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

Ghost Story Title : The Rival Ghosts Part-3 By Brander Matthews

 

Ghost Story:

'How romantic!' said the Duchess. 'So he was a baron!'
'Well,' answered Uncle Larry, 'he was a baron if he chose. But he didn't choose.'
'More fool he,' said Dear Jones sententiously.
'Well,' answered Uncle Larry, 'I'm not so sure of that. You see, Eliphalet Duncan was half Scotch and half
Yankee, and he had two eyes to the main chance. He held his tongue about his windfall of luck until he could
find out whether the Scotch estates were enough to keep up the Scotch title. He soon discovered that they
were not, and that the late Lord Duncan, having married money, kept up such state as he could out of the
revenues of the dowry of Lady Duncan. And Eliphalet, he decided that he would rather be a well-fed lawyer
in New York, living comfortably on his practice, than a starving lord in Scotland, living scantily on his title.'
'But he kept his title?' asked the Duchess.
'Well,' answered Uncle Larry, 'he kept it quiet. I knew it, and a friend or two more. But Eliphalet was a sight
too smart to put Baron Duncan of Duncan, Attorney and Counselor at Law, on his shingle.'
'What has all this got to do with your ghost?' asked Dear Jones pertinently.
'Nothing with that ghost, but a good deal with another ghost. Eliphalet was very learned in spirit lore--perhaps
because he owned the haunted house at Salem, perhaps because he was a Scotchman by descent. At all events,
he had made a special study of the wraiths and white ladies and banshees and bogies of all kinds whose
sayings and doings and warnings are recorded in the annals of the Scottish nobility. In fact, he was acquainted
with the habits of every reputable spook in the Scotch peerage. And he knew that there was a Duncan ghost
attached to the person of the holder of the title of Baron Duncan of Duncan.'
'So, besides being the owner of a haunted house in Salem, he was also a haunted man in Scotland?' asked
Baby Van Rensselaer.
'Just so. But the Scotch ghost was not unpleasant, like the Salem ghost, although it had one peculiarity in
common with its trans-Atlantic fellow-spook. It never appeared to the holder of the title, just as the other
never was visible to the owner of the house. In fact, the Duncan ghost was never seen at all. It was a guardian
angel only. Its sole duty was to be in personal attendance on Baron Duncan of Duncan, and to warn him of
impending evil. The traditions of the house told that the Barons of Duncan had again and again felt a
premonition of ill fortune. Some of them had yielded and withdrawn from the venture they had undertaken,
and it had failed dismally. Some had been obstinate, and had hardened their hearts, and had gone on reckless
of defeat and to death. In no case had a Lord Duncan been exposed to peril without fair warning.'
'Then how came it that the father and son were lost in the yacht off the Hebrides?' asked Dear Jones.
'Because they were too enlightened to yield to superstition. There is extant now a letter of Lord Duncan,
written to his wife a few minutes before he and his son set sail, in which he tells her how hard he has had to
struggle with an almost overmastering desire to give up the trip. Had he obeyed the friendly warning of the
family ghost, the latter would have been spared a journey across the Atlantic.'
'Did the ghost leave Scotland for America as soon as the old baron died?' asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with
much interest.
'How did he come over,' queried Dear Jones--'in the steerage, or as a cabin passenger?'
'I don't know,' answered Uncle Larry calmly, 'and Eliphalet, he didn't know. For as he was in no danger, and
stood in no need of warning, he couldn't tell whether the ghost was on duty or not. Of course he was on the
watch for it all the time. But he never got any proof of its presence until he went down to the little old house
of Salem, just before the Fourth of July. He took a friend down with him--a young fellow who had been in the
regular army since the day Fort Sumter was fired on, and who thought that after four years of the little
unpleasantness down South, including six months in Libby, and after ten years of fighting the bad Indians on
the plains, he wasn't likely to be much frightened by a ghost. Well, Eliphalet and the officer sat out on the
porch all the evening smoking and talking over points in military law. A little after twelve o'clock, just as they
began to think it was about time to turn in, they heard the most ghastly noise in the house. It wasn't a shriek,
or a howl, or a yell, or anything they could put a name to. It was an undeterminate, inexplicable shiver and
shudder of sound, which went wailing out of the window. The officer had been at Cold Harbor, but he felt
himself getting colder this time. Eliphalet knew it was the ghost who haunted the house. As this weird sound
died away, it was followed by another, sharp, short, blood-curdling in its intensity. Something in this cry
seemed familiar to Eliphalet, and he felt sure that it proceeded from the family ghost, the warning wraith of
the Duncans.'




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