Chapter 1

WhenMr.HiramB.Otis,theAmericanMinister,boughtCantervilleChase,everyonetoldhimhewasdoingaveryfoolishthing,astherewasnodoubtatallthattheplacewashaunted.Indeed,LordCantervillehimself,whowasamanofthemostpunctilioushonour,hadfeltithisdutytomentionthefacttoMr.Otiswhentheycametodiscussterms.

"Wehavenotcaredtoliveintheplaceourselves,"saidLordCanterville,"sincemygrandaunt,theDowagerDuchessofBolton,wasfrightenedintoafit,fromwhichsheneverreallyrecovered,bytwoskeletonhandsbeingplacedonhershouldersasshewasdressingfordinner,andIfeelboundtotellyou,Mr.Otis,thattheghosthasbeenseenbyseverallivingmembersofmyfamily,aswellasbytherectoroftheparish,theRev.AugustusDampier,whoisaFellowofKing’sCollege,Cambridge.AftertheunfortunateaccidenttotheDuchess,noneofouryoungerservantswouldstaywithus,andLadyCantervilleoftengotverylittlesleepatnight,inconsequenceofthemysteriousnoisesthatcamefromthecorridorandthelibrary."

"MyLord,"answeredtheMinister,"Iwilltakethefurnitureandtheghostatavaluation.Ihavecomefromamoderncountry,wherewehaveeverythingthatmoneycanbuy;andwithallourspryyoungfellowspaintingtheOldWorldred,andcarryingoffyourbestactorsandprima-donnas,IreckonthatifthereweresuchathingasaghostinEurope,we’dhaveitathomeinaveryshorttimeinoneofourpublicmuseums,orontheroadasashow."

"Ifearthattheghostexists,"saidLordCanterville,smiling,"thoughitmayhaveresistedtheoverturesofyourenterprisingimpresarios.Ithasbeenwellknownforthreecenturies,since1584infact,andalwaysmakesitsappearancebeforethedeathofanymemberofourfamily."

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