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Wodehouse Interviews the Castle Ghost

Wodehouse Interviews the Castle Ghost

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Published by grandmapolly
A 10 part series of Plum's conversations with the ghosts of the stately homes of England.
A 10 part series of Plum's conversations with the ghosts of the stately homes of England.

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Published by: grandmapolly on Jan 28, 2012
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10/09/2012

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Mr Punch’s Spectral AnalysesBy P.G. WodehousePunch, August 5, 1903ITHE GHOST’S POINT OF VIEW “PHEW!” gasped the Spectre, collapsing into a chair at my bedside, “you did give me astart.”“If it comes to that,” I replied severely—for the first intimation I had had of his presence had been the touch of an icy finger on my forehead while I was asleep—“if itcomes to that, you gave me a start; you nearly frightened me into a fit. I wishyou would learn to be more careful what you do with your hands.”The Spectre eyed me doubtfully. “Do you mean to tell me,” he said, “that human beingsare frightened when they see ghosts?”“Did you think they were amused?”“I always imagined that they took a purely scientific interest in the matter. Of course, we are simply terrified when we see you——”“What! A ghost is frightened when he sees a human being?”“Out of his wits. Did you not know that? Dear me. Well, well, we live and learn.”“But, surely,” I said, interested by this time, “I should have thought that you so constantly saw us——”“Ah, but that is not the case. We see you as seldom as—apparently—you see us. Why it is, I don’t know. There are fellows at the Club who could explain it to you. It issomething to do with planes or dimensions or something. I remember that, becausewe were discussing it only the other evening. JONES—I don’t know if you have ever met him: tall, handsome man with a dagger sticking in his chest—maintained that there were no such things as human beings; said they didn’t exist, don’t you know. He said that the cases cited where ghosts had actually seen them were in reality pure hysteria. A ghost goes into a house which he knows is haunted, and naturally he imagines that every shadow is a human being. JONES is a thorough sceptic—hard-headed man, you know—won’t believe a thing till he sees it. SMITH, on the other hand—I think you must have met SMITH, or at any rate heard him. You would know him by his get-up. He is a dandy, is SMITH. Faultless winding-sheet, chains on his legs,and so on; carries his head in his right hand, and groans.”“Ah,” I said, “I have heard the groans.”“Yes, I thought you must have done. He’s always practising: groans bass in our choir, you know. Well, SMITH maintained that some of the hundreds of cases quoted must be authentic. How, for instance, did Jones account for the haunted room at Blamis Castle?”“What was that?” I asked.“Oh, it was rather a painful affair. The castle was said to be haunted, and a young spectre, who scoffed at the idea, offered to walk the night there. They allowed him to go, stipulating, however, that directly he saw anything supernatural heshould ring the bell.”“Oh,” I interrupted, “then ghosts can ring bells?”“My dear Sir,” said the Spectre a little testily, “we have many limitations, but we can do a simple thing like that. You might just as well ask if a ghost can wind upa night watch or write a dead letter. Well, at the stroke of midnight a violentpeal was heard. They rushed to the room, and there lay the poor young fellow senseless. Some time after he had entered, it seemed, he had suddenly become aware—how, he could not say—that he was not alone, and, looking round, he saw a man standing in the doorway. The apparition advanced slowly, and, to his unspeakable horror, walked straight through him. Then he fainted, and knew no more until he found himself being given spirits in a spoon by his friends. He was never quite himself after that.”“And did that convince JONES?”“Not a bit. He simply said that owing to the stories connected with the place it had been hypnotically suggested to the young fellow that there was a human beingin that particular room, and the rest had followed naturally. But I know what wo
 
