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pocket, and struck it: no one was near think you might manage it a little me, but an icy breeze rushed past me
Here he shuddered till the as from an open window, and my bed shook under him. match went out. I groped my way
“I'll break the door in, Timpkins, on to the butler's door and banged if
don't tell me what you mean. at it.
The servants must have been making “Timpkins," I said, “what is the that awful row, and you know it.” meaning of all this?"
“ Not the servants, sir," he anThere was a moment's pause, and swered in a quavering voice; "it was then a tremulous and husky voice the ghosts !" answered from inside, “Is that you, The ghosts! the man was mad, or sir ?"
drunk, At that instant somebody The fellow's teeth were absolutely certainly laughed a little mocking chattering from fright: I could hear laugh in my ear, and I did not wait them, and the sound rejoiced me : it to argue the case any further. I was well that he should feel a whole bolted back to my room along the some dread of my righteous wrath. draughty passage, shut the door and "Of course it's me. Open the door
locked it. At least there was no more instantly!"
noise that night. I did not sleep, but “I daren't, sir, not if it cost me a peaceful silence prevailed, through my place”; and the teeth chattered which the clock ticked with undiaudibly.
minished cheerfulness. "Look here, Timpkins, you'd better The following morning Timpkins not be such a fool as this. Why, man, waited upon me at breakfast with I sha'n't slay you for it!”
irreproachable demeanour. When the “You, sir !” in an undoubted accent meal was cleared away he respectfully of astonishment, “it's not you that I'm requested permission to speak of the afraid of. Oh, sir”_here the teeth incidents of the night. The other chattered again—" can't you manage
servants had, he said, asked him, as them better than this?”
the most experienced of them all in "I'd better begin by managing you," the ways of the house, to lay their I answered angrily ; but he did not grievances before me.
I had not quite seem to hear me.
decided with what front it was best Not a servant will stay with to face the awkward subject of the you if you let it happen again ! mysterious disturbance, so I just told They all left before, every one of him to go forward with what he had them, and they'll do it again. I only stopped because your uncle swore to “Every one of them has something me that it should occur no more, and to complain of,” he began. “There's it didn't. What he did to them, and the under-housemaid declares where he put them, I can't say. But young man came and hanged himself he managed them somehow. There's in her room : a most unpleasant thing a noise beginning. Oh, sir, do you to happen to any respectable person, think they are coming again?” and, as the girl herself says, gentlemen
" What are you talking about, should keep to their own rooms and fellow the servants ?”
ladies to theirs, even if they do happen The servants ? Goodness graci- to be ghosts. There's not one of them ous, no, sir! Do you think I'd let that did not see something last night. them carry on like that! It's not the I did myself, but I'd rather not speak least use, sir, rattling at that door, of it. When I hear a thing in confor I will not open it, not if I leave fidence, even from a ghost, I prefer to before breakfast to-morrow! This is keep it to myself." not my business, sir, it's yours : you
“Do so, by all means. I am not know that well enough, and I really going to
believe those ridiculous
stories. I heard plenty of noise, but enjoying themselves amazingly in their I saw nothing.”
own eccentric manner.
There was a “I fancy, sir," he said significantly, regular crowd of them. A lady in " that would be because the ghosts patches and high heels was dancing a don't properly know that your uncle's minuet on the hearth-rug. A wickedgone, so they dare not venture into looking man with a gray beard was his room.
He had great control over depositing a skull and a few other relics them: I hope you'll manage to get of crime in a corner of the room: his some in time, or you'll have your house manner was really amusingly secreempty.”
tive when you came to consider the "I don't believe in the ghosts,” I crowded state of the apartment, but answered, with more irritation than it did not amuse me at the time. A truth.
young man in a Cavalier dress was “Well, sir, we all know, though it proposing in the shelter of the windowis not commonly spoken of, that your curtain to a young lady in a Puritan uncle was a-ahem! a ghost-collector. garb. A mad violinist was practising He went to places, and he brought 'em scales at the foot of the bed. A small away with him, but what he did with boy, who produced the effect of having ’em, and where he put 'em, nobody been deserted on the top of a mounknew. Once or twice they broke out, tain by a wicked uncle (I don't know and there was an awful row, but that how he did it in the circumstances, but hasn't happened for years. Last night, ghosts have a peculiar talent for the when the noise began, I said at once, histrionic art, and appear to be quite "They've broken loose again. I do independent of scenic accessories), was hope, sir, for your own sake, that screaming for assistance at the top of you'll somehow manage to get
the his voice. A philosopher was taking upper hand of them.
Your uncle notes in my easy-chair. Last, but not never gave you, I suppose, sir, a hint least, a highwayman was explaining how to do it?"
the details of his execution to me at 66 Never a word !"
one side of the bed, while a gentleman “ That's bad, but it'll happen come in a powdered wig, and holding a
I've spoken to the servants. snuff-box, related to me old but not They all wanted to leave this very day, venerable Court anecdotes but I've said to them : The new other side. master's young and not experienced The rest of that night I decline to in the management of ghosts.' Give describe. I reasoned with those ghosts: him a fair trial, and he'll perhaps get I stormed at them, I threatened them. them under, as the old master did.' Then I began to throw the furniture at They've agreed to stop for a week, and them, but they did not even dodge : the see how things go on.
