"On such a wretched night?
I always fancied Ghosts could fly -
If not exactly in the sky,
Yet at a fairish height."
To soar above the earth:
But Phantoms often find that wings -
Like many other pleasant things -
Cost more than they are worth.
Can buy them from the Elves:
But WE prefer to keep below -
They're stupid company, you know,
For any but themselves:
From pride, they treat a Phantom
As something quite beneath contempt -
Just as no Turkey ever dreamt
Of noticing a Bantam."
To houses such as mine.
Pray, how did they contrive to know
So quickly that 'the place was low,'
And that I 'kept bad wine'?"
The little Ghost began.
Here I broke in--"Inspector who?
Inspecting Ghosts is something new!
Explain yourself, my man!"
"One of the Spectre order:
You'll very often see him dressed
In a yellow gown, a crimson vest,
And a night-cap with a border.
But caught a sort of chill ;
So came to England to be nursed,
And here it took the form of THIRST,
Which he complains of still.
Warms his old bones like nectar:
And as the inns, where it is found,
Are his especial hunting-ground,
We call him the INN-SPECTRE."
I bore it--bore it like a man -
This agonizing witticism!
And nothing could be sweeter than
My temper, till the Ghost began
Some most provoking criticism.
Yet still you'd better teach them
Dishes should have SOME SORT of taste.
Pray, why are all the cruets placed
Where nobody can reach them?
His living as a waiter!
Is that queer THING supposed to burn?
(It's far too dismal a concern
To call a Moderator).
Were very much too old:
And just remember, if you please,
The NEXT time you have toasted cheese,
Don't let them send it cold.
By getting better flour:
And have you anything to drink
That looks a LITTLE less like ink,
And isn't QUITE so sour?"
He muttered "Goodness gracious!"
And so went on to criticise -
"Your room's an inconvenient size:
It's neither snug nor spacious.
Serves but to let the dusk in--"
"But please," said I, "to recollect
'Twas fashioned by an architect
Who pinned his faith on Ruskin!"
On whom he pinned his faith!
Constructed by whatever law,
So poor a job I never saw,
As I'm a living Wraith!
How much are they a dozen?"
I growled "No matter what they are!
You're getting as familiar
As if you were my cousin!
And so I tell you flat."
"Aha," said he, "we're getting grand!"
(Taking a bottle in his hand)
"I'll soon arrange for THAT!"
And gaily cried "Here goes!"
I tried to dodge it as it came,
But somehow caught it, all the same,
Exactly on my nose.
That I can clearly fix,
Till I was sitting on the floor,
Repeating "Two and five are four,
But FIVE AND TWO are six."
Nor guessed: I only know
That, when at last my sense returned,
The lamp, neglected, dimly burned -
The fire was getting low -
A Thing that smirked and smiled:
And found that he was giving me
A lesson in Biography,
As if I were a child.