Magazine. It was a perfectly flavourless Ghost. It wouldn’t have

frightened a mouse! It wasn’t a Ghost that one would even offer a chair


“Three score years and ten, baldness, and spectacles, have their

advantages after all!”, I said to myself. “Instead of a bashful youth

and maiden, gasping out monosyllables at awful intervals, here we have

an old man and a child, quite at their ease, talking as if they had

known each other for years! Then you think,” I continued aloud,

“that we ought sometimes to ask a Ghost to sit down? But have we any

authority for it? In Shakespeare, for instance–there are plenty of

ghosts there–does Shakespeare ever give the stage-direction ‘hands

chair to Ghost’?”

The lady looked puzzled and thoughtful for a moment: then she almost

clapped her hands. “Yes, yes, he does!” she cried.

“He makes Hamlet say ‘Rest, rest, perturbed Spirit!”‘

“And that, I suppose, means an easy-chair?”

“An American rocking-chair, I think–”

“Fayfield Junction, my Lady, change for Elveston!” the guard announced,

flinging open the door of the carriage: and we soon found ourselves,

with all our portable property around us, on the platform.

The accommodation, provided for passengers waiting at this Junction,

was distinctly inadequate–a single wooden bench, apparently intended

for three sitters only: and even this was already partially occupied by

a very old man, in a smock frock, who sat, with rounded shoulders and

drooping head, and with hands clasped on the top of his stick so as to

make a sort of pillow for that wrinkled face with its look of patient


“Come, you be off!” the Station-master roughly accosted the poor old

man. “You be off, and make way for your betters! This way, my Lady!”

he added in a perfectly different tone. “If your Ladyship will take a

seat, the train will be up in a few minutes.” The cringing servility of

his manner was due, no doubt, to the address legible on the pile of

luggage, which announced their owner to be “Lady Muriel Orme, passenger

to Elveston, via Fayfield Junction.”

As I watched the old man slowly rise to his feet, and hobble a few

paces down the platform, the lines came to my lips:-

“From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,

With toil his stiffen’d limbs he rear’d;

A hundred years had flung their snows

On his thin locks and floating beard.”

[Image…’Come, you be off!’]

But the lady scarcely noticed the little incident. After one

glance at the ‘banished man,’ who stood tremulously leaning on his

stick, she turned to me. “This is not an American rocking-chair, by any

means! Yet may I say,” slightly changing her place, so as to make room

for me beside her, “may I say, in Hamlet’s words, ‘Rest, rest–‘”

she broke off with a silvery laugh.

“–perturbed Spirit!”‘ I finished the sentence for her. “Yes, that

describes a railway-traveler exactly! And here is an instance of it,”

I added, as the tiny local train drew up alongside the platform,

and the porters bustled about, opening carriage-doors–one of them

helping the poor old man to hoist himself into a third-class carriage,

while another of them obsequiously conducted the lady and myself into a


She paused, before following him, to watch the progress of the other

passenger. “Poor old man!” she said. “How weak and ill he looks!

It was a shame to let him be turned away like that. I’m very sorry–”

At this moment it dawned on me that these words were not addressed to me,

but that she was unconsciously thinking aloud. I moved away a few

steps, and waited to follow her into the carriage, where I resumed the


“Shakespeare must have traveled by rail, if only in a dream:

‘perturbed Spirit’ is such a happy phrase.”

“‘Perturbed’ referring, no doubt,” she rejoined, “to the sensational

booklets peculiar to the Rail. If Steam has done nothing else, it has

at least added a whole new Species to English Literature!”

“No doubt of it,” I echoed. “The true origin of all our medical

books–and all our cookery-books–”

“No, no!” she broke in merrily. “I didn’t mean our Literature!

We are quite abnormal. But the booklets–the little thrilling romances,

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis