, and had gone out.

I hadn't the shade of an idea, but at the time that didn't worry me in
the least. You see, I had often been like that before and in the end
things had always come my way--I didn't in the least know how or why. It
had all been rather mysterious. You understand I didn't specialize in
ghost stories, but more or less they seemed to specialize in me. A ghost
story had been the first fiction I had written. Curious how that idea
for a plot had come to me out of nowhere after I had chased inspiration
in vain for months! Even now whenever Jenkins wanted a ghost, he called
on me. And I had never found it healthy to contradict Jenkins. Jenkins
always seemed to have an uncanny knowledge as to when the landlord or
the grocer were pestering me, and he dunned me for a ghost. And somehow
I'd always been able to dig one up for him, so I'd begun to get a bit
cocky as to my ability.

So I went home and sat down before my desk and sucked at the end of my
pencil and waited, but nothing happened. Pretty soon my mind began to
wander off on other things, decidedly unghostly and material things,
such as my wife's shopping and how on earth I was going to cure her of
her alarming tendency to take every new fad that came along and work it
to death. But I realized _that_ would never get me any place, so I went
back to staring at the ceiling.

"This writing business _is_ delightful, isn't it?" I said sarcastically at
last, out loud, too. You see, I had reached the stage of imbecility when
I was talking to myself.

"Yes," said a voice at the other end of the room, "I should say it is!"

I admit I jumped. Then I looked around.

It was twilight by this time and I had forgotten to turn on the lamp.
The other end of the room was full of shadows and furniture. I sat
staring at it and presently noticed something just taking shape. It was
exactly like watching one of these moving picture cartoons being put
together. First an arm came out, then a bit of sleeve of a stiff white
shirtwaist, then a leg and a plaid skirt, until at last there she was
complete,--whoever she was.

She was long and angular, with enormous fishy eyes behind big
bone-rimmed spectacles, and her hair in a tight wad at the back of her
head (yes, I seemed able to see right through her head) and a jaw--well,
it looked so solid that for the moment I began to doubt my very own
senses and believe she was real after all.

She came over and stood in front of me and glared--yes, positively
glared down at me, although (to my knowledge) I had never laid eyes on
the woman before, to say nothing of giving her cause to look at me like
that.

I sat still, feeling pretty helpless I can tell you, and at last she
barked:

"What are you gaping at?"

I swallowed, though I hadn't been chewing anything.

"Nothing," I said. "Absolutely nothing. My dear lady, I was merely
waiting for you to tell me why you had come. And excuse me, but do you
always come in sections like this? I should think your parts might get
mixed up sometimes."

"Didn't you send for me?" she crisped.

Imagine how I felt at that!

"Why, no. I--I don't seem to remember----"

"Look here. Haven't you been calling on heaven and earth all afternoon
to help you write a story?"

I nodded, and then a possible explanation occurred to me and my spine
got cold. Suppose this was the ghost of a stenographer applying for a
job! I had had an advertisement in the paper recently. I opened my mouth
to explain that the position was filled, and permanently so, but she
stopped me.

"And when I got back to the office from my last case and was ready for
you, didn't you switch off to something else and sit there driveling so
I couldn't attract your attention until just now?"

"I--I'm very sorry, really."

"Well, you needn't be, because I just came to tell you to stop bothering
us for assistance; you ain't going to get it. We're going on Strike!"

"What!"

"You don't have to yell at me."

"I--I didn't mean to yell," I said humbly. "But I'm afraid I didn't
quite understand you. You said you were----"

"Going on strike. Don't you know what a strike is? Not another plot do
you get from us!"

I stared at her and wet my lips.

"Is--is that where they've been coming from?"

"Of course. Where else?"

"But my ghosts aren't a bit like you----"

"If they were people wouldn't believe in them." She draped herself on
the top of my desk among the pens and ink bottles and leaned towards me.
"In the other life _I_ used to write."

"You did!"

She nodded.

"But that has nothing to do with my present form. It might have, but I
gave it up at last for that very reason, and went to work as a reader on
a magazine." She sighed, and rubbed the end of her long eagle nose with
a reminiscent finger. "Those were terrible days; the memory of them made
me mistake purgatory for paradise, and at last when I attained my
present state of being, I made up my mind that something should be done.
I found others who had suffered similarly, and between us we organized
'The Writer's Inspiration Bureau.' We scout around until we find a
writer without ideas and with a mind soft enough to accept impression.
The case is brought to the attention of the main office, and one of us
assigned to it. When that case is finished we bring in a report."

