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THE CANTERVILLE GHOST

 

 

 

 

CLASS-XI (ENGLISH)

The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde

 

I

 

 

W

henMr.HiramB.Otis,theAmericanMinister,boughtCantervilleChase, everyonetoldhimhewasdoingaveryfoolishthing,astherewasnodoubtat althattheplacewashaunted.Indeed,LordCantervillehimself,whowasamanofthemostpunctilioushonour,hadfeltithisdutytomentionthefacttoMr.Otis whentheycametodiscussterms.

 

“Wehavenotcaredtoliveintheplaceourselves,”saidLordCanterville,”sincemy grandaunt,  theDowagerDuchessofBolton,wasfrightenedintoafit,fromwhichshe neverreally recovered,bytwoskeletonhandsbeingplacedonhershouldersasshewas dressingfordinner,andIfeelboundtotellyou,Mr.Otis,thattheghosthasbeenseenby severallivingmembersofmyfamily,aswelasbytherectoroftheparish,theRev. AugustusDampier,whoisaFelowofKing’sCollege,Cambridge.Aftertheunfortunate accidenttotheDuchess,noneof ouryoungerservantswouldstaywithus,andLady Cantervilleoften gotverylittlesleepatnight,inconsequenceofthemysteriousnoisesthat camefromthecorridorandthelibrary.”

 

“My  Lord,”answered the Minister, “I willtake the furniture and the ghost at a valuation.Ihavecomefromamoderncountry,wherewehaveeverythingthatmoneycan buy;andwithalourspryyoung fellowspaintingthe OldWorldred,andcarryingoffyour bestactorsandprima-donnas, Ireckonthatifthereweresuchathingasaghostin Europe,we’dhaveit athomeinaveryshorttimeinoneofourpublicmuseums,oronthe roadasashow.”

 

“Ifearthattheghostexists,”saidLordCanterville,smiling,”thoughit mayhaveresisted theoverturesofyourenterprisingimpresarios.Ithasbeenwelknownforthreecenturies, since1584infact,andalwaysmakesitsappearancebeforethedeathofanymemberof ourfamily.”

 

“Wel,sodoesthefamilydoctorforthatmatter,LordCanterville.Butthereisnosuch thing,sir,asaghost,andIguessthelawsofNaturearenotgoingtobesuspendedforthe British aristocracy.”

 

“YouarecertainlyverynaturalinAmerica,”answeredLordCanterville,whodidnot quiteunderstandMr.Otis’slastobservation,”andifyoudon’tmindaghostinthehouse,it isalright.OnlyyoumustrememberIwarnedyou.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MISSVIRGINIAE.OTIS

 

Afewweeksafterthis,thepurchasewasconcluded,andat thecloseoftheseasonthe MinisterandhisfamilywentdowntoCantervilleChase.Mrs.Otis,who,asMissLucretiaR.Tappan,ofWest53dStreet,hadbeenacelebratedNewYorkbelle,wasnowavery handsome,middle-agedwoman,withfineeyes,andasuperbprofile.ManyAmerican ladiesonleavingtheirnativelandadoptanappearanceofchronicil-health,underthe impressionthatitisaformofEuropeanrefinement,but Mrs.Otishadneverfallenintothis error.Shehadamagnificentconstitution,andareallywonderfulamountofanimalspirits. Indeed,inmany respects,shewasquiteEnglish,andwasanexcelentexampleofthefact thatwehavereallyeverythingincommonwithAmericanowadays,except,ofcourse, language.Hereldestson,christenedWashingtonbyhisparentsinamomentofpatriotism, which heneverceasedtoregret,wasafair-haired,rathergood-lookingyoung man,who hadqualified  himselfforAmericandiplomacybyleadingtheGermanattheNewport Casinoforthreesuccessiveseasons,andeveninLondonwaswelknownasanexcellent dancer. Gardenias andthe peerage were his only  weaknesses. Otherwise hewas extremelysensible.MissVirginiaE.Otiswasalittlegirloffifteen,litheandlovelyasa fawn,andwithafinefreedominherlargeblueeyes.ShewasawonderfulAmazon,and hadonceracedoldLordBiltononherponytwiceroundthepark,winningbyalength andahalf,justinfrontoftheAchillesstatue,tothehugedelightoftheyoungDukeof Cheshire,whoproposedforheronthespot,andwassentbacktoEtonthatverynight byhisguardians,infloodsoftears.AfterVirginiacamethetwins,whowereusuallycalled “TheStarandStripes,” asthey werealwaysgettingswished.Theyweredelightfulboys, and,withtheexceptionoftheworthy Minister,theonlytruerepublicansofthefamily.

 

AsCantervilleChaseissevenmilesfromAscot,thenearestrailwaystation,Mr.Otis

 

 

hadtelegraphedfor a  waggonetteto meet    them,   and they startedontheir driveinhighspirits. It wasalovelyJuly evening,andthe air was   delicate  with thescentof the pinewoods. Now andthen they heard a wood-pigeon brooding overits own sweetvoice, orsaw,deepin the rustling fern,the burnishedbreast of the pheasant.Little squirrelspeered at them from the beech-treesas they went by,andthe rabbits scudded away throughthe brushwood    and over   the   mossy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HADONCERACEDOLD LORDBILTONONHERPONY”

 

 

knolls,withtheirwhitetailsintheair.AstheyenteredtheavenueofCantervilleChase, however,theskybecamesuddenlyovercastwithclouds,acuriousstillnessseemedto holdtheatmosphere,agreatflightofrookspassedsilentlyovertheirheads,and,before they reachedthehouse,somebigdropsofrainhadfallen.

 

Standingonthestepstoreceivethemwasanoldwoman,neatlydressedinblacksilk, withawhitecapandapron.ThiswasMrs.Umney,thehousekeeper,whomMrs.Otis,at LadyCanterville’searnestrequest,hadconsentedtokeepinherformerposition.She made themeachalowcurtseyastheyalighted, and  said inaquaint, old-fashioned manner,”IbidyouwelcometoCantervilleChase.”Followingher,theypassedthrough thefineTudorhalintothelibrary,along,lowroom,paneledinblackoak,attheendof whichwasalargestainedglasswindow.Herethey foundtealaidoutforthem,and,after takingofftheirwraps,theysatdownandbegantolookround,whileMrs.Umneywaited onthem.

 

SuddenlyMrs.Otiscaughtsightofadulredstainonthefloorjustbythefireplace, and, quiteunconscious ofwhatitreallysignified, said toMrs. Umney, “Iamafraid somethinghasbeenspiltthere.”

 

“Yes,madam,”repliedtheoldhousekeeperinalowvoice,”bloodhasbeenspilton thatspot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“BLOODHASBEENSPILLEDONTHATSPOT”

 

“Howhorrid!”criedMrs.Otis;”Idon’tatallcareforblood-stainsin asitting-room.It mustberemovedatonce.”

 

Theoldwomansmiled,andansweredinthesamelow,mysteriousvoice,”Itisthe bloodofLadyEleanoredeCanterville,whowasmurderedonthatveryspotbyherown husband, SirSimondeCanterville,in1575.  SirSimonsurvived hernineyears, and disappeared  suddenlyunderverymysteriouscircumstances. Hisbodyhasneverbeen discovered, buthisguiltyspiritstillhauntstheChase.Theblood-stainhasbeenmuch admiredbytouristsandothers,andcannotberemoved.”

 

“Thatisalnonsense,”criedWashingtonOtis;”Pinkerton’sChampionStainRemover andParagonDetergentwillcleanitupinnotime,”andbeforetheterrifiedhousekeeper couldinterfere,hehadfallenuponhisknees,andwasrapidlyscouringthefloorwitha smallstickofwhatlookedlikeablackcosmetic.Inafew momentsnotraceoftheblood- staincouldbeseen.

 

“IknewPinkertonwoulddoit,”heexclaimed,triumphantly,ashelookedroundathis admiringfamily;butnosoonerhadhesaidthesewordsthanaterribleflashoflightninglit upthesombreroom,afearfulpeal ofthundermadethemalstarttotheirfeet,andMrs. Umneyfainted.

 

“What amonstrous climate!”said the  American  Minister, calmly, ashelitalong cheroot.”Iguesstheoldcountryissooverpopulatedthatthey havenotenoughdecent weatherforeverybody.Ihavealwaysbeen ofopinionthatemigrationistheonly thingfor England.”

 

“MydearHiram,”criedMrs.Otis,”whatcanwedowithawomanwhofaints?”

