PICKWICK PAPERS: A GHOST STORY


A queer ghost story
“Who are you?” said the new tenant, turning very pale; poising the poker  in his hand, however, and taking a very decent aim at the countenance of the figure.  “Who are you?”  “Don’t throw that poker at me,” replied the form; “if you hurled it with ever so sure an aim, it would pass through me, without resistance, and expend its force on the wood behind.  I am a spirit.”  “And pray, what do you want
here?” faltered the tenant.  “In this room,” replied the apparition, “my worldly ruin was worked, and I and my children beggared.
In this press, the papers in a long, long suit, which accumulated for years, were deposited.  In this room, when I had died of grief,
and long-deferred hope, two wily harpies divided the wealth for which I had contested during a wretched existence, and of which,
at last, not one farthing was left for my unhappy descendants.  I terrified them from the spot, and since that day have prowled by
night–the only period at which I can revisit the earth–about the scenes of my long-protracted misery.  This apartment is mine:
leave it to me.”  “If you insist upon making your appearance here,” said the tenant, who had had time to collect his presence of
mind during this prosy statement of the ghost’s, “I shall give up possession with the greatest pleasure; but I should like to ask you
one question, if you will allow me.”  “Say on,” said the apparition sternly.  “Well,” said the tenant, “I don’t apply the observation
personally to you, because it is equally applicable to most of the ghosts I ever heard of; but it does appear to me somewhat
inconsistent, that when you have an opportunity of visiting the fairest spots of earth–for I suppose space is nothing to you–
you should always return exactly to the very places where you have been most miserable.”  “Egad, that’s very true; I never
thought of that before,” said the ghost.  “You see, Sir,” pursued the tenant, “this is a very uncomfortable room.  From the
appearance of that press, I should be disposed to say that it is not wholly free from bugs; and I really think you might find much
more comfortable quarters: to say nothing of the climate of London, which is extremely disagreeable.”  “You are very right,
Sir,” said the ghost politely, “it never struck me till now; I’ll try change of air directly”–and, in fact, he began to vanish as he
spoke; his legs, indeed, had quite disappeared.  “And if, Sir,” said the tenant, calling after him, “if you WOULD have the goodness to
suggest to the other ladies and gentlemen who are now engaged in haunting old empty houses, that they might be much more
comfortable elsewhere, you will confer a very great benefit on society.”  “I will,” replied the ghost; “we must be dull fellows–
very dull fellows, indeed; I can’t imagine how we can have been so stupid.”  With these words, the spirit disappeared; and what is
rather remarkable,’ added the old man, with a shrewd look round the table, ‘he never came back again.’
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