"But I never saw you before----"

"And you wouldn't have this time if I hadn't come to announce the
strike. Many a time I've leaned on your shoulder when you've thought
_you_ were thinking hard--" I groaned, and clutched my hair. The very
idea of that horrible scarecrow so much as touching me! and wouldn't my
wife be shocked! I shivered. "But," she continued, "that's at an end.
We've been called out of our beds a little too often in recent years,
and now we're through."

"But my dear madam, I assure you I have had nothing to do with that. I
hope I'm properly grateful and all that, you see."

"Oh, it isn't you," she explained patronizingly. "It's those Ouija board
fanatics. There was a time when we had nothing much to occupy us and
used to haunt a little on the side, purely for amusement, but not any
more. We've had to give up haunting almost entirely. We sit at a desk
and answer questions now. And such questions!"

She shook her head hopelessly, and taking off her glasses wiped them,
and put them back on her nose again.

"But what have I got to do with this?"

She gave me a pitying look and rose.

"You're to exert your influence. Get all your friends and acquaintances
to stop using the Ouija board, and then we'll start helping you to
write."

"But----"

There was a footstep outside my door.

"John! Oh, John!" called the voice of my wife.

I waved my arms at the ghost with something of the motion of a beginner
when learning to swim.

"Madam, I must ask you to leave, and at once. Consider the impression if
you were seen here----"

The ghost nodded, and began, very sensibly, I thought, to demobilize and
evaporate. First the brogans on her feet grew misty until I could see
the floor through them, then the affection spread to her knees and
gradually extended upward. By this time my wife was opening the door.

"Don't forget the strike," she repeated, while her lower jaw began to
disintegrate, and as my Lavinia crossed the room to me the last vestige
of her ear faded into space.

"John, why in the world are you sitting in the dark?"

"Just--thinking, my dear."

"Thinking, rubbish! You were talking out loud."

I remained silent while she lit the lamps, thankful that her back was
turned to me. When I am nervous or excited there is a muscle in my face
that starts to twitch, and this pulls up one corner of my mouth and
gives the appearance of an idiotic grin. So far I had managed to conceal
this affliction from Lavinia.

"You know I bought the loveliest thing this afternoon. Everybody's wild
over them!"

I remembered her craze for taking up new fads and a premonitory chill
crept up the back of my neck.

"It--it isn't----" I began and stopped. I simply couldn't ask; the
possibility was too horrible.

"You'd never guess in the world. It's the duckiest, darlingest Ouija
board, and so cheap! I got it at a bargain sale. Why, what's the matter,
John?"

I felt things slipping.

"Nothing," I said, and looked around for the ghost. Suppose she had
lingered, and upon hearing what my wife had said should suddenly
appear----Like all sensitive women, Lavinia was subject to hysterics.

"But you looked so funny----"

"I--I always do when I'm interested," I gulped. "But don't you think
that was a foolish thing to buy?"

"Foolish! Oh, John! Foolish! And after me getting it for you!"

"For me! What do you mean?"

"To help you write your stories. Why, for instance, suppose you wanted
to write an historical novel. You wouldn't have to wear your eyes out
over those musty old books in the public library. All you'd have to do
would be to get out your Ouija and talk to Napoleon, or William the
Conqueror, or Helen of Troy--well, maybe not Helen--anyhow you'd have
all the local color you'd need, and without a speck of trouble. And
think how easy writing your short stories will be now."

"But Lavinia, you surely don't believe in Ouija boards."

"I don't know, John--they are awfully thrilling."

She had seated herself on the arm of my chair and was looking dreamily
across the room. I started and turned around. There was nothing there,
and I sank back with relief. So far so good.

"Oh, certainly, they're thrilling all right. That's just it, they're a
darn sight too thrilling. They're positively devilish. Now, Lavinia, you
have plenty of sense, and I want you to get rid of that thing just as
soon as you can. Take it back and get something else."

My wife crossed her knees and stared at me through narrowed lids.

"John Hallock," she said distinctly. "I don't propose to do anything of
the kind. In the first place they won't exchange things bought at a
bargain sale, and in the second, if you aren't interested in the other
world _I_ am. So there!" and she slid down and walked from the room
before I could think of a single thing to say. She walked very huffily.

