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

Ghost Story Title : The Rival Ghosts Part-4 By Brander Matthews

 

Ghost Story:

'Do I understand you to intimate that both ghosts were there together?' inquired the Duchess anxiously.
'Both of them were there,' answered Uncle Larry. 'You see, one of them belonged to the house, and had to be
there all the time, and the other was attached to the person of Baron Duncan, and had to follow him there;
wherever he was there was the ghost also. But Eliphalet, he had scarcely time to think this out when he heard
both sounds again, not one after another, but both together, and something told him--some sort of an instinct
he had--that those two ghosts didn't agree, didn't get on together, didn't exactly hit it off; in fact, that they were
quarreling.'
'Quarreling ghosts! Well, I never!' was Baby Van Rensselaer's remark.
'It is a blessed thing to see ghosts dwell together in unity,' said Dear Jones.
And the Duchess added, 'It would certainly be setting a better example.'
'You know,' resumed Uncle Larry, 'that two waves of light or of sound may interfere and produce darkness
or silence. So it was with these rival spooks. They interfered, but they did not produce silence or darkness. On
the contrary, as soon as Eliphalet and the officer went into the house, there began at once a series of
spiritualistic manifestations, a regular dark sance. A tambourine was played upon, a bell was rung, and a
flaming banjo went singing around the room.'
'Where did they get the banjo?' asked Dear Jones skeptically.
'I don't know. Materialized it, maybe, just as they did the tambourine. You don't suppose a quiet New York
lawyer kept a stock of musical instruments large enough to fit out a strolling minstrel troupe just on the
chance of a pair of ghosts coming to give him a surprise party, do you? Every spook has its own instrument of
torture. Angels play on harps, I'm informed, and spirits delight in banjos and tambourines. These spooks of
Eliphalet Duncan's were ghosts with all the modern improvements, and I guess they were capable of providing
their own musical weapons. At all events, they had them there in the little old house at Salem the night
Eliphalet and his friend came down. And they played on them, and they rang the bell, and they rapped here,
there, and everywhere. And they kept it up all night.'
'All night?' asked the awe-stricken Duchess.
'All night long,' said Uncle Larry solemnly; 'and the next night, too. Eliphalet did not get a wink of sleep,
neither did his friend. On the second night the house ghost was seen by the officer; on the third night it
showed itself again; and the next morning the officer packed his grip-sack and took the first train to Boston.
He was a New Yorker, but he said he'd sooner go to Boston than see that ghost again. Eliphalet, he wasn't
scared at all, partly because he never saw either the domiciliary or the titular spook, and partly because he felt
himself on friendly terms with the spirit world, and didn't scare easily. But after losing three nights' sleep and
the society of his friend, he began to be a little impatient, and to think that the thing had gone far enough. You
see, while in a way he was fond of ghosts, yet he liked them best one at a time. Two ghosts were one too
many. He wasn't bent on making a collection of spooks. He and one ghost were company, but he and two
ghosts were a crowd.'
'What did he do?' asked Baby Van Rensselaer.
'Well, he couldn't do anything. He waited awhile, hoping they would get tired; but he got tired out first. You
see, it comes natural to a spook to sleep in the daytime, but a man wants to sleep nights, and they wouldn't let
him sleep nights. They kept on wrangling and quarreling incessantly; they manifested and they dark-sanced
as regularly as the old clock on the stairs struck twelve; they rapped and they rang bells and they banged the
tambourine and they threw the flaming banjo about the house, and worse than all, they swore.'
'I did not know that spirits were addicted to bad language,' said the Duchess.
'How did he know they were swearing? Could he hear them?' asked Dear Jones.
'That was just it,' responded Uncle Larry; 'he could not hear them--at least not distinctly. There were
inarticulate murmurs and stifled rumblings. But the impression produced on him was that they were swearing.
If they had only sworn right out, he would not have minded it so much, because he would have known the
worst. But the feeling that the air was full of suppressed profanity was very wearing and after standing it for a
week, he gave up in disgust and went to the White Mountains.'
'Leaving them to fight it out, I suppose,' interjected Baby Van Rensselaer.
'Not at all,' explained Uncle Larry. 'They could not quarrel unless he was present. You see, he could not
leave the titular ghost behind him, and the domiciliary ghost could not leave the house. When he went away
he took the family ghost with him, leaving the house ghost behind. Now spooks can't quarrel when they are a
hundred miles apart any more than men can.'
'And what happened afterward?' asked Baby Van Rensselaer, with a pretty impatience.
'A most marvelous thing happened. Eliphalet Duncan went to the White Mountains, and in the car of the
railroad that runs to the top of Mount Washington he met a classmate whom he had not seen for years, and
this classmate introduced Duncan to his sister, and this sister was a remarkably pretty girl, and Duncan fell in
love with her at first sight, and by the time he got to the top of Mount Washington he was so deep in love that
he began to consider his own unworthiness, and to wonder whether she might ever be induced to care for him
a little--ever so little.'




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