Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories
Ambrose Bierce



The Ways of Ghosts
Present at a Hanging
A Cold Greeting
A Wireless Message
An Arrest
A Man with Two Lives
Three and One are One
A Baffled Ambuscade
Two Military Executions
Some Haunted Houses
The Isle of Pines
A Fruitless Assignment
A Vine on a House
At Old Man Eckert's
The Spook House
The Other Lodgers
The Thing at Nolan
The Difficulty of Crossing a Field
An Unfinished Race
Charles Ashmore's Trail
Science to the Front


My peculiar relation to the writer of the following narratives is
such that I must ask the reader to overlook the absence of
explanation as to how they came into my possession. Withal, my
knowledge of him is so meager that I should rather not undertake to
say if he were himself persuaded of the truth of what he relates;
certainly such inquiries as I have thought it worth while to set
about have not in every instance tended to confirmation of the
statements made. Yet his style, for the most part devoid alike of
artifice and art, almost baldly simple and direct, seems hardly
compatible with the disingenuousness of a merely literary intention;
one would call it the manner of one more concerned for the fruits of
research than for the flowers of expression. In transcribing his
notes and fortifying their claim to attention by giving them
something of an orderly arrangement, I have conscientiously
refrained from embellishing them with such small ornaments of
diction as I may have felt myself able to bestow, which would not
only have been impertinent, even if pleasing, but would have given
me a somewhat closer relation to the work than I should care to have
and to avow.--A. B.


An old man named Daniel Baker, living near Lebanon, Iowa, was
suspected by his neighbors of having murdered a peddler who had
obtained permission to pass the night at his house. This was in
1853, when peddling was more common in the Western country than it
is now, and was attended with considerable danger. The peddler with
his pack traversed the country by all manner of lonely roads, and
was compelled to rely upon the country people for hospitality. This
brought him into relation with queer characters, some of whom were
not altogether scrupulous in their methods of making a living,
murder being an acceptable means to that end. It occasionally
occurred that a peddler with diminished pack and swollen purse would
be traced to the lonely dwelling of some rough character and never
could be traced beyond. This was so in the case of "old man Baker,"
as he was always called. (Such names are given in the western
"settlements" only to elderly persons who are not esteemed; to the
general disrepute of social unworth is affixed the special reproach
of age.) A peddler came to his house and none went away--that is
all that anybody knew.

Seven years later the Rev. Mr. Cummings, a Baptist minister well
known in that part of the country, was driving by Baker's farm one
night. It was not very dark: there was a bit of moon somewhere
above the light veil of mist that lay along the earth. Mr.
Cummings, who was at all times a cheerful person, was whistling a
tune, which he would occasionally interrupt to speak a word of
friendly encouragement to his horse. As he came to a little bridge
across a dry ravine he saw the figure of a man standing upon it,
clearly outlined against the gray background of a misty forest. The
man had something strapped on his back and carried a heavy stick--
obviously an itinerant peddler. His attitude had in it a suggestion
of abstraction, like that of a sleepwalker. Mr. Cummings reined in
his horse when he arrived in front of him, gave him a pleasant
salutation and invited him to a seat in the vehicle--"if you are
going my way," he added. The man raised his head, looked him full
in the face, but neither answered nor made any further movement.
The minister, with good-natured persistence, repeated his
invitation. At this the man threw his right hand forward from his
side and pointed downward as he stood on the extreme edge of the
bridge. Mr. Cummings looked past him, over into the ravine, saw
nothing unusual and withdrew his eyes to address the man again. He
had disappeared. The horse, which all this time had been uncommonly
restless, gave at the same moment a snort of terror and started to
run away. Before he had regained control of the animal the minister
was at the crest of the hill a hundred yards along. He looked back
and saw the figure again, at the same place and in the same attitude
as when he had first observed it. Then for the first time he was
conscious of a sense of the supernatural and drove home as rapidly
as his willing horse would go.

On arriving at home he related his adventure to his family, and
early the next morning, accompanied by two neighbors, John White
Corwell and Abner Raiser, returned to the spot. They found the body
of old man Baker hanging by the neck from one of the beams of the
bridge, immediately beneath the spot where the apparition had stood.
A thick coating of dust, slightly dampened by the mist, covered the
floor of the bridge, but the only footprints were those of Mr.
Cummings' horse.

In taking down the body the men disturbed the loose, friable earth
of the slope below it, disclosing human bones already nearly
uncovered by the action of water and frost. They were identified as
those of the lost peddler. At the double inquest the coroner's jury
found that Daniel Baker died by his own hand while suffering from
temporary insanity, and that Samuel Morritz was murdered by some
person or persons to the jury unknown.


This is a story told by the late Benson Foley of San Francisco:

"In the summer of 1881 I met a man named James H. Conway, a resident
of Franklin, Tennessee. He was visiting San Francisco for his
health, deluded man, and brought me a note of introduction from Mr.
Lawrence Barting. I had known Barting as a captain in the Federal
army during the civil war. At its close he had settled in Franklin,
and in time became, I had reason to think, somewhat prominent as a
lawyer. Barting had always seemed to me an honorable and truthful
man, and the warm friendship which he expressed in his note for Mr.
Conway was to me sufficient evidence that the latter was in every
way worthy of my confidence and esteem. At dinner one day Conway
told me that it had been solemnly agreed between him and Barting
that the one who died first should, if possible, communicate with
the other from beyond the grave, in some unmistakable way--just how,
they had left (wisely, it seemed to me) to be decided by the
deceased, according to the opportunities that his altered
circumstances might present.

"A few weeks after the conversation in which Mr. Conway spoke of
this agreement, I met him one day, walking slowly down Montgomery
street, apparently, from his abstracted air, in deep thought. He
greeted me coldly with merely a movement of the head and passed on,
leaving me standing on the walk, with half-proffered hand, surprised
and naturally somewhat piqued. The next day I met him again in the
office of the Palace Hotel, and seeing him about to repeat the
disagreeable performance of the day before, intercepted him in a
doorway, with a friendly salutation, and bluntly requested an
explanation of his altered manner. He hesitated a moment; then,
looking me frankly in the eyes, said:

"'I do not think, Mr. Foley, that I have any longer a claim to your
friendship, since Mr. Barting appears to have withdrawn his own from
me--for what reason, I protest I do not know. If he has not already
informed you he probably will do so.'

"'But,' I replied, 'I have not heard from Mr. Barting.'

"'Heard from him!' he repeated, with apparent surprise. 'Why, he is
here. I met him yesterday ten minutes before meeting you. I gave
you exactly the same greeting that he gave me. I met him again not
a quarter of an hour ago, and his manner was precisely the same: he
merely bowed and passed on. I shall not soon forget your civility
to me. Good morning, or--as it may please you--farewell.'

"All this seemed to me singularly considerate and delicate behavior
on the part of Mr. Conway.

"As dramatic situations and literary effects are foreign to my
purpose I will explain at once that Mr. Barting was dead. He had
died in Nashville four days before this conversation. Calling on
Mr. Conway, I apprised him of our friend's death, showing him the
letters announcing it. He was visibly affected in a way that
forbade me to entertain a doubt of his sincerity.

"'It seems incredible,' he said, after a period of reflection. 'I
suppose I must have mistaken another man for Barting, and that man's
cold greeting was merely a stranger's civil acknowledgment of my
own. I remember, indeed, that he lacked Barting's mustache.'

"'Doubtless it was another man,' I assented; and the subject was
never afterward mentioned between us. But I had in my pocket a
photograph of Barting, which had been inclosed in the letter from
his widow. It had been taken a week before his death, and was
without a mustache."


In the summer of 1896 Mr. William Holt, a wealthy manufacturer of
Chicago, was living temporarily in a little town of central New
York, the name of which the writer's memory has not retained. Mr.
Holt had had "trouble with his wife," from whom he had parted a year
before. Whether the trouble was anything more serious than
"incompatibility of temper," he is probably the only living person
that knows: he is not addicted to the vice of confidences. Yet he
has related the incident herein set down to at least one person
without exacting a pledge of secrecy. He is now living in Europe.

One evening he had left the house of a brother whom he was visiting,
for a stroll in the country. It may be assumed--whatever the value
of the assumption in connection with what is said to have occurred--
that his mind was occupied with reflections on his domestic
infelicities and the distressing changes that they had wrought in
his life.

Whatever may have been his thoughts, they so possessed him that he
observed neither the lapse of time nor whither his feet were
carrying him; he knew only that he had passed far beyond the town
limits and was traversing a lonely region by a road that bore no
resemblance to the one by which he had left the village. In brief,
he was "lost."

Realizing his mischance, he smiled; central New York is not a region
of perils, nor does one long remain lost in it. He turned about and
went back the way that he had come. Before he had gone far he
observed that the landscape was growing more distinct--was
brightening. Everything was suffused with a soft, red glow in which
he saw his shadow projected in the road before him. "The moon is
rising," he said to himself. Then he remembered that it was about
the time of the new moon, and if that tricksy orb was in one of its
stages of visibility it had set long before. He stopped and faced
about, seeking the source of the rapidly broadening light. As he
did so, his shadow turned and lay along the road in front of him as
before. The light still came from behind him. That was surprising;
he could not understand. Again he turned, and again, facing
successively to every point of the horizon. Always the shadow was
before--always the light behind, "a still and awful red."

Holt was astonished--"dumfounded" is the word that he used in
telling it--yet seems to have retained a certain intelligent
curiosity. To test the intensity of the light whose nature and
cause he could not determine, he took out his watch to see if he
could make out the figures on the dial. They were plainly visible,
and the hands indicated the hour of eleven o'clock and twenty-five
minutes. At that moment the mysterious illumination suddenly flared
to an intense, an almost blinding splendor, flushing the entire sky,
extinguishing the stars and throwing the monstrous shadow of himself
athwart the landscape. In that unearthly illumination he saw near
him, but apparently in the air at a considerable elevation, the
figure of his wife, clad in her night-clothing and holding to her
breast the figure of his child. Her eyes were fixed upon his with
an expression which he afterward professed himself unable to name or
describe, further than that it was "not of this life."

