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Ghosts I have Met and Some Others

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« Reply #60 on: November 03, 2009, 01:52:06 am »

"Whin you was writin' shtories about ut, sorr," said Barney,
respectfully. "You've had a black horse-hair sofy turn white in a
single noight, sorr, for the soight of horror ut's witnessed. You've
had the hair of your own head shtand on ind loike tinpenny nails at
what you've seen here in this very room, yourself, sorr. You've had
ghosts doin' all sorts of t'ings in the shtories you've been writin'
for years, and _you've always swore they was thrue, sorr_. I didn't
believe 'em when I read 'em, but whin I see thim segyars bein'
shmoked up before me eyes by invishible t'ings, I sez to meself, sez
I, the boss ain't such a dommed loiar afther all. I've follyd your
writin', sorr, very careful and close loike; an I don't see how,
afther the tales you've told about your own experiences right here,
you can say consishtently that this wan o' mine ain't so!"

"But why, Barney," I asked, to confuse him, "when a thing like this
happened, didn't you write and tell me?"

Barney chuckled as only one of his species can chuckle.

"Wroite an' tell ye?" he cried. "Be gorry, sorr, if I could wroite
at all at all, ut's not you oi'd be wroitin' that tale to, but to
the edithor of the paper that you wroite for. A tale loike that is
wort' tin dollars to any man, eshpecially if ut's thrue. But I niver
learned the art!"
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« Reply #61 on: November 03, 2009, 01:52:25 am »

And with that Barney left me overwhelmed. Subsequently I gave him
the ten dollars which I think his story is worth, but I must confess
that I am in a dilemma. After what I have said about my supernatural
guests, I cannot discharge Barney for lying, but I'll be blest if I
can quite believe that his story is accurate in every respect.

If there should happen to be among the readers of this tale any who
have made a sufficiently close study of the habits of hired men and
ghosts to be able to shed any light upon the situation, nothing
would please me more than to hear from them.

I may add, in closing, that Barney has resumed smoking.
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« Reply #62 on: November 03, 2009, 01:52:44 am »

THE EXORCISM THAT FAILED

I--A JUBILEE EXPERIENCE


It has happened again. I have been haunted once more, and this time
by the most obnoxious spook I have ever had the bliss of meeting. He
is homely, squat, and excessively vulgar in his dress and manner. I
have met cockneys in my day, and some of the most offensive
varieties at that, but this spook absolutely outcocknifies them all,
and the worst of it is I can't seem to rid myself of him. He has
pursued me like an avenging angel for quite six months, and every
plan of exorcism that I have tried so far has failed, including the
receipt given me by my friend Peters, who, next to myself, knows
more about ghosts that any man living. It was in London that I first
encountered the vulgar little creature who has made my life a sore
trial ever since, and with whom I am still coping to the best of my
powers.

Starting out early in the morning of June 21, last summer, to
witness the pageant of her Majesty Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee,
I secured a good place on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and
Trafalgar Square. There were two rows of people ahead of me, but I
did not mind that. Those directly before me were short, and I could
easily see over their heads, and, furthermore, I was protected from
the police, who in London are the most dangerous people I have ever
encountered, not having the genial ways of the Irish bobbies who
keep the New York crowds smiling; who, when you are pushed into the
line of march, merely punch you in a ticklish spot with the end of
their clubs, instead of smashing your hair down into your larynx
with their sticks, as do their London prototypes.

It was very comforting to me, having witnessed the pageant of 1887,
when the Queen celebrated her fiftieth anniversary as a potentate,
and thereby learned the English police system of dealing with
crowds, to know that there were at least two rows of heads to be
split open before my turn came, and I had formed the good resolution
to depart as soon as the first row had been thus treated, whether I
missed seeing the procession or not.

I had not been long at my post when the crowds concentrating on the
line of march, coming up the avenue from the Embankment, began to
shove intolerably from the rear, and it was as much as I could do to
keep my place, particularly in view of the fact that the undersized
cockney who stood in front of me appeared to offer no resistance to
the pressure of my waistcoat against his narrow little back. It
seemed strange that it should be so, but I appeared, despite his
presence, to have nothing of a material nature ahead of me, and I
found myself bent at an angle of seventy-five degrees, my feet
firmly planted before me like those of a balky horse, restraining
the onward tendency of the mob back of me.

