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Videos About This Book. More videos About Michael E. The first, or lowest, of these is the corporeal body, which, after death, decays and perishes. Next comes the vital principle, which, departing from the body, dissipates itself like an odor, and is lost. Less gross than this is the astral body, which, although immaterial, yet lies near to the consistency of matter. This astral shape, released from the body at death, remains for a while in its earthly environ- ment, still preserving more or less definitely the imprint of the form which it inhabited.
It is not the soul that returns, for the soul, which is immortal, is composed of the four higher spiritual essences that sturound the ego, and are carried on into the next life. These astral bodies, therefore, fail to terrify the Buddhists, who know them only as shadows, with no real volition. The Japs, in point of fact, have learned how to exter- minate them. There is a certain powder, Hoku informed me, which, when burnt in their presence, transforms them from the rarefied, or semi-spiritual, condi- tion to the state of matter.
The ghost, so to speak, is precipitated into and becomes a material shape which can easily be disposed of. In this state it is confined and allowed to disintegrate slowly where it can cause no further annoyance. This long-winded explanation piqued my curi- osity, whidi was not to be satisfied until I had seen the Japanese method applied. It was not long before I had an opportunity. A particularly revolting murder having been committed in San Prandsco, my friend Hoku Yamanochi applied for the house, and, after the police had finished their examination, he was permitted to occupy it for a half-year at the ridiculous price of three dollars a month.
He invited me to share his quarters, which were large and luxuriously furnished. For a week, nothing abnormal occurred. I confess that I had all the covers ptdled over my head and was shivering with horror when my Japanese friend entered, wearing a pair of flowered-silk pajamas.
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Hearing his voice, I peeped forth, to see him smiling reassuringly. Then, holding the fuming dish in one outstretched hand, he walked to the closed door and opened it. The shrieks burst out afresh, and, as I recalled the appalling details of the scene which had occurred in this very room only five weeks ago, I shuddered at his temerity. But he was quite cahn. Soon, I saw the wraithlike form of the recent victim dart from the closet. She crawled tmder my bed and ran about the room, endeavoring to escape, but was pursued by Hoku, who waved his smoking plate with indefatigable patience and dexterity.
At last he had her cornered, and the specter was caught behind a curtain of odorous fumes. Slowly the figure grew more distinct, assuming the con- sistency of a heavy vapor, shrinking somewhat in the oi eration, Hoku now hurriedly turned to me. These he pressed flat, and then carefully inserting one toe of the ghost into the nozzle and opening the handles steadily, he sucked in a portion of the unforttmate woman's anatomy, and dexterously squirted the vapor into a large jar, which had been placed in the room for the purpose.
Two more operations were necessary to withdraw the phantom completely from the comer and empty it into the jar. At last the transfer was effected and the receptacle securely stoppered and sealed. Modem-time method more better for stomach and epiglottis. Old pliest use him for high celemony, " was the answer. My next desire was to obtain some of Hoku Yamanochi's ghost-powder and analyze it. For a while it defied my attempts, but, after many months of patient research, I discovered that it could be produced, in all its essential qualities, by means of a fusion of formaldehyde and hypophenyl- trybrompropionic add in an electrified vacuum.
With this product I began a series of interesting experiments. These I visited persistently, until my powder was perfected and had been proved effi- cacious for the capture of any ordinary house- broken phantom. For a while I contented myself with the mere sterilization of these specters, but, as I became surer of success, I began to attempt the transfer of ghosts to receptacles wherein they could be transported and studied at my leisure, classified and preserved for future reference.
Hoku's bellows I soon discarded in favor of a large-sized bicyde-pump, and eventually I had constructed one of my own, of a pattern which en- abled me to inhale an entire ghost at a single stroke. With this powerful instrument I was able to com- press even an adult life-sized ghost into a two- quart bottle, in the neck of which a sensitive valve patented prevented the specter from emerging during process.
