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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
THE GHOST by WILLIAM D. O'CONNOR.
"Had who, Beary-papa?"
"Him. I'll tell you. The street-floor of one of my houses in Hanover Street lets for an oyster-room. They keep a bar there, and sell liquor. Last night they had a grand row,--a drunken fight, and one man was stabbed, it's thought fatally."
"O father!" Netty's bright eyes dilated with horror.
"Yes. I hope he won't die. At any rate, there's likely to be a stir about the matter, and my name will be called into question, then, as I'm the landlord. And folks will make a handle of it, and there'll be the deuce to pay, generally."
He got back the stern, vexed frown, to his face, with the anticipation, and beat the carpet with his foot. The ghost still watched from the angle of the room, and seemed to darken, while its features looked troubled.
"But, father," said Netty, a little tremulously, "I wouldn't let my houses to such people. It's not right; is it? Why, it's horrid to think of men getting drunk, and killing each other!"
Dr. Renton rubbed his hair into disorder, with vexation, and then subsided into solemnity.
"I know it's not exactly right, Netty; but I can't help it. As I said before, I wish the Devil had that barkeeper. I ought to have ordered him out long ago, and then this wouldn't have happened. I've increased his rent twice, hoping to get rid of him so; but he pays without a murmur; and what am I to do? You see, he was an occupant when the building came into my hands, and I let him stay. He pays me a good, round rent; and, apart from his cursed traffic, he's a good tenant. What can I do? It's a good thing for him, and it's a good thing for me, pecuniarily. Confound him! Here's a nice rumpus brewing!"
"Dear pa, I'm afraid it's not a good thing for you," said Netty, caressing him and smoothing his tumbled hair. "Nor for him either. I wouldn't mind the rent he pays you. I'd order him out. It's bad money. There's blood on it."
She had grown pale, and her voice quivered. The phantom glided over to them, and laid its spectral hand upon her forehead. The shadowy eyes looked from under the misty hair into the doctor's face, and the pale lips moved as if speaking the words heard only in the silence of his heart,--"Hear her, hear her!"
"I must think of it," resumed Dr. Renton, coldly. "I'm resolved, at all events, to warn him that if anything of this kind occurs again, he must quit at once. I dislike to lose a profitable tenant; for no other business would bring me the sum his does. Hang it, everybody does the best he can with his property,--why shouldn't I?"
The ghost, standing near them, drooped its head again on its breast, and crossed its arms. Netty was silent. Dr. Renton continued, petulantly,--
"A precious set of people I manage to get into my premises. There's a woman hires a couple of rooms for a dwelling, overhead, in that same building, and for three months I haven't got a cent from her. I know these people's tricks. Her month's notice expires to-morrow, and out she goes."
"Poor creature!" sighed Netty.
He knit his brow, and beat the carpet with his foot, in vexation.
"Perhaps she can't pay you, pa," trembled the sweet, silvery voice. "You wouldn't turn her out in this cold winter, when she can't pay you,--would you, pa?"
"Why don't she get another house, and swindle some one else?" he replied, testily; "there's plenty of rooms to let."