The flare was momentary, followed by black darkness, in which,
however, the apparition still showed white and motionless; then by
insensible degrees it faded and vanished, like a bright image on the
retina after the closing of the eyes. A peculiarity of the
apparition, hardly noted at the time, but afterward recalled, was
that it showed only the upper half of the woman's figure: nothing
was seen below the waist.

The sudden darkness was comparative, not absolute, for gradually all
objects of his environment became again visible.

In the dawn of the morning Holt found himself entering the village
at a point opposite to that at which he had left it. He soon
arrived at the house of his brother, who hardly knew him. He was
wild-eyed, haggard, and gray as a rat. Almost incoherently, he
related his night's experience.

"Go to bed, my poor fellow," said his brother, "and--wait. We shall
hear more of this."

An hour later came the predestined telegram. Holt's dwelling in one
of the suburbs of Chicago had been destroyed by fire. Her escape
cut off by the flames, his wife had appeared at an upper window, her
child in her arms. There she had stood, motionless, apparently
dazed. Just as the firemen had arrived with a ladder, the floor had
given way, and she was seen no more.

The moment of this culminating horror was eleven o'clock and twenty-
five minutes, standard time.


Having murdered his brother-in-law, Orrin Brower of Kentucky was a
fugitive from justice. From the county jail where he had been
confined to await his trial he had escaped by knocking down his
jailer with an iron bar, robbing him of his keys and, opening the
outer door, walking out into the night. The jailer being unarmed,
Brower got no weapon with which to defend his recovered liberty. As
soon as he was out of the town he had the folly to enter a forest;
this was many years ago, when that region was wilder than it is now.

The night was pretty dark, with neither moon nor stars visible, and
as Brower had never dwelt thereabout, and knew nothing of the lay of
the land, he was, naturally, not long in losing himself. He could
not have said if he were getting farther away from the town or going
back to it--a most important matter to Orrin Brower. He knew that
in either case a posse of citizens with a pack of bloodhounds would
soon be on his track and his chance of escape was very slender; but
he did not wish to assist in his own pursuit. Even an added hour of
freedom was worth having.

Suddenly he emerged from the forest into an old road, and there
before him saw, indistinctly, the figure of a man, motionless in the
gloom. It was too late to retreat: the fugitive felt that at the
first movement back toward the wood he would be, as he afterward
explained, "filled with buckshot." So the two stood there like
trees, Brower nearly suffocated by the activity of his own heart;
the other--the emotions of the other are not recorded.

A moment later--it may have been an hour--the moon sailed into a
patch of unclouded sky and the hunted man saw that visible
embodiment of Law lift an arm and point significantly toward and
beyond him. He understood. Turning his back to his captor, he
walked submissively away in the direction indicated, looking to
neither the right nor the left; hardly daring to breathe, his head
and back actually aching with a prophecy of buckshot.

Brower was as courageous a criminal as ever lived to be hanged; that
was shown by the conditions of awful personal peril in which he had
coolly killed his brother-in-law. It is needless to relate them
here; they came out at his trial, and the revelation of his calmness
in confronting them came near to saving his neck. But what would
you have?--when a brave man is beaten, he submits.

So they pursued their journey jailward along the old road through
the woods. Only once did Brower venture a turn of the head: just
once, when he was in deep shadow and he knew that the other was in
moonlight, he looked backward. His captor was Burton Duff, the
jailer, as white as death and bearing upon his brow the livid mark
of the iron bar. Orrin Brower had no further curiosity.

Eventually they entered the town, which was all alight, but
deserted; only the women and children remained, and they were off
the streets. Straight toward the jail the criminal held his way.
Straight up to the main entrance he walked, laid his hand upon the
knob of the heavy iron door, pushed it open without command, entered
and found himself in the presence of a half-dozen armed men. Then
he turned. Nobody else entered.

On a table in the corridor lay the dead body of Burton Duff.



Here is the queer story of David William Duck, related by himself.
Duck is an old man living in Aurora, Illinois, where he is
universally respected. He is commonly known, however, as "Dead

"In the autumn of 1866 I was a private soldier of the Eighteenth
Infantry. My company was one of those stationed at Fort Phil
Kearney, commanded by Colonel Carrington. The country is more or
less familiar with the history of that garrison, particularly with
the slaughter by the Sioux of a detachment of eighty-one men and
officers--not one escaping--through disobedience of orders by its
commander, the brave but reckless Captain Fetterman. When that
occurred, I was trying to make my way with important dispatches to
Fort C. F. Smith, on the Big Horn. As the country swarmed with
hostile Indians, I traveled by night and concealed myself as best I
could before daybreak. The better to do so, I went afoot, armed
with a Henry rifle and carrying three days' rations in my haversack.

"For my second place of concealment I chose what seemed in the
darkness a narrow canon leading through a range of rocky hills. It
contained many large bowlders, detached from the slopes of the
hills. Behind one of these, in a clump of sage-brush, I made my bed
for the day, and soon fell asleep. It seemed as if I had hardly
closed my eyes, though in fact it was near midday, when I was
awakened by the report of a rifle, the bullet striking the bowlder
just above my body. A band of Indians had trailed me and had me
nearly surrounded; the shot had been fired with an execrable aim by
a fellow who had caught sight of me from the hillside above. The
smoke of his rifle betrayed him, and I was no sooner on my feet than
he was off his and rolling down the declivity. Then I ran in a
stooping posture, dodging among the clumps of sage-brush in a storm
of bullets from invisible enemies. The rascals did not rise and
pursue, which I thought rather queer, for they must have known by my
trail that they had to deal with only one man. The reason for their
inaction was soon made clear. I had not gone a hundred yards before
I reached the limit of my run--the head of the gulch which I had
mistaken for a canon. It terminated in a concave breast of rock,
nearly vertical and destitute of vegetation. In that cul-de-sac I
was caught like a bear in a pen. Pursuit was needless; they had
only to wait.

"They waited. For two days and nights, crouching behind a rock
topped with a growth of mesquite, and with the cliff at my back,
suffering agonies of thirst and absolutely hopeless of deliverance,
I fought the fellows at long range, firing occasionally at the smoke
of their rifles, as they did at that of mine. Of course, I did not
dare to close my eyes at night, and lack of sleep was a keen

"I remember the morning of the third day, which I knew was to be my
last. I remember, rather indistinctly, that in my desperation and
delirium I sprang out into the open and began firing my repeating
rifle without seeing anybody to fire at. And I remember no more of
that fight.

"The next thing that I recollect was my pulling myself out of a
river just at nightfall. I had not a rag of clothing and knew
nothing of my whereabouts, but all that night I traveled, cold and
footsore, toward the north. At daybreak I found myself at Fort C.
F. Smith, my destination, but without my dispatches. The first man
that I met was a sergeant named William Briscoe, whom I knew very
well. You can fancy his astonishment at seeing me in that
condition, and my own at his asking who the devil I was.

"'Dave Duck,' I answered; 'who should I be?'

"He stared like an owl.

"'You do look it,' he said, and I observed that he drew a little
away from me. 'What's up?' he added.

"I told him what had happened to me the day before. He heard me
through, still staring; then he said:

"'My dear fellow, if you are Dave Duck I ought to inform you that I
buried you two months ago. I was out with a small scouting party
and found your body, full of bullet-holes and newly scalped--
somewhat mutilated otherwise, too, I am sorry to say--right where
you say you made your fight. Come to my tent and I'll show you your
clothing and some letters that I took from your person; the
commandant has your dispatches.'

"He performed that promise. He showed me the clothing, which I
resolutely put on; the letters, which I put into my pocket. He made
no objection, then took me to the commandant, who heard my story and
coldly ordered Briscoe to take me to the guardhouse. On the way I

"'Bill Briscoe, did you really and truly bury the dead body that you
found in these togs?'

"'Sure,' he answered--'just as I told you. It was Dave Duck, all
right; most of us knew him. And now, you damned impostor, you'd
better tell me who you are.'

"'I'd give something to know,' I said.

"A week later, I escaped from the guardhouse and got out of the
country as fast as I could. Twice I have been back, seeking for
that fateful spot in the hills, but unable to find it."


In the year 1861 Barr Lassiter, a young man of twenty-two, lived
with his parents and an elder sister near Carthage, Tennessee. The
family were in somewhat humble circumstances, subsisting by
cultivation of a small and not very fertile plantation. Owning no
slaves, they were not rated among "the best people" of their
neighborhood; but they were honest persons of good education, fairly
well mannered and as respectable as any family could be if
uncredentialed by personal dominion over the sons and daughters of
Ham. The elder Lassiter had that severity of manner that so
frequently affirms an uncompromising devotion to duty, and conceals
a warm and affectionate disposition. He was of the iron of which
martyrs are made, but in the heart of the matrix had lurked a nobler
metal, fusible at a milder heat, yet never coloring nor softening
the hard exterior. By both heredity and environment something of
the man's inflexible character had touched the other members of the
family; the Lassiter home, though not devoid of domestic affection,
was a veritable citadel of duty, and duty--ah, duty is as cruel as

When the war came on it found in the family, as in so many others in
that State, a divided sentiment; the young man was loyal to the
Union, the others savagely hostile. This unhappy division begot an
insupportable domestic bitterness, and when the offending son and
brother left home with the avowed purpose of joining the Federal
army not a hand was laid in his, not a word of farewell was spoken,
not a good wish followed him out into the world whither he went to
meet with such spirit as he might whatever fate awaited him.

Making his way to Nashville, already occupied by the Army of General
Buell, he enlisted in the first organization that he found, a
Kentucky regiment of cavalry, and in due time passed through all the
stages of military evolution from raw recruit to experienced
trooper. A right good trooper he was, too, although in his oral
narrative from which this tale is made there was no mention of that;
the fact was learned from his surviving comrades. For Barr Lassiter
has answered "Here" to the sergeant whose name is Death.

