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The Canterville Ghost

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Chapter V

One day, Virginia was walking along the corridor, when she saw a person in one of the rooms and went in. To her surprise, it was the Canterville ghost himself and he looked really sad.

“I am so sorry for you,” she said, “but my brothers are going back to Eton tomorrow, and then, if you behave yourself, no one will annoy you.”

“It is absurd asking me to behave myself,” the ghost answered, “I must rattle my chains, and groan through keyholes, and walk about at night. It is my only reason for existing.”

“It is no reason at all for existing, and you know you have been very nasty. Mrs Umney told us that you had killed your wife.”

“Well, I quite admit it,” said the ghost, “but my wife was not very nice, you know, and she knew nothing about cookery. However, it is all over now, and I don't think it was very nice of her brothers to starve me to death.”

“Starve you to death? Oh, Mr Ghost, I mean Sir Simon, are you hungry? I have a sandwich in my case. Would you like it?”

“No, thank you, I never eat anything now; but it is very kind of you. You are much nicer than the rest of your rude, dishonest family.”

“Stop!” cried Virginia, stamping her foot, “it is you who are rude, and as for dishonesty, you stole the paints out of my box to renew that ridiculous blood-stain in the library. First you took all my reds and I couldn't do any more sunsets, then you took the green and the yellow. Finally I had nothing left but blue and white, and I could only do moonlight scenes, which are not at all easy to paint.”

Having said this, Virginia turned around to leave the room.

“Please don't go, Miss Virginia,” the ghost cried; “I am so unhappy and I really don't know what to do. I want to go to sleep and I cannot. I have not slept for three hundred years, and I am so tired.”

“Poor, poor Ghost,” she murmured; “have you no place where you can sleep?”

“Well, I know a place where I could sleep – it's the Garden of Death, the churchyard. But only if you weep for me and my sins and pray with me for my soul, the Angel of Death will have mercy on me.”

When Virginia promised to help the ghost and pray for him, he rose from his seat, took her hand and kissed it thankfully. Then he led her across the room. Virginia saw the wall slowly fading away like a mist, and a bitter cold wind was around them. “Quick, quick,” cried the ghost, “or it will be too late.” Then the wall closed behind them, and the chamber was empty.

Chapter VI ►