 

“Chargeittoherlikebreakages,”answeredtheMinister;”shewon’tfaintafterthat;” andinafewmomentsMrs.Umneycertainlycameto.Therewasnodoubt,however,that shewasextremelyupset,andshesternlywarnedMr.Otistobewareof sometrouble comingtothehouse.

 

“Ihaveseenthingswithmyowneyes,sir,”shesaid,”thatwouldmakeanyChristian’s hairstandonend,andmanyandmanyanightIhavenotclosedmyeyesin sleepforthe awfulthingsthataredonehere.”Mr.Otis,however,andhiswifewarmlyassuredthe honest soulthattheywere notafraid ofghosts, and, afterinvokingthe  blessings of Providenceon hernewmasterandmistress,andmakingarrangementsforan increaseof salary,theoldhousekeepertotteredofftoherownroom.

 

 

II

 

 

T

hestormragedfiercelyalthatnight,butnothingofparticularnoteoccurred. Thenextmorning,however,whenthey camedowntobreakfast,they foundthe terriblestainofbloodonceagainonthefloor.”Idon’tthinkitcanbethefaultof

theParagonDetergent,”saidWashington,”forIhavetrieditwitheverything.Itmustbe theghost.” Heaccordinglyrubbedoutthestainasecondtime,butthesecondmorningit appearedagain.Thethirdmorningalsoitwasthere,thoughthelibraryhadbeenlocked upat nightbyMr.Otishimself,andthekeycarriedup-stairs.Thewholefamilywasnow quiteinterested;Mr.Otisbegantosuspectthathehadbeentoodogmaticinhisdenialof theexistenceofghosts,Mrs.OtisexpressedherintentionofjoiningthePsychicalSociety, andWashingtonpreparedalonglettertoMessrs.MyersandPodmoreonthesubjectof thePermanenceofSanguineousStainswhenconnectedwithCrime.Thatnightaldoubts abouttheobjectiveexistenceofphantasmatawereremovedforever.

 

Thedayhadbeenwarmandsunny;and,inthecoolof theevening,thewholefamily wentout todrive.Theydidnot returnhometillnineo’clock,whentheyhadalightsupper. Theconversationin nowayturneduponghosts,sotherewerenoteventhoseprimary conditionsofreceptiveexpectationswhichsooftenprecedethepresentationofpsychical phenomena.Thesubjectsdiscussed,asIhavesincelearnedfrom Mr.Otis,weremerely suchasformtheordinaryconversationofculturedAmericansof thebetterclass,suchas theimmensesuperiorityofMissFannyDevonportoverSarahBernhardtasanactress; thedifficultyofobtaininggreencorn,buckwheatcakes,andhominy,eveninthebest Englishhouses;  theimportance ofBostoninthedevelopment oftheworld-soul; the advantagesofthebaggage-checksysteminrailwaytravelling;andthesweetnessofthe NewYorkaccentascomparedtotheLondondrawl.Nomentionatalwasmadeofthe supernatural,norwasSirSimondeCantervillealludedtoinanyway.Ateleveno’clock thefamilyretired,andbyhalf-pastalthelightswereout.Sometimeafter,Mr.Otiswas awakenedbyacuriousnoiseinthecorridor,outsidehisroom.Itsoundedliketheclank of metal,andseemedtobecomingnearereverymoment.Hegotupatonce,strucka match,andlookedatthetime.It wasexactlyoneo’clock.Hewasquitecalm,andfelthis pulse,whichwasnotatalfeverish.Thestrangenoisestillcontinued,andwithitheheard distinctlythesoundoffootsteps.Heputonhisslippers,tookasmalloblongphialoutof his  dressing-case, and opened the door. Right infront ofhimhe saw, inthe wan moonlight,anoldmanofterribleaspect.Hiseyeswereasredburningcoals;longgrey hairfelloverhisshouldersinmattedcoils;hisgarments,whichwereofantiquecut,were soiledandragged,andfromhiswristsandankleshungheavymanaclesandrustygyves.

“Mydearsir,” saidMr.Otis,”Ireallymustinsistonyouroilingthosechains,andhave broughtyouforthatpurposeasmallbottleoftheTammanyRisingSunLubricator.Itis saidtobecompletelyefficaciousupononeapplication,andthereareseveraltestimonials tothateffecton thewrapperfromsomeofourmosteminentnativedivines.Ishallleaveit hereforyou bythebedroomcandles,andwillbehappytosupplyyou withmore,should yourequireit.” WiththesewordstheUnitedStatesMinisterlaidthebottledownona marbletable,and,closing hisdoor,retiredtorest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“IREALLYMUSTINSISTONYOUROILINGTHOSECHAINS”

 

ForamomenttheCantervilleghoststoodquitemotionlessinnaturalindignation;then, dashingthebottleviolentlyuponthepolishedfloor,hefleddownthecorridor,uttering holowgroans,andemittingaghastlygreenlight.Just,however,ashereachedthetopof thegreatoakstaircase,adoorwasflungopen,twolittlewhite-robedfiguresappeared, andalargepilowwhizzedpasthishead!Therewasevidentlynotimetobelost,so, hastilyadoptingthe  Fourthdimension ofSpace asameans ofescape, hevanished throughthewainscoting,andthehousebecamequitequiet.

 

Onreachingasmallsecretchamberintheleftwing,heleanedupagainstamoonbeam torecoverhisbreath,andbegantotryandrealizehisposition.Never,inabrilliantand uninterruptedcareerofthreehundredyears,hadhebeensogrosslyinsulted.Hethought oftheDowagerDuchess,whomhehadfrightenedintoafitasshestoodbeforetheglass inherlaceanddiamonds;ofthefourhousemaids,whohadgoneintohystericswhenhe

 

merelygrinnedatthemthroughthecurtainsononeofthesparebedrooms;oftherector of theparish,whosecandlehehadblownoutashewascominglateonenightfromthe library,andwhohadbeenunderthecareofSirWiliamGuleversince,aperfectmartyr tonervousdisorders;andofoldMadamedeTremouillac,who,havingwakenedupone morningearlyandseen askeletonseatedinanarmchairbythefirereadingherdiary,had beenconfined toherbed  forsixweeks withanattack ofbrainfever, and, onher recovery,hadbecomereconciledtotheChurch,andbrokenoffherconnectionwiththat notorious sceptic, Monsieur deVoltaire. Heremembered theterrible  nightwhenthe wicked Lord Cantervillewasfound chokinginhisdressing-room, withtheknave of diamonds  half-waydownhisthroat,andconfessed, justbeforehedied,thathehad cheatedCharlesJamesFoxoutof£50,000atCrockford’sbymeansofthatverycard, andsworethattheghosthadmadehimswallowit.Alhisgreatachievementscameback tohim again,fromthebutlerwhohadshothimselfinthepantrybecausehehadseena greenhandtappingatthewindow-pane,tothebeautiful Lady Stutfield,whowasalways obligedtowearablackvelvetbandroundherthroattohidethemarkoffivefingersburnt uponherwhiteskin,andwhodrownedherselfatlastinthecarp-pondattheendofthe King’sWalk. Withtheenthusiastic egotismofthetrueartist,  hewentoverhismost celebratedperformances, andsmiledbitterlytohimselfasherecalledtomindhislast appearanceas”RedReuben,ortheStrangledBabe,” hisdébutas”GuantGibeon,the Blood-suckerofBexleyMoor,”andthefurorehehadexcitedonelovelyJuneevening bymerelyplayingninepinswithhisownbonesuponthelawn-tennisground.Andafteral thissome wretchedmodernAmericans were  tocome and  offerhimtheRisingSun Lubricator,andthrowpilowsathishead!Itwasquiteunbearable.Besides,noghostin history had everbeen  treated inthis manner. Accordingly, hedetermined to have vengeance,andremainedtilldaylightinanattitudeofdeepthought.

 

 

 

 

 

III

 

 

T

henextmorning,whentheOtisfamilymetatbreakfast,theydiscussedthe ghostatsomelength.TheUnitedStatesMinisterwasnaturallyalittleannoyedto findthathispresenthadnotbeenaccepted.”Ihavenowish,”hesaid,”todothe

ghostanypersonalinjury,andImustsaythat,consideringthelengthoftimehehasbeen inthehouse,Idon’tthinkitisatalpolitetothrowpilowsathim,”—averyjustremark,at which,Iamsorrytosay,thetwinsburstintoshoutsoflaughter.”Upontheotherhand,” hecontinued,”ifhereallydeclinestousetheRisingSun Lubricator,weshallhavetotake hischainsfromhim.Itwouldbequiteimpossibletosleep,withsuchanoisegoingon outsidethebedrooms.”