Two years after he had joined it his regiment passed through the
region whence he had come. The country thereabout had suffered
severely from the ravages of war, having been occupied alternately
(and simultaneously) by the belligerent forces, and a sanguinary
struggle had occurred in the immediate vicinity of the Lassiter
homestead. But of this the young trooper was not aware.

Finding himself in camp near his home, he felt a natural longing to
see his parents and sister, hoping that in them, as in him, the
unnatural animosities of the period had been softened by time and
separation. Obtaining a leave of absence, he set foot in the late
summer afternoon, and soon after the rising of the full moon was
walking up the gravel path leading to the dwelling in which he had
been born.

Soldiers in war age rapidly, and in youth two years are a long time.
Barr Lassiter felt himself an old man, and had almost expected to
find the place a ruin and a desolation. Nothing, apparently, was
changed. At the sight of each dear and familiar object he was
profoundly affected. His heart beat audibly, his emotion nearly
suffocated him; an ache was in his throat. Unconsciously he
quickened his pace until he almost ran, his long shadow making
grotesque efforts to keep its place beside him.

The house was unlighted, the door open. As he approached and paused
to recover control of himself his father came out and stood bare-
headed in the moonlight.

"Father!" cried the young man, springing forward with outstretched

The elder man looked him sternly in the face, stood a moment
motionless and without a word withdrew into the house. Bitterly
disappointed, humiliated, inexpressibly hurt and altogether
unnerved, the soldier dropped upon a rustic seat in deep dejection,
supporting his head upon his trembling hand. But he would not have
it so: he was too good a soldier to accept repulse as defeat. He
rose and entered the house, passing directly to the "sitting-room."

It was dimly lighted by an uncurtained east window. On a low stool
by the hearthside, the only article of furniture in the place, sat
his mother, staring into a fireplace strewn with blackened embers
and cold ashes. He spoke to her--tenderly, interrogatively, and
with hesitation, but she neither answered, nor moved, nor seemed in
any way surprised. True, there had been time for her husband to
apprise her of their guilty son's return. He moved nearer and was
about to lay his hand upon her arm, when his sister entered from an
adjoining room, looked him full in the face, passed him without a
sign of recognition and left the room by a door that was partly
behind him. He had turned his head to watch her, but when she was
gone his eyes again sought his mother. She too had left the place.

Barr Lassiter strode to the door by which he had entered. The
moonlight on the lawn was tremulous, as if the sward were a rippling
sea. The trees and their black shadows shook as in a breeze.
Blended with its borders, the gravel walk seemed unsteady and
insecure to step on. This young soldier knew the optical illusions
produced by tears. He felt them on his cheek, and saw them sparkle
on the breast of his trooper's jacket. He left the house and made
his way back to camp.

The next day, with no very definite intention, with no dominant
feeling that he could rightly have named, he again sought the spot.
Within a half-mile of it he met Bushrod Albro, a former playfellow
and schoolmate, who greeted him warmly.

"I am going to visit my home," said the soldier.

The other looked at him rather sharply, but said nothing.

"I know," continued Lassiter, "that my folks have not changed, but--

"There have been changes," Albro interrupted--"everything changes.
I'll go with you if you don't mind. We can talk as we go."

But Albro did not talk.

Instead of a house they found only fire-blackened foundations of
stone, enclosing an area of compact ashes pitted by rains.

Lassiter's astonishment was extreme.

"I could not find the right way to tell you," said Albro. "In the
fight a year ago your house was burned by a Federal shell."

"And my family--where are they?"

"In Heaven, I hope. All were killed by the shell."


Connecting Readyville and Woodbury was a good, hard turnpike nine or
ten miles long. Readyville was an outpost of the Federal army at
Murfreesboro; Woodbury had the same relation to the Confederate army
at Tullahoma. For months after the big battle at Stone River these
outposts were in constant quarrel, most of the trouble occurring,
naturally, on the turnpike mentioned, between detachments of
cavalry. Sometimes the infantry and artillery took a hand in the
game by way of showing their good-will.

One night a squadron of Federal horse commanded by Major Seidel, a
gallant and skillful officer, moved out from Readyville on an
uncommonly hazardous enterprise requiring secrecy, caution and

Passing the infantry pickets, the detachment soon afterward
approached two cavalry videttes staring hard into the darkness
ahead. There should have been three.

"Where is your other man?" said the major. "I ordered Dunning to be
here to-night."

"He rode forward, sir," the man replied. "There was a little firing
afterward, but it was a long way to the front."

"It was against orders and against sense for Dunning to do that,"
said the officer, obviously vexed. "Why did he ride forward?"

"Don't know, sir; he seemed mighty restless. Guess he was skeered."

When this remarkable reasoner and his companion had been absorbed
into the expeditionary force, it resumed its advance. Conversation
was forbidden; arms and accouterments were denied the right to
rattle. The horses' tramping was all that could be heard and the
movement was slow in order to have as little as possible of that.
It was after midnight and pretty dark, although there was a bit of
moon somewhere behind the masses of cloud.

Two or three miles along, the head of the column approached a dense
forest of cedars bordering the road on both sides. The major
commanded a halt by merely halting, and, evidently himself a bit
"skeered," rode on alone to reconnoiter. He was followed, however,
by his adjutant and three troopers, who remained a little distance
behind and, unseen by him, saw all that occurred.

After riding about a hundred yards toward the forest, the major
suddenly and sharply reined in his horse and sat motionless in the
saddle. Near the side of the road, in a little open space and
hardly ten paces away, stood the figure of a man, dimly visible and
as motionless as he. The major's first feeling was that of
satisfaction in having left his cavalcade behind; if this were an
enemy and should escape he would have little to report. The
expedition was as yet undetected.

Some dark object was dimly discernible at the man's feet; the
officer could not make it out. With the instinct of the true
cavalryman and a particular indisposition to the discharge of
firearms, he drew his saber. The man on foot made no movement in
answer to the challenge. The situation was tense and a bit
dramatic. Suddenly the moon burst through a rift in the clouds and,
himself in the shadow of a group of great oaks, the horseman saw the
footman clearly, in a patch of white light. It was Trooper Dunning,
unarmed and bareheaded. The object at his feet resolved itself into
a dead horse, and at a right angle across the animal's neck lay a
dead man, face upward in the moonlight.

"Dunning has had the fight of his life," thought the major, and was
about to ride forward. Dunning raised his hand, motioning him back
with a gesture of warning; then, lowering the arm, he pointed to the
place where the road lost itself in the blackness of the cedar

The major understood, and turning his horse rode back to the little
group that had followed him and was already moving to the rear in
fear of his displeasure, and so returned to the head of his command.

"Dunning is just ahead there," he said to the captain of his leading
company. "He has killed his man and will have something to report."

Right patiently they waited, sabers drawn, but Dunning did not come.
In an hour the day broke and the whole force moved cautiously
forward, its commander not altogether satisfied with his faith in
Private Dunning. The expedition had failed, but something remained
to be done.

In the little open space off the road they found the fallen horse.
At a right angle across the animal's neck face upward, a bullet in
the brain, lay the body of Trooper Dunning, stiff as a statue, hours

Examination disclosed abundant evidence that within a half-hour the
cedar forest had been occupied by a strong force of Confederate
infantry--an ambuscade.


In the spring of the year 1862 General Buell's big army lay in camp,
licking itself into shape for the campaign which resulted in the
victory at Shiloh. It was a raw, untrained army, although some of
its fractions had seen hard enough service, with a good deal of
fighting, in the mountains of Western Virginia, and in Kentucky.
The war was young and soldiering a new industry, imperfectly
understood by the young American of the period, who found some
features of it not altogether to his liking. Chief among these was
that essential part of discipline, subordination. To one imbued
from infancy with the fascinating fallacy that all men are born
equal, unquestioning submission to authority is not easily mastered,
and the American volunteer soldier in his "green and salad days" is
among the worst known. That is how it happened that one of Buell's
men, Private Bennett Story Greene, committed the indiscretion of
striking his officer. Later in the war he would not have done that;
like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, he would have "seen him damned" first.
But time for reformation of his military manners was denied him: he
was promptly arrested on complaint of the officer, tried by court-
martial and sentenced to be shot.

"You might have thrashed me and let it go at that," said the
condemned man to the complaining witness; "that is what you used to
do at school, when you were plain Will Dudley and I was as good as
you. Nobody saw me strike you; discipline would not have suffered

"Ben Greene, I guess you are right about that," said the lieutenant.
"Will you forgive me? That is what I came to see you about."

There was no reply, and an officer putting his head in at the door
of the guard-tent where the conversation had occurred, explained
that the time allowed for the interview had expired. The next
morning, when in the presence of the whole brigade Private Greene
was shot to death by a squad of his comrades, Lieutenant Dudley
turned his back upon the sorry performance and muttered a prayer for
mercy, in which himself was included.

A few weeks afterward, as Buell's leading division was being ferried
over the Tennessee River to assist in succoring Grant's beaten army,
night was coming on, black and stormy. Through the wreck of battle
the division moved, inch by inch, in the direction of the enemy, who
had withdrawn a little to reform his lines. But for the lightning
the darkness was absolute. Never for a moment did it cease, and
ever when the thunder did not crack and roar were heard the moans of
the wounded among whom the men felt their way with their feet, and
upon whom they stumbled in the gloom. The dead were there, too--
there were dead a-plenty.

In the first faint gray of the morning, when the swarming advance
had paused to resume something of definition as a line of battle,
and skirmishers had been thrown forward, word was passed along to
call the roll. The first sergeant of Lieutenant Dudley's company
stepped to the front and began to name the men in alphabetical
order. He had no written roll, but a good memory. The men answered
to their names as he ran down the alphabet to G.





The sergeant's good memory was affected by habit:



The response was clear, distinct, unmistakable!

A sudden movement, an agitation of the entire company front, as from
an electric shock, attested the startling character of the incident.
The sergeant paled and paused. The captain strode quickly to his
side and said sharply:

"Call that name again."

