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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 4062 times)
Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #75 on: November 03, 2009, 01:58:06 am »

"There is no use of talking about it," I said to Peters, "the man is
ruining me. Socially with the Travises I am an outcast, and I have
no doubt they will tell about it, and my ostracism will extend. On
the _Digestic_ my sanity is seriously questioned, and now for the
first time in my life, before some two thousand people, I break down
in a public lecture which I have delivered dozens of times hitherto
without a tremor. The thing cannot go on."

"I should say not," Peters answered. "Maybe I can help you to get
rid of him, but I'm not positive about it; my new scheme isn't as
yet perfected. Have you tried the fire-extinguisher treatment?"

I will say here, that Peters upon two occasions has completely
annihilated unpleasant spectres by turning upon them the colorless
and odorless liquids whose chemical action is such that fire cannot
live in their presence.

"Fire, the vital spark, is the essential element of all these
chaps," said he, "and if you can turn the nozzle of your
extinguisher on that spook your ghost simply goes out."

"No, I haven't," I replied; "but I will the first chance I get." And
I left him, hopeful if not confident of a successful exorcism.

On my return home I got out two of the extinguishers which were left
in my back hall for use in case of an emergency, and tested one of
them on the lawn. I merely wished to ascertain if it would work with
spirit, and it did; it went off like a sodawater fountain loaded
with dynamite, and I felt truly happy for the first time in many
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #76 on: November 03, 2009, 01:59:02 am »

"The vulgar little beast would better keep away from me now," I
laughed. But my mirth was short-lived. Whether or not the obnoxious
little chap had overheard, or from some hidden coign had watched my
test of the fire-extinguisher I don't know, but when he came to my
den that night he was amply protected against the annihilating
effects of the liquid by a flaring plaid mackintosh, with a toque
for his head, and the minute I started the thing squirting he turned
his back and received the charge harmless on his shoulders. The only
effect of the experiment was the drenching and consequent ruin of a
pile of MSS. I had been at work on all day, which gave me another
grudge against him. When the extinguisher had exhausted itself, the
spectre turned about and fairly raised the ceiling with his guffaws,
and when he saw my ruined pages upon the desk his mirth became

"De-lightful!" he cried. "For an impromptu shove wherein I turn over
the shoving to you in my own behalf, I never saw it equalled.
Wouldn't be a bad thing if all writers would wet down their MSS. the
same way, now would it?"

But I was too indignant to reply, and too chagrined over my failure
to remain within-doors, so I rushed out and paced the fields for two
hours. When I returned, he had gone.


Three weeks later he turned up once more. "Great Heavens!" I cried;
"you back again?"

"Yes," he answered; "and I've come to tell you I'm mighty sorry
about those ruined MSS. of yours. It is too bad that your whole
day's work had to go for nothing."
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #77 on: November 03, 2009, 01:59:27 am »

[Illustration: "HE WAS AMPLY PROTECTED"]

"I think so myself," I retorted, coldly. "It's rather late in the
day for you to be sorry, though. If you'll show your sincerity by
going away and never crossing my path again, I may believe in you."

"Ah!" he said, "I've shown it in another way. Indeed I have. You
know I have some conscience, though, to tell the truth, I haven't
made much use of it. This time, however, as I considered the
situation, a little voice rose up within me and said: 'It's all
right, old chap, to be rough on this person; make him mad and shove
him every which way; but don't destroy his work. His work is what he
lives by--'"

"Yes," I interrupted, "and after what I told you on the steamer
about what I would do to you when we got on even terms, you are not
anxious to have me die. I know just how you feel. No thing likes to
contemplate that paralysis that will surely fall upon you when my
ghost begins to get in its fine work. I'm putting it in training

"You poor droll mortal!" laughed the cockney. "You poor droll
mortal! As if I could ever be afraid of that! What is the matter
with my going into training myself? Two can train, you know--even
three. You almost make me feel sorry I tried to remedy the loss of
those MSS."

Somehow or other a sense of some new misfortune came upon me.

"What?" I said, nervously.

"I say I'm almost sorry I tried to remedy the loss of those
manuscripts. Composition, particularly poetry, is devilish hard for
me--I admit it--and when I think of how I toiled over my substitutes
for your ruined stuff, and see how very ungrateful you are, I grudge
the effort."

"I don't understand you," I said, anxiously. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that I have written and sent out to the editors of the
papers you write for a half a dozen poems and short stories."