Strong as I am, however, and stubborn, I am not a stone wall ten
feet thick at the base, and the pressure brought to bear upon my
poor self was soon too great for my strength, and I gradually
encroached upon my unresisting friend. He turned and hurled a few
remarks at me that are not printable, yet he was of no more
assistance in withstanding the pressure than a marrowfat pea well
cooked would have been.

"I'm sorry," I said, apologetically, "but I can't help it. If these
policemen would run around to the rear and massacre some of the
populace who are pushing me, I shouldn't have to shove you."

"Well, all I've got to say," he retorted, "is that if you don't keep
your carcass out of my ribs I'll haunt you to your dying day."
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« Reply #63 on: November 03, 2009, 01:52:58 am »

"If you'd only put up a little backbone yourself you'd make it
easier for me," I replied, quite hotly. "What are you, anyhow, a
jelly-fish or an India-rubber man?" He hadn't time to answer, for
just as I spoke an irresistible shove from the crowd pushed me slap
up against the man in the front row, and I was appalled to find the
little fellow between us bulging out on both sides of me, crushed
longitudinally from top to toe, so that he resembled a paper doll
before the crease is removed from its middle, three-quarters open.
"Great heavens!" I muttered. "What have I struck?"

[Illustration: "'L LUL LET ME OUT!' HE GASPED "]

"L-lul-let me out!" he gasped. "Don't you see you are squ-queezing
my figure out of shape? Get bub-back, blank it!"

"I can't," I panted. "I'm sorry, but--"

"Sorry be hanged!" he roared. "This is my place, you idiot--"

This was too much for me, and in my inability to kick him with my
foot I did it with my knee, and then, if I had not been excited, I
should have learned the unhappy truth. My knee went straight through
him and shoved the man ahead into the coat-tails of the bobbie in
front. It was fortunate for me that it happened as it did, for the
front-row man was wrathful enough to have struck me; but the police
took care of him; and as he was carried away on a stretcher, the
little jelly-fish came back into his normal proportions, like an
inflated India-rubber toy.

"What the deuce are you, anyhow?" I cried, aghast at the spectacle.
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« Reply #64 on: November 03, 2009, 01:53:12 am »

"You'll find out before you are a year older!" he wrathfully
answered. "I'll show you a shoving trick or two that you won't like,
you blooming Yank!"

It made me excessively angry to be called a blooming Yank. I am a
Yankee, and I have been known to bloom, but I can't stand having a
low-class Britisher apply that term to me as if it were an
opprobrious thing to be, so I tried once more to kick him with my
knee. Again my knee passed through him, and this time took the
policeman himself in the vicinity of his pistol-pocket. The irate
officer turned quickly, raised his club, and struck viciously, not
at the little creature, but at me. He didn't seem to see the jelly
-fish. And then the horrid truth flashed across my mind. The thing in
front of me was a ghost--a miserable relic of some bygone pageant,
and visible only to myself, who have an eye to that sort of thing.
Luckily the bobbie missed his stroke, and as I apologized, telling
him I had St. Vitus's dance and could not control my unhappy leg,
accompanying the apology with a half sovereign--both of which were
accepted--peace reigned, and I shortly had the bliss of seeing the
whole sovereign ride by--that is, I was told that the lady behind
the parasol, which obscured everything but her elbow, was her
Majesty the Queen.

Nothing more of interest happened between this and the end of the
procession, although the little spook in front occasionally turned
and paid me a compliment which would have cost any material creature
his life. But that night something of importance did happen, and it
has been going on ever since. The unlovely creature turned up in my
lodgings just as I was about to retire, and talked in his rasping
voice until long after four o'clock. I ordered him out, and he
declined to go. I struck at him, but it was like hitting smoke.

"All right," said I, putting on my clothes. "If you won't get out, I
will."
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« Reply #65 on: November 03, 2009, 01:54:03 am »

"That's exactly what I intended you to do," he said. "How do you
like being shoved, eh? Yesterday was the 21st of June. I shall keep
shoving you along, even as you shoved me, for exactly one year."

"Humph!" I retorted. "You called me a blooming Yank yesterday. I am.
I shall soon be out of your reach in the great and glorious United
States."