Apparently the Society for Psychical Research is not first in the
field of curiosity concerning the Unknown.

"Bennett Greene."


All faces turned in the direction of the familiar voice; the two men
between whom in the order of stature Greene had commonly stood in
line turned and squarely confronted each other.

"Once more," commanded the inexorable investigator, and once more
came--a trifle tremulously--the name of the dead man:

"Bennett Story Greene."


At that instant a single rifle-shot was heard, away to the front,
beyond the skirmish-line, followed, almost attended, by the savage
hiss of an approaching bullet which passing through the line, struck
audibly, punctuating as with a full stop the captain's exclamation,
"What the devil does it mean?"

Lieutenant Dudley pushed through the ranks from his place in the

"It means this," he said, throwing open his coat and displaying a
visibly broadening stain of crimson on his breast. His knees gave
way; he fell awkwardly and lay dead.

A little later the regiment was ordered out of line to relieve the
congested front, and through some misplay in the game of battle was
not again under fire. Nor did Bennett Greene, expert in military
executions, ever again signify his presence at one.



For many years there lived near the town of Gallipolis, Ohio, an old
man named Herman Deluse. Very little was known of his history, for
he would neither speak of it himself nor suffer others. It was a
common belief among his neighbors that he had been a pirate--if upon
any better evidence than his collection of boarding pikes,
cutlasses, and ancient flintlock pistols, no one knew. He lived
entirely alone in a small house of four rooms, falling rapidly into
decay and never repaired further than was required by the weather.
It stood on a slight elevation in the midst of a large, stony field
overgrown with brambles, and cultivated in patches and only in the
most primitive way. It was his only visible property, but could
hardly have yielded him a living, simple and few as were his wants.
He seemed always to have ready money, and paid cash for all his
purchases at the village stores roundabout, seldom buying more than
two or three times at the same place until after the lapse of a
considerable time. He got no commendation, however, for this
equitable distribution of his patronage; people were disposed to
regard it as an ineffectual attempt to conceal his possession of so
much money. That he had great hoards of ill-gotten gold buried
somewhere about his tumble-down dwelling was not reasonably to be
doubted by any honest soul conversant with the facts of local
tradition and gifted with a sense of the fitness of things.

On the 9th of November, 1867, the old man died; at least his dead
body was discovered on the 10th, and physicians testified that death
had occurred about twenty-four hours previously--precisely how, they
were unable to say; for the post-mortem examination showed every
organ to be absolutely healthy, with no indication of disorder or
violence. According to them, death must have taken place about
noonday, yet the body was found in bed. The verdict of the
coroner's jury was that he "came to his death by a visitation of
God." The body was buried and the public administrator took charge
of the estate.

A rigorous search disclosed nothing more than was already known
about the dead man, and much patient excavation here and there about
the premises by thoughtful and thrifty neighbors went unrewarded.
The administrator locked up the house against the time when the
property, real and personal, should be sold by law with a view to
defraying, partly, the expenses of the sale.

The night of November 20 was boisterous. A furious gale stormed
across the country, scourging it with desolating drifts of sleet.
Great trees were torn from the earth and hurled across the roads.
So wild a night had never been known in all that region, but toward
morning the storm had blown itself out of breath and day dawned
bright and clear. At about eight o'clock that morning the Rev.
Henry Galbraith, a well-known and highly esteemed Lutheran minister,
arrived on foot at his house, a mile and a half from the Deluse
place. Mr. Galbraith had been for a month in Cincinnati. He had
come up the river in a steamboat, and landing at Gallipolis the
previous evening had immediately obtained a horse and buggy and set
out for home. The violence of the storm had delayed him over night,
and in the morning the fallen trees had compelled him to abandon his
conveyance and continue his journey afoot.

"But where did you pass the night?" inquired his wife, after he had
briefly related his adventure.

"With old Deluse at the 'Isle of Pines,'" {1} was the laughing
reply; "and a glum enough time I had of it. He made no objection to
my remaining, but not a word could I get out of him."

Fortunately for the interests of truth there was present at this
conversation Mr. Robert Mosely Maren, a lawyer and litterateur of
Columbus, the same who wrote the delightful "Mellowcraft Papers."
Noting, but apparently not sharing, the astonishment caused by Mr.
Galbraith's answer this ready-witted person checked by a gesture the
exclamations that would naturally have followed, and tranquilly
inquired: "How came you to go in there?"

This is Mr. Maren's version of Mr. Galbraith's reply:

"I saw a light moving about the house, and being nearly blinded by
the sleet, and half frozen besides, drove in at the gate and put up
my horse in the old rail stable, where it is now. I then rapped at
the door, and getting no invitation went in without one. The room
was dark, but having matches I found a candle and lit it. I tried
to enter the adjoining room, but the door was fast, and although I
heard the old man's heavy footsteps in there he made no response to
my calls. There was no fire on the hearth, so I made one and laying
[sic] down before it with my overcoat under my head, prepared myself
for sleep. Pretty soon the door that I had tried silently opened
and the old man came in, carrying a candle. I spoke to him
pleasantly, apologizing for my intrusion, but he took no notice of
me. He seemed to be searching for something, though his eyes were
unmoved in their sockets. I wonder if he ever walks in his sleep.
He took a circuit a part of the way round the room, and went out the
same way he had come in. Twice more before I slept he came back
into the room, acting precisely the same way, and departing as at
first. In the intervals I heard him tramping all over the house,
his footsteps distinctly audible in the pauses of the storm. When I
woke in the morning he had already gone out."

Mr. Maren attempted some further questioning, but was unable longer
to restrain the family's tongues; the story of Deluse's death and
burial came out, greatly to the good minister's astonishment.

"The explanation of your adventure is very simple," said Mr. Maren.
"I don't believe old Deluse walks in his sleep--not in his present
one; but you evidently dream in yours."

And to this view of the matter Mr. Galbraith was compelled
reluctantly to assent.

Nevertheless, a late hour of the next night found these two
gentlemen, accompanied by a son of the minister, in the road in
front of the old Deluse house. There was a light inside; it
appeared now at one window and now at another. The three men
advanced to the door. Just as they reached it there came from the
interior a confusion of the most appalling sounds--the clash of
weapons, steel against steel, sharp explosions as of firearms,
shrieks of women, groans and the curses of men in combat! The
investigators stood a moment, irresolute, frightened. Then Mr.
Galbraith tried the door. It was fast. But the minister was a man
of courage, a man, moreover, of Herculean strength. He retired a
pace or two and rushed against the door, striking it with his right
shoulder and bursting it from the frame with a loud crash. In a
moment the three were inside. Darkness and silence! The only sound
was the beating of their hearts.

Mr. Maren had provided himself with matches and a candle. With some
difficulty, begotten of his excitement, he made a light, and they
proceeded to explore the place, passing from room to room.
Everything was in orderly arrangement, as it had been left by the
sheriff; nothing had been disturbed. A light coating of dust was
everywhere. A back door was partly open, as if by neglect, and
their first thought was that the authors of the awful revelry might
have escaped. The door was opened, and the light of the candle
shone through upon the ground. The expiring effort of the previous
night's storm had been a light fall of snow; there were no
footprints; the white surface was unbroken. They closed the door
and entered the last room of the four that the house contained--that
farthest from the road, in an angle of the building. Here the
candle in Mr. Maren's hand was suddenly extinguished as by a draught
of air. Almost immediately followed the sound of a heavy fall.
When the candle had been hastily relighted young Mr. Galbraith was
seen prostrate on the floor at a little distance from the others.
He was dead. In one hand the body grasped a heavy sack of coins,
which later examination showed to be all of old Spanish mintage.
Directly over the body as it lay, a board had been torn from its
fastenings in the wall, and from the cavity so disclosed it was
evident that the bag had been taken.

Another inquest was held: another post-mortem examination failed to
reveal a probable cause of death. Another verdict of "the
visitation of God" left all at liberty to form their own
conclusions. Mr. Maren contended that the young man died of


Henry Saylor, who was killed in Covington, in a quarrel with Antonio
Finch, was a reporter on the Cincinnati Commercial. In the year
1859 a vacant dwelling in Vine street, in Cincinnati, became the
center of a local excitement because of the strange sights and
sounds said to be observed in it nightly. According to the
testimony of many reputable residents of the vicinity these were
inconsistent with any other hypothesis than that the house was
haunted. Figures with something singularly unfamiliar about them
were seen by crowds on the sidewalk to pass in and out. No one
could say just where they appeared upon the open lawn on their way
to the front door by which they entered, nor at exactly what point
they vanished as they came out; or, rather, while each spectator was
positive enough about these matters, no two agreed. They were all
similarly at variance in their descriptions of the figures
themselves. Some of the bolder of the curious throng ventured on
several evenings to stand upon the doorsteps to intercept them, or
failing in this, get a nearer look at them. These courageous men,
it was said, were unable to force the door by their united strength,
and always were hurled from the steps by some invisible agency and
severely injured; the door immediately afterward opening, apparently
of its own volition, to admit or free some ghostly guest. The
dwelling was known as the Roscoe house, a family of that name having
lived there for some years, and then, one by one, disappeared, the
last to leave being an old woman. Stories of foul play and
successive murders had always been rife, but never were

One day during the prevalence of the excitement Saylor presented
himself at the office of the Commercial for orders. He received a
note from the city editor which read as follows: "Go and pass the
night alone in the haunted house in Vine street and if anything
occurs worth while make two columns." Saylor obeyed his superior;
he could not afford to lose his position on the paper.

Apprising the police of his intention, he effected an entrance
through a rear window before dark, walked through the deserted
rooms, bare of furniture, dusty and desolate, and seating himself at
last in the parlor on an old sofa which he had dragged in from
another room watched the deepening of the gloom as night came on.
Before it was altogether dark the curious crowd had collected in the
street, silent, as a rule, and expectant, with here and there a
scoffer uttering his incredulity and courage with scornful remarks
or ribald cries. None knew of the anxious watcher inside. He
feared to make a light; the uncurtained windows would have betrayed
his presence, subjecting him to insult, possibly to injury.
Moreover, he was too conscientious to do anything to enfeeble his
impressions and unwilling to alter any of the customary conditions
under which the manifestations were said to occur.

