"I confess, that the subject of psychical research makes no great appeal to me," Sir William Henry Perkin, the inventor of coal-tar dyes, told some friends in New York recently. "Personally, in the course of a fairly long career, I have heard at first hand but one ghost story. Its hero was a man whom I may as well call Snooks.
"Snooks, visiting at a country house, was put in the haunted chamber for the night. He said that he did not feel the slightest uneasiness, but nevertheless, just as a matter of precaution, he took to bed with him a revolver of the latest American pattern.
"He slept peacefully enough until the clock struck two, when he awoke with an unpleasant feeling of oppression. He raised his head and peered about him. The room was wanly illumined by the full moon, and in that weird, bluish light he thought he discerned a small, white hand clasping the rail at the foot of the bed.
"'Who's there?' he asked tremulously.
"There was no reply. The small white hand did not move.
"'Who's there?' he repeated. 'Answer me or I'll shoot.'
"Again there was no reply.
"Snooks cautiously raised himself, took careful aim and fired.
"From that night on he's limped. Shot off two of his own toes."
There was a haunted house down South which was carefully avoided by all the superstitious negroes. But a new arrival in the community, named Sam, bragged of his bravery as too superior to be shaken by any ghosts, and declared that, for the small sum of two dollars cash in hand paid, he would pass the night alone in the haunted house. A score of other darkies contributed, and the required amount was raised. It was not, however, to be delivered to the courageous Sam until his reappearance after the vigil. With this understanding the boaster betook himself to the haunted house for the night.
When a select committee sought for Sam next morning, no trace of him was found. Careful search for three days failed to discover the missing negro.
But on the fourth day Sam entered the village street, covered with mud and evidently worn with fatigue.
"Hi, dar, nigger!" one of the bystanders shouted. "Whar you-all been de las' foh days?"
And Sam answered simply:
"Ah's been comin' back."
Bishop Fowler, of Gloucester, and Justice Powell, had frequent altercations on the subject of ghosts. The bishop was a zealous defender of the reality of them; the justice was somewhat sceptical. The bishop one day met his friend, and the justice told him that since their last conference on the subject, he had had ocular demonstration, which had convinced him of the existence of ghosts. "I rejoice at your conversion," replied the bishop; "give me the circumstance which produced it, with all the particulars:— ocular demonstration, you say?"—"Yes, my lord; as I lay last night in my bed, about the twelfth hour, I was awakened by an extraordinary noise, and heard something coming up stairs!"—"Go on, sir."—"Fearfully alarmed at the noise, I drew my curtain—." "Proceed."—"And saw a faint glimmering light enter my chamber."—"Of a blue colour, was it not?" interrogated the doctor.—"Of a pale blue! and this pale blue light was followed by a tall, meagre, stern figure, who appeared as an old man of seventy years of age, arrayed in a long light coloured rug gown, bound with a leathern girdle: his beard thick and grisly; his hair scant and straight; his face of a dark sable hue; upon his head a large fur cap; and in his hand a long staff. Terror seized my whole frame. I trembled till the bed shook, and cold drops hung upon every limb. The figure advanced with a slow and solemn step."—"Did you not speak to it? there was money hid, or murder committed, without doubt," said the bishop.—"My lord, I did speak to it; I adjured it by all that was holy to tell me whence, and for what purpose it thus appeared."—"And in heaven's name what was the reply?"—"Before he deigned to speak, he lifted up his staff three several times, my lord, and smote the floor, even so loudly that verily the strokes caused the room to reverberate the thundering sound. He then waved the pale blue light which he bore in what is called a lantern, he waved it even to my eyes; and he told me, my lord, he told me that he was—yes, my lord—that he was—not more nor less than—the watchman! who had come to give me notice that my street-door was open, and that unless I rose and shut it, I might be robbed before morning." The justice had no sooner concluded, than the bishop disappeared.