'Did he succeed in driving the ghosts away?' asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with great interest.
'That's just what I'm coming to,' said Uncle Larry, pausing at the critical moment, in the manner of the
trained story teller. 'You see, Eliphalet had got a rather tough job, and he would gladly have had an extension
of time on the contract, but he had to choose between the girl and the ghosts, and he wanted the girl. He tried
to invent or remember some short and easy way with ghosts, but he couldn't. He wished that somebody had
invented a specific for spooks--something that would make the ghosts come out of the house and die in the
yard. He wondered if he could not tempt the ghosts to run in debt, so that he might get the sheriff to help him.
He wondered also whether the ghosts could not be overcome with strong drink--a dissipated spook, a spook
with delirium tremens, might be committed to the inebriate asylum. But none of these things seemed feasible.'
'What did he do?' interrupted Dear Jones. 'The learned counsel will please speak to the point.'
'You will regret this unseemly haste,' said Uncle Larry, gravely, 'when you know what really happened.'
'What was it, Uncle Larry?' asked Baby Van Rensselaer. 'I'm all impatience.'
And Uncle Larry proceeded:
'Eliphalet went down to the little old house at Salem, and as soon as the clock struck twelve the rival ghosts
began wrangling as before. Raps here, there, and everywhere, ringing bells, banging tambourines, strumming
banjos sailing about the room, and all the other manifestations and materializations followed one another just
as they had the summer before. The only difference Eliphalet could detect was a stronger flavor in the spectral
profanity; and this, of course, was only a vague impression, for he did not actually hear a single word. He
waited awhile in patience, listening and watching. Of course he never saw either of the ghosts, because neither
of them could appear to him. At last he got his dander up, and he thought it was about time to interfere, so he
rapped on the table, and asked for silence. As soon as he felt that the spooks were listening to him he
explained the situation to them. He told them he was in love, and that he could not marry unless they vacated
the house. He appealed to them as old friends, and he laid claim to their gratitude. The titular ghost had been
sheltered by the Duncan family for hundreds of years, and the domiciliary ghost had had free lodging in the
little old house at Salem for nearly two centuries. He implored them to settle their differences, and to get him
out of his difficulty at once. He suggested they'd better fight it out then and there, and see who was master. He
had brought down with him all needful weapons. And he pulled out his valise, and spread on the table a pair
of navy revolvers, a pair of shot-guns, a pair of dueling swords, and a couple of bowie-knives. He offered to
serve as second for both parties, and to give the word when to begin. He also took out of his valise a pack of
cards and a bottle of poison, telling them that if they wished to avoid carnage they might cut the cards to see
which one should take the poison. Then he waited anxiously for their reply. For a little space there was
silence. Then he became conscious of a tremulous shivering in one corner of the room, and he remembered
that he had heard from that direction what sounded like a frightened sigh when he made the first suggestion of
the duel. Something told him that this was the domiciliary ghost, and that it was badly scared. Then he was
impressed by a certain movement in the opposite corner of the room, as though the titular ghost were drawing
himself up with offended dignity. Eliphalet couldn't exactly see these things, because he never saw the ghosts,
but he felt them. After a silence of nearly a minute a voice came from the corner where the family ghost
stood--a voice strong and full, but trembling slightly with suppressed passion. And this voice told Eliphalet it
was plain enough that he had not long been the head of the Duncans, and that he had never properly
considered the characteristics of his race if now he supposed that one of his blood could draw his sword
against a woman. Eliphalet said he had never suggested that the Duncan ghost should raise his hand against a
woman and all he wanted was that the Duncan ghost should fight the other ghost. And then the voice told
Eliphalet that the other ghost was a woman.'
'What?' said Dear Jones, sitting up suddenly. 'You don't mean to tell me that the ghost which haunted the
house was a woman?'