 

Fortherestoftheweek,however,theywereundisturbed,theonlythingthatexcited anyattentionbeingthecontinualrenewalof theblood-stainonthelibraryfloor.This certainlywasverystrange,asthedoorwasalwayslockedatnightby Mr.Otis,andthe windowskeptcloselybarred.Thechameleon-like colour,also,ofthestainexciteda gooddealofcomment.Somemorningsitwasadul(almostIndian)red,then itwouldbe vermilion, then a rich  purple, and once when they came down for family prayers, accordingtothesimpleritesof theFreeAmericanReformedEpiscopalianChurch,they founditabrightemerald-green.Thesekaleidoscopicchangesnaturallyamusedtheparty

verymuch,andbetsonthesubjectwerefreelymadeeveryevening.Theonlypersonwho didnotenterintothejokewaslittleVirginia,who,forsomeunexplainedreason,was alwaysagooddealdistressedatthesightof theblood-stain,andverynearlycriedthe morningitwasemerald-green.

ThesecondappearanceoftheghostwasonSundaynight.Shortlyaftertheyhadgone tobedtheyweresuddenlyalarmedbyafearfulcrashinthehal.Rushingdown-stairs, theyfoundthatalargesuitofoldarmourhadbecomedetachedfromitsstand,andhad fallenonthestonefloor,whileseatedinahigh-backedchairwastheCantervilleghost, rubbinghisknees  withanexpressionofacute agonyonhisface. Thetwins, having broughttheirpea-shooterswiththem,atoncedischargedtwopelletsonhim,withthat accuracyof aimwhichcanonlybeattainedbylongandcarefulpracticeonawriting- master,whiletheUnitedStatesMinistercoveredhimwithhisrevolver,and
calledupon him,inaccordancewithCalifornianetiquette,toholduphishands!Theghoststartedup withawildshriekofrage,andsweptthroughthemlikeamist,extinguishingWashington Otis’scandleashepassed,andsoleavingthemalintotaldarkness.On reachingthetop ofthestaircase  herecovered himself, anddetermined togivehiscelebrated pealof demoniaclaughter.Thishehadonmorethanoneoccasionfoundextremelyuseful.Itwas saidtohaveturnedLordRaker’swiggreyin asinglenight,andhadcertainlymadethree ofLadyCanterville’sFrenchgovernessesgivewarningbeforetheirmonthwasup.He accordinglylaughedhismosthorriblelaugh,tiltheoldvaultedroofrangandrangagain, buthardlyhadthefearfulechodiedawaywhenadooropened,andMrs.Otiscameout inalightbluedressing-gown. “Iamafraidyouarefarfromwel,”shesaid,”andhave broughtyouabottleofDoctorDobell’stincture.Ifitisindigestion,youwillfinditamost excellent remedy.” The ghost glared at her in fury, and began at once to make preparationsforturninghimselfintoalargeblackdog,anaccomplishmentforwhichhe wasjustlyrenowned,andtowhichthefamilydoctoralwaysattributedthepermanent idiocyofLordCanterville’suncle,theHon.ThomasHorton.Thesoundofapproaching footsteps,however,madehimhesitateinhisfellpurpose,sohecontentedhimselfwith becomingfaintlyphosphorescent,andvanishedwith adeepchurchyardgroan,justasthe twinshadcomeuptohim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THETWINS…ATONCEDISCHARGEDTWOPELLETSONHIM”

 

Onreachinghisroom heentirelybrokedown,andbecameapreytothemostviolent agitation.Thevulgarityofthetwins,andthegrossmaterialismofMrs.Otis,werenaturally extremelyannoying,butwhatreallydistressedhimmostwasthathehadbeenunableto wearthesuitofmail.HehadhopedthatevenmodernAmericanswouldbethrilledbythe sightofaSpectreinarmour,iffornomoresensiblereason,atleastoutofrespectfor theirnaturalpoetLong fellow,overwhosegracefulandattractivepoetryhehimselfhad whiledawaymanyawearyhourwhentheCantervilleswereupintown.Besidesitwas hisownsuit.HehadwornitwithgreatsuccessattheKenilworthtournament,andhad beenhighlycomplimentedonitbynolessapersonthantheVirginQueenherself.Yet whenhehadputiton,hehadbeencompletelyoverpoweredbytheweightof thehuge breastplateandsteel casque,andhadfallenheavilyonthestonepavement,barkingboth hiskneesseverely,andbruisingtheknucklesof hisrighthand.

Forsomedaysafterthishewasextremelyil,andhardlystirredoutofhisroomatal, excepttokeeptheblood-staininproperrepair.However,bytakinggreatcareofhimself, herecovered,andresolvedtomakeathirdattempttofrighten theUnitedStatesMinister andhisfamily.HeselectedFriday,August17th,forhisappearance,andspentmostof thatdayinlookingoverhiswardrobe,ultimatelydecidinginfavourofalargeslouchedhat witharedfeather,awinding-sheetfrilledatthewristsandneck,andarustydagger. Towardseveningaviolentstormofraincameon,andthewindwassohighthatal the windowsanddoorsintheoldhouseshookandrattled.Infact,itwasjustsuchweather asheloved.Hisplanof actionwasthis.HewastomakehiswayquietlytoWashington Otis’sroom,gibberathimfromthefootofthebed,andstabhimselfthreetimesinthe throattothesoundoflowmusic.HeboreWashingtonaspecialgrudge,beingquite awarethatitwashewhowasinthehabitofremovingthefamousCantervilleblood-stain bymeansof Pinkerton’sParagonDetergent.Havingreducedtherecklessandfoolhardy youthtoaconditionofabjectterror,hewasthentoproceedtotheroomoccupiedbythe UnitedStatesMinisterandhiswife,andtheretoplaceaclammyhandon Mrs.Otis’s forehead, while he hissed into her  trembling husband’s ear  the awfulsecrets ofthe charnel-house.With regardtolittleVirginia,hehadnotquitemadeuphismind.Shehad neverinsultedhim inanyway,andwasprettyandgentle.Afewholowgroansfromthe wardrobe,hethought,wouldbemorethansufficient,or,ifthatfailedtowakeher,he mightgrabbleatthecounterpanewithpalsy-twitchingfingers.Asforthetwins,hewas quitedeterminedtoteachthemalesson.Thefirstthingtobedonewas,ofcourse,tosit upontheirchests,soastoproducethestiflingsensationofnightmare.Then,astheirbeds werequiteclosetoeachother,tostandbetweenthemintheformof agreen,icy-cold corpse,tilltheybecameparalyzedwithfear,andfinally,tothrowoffthewinding-sheet, andcrawlroundtheroom,withwhite,bleachedbonesandonerollingeye ball,inthe characterof”DumbDaniel,ortheSuicide’sSkeleton,”arôleinwhichhehadonmore thanoneoccasionproducedagreateffect,andwhichheconsideredquiteequal tohis famouspartof”MartintheManiac,or theMaskedMystery.”

 

 

Athalf-past  tenhe heardthefamily goingto  bed. For sometimehe was disturbedby wild shrieks  oflaughter from  the twins, who,with thelight- heartedgaiety of schoolboys, were evidently amusing themselves before they retiredtorest, butat aquarter- pastelevenalwas stil,     and,      as midnight sounded, he   salied   forth. The owlbeat against   the window-panes, the raven    croaked from theoldyew- tree,andthe wind wandered moaning round  the   house likealost soul;but the   Otis   family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“ITSHEADWASBALDANDBURNISHED”

 

sleptunconsciousoftheirdoom,andhighabovetherainandstormhecouldhearthe steadysnoringof theMinisterfortheUnitedStates.Hesteppedstealthilyoutof the wainscoting,withanevilsmileonhiscruel,wrinkledmouth,andthemoonhidherfacein acloudashestolepastthegreatorielwindow,wherehisownarmsandthoseofhis

 

 

murdered wifewere blazoned inazure and gold. Onand onheglided, like  anevil shadow,theverydarknessseemingtoloathehimashepassed.Oncehethoughtheheard somethingcall,andstopped;butitwasonlythebayingofadogfromtheRedFarm,and hewenton,mutteringstrangesixteenth-centurycurses,andeverandanonbrandishingthe rustydaggerinthemidnightair.Finallyhereachedthecornerofthepassagethatledto lucklessWashington’sroom.Foramomenthepausedthere,thewindblowinghislong greylocksabouthishead,andtwistingintogrotesqueandfantasticfoldsthenameless horrorofthedeadman’sshroud.Thentheclockstruckthequarter,andhefeltthetime wascome.Hechuckledtohimself,andturnedthecorner;but nosoonerhadhedoneso than,withapiteouswailofterror,hefellback,andhidhisblanchedfaceinhislong,bony hands.Rightinfrontofhimwasstandingahorriblespectre,motionlessasacarven image, andmonstrousasamadman’sdream!Itsheadwasbaldandburnished;itsfaceround, andfat,andwhite;andhideouslaughterseemed tohavewrithed itsfeaturesintoan eternalgrin.Fromtheeyesstreamedraysofscarletlight,themouthwasawidewelof fire,andahideousgarment,liketohisown,swathedwithitssilentsnowstheTitanform. Onitsbreastwasaplacardwithstrangewritinginantiquecharacters,somescrollof shameitseemed,somerecordofwildsins,someawfulcalendarofcrime,and,withits righthand,itborealoftafalchionof gleamingsteel.