It was now dark outside, but light from the street faintly
illuminated the part of the room that he was in. He had set open
every door in the whole interior, above and below, but all the outer
ones were locked and bolted. Sudden exclamations from the crowd
caused him to spring to the window and look out. He saw the figure
of a man moving rapidly across the lawn toward the building--saw it
ascend the steps; then a projection of the wall concealed it. There
was a noise as of the opening and closing of the hall door; he heard
quick, heavy footsteps along the passage--heard them ascend the
stairs--heard them on the uncarpeted floor of the chamber
immediately overhead.

Saylor promptly drew his pistol, and groping his way up the stairs
entered the chamber, dimly lighted from the street. No one was
there. He heard footsteps in an adjoining room and entered that.
It was dark and silent. He struck his foot against some object on
the floor, knelt by it, passed his hand over it. It was a human
head--that of a woman. Lifting it by the hair this iron-nerved man
returned to the half-lighted room below, carried it near the window
and attentively examined it. While so engaged he was half conscious
of the rapid opening and closing of the outer door, of footfalls
sounding all about him. He raised his eyes from the ghastly object
of his attention and saw himself the center of a crowd of men and
women dimly seen; the room was thronged with them. He thought the
people had broken in.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, coolly, "you see me under
suspicious circumstances, but"--his voice was drowned in peals of
laughter--such laughter as is heard in asylums for the insane. The
persons about him pointed at the object in his hand and their
merriment increased as he dropped it and it went rolling among their
feet. They danced about it with gestures grotesque and attitudes
obscene and indescribable. They struck it with their feet, urging
it about the room from wall to wall; pushed and overthrew one
another in their struggles to kick it; cursed and screamed and sang
snatches of ribald songs as the battered head bounded about the room
as if in terror and trying to escape. At last it shot out of the
door into the hall, followed by all, with tumultuous haste. That
moment the door closed with a sharp concussion. Saylor was alone,
in dead silence.

Carefully putting away his pistol, which all the time he had held in
his hand, he went to a window and looked out. The street was
deserted and silent; the lamps were extinguished; the roofs and
chimneys of the houses were sharply outlined against the dawn-light
in the east. He left the house, the door yielding easily to his
hand, and walked to the Commercial office. The city editor was
still in his office--asleep. Saylor waked him and said: "I have
been at the haunted house."

The editor stared blankly as if not wholly awake. "Good God!" he
cried, "are you Saylor?"

"Yes--why not?" The editor made no answer, but continued staring.

"I passed the night there--it seems," said Saylor.

"They say that things were uncommonly quiet out there," the editor
said, trifling with a paper-weight upon which he had dropped his
eyes, "did anything occur?"

"Nothing whatever."


About three miles from the little town of Norton, in Missouri, on
the road leading to Maysville, stands an old house that was last
occupied by a family named Harding. Since 1886 no one has lived in
it, nor is anyone likely to live in it again. Time and the disfavor
of persons dwelling thereabout are converting it into a rather
picturesque ruin. An observer unacquainted with its history would
hardly put it into the category of "haunted houses," yet in all the
region round such is its evil reputation. Its windows are without
glass, its doorways without doors; there are wide breaches in the
shingle roof, and for lack of paint the weatherboarding is a dun
gray. But these unfailing signs of the supernatural are partly
concealed and greatly softened by the abundant foliage of a large
vine overrunning the entire structure. This vine--of a species
which no botanist has ever been able to name--has an important part
in the story of the house.

The Harding family consisted of Robert Harding, his wife Matilda,
Miss Julia Went, who was her sister, and two young children. Robert
Harding was a silent, cold-mannered man who made no friends in the
neighborhood and apparently cared to make none. He was about forty
years old, frugal and industrious, and made a living from the little
farm which is now overgrown with brush and brambles. He and his
sister-in-law were rather tabooed by their neighbors, who seemed to
think that they were seen too frequently together--not entirely
their fault, for at these times they evidently did not challenge
observation. The moral code of rural Missouri is stern and

Mrs. Harding was a gentle, sad-eyed woman, lacking a left foot.

At some time in 1884 it became known that she had gone to visit her
mother in Iowa. That was what her husband said in reply to
inquiries, and his manner of saying it did not encourage further
questioning. She never came back, and two years later, without
selling his farm or anything that was his, or appointing an agent to
look after his interests, or removing his household goods, Harding,
with the rest of the family, left the country. Nobody knew whither
he went; nobody at that time cared. Naturally, whatever was movable
about the place soon disappeared and the deserted house became
"haunted" in the manner of its kind.

One summer evening, four or five years later, the Rev. J. Gruber, of
Norton, and a Maysville attorney named Hyatt met on horseback in
front of the Harding place. Having business matters to discuss,
they hitched their animals and going to the house sat on the porch
to talk. Some humorous reference to the somber reputation of the
place was made and forgotten as soon as uttered, and they talked of
their business affairs until it grew almost dark. The evening was
oppressively warm, the air stagnant.

Presently both men started from their seats in surprise: a long
vine that covered half the front of the house and dangled its
branches from the edge of the porch above them was visibly and
audibly agitated, shaking violently in every stem and leaf.

"We shall have a storm," Hyatt exclaimed.

Gruber said nothing, but silently directed the other's attention to
the foliage of adjacent trees, which showed no movement; even the
delicate tips of the boughs silhouetted against the clear sky were
motionless. They hastily passed down the steps to what had been a
lawn and looked upward at the vine, whose entire length was now
visible. It continued in violent agitation, yet they could discern
no disturbing cause.

"Let us leave," said the minister.

And leave they did. Forgetting that they had been traveling in
opposite directions, they rode away together. They went to Norton,
where they related their strange experience to several discreet
friends. The next evening, at about the same hour, accompanied by
two others whose names are not recalled, they were again on the
porch of the Harding house, and again the mysterious phenomenon
occurred: the vine was violently agitated while under the closest
scrutiny from root to tip, nor did their combined strength applied
to the trunk serve to still it. After an hour's observation they
retreated, no less wise, it is thought, than when they had come.

No great time was required for these singular facts to rouse the
curiosity of the entire neighborhood. By day and by night crowds of
persons assembled at the Harding house "seeking a sign." It does
not appear that any found it, yet so credible were the witnesses
mentioned that none doubted the reality of the "manifestations" to
which they testified.

By either a happy inspiration or some destructive design, it was one
day proposed--nobody appeared to know from whom the suggestion came-
-to dig up the vine, and after a good deal of debate this was done.
Nothing was found but the root, yet nothing could have been more

For five or six feet from the trunk, which had at the surface of the
ground a diameter of several inches, it ran downward, single and
straight, into a loose, friable earth; then it divided and
subdivided into rootlets, fibers and filaments, most curiously
interwoven. When carefully freed from soil they showed a singular
formation. In their ramifications and doublings back upon
themselves they made a compact network, having in size and shape an
amazing resemblance to the human figure. Head, trunk and limbs were
there; even the fingers and toes were distinctly defined; and many
professed to see in the distribution and arrangement of the fibers
in the globular mass representing the head a grotesque suggestion of
a face. The figure was horizontal; the smaller roots had begun to
unite at the breast.

In point of resemblance to the human form this image was imperfect.
At about ten inches from one of the knees, the cilia forming that
leg had abruptly doubled backward and inward upon their course of
growth. The figure lacked the left foot.

There was but one inference--the obvious one; but in the ensuing
excitement as many courses of action were proposed as there were
incapable counselors. The matter was settled by the sheriff of the
county, who as the lawful custodian of the abandoned estate ordered
the root replaced and the excavation filled with the earth that had
been removed.

Later inquiry brought out only one fact of relevancy and
significance: Mrs. Harding had never visited her relatives in Iowa,
nor did they know that she was supposed to have done so.

Of Robert Harding and the rest of his family nothing is known. The
house retains its evil reputation, but the replanted vine is as
orderly and well-behaved a vegetable as a nervous person could wish
to sit under of a pleasant night, when the katydids grate out their
immemorial revelation and the distant whippoorwill signifies his
notion of what ought to be done about it.


Philip Eckert lived for many years in an old, weather-stained wooden
house about three miles from the little town of Marion, in Vermont.
There must be quite a number of persons living who remember him, not
unkindly, I trust, and know something of the story that I am about
to tell.

"Old Man Eckert," as he was always called, was not of a sociable
disposition and lived alone. As he was never known to speak of his
own affairs nobody thereabout knew anything of his past, nor of his
relatives if he had any. Without being particularly ungracious or
repellent in manner or speech, he managed somehow to be immune to
impertinent curiosity, yet exempt from the evil repute with which it
commonly revenges itself when baffled; so far as I know, Mr.
Eckert's renown as a reformed assassin or a retired pirate of the
Spanish Main had not reached any ear in Marion. He got his living
cultivating a small and not very fertile farm.

One day he disappeared and a prolonged search by his neighbors
failed to turn him up or throw any light upon his whereabouts or
whyabouts. Nothing indicated preparation to leave: all was as he
might have left it to go to the spring for a bucket of water. For a
few weeks little else was talked of in that region; then "old man
Eckert" became a village tale for the ear of the stranger. I do not
know what was done regarding his property--the correct legal thing,
doubtless. The house was standing, still vacant and conspicuously
unfit, when I last heard of it, some twenty years afterward.

Of course it came to be considered "haunted," and the customary
tales were told of moving lights, dolorous sounds and startling
apparitions. At one time, about five years after the disappearance,
these stories of the supernatural became so rife, or through some
attesting circumstances seemed so important, that some of Marion's
most serious citizens deemed it well to investigate, and to that end
arranged for a night session on the premises. The parties to this
undertaking were John Holcomb, an apothecary; Wilson Merle, a
lawyer, and Andrus C. Palmer, the teacher of the public school, all
men of consequence and repute. They were to meet at Holcomb's house
at eight o'clock in the evening of the appointed day and go together
to the scene of their vigil, where certain arrangements for their
comfort, a provision of fuel and the like, for the season was
winter, had been already made.