Well, it was like that all the rest of the evening. Just as soon as I
mentioned Ouija boards I felt things begin to cloud up; so I decided to
let it go for the present, in the hope that she might be more reasonable
later.

After supper I had another try at the writing, but as my mind continued
a perfect blank I gave it up and went off to bed.

The next day was Saturday, and it being near the end of the month and a
particularly busy day, I left home early without seeing Lavinia.
Understand, I haven't quite reached the point where I can give my whole
time to writing, and being bookkeeper for a lumber company does help
with the grocery bills and pay for Lavinia's fancy shopping. Friday had
been a half holiday, and of course when I got back the work was piled up
pretty high; so high, in fact, that ghosts and stories and everything
else vanished in a perfect tangle of figures.

When I got off the street car that evening my mind was still churning.
I remember now that I noticed, even from the corner, how brightly the
house was illuminated, but at the time that didn't mean anything to me.
I recall as I went up the steps and opened the door I murmured:

"Nine times nine is eighty-one!"

And then Gladolia met me in the hall.

"Misto Hallock, de Missus sho t'inks you's lost! She say she done 'phone
you dis mawnin' to be home early, but fo' de lawd's sake not to stop to
argify now, but get ready fo' de company an' come on down."

Some memory of a message given me by one of the clerks filtered back
through my brain, but I had been hunting three lost receipts at the
time, and had completely forgotten it.

"Company?" I said stupidly. "What company?"

"De Missus's Ouija boahrd pahrty," said Gladolia, and rolling her eyes
she disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.

I must have gone upstairs and dressed and come down again, for I
presently found myself standing in the dimly lighted lower hall wearing
my second best suit and a fresh shirt and collar. But I have no
recollections of the process.

There was a great chattering coming from our little parlor and I went
over to the half-opened door and peered through.

The room was full of women--most of them elderly--whom I recognized as
belonging to my wife's Book Club. They were sitting in couples, and
between each couple was a Ouija board! The mournful squeak of the legs
of the moving triangular things on which they rested their fingers
filled the air and mixed in with the conversation. I looked around for
the ghost with my heart sunk down to zero. What if Lavinia should see
her and go mad before my eyes! And then my wife came and tapped me on
the shoulder.

"John," she said in her sweetest voice, and I noticed that her cheeks
were very pink and her eyes very bright. My wife is never so pretty as
when she's doing something she knows I disapprove of, "John, dear I know
you'll help us out. Mrs. William Augustus Wainright 'phoned at the last
moment to say that she couldn't possibly come, and that leaves poor
Laura Hinkle without a partner. Now, John, I know _some_ people can work
a Ouija by themselves, but Laura can't, and she'll just have a horrible
time unless you----"

"Me!" I gasped. "Me! I won't----" but even as I spoke she had taken my
arm, and the next thing I knew I was sitting with the thing on my knees
and Miss Laura Hinkle opposite, grinning in my face like a flirtatious
crocodile.

"I--I won't----" I began.

"Now, Mr. Hallock, don't you be shy." Miss Laura Hinkle leaned forward
and shook a bony finger almost under my chin.

"I--I'm not! Only I say I won't----!"

"No, it's very easy, really. You just put the tips of your fingers
right here beside the tips of my fingers----"

And the first thing I knew she had taken my hands and was coyly holding
them in the position desired. She released them presently, and the
little board began to slide around in an aimless sort of way. There
seemed to be some force tugging it about. I looked at my partner, first
with suspicion, and then with a vast relief. If she was doing it, then
all that talk about spirits----Oh, I did hope Miss Laura Hinkle was
cheating with that board!

"Ouija, dear, won't you tell us something?" she cooed, and on the
instant the thing seemed to take life.

It rushed to the upper left hand corner of the board and hovered with
its front leg on the word "Yes." Then it began to fly around so fast
that I gave up any attempt to follow it. My companion was bending
forward and had started to spell out loud:

"'T-r-a-i-t-o-r.' Traitor! Why, what does she mean?"

"I don't know," I said desperately. My collar felt very tight.

"But she must mean something. Ouija, dear, won't you explain yourself
more fully?"

"'A-s-k-h-i-m!' Ask him. Ask who, Ouija?"

"I--I'm going." I choked and tried to get up but my fingers seemed stuck
to that dreadful board and I dropped back again.

Apparently Miss Hinkle had not heard my protest. The thing was going
around faster than ever and she was reading the message silently, with
her brow corrugated, and the light of the huntress in her pale blue
eyes.