 

Neverhavingseenaghostbefore,henaturallywasterriblyfrightened, and,aftera secondhastyglanceattheawfulphantom,hefledbacktohisroom,trippingupinhislong winding-sheetashespeddownthecorridor,andfinallydroppingtherustydaggerintothe Minister’s jack-boots, where  itwasfound  inthemorningbythebutler. Onceinthe privacyofhisownapartment,heflunghimselfdownonasmallpalet-bed,andhidhis faceundertheclothes.Afteratime,however,thebraveoldCantervillespiritasserted itself,andhedeterminedtogoandspeaktotheotherghostassoon asitwasdaylight. Accordingly,justasthedawnwastouchingthehillswithsilver,hereturnedtowardsthe spotwherehehadfirstlaideyesonthegrislyphantom,feelingthat,afteral,twoghosts werebetterthanone,andthat,bytheaidofhisnewfriend,hemightsafelygrapplewith thetwins.On reachingthespot,however,aterriblesightmethisgaze.Somethinghad evidentlyhappenedtothespectre,forthelighthadentirelyfadedfromitsloweyes,the gleamingfalchionhadfallenfromitshand,anditwasleaningupagainstthewallina strainedanduncomfortableattitude.Herushedforwardandseizeditinhisarms,when,to hishorror,theheadslippedoffandrolledonthefloor,thebodyassumedarecumbent posture,andhefoundhimselfclaspingawhitedimitybed-curtain,withasweeping-brush, akitchencleaver,andaholowturniplyingathisfeet!Unabletounderstandthiscurious transformation,heclutchedtheplacardwithfeverishhaste,andthere,inthegreymorning light,hereadthesefearfulwords:—

 

YEOTISGHOSTE

 

 

YeOnlieTrueandOriginaleSpook, BewareofYeImitationes.

Alothersarecounterfeite.

 

Thewholethingflashedacrosshim.Hehadbeen tricked,foiled,andout-witted!Theold Cantervillelookcameintohiseyes;hegroundhistoothlessgumstogether;and,raisinghis witheredhandshighabovehishead,sworeaccordingtothepicturesquephraseologyof theantiqueschool,that,whenChanticleerhadsoundedtwicehismerryhorn,deedsof bloodwouldbewrought,andmurderwalkabroadwithsilentfeet.

 

 

 

Hardlyhad hefinished this  awfuloathwhen, fromthe red-tiled roofofadistant homestead,acockcrew.Helaughedalong,low,bitterlaugh,andwaited.Hourafter hourhewaited,butthecock,forsomestrangereason,didnotcrowagain.Finally,at half-pastseven,thearrivalof thehousemaidsmadehimgiveuphisfearfulvigil,andhe stalked back to his room, thinking  ofhis vainoathand baffled purpose. There he consultedseveralbooksofancientchivalry,ofwhichhewasexceedinglyfond,andfound that, oneveryoccasion  onwhichthis oathhad beenused, Chanticleer had always crowedasecondtime.”Perditionseizethenaughtyfowl,”hemuttered,”Ihaveseenthe daywhen,withmystoutspear,Iwouldhaverunhim throughthegorge,andmadehim crowformean’twereindeath!” Hethenretiredtoacomfortableleadcoffin,andstayed theretillevening.

 

 

 

 

 

IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HEMETWITHASEVEREFALL”

 

T

henextdaytheghostwasvery weakandtired.Theterribleexcitementofthe last fourweekswasbeginningtohaveitseffect.Hisnerveswerecompletely shattered,andhestartedattheslightestnoise.Forfivedayshekepthisroom,

andatlastmadeuphismindtogiveupthepointoftheblood-stainonthelibraryfloor.If theOtisfamilydidnotwantit,theyclearlydidnotdeserveit.They wereevidentlypeople

 

 

onalow,materialplaneofexistence,andquiteincapableofappreciatingthesymbolic value of sensuous phenomena.  The questionof phantasmicapparitions,  and the developmentofastralbodies,wasofcoursequiteadifferentmatter,andreallynotunder hiscontrol.Itwashissolemndutytoappearin thecorridoronceaweek,andtogibber fromthelargeoriel windowonthefirstandthirdWednesdaysineverymonth,andhedid notseehowhecouldhonourablyescapefromhisobligations.Itisquitetruethathislife hadbeenveryevil,but,upontheotherhand,hewasmostconscientious inallthings connectedwiththesupernatural.ForthenextthreeSaturdays,accordingly,hetraversed the corridor as usual  between midnight and three o’clock, taking every possible precautionagainstbeing eitherheardorseen.Heremovedhisboots,trodaslightlyas possibleontheoldworm-eatenboards,worealargeblackvelvetcloak,andwascareful tousetheRisingSunLubricatorforoilinghischains.Iamboundtoacknowledgethatit waswithagooddealof difficultythathebroughthimselftoadoptthislastmodeof protection.However,onenight,whilethefamily wereat dinner,heslippedintoMr.Otis’s bedroomandcarriedoff thebottle.Hefeltalittlehumiliatedatfirst,butafterwardswas sensibleenoughtoseethattherewasagreatdeal tobesaidfortheinvention,and,toa certain degree, it served his purpose. Still in spite of everything he was not left unmolested.Stringswerecontinuallybeingstretchedacrossthecorridor,overwhichhe trippedinthedark,andononeoccasion,whiledressedforthepartof”BlackIsaac,or theHuntsmanofHogleyWoods,”hemetwithaseverefall,throughtreadingonabutter- slide,whichthetwinshadconstructedfromtheentranceoftheTapestryChambertothe topoftheoakstaircase.Thislastinsultsoenragedhim,thatheresolvedtomakeonefinal efforttoasserthisdignityandsocial position,anddeterminedtovisittheinsolentyoung Etoniansthenextnightinhiscelebratedcharacterof “RecklessRupert,ortheHeadless Earl.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“AHEAVYJUGOFWATERFELLRIGHTDOWNONHIM.”

 

Hehadnotappearedinthisdisguiseformorethanseventyyears;infact,notsincehe hadsofrightenedprettyLadyBarbaraModishbymeansofit,thatshesuddenlybroke offherengagement withthepresentLordCanterville’sgrandfather, andranawayto GretnaGreenwithhandsomeJackCastletown,declaringthatnothingintheworldwould inducehertomarryintoafamilythatalowedsuchahorriblephantomtowalkupand downtheterraceattwilight.PoorJackwasafterwardsshotinaduelbyLordCantervilleonWandsworthCommon,andLadyBarbaradiedofabrokenheartatTunbridgeWells beforetheyearwasout,so,ineveryway,ithadbeenagreatsuccess.Itwas,however anextremelydifficult”make-up,”if Imayusesuchatheatricalexpressioninconnection withoneofthegreatestmysteriesofthesupernatural, or,toemployamorescientific term,thehigher-naturalworld,andittookhimfullythreehourstomakehispreparations. Atlasteverythingwasready,andhewasverypleasedwithhisappearance. Thebig leatherriding-bootsthatwentwiththedresswerejustalittletoolargeforhim,andhe couldonlyfindoneofthetwohorse-pistols,but,onthewhole,hewasquitesatisfied,and ataquarter-pastoneheglidedoutof thewainscotingandcreptdownthecorridor.On reachingtheroomoccupiedbythetwins,whichIshouldmentionwascalledtheBlueBed Chamber,onaccountofthecolourofitshangings,hefoundthedoorjustajar.Wishingto makeaneffectiveentrance,heflungitwideopen,whenaheavyjugofwaterfellright downonhim,wettinghim totheskin,andjustmissinghisleftshoulderbyacoupleof inches.Atthesamemomentheheardstifledshrieksoflaughterproceedingfromthefour- postbed.Theshocktohisnervoussystem wassogreatthathefledbacktohisroomas hardashecouldgo,andthenextdayhewaslaidupwithaseverecold.Theonlything

