“I don’t—er—know—er what to—to make of it,” the parson said, heroically preserving his Oxford drawl, in spite of his chattering teeth. “I don’t—er, of course—er, believe in gho—sts! He must—er have been—a—a—an evil spirit. Dear me—aw!”
“Help me out of the carriage at once,” the lady with the stare panted. “I consider the whole thing most disgraceful. I shall report it to the Company.”
“What’s the matter, Joe?” an inspector called out, threading his way through the crowd of people, that had commenced to collect at the door of the compartment.
“I’m blessed if I know!” the collector said. “The honly explanation I can give is that a gent who was seated here has dissolved—the hot weather has melted him like butter!”
At this there was a shout of laughter, the inspector slammed the door, the guard whistled, and the next moment the train was off.
As soon as the train was well out of the station Hamar repeated the words he had used, backwards, and he was once again visible.
The effect of his reappearance amongst them was even more striking than that of his previous disappearance.
“Take it away—take it away!” the lady opposite him shouted, throwing up her hands to ward him off. “It’s there again! Take it away! I shall die—I shall go mad!”
“How hideous! How diabolical!” a stout, elderly man said in slow, measured tones, as if he were reading his own funeral service. “It must be the devil! The devil! Ha!” and burying his face in his hands, he indulged in a loud fit of mirthless laughter.
“Why don’t you do something? Talk theology to it, exorcise it,” a remarkably plain woman, in the far corner of the carriage said, in highly indignant tones to the clergyman. “As usual, whenever there is something to be done, it is woman who must do it!”
She got up, and casting a look of infinite scorn at the clergyman—whose condition of terror prevented him uttering even the one telling, biting word—Suffragette—that had risen and stuck in his throat—raised her umbrella, and, before Hamar could stop her, struck it vigorously at him.
“Ghost, demon, devil!” she cried. “I know no fear! Begone!” And the point of her umbrella coming in violent contact with Hamar’s waistcoat, all the breath was unceremoniously knocked out of him; and with a ghastly groan he rolled off his seat on to the floor, where he writhed and grovelled in the most dreadful agony, whilst his assailant continued to stab and jab at him.
In all probability, she would have succeeded, eventually, in reaching some vital part of his body, had not one of the frenzied passengers pulled the communication-cord and stopped the train!
A SERIES OF MISADVENTURES