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Ghosts I have Met and Some Others

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Author Topic: Ghosts I have Met and Some Others  (Read 555 times)
Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #105 on: November 03, 2009, 02:21:14 am »

II


(_Being a Note from George Currier, Editor of the "Idler" to Henry
Thurlow, Author_.)

Your explanation has come to hand. As an explanation it isn't worth
the paper it is written on, but we are all agreed here that it is
probably the best bit of fiction you ever wrote. It is accepted for
the Christmas issue. Enclosed please find check for one hundred
dollars.

Dawson suggests that you take another month up in the Adirondacks.
You might put in your time writing up some account of that dream
-life you are leading while you are there. It seems to me there are
possibilities in the idea. The concern will pay all expenses. What
do you say?

(Signed) Yours ever, G. C. THE DAMPMERE MYSTERY

Dawson wished to be alone; he had a tremendous bit of writing to do,
which could not be done in New York, where his friends were
constantly interrupting him, and that is why he had taken the little
cottage at Dampmere for the early spring months. The cottage just
suited him. It was remote from the village of Dampmere, and the
rental was suspiciously reasonable; he could have had a ninety-nine
years' lease of it for nothing, had he chosen to ask for it, and
would promise to keep the premises in repair; but he was not aware
of that fact when he made his arrangements with the agent. Indeed,
there was a great deal that Dawson was not aware of when he took the
place. If there hadn't been he never would have thought of going
there, and this story would not have been written.

It was late in March when, with his Chinese servant and his mastiff,
he entered into possession and began the writing of the story he had
in mind. It was to be the effort of his life. People reading it
would forget Thackeray and everybody else, and would, furthermore,
never wish to see another book. It was to be the literature of all
time--past and present and future; in it all previous work was to be
forgotten, all future work was to be rendered unnecessary.

For three weeks everything went smoothly enough, and the work upon
the great story progressed to the author's satisfaction; but as
Easter approached something queer seemed to develop in the Dampmere
cottage. It was undefinable, intangible, invisible, but it was
there. Dawson's hair would not stay down. When he rose up in the
morning he would find every single hair on his head standing erect,
and plaster it as he would with his brushes dipped in water, it
could not be induced to lie down again. More inconvenient than this,
his silken mustache was affected in the same way, so that instead of
drooping in a soft fascinating curl over his lip, it also rose up
like a row of bayonets and lay flat against either side of his nose;
and with this singular hirsute affliction there came into Dawson's
heart a feeling of apprehension over something, he knew not what,
that speedily developed into an uncontrollable terror that pervaded
his whole being, and more thoroughly destroyed his ability to work
upon his immortal story than ten inconsiderate New York friends
dropping in on him in his busy hours could possibly have done.

"What the dickens is the matter with me?" he said to himself, as for
the sixteenth time he brushed his rebellious locks. "What has come
over my hair? And what under the sun am I afraid of? The idea of a
man of my size looking under the bed every night for--for something--
burglar, spook, or what I don't know. Waking at midnight shivering
with fear, walking in the broad light of day filled with terror; by
Jove! I almost wish I was Chung Lee down in the kitchen, who goes
about his business undisturbed."

[Illustration: "IT WAS TO BE THE EFFORT OF HIS LIFE"]

Having said this, Dawson looked about him nervously. If he had
expected a dagger to be plunged into his back by an unseen foe he
could not have looked around more anxiously; and then he fled,
actually fled in terror into the kitchen, where Chung Lee was
preparing his dinner. Chung was only a Chinaman, but he was a living
creature, and Dawson was afraid to be alone.

"Well, Chung," he said, as affably as he could, "this is a pleasant
change from New York, eh?"

"Plutty good," replied Chung, with a vacant stare at the pantry
door. "Me likes Noo Lork allee same. Dampeemere kind of flunny,
Mister Dawson."

"Funny, Chung?" queried Dawson, observing for the first time that
the Chinaman's queue stood up as straight as a garden stake, and
almost scraped the ceiling as its owner moved about. "Funny?"

"Yeppee, flunny," returned Chung, with a shiver. "Me no likee. Me
flightened."

"Oh, come!" said Dawson, with an affected lightness. "What are you
afraid of?"

"Slumting," said Chung. "Do' know what. Go to bled; no sleepee;
pigtail no stay down; heart go thump allee night."

"By Jove !" thought Dawson; "he's got it too!"

"Evlyting flunny here," resumed Chung.
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