And I am sure,
missiles went clean through them withsir, you've the good wishes of us all out damaging them in the least: I that you may get well through with it broke the looking-glass and the water
Then the respectable Timpkins bottle, that was all. Most of the departed, leaving me as much amazed ghosts took no notice whatever of my and subdued in spirit as he desired the proceedings, but remained absorbed, ghosts to become under my treatment. like lunatics, in their own. One or My treatment, indeed!
I felt no
two paused for a moment to smile at ability left within me to cope with my helpless rage, and the young lady the rebellious phantoms who had on the hearth-rug actually giggled broken loose.
with amusement. Clearly these ghosts Timpkins was right in his surmise, were too many for me! for the next night the ghosts invaded The next morning at breakfast I my bedroom. I awoke to find them in informed Timpkins that my portmanfull possession. They seemed to be teau must be packed at once.
going away for some time. He smiled " You don't think so, I'm sure, sir. a smile of satisfaction. “Very right It's just what they call a co-hincidindeed, sir, and I hope that you'll be
ence !" successful and bring none of them Coincidence or not, the ghosts let back when you come !”
me alone that night, but I got up the Evidently he thought that I was next morning in a very bad temper, taking the ghosts away, whereas I notwithstanding. My uncle's servants was only flying from them ; but I had been admirably chosen, and knew kept my own counsel, and departed by their work thoroughly. It was tirethe midday train. A week's absence some to lose them all at one fell swoop from home, in cheerful society and of fate. I should have been absolutely with cheerful surroundings, revived alone in the house but for the faithmy spirits somewhat. I began to ful Timpkins, who still evidently hoped hope that the ghosts would have tired that I should "
manage them." He themselves out and gone : they could had got the gardener's wife to come not always be working so hard. and cook for me in our temporary would, at any rate, run down home difficulty, and I ought to have been and see what was happening there. more grateful to him than I was. I The place looked so beautiful as I am afraid that I wanted an excuse for approached it—for my uncle had
I found one in the spared no expense in making it all clock, which had run down in my that a gentleman's residence should absence, and had not been attended to. be—that I felt quite ashamed of having I had not noticed this the night been driven away from it by a set of before. paltry ghosts, a mere phantom col “I declare, Timpkins," I remarked lection gathered together by my own to that ill-used individual, “I think uncle, principally for his profit, but that my own room might at least be partly also for his amusement, and out taken care of : I can understand that of a sort of virtuoso curiosity. “The the rest of the house must be at sixes finest collection of spectres in the and sevens, but the place I sleep in world,” so he had been proud to con ought to be in order !” sider them; and was I, the owner Timpkins, in whose experienced eye of the museum, to be afraid of my I saw compassion for my pitiable situown specimens ? The idea was absurd. ation, expressed regret that anything I was received by Timpkins, whose air had been neglected. He had not been was preternaturally solemn.
aware of it. “I'm afraid, sir, that you did not “It's the clock," I answered angrily: pack them as well as you thought,” “it has not been wound up, a thing he remarked gravely. “ Some of them that can be done in three minutes !” must have got loose somehow, for they “Oh, the clock !" responded Timpwere at it as bad as ever the night kins, his countenance clearing. “I after you left."
beg pardon, sir, but the old master “Were they indeed ?” I answered never allowed any one to touch it. grimly.
The last housekeeper (a very valuable “ And for several nights after that,” person, sir) was sent away because she he went on.
“ The servants have all tried to make it go. If you want left. They stayed their week, and that clock winding up, sir, I'll take it then they went. And as it happened as a particular favour if you'll do it the ghosts have been quiet ever
I felt inclined to quarrel with him "Exactly so," I answered irritably, on the spot, but on the whole decided “ I always said the servants were at that I wouldn't; so I wound up the the bottom of it."
clock myself. That night, as the inHe looked at me with surprise. telligent reader will be already aware,
the ghosts came again. The intelli
er-really can't consent to this. Itgent reader has had the advantage er-is not fair, not in the contract. of what I may call “ selected circum You-er-have a perfect right not to stance" from which to draw bis wind it up, but to stop it—er—that deductions: I was struggling with was never agreed to." multifarious circumstances altogether I looked in the corner of the room unselected, which I have not put and saw that the old philosopher had before bim. Selected clrcumstance is almost
but not quite; or, to what reveals to us the end of novels speak more correctly, he had partly while the actors in them are struggling come back again. His form was as in a hopeless fog : this it is which indistinct as his voice, it wavered like makes us so much wiser than the a candle in a breeze, and tried hard to philosophers, and so much sharper than keep itself together, that his limbs the detectives, in the books we read. might not part company, like clouds We are not really so clever as we before a tempest. “If you—er-would think on most occasions.