The Ghost of Caroline Wald
My invention was not yet, however, quite satis- factory. While I had no trouble in securing ghosts of recent creation — spirits, that is, who were yet of almost the consistency of matter — on several of my trips abroad in search of material I found in old manor houses or ruined castles many specters so ancient that they had become highly rarefied and tenuous, being at times scarcely visible to the naked eye. It became necessary for me to obtain some instru- ment by which their capture could be conveniently effected. The ordinary fire-extinguisher of commerce gave me the hint as to how the problem could be solved.
One of these portable hand-instruments I filled with the proper diemicals. When inverted, the ingredients were commingled in vacuo and a vast volume of gas was liberated. This was collected in the reservoir provided with a rubber tube having a nozzle at the end. The whole apparatus being strapped upon my back, I was enabled to direct a stream of powerful precipitating gas in any desired direction, the flow being under control through the agency of a small stopcock.
By means of this ghost-extinguisher I was enabled to pursue my experiments as far as I desired. So far my investigations had been purely scienti- fic, but before long the commercial value of my dis- covery began to interest me. The ruinous effects of spectral visitations upon real estate induced me to realize some pecuniary reward from my ghost- extinguisher, and I began to advertise my business.
By degrees, I became known as an expert in my original line, and my professional services were sought with as much confidence as those of a veter- inary surgeon. These hand-implements were made to be kept in racks conveniently distributed in country houses for cases of sudden emergency. A single grenade, hurled at any sx ectral form, would, in breaking, liberate enough formaldybrom to coagu- late the most perverse spirit, and the resulting vapor could easily be removed from the room by a housemaid with a common broom.
This branch of my business, however, never proved profitable, for the appearance of ghosts, especially in the United States, is seldom antici- pated. Had it been possible for me to invent a pre- ventive as well as a remedy, I might now be a millionaire; but there are limits even to modem science. Having exhausted the field at home, I visited England in the hope of securing customers among the country families there. To my surprise, I dis- covered that the possession of a family specter was considered as a permanent improvement to the property, and my offers of service in ridding houses of ghostly tenants awakened the liveliest resent- ment.
As a layer of ghosts I was much lower in the social scale than a layer of carpets. Disappointed and discouraged, I returned home to make a further study of the opportunities of my invention. I had, it seemed, exhausted the possi- bilities of the use of unwelcome phantoms. Could I not, I thought, derive a revenue from the traffic in desirable specters? I decided to renew my investigations. They were, virtxially, embalmed apparitions, their inevitable decay delayed, rather than prevented. The assorted ghosts that I had now preserved in hermetically sealed tins were thus in a state of un- stable equilibrium.
The tins once opened and the vapor allowed to dissipate, the original astral body would in time be reconstructed and the warmed- over specter would continue its previous career. But this process, when naturally performed, took years. The interval was quite too long for the phantom to behandled in any conunerdal way. My problem was, therefore, to produce from my tinned Essence of Ghost a specter that was capable of immediately going into business and that could haunt a house while you wait.
It was not until raditun was discovered that I approached the solution of my great problem, and even then months of indefatigable labor were necessary before the process was perfected. It has now been well demonstrated that the emanations of radiant energy sent forth by this surprising element defy our former scientific conceptions of the constitution of matter. This is as far as I need to go in my explanation, for a full discussion involves the use of quaternions and the method of least squares. It will be sufficient for the layman to know that my preserved phantoms, rendered radio-active, would, upon contact with the air, resume their spectral shape.
The possible extension of my business now was enormous, limited only by the difficulty in collect- ing the necessaiy stock. It was by this time almost as difficult to get ghosts as it was to get radium. Finding that a part of my stock had spoiled, I was now possessed of only a few dozen cans of appari- tions, many of these being of inferior quality. I immediately set about replenishing my raw mater- ial. It was not enough for me to pick up a ghost here and there, as one might get old mahogany; I determined to procure my phantoms in wholesale lots.