Palmer did not keep the engagement, and after waiting a half-hour
for him the others went to the Eckert house without him. They
established themselves in the principal room, before a glowing fire,
and without other light than it gave, awaited events. It had been
agreed to speak as little as possible: they did not even renew the
exchange of views regarding the defection of Palmer, which had
occupied their minds on the way.

Probably an hour had passed without incident when they heard (not
without emotion, doubtless) the sound of an opening door in the rear
of the house, followed by footfalls in the room adjoining that in
which they sat. The watchers rose to their feet, but stood firm,
prepared for whatever might ensue. A long silence followed--how
long neither would afterward undertake to say. Then the door
between the two rooms opened and a man entered.

It was Palmer. He was pale, as if from excitement--as pale as the
others felt themselves to be. His manner, too, was singularly
distrait: he neither responded to their salutations nor so much as
looked at them, but walked slowly across the room in the light of
the failing fire and opening the front door passed out into the

It seems to have been the first thought of both men that Palmer was
suffering from fright--that something seen, heard or imagined in the
back room had deprived him of his senses. Acting on the same
friendly impulse both ran after him through the open door. But
neither they nor anyone ever again saw or heard of Andrus Palmer!

This much was ascertained the next morning. During the session of
Messrs. Holcomb and Merle at the "haunted house" a new snow had
fallen to a depth of several inches upon the old. In this snow
Palmer's trail from his lodging in the village to the back door of
the Eckert house was conspicuous. But there it ended: from the
front door nothing led away but the tracks of the two men who swore
that he preceded them. Palmer's disappearance was as complete as
that of "old man Eckert" himself--whom, indeed, the editor of the
local paper somewhat graphically accused of having "reached out and
pulled him in."


On the road leading north from Manchester, in eastern Kentucky, to
Booneville, twenty miles away, stood, in 1862, a wooden plantation
house of a somewhat better quality than most of the dwellings in
that region. The house was destroyed by fire in the year following-
-probably by some stragglers from the retreating column of General
George W. Morgan, when he was driven from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio
river by General Kirby Smith. At the time of its destruction, it
had for four or five years been vacant. The fields about it were
overgrown with brambles, the fences gone, even the few negro
quarters, and out-houses generally, fallen partly into ruin by
neglect and pillage; for the negroes and poor whites of the vicinity
found in the building and fences an abundant supply of fuel, of
which they availed themselves without hesitation, openly and by
daylight. By daylight alone; after nightfall no human being except
passing strangers ever went near the place.

It was known as the "Spook House." That it was tenanted by evil
spirits, visible, audible and active, no one in all that region
doubted any more than he doubted what he was told of Sundays by the
traveling preacher. Its owner's opinion of the matter was unknown;
he and his family had disappeared one night and no trace of them had
ever been found. They left everything--household goods, clothing,
provisions, the horses in the stable, the cows in the field, the
negroes in the quarters--all as it stood; nothing was missing--
except a man, a woman, three girls, a boy and a babe! It was not
altogether surprising that a plantation where seven human beings
could be simultaneously effaced and nobody the wiser should be under
some suspicion.

One night in June, 1859, two citizens of Frankfort, Col. J. C.
McArdle, a lawyer, and Judge Myron Veigh, of the State Militia, were
driving from Booneville to Manchester. Their business was so
important that they decided to push on, despite the darkness and the
mutterings of an approaching storm, which eventually broke upon them
just as they arrived opposite the "Spook House." The lightning was
so incessant that they easily found their way through the gateway
and into a shed, where they hitched and unharnessed their team.
They then went to the house, through the rain, and knocked at all
the doors without getting any response. Attributing this to the
continuous uproar of the thunder they pushed at one of the doors,
which yielded. They entered without further ceremony and closed the
door. That instant they were in darkness and silence. Not a gleam
of the lightning's unceasing blaze penetrated the windows or
crevices; not a whisper of the awful tumult without reached them
there. It was as if they had suddenly been stricken blind and deaf,
and McArdle afterward said that for a moment he believed himself to
have been killed by a stroke of lightning as he crossed the
threshold. The rest of this adventure can as well be related in his
own words, from the Frankfort Advocate of August 6, 1876:

"When I had somewhat recovered from the dazing effect of the
transition from uproar to silence, my first impulse was to reopen
the door which I had closed, and from the knob of which I was not
conscious of having removed my hand; I felt it distinctly, still in
the clasp of my fingers. My notion was to ascertain by stepping
again into the storm whether I had been deprived of sight and
hearing. I turned the doorknob and pulled open the door. It led
into another room!

"This apartment was suffused with a faint greenish light, the source
of which I could not determine, making everything distinctly
visible, though nothing was sharply defined. Everything, I say, but
in truth the only objects within the blank stone walls of that room
were human corpses. In number they were perhaps eight or ten--it
may well be understood that I did not truly count them. They were
of different ages, or rather sizes, from infancy up, and of both
sexes. All were prostrate on the floor, excepting one, apparently a
young woman, who sat up, her back supported by an angle of the wall.
A babe was clasped in the arms of another and older woman. A half-
grown lad lay face downward across the legs of a full-bearded man.
One or two were nearly naked, and the hand of a young girl held the
fragment of a gown which she had torn open at the breast. The
bodies were in various stages of decay, all greatly shrunken in face
and figure. Some were but little more than skeletons.

"While I stood stupefied with horror by this ghastly spectacle and
still holding open the door, by some unaccountable perversity my
attention was diverted from the shocking scene and concerned itself
with trifles and details. Perhaps my mind, with an instinct of
self-preservation, sought relief in matters which would relax its
dangerous tension. Among other things, I observed that the door
that I was holding open was of heavy iron plates, riveted.
Equidistant from one another and from the top and bottom, three
strong bolts protruded from the beveled edge. I turned the knob and
they were retracted flush with the edge; released it, and they shot
out. It was a spring lock. On the inside there was no knob, nor
any kind of projection--a smooth surface of iron.

"While noting these things with an interest and attention which it
now astonishes me to recall I felt myself thrust aside, and Judge
Veigh, whom in the intensity and vicissitudes of my feelings I had
altogether forgotten, pushed by me into the room. 'For God's sake,'
I cried, 'do not go in there! Let us get out of this dreadful

"He gave no heed to my entreaties, but (as fearless a gentleman as
lived in all the South) walked quickly to the center of the room,
knelt beside one of the bodies for a closer examination and tenderly
raised its blackened and shriveled head in his hands. A strong
disagreeable odor came through the doorway, completely overpowering
me. My senses reeled; I felt myself falling, and in clutching at
the edge of the door for support pushed it shut with a sharp click!

"I remember no more: six weeks later I recovered my reason in a
hotel at Manchester, whither I had been taken by strangers the next
day. For all these weeks I had suffered from a nervous fever,
attended with constant delirium. I had been found lying in the road
several miles away from the house; but how I had escaped from it to
get there I never knew. On recovery, or as soon as my physicians
permitted me to talk, I inquired the fate of Judge Veigh, whom (to
quiet me, as I now know) they represented as well and at home.

"No one believed a word of my story, and who can wonder? And who
can imagine my grief when, arriving at my home in Frankfort two
months later, I learned that Judge Veigh had never been heard of
since that night? I then regretted bitterly the pride which since
the first few days after the recovery of my reason had forbidden me
to repeat my discredited story and insist upon its truth.

"With all that afterward occurred--the examination of the house; the
failure to find any room corresponding to that which I have
described; the attempt to have me adjudged insane, and my triumph
over my accusers--the readers of the Advocate are familiar. After
all these years I am still confident that excavations which I have
neither the legal right to undertake nor the wealth to make would
disclose the secret of the disappearance of my unhappy friend, and
possibly of the former occupants and owners of the deserted and now
destroyed house. I do not despair of yet bringing about such a
search, and it is a source of deep grief to me that it has been
delayed by the undeserved hostility and unwise incredulity of the
family and friends of the late Judge Veigh."

Colonel McArdle died in Frankfort on the thirteenth day of December,
in the year 1879.


"In order to take that train," said Colonel Levering, sitting in the
Waldorf-Astoria hotel, "you will have to remain nearly all night in
Atlanta. That is a fine city, but I advise you not to put up at the
Breathitt House, one of the principal hotels. It is an old wooden
building in urgent need of repairs. There are breaches in the walls
that you could throw a cat through. The bedrooms have no locks on
the doors, no furniture but a single chair in each, and a bedstead
without bedding--just a mattress. Even these meager accommodations
you cannot be sure that you will have in monopoly; you must take
your chance of being stowed in with a lot of others. Sir, it is a
most abominable hotel.

"The night that I passed in it was an uncomfortable night. I got in
late and was shown to my room on the ground floor by an apologetic
night-clerk with a tallow candle, which he considerately left with
me. I was worn out by two days and a night of hard railway travel
and had not entirely recovered from a gunshot wound in the head,
received in an altercation. Rather than look for better quarters I
lay down on the mattress without removing my clothing and fell

"Along toward morning I awoke. The moon had risen and was shining
in at the uncurtained window, illuminating the room with a soft,
bluish light which seemed, somehow, a bit spooky, though I dare say
it had no uncommon quality; all moonlight is that way if you will
observe it. Imagine my surprise and indignation when I saw the
floor occupied by at least a dozen other lodgers! I sat up,
earnestly damning the management of that unthinkable hotel, and was
about to spring from the bed to go and make trouble for the night-
clerk--him of the apologetic manner and the tallow candle--when
something in the situation affected me with a strange indisposition
to move. I suppose I was what a story-writer might call 'frozen
with terror.' For those men were obviously all dead!