"What has all that got to do with me?" I demanded.

"A great deal," he said. "You'll get the pay. _I signed your name to

"Y--you--you--you--did what?" I cried.
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« Reply #78 on: November 03, 2009, 01:59:47 am »

"Signed your name to 'em. There was a sonnet to 'A Coal Grab'--that
was the longest of the lot. I think it will cover at least six
magazine pages--"

"But," I cried, "a sonnet never contains more than fourteen lines--

"Oh yes, it does," he replied, calmly. "This one of yours had over
four hundred. And then I wrote a three-page quatrain on
'Immortality,' which, if I do say it, is the funniest thing I ever
read. I sent that to the _Weekly Methodist_."

"Good Lord, good Lord, good Lord!" I moaned. "A three-page

"Yes," he observed, calmly lighting one of his accursed cigars. "And
you'll get all the credit."

A ray of hope entered my soul, and it enabled me to laugh
hysterically. "They'll know it isn't mine," said I. "They know my
handwriting at the office of the _Weekly Methodist_."

"No doubt," said he, dashing all my hopes to the ground. "But--ah--
to remedy that drawback I took pains to find out what type-writer
you used, and I had my quatrain copied on one of the same make."

"But the letter--the note with the manuscript?" I put in.

"Oh, I got over that very easily," he said. "I had that written also
on the machine, on thin paper, and traced your signature at the
bottom. It will be all right, my dear fellow. They'll never
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #79 on: November 03, 2009, 02:00:11 am »

And then, looking at the spirit-watch which he carried in his
spectral fob-pocket, he vanished, leaving me immersed in the deepest
misery of my life. Not content with ruining me socially, and as a
lecturer; not satisfied with destroying me mentally on the seas, he
had now attacked me on my most vulnerable point, my literary
aspirations. I could not rest until I had read his "three-page
quatrain" on "Immortality." Vulgar as I knew him to be, I felt
confident that over my name something had gone out which even in my
least self-respecting moods I could not tolerate. The only comfort
that came to me was that his verses and his type-writing and his
tracings of my autograph would be as spectral to others as to the
eye not attuned to the seeing of ghosts. I was soon to be
undeceived, however, for the next morning's mail brought to my home
a dozen packages from my best "consumers," containing the maudlin
frivolings of this--this--this--well, there is no polite word to
describe him in any known tongue. I shall have to study the Aryan
language--or Kipling--to find an epithet strong enough to apply to
this especial case. Every point, every single detail, about these
packages was convincing evidence of their contents having been of my
own production. The return envelopes were marked at the upper corner
with my name and address. The handwriting upon them was manifestly
mine, although I never in my life penned those particular
superscriptions. Within these envelopes were, I might say, pounds of
MSS., apparently from my own typewriting machine, and signed in an
autograph which would have deceived even myself.

And the stuff!
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« Reply #80 on: November 03, 2009, 02:00:38 am »

Stuff is not the word--in fact, there is no word in any language,
however primitive and impolite, that will describe accurately the
substance of those pages. And with each came a letter from the
editor of the periodical to which the tale or poem had been sent
_advising me to stop work for a while_, and one _suggested the
Keeley cure!_

Immediately I sat down and wrote to the various editors to whom
these productions had been submitted, explaining all--and every one
of them came back to me unopened, with the average statement that
until I had rested a year they really hadn't the time to read what I
wrote; and my best friend among them, the editor of the _Weekly
Methodist_, took the trouble to telegraph to my brother the
recommendation that I should be looked after. And out of the
mistaken kindness of his heart, he printed a personal in his next
issue to the effect that his "valued contributor, Mr. Me, the public
would regret to hear, was confined to his house by a sudden and
severe attack of nervous prostration," following it up with an
estimate of my career, which bore every mark of having been saved up
to that time for use as an obituary.

And as I read the latter--the obituary--over, with tears in my eyes,
what should I hear but the words, spoken at my back, clearly, but in
unmistakable cockney accents,

"Shove the fifth!" followed by uproarious laughter. I grabbed up the
ink-bottle and threw it with all my strength back of me, and
succeeded only in destroying the wall-paper.
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« Reply #81 on: November 03, 2009, 02:00:57 am »


The destruction of the wall-paper, not to mention the wiping out in
a moment of my means of livelihood, made of the fifth shove an
intolerable nuisance. Controlling myself with difficulty, I put on
my hat and rushed to the telegraph office, whence I despatched a
message, marked "Rush," to Peters.

