The next day the ghost was very weak and tired. The terrible excitement of th_ast four weeks was beginning to have its effect. His nerves were completel_hattered, and he started at the slightest noise. For five days he kept hi_oom, and at last made up his mind to give up the point of the blood-stain o_he library floor. If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did no_eserve it. They were evidently people on a low, material plane of existence,
and quite incapable of appreciating the symbolic value of sensuous phenomena.
The question of phantasmic apparitions, and the development of astral bodies,
was of course quite a different matter, and really not under his control. I_as his solemn duty to appear in the corridor once a week, and to gibber fro_he large oriel window on the first and third Wednesdays in every month, an_e did not see how he could honourably escape from his obligations. It i_uite true that his life had been very evil, but, upon the other hand, he wa_ost conscientious in all things connected with the supernatural. For the nex_hree Saturdays, accordingly, he traversed the corridor as usual betwee_idnight and three o’clock, taking every possible precaution against bein_ither heard or seen. He removed his boots, trod as lightly as possible on th_ld worm-eaten boards, wore a large black velvet cloak, and was careful to us_he Rising Sun Lubricator for oiling his chains. I am bound to acknowledg_hat it was with a good deal of difficulty that he brought himself to adop_his last mode of protection. However, one night, while the family were a_inner, he slipped into Mr. Otis’s bedroom and carried off the bottle. He fel_ little humiliated at first, but afterwards was sensible enough to see tha_here was a great deal to be said for the invention, and, to a certain degree,
it served his purpose. Still, in spite of everything, he was not lef_nmolested. Strings were continually being stretched across the corridor, ove_hich he tripped in the dark, and on one occasion, while dressed for the par_f ‘Black Isaac, or the Huntsman of Hogley Woods,’ he met with a severe fall,
through treading on a butter-slide, which the twins had constructed from th_ntrance of the Tapestry Chamber to the top of the oak staircase.
This last insult so enraged him, that he resolved to make one final effort t_ssert his dignity and social position, and determined to visit the insolen_oung Etonians the next night in his celebrated character of ‘Reckless Rupert,
or the Headless Earl.’
He had not appeared in this disguise for more than seventy years; in fact, no_ince he had so frightened pretty Lady Barbara Modish by means of it, that sh_uddenly broke off her engagement with the present Lord Canterville’_randfather, and ran away to Gretna Green with handsome Jack Castletown,
declaring that nothing in the world would induce her to marry into a famil_hat allowed such a horrible phantom to walk up and down the terrace a_wilight. Poor Jack was afterwards shot in a duel by Lord Canterville o_andsworth Common, and Lady Barbara died of a broken heart at Tunbridge Well_efore the year was out, so, in every way, it had been a great success. I_as, however, an extremely difficult ‘make-up,’ if I may use such a theatrica_xpression in connection with one of the greatest mysteries of th_upernatural, or, to employ a more scientific term, the higher-natural world,
and it took him fully three hours to make his preparations. At last everythin_as ready, and he was very pleased with his appearance. The big leathe_iding-boots that went with the dress were just a little too large for him,
and he could only find one of the two horse-pistols, but, on the whole, he wa_uite satisfied, and at a quarter past one he glided out of the wainscotin_nd crept down the corridor. On reaching the room occupied by the twins, whic_ should mention was called the Blue Bed Chamber, on account of the colour o_ts hangings, he found the door just ajar. Wishing to make an effectiv_ntrance, he flung it wide open, when a heavy jug of water fell right down o_im, wetting him to the skin, and just missing his left shoulder by a coupl_f inches. At the same moment he heard stifled shrieks of laughter proceedin_rom the four-post bed.
The shock to his nervous system was so great that he fled back to his room a_ard as he could go, and the next day he was laid up with a severe cold. Th_nly thing that at all consoled him in the whole affair was the fact that h_ad not brought his head with him, for, had he done so, the consequences migh_ave been very serious.
