Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 10/Piper's spectral illusion

Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/457 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/458 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/459 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/460 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/461 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/462 Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/463 “Alive and kicking,” was his expression.

“You haven’t come from the other world, then?” My voice sank to a whisper.

“Yes, I have,” he answered, heartily. “Just landed, from Panama; been busy surveying the Isthmus.”

“Well, and how are you?” I asked, after a short pause, during which we had stood looking at each other, apparently not knowing what to say next.

“How am I?” he repeated. “I’ll tell you. Hard up, that’s how I am.” He drew me towards him abruptly, and whispered, “You couldn’t lend me five pounds, could you, old fellow? I’ve only got three and threepence in the world, and I am starting to-morrow for Siberia, as a photographer.”

*****

It was quite clear, then, that he had not called and paid the £3 9s. 2d.

Probably Mrs. Kiswick’s explanation was, after all, the most reasonable; and yet I cling to my spectral illusion. Pray who doesn’t cling to his illusions, spectral or otherwise? I con over all Dr. Johnson has said about ghosts with a deep admiration; and I can’t quite satisfy myself. Did I, or did I not, see Charley Rollingstone’s ghost? Was it simply Mrs. Kiswick? Was it a phantom, born of dyspepsia? Was it an exhalation arising from old brown mahogany East India sherry of enormous strength and flavour? I cannot make up my mind upon the matter.

“The fact is, Piper, old man, you haven’t mind enough to make a conviction out of. Drop it, do. You’re getting an awful bore with your spectral illusion.”

I think it due to the reader to present him with this remark. It was made by a friend to whom I had, more than once, perhaps, mentioned my case. He’s a hasty man, I am bound to say; indeed, he writes in the papers, and is one of the most acidulated reviewers I happen to be acquainted with.

Dutton Cook.