"For Heaven's sake, complete your exorcism and bring it here at
once," I wired him. "Answer collect."

Peters by no means soothed my agitation by his immediate and
extremely flippant response.

"I don't know why you wish me to answer collect, but I suppose you
do. So I answer as you request: Collect. What is it you are going to
collect? Your scattered faculties?" he telegraphed. It was a mean
sort of a telegram to send to a man in my unhappy state, and if he
hadn't prepaid it I should never have forgiven him. I was mad enough
when I received it, and a hot retort was about to go back, when the
bothersome spook turned up and drew my mind off to other things.

"Well, what do you think of me?" he said, ensconcing himself calmly
on my divan. "Pretty successful shover myself, eh?" Then he turned
his eye to the inkspots on the wall. "Novel design in decoration,
that. You ought to get employment in some wall-paper house. Given an
accurate aim and plenty of ink, you can't be beaten for vigorous

I pretended to ignore his presence, and there was a short pause,
after which he began again:
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #82 on: November 03, 2009, 02:01:26 am »

"Sulky, eh? Oh, well, I don't blame you. There's nothing in this
world that can so harrow up one's soul as impotent wrath. I've heard
of people bursting with it. I've had experiences in the art of
irritation before this case. There was a fellow once hired my cab
for an hour. Drove him all about London, and then he stopped in at a
chop-house, leaving me outside. I waited and waited and waited, but
he never came back. Left by the back door, you know. Clever trick,
and for a while the laugh was on me; but when I got to the point
where I could haunt him, I did it to the Regent's taste. I found him
three years after my demise, and through the balance of his life
pursued him everywhere with a phantom cab. If he went to church, I'd
drive my spectre rig right down the middle aisle after him. If he
called on a girl, there was the cab drawn up alongside of him in the
parlor all the time, the horse stamping his foot and whinnying like
all possessed. Of course no one else saw me or the horse or the cab,
but he did--and, Lord! how mad he was, and how hopeless! Finally, in
a sudden surge of wrath at his impotence, he burst, just like a
soap-bubble. It was most amusing. Even the horse laughed."

"Thanks for the story," said I, wishing to anger him by my
nonchalance. "I'll write it up."

"Do," he said. "It will make a clever sixth shove for me. People say
your fancies are too wild and extravagant even now. A story like
that will finish you at once."

"Again, thanks," said I, very calmly. "This time for the hint.
Acting on your advice, I won't write it up."

"Don't," he retorted. "And be forever haunted with the idea. Either
way, it suits me."

And he vanished once more.

The next morning Peters arrived at my house.
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #83 on: November 03, 2009, 02:01:40 am »

"I've come," he said, as he entered my den. "The scheme is perfected
at last, and possibly you can use it. You need help of some kind. I
can see that, just by reading your telegram. You're nervous as a
cat. How do you heat your house?"

"What's that got to do with it?" I demanded, irritably. "You can't
evaporate the little cuss."

"Don't want to," Peters replied. "That's been tried before, and it
doesn't work. My scheme is a better one than that. Did you ever
notice, while smoking in a house that is heated by a hot-air
furnace, how, when a cloud of smoke gets caught in the current of
air from the register, it is mauled and twisted until it gets free,
or else is torn entirely apart?"

"Yes, I have," said I. "What of it?"

"Well, what's the matter with being genial with your old cockney
until he gets in the habit of coming here every night, and bide your
time until, without his knowing it, you can turn a blast from the
furnace on him that will simply rend him to pieces?"

"By Jove!" I cried, delightedly. "You are a genius, old chap."

I rose and shook his hand until he remonstrated.

"Save your energy for him," said he. "You'll need it. It won't be a
pleasant spectacle to witness when, in his struggles to get away, he
is gradually dismembered. It will be something like the drawing and
quartering punishment of olden times."

I shuddered as I thought of it, and for a moment was disposed to
reject the plan, but my weakness left me as I thought of the ruin
that stared me in the face.
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #84 on: November 03, 2009, 02:02:12 am »

"Oh, I don't know," I said, shaking my head. "It will have its
pleasurable side, however fearsome it may prove as a sight. This
house is just fitted for the operation, particularly on warm days. I
have seen times when the blasts of hot air from my furnace have
blown one of my poems off my table across the room."

