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The Ghostly Adventurer






About thirty years ago, some labouring mechanics met one Saturday
evening, after receiving their wages, at a public-house, near Rippon, in
Yorkshire, for the purpose of enjoying themselves convivially, after the
cares and fatigues of the week. The glass circulated freely: every man
told his story, or sung a song; and various were the subjects of
conversation. At length that of courage was introduced; every man now
considered himself a hero, as is generally the case when liquor begins
to operate. One boasted his skill as a pugilist, and related how many
battles he had fought, and came off victorious; another related a
dreadful encounter he had lately had with a mad dog, whom he overpowered
and left dead on the field; a third told a story of his sleeping in a
haunted house, and his conversation with a dreadful ghost. In short,
various and extravagant were the different tales they told; until one,
who had hitherto remained silent, arose, and told them that,
notwithstanding their boasted courage, he would wager a bet of five
guineas, that not one of the company had resolution sufficient to go to
the bone-house, in the parish church-yard (which was about a mile
distant), and bring a skull from thence with him, and place it on the
table before the guests. This wager was soon accepted by one of the
party, who immediately set off on his expedition to the church-yard. The
wag who had proposed the bet, and who knew a nearer by-way to the
bone-house than his opponent had taken, requested of the landlady to
lend him a white sheet, and that he would soon cool this heroic man's
courage. The landlady, who enjoyed the joke, complied with his request,
lent him the sheet, and off set our wag with the utmost speed. He
arrived at the bone-house first, threw the sheet over him, and placed
himself in one corner, waiting the arrival of his comrade. Presently
after enters the first man, with slow deliberate pace; and observing a
figure in white, he felt himself greatly alarmed (as he afterwards
acknowledged). However, he resumed his courage, advanced, stooped down,
and picked up a skull. Immediately the phantom exclaimed, in a deep and
hollow tone, "That's my father's skull!" "Well then," replied the
adventurer, "if it be thy father's skull, take it." So down he laid it,
and took up another; when the figure replied, in the same hollow tone,
"That's my mother's skull!" "Well then," the other again replied, "if
it be thy mother's skull, take it." So down he laid it, and took up a
third. The apparition now, in a tremendously awful manner, cried out,
"That's my skull!" "If it be the devil's skull, I'll have it!"
answered the hero; and off he ran with it in his hand, greatly
terrified, and the spectre after him.

In his flight through the church-yard, he stumbled over a tomb-stone,
and fell; which occasioned the ghost likewise to fall upon him, which
increased not a little his fright. However, he soon extricated himself,
and again bent his flight towards the inn, which he soon reached; and,
bolting suddenly into the room, exclaimed, with terrific countenance,
his hair standing on end, "Here is the skull you sent me for: but, by
George, the right owner's coming for it!" Saying which, down went the
skull, and instantly appeared the figure with the white sheet on. This
unexpected intrusion so much frightened all the company, that they ran
out of the house as fast as possible, really believing it was an
apparition from the tombs come to punish them for their sacrilegious
theft. Such power has fear over the strongest mind when taken by
surprise! The undaunted adventurer, however, won his wager; which was
spent at the same house the Saturday following, when the joke was
universally allowed to be a very good one.





Next: The Heroic Midshipman Or Church-yard Encounter

Previous: The Credulous Bishop



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