The Club-room Ghost





At a town in the west of England, was held a club of twenty-four

persons, which assembled once a week, to drink punch, smoke tobacco, and

talk politics. Like Rubens's Academy at Antwerp, each member had his

peculiar chair, and the president's was more exalted than the rest. One

of the members had been in a dying state for some time; of course, his

chair, while he was absent, remained vacant.



The club being met on their usual night, inquiries were naturally made

after their associate. As he lived in the adjoining house, a particular

friend went himself to inquire for him, and returned with the dismal

tidings, that he could not possibly survive the night. This threw a

gloom on the company, and all efforts to turn the conversation from the

sad subject before them were ineffectual.



About midnight (the time, by long prescription, appropriated for the

walking of spectres), the door opened; and the form, in white, of the

dying, or rather of the dead man, walked into the room, and took his

seat in the accustomed chair: there he remained in silence, and in

silence was he gazed at. The apparition continued a sufficient time in

the chair to convince all present of the reality of the vision: at

length, he arose, and stalked towards the door, which he opened as if

living--went out, and then shut the door after him. After a long pause,

some one, at last, had the resolution to say, "If only one of us had

seen this, he would not have been believed; but it is impossible that so

many persons can be deceived."



The company, by degrees, recovered their speech; and the whole

conversation, as may be imagined, was upon the dreadful object which

had engaged their attention. They broke up, and went home. In the

morning, inquiry was made after their sick friend; it was answered by an

account of his death, which happened nearly at the time of his appearing

in the club. There could be little doubt before, but now nothing could

be more certain, than the reality of the apparition, which had been seen

by so many persons together.



It is needless to say, that such a story spread over the country, and

found credit, even from infidels; for, in this case, all reasoning

became superfluous, when opposed to a plain fact, attested by

three-and-twenty witnesses. To assert the doctrine of the fixed laws of

nature, was ridiculous, when there were so many people of credit to

prove that they might be unfixed. Years rolled on; the story ceased to

engage attention, and it was forgotten, unless when occasionally

produced to silence an unbeliever.



One of the club was an apothecary. In the course of his practice, he was

called to an old woman, whose profession was attending on sick persons.

She told him, that she could leave the world with a quiet conscience,

but for one thing which lay on her mind. "Do not you remember Mr. ----,

whose ghost has been so much talked of? I was his nurse. The night he

died, I left the room for something that was wanted. I am sure I had

not been absent long; but, at my return, I found the bed without my

patient. He was delirious; and I feared that he had thrown himself out

of the window. I was so frightened that I had no power to stir; but,

after some time, to my great astonishment, he entered the room

shivering, and his teeth chattering--laid down on the bed, and died.

Considering myself as the cause of his death, I kept this a secret, for

fear of what might be done to me. Though I could contradict all the

story of the ghost, I dared not do it. I knew, by what had happened,

that it was he himself who had been in the club-room (perhaps

recollecting, in his delirium, that it was the night of meeting): but I

hope God and the poor gentleman's friends will forgive me, and then I

shall die contented."





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