"Oh, as for that," he answered, calmly, "I can go to the United
States. There are steamers in great plenty. I could even get myself
blown across on a gale, if I wanted to--only gales are not always
convenient. Some of 'em don't go all the way through, and
connections are hard to make. A gale I was riding on once stopped in
mid-ocean, and I had to wait a week before another came along, and
it landed me in Africa instead of at New York."

"Got aboard the wrong gale, eh?" said I, with a laugh.

"Yes," he answered.

"Didn't you drown?" I cried, somewhat interested.

"Idiot!" he retorted. "Drown? How could I? You can't drown a ghost!"

"See here," said I, "if you call me an idiot again, I'll--I'll--"

"What?" he put in, with a grin. "Now just what will you do? You're
clever, but _I'm a ghost!"_

[Illustration: "I SHALL KEEP SHOVING YOU FOR EXACTLY ONE YEAR"]
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« Reply #66 on: November 03, 2009, 01:54:36 am »

"You wait and see!" said I, rushing angrily from the room. It was a
very weak retort, and I frankly admit that I am ashamed of it, but
it was the best I had at hand at the moment. My stock of repartee,
like most men's vitality, is at its lowest ebb at four o'clock in
the morning.

For three or four hours I wandered aimlessly about the city, and
then returned to my room, and found it deserted; but in the course
of my peregrinations I had acquired a most consuming appetite.
Usually I eat very little breakfast, but this morning nothing short
of a sixteen-course dinner could satisfy my ravening; so instead of
eating my modest boiled egg, I sought the Savoy, and at nine o'clock
entered the breakfast-room of that highly favored caravansary.
Imagine my delight, upon entering, to see, sitting near one of the
windows, my newly made acquaintances of the steamer, the Travises of
Boston, Miss Travis looking more beautiful than ever and quite as
haughty, by whom I was invited to join them. I accepted with
alacrity, and was just about to partake of a particularly nice melon
when who should walk in but that vulgar little spectre, hat jauntily
placed on one side of his head, check-patterned trousers loud enough
to wake the dead, and a green plaid vest about his middle that would
be an indictable offence even on an American golf links.

"Thank Heaven they can't see the brute!" I muttered as he
approached.

"Hullo, old chappie!" he cried, slapping me on my back. "Introduce
me to your charming friends," and with this he gave a horrible low
-born smirk at Miss Travis, to whom, to my infinite sorrow, by some
accursed miracle, he appeared as plainly visible as he was to me.

"Really," said Mrs. Travis, turning coldly to me, "we--we can't, you
know--we--Come, Eleanor. We will leave this _gentleman_ with his
_friend_, and have our breakfast sent to our rooms."
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« Reply #67 on: November 03, 2009, 01:55:12 am »

And with that they rose up and scornfully departed. The creature
then sat down in Miss Travis's chair and began to devour her roll.

"See here," I cried, finally, "what the devil do you mean?"

"Shove number two," he replied, with his unholy smirk. "Very
successful, eh? Werl, just you wait for number three. It will be
what you Americans call a corker. By-bye."

And with that he vanished, just in time to spare me the humiliation
of shying a pot of coffee at his head. Of course my appetite
vanished with him, and my main duty now seemed to be to seek out the
Travises and explain; so leaving the balance of my breakfast
untasted, I sought the office, and sent my card up to Mrs. Travis.
The response was immediate.

"The loidy says she's gone out, sir, and ain't likely to be back,"
remarked the top-lofty buttons, upon his return.

I was so maddened by this slight, and so thoroughly apprehensive of
further trouble from the infernal shade, that I resolved without
more ado to sneak out of England and back to America before the
deadly blighting thing was aware of my intentions. I immediately
left the Savoy, and sought the office of the Green Star Line,
secured a room on the steamer sailing the next morning--the
_Digestic_--from Liverpool, and was about packing up my belongings,
when _it_ turned up again.

"Going away, eh?"

"Yes," I replied, shortly, and then I endeavored to deceive him.
"I've been invited down to Leamington to spend a week with my old
friend Dr. Liverton."

"Oh, indeed!" he observed. "Thanks for the address. I will not
neglect you during your stay there. Be prepared for a shove that
will turn your hair gray. _Au revoir._"
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« Reply #68 on: November 03, 2009, 01:55:49 am »

And he vanished, muttering the address I had given him--"Dr.
Liverton, Leamington--Dr. Liverton." To which he added, "I won't
forget _that,_ not by a jugful."

