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Chapter 2

  • The storm raged fiercely all that night, but nothing of particular not_ccurred. The next morning, however, when they came down to breakfast, the_ound the terrible stain of blood once again on the floor. “I don’t think i_an be the fault of the Paragon Detergent,” said Washington, “for I have trie_t with everything. It must be the ghost.” He accordingly rubbed out the stai_ second time, but the second morning it appeared again. The third mornin_lso it was there, though the library had been locked up at night by Mr. Oti_imself, and the key carried upstairs. The whole family were now quit_nterested; Mr. Otis began to suspect that he had been too dogmatic in hi_enial of the existence of ghosts, Mrs. Otis expressed her intention o_oining the Psychical Society, and Washington prepared a long letter t_essrs. Myers and Podmore on the subject of the Permanence of Sanguineou_tains when connected with Crime. That night all doubts about the objectiv_xistence of phantasmata were removed for ever.
  • The day had been warm and sunny; and, in the cool of the evening, the whol_amily went out to drive. They did not return home till nine o’clock, whe_hey had a light supper. The conversation in no way turned upon ghosts, s_here were not even those primary conditions of receptive expectation which s_ften precede the presentation of psychical phenomena. The subjects discussed,
  • as I have since learned from Mr. Otis, were merely such as form the ordinar_onversation of cultured Americans of the better class, such as the immens_uperiority of Miss Fanny Davenport over Sarah Bernhardt as an actress; th_ifficulty of obtaining green corn, buckwheat cakes, and hominy, even in th_est English houses; the importance of Boston in the development of the world-
  • soul; the advantages of the baggage check system in railway travelling; an_he sweetness of the New York accent as compared to the London drawl. N_ention at all was made of the supernatural, nor was Sir Simon de Cantervill_lluded to in any way. At eleven o’clock the family retired, and by half-pas_ll the lights were out. Some time after, Mr. Otis was awakened by a curiou_oise in the corridor, outside his room. It sounded like the clank of metal,
  • and seemed to be coming nearer every moment. He got up at once, struck _atch, and looked at the time. It was exactly one o’clock. He was quite calm,
  • and felt his pulse, which was not at all feverish. The strange noise stil_ontinued, and with it he heard distinctly the sound of footsteps. He put o_is slippers, took a small oblong phial out of his dressing-case, and opene_he door. Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man o_errible aspect. His eyes were as red burning coals; long grey hair fell ove_is shoulders in matted coils; his garments, which were of antique cut, wer_oiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles an_usty gyves.
  • “My dear sir,” said Mr. Otis, “I really must insist on your oiling thos_hains, and have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the Tamman_ising Sun Lubricator. It is said to be completely efficacious upon on_pplication, and there are several testimonials to that effect on the wrappe_rom some of our most eminent native divines. I shall leave it here for you b_he bedroom candles, and will be happy to supply you with more should yo_equire it.” With these words the United States Minister laid the bottle dow_n a marble table, and, closing his door, retired to rest.
  • For a moment the Canterville ghost stood quite motionless in natura_ndignation; then, dashing the bottle violently upon the polished floor, h_led down the corridor, uttering hollow groans, and emitting a ghastly gree_ight. Just, however, as he reached the top of the great oak staircase, a doo_as flung open, two little white-robed figures appeared, and a large pillo_hizzed past his head! There was evidently no time to be lost, so, hastil_dopting the Fourth Dimension of Space as a means of escape, he vanishe_hrough the wainscoting, and the house became quite quiet.
  • On reaching a small secret chamber in the left wing, he leaned up against _oonbeam to recover his breath, and began to try and realise his position.
  • Never, in a brilliant and uninterrupted career of three hundred years, had h_een so grossly insulted. He thought of the Dowager Duchess, whom he ha_rightened into a fit as she stood before the glass in her lace and diamonds;
  • of the four housemaids, who had gone off into hysterics when he merely grinne_t them through the curtains of one of the spare bedrooms; of the rector o_he parish, whose candle he had blown out as he was coming late one night fro_he library, and who had been under the care of Sir William Gull ever since, _erfect martyr to nervous disorders; and of old Madame de Tremouillac, who,
  • having wakened up one morning early and seen a skeleton seated in an armchai_y the fire reading her diary, had been confined to her bed for six weeks wit_n attack of brain fever, and, on her recovery, had become reconciled to th_hurch, and broken off her connection with that notorious sceptic Monsieur d_oltaire. He remembered the terrible night when the wicked Lord Cantervill_as found choking in his dressing-room, with the knave of diamonds half-wa_own his throat, and confessed, just before he died, that he had cheate_harles James Fox out of £50,000 at Crockford’s by means of that very card,
  • and swore that the ghost had made him swallow it. All his great achievement_ame back to him again, from the butler who had shot himself in the pantr_ecause he had seen a green hand tapping at the window pane, to the beautifu_ady Stutfield, who was always obliged to wear a black velvet band round he_hroat to hide the mark of five fingers burnt upon her white skin, and wh_rowned herself at last in the carp-pond at the end of the King’s Walk. Wit_he enthusiastic egotism of the true artist he went over his most celebrate_erformances, and smiled bitterly to himself as he recalled to mind his las_ppearance as ‘Red Reuben, or the Strangled Babe,’ his début as ‘Gaunt Gibeon,
  • the Blood-sucker of Bexley Moor,’ and the furore he had excited one lovel_une evening by merely playing ninepins with his own bones upon the lawn-
  • tennis ground. And after all this, some wretched modern Americans were to com_nd offer him the Rising Sun Lubricator, and throw pillows at his head! It wa_uite unbearable. Besides, no ghost in history had ever been treated in thi_anner. Accordingly, he determined to have vengeance, and remained til_aylight in an attitude of deep thought.