 

 

thatatalconsoledhiminthewholeaffairwasthefactthathehadnotbroughthishead withhim,for,hadhedoneso,theconsequencesmighthavebeenveryserious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“MAKINGSATIRICALREMARKSONTHEPHOTOGRAPHS”

 

Henowgaveupalhopeof everfrighteningthisrudeAmericanfamily,andcontented himself,asarule,with creepingaboutthepassagesinlistslippers,withathickredmuffler round histhroat forfear ofdraughts, and asmallarquebuse, incase he should be attackedby thetwins.Thefinalblowhereceivedoccurredon the19thofSeptember.He hadgonedown-stairstothegreatentrance-hal,feelingsurethatthere,atanyrate,he wouldbequiteunmolested,andwasamusinghimselfby makingsatiricalremarkson the largeSaroniphotographsoftheUnitedStatesMinisterandhiswifewhichhadnowtaken theplaceoftheCantervillefamilypictures. Hewassimplybutneatlycladinalong shroud,spottedwithchurchyardmould,hadtieduphisjawwithastripofyelowlinen, andcarriedasmalllanternandasexton’sspade.Infact,hewasdressedforthecharacter of”JonastheGraveless,  ortheCorpse-Snatcher ofChertseyBarn,”oneofhismost remarkable impersonations,  and one which the Cantervilleshad every reason to remember,asitwastherealoriginoftheirquarrelwiththeirneighbour,LordRufford.It wasaboutaquarter-pasttwoo’clockinthemorning,and,asfarashecouldascertain,no onewasstirring.Ashewasstrollingtowardsthelibrary,however,toseeiftherewere anytracesleftoftheblood-stain,suddenlythereleapedoutonhimfromadarkcorner

twofigures,whowavedtheirarmswildlyabovetheirheads,andshriekedout”BOO!”in hisear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“SUDDENLYTHERELEAPEDOUTTWOFIGURES.”

 

Seizedwithapanic,which,underthecircumstances,wasonlynatural,herushedfor thestaircase, butfound Washington  Otiswaitingforhimthere  withthebiggarden- syringe,andbeingthushemmedinbyhisenemiesoneveryside,anddrivenalmostto bay,hevanishedintothegreatironstove,which,fortunatelyforhim,wasnotlit,andhad tomakehiswayhomethroughthefluesandchimneys,arrivingathisownroomina terriblestateofdirt,disorder,anddespair.

 

Afterthishewasnotseenagainonanynocturnalexpedition.Thetwinslayin waitfor himonseveraloccasions,andstrewedthepassageswithnutshellsevery nighttothegreat annoyanceoftheirparentsandtheservants,butitwasofnoavail.Itwasquiteevident thathisfeelings  weresowounded thathewould  notappear. Mr.Otisconsequently resumedhisgreatworkonthehistoryof theDemocraticParty,onwhichhehadbeen engagedforsomeyears;Mrs.Otisorganizedawonderful clam-bake,which amazedthe wholecounty;theboystooktolacrosseeuchre,poker,andotherAmericannational games,andVirginiarodeaboutthelanesonherpony,accompaniedbytheyoungDuke ofCheshire,whohadcometospendthelastweekofhisholidaysat CantervilleChase.It wasgenerallyassumedthattheghosthadgoneaway,and,infact,Mr.Otiswrotealetter tothateffecttoLordCanterville,who,inreply,expressedhisgreatpleasureatthenews, andsenthisbestcongratulationstotheMinister’sworthy wife.

 

TheOtises,however,weredeceived,fortheghostwasstill inthehouse,andthough nowalmostaninvalid,wasbynomeansreadytoletmattersrest,particularlyasheheard thatamongtheguestswastheyoung DukeofCheshire,whosegrand-uncle,LordFrancis

 

 

Stilton,hadoncebetahundredguineaswithColonelCarburythathewouldplaydice withtheCantervilleghost,andwasfoundthenextmorninglyingon thefloorof thecard- roominsuchahelplessparalyticstatethat,thoughhelivedontoagreatage,hewas neverabletosayanythingagainbut”DoubleSixes.”Thestorywaswelknownatthe time,though,of course,outof respecttothefeelingsof thetwonoblefamilies,every attemptwasmadetohushitup,andafullaccountofalthecircumstancesconnectedwith itwillbefoundinthethirdvolumeof LordTattle’sRecollectionsofthePrinceRegent andhis Friends.Theghost,then,wasnaturallyveryanxioustoshowthathehadnotlost hisinfluenceovertheStiltons,withwhom,indeed,hewasdistantlyconnected,hisown firstcousinhaving beenmarriedensecondesnocestotheSieurdeBulkeley,fromwhom, aseveryoneknows,theDukesofCheshirearelineallydescended.Accordingly,hemade arrangementsforappearingtoVirginia’slittleloverinhiscelebratedimpersonationof”The VampireMonk,ortheBloodlessBenedictine,”aperformancesohorriblethatwhen old LadyStartupsawit,whichshedidononefatal NewYear’sEve,intheyear1764,she wentoffintothemostpiercingshrieks,whichculminatedinviolentapoplexy,anddiedin threedays,afterdisinheritingtheCantervilles,whowerehernearestrelations,andleaving alhermoneytoherLondonapothecary.Atthelastmoment,however,histerrorofthe twinspreventedhisleavinghisroom,andthelittleDukesleptin peaceunderthegreat featheredcanopy intheRoyalBedchamber,anddreamedofVirginia.

 

 

 

 

 

V

 

 

A

fewdaysafterthis,Virginiaandhercurly-hairedcavalierwentoutriding on Brockleymeadows, whereshetoreherhabitsobadlyingettingthrougha hedgethat,ontheirreturnhome,shemadeuphermindtogoupbytheback

staircasesoasnottobeseen.AsshewasrunningpasttheTapestryChamber,thedoor ofwhichhappenedtobeopen,shefanciedshesawsomeoneinside,andthinkingitwas hermother’smaid,whosometimesusedtobringherworkthere,lookedin toaskherto mendherhabit.Toherimmensesurprise,however,itwastheCantervilleGhosthimself! Hewassittingby thewindow,watchingtheruinedgoldoftheyelowingtreesflythrough theair,andtheredleavesdancingmadlydownthelongavenue.Hisheadwasleaningon hishand,andhiswholeattitudewasoneof extremedepression.Indeed,soforlorn,and somuchoutofrepairdidhelook,thatlittleVirginia,whosefirstideahadbeentorun away andlockherselfinherroom,wasfiledwithpity,anddeterminedtotryandcomfort him.Solightwasherfootfall,andsodeephismelancholy,thathewasnotawareofher presencetillshespoketohim.

 

“Iamsosorryforyou,”shesaid,”butmybrothersaregoingbacktoEtonto-morrow, andthen,ifyoubehaveyourself,noonewillannoyyou.”

 

“Itisabsurdaskingmetobehavemyself,”heanswered,lookingroundinastonishment attheprettylittlegirl whohadventuredtoaddresshim,”quiteabsurd.Imustrattlemy chains,andgroanthroughkeyholes,andwalkaboutatnight,ifthatiswhatyoumean.Itis myonly reasonforexisting.”

 

“Itisnoreasonatalforexisting,andyouknowyouhavebeenverywicked.Mrs. Umneytoldus,thefirstdaywearrivedhere,thatyouhadkilledyourwife.”

 

 

“Wel,Iquiteadmitit,”saidtheGhost,petulantly,”butitwasapurelyfamilymatter, andconcernednooneelse.”

 

“Itisverywrongtokillanyone,”saidVirginia,whoattimeshadasweetpuritan gravity,caughtfromsomeoldNewEnglandancestor.

 

“Oh,Ihatethecheapseverityofabstractethics!Mywifewasveryplain,neverhadmy ruffsproperlystarched,andknewnothingaboutcookery.Why,therewasabuckIhad shotin HogleyWoods,amagnificentpricket,anddoyouknowhowshehaditsentto table?However,itisnomatternow,foritisalover,andIdon’tthinkitwasvery niceof herbrotherstostarvemetodeath,though Ididkillher.”