"They lay on their backs, disposed orderly along three sides of the
room, their feet to the walls--against the other wall, farthest from
the door, stood my bed and the chair. All the faces were covered,
but under their white cloths the features of the two bodies that lay
in the square patch of moonlight near the window showed in sharp
profile as to nose and chin.

"I thought this a bad dream and tried to cry out, as one does in a
nightmare, but could make no sound. At last, with a desperate
effort I threw my feet to the floor and passing between the two rows
of clouted faces and the two bodies that lay nearest the door, I
escaped from the infernal place and ran to the office. The night-
clerk was there, behind the desk, sitting in the dim light of
another tallow candle--just sitting and staring. He did not rise:
my abrupt entrance produced no effect upon him, though I must have
looked a veritable corpse myself. It occurred to me then that I had
not before really observed the fellow. He was a little chap, with a
colorless face and the whitest, blankest eyes I ever saw. He had no
more expression than the back of my hand. His clothing was a dirty

"'Damn you!' I said; 'what do you mean?'

"Just the same, I was shaking like a leaf in the wind and did not
recognize my own voice.

"The night-clerk rose, bowed (apologetically) and--well, he was no
longer there, and at that moment I felt a hand laid upon my shoulder
from behind. Just fancy that if you can! Unspeakably frightened, I
turned and saw a portly, kind-faced gentleman, who asked:

"'What is the matter, my friend?'

"I was not long in telling him, but before I made an end of it he
went pale himself. 'See here,' he said, 'are you telling the

"I had now got myself in hand and terror had given place to
indignation. 'If you dare to doubt it,' I said, 'I'll hammer the
life out of you!'

"'No,' he replied, 'don't do that; just sit down till I tell you.
This is not a hotel. It used to be; afterward it was a hospital.
Now it is unoccupied, awaiting a tenant. The room that you mention
was the dead-room--there were always plenty of dead. The fellow
that you call the night-clerk used to be that, but later he booked
the patients as they were brought in. I don't understand his being
here. He has been dead a few weeks.'

"'And who are you?' I blurted out.

"'Oh, I look after the premises. I happened to be passing just now,
and seeing a light in here came in to investigate. Let us have a
look into that room,' he added, lifting the sputtering candle from
the desk.

"'I'll see you at the devil first!' said I, bolting out of the door
into the street.

"Sir, that Breathitt House, in Atlanta, is a beastly place! Don't
you stop there."

"God forbid! Your account of it certainly does not suggest comfort.
By the way, Colonel, when did all that occur?"

"In September, 1864--shortly after the siege."


To the south of where the road between Leesville and Hardy, in the
State of Missouri, crosses the east fork of May Creek stands an
abandoned house. Nobody has lived in it since the summer of 1879,
and it is fast going to pieces. For some three years before the
date mentioned above, it was occupied by the family of Charles May,
from one of whose ancestors the creek near which it stands took its

Mr. May's family consisted of a wife, an adult son and two young
girls. The son's name was John--the names of the daughters are
unknown to the writer of this sketch.

John May was of a morose and surly disposition, not easily moved to
anger, but having an uncommon gift of sullen, implacable hate. His
father was quite otherwise; of a sunny, jovial disposition, but with
a quick temper like a sudden flame kindled in a wisp of straw, which
consumes it in a flash and is no more. He cherished no resentments,
and his anger gone, was quick to make overtures for reconciliation.
He had a brother living near by who was unlike him in respect of all
this, and it was a current witticism in the neighborhood that John
had inherited his disposition from his uncle.

One day a misunderstanding arose between father and son, harsh words
ensued, and the father struck the son full in the face with his
fist. John quietly wiped away the blood that followed the blow,
fixed his eyes upon the already penitent offender and said with cold
composure, "You will die for that."

The words were overheard by two brothers named Jackson, who were
approaching the men at the moment; but seeing them engaged in a
quarrel they retired, apparently unobserved. Charles May afterward
related the unfortunate occurrence to his wife and explained that he
had apologized to the son for the hasty blow, but without avail; the
young man not only rejected his overtures, but refused to withdraw
his terrible threat. Nevertheless, there was no open rupture of
relations: John continued living with the family, and things went
on very much as before.

One Sunday morning in June, 1879, about two weeks after what has
been related, May senior left the house immediately after breakfast,
taking a spade. He said he was going to make an excavation at a
certain spring in a wood about a mile away, so that the cattle could
obtain water. John remained in the house for some hours, variously
occupied in shaving himself, writing letters and reading a
newspaper. His manner was very nearly what it usually was; perhaps
he was a trifle more sullen and surly.

At two o'clock he left the house. At five, he returned. For some
reason not connected with any interest in his movements, and which
is not now recalled, the time of his departure and that of his
return were noted by his mother and sisters, as was attested at his
trial for murder. It was observed that his clothing was wet in
spots, as if (so the prosecution afterward pointed out) he had been
removing blood-stains from it. His manner was strange, his look
wild. He complained of illness, and going to his room took to his

May senior did not return. Later that evening the nearest neighbors
were aroused, and during that night and the following day a search
was prosecuted through the wood where the spring was. It resulted
in little but the discovery of both men's footprints in the clay
about the spring. John May in the meantime had grown rapidly worse
with what the local physician called brain fever, and in his
delirium raved of murder, but did not say whom he conceived to have
been murdered, nor whom he imagined to have done the deed. But his
threat was recalled by the brothers Jackson and he was arrested on
suspicion and a deputy sheriff put in charge of him at his home.
Public opinion ran strongly against him and but for his illness he
would probably have been hanged by a mob. As it was, a meeting of
the neighbors was held on Tuesday and a committee appointed to watch
the case and take such action at any time as circumstances might
seem to warrant.

On Wednesday all was changed. From the town of Nolan, eight miles
away, came a story which put a quite different light on the matter.
Nolan consisted of a school house, a blacksmith's shop, a "store"
and a half-dozen dwellings. The store was kept by one Henry Odell,
a cousin of the elder May. On the afternoon of the Sunday of May's
disappearance Mr. Odell and four of his neighbors, men of
credibility, were sitting in the store smoking and talking. It was
a warm day; and both the front and the back door were open. At
about three o'clock Charles May, who was well known to three of
them, entered at the front door and passed out at the rear. He was
without hat or coat. He did not look at them, nor return their
greeting, a circumstance which did not surprise, for he was
evidently seriously hurt. Above the left eyebrow was a wound--a
deep gash from which the blood flowed, covering the whole left side
of the face and neck and saturating his light-gray shirt. Oddly
enough, the thought uppermost in the minds of all was that he had
been fighting and was going to the brook directly at the back of the
store, to wash himself.

Perhaps there was a feeling of delicacy--a backwoods etiquette which
restrained them from following him to offer assistance; the court
records, from which, mainly, this narrative is drawn, are silent as
to anything but the fact. They waited for him to return, but he did
not return.

Bordering the brook behind the store is a forest extending for six
miles back to the Medicine Lodge Hills. As soon as it became known
in the neighborhood of the missing man's dwelling that he had been
seen in Nolan there was a marked alteration in public sentiment and
feeling. The vigilance committee went out of existence without the
formality of a resolution. Search along the wooded bottom lands of
May Creek was stopped and nearly the entire male population of the
region took to beating the bush about Nolan and in the Medicine
Lodge Hills. But of the missing man no trace was found.

One of the strangest circumstances of this strange case is the
formal indictment and trial of a man for murder of one whose body no
human being professed to have seen--one not known to be dead. We
are all more or less familiar with the vagaries and eccentricities
of frontier law, but this instance, it is thought, is unique.
However that may be, it is of record that on recovering from his
illness John May was indicted for the murder of his missing father.
Counsel for the defense appears not to have demurred and the case
was tried on its merits. The prosecution was spiritless and
perfunctory; the defense easily established--with regard to the
deceased--an alibi. If during the time in which John May must have
killed Charles May, if he killed him at all, Charles May was miles
away from where John May must have been, it is plain that the
deceased must have come to his death at the hands of someone else.

John May was acquitted, immediately left the country, and has never
been heard of from that day. Shortly afterward his mother and
sisters removed to St. Louis. The farm having passed into the
possession of a man who owns the land adjoining, and has a dwelling
of his own, the May house has ever since been vacant, and has the
somber reputation of being haunted.

One day after the May family had left the country, some boys,
playing in the woods along May Creek, found concealed under a mass
of dead leaves, but partly exposed by the rooting of hogs, a spade,
nearly new and bright, except for a spot on one edge, which was
rusted and stained with blood. The implement had the initials C. M.
cut into the handle.

This discovery renewed, in some degree, the public excitement of a
few months before. The earth near the spot where the spade was
found was carefully examined, and the result was the finding of the
dead body of a man. It had been buried under two or three feet of
soil and the spot covered with a layer of dead leaves and twigs.
There was but little decomposition, a fact attributed to some
preservative property in the mineral-bearing soil.

Above the left eyebrow was a wound--a deep gash from which blood had
flowed, covering the whole left side of the face and neck and
saturating the light-gray shirt. The skull had been cut through by
the blow. The body was that of Charles May.

But what was it that passed through Mr. Odell's store at Nolan?



One morning in July, 1854, a planter named Williamson, living six
miles from Selma, Alabama, was sitting with his wife and a child on
the veranda of his dwelling. Immediately in front of the house was
a lawn, perhaps fifty yards in extent between the house and public
road, or, as it was called, the "pike." Beyond this road lay a
close-cropped pasture of some ten acres, level and without a tree,
rock, or any natural or artificial object on its surface. At the
time there was not even a domestic animal in the field. In another
field, beyond the pasture, a dozen slaves were at work under an

Throwing away the stump of a cigar, the planter rose, saying: "I
forgot to tell Andrew about those horses." Andrew was the overseer.

Williamson strolled leisurely down the gravel walk, plucking a
flower as he went, passed across the road and into the pasture,
pausing a moment as he closed the gate leading into it, to greet a
passing neighbor, Armour Wren, who lived on an adjoining plantation.
Mr. Wren was in an open carriage with his son James, a lad of
thirteen. When he had driven some two hundred yards from the point
of meeting, Mr. Wren said to his son: "I forgot to tell Mr.
Williamson about those horses."