just let it go again while I talk to you," Well, the ghosts came again, and he pleaded, “the others--sha'n'tI think that on the whole, they be come back, and I'll tell you all-erhaved rather worse than before. all about it.” He nearly went out then They talked, screamed, groaned, and and there, and only by a violent effort proposed at the very top of their braced himself up into comparative voices, and without any regard to the solidity. He was a courageous old proprieties. They quite disturbed the phantom. philosopher at his notes, and he looked I stood hesitating, with my finger at me in a remonstrant way, as who on the clock. A wise man would have should say, "I really do think, you let well alone; but I was not wise. I know, that you let them go too far.” wanted to know "all about it." I
But what was I to do? At first I wanted to hear the secret of the clock could only add my groans to theirs. and of the ghosts. After a time the sound of the clock “You are sure they won't come ticking joyously on through all the back?" I asked. noise struck me oddly. I ceased my “I-er-promise-honour of a gengroans to listen to it: a saving tleman. Just give me a few ticks; so thought flashed through my mind : hard to speak without.
Ah-erthe coincidence existed not with the thank you—" in a clear voice of great servants, but with the clock. I leaped relief, as I set the clock ticking. out of bed, I rushed through those Then the old gentleman began to ghosts as if they had been air-very gesticulate, and to talk violently, not chilly air they seemed to be too-and to me, but to the other ghosts. ApI put my finger on the swinging pen- parently they were gradually convinced dulum. There was a low wail of deep by his eloquence (the details of which dismay, then-oh, joy ! oh, happiness ! I could not quite catch), for it became oh, relief ! the ghosts were gone ! less and less vehement; and at last
I drew my breath with a long sigh the philosopher turned to me (he was of satisfaction, and felt the solitude now looking perfectly solid), and said like a Paradise. But
troubles with a smile, "It's all right, they have were not all over. The silence lasted agreed to leave the negotiation in my about a minute, than I heard a slight hands. I always had great influence sound, as if some one in the corner of with them. Your uncle often conthe room
was trying to speak to sulted me on difficult affairs. Now The voice was faint and uncer we can sit down and talk comfortably tain : it trembled and nearly ebbed together. away, then took body and went on. “ Before I go any further in my "I-er-really must protest. I- communication,” the phantom went
on, with a glance at the clock which is, I believe, an axiom of your most was comfortably ticking in front of advanced thinkers. Having then such us, “I must make one bargain with powers, he looked about for a subject to you, really a very moderate one. I give them full scope, and he foundhave a great deal of valuable informa We were, each in our different spheres, tion to give you, and you cannot ex pursuing our appointed tasks with pect to have it, even from a ghost, for great credit to ourselves and satisfacnothing."
tion to the community. Men respected "Tell me your terms,” I responded us, women feared us : we had power, with a brevity in strong contrast to his sir, and influence.
There was not one courteous circumlocution.
of us who had not secured a comfortable “ They are very simple, very simple, situation, and was not doing his best indeed," he said, rubbing his hands to fulfil his duty in it.
We were together gently, and keeping his ghostly active then, and useful.
We kept eye on me; “just that you should alive the past in the memory of the undertake to wind this clock up once vulgar, who do not read and will not a year. Merely that."
think: we threw out hints of the super“ That will, as I understand," I re natural: we awakened the emotions of replied, frowning, “be equal to an awe, wonder, compassion. Are not invitation to the-er-to your agree these the feelings, sir, which it was the able friends to come back and make ambition of your mighty poets in the as much hubbub as they like.”
past to inspire by their tragedies? “For eight days only, eight days, or You can all of you reverence Æschylus; nights, as I should more accurately but who is grateful to a ghost? Howsay. What are those in a whole year? ever complaints are useless. Your I must have something in return for uncle brought us from our various what I tell you. Those at any rate are avocations, and shut us up together in my terms." He pressed his unsub a museum, like a set of mummies. stantial lips firmly together. To be What could we do there but become brief, I consented. It was again a the trivial, miserable, deteriorated foolish thing to do, but I was never beings that we are? The dignity of very wise, and my curiosity was aroused. our profession was gone. We could I wanted to know about these curious not frighten one another. We could people who lived somewhere on my not act without a public. We became premises. I can boast of as ancient à mere puppets, and might as well have descent as most people, and one of my been worked by strings.” earliest ancestresses (some say the
very At this juncture I interrupted him. earliest, but the point is now disputed) “Would you mind telling me the brought a good deal of trouble into locality of that museum ?” I asked. our family by too curious a desire to “Not in the least,” he answered know the flavour of an apple. I had courteously, but it would be difficult inberited her curiosity. She was a for you to visit it, and unadvisable. very distinguished woman, and I am Your uncle had it built on purpose for not going to blush for the family fail It is an immense underground ing which owed its introduction to her. vault, in a lonely spot in the park, I consented then. The ghost sat down after it was finished, the entrance in
my easy chair, crossed his legs, and was walled up and soil thrown over began his story with great affability. the whole, as before. There is no way
“Your uncle was a very admirable in or out, except for ghosts. Your man, and I should not wish to say a uncle did his best to make it comfortword against him. He had unusual able for us. It is well furnished with powers. Everybody with unusual
secret passages, old pictures, oakpowers has a right to exercise them at chests, bones, cupboards, curtains, and the expense of weaker creatures. That other articles for which he thought we