"Why, she says it's you, Mr. Hallock. What _does_ she mean? Ouija, won't
you tell us who is talking?"

I groaned, but that inexorable board continued to spell. I always did
hate a spelling match! Miss Hinkle was again following it aloud:

"'H-e-l-e-n.' Helen!" She raised her voice until it could be heard at
the other end of the room. "Lavinia, dear, do you know anyone by the
name of Helen?"

"By the name of----? I can't hear you." And my wife made her way over to
us between the Book Club's chairs.

"You know the funniest thing has happened," she whispered excitedly.
"Someone had been trying to communicate with John through Mrs. Hunt's
and Mrs. Sprinkle's Ouija! Someone by the name of Helen----"

"Why, _isn't_ that curious!"

"What is?"

Miss Hinkle simpered.

"Someone giving the name of Helen has just been calling for your husband
here."

"But we don't know anyone by the name of Helen----"

Lavinia stopped and began to look at me through narrowed lids much as
she had done in the library the evening before.

And then from different parts of the room other manipulators began to
report. Every plagued one of those five Ouija boards was calling me by
name! I felt my ears grow crimson, purple, maroon. My wife was looking
at me as though I were some peculiar insect. The squeak of Ouija boards
and the murmur of conversation rose louder and louder, and then I felt
my face twitch in the spasm of that idiotic grin. I tried to straighten
my wretched features into their usual semblance of humanity, I tried
and----

"Doesn't he look sly!" said Miss Hinkle. And then I got up and fled from
the room.

I do not know how that party ended. I do not want to know. I went
straight upstairs, and undressed and crawled into bed, and lay there in
the burning dark while the last guest gurgled in the hall below about
the wonderful evening she had spent. I lay there while the front door
shut after her, and Lavinia's steps came up the stairs and--passed the
door to the guest room beyond. And then after a couple of centuries
elapsed the clock struck three and I dozed off to sleep.

At the breakfast table the next morning there was no sign of my wife. I
concluded she was sleeping late, but Gladolia, upon being questioned,
only shook her head, muttered something, and turned the whites of her
eyes up to the ceiling. I was glad when the meal was over and hurried
to the library for another try at that story.

I had hardly seated myself at the desk when there came a tap at the door
and a white slip of paper slid under it. I unfolded it and read:

     "DEAR JOHN,

     "I am going back to my grandmother. My lawyer will
     communicate with you later."

"Oh," I cried. "Oh, I wish I was dead!"

And:

"That's exactly what you ought to be!" said that horrible voice from the
other end of the room.

I sat up abruptly--I had sunk into a chair under the blow of the
letter--then I dropped back again and my hair rose in a thick prickle on
the top of my head. Coming majestically across the floor towards me was
a highly polished pair of thick laced shoes. I stared at them in a sort
of dreadful fascination, and then something about their gait attracted
my attention and I recognized them.

"See here," I said sternly. "What do you mean by appearing here like
this?"

"_I_ can't help it," said the voice, which seemed to come from a point
about five and a half feet above the shoes. I raised my eyes and
presently distinguished her round protruding mouth.

"Why can't you? A nice way to act, to walk in sections----"

"If you'll give me time," said the mouth in an exasperated voice, "I
assure you the rest of me will presently arrive."

"But what's the matter with you? You never acted this way before."

She seemed stung to make a violent effort, for a portion of a fishy eye
and the end of her nose popped into view with a suddenness that made me
jump.

"It's all your fault." She glared at me, while part of her hair and her
plaid skirt began slowly to take form.

"My fault!"

"Of course. How can you keep a lady up working all night and then expect
her to retain all her faculties the next day? I'm just too tired to
materialize."

"Then why did you bother?"

"Because I was sent to ask when your wife is going to get rid of that
Ouija board."

"How should I know! I wish to heaven I'd never seen you!" I cried. "Look
what you've done! You've lost me my wife, you've lost me my home and
happiness, you've----you've----"

"Misto Hallock," came from the hall outside, "Misto Hallock, I's gwine
t' quit. I don't like no hoodoos." And the steps retreated.

"You've----you've lost me my cook----"

"I didn't come here to be abused," said the ghost coldly. "I--I----"

And then the door opened and Lavinia entered. She wore the brown hat and
coat she usually travels in and carried a suitcase which she set down
on the floor.