 

“Starveyou todeath?Oh,Mr.Ghost—ImeanSirSimon,areyou hungry?Ihavea sandwichinmycase.Wouldyoulikeit?”

 

“No,thankyou,Inevereatanythingnow;butitisverykindofyou,allthesame,and youaremuchnicerthantherestof yourhorrid,rude,vulgar,dishonestfamily.”

 

“Stop!”criedVirginia, stampingherfoot,”itisyouwhoarerude,andhorrid,and vulgar,andasfordishonesty,youknowyoustolethepaintsoutof myboxtotryand furbishupthatridiculousblood-staininthelibrary.Firstyoutookalmyreds,including thevermilion,andIcouldn’tdoanymoresunsets,thenyoutooktheemerald-greenand thechrome-yelow,andfinallyIhadnothingleftbutindigoandChinesewhite,andcould onlydomoonlightscenes,whicharealwaysdepressingtolookat,andnotataleasyto paint.Inevertoldonyou,thoughIwasverymuchannoyed,anditwasmostridiculous, thewholething;forwhoeverheardofemerald-greenblood?”

 

“Wel,really,”saidtheGhost,rathermeekly,”whatwasItodo?Itisaverydifficult thingtogetrealbloodnowadays, and,asyourbrotherbeganitalwithhisParagon Detergent,IcertainlysawnoreasonwhyIshouldnothaveyourpaints.Asforcolour, thatisalwaysamatteroftaste:theCantervilleshaveblueblood,forinstance,thevery bluestinEngland;but IknowyouAmericansdon’tcareforthingsofthiskind.”

 

“Youknownothingaboutit,andthebestthingyoucan doistoemigrateandimprove yourmind.Myfatherwillbeonly toohappytogiveyouafreepassage,andthoughthere isaheavydutyonspiritsofeverykind,therewillbenodifficultyabouttheCustom House,astheofficersarealDemocrats.Oncein NewYork,youaresuretobeagreat success.Iknowlotsofpeopletherewhowouldgiveahundredthousanddollarstohave agrandfather,andmuchmorethanthattohaveafamilyghost.”

 

“I don’tthinkIshouldlikeAmerica.”

 

“I supposebecausewehavenoruinsandnocuriosities,”saidVirginia,satirically.

 

“No ruins! no curiosities!” answered theGhost; “you  have your navy  and your manners.”

 

“Goodevening;Iwillgoandaskpapatoget thetwinsanextraweek’sholiday.”

 

“Pleasedon’tgo,MissVirginia,”hecried;”Iamsolonelyandsounhappy,andIreally don’tknowwhattodo.IwanttogotosleepandIcannot.”

 

“That’squiteabsurd!You havemerelytogotobedandblowoutthecandle.Itisvery difficultsometimestokeepawake,especiallyatchurch,butthereisnodifficultyatal

 

 

aboutsleeping.Why,evenbabiesknowhowtodothat,andtheyarenot veryclever.”

 

“Ihavenotsleptforthreehundredyears,”hesaidsadly,andVirginia’sbeautifulblue eyesopenedinwonder;”forthreehundredyearsIhavenot slept,andI amsotired.”

 

Virginia grewquite grave, and her  little lips trembled like rose-leaves. She came towardshim,andkneelingdownathisside,lookedupintohisoldwitheredface.

 

“Poor,poorGhost,”shemurmured;”haveyounoplacewhereyoucansleep?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“‘POOR,POORGHOST,’SHEMURMURED;’HAVEYOUNOPLACEWHEREYOUCANSLEEP?'”

 

“Farawaybeyondthepine-woods,”heanswered,inalow,dreamyvoice,”thereisa littlegarden.Therethegrassgrowslonganddeep,therearethegreatwhitestarsof the hemlockflower,therethenightingalesingsall nightlong.All nightlonghesings,andthe coldcrystal moonlooksdown,andtheyew-treespreadsoutitsgiantarmsoverthe sleepers.”

 

Virginia’seyesgrewdimwithtears,andshehidherfaceinherhands. “YoumeantheGardenofDeath,”shewhispered.

“Yes,death.Deathmustbesobeautiful.Tolieinthesoftbrown earth,withthegrasses wavingaboveone’shead,andlistentosilence.Tohavenoyesterday,andnoto-morrow.Toforgettime,toforgetlife,tobeatpeace.Youcan helpme.Youcan openformethe portalsofdeath’shouse,forloveisalwayswithyou,andloveisstrongerthandeathis.”

 

Virginiatrembled,acoldshudderran throughher,andforafewmomentstherewas silence.Shefeltasifshewasinaterribledream.

 

Thentheghostspokeagain,andhisvoicesoundedlikethesighingofthewind.

 

 

“Haveyoueverreadtheoldprophecyonthelibrarywindow?”

 

“Oh,often,” criedthelittlegirl,lookingup;”Iknowitquitewel.Itispaintedincurious blackletters,andisdifficulttoread.Thereareonlysixlines:

 

“‘Whenagolden girlcanwin Prayerfromout thelipsofsin, Whenthebarrenalmondbears,

Andalittlechildgivesawayitstears, Then shallallthehousebestill

AndpeacecometoCanterville.’ ButIdon’tknowwhattheymean.”

“Theymean,” hesaid,sadly,”thatyoumustweepwithmeformysins,becauseIhave

notears,andpraywithmeformysoul,becauseIhavenofaith,andthen,if youhave alwaysbeen sweet,andgood,andgentle,theangelofdeathwill havemercyonme.You willseefearfulshapesindarkness,andwickedvoiceswillwhisperinyourear,butthey willnot harmyou,foragainstthepurityofalittlechildthepowersofHelcannotprevail.”

 

Virginiamadenoanswer,andtheghostwrunghishandsin wilddespairashelooked downatherbowedgoldenhead.Suddenlyshestoodup,verypale,andwithastrange lightinhereyes.”Iamnotafraid,”shesaidfirmly,”andIwillasktheangeltohavemercy onyou.”

 

Herosefromhisseatwith afaintcryofjoy,andtakingherhandbentoveritwith old- fashionedgraceandkissedit.Hisfingerswereascoldasice,andhislipsburnedlikefire, butVirginiadidnotfalter,asheledheracrosstheduskyroom.Onthefadedgreen tapestrywerebroideredlittlehuntsmen.Theyblewtheirtussledhornsandwiththeirtiny handswavedtohertogoback.”Goback!littleVirginia,”theycried,”goback!” butthe ghostclutchedher handmoretightly,andsheshut her eyesagainstthem.Horribleanimals withlizard tailsand goggle eyes blinked ather  fromthe carvenchimneypiece, and murmured,”Beware!littleVirginia,beware!wemayneverseeyouagain,” buttheGhost glidedonmoreswiftly,andVirginiadidnotlisten.Whentheyreachedtheendofthe room hestopped,andmutteredsomewordsshecouldnotunderstand.Sheopenedher eyes,andsawthewallslowlyfadingawaylikeamist,andagreatblackcaverninfrontof her.Abittercoldwindsweptroundthem,andshefeltsomethingpullingatherdress. “Quick,quick,”criedtheGhost,”oritwillbetoolate,” andinamomentthewainscoting hadclosedbehindthem,andtheTapestryChamberwasempty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THEGHOSTGLIDEDONMORESWIFTLY”

 

 

 

 

 

VI

 

 

A

bouttenminuteslater,thebelrangfortea,and,asVirginiadidnotcome down,Mrs.Otissentuponeofthefootmentotellher.Afteralittletimehe returnedandsaidthathecouldnotfindMissVirginiaanywhere.Asshewasin

thehabitofgoingouttothegardenevery eveningtogetflowersforthedinner-table,Mrs. Otiswasnotatalalarmedatfirst,butwhensixo’clockstruck,andVirginiadidnot appear,shebecamereallyagitated,andsenttheboysouttolookforher,whileshe herselfandMr.Otissearchedeveryroominthehouse.Athalf-pastsixtheboyscame backandsaidthattheycouldfindnotraceoftheirsisteranywhere.Theywerealnowin thegreateststateof excitement,anddidnotknowwhattodo,whenMr.Otissuddenly rememberedthat,somefewdaysbefore,hehadgivenabandofgipsiespermissionto campinthepark.HeaccordinglyatoncesetoffforBlackfe lHolow,whereheknew theywere,accompaniedbyhiseldestsonandtwoofthefarm-servants.ThelittleDuke ofCheshire,whowasperfectlyfranticwith anxiety,beggedhardtobealowedtogotoo, butMr.Otiswouldnotalowhim,ashewasafraidtheremightbeascuffle.Onarrivingat thespot,however, hefound  thatthegipsieshadgone,anditwasevidentthattheir departurehadbeen rathersudden,asthefirewasstillburning,andsomeplateswerelying onthegrass.Havingsentoff Washingtonandthetwomentoscourthedistrict,heran home,anddespatchedtelegramstoalthepoliceinspectorsinthecounty,tellingthem to

