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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online
Thus the clothes of ghosts, their properties, and their actions affecting physical objects, are not more difficult to explain than a naked ghost would be, they are all the "stuff that dreams are made of". But occasionally things are carried to a great pitch, as when a ghost drives off in a ghostly dogcart, with a ghostly horse, whip and harness. Of this complicated kind we give two examples; the first reckons as a "subjective," the second as a veracious hallucination.
THE OLD FAMILY COACH
A distinguished and accomplished country gentleman and politician, of scientific tastes, was riding in the New Forest, some twelve miles from the place where he was residing. In a grassy glade he discovered that he did not very clearly know his way to a country town which he intended to visit. At this moment, on the other side of some bushes a carriage drove along, and then came into clear view where there was a gap in the bushes. Mr. Hyndford saw it perfectly distinctly; it was a slightly antiquated family carriage, the sides were in that imitation of wicker work on green panel which was once so common. The coachman was a respectable family servant, he drove two horses: two old ladies were in the carriage, one of them wore a hat, the other a bonnet. They passed, and then Mr. Hyndford, going through the gap in the bushes, rode after them to ask his way. There was no carriage in sight, the avenue ended in a cul-de-sac of tangled brake, and there were no traces of wheels on the grass. Mr. Hyndford rode back to his original point of view, and looked for any object which could suggest the illusion of one old-fashioned carriage, one coachman, two horses and two elderly ladies, one in a hat and one in a bonnet. He looked in vain--and that is all!
Nobody in his senses would call this appearance a ghostly one. The name, however, would be applied to the following tale of
RIDING HOME FROM MESS
In 1854, General Barter, C.B., was a subaltern in the 75th Regiment, and was doing duty at the hill station of Murree in the Punjaub. He lived in a house built recently by a Lieutenant B., who died, as researches at the War Office prove, at Peshawur on 2nd January, 1854. The house was on a spur of the hill, three or four hundred yards under the only road, with which it communicated by a "bridle path," never used by horsemen. That path ended in a precipice; a footpath led into the bridle path from Mr. Barter's house.
One evening Mr. Barter had a visit from a Mr. and Mrs. Deane, who stayed till near eleven o'clock. There was a full moon, and Mr. Barter walked to the bridle path with his friends, who climbed it to join the road. He loitered with two dogs, smoking a cigar, and just as he turned to go home, he heard a horse's hoofs coming down the bridle path. At a bend of the path a tall hat came into view, then round the corner, the wearer of the hat, who rode a pony and was attended by two native grooms. "At this time the two dogs came, and crouching at my side, gave low frightened whimpers. The moon was at the full, a tropical moon, so bright that you could see to read a newspaper by its light, and I saw the party above me advance as plainly as if it were noon-day; they were above me some eight or ten feet on the bridle road. . . . On the party came, . . . and now I had better describe them. The rider was in full dinner dress, with white waistcoat and a tall chimney-pot hat, and he sat on a powerful hill pony (dark-brown, with black mane and tail) in a listless sort of way, the reins hanging loosely from both hands." Grooms led the pony and supported the rider. Mr. Barter, knowing that there was no place they could go to but his own house, cried "Quon hai?" (who is it?), adding in English, "Hullo, what the devil do you want here?" The group halted, the rider gathered up the reins with both hands, and turning, showed Mr. Barter the known features of the late Lieutenant B.