That suitcase had an air of solid finality about it, and its lock leered
at me brassily.

I leaped from my chair with unaccustomed agility and sprang in front of
my wife. I must conceal that awful phantom from her, at any risk!

She did not look at me, or--thank heaven!--behind me, but fixed her
injured gaze upon the waste-basket, as if to wrest dark secrets from it.

"I have come to tell you that I am leaving," she staccatoed.

"Oh, yes, yes!" I agreed, flapping my arms about to attract attention
from the corner. "That's fine--great!"

"So you want me to go, do you?" she demanded.

"Sure, yes--right away! Change of air will do you good. I'll join you
presently!" If only she would go till Helen could _de_-part! I'd have
the devil of a time explaining afterward, of course, but anything would
be better than to have Lavinia see a ghost. Why, that sensitive little
woman couldn't bear to have a mouse say boo at her--and what would she
say to a ghost in her own living-room?

Lavinia cast a cold eye upon me. "You are acting very queerly," she
sniffed. "You are concealing something from me."

Just then the door opened and Gladolia called, "Mis' Hallock! Mis'
Hallock! I've come to tell you I'se done lef' dis place."

My wife turned her head a moment. "But why, Gladolia?"

"I ain't stayin' round no place 'long wid dem Ouija board contraptions.
I'se skeered of hoodoos. I's done gone, I is."

"Is that all you've got to complain about?" Lavinia inquired.

"Yes, ma'am."

"All right, then. Go back to the kitchen. You can use the board for
kindling wood."

"Who? Me touch dat t'ing? No, ma'am, not dis nigger!"

"I'll be the coon to burn it," I shouted. "I'll be glad to burn it."

Gladolia's heavy steps moved off kitchenward.

Then my Lavinia turned waspishly to me again. "John, there's not a bit
of use trying to deceive me. What is it you are trying to conceal from
me?"

"Who? Me? Oh, no," I lied elaborately, looking around to see if that
dratted ghost was concealed enough. She was so big, and I'm rather a
smallish man. But that was a bad move on my part.

"John," Lavinia demanded like a ward boss, "you are hiding some_body_ in
here! Who is it?"

I only waved denial and gurgled in my throat. She went on, "It's bad
enough to have you flirt over the Ouija board with that hussy----"

"Oh, the affair was quite above-board, I assure you, my love!" I cried,
leaping lithely about to keep her from focusing her gaze behind me.

She thrust me back with sudden muscle. "_I will_ see who's behind you!
Where is that Helen?"

"Me? I'm Helen," came from the ghost.

Lavinia looked at that apparition, that owl-eyed phantom, in plaid skirt
and stiff shirtwaist, with hair skewed back and no powder on her nose. I
threw a protecting husbandly arm about her to catch her when she should
faint. But she didn't swoon. A broad, satisfied smile spread over her
face.

"I thought you were Helen of Troy," she murmured.

"I used to be Helen of Troy, New York," said the ghost. "And now I'll be
moving along, if you'll excuse me. See you later."

With that she telescoped briskly, till we saw only a hand waving
farewell.

My Lavinia fell forgivingly into my arms. I kissed her once or twice
fervently, and then I shoved her aside, for I felt a sudden strong
desire to write. The sheets of paper on my desk spread invitingly before
me.

"I've got the bulliest plot for a ghost story!" I cried.



THE LADY AND THE GHOST

BY ROSE CECIL O'NEILL

From the _Cosmopolitan Magazine_. By permission of John Brisben Walker
and Rose O'Neill.



The Lady and the Ghost

BY ROSE CECIL O'NEILL


It was some moments before the Lady became rationally convinced that
there was something occurring in the corner of the room, and then the
actual nature of the thing was still far from clear.

"To put it as mildly as possible," she murmured, "the thing verges upon
the uncanny"; and, leaning forward upon her silken knees, she attended
upon the phenomenon.

At first it had seemed like some faint and unexplained atmospheric
derangement, occasioned, apparently, neither by an opened window nor by
a door. Some papers fluttered to the floor, the fringes of the hangings
softly waved, and, indeed, it would still have been easy to dismiss the
matter as the effect of a vagrant draft had not the state of things
suddenly grown unmistakably unusual. All the air of the room, it then
appeared, rushed even with violence to the point and there underwent
what impressed her as an aerial convulsion, in the very midst and
well-spring of which, so great was the confusion, there seemed to appear
at intervals almost the semblance of a shape.