 

 

lookoutforalittlegirlwhohadbeenkidnappedbytrampsorgipsies.Hethenordered hishorsetobebroughtround,and,afterinsistingonhiswifeandthethreeboyssitting downtodinner,rodeoffdowntheAscotroadwithagroom.Hehadhardly,however, goneacoupleofmiles,when heheardsomebodygalopingafterhim,and,lookinground, sawthelittleDukecominguponhispony,withhisfaceveryflushed,andnohat.”I’m awfullysorry,Mr.Otis,”gasped outtheboy,”butIcan’teatanydinneraslongas Virginiaislost.Pleasedon’tbeangrywithme;ifyouhadletusbeengagedlastyear, therewouldneverhavebeenalthistrouble.Youwon’tsendmeback,willyou?Ican’t

go!Iwon’tgo!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HEHEARDSOMEBODYGALLOPINGAFTERHIM”

 

TheMinistercouldnothelpsmilingatthehandsomeyoungscapegrace,andwasa gooddealtouchedathisdevotiontoVirginia,soleaningdownfrom hishorse,hepatted himkindlyontheshoulders,andsaid,”Wel,Cecil,ifyouwon’tgoback,Isupposeyou mustcomewithme,but Imustget youahat atAscot.”

 

“Oh,bothermyhat!IwantVirginia!”criedthelittleDuke,laughing,andtheygalloped onto therailway  station. There Mr. Otis inquiredofthe station-master ifanyone answeringtothedescriptionofVirginiahadbeenseenontheplatform,butcouldgetno newsofher.Thestation-master,however,wiredupanddowntheline,andassuredhim thatastrictwatch wouldbekeptforher,and,afterhavingboughtahatforthelittleDuke fromalinen-draper,whowasjustputtinguphisshutters,Mr.Otisrodeoff toBexley,a villageaboutfourmilesaway,whichhewastoldwasawel-knownhauntofthegipsies, astherewasalargecommonnexttoit.Heretheyrouseduptheruralpoliceman,but couldgetnoinformationfromhim,and,afterridingaloverthecommon,theyturnedtheir horses’headshomewards,andreachedtheChaseabouteleven o’clock,dead-tiredand almostheart-broken.TheyfoundWashingtonandthetwinswaitingforthem atthegate- housewithlanterns,astheavenuewasverydark.NottheslightesttraceofVirginiahad beendiscovered.ThegipsieshadbeencaughtonBrockleymeadows,butshewasnot withthem, andtheyhad explained their sudden departure bysaying that theyhad

 

 

 

mistakenthedateofChortonFair, andhadgoneoffinahurryforfear they shouldbelate.Indeed,they had  been  quite  distressed    at hearing ofVirginia’s disappearance,  astheywerevery grateful to Mr. Otis forhaving alowedthemtocampinhispark, and  four   of their  number  had stayed  behind  to  help  in   the search.  Thecarp-pond hadbeen dragged,andthe wholeChase thoroughlygoneover,but without any result.Itwasevidentthat,for thatnightatany rate,Virginiawas losttothem;anditwasinastate ofthedeepestdepressionthatMr. Otisandtheboyswalked upto the house, the groom following behindwiththetwohorsesandthe pony. In the hal they found a groupoffrightened servants,  and lyingonasofain thelibrarywas poorMrs.Otis,almostoutof her mindwith terrorandanxiety,and having  her forehead bathed with eaudecologneby theold housekeeper.Mr.Otisat once insistedonherhavingsomethingto eat,andorderedupsupperfor the wholeparty.It wasamelancholy meal, as hardly any  one spoke, and even  the twins were awestruckandsubdued,as they were very fond of  their sister. Whentheyhadfinished,Mr.Otis, inspiteoftheentreatiesofthelittle Duke, orderedthemalto bed, saying thatnothingmorecouldbe donethat night,andthat hewould telegraph in  the morning to ScotlandYardfor somedetectives tobesentdownimmediately.Just

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“OUTONTHE LANDINGSTEPPEDVIRGINIA”

 

astheywerepassingoutofthedining-room,  midnightbegantoboomfromtheclock tower,andwhenthelaststrokesoundedtheyheardacrashandasuddenshrillcry;a dreadfulpealof thundershookthehouse,astrainof unearthlymusicfloatedthroughthe air,apanelatthetopofthestaircaseflewbackwithaloudnoise,andoutonthelanding, lookingverypale  and white, withalittle casketinherhand, stepped Virginia. Ina momenttheyhadalrusheduptoher.Mrs.Otisclaspedherpassionatelyinherarms,the

 

 

Dukesmotheredherwithviolentkisses,andthetwinsexecutedawildwar-danceround thegroup.

 

“Goodheavens!child,wherehaveyoubeen?”saidMr.Otis,ratherangrily,thinking thatshehadbeenplayingsomefoolishtrickonthem.”CecilandIhavebeenridingal overthecountrylookingforyou,andyourmotherhasbeenfrightenedtodeath.You mustneverplaythesepracticaljokesanymore.”

 

“ExceptontheGhost!exceptontheGhost!”shrieked thetwins,astheycapered about.

 

“Myowndarling,thankGodyouarefound;youmustneverleavemy sideagain,” murmuredMrs.Otis,asshekissedthetremblingchild,andsmoothedthetangledgoldof herhair.

 

“Papa,” saidVirginia,quietly,”IhavebeenwiththeGhost.Heisdead,andyoumust comeandseehim.Hehadbeenverywicked,buthewasreallysorryforal thathehad done,andhegavemethisboxofbeautifuljewelsbeforehedied.”

 

Thewholefamilygazedatherinmuteamazement,but shewasquitegraveandserious; and,turninground,sheledthem throughtheopeninginthewainscotingdownanarrow secretcorridor,Washingtonfollowingwithalightedcandle,whichhehadcaughtupfrom thetable.Finally,theycametoagreatoakdoor,studdedwithrustynails.WhenVirginia touchedit,itswungbackonitsheavyhinges,andtheyfoundthemselvesinalittlelow room,withavaultedceiling,andonetinygratedwindow.Imbeddedinthewallwasa hugeironring,andchainedtoitwasagauntskeleton,thatwasstretchedoutatfulllength on thestonefloor,andseemedtobetryingtograspwithitslongfleshlessfingersan old- fashionedtrencherandewer,thatwereplacedjustoutofitsreach.Thejughadevidently beenoncefiledwithwater,asitwascoveredinsidewithgreenmould.Therewasnothing onthetrencherbutapileofdust.Virginiakneltdownbesidetheskeleton,and,folding herlittlehandstogether,begantopraysilently,whiletherestof thepartylookedonin wonderattheterribletragedywhosesecretwasnowdisclosedtothem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“CHAINED TOITWASAGAUNTSKELETON”

 

“Halo!”suddenlyexclaimedoneofthetwins,whohadbeenlookingoutofthewindow totryanddiscoverinwhatwingofthehousetheroomwassituated.”Hallo!theold witheredalmond-treehasblossomed.I canseetheflowersquiteplainly inthemoonlight.”

 

 

“Godhasforgivenhim,”saidVirginia,gravely,assherosetoherfeet,andabeautiful lightseemedtoillumineherface.

 

“Whatanangelyouare!”criedtheyoungDuke,andheputhisarmroundherneck, andkissedher.

