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- Ghosts I have Met and Some Others - 1/21 -


[Illustration: 'Such grotesque attitudes as his figure assumed I never saw.']

Ghost I Have Met And Some Others

By John Kendrick Bangs

With Illustrations by

Newell, Frost, and Richards

TO CHOICE SPIRITS EVERYWHERE

CONTENTS

GHOSTS THAT HAVE HAUNTED ME

THE MYSTERY OF MY GRANDMOTHER'S HAIR SOFA

THE MYSTERY OF BARNEY O'ROURKE

THE EXORCISM THAT FAILED

THURLOW'S CHRISTMAS STORY

THE DAMPMERE MYSTERY

CARLETON BARKER, FIRST AND SECOND

ILLUSTRATIONS

"SUCH GROTESQUE ATTITUDES AS HIS FIGURE ASSUMED I NEVER SAW"

"I TURNED ABOUT, AND THERE, FEARFUL TO SEE, SAT THIS THING GRINNING AT ME"

"THE FRIENDLY SPECTRE STOOD BY ME"

"HE FLED MADLY THROUGH THE WAINSCOTING OF THE ROOM"

"THEN HE SET ABOUT TELLING ME OF THE BEAUTIFUL GOLD AND SILVER WARE THEY USE IN THE ELYSIAN FIELDS"

"THERE WAS NO ONE THERE"

"I DRAINED A GLASS OF COOKING-SHERRY TO THE DREGS"

"IT HAD TURNED WHITE"

"IT IS NOT OFTEN THAT ONE'S LITERARY CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST"

"'SIX IMPTY CHAIRS, SORR'"

"'L--LUL--LET ME OUT!' HE GASPED".

"'I SHALL KEEP SHOVING YOU FOR EXACTLY ONE YEAR'"

"I WAS FORCIBLY UNCLAD"

"HE WAS AMPLY PROTECTED"

"PINNED HIM TO THE WALL LIKE A BUTTERFLY ON A CORK"

"FACE TO FACE"

"HE RATTLED ON FOR HALF AN HOUR"

"THE DEMON VANISHED"

"'DOESN'T DARE LOOK ME IN THE EYE!'"

"'LOOK AT YOUR SO-CALLED STORY AND SEE'"

"IT WAS TO BE THE EFFORT OF HIS LIFE"

"WHEN HE ROSE UP IN THE MORNING HE WOULD FIND EVERY SINGLE HAIR ON HIS HEAD STANDING ERECT"

"'WEARS HIS QUEUE POMPADOUR, I SEE'"

GHOSTS I HAVE MET, AND SOME OTHERS

GHOSTS THAT HAVE HAUNTED ME

A FEW SPIRIT REMINISCENCES

If we could only get used to the idea that ghosts are perfectly harmless creatures, who are powerless to affect our well-being unless we assist them by giving way to our fears, we should enjoy the supernatural exceedingly, it seems to me. Coleridge, I think it was, was once asked by a lady if he believed in ghosts, and he replied, "No, madame; I have seen too many of them." Which is my case exactly. I have seen so many horrid visitants from other worlds that they hardly affect me at all, so far as the mere inspiration of terror is concerned. On the other hand, they interest me hugely; and while I must admit that I do experience all the purely physical sensations that come from horrific encounters of this nature, I can truly add in my own behalf that mentally I can rise above the physical impulse to run away, and, invariably standing my ground, I have gained much useful information concerning them. I am prepared to assert that if a thing with flashing green eyes, and clammy hands, and long, dripping strips of sea-weed in place of hair, should rise up out of the floor before me at this moment, 2 A.M., and nobody in the house but myself, with a fearful, nerve-destroying storm raging outside, I should without hesitation ask it to sit down and light a cigar and state its business--or, if it were of the female persuasion, to join me in a bottle of sarsaparilla--although every physical manifestation of fear of which my poor body is capable would be present. I have had experiences in this line which, if I could get you to believe them, would convince you that I speak the truth. Knowing weak, suspicious human nature as I do, however, I do not hope ever to convince you--though it is none the less true-- that on one occasion, in the spring of 1895, there was a spiritual manifestation in my library which nearly prostrated me physically, but which mentally I hugely enjoyed, because I was mentally strong enough to subdue my physical repugnance for the thing which suddenly and without any apparent reason materialized in my arm-chair.

I'm going to tell you about it briefly, though I warn you in advance that you will find it a great strain upon your confidence in my veracity. It may even shatter that confidence beyond repair; but I cannot help that. I hold that it is a man's duty in this life to give to the world the benefit of his experience. All that he sees he should set down exactly as he sees it, and so simply, withal, that to the dullest comprehension the moral involved shall be perfectly obvious. If he is a painter, and an auburn-haired maiden appears to him to have blue hair, he should paint her hair blue, and just so long as he sticks by his principles and is true to himself, he need not bother about what you may think of him. So it is with me. My scheme of living is based upon being true to myself. You may class me with Baron Munchausen if you choose; I shall not mind so long as I have the consolation of feeling, deep down in my heart, that I am a true realist, and diverge not from the paths of truth as truth manifests itself to me.

This intruder of whom I was just speaking, the one that took possession of my arm-chair in the spring of 1895, was about as horrible a spectre as I have ever had the pleasure to have haunt me. It was worse than grotesque. It grated on every nerve. Alongside of it the ordinary poster of the present day would seem to be as accurate in drawing as a bicycle map, and in its coloring it simply shrieked with discord.

If color had tones which struck the ear, instead of appealing to the eye, the thing would have deafened me. It was about midnight when the manifestation first took shape. My family had long before retired, and I had just finished smoking a cigar--which was one of a thousand which my wife had bought for me at a Monday sale at one of the big department stores in New York. I don't remember the brand, but that is just as well--it was not a cigar to be advertised in a civilized piece of literature--but I do remember that they came in bundles of fifty, tied about with blue ribbon. The one I had been smoking tasted and burned as if it had been rolled by a Cuban insurrectionist while fleeing from a Spanish regiment through a morass, gathering its component parts as he ran. It had two distinct merits, however. No man could possibly smoke too many of them, and they were economical, which is how the ever-helpful little madame came to get them for me, and I have no doubt they will some day prove very useful in removing insects from the rose-bushes. They cost $3.99 a thousand on five days a week, but at the Monday sale they were marked down to $1.75, which is why my wife, to whom I had recently read a little lecture on economy, purchased them for me. Upon the evening in question I had been at work on this cigar for about two hours, and had smoked one side of it three-quarters of the way down to the end, when I concluded that I had smoked enough--for one day--so I rose up to cast the other side into the fire, which was flickering fitfully in my spacious fireplace. This done, I turned about, and there, fearful to see, sat this thing grinning at me from the depths of my chair. My hair not only stood on end, but tugged madly in an effort to get away. Four hairs--I can prove the statement if it be desired--did pull themselves loose from my scalp in their insane desire to rise above the terrors of the situation, and, flying upward, stuck like nails into the oak ceiling directly over my head, whence they had to be pulled the next morning with nippers by our hired man, who would no doubt testify to the truth of the occurrence as I have asserted it if he were still living, which, unfortunately, he is not. Like most hired men, he was subject to attacks of lethargy, from one of which he died last summer. He sank into a rest about weed-time, last June, and lingered quietly along for two months, and after several futile efforts to wake him up, we


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