The silence of the room was disturbed by a book that flew open with
fluttering leaves, the noise of a vase of violets blown over, from which
the perfumed water dripped to the floor, and soft touchings all around
as of a breeze passing through a chamber full of trifles.

The ringlets of the Lady's hair were swept forward toward the corner
upon which her gaze was fixed, and in which the conditions had now grown
so tense with imminent occurrence and so rent with some inconceivable
throe that she involuntarily rose, and, stepping forward against the
pressure of her petticoats which were blown about her ankles, she
impatiently thrust her hand into the----

She was immediately aware that another hand had received it, though with
a far from substantial envelopment, and for another moment what she saw
before her trembled between something and nothing. Then from the
precarious situation there slowly emerged into dubious view the shape of
a young man dressed in evening clothes over which was flung a mantle of
voluminous folds such as is worn by ghosts of fashion.

"The very deuce was in it!" he complained; "I thought I should never
materialize."

She flung herself into her chair, confounded; yet, even in the shock of
the emergency, true to herself, she did not fail to smooth her ruffled
locks.

Her visitor had been scanning his person in a dissatisfied way, and with
some vexation he now ejaculated: "Beg your pardon, my dear, but are my
feet on the floor, or where in thunder are they?"

It was with a tone of reassurance that she confessed that his
patent-leathers were the trivial matter of two or three inches from the
rug. Whereupon, with still another effort, he brought himself down until
his feet rested decently upon the floor. It was only when he walked
about to examine the bric-à-brac that a suspicious lightness was
discernible in his tread.

When he had composed himself by the survey, effecting it with an air of
great insouciance, which, however, failed to conceal the fact that his
heart was beating somewhat wildly, he approached the Lady.

"Well, here we are again, my love!" he cried, and devoured her hands
with ghostly kisses. "It seems an eternity that I've been struggling
back to you through the outer void and what-not. Sometimes, I confess I
all but despaired. Life is not, I assure you, all beer and skittles for
the disembodied."

He drew a long breath, and his gaze upon her and the entire chamber
seemed to envelop all and cherish it.

"Little room, little room! And so you are thus! Do you know," he
continued, with vivacity, "I have wondered about it in the grave, and I
could hardly sleep for this place unpenetrated. Heigho! What a lot of
things we leave undone! I dashed this off at the time, the literary
passion strong in me, thus:

    "Now, when all is done, and I lie so low,
      I cannot sleep for this, my only care;
    For though of that dim place I could not know;
      That where my heart was fain I did not go,
        Nor saw you musing there!

"Well, well, these things irk a ghost so. Naturally, as soon as possible
I made my way back--to be satisfied--to be satisfied that you were still
mine." He bent a piercing look upon her.

"I observe by the calendar on your writing-table that some years have
elapsed since my----um----since I expired," he added, with a faint
blush. It appears that the matter of their dissolution is, in
conversation, rather kept in the background by well-bred ghosts.

"Heigho! How time does fly! You'll be joining me soon, my dear."

She drew herself splendidly up, and he was aware of her beauty in the
full of its tenacious excellence--of the delicate insolence of Life
looking upon Death--of the fact _that she had forgotten him_.

He rose, and confronted this, his trembling hands thrust into his
pockets, then turned away to hide the dismay of his countenance. He was,
however, a spook of considerable spirit, and in a jiffy he met the
occasion. To her blank, indignant gaze he drew a card from his case,
and, taking a pencil from the secretary, wrote, beneath the name:

    Quiet to the breast
      Wheresoe'er it be,
    That gave an hour's rest
      To the heart of me.
    Quiet to the breast
      Till it lieth dead,
    And the heart be clay
      Where I visited.
    Quiet to the breast,
      Though forgetting quite
    The guest it sheltered once;
      To the heart, good night!

Handing her the card he bowed, and, through force of habit, turned to
the door, forgetting that his ghostly pressure would not turn the knob.

As the door did not open, with a sigh of recollection for his spiritual
condition, he prepared to disappear, casting one last look at the
faithless Lady. She was still looking at the card in her hand, and the
tears ran down her face.