Accident favored my design. In an old volume of Blackwood's Magazine I happened, one day, to come across an interesting article upon the battle of Waterloo. It mentioned, incidentally, a legend to the effect that every year, upon the anniversary of the celebrated victory, spectral squadrons had been seen by the peasants charging battalions of ghostly grenadiers. Here was my opportunity. I made elaborate preparations for the capture of this job lot of phantoms upon the next anniversary of the fight.
I stationed myself with a No. It was a fine, clear night, lighted, at first, by a slice of new moon ; but later, dark, except for the pale illumination of the stars. Prom afar the French reserves presented the appearance of a nebtdous mass, like a low-lying doud or fog-bank, faintly luminous, shot with fluorescent gleams. As the squadron drew nearer in its desperate charge, the separate forms of the troopers shaped themselves, and the galloping guardsmen grew ghastly with supernatural splendor.
Although I knew them to be immaterial and without mass or weight, I was terrified at their approach, fearing to be swept under the hoofs of the nightmares they rode. Like one in a dream, I started to run, but in another instant they were upon me, and I turned on my stream of formaldy- brom.
Then I was overwhelmed in a cloud-biu"st of wild warlike wraiths. The cut was piled full of frenzied, scrambling specters, as rank after tank swept down into the horrid gut. At last the ditdi swanned full of writhing forms and the car- nage was dire. As soon as my mind returned, I busied myself with the huge tanks I had prepared for use as receivers.
These were fitted with a mechanism similar to that employed in portable forges, by which the heavy vapor was sucked oflF. Luckily the night was calm, and I was enabled to fill a dozen cylinders with the precipitated ghosts. The segregation of individual forms was, of course, impossible, so that men and horses were mingled in a horrible mixture of fricassed spirits. I in- tended subsequently to empty the soup into a large reservoir and allow the separate specters to reform according to the laws of spiritual cohesion. Circumstances, however, prevented my ever accomplishing this result.
I returned home, to find awaiting me an order so large and important that I had no time in which to operate upon my cylinders of cavalry. My patron was the proprietor of a new sanato- rium for nervous invalids, located near some medici- nal springs in the Catskills. Just before the patients were to be installed in the new structure, it was found that the place was hatmted by the victims of the conflagration to a degree that rendered it inconvenient as a health resort. My professional services were requested, therefore, to render the building a fitting abode for convalescents.
I wxote to the proprietor, fixing my charge at five thousand dollars. As my usual rate was one hundred dollars per ghost, and over a hundred lives were lost at the fire, I considered this price reasonable, and my offer was accepted. The sanatorium job was finished in a week. I secured one hundred and two superior spectral specimens, and upon my return to the laboratory, put them up in heavily embossed tins with attrac- tive labels in colors.
My delight at the outcome of this business was, however, soon transformed to anger and indigna- tion. The proprietor of the health resort, having found that the specters from his place had been sold, claimed a rebate upon the contract price equal to the value of the modified ghosts trans- ferred to my possession. This, of cotu-se, I could not allow. I wrote, demanding immediate pay- ment according to our agreement, and this was peremptorily refused.
The manager's letter was insulting in the extreme. I got out the twelve tanks of Waterloo ghost- hash from the storerooms, and treated them with radium for two days. These I shipped to the Cats- kills billed as hydrogen gas. Then, accompanied by two trustworthy assistants, I went to the sana- toriimi and preferred my demand for payment in person. I was ejected with contumely. Before my hasty exit, however, I had the satisfaction of notic- ing that the building was filled with patients.
Languid ladies were seated in wicker chairs upon the piazzas, and frail anemic girls filled the corri- dors. It was a hospital of nervous wrecks whom the slightest disturbance would throw into a panic. I suppressed all my finer feelings of mercy and kindness and smiled grimly as I walked back to the village. That night was black and lowering, fitting weather for the pandemoniimi I was about to turn loose. At ten o'clock, I loaded a wagon with the tanks of compressed cohorts, and, muffled in heavy overcoats, we drove to the sanatorium.