"Great Scott!" cried Peters. "What a cyclone of an air-box you must

Fortunately the winter season was on, and we were able to test the
capacity of the furnace, with gratifying results. A soap-bubble was
blown, and allowed to float downward until the current was reached,
and the novel shapes it took, as it was blown about the room in its
struggles to escape before it burst, were truly wonderful. I doubted
not for an instant, from what I then saw, that the little cad of a
spectre that was ruining my life would soon meet his Nemesis. So
convinced was I of the ultimate success of the plan that I could
hardly wait patiently for his coming. I became morbidly anxious for
the horrid spectacle which I should witness as his body was torn
apart and gradually annihilated by the relentless output of my
furnace flues. To my great annoyance, it was two weeks before he
turned up again, and I was beginning to fear that he had in some
wise got wind of my intentions, and was turning my disappointment
over his absence into the sixth of his series of "shoves." Finally,
however, my anxiety was set at rest by his appearance on a night
especially adapted to a successful issue of the conspiracy. It was
blowing great guns from the west, and the blasts of air,
intermittent in their force, that came up through the flues were
such that under other circumstances they would have annoyed me
tremendously. Almost everything in the line of the current that
issued from the register and passed diagonally across the room to my
fireplace, and so on up the chimney, was disturbed. The effect upon
particles of paper and the fringes on my chairs was almost that of a
pneumatic tube on substances placed within it, and on one or two
occasions I was seriously apprehensive of the manner in which the
flames on the hearth leaped upward into the sooty heights of my
chimney flues.
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #85 on: November 03, 2009, 02:03:02 am »

But when, as happened shortly, I suddenly became conscious that my
spectre cockney had materialized, all my fears for the safety of my
house fled, and I surreptitiously turned off the heat, so that once
he got within range of the register I could turn it on again, and
his annihilation would be as instantaneous as what my newspaper
friends call an electrocution. And that was precisely where I made
my mistake, although I must confess that what ensued when I got the
nauseating creature within range was most delightful.

"Didn't expect me back, eh?" he said, as he materialized in my
library. "Missed me, I suppose, eh?"

"I've missed you like the deuce!" I replied, cordially, holding out
my hand as if welcoming him back, whereat he frowned suspiciously.
"Now that I'm reconciled to your system, and know that there is no
possible escape for me, I don't seem to feel so badly. How have you
been, and what have you been doing?"

"Bah!" he retorted. "What's up now? You know mighty well you don't
like me any better than you ever did. What funny little game are you
trying to work on me now, eh?"

"Really, 'Arry," I replied, "you wrong me--and, by-the-way, excuse
me for calling you 'Arry. It is the most appropriate name I can
think of at the moment."

"Call me what you blooming please," he answered. "But remember you
can't soft-soap me into believing you like me. B-r-r-r-r!" he added,
shivering. "It's beastly cold in here. What you been doing--storing

"Well--there's a fire burning over there in the fireplace," said I,
anxious to get him before the open chimney-place; for, by a natural
law, that was directly in the line of the current.

He looked at me suspiciously, and then at the fireplace with equal
mistrust; then he shrugged his shoulders with a mocking laugh that
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #86 on: November 03, 2009, 02:03:18 am »

"Humph!" he said. "What's your scheme? Got some patent explosive
logs, full of chemicals, to destroy me?"

I laughed. "How suspicious you are!" I said.

"Yes--I always am of suspicious characters," he replied, planting
himself immediately in front of the register, desirous no doubt of
acting directly contrary to my suggestion.

My opportunity had come more easily than I expected.

"There isn't any heat here," said he.

"It's turned off. I'll turn it on for you," said I, scarcely able to
contain myself with excitement--and I did.

Well, as I say, the spectacle was pleasing, but it did not work as I
had intended. He was caught in the full current, not in any of the
destroying eddyings of the side upon which I had counted to twist
his legs off and wring his neck. Like the soap-bubble it is true, he
was blown into various odd fantastic shapes, such as crullers
resolve themselves into when not properly looked after, but there
was no dismembering of his body. He struggled hard to free himself,
and such grotesque attitudes as his figure assumed I never saw even
in one of Aubrey Beardsley's finest pictures; and once, as his leg
and right arm verged on the edge of one of the outside eddies, I
hoped to see these members elongated like a piece of elastic until
they snapped off; but, with a superhuman struggle, he got them free,
with the loss only of one of his fingers, by which time the current
had blown him across the room and directly in front of my fender. To
keep from going up the chimney, he tried to brace himself against
this with his feet, but missing the rail, as helpless as a feather,
he floated, toes first, into the fireplace, and thence, kicking,
struggling, and swearing profanely, disappeared into the flue.
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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #87 on: November 03, 2009, 02:03:56 am »

It was too exciting a moment for me to laugh over my triumph, but
shortly there came a nervous reaction which made me hysterical as I
thought of his odd appearance; and then following close upon this
came the dashing of my hopes.