He now gave up all hope of ever frightening this rude American family, an_ontented himself, as a rule, with creeping about the passages in lis_lippers, with a thick red muffler round his throat for fear of draughts, an_ small arquebuse, in case he should be attacked by the twins. The final blo_e received occurred on the 19th of September. He had gone downstairs to th_reat entrance-hall, feeling sure that there, at any rate, he would be quit_nmolested, and was amusing himself by making satirical remarks on the larg_aroni photographs of the United States Minister and his wife, which had no_aken the place of the Canterville family pictures. He was simply but neatl_lad in a long shroud, spotted with churchyard mould, had tied up his jaw wit_ strip of yellow linen, and carried a small lantern and a sexton’s spade. I_act, he was dressed for the character of ‘Jonas the Graveless, or the Corpse-
Snatcher of Chertsey Barn,’ one of his most remarkable impersonations, and on_hich the Cantervilles had every reason to remember, as it was the real origi_f their quarrel with their neighbour, Lord Rufford.
It was about a quarter past two o’clock in the morning, and, as far as h_ould ascertain, no one was stirring. As he was strolling towards the library,
however, to see if there were any traces left of the blood-stain, suddenl_here leaped out on him from a dark corner two figures, who waved their arm_ildly above their heads, and shrieked out “BOO!” in his ear.
Seized with a panic, which, under the circumstances, was only natural, h_ushed for the staircase, but found Washington Otis waiting for him there wit_he big garden-syringe; and being thus hemmed in by his enemies on every side,
and driven almost to bay, he vanished into the great iron stove, which,
fortunately for him, was not lit, and had to make his way home through th_lues and chimneys, arriving at his own room in a terrible state of dirt,
disorder, and despair.
After this he was not seen again on any nocturnal expedition. The twins lay i_ait for him on several occasions, and strewed the passages with nutshell_very night to the great annoyance of their parents and the servants, but i_as of no avail. It was quite evident that his feelings were so wounded tha_e would not appear. Mr. Otis consequently resumed his great work on th_istory of the Democratic Party, on which he had been engaged for some years;
Mrs. Otis organised a wonderful clam-bake, which amazed the whole county; th_oys took to lacrosse, euchre, poker, and other American national games; an_irginia rode about the lanes on her pony, accompanied by the young Duke o_heshire, who had come to spend the last week of his holidays at Cantervill_hase. It was generally assumed that the ghost had gone away, and, in fact,
Mr. Otis wrote a letter to that effect to Lord Canterville, who, in reply,
expressed his great pleasure at the news, and sent his best congratulations t_he Minister’s worthy wife.
The Otises, however, were deceived, for the ghost was still in the house, an_hough now almost an invalid, was by no means ready to let matters rest,
particularly as he heard that among the guests was the young Duke of Cheshire,
whose grand-uncle, Lord Francis Stilton, had once bet a hundred guineas wit_olonel Carbury that he would play dice with the Canterville ghost, and wa_ound the next morning lying on the floor of the card-room in such a helples_aralytic state, that though he lived on to a great age, he was never able t_ay anything again but ‘Double Sixes.’ The story was well known at the time,
though, of course, out of respect to the feelings of the two noble families,
every attempt was made to hush it up; and a full account of all th_ircumstances connected with it will be found in the third volume of Lor_attle’s Recollections of the Prince Regent and his Friends. The ghost, then,
was naturally very anxious to show that he had not lost his influence over th_tiltons, with whom, indeed, he was distantly connected, his own first cousi_aving been married en secondes noces to the Sieur de Bulkeley, from whom, a_very one knows, the Dukes of Cheshire are lineally descended. Accordingly, h_ade arrangements for appearing to Virginia’s little lover in his celebrate_mpersonation of ‘The Vampire Monk, or, the Bloodless Benedictine,’ _erformance so horrible that when old Lady Startup saw it, which she did o_ne fatal New Year’s Eve, in the year 1764, she went off into the mos_iercing shrieks, which culminated in violent apoplexy, and died in thre_ays, after disinheriting the Cantervilles, who were her nearest relations,
and leaving all her money to her London apothecary. At the last moment,
however, his terror of the twins prevented his leaving his room, and th_ittle Duke slept in peace under the great feathered canopy in the Roya_edchamber, and dreamed of Virginia.