All was silent as we approached ; all was dark. The wagon concealed in a grove of pines, we took out the tanks one by one, and placed them beneath the grotmd- floor windows. The sashes were easily forced open, and raised enough to enable us to insert the rubber tubes connected with the iron reservoirs. At mid- night everything was ready. With a hiss as of escaping steam the huge vessels emptied them- selves, vomiting forth clouds of vapor, which, upon contact with the air, coagulated into strange shapes as the white of an egg does when dropped into boil- ing water.
The rooms became instantly filled with dismembered shades of men and horses seeking wildly to unite themselves with their proper parts. Legs ran down the corridors, seeldng their re- spective trunks, arms writhed wildly reaching for missing bodies, heads rolled hither and yon in search of native necks.
Horses' tails and hoofs whisked and hurried in quest of equine ownership until, reorganized, the spectral steeds galloped about to find their riders. Had it been possible, I would have stopped this riot of wraiths long ere this, for it was more awful than I had anticipated, but it was already too late. Cowering in the garden, I began to hear the screams of awakened and distracted patients. In another moment, the front door of tiie hotel was burst open, and a mob of hysterical women in ex- pensive nightgowns rushed out upon the lawn, and huddled in shrieking groups.
I fled into the night. I fled, but Napoleon's men fled with me. Com- pelled by I know not what fatal astral attraction, perhaps the subtle affinity of the creature for the creator, the spectral shells, moved by some myster- ious mechanics of spiritual being, pursued me with fatuous fury. As I drew nearer, the whole ghost-factory was seen to be in flames ; every moment crackling reports were heard, as the over- heated tins of phantasmagoria exploded and threw their supernatural contents upon the night. These liberated ghosts joined the army of Napoleon's outraged warriors, and turned upon me.
There was not enough formaldybrom in all the world to quench their fierce energy. There was no place in all the world safe for me from their visitation.
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No ghost-extinguisher was powerful enough to lay the host of spirits that haunted me henceforth, and I had neither time nor money left with which to construct new Gatling quick-firing tanks. It is little comfort to me to know that one hun- dred nervous invalids were completely restored to health by means of the terrific shock which I adndnistered. An' whin he cx me erlong to be 'bout knee-high to a mewel, he 'gin to git powerful 'fraid ob ghosts, 'ca'se dat am sure a mighty ghostly location whut he lib' in, 'ca'se dey 's a grabeyard in de hollow, an' a buryin'-ground on de hill, an' a cemuntary in betwixt an' between, an' dey ain't nufiin' but trees nowhar excipt in de dearin' by de shanty an' down de hollow whar de ptunpkin-patch am.
An' whin de night come erlong, dey ain't no soxmds at all whut kin be heard in dat locality but de rain-doves, whut mourn out, " Oo- W-o-o-o! Dat a powerful onpleasant local- ity for a li'l' black boy whut he name was Mose. He jes as invidsible as nuflfin'. An' who know' but wiiut a great, big ghost bump right into him 'ca'se it can't see him?
An' dat shore w'u'd scare dat li'l' black boy power- ful' bad, 'ca'se yever'body knows whut a cold, damp pussonality a ghost is. So whin dat li'l' black Mose go' outen de shanty at night, he keep' he eyes wide open, you may be shore. By day he eyes 'bout de size ob butter-pats, an' come sundown he eyes 'bout de size ob saucers ; but whin he go' outen de shanty at night, he eyes am de size ob de white chiny plate whut set on de mantel; an' it powerful' hard to keep eyes whut am de size ob dat from a-winkin' an' a-blinkin'.
So whin Hallowe'en come' erlong, dat li'l' black Mose he jes mek' up he mind he ain't gwine outen he shack at all. So dat all right. Li'l' black Mose he scrooge' back in de comer by de fireplace, an' he 'low' he gwine stay dere till he gwine to bed. So all dem folks shake dere hands an' 'low " Howdy, " an' some ob dem say : " Why, dere 's li'l' Mose!