I chuckled softly to myself as he disappeared. "He's clever, but--
there are others," I said, delighted at the ease with which I had
rid myself of him; and then eating a hearty luncheon, I took the
train to Liverpool, where next morning I embarked on the _Digestic_
for New York.
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« Reply #69 on: November 03, 2009, 01:56:02 am »

II--AN UNHAPPY VOYAGE


The sense of relief that swept over me when the great anchor of the
_Digestic_ came up from the unstrained quality of the Mersey, and I
thought of the fact that shortly a vast ocean would roll between me
and that fearful spook, was one of the most delightful emotions that
it has ever been my good fortune to experience. Now all seemed
serene, and I sought my cabin belowstairs, whistling gayly; but,
alas! how fleeting is happiness, even to a whistler!

As I drew near to the room which I had fondly supposed was to be my
own exclusively I heard profane remarks issuing therefrom. There was
condemnation of the soap; there was perdition for the lighting
apparatus; there were maledictions upon the location of the port,
and the bedding was excommunicate.

"This is strange," said I to the steward. "I have engaged this room
for the passage. I hear somebody in there."

"Not at all, sir," said he, opening the door; "it is empty." And to
him it undoubtedly appeared to be so.

"But," I cried, "didn't you hear anything?"

"Yes, I did," he said, candidly; "but I supposed you was a
ventriloquist, sir, and was a-puttin' up of a game on me."

Here the steward smiled, and I was too angry to retort. And then--
Well, you have guessed it. _He_ turned up--and more vulgar than
ever.

"Hullo!" he said, nonchalantly, fooling with a suit-case. "Going
over?"

"Oh no!" I replied, sarcastic. "Just out for a swim. When we get off
the Banks I'm going to jump overboard and swim to the Azores on a
wager."

"How much?" he asked.

"Five bob," said I, feeling that he could not grasp a larger amount.

"Humph!" he ejaculated. "I'd rather drive a cab--as I used to."

"Ah?" said I. "That's what you were, eh? A cab-driver. Takes a
mighty mind to be that, eh? Splendid intellectual effort to drive a
cab from the Reform Club to the Bank, eh?"
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« Reply #70 on: November 03, 2009, 01:56:20 am »

I had hoped to wither him.

"Oh, I don't know," he answered, suavely. "I'll tell you this,
though: I'd rather go from the Club to the Bank on my hansom with me
holding the reins than try to do it with Mr. Gladstone or the Prince
o' Wiles on the box."

"Prince o' Wiles?" I said, with a withering manner.

"That's what I said," he retorted. "You would call him Prince of
Whales, I suppose--like a Yank, a blooming Yank--because you think
Britannia rules the waves."

I had to laugh; and then a plan of conciliation suggested itself. I
would jolly him, as my political friends have it.

"Have a drink?" I asked.

"No, thanks; I don't indulge," he replied. "Let me offer you a
cigar."

I accepted, and he extracted a very fair-looking weed from his box,
which he handed me. I tried to bite off the end, succeeding only in
biting my tongue, whereat the presence roared with laughter.

"What's the joke now?" I queried, irritated.

"You," he answered. "The idea of any one's being fool enough to try
to bite off the end of a spook cigar strikes me as funny."

From that moment all thought of conciliation vanished, and I
resorted to abuse.

"You are a low-born thing!" I shouted. "And if you don't get out of
here right away I'll break every bone in your body."

"Very well," he answered, coolly, scribbling on a pad close at hand.
"There's the address."

"What address?" I asked.

"Of the cemetery where those bones you are going to break are to be
found. You go in by the side gate, and ask any of the grave-diggers
where--"
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« Reply #71 on: November 03, 2009, 01:56:40 am »

"You infernal scoundrel!" I shrieked, "this is my room. I have
bought and paid for it, and I intend to have it. Do you hear?"

His response was merely the clapping of his hands together, and in a
stage-whisper, leaning towards me, he said:

"Bravo! Bravo! You are great. I think you could do Lear. Say those
last words again, will you?"

His calmness was too much for me, and I lost all control of myself.
Picking up the water-bottle, I hurled it at him with all the force
at my command. It crashed through him and struck the mirror over the
wash-stand, and as the shattered glass fell with a loud noise to the
floor the door to my state-room opened, and the captain of the ship,
flanked by the room steward and the doctor, stood at the opening.

