Monday, April 5, 2010

"The Rival Ghosts." Brander Matthews.

One-minute review: Well, there was a ghost that haunted the house at Salem and a ghost, a sort of guardian ghost, who followed Eliphalet Duncan wherever he went. And when Eliphalet stayed at the house in Salem the two ghosts fought and swore at each other. They materialized to other visitors, but not to Eliphalet. He was aware of them from the sounds they made, especially the profanity which he could never hear distinctly, but he knew it was profanity.

Well, Eliphalet fell in love. But his guardian ghost put up a fight against his getting married. Until her mother died. Then his guardian ghost didn’t object to the marriage anymore. But his girl friend, Kitty, who didn’t like ghosts and who wanted to spend their honeymoon in the house at Salem, quietly, with nobody to bother them, said that Eliphalet had to find some way for the ghosts not to bother her. But the ghosts, whenever they were together, always wrangled.

Well, Eliphalet was told by Kitty to rid the house of ghosts or she wouldn’t marry him. Thus, he went to the house in Salem and put the facts of the case to the wrangling ghosts. He offered weapons of various kinds that they could use to fight a duel and settle their quarrels. But his guardian ghost said that he could never use such weapons on a female.

What? The house ghost was a female? Then the solution to stop the wrangling ghosts from wrangling was that the ghosts should get married. Which they did at the same time as Eliphalet and Kitty and the wrangling ghosts did not wrangle any more.

Comment: Clever solution. On the surface. But if you think married ghosts wouldn’t wrangle, then you haven’t been married. What will happen when the married ghosts wrangle, which all married people do? What will Kitty do then? Uncle Larry, the narrator, did not say.

By the way, Uncle Larry, before telling the story said that one characteristic of American ghost stories is that they usually have a sense of humor which European ghost stories never do. RayS.

Famous Ghost Stories. Ed. Bennett Cerf. New York: The Modern Library. Random House, inc. 1944.

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