By MILDRED CRAM
From Metropolitan Magazine
We were seated in the saloon of a small steamer which plies between Naples and Trieste on irregular schedule. Outside, the night was thickly black and a driving rain swept down the narrow decks.
“You Englishmen laugh at ghosts,” the Corsican merchant said. “In my country, we are less pretentious. Frankly, we are afraid. You, too, are afraid, and so you laugh! A difference, it seems to me, which lies, not in the essence but in the manner.”
Doctor Fenton smiled queerly. “Perhaps. What do any of us know about it, one way or the other? Ticklish business! We poke a little too far beyond our ken and get a shock that withers our souls. Cosmic force! We stumble forward, bleating for comfort, and fall over a charged cable. It may have been put there to hold us out—or in.”
Aldobrandini, the Italian inventor, was playing cards with a German engineer. He lost the game to his opponent, and turning about in his chair, came into the conversation.
“You are talking about ghosts. I have seen them. Once in the Carso. Again on the campagna near Rome. I met a company of Caesar’s legionaries tramping through a bed of asphodels. The asphodels lay down beneath those crushing sandals, and then stood upright again, unharmed.”
The engineer shuffled the cards between short, capable fingers. “Ghosts. Yes, I agree; there are such things. Created out of our subconscious selves; mirages of the mind; photographic spiritual projections; hereditary memories. There are always explanations.”
Doctor Fenton poked into the bowl of his pipe with a broad thumb. “Did any of you happen to know the English poet, Cecil Grimshaw? No? I’ll tell you a story about him if you care to listen. A long story, I warn you. Very curious. Very suggestive. I cannot vouch for the entire truth of it, since I got the tale from many sources—a word here, a chance encounter there, and at last only the puzzling reports of men who saw Grimshaw out in Africa. He wasn’t a friend of mine, or I wouldn’t tell these things.”
Aldobrandini’s dark eyes softened. He leaned forward. “Cecil Grimshaw ... We Latins admire his work more than that of any modern Englishman.”