"What's all this about?" said the captain, addressing me.

"I have engaged this room for myself alone," I said, trembling in my
rage, "and I object to that person's presence." Here I pointed at
the intruder.

"What person's presence?" demanded the captain, looking at the spot
where the haunting thing sat grinning indecently.

"What person?" I roared, forgetting the situation for the moment.
"Why, him--it--whatever you choose to call it. He's settled down
here, and has been black-guarding me for twenty minutes, and, damn
it, captain, I won't stand it!"

"It's a clear case," said the captain, with a sigh, turning and
addressing the doctor. "Have you a strait-jacket?"
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« Reply #72 on: November 03, 2009, 01:57:00 am »

"Thank you, captain," said I, calming down. "It's what he ought to
have, but it won't do any good. You see, he's not a material thing.
He's buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, and so the strait-jacket won't
help us."

Here the doctor stepped into the room and took me gently by the arm.
"Take off your clothes," he said, "and lie down. You need quiet."

"I?" I demanded, not as yet realizing my position. "Not by a long
shot. Fire _him_ out. That's all I ask."

"Take off your clothes and get into that bed," repeated the doctor,
peremptorily. Then he turned to the captain and asked him to detail
two of his sailors to help him. "He's going to be troublesome," he
added, in a whisper. "Mad as a hatter."

I hesitate, in fact decline, to go through the agony of what
followed again by writing of it in detail. Suffice it to say that
the doctor persisted in his order that I should undress and go to
bed, and I, conscious of the righteousness of my position, fought
this determination, until, with the assistance of the steward and
the two able-bodied seamen detailed by the captain at the doctor's
request, I was forcibly unclad and thrown into the lower berth and
strapped down. My wrath knew no bounds, and I spoke my mind as
plainly as I knew how. It is a terrible thing to be sane, healthy,
fond of deck-walking, full of life, and withal unjustly strapped to
a lower berth below the water-line on a hot day because of a little
beast of a cockney ghost, and I fairly howled my sentiments.

[Illustration: "I WAS FORCIBLY UNCLAD"]
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« Reply #73 on: November 03, 2009, 01:57:38 am »

On the second day from Liverpool two maiden ladies in the room next
mine made representations to the captain which resulted in my
removal to the steerage. They couldn't consent, they said, to listen
to the shrieks of the maniac in the adjoining room.

And then, when I found myself lying on a cot in the steerage, still
strapped down, who should appear but my little spectre.

"Well," he said, sitting on the edge of the cot, "what do you think
of it now, eh? Ain't I a shover from Shoverville on the Push?"

"It's all right," I said, contemptuously. "But I'll tell you one
thing, Mr. Spook: when I die and have a ghost of my own, that ghost
will seek you out, and, by thunder, if it doesn't thrash the life
out of you, I'll disown it!"

It seemed to me that he paled a bit at this, but I was too tired to
gloat over a little thing like that, so I closed my eyes and went to
sleep. A few days later I was so calm and rational that the doctor
released me, and for the remainder of my voyage I was as free as any
other person on board, except that I found myself constantly under
surveillance, and was of course much irritated by the notion that my
spacious stateroom was not only out of my reach, but probably in the
undisputed possession of the cockney ghost.
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« Reply #74 on: November 03, 2009, 01:57:51 am »

After seven days of ocean travel New York was reached, and I was
allowed to step ashore without molestation. But my infernal friend
turned up on the pier, and added injury to insult by declaring in my
behalf certain dutiable articles in my trunks, thereby costing me
some dollars which I should much rather have saved. Still, after the
incidents of the voyage, I thought it well to say nothing, and
accepted the hardships of the experience in the hope that in the far
distant future my spook would meet his and thrash the very death out
of him.

Well, things went on. The cockney spook left me to my own devices
until November, when I had occasion to lecture at a certain college
in the Northwest. I travelled from my home to the distant platform,
went upon it, was introduced by the proper functionary, and began my
lecture. In the middle of the talk, who should appear in a vacant
chair well down towards the stage but the cockney ghost, with a
guffaw at a strong and not humorous point, which disconcerted me! I
broke down and left the platform, and in the small room at the side
encountered him.

"Shove the fourth!" he cried, and vanished.

It was then that I consulted Peters as to how best to be rid of him.
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