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ghost stories
Scary and exciting Ghost Stories from around the World . . .
 

Ghost Story Title : The Apparition Of Mrs. Veal Part-5 By Daniel De Foe

 

Ghost Story:

Dr. Kenrick's Ascetick was also mentioned with approbation
by this critical specter [the Doctor's work was no doubt a tenant of the shelf in some favorite publisher's shop];
and Mr. Norris's Poem on Friendship, a work, which I doubt, though honored with a ghost's approbation, we
may now seek for as vainly as Correlli tormented his memory to recover the sonata which the devil played to
him in a dream. Presently after, from former habits we may suppose, the guest desires a cup of tea; but,
bethinking herself of her new character, escapes from her own proposal by recollecting that Mr. Bargrave was
in the habit of breaking his wife's china. It would have been indeed strangely out of character if the spirit had
lunched, or breakfasted upon tea and toast. Such a consummation would have sounded as ridiculous as if the
statue of the commander in Don Juan had not only accepted of the invitation of the libertine to supper, but had
also committed a beefsteak to his flinty jaws and stomach of adamant. A little more conversation ensued of a
less serious nature, and tending to show that even the passage from life to death leaves the female anxiety
about person and dress somewhat alive. The ghost asked Mrs. Bargrave whether she did not think her very
much altered, and Mrs. Bargrave of course complimented her on her good looks. Mrs. Bargrave also admired
the gown which Mrs. Veal wore, and as a mark of her perfectly restored confidence, the spirit led her into the
important secret, that it was a scoured silk, and lately made up. She informed her also of another secret,
namely, that one Mr. Breton had allowed her ten pounds a year; and, lastly, she requested that Mrs. Bargrave
would write to her brother, and tell him how to distribute her mourning rings, and mentioned there was a
purse of gold in her cabinet. She expressed some wish to see Mrs. Bargrave's daughter; but when that good
lady went to the next door to seek her, she found on her return the guest leaving the house. She had got
without the door, in the street, in the face of the beast market, on a Saturday, which is market day, and stood
ready to part. She said she must be going, as she had to call upon her cousin Watson (this appears to be a
gratis dictum on the part of the ghost) and, maintaining the character of mortality to the last, she quietly
turned the corner, and walked out of sight.
Then came the news of Mrs. Veal's having died the day before at noon. Says Mrs. Bargrave, 'I am sure she
was with me on Saturday almost two hours.' And in comes Captain Watson, and says Mrs. Veal was certainly
dead. And then come all the pieces of evidence, and especially the striped silk gown. Then Mrs. Watson cried
out, 'You have seen her indeed, for none knew but Mrs. Veal and I that that gown was scoured'; and she cried
that the gown was described exactly, for, said she, 'I helped her to make it up.' And next we have the silly
attempts made to discredit the history. Even Mr. Veal, her brother, was obliged to allow that the gold was
found, but with a difference, and pretended it was not found in a cabinet, but elsewhere; and, in short, we have
all the gossip of says I, and thinks I, and says she, and thinks she, which disputed matters usually excite in a
country town.
When we have thus turned the tale, the seam without, it may be thought too ridiculous to have attracted notice.
But whoever will read it as told by De Foe himself, will agree that, could the thing have happened in reality,
so it would have been told. The sobering the whole supernatural visit into the language of the middle or low
life, gives it an air of probability even in its absurdity. The ghost of an exciseman's housekeeper, and a
seamstress, were not to converse like Brutus with his Evil Genius. And the circumstances of scoured silks,
broken tea-china, and such like, while they are the natural topics of such persons' conversation, would, one
might have thought, be the last which an inventor would have introduced into a pretended narrative betwixt
the dead and living. In short, the whole is so distinctly circumstantial, that, were it not for the impossibility, or
extreme improbability at least, of such an occurrence, the evidence could not but support the story.
The effect was most wonderful. Drelincourt upon Death, attested by one who could speak from experience,
took an unequaled run. The copies had hung on the bookseller's hands as heavy as a pile of lead bullets. They now traversed the town in every direction, like the same balls discharged from a field-piece. In short, the object of Mrs. Veal's apparition was perfectly attained.






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