"She has remembered," he reflected; "how courteous!" For a moment it
seemed he could contain his disappointment, discreetly removing himself
now at what he felt was the vanishing-point, with the customary
reticence of the dead, but feeling overcame him. In an instant he had
her in his arms, and was pouring out his love, his reproaches, the story
of his longing, his doubts, his discontent, and his desperate journey
back to earth for a sight of her. "And, ah!" cried he, "picture my agony
at finding that you had forgotten. And yet I surmised it in the gloom.
I divined it by my restlessness and my despair. Perhaps some lines that
occurred to me will suggest the thing to you--you recall my old knack
for versification?

    "Where the grasses weep
      O'er his darkling bed,
    And the glow-worms creep,
      Lies the weary head
    Of one laid deep, who cannot sleep:
      The unremembered dead."

He took a chair beside her, and spoke of their old love for each other,
of his fealty through all transmutations; incidentally of her beauty, of
her cruelty, of the light of her face which had illumined his darksome
way to her--and of a lot of other things--and the Lady bowed her head,
and wept.

The hours of the night passed thus: the moon waned, and a pallor began
to tinge the dusky cheek of the east, but the eloquence of the visitor
still flowed on, and the Lady had his misty hands clasped to her
reawakened bosom. At last a suspicion of rosiness touched the curtain.
He abruptly rose.

"I cannot hold out against the morning," he said; "it is time all good
ghosts were in bed."

But she threw herself on her knees before him, clasping his ethereal
waist with a despairing embrace.

"Oh, do not leave me," she cried, "or my love will kill me!"

He bent eagerly above her. "Say it again--convince me!"

"I love you," she cried, again and again and again, with such an anguish
of sincerity as would convince the most skeptical spook that ever
revisited the glimpses of the moon.

"You will forget again," he said.

"I shall never forget!" she cried. "My life will henceforth be one
continual remembrance of you, one long act of devotion to your memory,
one oblation, one unceasing penitence, one agony of waiting!"

He lifted her face, and saw that it was true.

"Well," said he, gracefully wrapping his cloak about him, "well, now I
shall have a little peace."

He kissed her, with a certain jaunty grace, upon her hair, and prepared
to dissolve, while he lightly tapped a tattoo upon his leg with the
dove-colored gloves he carried.

"Good-by, my dear!" he said; "henceforth I shall sleep o' nights; my
heart is quite at rest."

"But mine is breaking," she wailed, madly trying once more to clasp his
vanishing form.

He threw her a kiss from his misty finger-tips, and all that remained
with her, besides her broken heart, was a faint disturbance of the air.

THE END



Transcriber's Notes:

Page 25--Possible typo, but left it as the original. "...and contented
himself, as a rule, with creeping about the passages in =list=
slippers,..."

Page 25--arquebuse--printer typo corrected to arquebus.

Page 231--setting--printer typo corrected to sitting.

Page 255--missing word "have" inserted to: "But now I'll none of you,
for you've played with me."

Page 304--Potential typo. "...walkin' round an' round the graveyard
=lie= a six days' race fer the belt at Madison Square."

Page 325--inpatient--typo corrected to impatient. Although inpatient is
a valid word, it is incorrectly used in this instance.

Page 345--is--printer typo corrected to in.

Page 408--Possible typo, but left it as in the original. "...then the
=affection= spread to her knees and gradually extended upward."

Several instances of variant spelling of reci-pe and recipe. Left as in
the original.



From
A Southern Porch

By

Dorothy Scarborough

_A Book of Whimsy_

The author does not preach the lost art of loafing. No! Nothing so
direct as preaching. She merely loafs,--consistently, restfully,
delightfully, but with an almost fatal hypnotic persuasiveness. She is a
sort of stationary Pied Piper, luring the unwary reader to her
sun-flecked porch, to watch with her the queer procession of created
things go by,--from lovers and ghosts to lizards and toads.

Under the spell, convinced that loafing is better than doing, the reader
stays and chuckles over the quiet humor and quaint fancies. He gets away
finally,--all delightful experiences must end in this work-a-day
world,--still chuckling, but with a renewed sense of life and life's
values.

       *       *       *       *       *

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York London



The
Kiltartan
Poetry Book

_Prose Translations from the Irish_

By

Lady Gregory

Author of "Irish Folk-History Plays," "Seven Short
Plays," "Our Irish Theatre," etc.

Certainly no single individual has done more than Lady Gregory to revive
the Irish Literature, and to bring again to light the brave old legends,
the old heroic poems. From her childhood, the author has studied this
ancient language, and has collected most of her material from close
association with the peasants who have inherited these poems and tales.

       *       *       *       *       *

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York London





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