Howdy, li'l' Mose? So b3rme-by Sally Ann, whut live up de road, she say', "Ain't no sort o' Hallowe'en lest we got a jack-o'-lantern. But dat ain't no use, 'ca'se he ma say', "Mose, go on down to de pumpkin-patch an' fotch a pumpkin. Why ain't yo' want to go? An' dey 'low dey mus' hab a jack- o'-lantem or de fun all sp'iled. So dat li'l' black boy whut he name is Mose he done got to fotch a pumpkin from de pumpkin-patch down de hollow. An' de owl moum' out, "Whut-tc;Aa? Yas, sah, he run' right peart fast. An' he say' : ''Dey ain't no ghosts. Dey ain't no ghosts. No fince ; jes' de big trees whut de owls an' de rain-doves sot in an' moum an' sob, an' whut de wind sigh an' cry frough.
An' byme-by somefin' jes brush' liT Mose on de cheek, which mek' him run erbout as fast as he can. But he downright scared jes de same, an' he ain't lose no time, 'ca'se de wind an' de owls an' de rain-doves dey signerfy whut ain't no good. So he scoot' past dat buryin'-ground whut on de hill, an' dat cemuntary whut betwixt an' be- tween, an' dat grabeyard in de hollow, twell he come' to de pumpkin-patch, an' he rotch' down an' tek' erhold ob de bestest pumpkin whut in de patch.
An' he right smart scared. He jes' de mostest scared liT black boy whut yever was. He ain't gwine open he eyes fo' nuflBn', 'ca'se de wind go, "You-yow-o-o-a! An' he jes cogitate', "Dey ain't no ghosts," an' wish' he goose-pimples don't rise up dat way. Dat li'r black boy whut he name is Mose he jump' 'most outen he skin. He open' he eyes, an' he 'gin to shake like de aspen-tree, 'ca'se whut dat a-standin' right dar behint him but a 'mendjous big ghost!
Yas, sah, dat de bigges', whites' ghost whut yever was. An' it ain't got no head. Ain't got no head at all! Li'l' black Mose he jes drap' on he knees an' he beg' an' pray' : "Oh, 'scuse me! Ah ain't got no mouf, an' whin Ah ain't got no mouf. Ah can't talk of all. Can't nobody talk whin he ain't got no mouf, an' can't nobody have no mouf whin he ain't got no head, an' whin lil' black Mose he look', he see' dat ghost ain't got no head at all.
Nary head. No, sah. But Ah got somefin' powerful important to say unto yo', an' if yo' pick up dat pumpkin an' sot it on de place whar my head ought to be. Yas, sah, dass so. He ain't even linger round dat locality like de smoke in Yoctober. He jes dissipate' outen de air, an' he gone entirely. So li'l' Mose he grab' up de nex' bestest pump- kin an' he scoot'. An' he rotch' down an' rotch' down an' tek' hold of a likely appearin' hunk o' wood whut right dar. An' whin he grab' dat hunk of wood "Lrf loosen my leg! Dat liT black boy 'most jump' outen he skin, 'ca'se right dar in de paff is six 'mendjus big ghostes an' de bigges' ain't got but one leg.
So li'l' black Mose jes natchully handed dat hunk of wood to dat bigges' ghost, an' he say' : '"Scuse me, Mistah Ghost; Ah ain't know dis your leg. Whut we gwine do fo' to reward him fo' polite- ness? So he step' offen de road fo' to go round erbout, an' he step' on a pine- stump whut lay right dar. An' li'l' black Mose he hop' offen dat stump right peart. Yes, sah; right peart. But byme-by they 'low they let him go 'ca'se dat was an accident, an' de captain ghost he say', " Mose, you Mose, Ah gwine let you off dis time, 'ca'se you ain't nufiin' but a misabul h'l' tremblin' nigger; but Ah want you should remimimber one thing mos' particular'.
Whut is dat Ah got to remimber? He do, indeed. Yas, sah, seem' like all de ghostes in de world habin' a conf erince right dar.
