'I don't think that is so marvelous a thing,' said Dear Jones glancing at Baby Van Rensselaer.
'Who was she?' asked the Duchess, who had once lived in Philadelphia.
'She was Miss Kitty Sutton, of San Francisco, and she was a daughter of old Judge Sutton, of the firm of
Pixley and Sutton.'
'A very respectable family,' assented the Duchess.
'I hope she wasn't a daughter of that loud and vulgar old Mrs. Sutton whom I met at Saratoga, one summer,
four or five years ago?' said Dear Jones.
'Probably she was.'
'She was a horrid old woman. The boys used to call her Mother Gorgon.'
'The pretty Kitty Sutton with whom Eliphalet Duncan had fallen in love was the daughter of Mother Gorgon.
But he never saw the mother, who was in 'Frisco, or Los Angeles, or Santa Fe, or somewhere out West, and he
saw a great deal of the daughter, who was up in the White Mountains. She was traveling with her brother and
his wife, and as they journeyed from hotel to hotel, Duncan went with them, and filled out the quartette.
Before the end of the summer he began to think about proposing. Of course he had lots of chances, going on
excursions as they were every day. He made up his mind to seize the first opportunity, and that very evening
he took her out for a moonlight row on Lake Winnipiseogee. As he handed her into the boat he resolved to do
it, and he had a glimmer of a suspicion that she knew he was going to do it, too.'
'Girls,' said Dear Jones, 'never go out in a rowboat at night with a young man unless you mean to accept
'Sometimes it's best to refuse him, and get it over once for all,' said Baby Van Rensselaer.
'As Eliphalet took the oars he felt a sudden chill. He tried to shake it off, but in vain. He began to have a
growing consciousness of impending evil. Before he had taken ten strokes--and he was a swift oarsman--he
was aware of a mysterious presence between him and Miss Sutton.'
'Was it the guardian-angel ghost warning him off the match?' interrupted Dear Jones.
'That's just what it was,' said Uncle Larry. 'And he yielded to it, and kept his peace, and rowed Miss Sutton
back to the hotel with his proposal unspoken.'
'More fool he,' said Dear Jones. 'It will take more than one ghost to keep me from proposing when my mind
is made up.' And he looked at Baby Van Rensselaer.
'The next morning,' continued Uncle Larry, 'Eliphalet overslept himself, and when he went down to a late
breakfast he found that the Suttons had gone to New York by the morning train. He wanted to follow them at
once, and again he felt the mysterious presence overpowering his will. He struggled two days, and at last he
roused himself to do what he wanted in spite of the spook. When he arrived in New York it was late in the
evening. He dressed himself hastily and went to the hotel where the Suttons put up, in the hope of seeing at
least her brother. The guardian angel fought every inch of the walk with him, until he began to wonder
whether, if Miss Sutton were to take him, the spook would forbid the banns. At the hotel he saw no one that
night, and he went home determined to call as early as he could the next afternoon, and make an end of it.
When he left his office about two o'clock the next day to learn his fate, he had not walked five blocks before
he discovered that the wraith of the Duncans had withdrawn his opposition to the suit. There was no feeling of
impending evil, no resistance, no struggle, no consciousness of an opposing presence. Eliphalet was greatly
encouraged. He walked briskly to the hotel; he found Miss Sutton alone. He asked her the question, and got
'She accepted him, of course,' said Baby Van Rensselaer.
'Of course,' said Uncle Larry. 'And while they were in the first flush of joy, swapping confidences and
confessions, her brother came into the parlor with an expression of pain on his face and a telegram in his hand.
The former was caused by the latter, which was from 'Frisco, and which announced the sudden death of Mrs.
Sutton, their mother.'
'And that was why the ghost no longer opposed the match?' questioned Dear Jones.
'Exactly. You see, the family ghost knew that Mother Gorgon was an awful obstacle to Duncan's happiness,
so it warned him. But the moment the obstacle was removed, it gave its consent at once.'
The fog was lowering its thick damp curtain, and it was beginning to be difficult to see from one end of the
boat to the other. Dear Jones tightened the rug which enwrapped Baby Van Rensselaer, and then withdrew
again into his own substantial coverings.
Uncle Larry paused in his story long enough to light another of the tiny cigars he always smoked.
'I infer that Lord Duncan'--the Duchess was scrupulous in the bestowal of titles--'saw no more of the ghosts
after he was married.'
'He never saw them at all, at any time, either before or since. But they came very near breaking off the match,
and thus breaking two young hearts.'
'You don't mean to say that they knew any just cause or impediment why they should not forever after hold
their peace?' asked Dear Jones.