An infernal misplaced, uncalled-for back gust, a diversion in which,
thanks to an improper construction, my chimney frequently indulges,
blew the unhappy creature back into the room again, strained,
sprained, panting, minus the finger he had lost, and so angry that
he quivered all over.

What his first words were I shall not repeat. They fairly seethed
out of his turned and twisted soul, hissing like the escape-valve of
an ocean steamer, and his eyes, as they fell upon mine, actually
burned me.

"This settles it," he hissed, venomously. "I had intended letting
you off with one more shove, but now, after your dastardly attempt
to rend me apart with your damned hot-air furnace, I shall haunt you
to your dying day; I shall haunt you so terribly that years before
your final exit from this world you will pray for death. As a shover
you have found me equal to everything, but since you prefer
twisting, twisting be it. You shall hear from me again!"

He vanished, and, I must confess it, I threw myself upon my couch,
weeping hot tears of despair.

Peters's scheme had failed, and I was in a far worse position than
ever. Shoving I can stand, but the brief exhibition of twisting that
I had had in watching his struggles with that awful cyclonic blast
from below convinced me that there was something in life even more
to be dreaded than the shoving he and I had been indulging in.

But there was a postscript, and now all is well again, because--but
let us reserve the wherefore of the postscript for another,
concluding chapter.

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Keeper of the Seven Keys
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« Reply #88 on: November 03, 2009, 02:04:30 am »


So hopeless was my estate now become that, dreading more than ever
that which the inscrutable future held for me, I sat down and framed
an advertisement, which I contemplated putting in all the
newspapers, weeklies, and monthly periodicals, offering a handsome
reward for any suggestion which might result in ridding me of the
cockney ghost. The inventive mind of man has been able to cope
successfully with rats and mice and other household pests. Why,
then, should there not be somewhere in the world a person of
sufficient ingenuity to cope with an obnoxious spirit? If rat
-dynamite and rough on June-bugs were possible, why was it not likely
that some as yet unknown person had turned his attention to
spectrology, and evolved something in the nature of rough on ghosts,
spectremelinite, or something else of an effective nature, I asked
myself. It seemed reasonable to suppose that out of the millions of
people in the world there were others than Peters and myself who had
made a study of ghosts and methods of exorcising them, and if these
persons could only be reached I might yet escape. Accordingly, I
penned the advertisement about as follows:

  WANTED, by a young and rising author,
     who is pursued by a vindictive spirit,

                A GHOST CURE.

    A liberal reward will be paid to any wizard,
  recognized or unrecognized, who will, before
  February I, 1898, send to me a detailed statement
  of a


  of getting rid of

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« Reply #89 on: November 03, 2009, 02:04:44 am »

It is agreed that these communications shall
  be regarded as strictly confidential until such
  a time as through their medium the spirit is


 after which time the cure will be exploited

               FREE OF CHARGE

  in the best advertising mediums of the day.

To this I appended an assumed name and a temporary address, and was
about to send it out, when my friend Wilkins, a millionaire student
of electricity, living in Florida, invited me to spend my Christmas
holidays with him on Lake Worth.

"I've got a grand scheme," he wrote, "which I am going to test, and
I'd like to have you present at the trial. Come down, if you can,
and see my new electric sailboat and all-around dynamic Lone

The idea took hold of me at once. In my nervous state the change of
scene would do me good. Besides, Wilkins was a delightful companion.

So, forgetting my woes for the moment, I packed my trunk and started
South for Wilkins's Island. It was upon this trip that the vengeful
spirit put in his first twist, for at Jacksonville I was awakened in
the middle of the night by a person, whom I took to be the
conductor, who told me to change cars. This I did, and falling
asleep in the car to which I had changed, waked up the next morning
to find myself speeding across the peninsula instead of going
downward towards the Keys, as I should have done, landing eventually
at a small place called Homosassa, on the Gulf coast.
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