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English-grown Tobacco
Pettigrew asked me to come to his house one evening and tes...

Tobacco From A Moral Stand-point |
...

Later Victorian Days
When life was all a summer day, And I was under tw...

The Murder In The Inn
Sometimes I think it is all a dream, and that I did not rea...

My Brother Henry
Strictly speaking I never had a brother Henry, and yet I...

My Pipes
In a select company of scoffers my brier was known as the M...


...

My Tobacco-pouch
I once knew a lady who said of her husband that he looke...

Cavalier And Roundhead Smokers
A custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, ...

The First Pipes Of Tobacco Smoked In England
Before the wine of sunny Rhine, or even Madam Clicquot's,...

Signs Of Revival
Some sigh for this and that My wishes don't go far; ...

A Covnter-blaste To Tobacco
That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of _Tobacco_...

Scrymgeour
Scrymgeour was an artist and a man of means, so proud of hi...

The Romance Of A Pipe-cleaner
We continued to visit the _Arcadia_, though only one at ...

Gilray's Flower-pot
I charge Gilray's unreasonableness to his ignoble passion f...

Man Know Thy-self
...

My First Cigar
It was not in my chambers, but three hundred miles furth...

Gilray's Dream
Conceive me (said Gilray, with glowing face) invited to wri...

Primus To His Uncle
Though we all pretended to be glad when Primus went, we ...

House-boat Arcadia
Scrymgeour had a house-boat called, of course, the _Arcadia...



The Ghost Of Christmas Eve








A few years ago, as some may remember, a startling ghost-paper appeared
in the monthly organ of the Society for Haunting Houses. The writer
guaranteed the truth of his statement, and even gave the name of the
Yorkshire manor-house in which the affair took place. The article and
the discussion to which it gave rise agitated me a good deal, and I
consulted Pettigrew about the advisability of clearing up the mystery.
The writer wrote that he distinctly saw his arm pass through the
apparition and come out at the other side, and indeed I still remember
his saying so next morning. He had a scared face, but I had presence of
mind to continue eating my rolls and marmalade as if my brier had
nothing to do with the miraculous affair.



Seeing that he made a paper of it, I suppose he is justified in
touching up the incidental details. He says, for instance, that we were
told the story of the ghost which is said to haunt the house, just
before going to bed. As far as I remember, it was only mentioned at
luncheon, and then sceptically. Instead of there being snow falling
outside and an eerie wind wailing through the skeleton trees, the night
was still and muggy. Lastly, I did not know, until the journal reached
my hands, that he was put into the room known as the Haunted Chamber,
nor that in that room the fire is noted for casting weird shadows upon
the walls. This, however, may be so. The legend of the manor-house ghost
he tells precisely as it is known to me. The tragedy dates back to the
time of Charles I., and is led up to by a pathetic love-story, which I
need not give. Suffice it that for seven days and nights the old steward
had been anxiously awaiting the return of his young master and mistress
from their honeymoon. On Christmas eve, after he had gone to bed, there
was a great clanging of the door-bell. Flinging on a dressing-gown,
he hastened downstairs. According to the story, a number of servants
watched him, and saw by the light of his candle that his face was an
ashy white. He took off the chains of the door, unbolted it, and pulled
it open. What he saw no human being knows; but it must have been
something awful, for, without a cry, the old steward fell dead in the
hall. Perhaps the strangest part of the story is this: that the shadow
of a burly man, holding a pistol in his hand, entered by the open
door, stepped over the steward's body, and, gliding up the stairs,
disappeared, no one could say where. Such is the legend. I shall not
tell the many ingenious explanations of it that have been offered.
Every Christmas eve, however, the silent scene is said to be gone
through again; and tradition declares that no person lives for twelve
months at whom the ghostly intruder points his pistol.

On Christmas Day the gentleman who tells the tale in a scientific
journal created some sensation at the breakfast-table by solemnly
asserting that he had seen the ghost. Most of the men present scouted
his story, which may be condensed into a few words. He had retired
to his bedroom at a fairly early hour, and as he opened the door his
candle-light was blown out. He tried to get a light from the fire, but
it was too low, and eventually he went to bed in the semi-darkness. He
was wakened--he did not know at what hour--by the clanging of a bell.
He sat up in bed, and the ghost-story came in a rush to his mind. His
fire was dead, and the room was consequently dark; yet by and by he knew,
though he heard no sound, that his door had opened. He cried out, Who
is that? but got no answer. By an effort he jumped up and went to the
door, which was ajar. His bedroom was on the first floor, and looking up
the stairs he could see nothing. He felt a cold sensation at his heart,
however, when he looked the other way. Going slowly and without a
sound down the stairs, was an old man in a dressing-gown. He carried
a candle. From the top of the stairs only part of the hall is visible,
but as the apparition disappeared the watcher had the courage to go
down a few steps after him. At first nothing was to be seen, for the
candle-light had vanished. A dim light, however, entered by the long,
narrow windows which flank the hall door, and after a moment the
on-looker could see that the hall was empty. He was marvelling at this
sudden disappearance of the steward, when, to his horror, he saw a body
fall upon the hall floor within a few feet of the door. The watcher
cannot say whether he cried out, nor how long he stood there trembling.
He came to himself with a start as he realized that something was coming
up the stairs. Fear prevented his taking flight, and in a moment the
thing was at his side. Then he saw indistinctly that it was not the
figure he had seen descend. He saw a younger man, in a heavy overcoat,
but with no hat on his head. He wore on his face a look of extravagant
triumph. The guest boldly put out his hand toward the figure. To his
amazement his arm went through it. The ghost paused for a moment and
looked behind it. It was then the watcher realized that it carried
a pistol in its right hand. He was by this time in a highly strung
condition, and he stood trembling lest the pistol should be pointed at
him. The apparition, however, rapidly glided up the stairs and was soon
lost to sight. Such are the main facts of the story, none of which I
contradicted at the time.




I cannot say absolutely that I can clear up this mystery, but my
suspicions are confirmed by a good deal of circumstantial evidence. This
will not be understood unless I explain my strange infirmity. Wherever
I went I used to be troubled with a presentiment that I had left my pipe
behind. Often, even at the dinner-table, I paused in the middle of a
sentence as if stricken with sudden pain. Then my hand went down to my
pocket. Sometimes even after I felt my pipe, I had a conviction that it
was stopped, and only by a desperate effort did I keep myself from
producing it and blowing down it. I distinctly remember once dreaming
three nights in succession that I was on the Scotch express without it.
More than once, I know, I have wandered in my sleep, looking for it
in all sorts of places, and after I went to bed I generally jumped out,
just to make sure of it. My strong belief, then, is that I was the
ghost seen by the writer of the paper. I fancy that I rose in my sleep,
lighted a candle, and wandered down to the hall to feel if my pipe was
safe in my coat, which was hanging there. The light had gone out when
I was in the hall. Probably the body seen to fall on the hall floor was
some other coat which I had flung there to get more easily at my own.
I cannot account for the bell; but perhaps the gentleman in the Haunted
Chamber dreamed that part of the affair. I had put on the overcoat
before reascending; indeed I may say that next morning I was surprised
to find it on a chair in my bedroom, also to notice that there were
several long streaks of candle-grease on my dressing-gown. I conclude
that the pistol, which gave my face such a look of triumph, was my
brier, which I found in the morning beneath my pillow. The strangest
thing of all, perhaps, is that when I awoke there was a smell of
tobacco-smoke in the bedroom.





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