A ghost story, part 2 – by FAED


Greatly to my surprise, instead of doing as I had suggested, the ghost raised its right hand, and placed the tips of the fingers on its ear, then on its mouth, and finally pointed to where its stomach had been. To an ordinary spectator, I suppose this action would have suggested that the ghost meant to say that it was hungry, but being well versed in the sign language of the deaf and dumb, I at once recognised that the ghost, meant to signify that it could not speak or hear. So I rapidly spelt on my fingers to it the same question I had previously asked, when the spectre replied by spelling somewhat stiffly on its fingers the story of its woes. I had some little difficulty in following what was said, owing to several of the ghost finger-bones being absent, occasioning a slight difficulty in forming the vowels of the alphabet with the readiness which is produced by the full complement of digits, but on the whole I gained a pretty clear idea of what the thread of the story was. Briefly, it seemed that the ghost was the shade of a deaf and dumb person, who departed this life some sixty years ago, through having unduly exerted himself in riding his hobby-horse from “Brighthelmstone to Hands Crosse” in the unparalleled time of ten hours. “precious mugs you must have been in those days” I remarked at this point. The ghost gave me a spectral clout, and proceeded to add that having become disembodied in the very house in which I was then, he had been doomed to haunt it ever since, until he should meet with some mortal possessing the requisite knowledge to understand his dactylology, and by enabling him to tell his story, free him to go to rest and moulder comfortably away.

“Well,” I said on my fingers, when he had finished, “I must say that you might have had the consideration to come at a time when I wasn’t so beastly tired, and not interrupt my legitimate rest with your trumpery history.”

“Look!” replied the ghost, “you shall be rewarded,” and he beckoned me with his hand towards the door. I gave him to understanding that if my reward was dependent upon getting out of bed I would much rather waive all claim; but he was imperative, so I slipped on my shoes and followed him down the stairs – how cold it was! – down, down to the deepest dungeon – I should say cellar – where were ranged row upon row of jars of jam, which I remembered that Mors Cutitt and Tilly had been potting the previous day. “Does the old humbug mean to reward me with some of Mrs. Cutitt’s jam?” I thought to myself. But no, it seemed not, for the spectre stopped and pointed into a dark corner, where he directed me to lift up a piece of loose flooring, and I saw an old bag such as plumbers use to carry their odds and ends in, lying beneath the boards. Stooping down, I opened the bag, and could scarcely believe my own eyes, but yes, there they were, glittering, shining, chinking gold pieces; the bag crammed full of them! when I had quite satisfied myself that they were genuine, I asked the ghost of that was to be my reward? He assented, and signalled me that I should find them there in the morning, and that the only thing that was required to lay his shade was that I should shake hands with him. “Shake hands with you, and will you then vamoose?” I asked. “For ever” replied the spirit. “Then tip us your fin,” I replied, and we exchanged an impalpable shake, when the apparition immediately vanished, and I was in darkness…

(From the “Deaf and Dumb Magazine” No 201, June 1881, Vol IX: 87-88.)

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