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Seem' like all de ghosteses whut yever was am havin' a convin- tion on dat spot. An' all on a suddent de log up and spoke : "Gaoffentnel Ga off en me r' yeVL' dot log. So HI' black Mose he git' offen dat log, an' no mistake. An' soon as he git' offen de log, de log uprise, an' li'l' black Mose he see' dat dat log am de king ob all de ghostes.
Right dar am all de sperits in de world, an' all de ha'nts in de world, an' all de hobgoblins in de world, an' all de ghouls in de world, an' all de spicters in de world, an' all de ghostes in de world. An' whin dey see li'l' black Mose, dey all gnash dey teef an' grin' 'ca'se it gettin' erlong toward dey-all's lunch-time. So de king, whut he name old Skull-an'-Bones, he step' on top ob li'l' Mose's head, an' he say' : "Gin'l'min, de convintion will come to order.
De sicretary please note who is prisint. Ah ain't mean no harm at all. Whin yivery li'r black boy whut choose' gwine wander rotmd at night an' stip on de king ob ghostes, it ain't no time for to palaver, it ain't no time for to prevari- cate, it ain't no time for to cogitate, it ain't no time do nuffin' but tell de truth, an' de whole truth, an' nuffin' but de truth. So de king ob de ghostes, whut name old Skull- an'-Bones, he place' he hand on de head ob li'l' black Mose, an' he hand feel like a wet rag, an' he say': ''Dey ain't no ghosts.
Dat whut happen' whin a liT black boy fwine meet a ghost convintion dat-a-way. An' dat a foolish thing for to imaginate. So prisintly all de ghostes am whiff away, like de fog outen de holler whin de wind blow' on it, an' li'r black Mose he ain' see no ca'se for to remain in dat locality no longer. He rotch' down, an' he raise' up de ptmipkin, an' he perambulate' right quick to he ma's shack, an' he lift' up de latch, an' he open' de do', an' he yenter' in. An' he say' : " Yere 's de pumpkin. Yas, sah. So li'l' black Mose he turn' he white head, an' he look' roun' an' peer' roun', an' he say' : "Whut you all skeered fo'?
Dat 's natural. How you know dey ain't. And she say': "I been s'picious dey ain' no ghostes dis long whiles, an' now I know. Ef all de ghostes say dey ain' no ghosts, dey aitC no ghosts. So he say' to li'l' black Mose: " 'T ain't likely you met up wid a monstrous big ha'nt whut live' down de lane whut he name Bloody Bones?
Ef dat per- ticklar ghost say' dey ain't no ghosts, dey ain't no ghosts.
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He reckon' he gwine be a heap mo' comfortable in he mind sence he know' dey ain' no ghosts, an' he reckon' he ain' gwine be skeered of nufiin' never no more. He ain' gwine min' de dark, an' he ain' gwine min' de rain-doves whut go', " Oo-oo-o-o-o! He gwine be brave as a lion, sence he know' fo' sure dey ain' no ghosts. So prisintly he ma say' : "Well, time fo' a lil' black boy whut he name is Mose to be gwine up de ladder to de loft to bed. He 'low' he gwine jes wait a liT bit.
He 'low' he gwine be no trouble at all ef he jes been let wait twell he ma she gwine up de ladder to de loft to bed, too. So he ma she say' : " Git erlong wid yo'! Whut yo' skeered ob whin dey ain't no ghosts? Jes lak white folks! By permission of the pub- lishers. John Hinckman was a delightful place to me, for many reasons. It was the abode of a genial, though somewhat im- pulsive, hospitality. It had broad, smooth-shaven lawns and towering oaks and elms; there were bosky shades at several points, and not far from the house there was a little rill spanned by a rustic bridge with the bark on; there were fruits and flowers, pleasant people, chess, billiards, rides, walks, and fishing.
These were great attractions; but none of them, nor all of them together, would have been sufficient to hold me to the place very long. I had been invited for the trout season, but should, probably, have finished my visit early in the summer had it not been that upon fair days, when the grass was dry, and the sun was not too hot, and there was but little wind, there strolled beneath the lofty elms, or passed lightly through the bosky shades, the form of my Madeline.