uld settle him.”“Yes?”“If I could bring him here and show you to him. Could you excuse me for one minute?”“Certainly.”“Then I’ll just run and fetch him.”And he disappeared. I think something must have gone wrong with the dimensions,for though I waited long he never returned, and to this day I have not seen himagain.Mr Punch’s Spectral AnalysesBy P.G. WodehousePunch, August 12, 1903IITHE GHOST WITH SOCIAL TASTES THE wind whistled in the trees with the tuneless violence of the London street-boy. The moonbeams, like young authors, were thin and struggling. Twelve boomed from the castle clock, and I awoke with a strange feeling that I was not alone. Nor was I. A groan and a weird phosphorescent gleam at the foot of the bed told that the spectre had arrived, right on the scheduled time as usual. I took no notice. I wished to make the ghost speak first. A ghost hates to have to begin a conversation.“You might speak to a chap,” said a plaintive voice, at last.“Ah, you there?” I said. “The family ghost, I presume?”“The same,” said the Spectre, courteously, seating himself on the bed.“Frightened?”“Not in the least.”“Hair not turned white, I suppose?”“Not to my knowledge.”“Then you are the man I have been wanting to meet for the last hundred years. Reasonable; that’s what you are. I tell you, Sir, it hurts a fellow when people gibberat him, as most of your human beings do. Rational conversation becomes impossible.”“But you have other ghosts to talk to?”“Only for four weeks in the year, and on Bank Holidays. You see, these things aremanaged on a regular system. After a house has been built for a century or two,a ghost is formally appointed to haunt it. He draws a salary for the work, and gets so many weeks’ holiday in the year. It’s not all beer and skittles, I can assureyou. But then there’s the honour, of course. It’s the career of a gentleman. To beappointed to a house is a sign that a ghost is of good family. None of your parvenus need apply. No, Sir. Such an appointment is a hall mark. It stamps a ghost.‘Where’s No. 1058673 Gerard now?’ you’ll hear a ghost ask. I am No. 1058673 Gerard. Weall have telephonic numbers in the spirit world. It saves a deal of confusion. ‘Oh,’ someone else will say, ‘he’s been appointed to old Sangazure’s place in the Shires, spare-bedroom department. Capital billet.’ ‘Oh, ah, yes,’ says the first speaker, ‘of course. A very good post. A sort of cousin of mine haunts the Armoury there. I hopethey’ll meet.’ And so, you see, I get a reputation for moving in the best society.But on the other hand,” continued the Spectre, crossing his legs, “the life is dull;there are few excitements. Nobody talks to me. Nobody loves me. Oh,” he went on with modest fervour, “Oh, to be received into the Family Circle, to be the HonouredGuest. Do you know our host’s little daughters?” he broke off suddenly. “I met them in the passage yesterday. I believe that in a few minutes we should have been asjolly and sociable as anything. Unfortunately I vanished. That is the worst of b
 
eing a ghost. You are always liable to vanish without the slightest warning. When I came back they were not there. Now, look here, could you do me a favour? Getold Sangazure to let me play with them in the nursery occasionally. It would cheer me up like a tonic. My tastes are simple and domestic, and I love children.Then again—”He vanished.I informed Lord SANGAZURE of the ghost’s request. I said that he seemed a perfectgentleman, and had a fine easy flow of conversation. I thought the children would like him.“Doesn’t drop his aitches or anything, eh?”“Oh, no,” I said.“Then I see no reason—if he wishes it—by all means tell him we shall be delighted if he would look in.”On the following evening No. 1058673 Gerard was the life and soul of the festivities in the nursery. His genial bonhomie, and his never-failing anxiety to please, speedily won the hearts of all with whom he came in contact. The only blot onthe evening’s pleasure, his inability to play hide-and-seek in the dark fairly, owing to the advantage his habit of night-walking gave him, was soon removed by the wholeheartedness with which he flung himself into Puss-in-the-Corner and Hunt-the-Slipper.And to this day there is not in all the haunted houses in the kingdom a cheerier, happier, more contented spectre than No. 1058673 Gerard. But, being the soul of tact, he effaces himself when strangers are present.Mr Punch’s Spectral AnalysesBy P.G. WodehousePunch, August 26, 1903IIIA GHOSTLY CAUSE CÉLÈBRE “ARE you, may I ask,” said my fellow-traveller, as the express rattled through a station, “a man of reasonably strong nerves?”“More or less,” I said.“Then it will possibly interest rather than alarm you to learn that I am a ghost.”I looked at him carefully. There was nothing in his appearance to indicate the spectre.“Excuse my apparent incredulity,” I said, “but, if what you say is correct, this umbrella should pass through you. May I make the experiment?”“Certainly. Certainly.”I executed a thrust in tierce at the third button of his waistcoat. The ferule struck sharply against the cushion at his back. I apologised. “Don’t mention it,” he said with that charming courtliness which I have so frequently noticed in ghosts. “Pray don’t mention it. There is a great deal of deceit everywhere nowadays, and wespectres have our full share of it. There was that case of—but I shall bore you with my yarns. What do you think of Mr. CHAMBERLAIN’s Fiscal Manœuvres?”I begged him to continue his story.“The case I refer to was that of No. 804 Holborn versus No. 1263 Avenue.Perhaps you know that we use telegraphic numbers? You do? Precisely. This case, which formed our only topic of conversation in the Back of Beyond while it was in progress, was connected with Rigby-Digby Manor in Shropshire, near Bridgnorth. You knowthe place? Fine old Elizabethan mansion, offering all sorts of possibilities forartistic effects to whoever was lucky enough to get the haunting of it. For thelast two hundred years or so the post had been held by a steady old fellow whodied in the reign of James the Second. He was a good, sound haunter, and did ver

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