 

 

 

 

 

VII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“BYTHESIDEOFTHEHEARSEANDTHECOACHESWALKEDTHESERVANTSWITH LIGHTEDTORCHES”

F

ourdaysafterthesecuriousincidents,afuneralstartedfromCantervilleChase atabouteleveno’clockatnight.Thehearsewasdrawnbyeightblackhorses, eachofwhichcarriedonitsheadagreattuftofnoddingostrich-plumes,andthe

leadencoffinwascoveredbyarichpurplepal,onwhichwasembroideredingoldthe Cantervillecoat-of-arms.Bythesideofthehearseandthecoacheswalkedtheservants with lightedtorches, and the whole procession was wonderfully impressive. Lord Cantervillewasthechiefmourner,havingcomeupspeciallyfromWalestoattendthe funeral,andsatinthefirstcarriagealongwithlittleVirginia.ThencametheUnitedStates Ministerandhiswife,thenWashingtonandthethreeboys,andinthelastcarriagewas Mrs.Umney.Itwasgenerallyfeltthat,asshehadbeenfrightenedbytheghostformore thanfiftyyearsof herlife,shehadarighttoseethelastof him.Adeepgravehadbeen duginthecornerofthechurchyard,justundertheoldyew-tree,andtheservicewasread in themostimpressivemannerbytheRev.AugustusDampier.Whentheceremonywas over, the servants, according to anold custom observed inthe Cantervillefamily, extinguishedtheirtorches,and,asthecoffinwasbeingloweredintothegrave,Virginia

 

 

steppedforward,andlaidonitalargecrossmadeof whiteandpinkalmond-blossoms. Asshedidso,themooncameoutfrombehindacloud,andfloodedwithitssilentsilver thelittlechurchyard,andfromadistantcopseanightingalebegantosing.Shethoughtof theghost’sdescriptionoftheGardenofDeath,hereyesbecamedimwithtears,andshe

hardlyspokeawordduringthedrivehome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THEMOONCAMEOUTFROMBEHINDACLOUD”

 

Thenextmorning,beforeLordCantervillewentuptotown,Mr.Otishadaninterview withhimonthesubjectofthejewelstheghosthadgiventoVirginia.Theywereperfectly magnificent,especiallyacertainruby necklacewith oldVenetiansetting,whichwasreally asuperbspecimenofsixteenth-centurywork,andtheirvaluewassogreatthatMr.Otis feltconsiderablescruplesaboutalowing hisdaughtertoacceptthem.

 

“Mylord,”hesaid,”Iknowthatinthiscountrymortmainisheldtoapplytotrinketsas welastoland,anditisquitecleartomethatthesejewelsare,orshouldbe,heirloomsin yourfamily.Imustbegyou,accordingly,totakethemtoLondonwithyou,andtoregard themsimplyasaportionof yourpropertywhichhasbeenrestoredtoyouundercertain strangeconditions.Asformydaughter,sheismerelyachild,andhasasyet,Iamgladto say,butlittleinterestinsuchappurtenancesofidleluxury.IamalsoinformedbyMrs. Otis, who, Imaysay, isno  meanauthorityuponArt,—having had the  privilege of spendingseveralwintersinBostonwhenshewasagirl,—thatthesegemsareof great monetary worth, and if offered for sale would fetch a tal price. Under thesecircumstances, LordCanterville,Ifeelsurethatyouwillrecognize howimpossible it wouldbeformetoalowthemtoremaininthepossessionofanymemberofmyfamily; and,indeed,alsuchvaingaudsandtoys,howeversuitableornecessarytothedignityof

 

 

theBritisharistocracy,wouldbecompletelyoutof placeamongthosewhohavebeen broughtuponthesevere,andIbelieveimmortal,  principlesofRepublicansimplicity. PerhapsIshouldmentionthatVirginiaisveryanxiousthatyoushouldalowhertoretain thebox,asamementoofyourunfortunatebutmisguidedancestor.Asitisextremelyold, andconsequentlyagooddealoutofrepair,you mayperhapsthinkfittocomplywithher request.Formyownpart,IconfessIam agooddealsurprisedtofindachildof mine expressingsympathywithmediævalisminanyform,andcanonlyaccountforitbythe factthatVirginiawasborninoneof yourLondonsuburbsshortlyafterMrs.Otishad returnedfromatriptoAthens.”

 

LordCantervillelistenedverygravelytotheworthyMinister’sspeech,pullinghisgrey moustachenowandthentohidean involuntarysmile,andwhenMr.Otishadended,he shookhimcordiallybythehand,andsaid:”Mydearsir,yourcharminglittledaughter renderedmyunluckyancestor,SirSimon,averyimportantservice,andIandmyfamily aremuchindebtedtoherforhermarvellouscourageandpluck.Thejewelsareclearly hers,and,egad,IbelievethatifIwereheartlessenoughtotakethemfromher,the wickedoldfellowwouldbeoutofhisgraveinafortnight,leadingmethedevilofalife. Asfortheirbeingheirlooms,nothingisanheirloomthatisnotsomentionedinawill or legaldocument,andtheexistenceofthesejewelshasbeen quiteunknown.IassureyouI havenomoreclaimonthemthanyourbutler,andwhenMissVirginiagrowsup,Idare sayshewillbepleasedtohaveprettythingstowear.Besides,youforget,Mr.Otis,that youtookthefurnitureandtheghostatavaluation,andanythingthatbelongedtotheghost passedatonceintoyourpossession,as,whateveractivitySirSimonmayhaveshownin thecorridoratnight,inpointoflawhewasreallydead,andyouacquiredhispropertyby purchase.”

 

Mr.OtiswasagooddealdistressedatLordCanterville’srefusal,andbeggedhimto reconsiderhisdecision,butthegood-naturedpeerwasquitefirm,andfinallyinducedthe Ministertoalowhisdaughtertoretainthepresenttheghosthadgivenher,andwhen,in thespringof 1890,theyoungDuchessof CheshirewaspresentedattheQueen’sfirst drawing-roomontheoccasionof hermarriage,herjewelsweretheuniversalthemeof admiration. ForVirginia receivedthe coronet, whichisthe reward ofalgood little Americangirls,andwasmarriedtoherboy-loverassoonashecameofage.Theywere bothsocharming,andtheylovedeachothersomuch,thateveryonewasdelightedat the match,excepttheoldMarchionessofDumbleton,whohadtriedtocatchtheDukefor oneofhersevenunmarrieddaughters,andhadgivennolessthanthreeexpensivedinner- partiesforthatpurpose,and,strangetosay,Mr.Otishimself.Mr.Otiswasextremely fondoftheyoungDukepersonally,but,theoretically,heobjectedtotitles,and,tousehis ownwords, “wasnotwithout  apprehension lest,  amid theenervatinginfluences ofa pleasure-loving aristocracy, the true principles of  Republican simplicity should be forgotten.”Hisobjections,however,werecompletelyoverruled,andIbelievethatwhen hewalkeduptheaisleofSt.George’s,HanoverSquare,withhisdaughterleaningonhis arm,therewasnot aproudermaninthewholelengthandbreadthofEngland.

 

TheDukeandDuchess,  afterthehoneymoonwasover,wentdowntoCantervilleChase,andonthedayaftertheirarrivaltheywalkedoverin theafternoontothelonely churchyardbythepine-woods.Therehadbeenagreatdealofdifficultyatfirstaboutthe inscriptiononSirSimon’stombstone, butfinallyithadbeendecidedtoengraveonit simplytheinitialsoftheoldgentleman’sname,andtheversefromthelibrary window.The Duchesshadbroughtwithhersomelovelyroses,whichshestreweduponthegrave,and

 

 

aftertheyhadstoodbyitforsometimetheystrolledintotheruinedchanceloftheold abbey.TheretheDuchesssatdownonafallenpillar,whileherhusbandlayatherfeet smokingacigaretteandlookingupatherbeautiful eyes.Suddenlyhethrewhiscigarette away,tookholdofherhand,andsaidtoher,”Virginia,awifeshouldhavenosecrets fromherhusband.”

 

“DearCecil!Ihavenosecretsfromyou.”

 

“Yes,youhave,”heanswered,smiling,”youhavenevertoldmewhathappenedtoyou whenyouwerelockedupwiththeghost.”

 

“I havenevertoldanyone,Cecil,”saidVirginia,gravely. “I knowthat,but youmighttellme.”

“Pleasedon’taskme,Cecil,Icannottellyou.PoorSirSimon!Iowehimagreatdeal. Yes,don’tlaugh,Cecil,Ireallydo.HemademeseewhatLifeis,andwhatDeath signifies,andwhyLoveisstrongerthanboth.”

 

TheDukeroseandkissedhiswifelovingly.

 

“YoucanhaveyoursecretaslongasIhaveyourheart,”hemurmured. “Youhavealwayshadthat,Cecil.”

“Andyouwilltellourchildrensomeday,won’tyou?” Virginiablushed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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