Mr. Wren had sold to Mr. Williamson some horses, which were to have
been sent for that day, but for some reason not now remembered it
would be inconvenient to deliver them until the morrow. The
coachman was directed to drive back, and as the vehicle turned
Williamson was seen by all three, walking leisurely across the
pasture. At that moment one of the coach horses stumbled and came
near falling. It had no more than fairly recovered itself when
James Wren cried: "Why, father, what has become of Mr. Williamson?"

It is not the purpose of this narrative to answer that question.

Mr. Wren's strange account of the matter, given under oath in the
course of legal proceedings relating to the Williamson estate, here

"My son's exclamation caused me to look toward the spot where I had
seen the deceased [sic] an instant before, but he was not there, nor
was he anywhere visible. I cannot say that at the moment I was
greatly startled, or realized the gravity of the occurrence, though
I thought it singular. My son, however, was greatly astonished and
kept repeating his question in different forms until we arrived at
the gate. My black boy Sam was similarly affected, even in a
greater degree, but I reckon more by my son's manner than by
anything he had himself observed. [This sentence in the testimony
was stricken out.] As we got out of the carriage at the gate of the
field, and while Sam was hanging [sic] the team to the fence, Mrs.
Williamson, with her child in her arms and followed by several
servants, came running down the walk in great excitement, crying:
'He is gone, he is gone! O God! what an awful thing!' and many
other such exclamations, which I do not distinctly recollect. I got
from them the impression that they related to something more--than
the mere disappearance of her husband, even if that had occurred
before her eyes. Her manner was wild, but not more so, I think,
than was natural under the circumstances. I have no reason to think
she had at that time lost her mind. I have never since seen nor
heard of Mr. Williamson."

This testimony, as might have been expected, was corroborated in
almost every particular by the only other eye-witness (if that is a
proper term)--the lad James. Mrs. Williamson had lost her reason
and the servants were, of course, not competent to testify. The boy
James Wren had declared at first that he SAW the disappearance, but
there is nothing of this in his testimony given in court. None of
the field hands working in the field to which Williamson was going
had seen him at all, and the most rigorous search of the entire
plantation and adjoining country failed to supply a clew. The most
monstrous and grotesque fictions, originating with the blacks, were
current in that part of the State for many years, and probably are
to this day; but what has been here related is all that is certainly
known of the matter. The courts decided that Williamson was dead,
and his estate was distributed according to law.


James Burne Worson was a shoemaker who lived in Leamington,
Warwickshire, England. He had a little shop in one of the by-ways
leading off the road to Warwick. In his humble sphere he was
esteemed an honest man, although like many of his class in English
towns he was somewhat addicted to drink. When in liquor he would
make foolish wagers. On one of these too frequent occasions he was
boasting of his prowess as a pedestrian and athlete, and the outcome
was a match against nature. For a stake of one sovereign he
undertook to run all the way to Coventry and back, a distance of
something more than forty miles. This was on the 3d day of
September in 1873. He set out at once, the man with whom he had
made the bet--whose name is not remembered--accompanied by Barham
Wise, a linen draper, and Hamerson Burns, a photographer, I think,
following in a light cart or wagon.

For several miles Worson went on very well, at an easy gait, without
apparent fatigue, for he had really great powers of endurance and
was not sufficiently intoxicated to enfeeble them. The three men in
the wagon kept a short distance in the rear, giving him occasional
friendly "chaff" or encouragement, as the spirit moved them.
Suddenly--in the very middle of the roadway, not a dozen yards from
them, and with their eyes full upon him--the man seemed to stumble,
pitched headlong forward, uttered a terrible cry and vanished! He
did not fall to the earth--he vanished before touching it. No trace
of him was ever discovered.

After remaining at and about the spot for some time, with aimless
irresolution, the three men returned to Leamington, told their
astonishing story and were afterward taken into custody. But they
were of good standing, had always been considered truthful, were
sober at the time of the occurrence, and nothing ever transpired to
discredit their sworn account of their extraordinary adventure,
concerning the truth of which, nevertheless, public opinion was
divided, throughout the United Kingdom. If they had something to
conceal, their choice of means is certainly one of the most amazing
ever made by sane human beings.


The family of Christian Ashmore consisted of his wife, his mother,
two grown daughters, and a son of sixteen years. They lived in
Troy, New York, were well-to-do, respectable persons, and had many
friends, some of whom, reading these lines, will doubtless learn for
the first time the extraordinary fate of the young man. From Troy
the Ashmores moved in 1871 or 1872 to Richmond, Indiana, and a year
or two later to the vicinity of Quincy, Illinois, where Mr. Ashmore
bought a farm and lived on it. At some little distance from the
farmhouse was a spring with a constant flow of clear, cold water,
whence the family derived its supply for domestic use at all

On the evening of the 9th of November in 1878, at about nine
o'clock, young Charles Ashmore left the family circle about the
hearth, took a tin bucket and started toward the spring. As he did
not return, the family became uneasy, and going to the door by which
he had left the house, his father called without receiving an
answer. He then lighted a lantern and with the eldest daughter,
Martha, who insisted on accompanying him, went in search. A light
snow had fallen, obliterating the path, but making the young man's
trail conspicuous; each footprint was plainly defined. After going
a little more than half-way--perhaps seventy-five yards--the father,
who was in advance, halted, and elevating his lantern stood peering
intently into the darkness ahead.

"What is the matter, father?" the girl asked.

This was the matter: the trail of the young man had abruptly ended,
and all beyond was smooth, unbroken snow. The last footprints were
as conspicuous as any in the line; the very nail-marks were
distinctly visible. Mr. Ashmore looked upward, shading his eyes
with his hat held between them and the lantern. The stars were
shining; there was not a cloud in the sky; he was denied the
explanation which had suggested itself, doubtful as it would have
been--a new snowfall with a limit so plainly defined. Taking a wide
circuit round the ultimate tracks, so as to leave them undisturbed
for further examination, the man proceeded to the spring, the girl
following, weak and terrified. Neither had spoken a word of what
both had observed. The spring was covered with ice, hours old.

Returning to the house they noted the appearance of the snow on both
sides of the trail its entire length. No tracks led away from it.

The morning light showed nothing more. Smooth, spotless, unbroken,
the shallow snow lay everywhere.

Four days later the grief-stricken mother herself went to the spring
for water. She came back and related that in passing the spot where
the footprints had ended she had heard the voice of her son and had
been eagerly calling to him, wandering about the place, as she had
fancied the voice to be now in one direction, now in another, until
she was exhausted with fatigue and emotion.

Questioned as to what the voice had said, she was unable to tell,
yet averred that the words were perfectly distinct. In a moment the
entire family was at the place, but nothing was heard, and the voice
was believed to be an hallucination caused by the mother's great
anxiety and her disordered nerves. But for months afterward, at
irregular intervals of a few days, the voice was heard by the
several members of the family, and by others. All declared it
unmistakably the voice of Charles Ashmore; all agreed that it seemed
to come from a great distance, faintly, yet with entire distinctness
of articulation; yet none could determine its direction, nor repeat
its words. The intervals of silence grew longer and longer, the
voice fainter and farther, and by midsummer it was heard no more.

If anybody knows the fate of Charles Ashmore it is probably his
mother. She is dead.


In connection with this subject of "mysterious disappearance"--of
which every memory is stored with abundant example--it is pertinent
to note the belief of Dr. Hem, of Leipsic; not by way of
explanation, unless the reader may choose to take it so, but because
of its intrinsic interest as a singular speculation. This
distinguished scientist has expounded his views in a book entitled
"Verschwinden und Seine Theorie," which has attracted some
attention, "particularly," says one writer, "among the followers of
Hegel, and mathematicians who hold to the actual existence of a so-
called non-Euclidean space--that is to say, of space which has more
dimensions than length, breadth, and thickness--space in which it
would be possible to tie a knot in an endless cord and to turn a
rubber ball inside out without 'a solution of its continuity,' or in
other words, without breaking or cracking it."

Dr. Hem believes that in the visible world there are void places--
vacua, and something more--holes, as it were, through which animate
and inanimate objects may fall into the invisible world and be seen
and heard no more. The theory is something like this: Space is
pervaded by luminiferous ether, which is a material thing--as much a
substance as air or water, though almost infinitely more attenuated.
All force, all forms of energy must be propagated in this; every
process must take place in it which takes place at all. But let us
suppose that cavities exist in this otherwise universal medium, as
caverns exist in the earth, or cells in a Swiss cheese. In such a
cavity there would be absolutely nothing. It would be such a vacuum
as cannot be artificially produced; for if we pump the air from a
receiver there remains the luminiferous ether. Through one of these
cavities light could not pass, for there would be nothing to bear
it. Sound could not come from it; nothing could be felt in it. It
would not have a single one of the conditions necessary to the
action of any of our senses. In such a void, in short, nothing
whatever could occur. Now, in the words of the writer before
quoted--the learned doctor himself nowhere puts it so concisely: "A
man inclosed in such a closet could neither see nor be seen; neither
hear nor be heard; neither feel nor be felt; neither live nor die,
for both life and death are processes which can take place only
where there is force, and in empty space no force could exist." Are
these the awful conditions (some will ask) under which the friends
of the lost are to think of them as existing, and doomed forever to

Baldly and imperfectly as here stated, Dr. Hem's theory, in so far
as it professes to be an adequate explanation of "mysterious
disappearances," is open to many obvious objections; to fewer as he
states it himself in the "spacious volubility" of his book. But
even as expounded by its author it does not explain, and in truth is
incompatible with some incidents of, the occurrences related in
these memoranda: for example, the sound of Charles Ashmore's voice.
It is not my duty to indue facts and theories with affinity.



{1} The Isle of Pines was once a famous rendezvous of pirates.


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