This lady was not, in very truth, my Madeline. She had never given herself to me, nor had I, in any way, acquired possession of her. It may have been that I would not have been obliged to confine the use of this possessive pronoun to my reveries had I con- fessed the state of my feelings to the lady. But this was an unusually difficult thing to do. Not only did I dread, as almost all lovers dread, taking the step which would in an instant put an end to that delightful season which may be termed the ante-interrogatory period of love, and which might at the same time terminate all intercourse or connection with the object of my passion; but I was, also, dreadfully afraid of John Hinckman.
This gentleman was a good friend of mine, but it would have required a bolder man than I was at that time to ask him for the gift of his niece, who was the head of his household, and, according to his own frequent statement, the main prop of his declining years. Had Madeline acquiesced in my general views on the subject, I might have felt enpouraged to open the matter to Mr.
Hinckman ; but, as I said before, I had never asked her whether or not she would be mine. I thought of these things at all hours of the day and night, particu- larly the latter. I was lying awake one night, in the great bed in my spacious chamber, when, by the dim light of the new moon, which partially filled the room, I saw John Hinckman standing by a large chair near the door. I was very much siuprised at this for two reasons.
It was for this reason that I had been able that even- ing to sit much later than usual with Madeline on the moonlit porch. The figure was certainly that of John Hinckman in his ordinary dress, but there was a vagueness and indistinctness about it which presently assured me that it was a ghost. Had the good old man been murdered? My heart fluttered at what I was about to think, but at this instant the figure spoke. Hinckman will re- turn to-night?
You can't imagine the relief it gives me. His form became less vague, and the colors of his garments more distinct and evident, while an expression of gratified relief succeeded to the anxiety of his countenance. Mine is not an ordinary case. But before I say anjrthing more about it, let me ask you again if you are sure Mr. Hinckman will not return to-night.
And this is what makes me so uneasy, and so much afraid of him. It is a strange story, and, I truly believe, without precedent. Two years and a half ago, John Hinck- man was dangerously ill in this very room. At one time he was so far gone that he was really believed to be dead. It was in consequence of too precipitate a report in regard to this matter that I was, at that time, appointed to be his ghost. My situation was now one of extreme delicacy and embarrassment. I had no power to return to my original unembodiment, and I had no right to be the ghost of a man who was not dead.
I was ad- vised by my friends to quietly maintain my posi- tion, and was assured that, as John Hinckman was an elderly man, it could not be long before I could rightfully assume the position for which I had been selected. But I tell you, sir, " he continued, with animation, "the old fellow seems as vigorous as ever, and I have no idea how much longer this anno3ring state of things will continue.
I spend my time trying to get out of that old man's way. I must not leave this house, and he seems to follow me everywhere. I tell you, sir, he haunts me.
He couldn't hurt you. Imagine, sir, how you would feel if my case were yours. I simply shuddered. There is in him an irascibility of temper, accompanied by a facility of invective, which is seldom met with. And what would happen if he were to see me, and find out, as I am sure he would, how long and why I had inhabited his house, Z can scarcely conceive. I have seen him in his bursts of passion ; and, although he did not hurt the people he stormed at any more than he would hurt me, they seemed to shrink before him.
Had it not been for this peculiarity of Mr. Hinckman, I might have been more willing to talk to him about his niece. I feel sorry for you, " I said, for I really began to have a sympathetic feeling toward this unfor- tunate apparition.
It reminds me of those persons who have had doubles, and I suppose a man would often be very angry indeed when he found that there was another being who was personating himself. It is very different with me. I am not here to live with Mr. I am here to take his place. Now, it would make John Hinckman very angry if he knew that.
Don't you know it would? I have frequently oome into your rocnn, and watched you while you slept, but did not dare to speak to you for fear that if you talked with me Mr. Hinckman would hear you, and come into the room to know why you were talking to yourself.
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But I particularly wanted to ask you to do me a favor.