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,inconsequenceofthemysteriousnoises thatcamefromthecorridorandthelibrary."  

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

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

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