Page:The Coming Race, etc - 1888.djvu/369
" No, sir nothing particular; a single gentleman."
I gave the pot-boy the gratuity earned by his liberal information,
and proceeded to Mr. J , in G Street, which was close by
the street that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to
find Mr. J at home an elderly man, with intelligent countenance
and prepossessing manners.
I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the house was considered to be haunted that I had a strong desire to examine a house with so equivocal a reputation that I should be greatly obliged if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a night. I was willing to pay for that privilege whatever
he might be inclined to ask. "Sir," said Mr. J , with great
courtesy, "the house is at your service, for as short or as long a time as you please. Rent is out of the question the obligation will be on my side should you be able to discover the cause of the strange phenomena which at present deprive it of all value. I can- not let it, for I cannot even get a servant to keep it in order or answer the door. Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may use that expression, not only by night, but by day; though at night the disturbances are of a more unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming character. The poor old woman who died in it three weeks ago was a pauper whom I took out of a workhouse, for in her childhood she had been known to some of my family, and had once been in such good circumstances that she had rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior education and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce to remain in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and the coroner's inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighbourhood, I have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house, much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent-free for a year to any one who would pay its rates and taxes."
"How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?" " That I can scarcely tell you, but very many years since. The old woman I spoke of said it was haunted when she rented it be- tween thirty and forty years ago. The fact is, that my life has been spent in the East Indies, and in the civil service of the Company. I returned to England last year, on inheriting the fortune of an uncle, among whose possessions was the house in question. I found it shut up and uninhabited. I was told that it was haunted, that no one would inhabit it. I smiled at what seemed to me so idle a story. I spent some money in repairing it added to its old- fashioned furniture a few modern articles advertised it, and obtained