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Ghost or Nothing

This article was published in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW), Saturday 14th September 1907

Ghost or Nothing

The Spectre On The Rigging.

Ghost stories are still inexhausted. The tale of those already in circulation will probably never be made up, but here is one published in this country for the first time. It has certain novel features, which raises it out of the ordinary description of ghost story, and is written by the man principally interested:-

I was crossing the Atlantic from Hamburg to New York. I had only recently become engaged to a young Swedish woman, Miss Erna A-, who was alsa a passenger on board. My stateroom was shared with me by the brother-in-law of my betrothed, Consul to Nicaragua from a small European monarchy; while his wife and her sister Erna occupied the stateroom directly opposite ours. My intended, who was in somewhat delicate health, was to accompany the Consul and his wife to Central America and remain with them until I had completed arrangements for our wedding and established a household.

My fiancee, though always sweetly affectionate toward me, seemed to be constantly oppressed by a brooding, melancholy sadness, which I attributed to the frail state of her general health, although she was not suffering from any specific ailment. On a Wednesday evening we were seated in our accustomed place on deck, planning, building air-castles, whispering little confidences, when I suddenly became aware of a frightful change in my fiancee's features. Her eyes opened to an unnatural size; her lips parted, and her face was ghastly white and drawn, assuming such an aspect of horror as I hope I shall never again behold on a human countenance.

I sprang to my feet and instinctively following with my eyes the direction of her terrified gaze, I saw the figure of a man standing, apparently without any support, upon the foretopsail yard, slowly beckoning with his right hand in our direction. It was not at once clear to me how this acrobatic feat could affect my future wife so terribly; but just at this moment the swaying motion of the steamer brought the silhouetted figure of the man directly before the bright moon, and I could see the moon through that apparition as clearly as if but a gossamer veil had intervened.

Before I had even time to grasp the import of this astounding fact, a shriek of terror and anguish from my fiancee's lips caused me to turn to her. She had bent her head to her breast and spread her hands out in front of her as if to ward off an impending attack. I carried her to her stateroom, where she lingered in a comatose state till our landing in New York, a few days later. She died, without having uttered a single word, exactly a week after the fateful apparition.

I learned subsequently from her brother-in-law that shortly before I became acquainted with Erna, she had jilted, for no apparent reason, a young officer in the German Navy, who had been engaged to her for more than a year. The love-crazed young man thereupon committed suicide by jumping overboard from the man-of-war to which he was attached while the vessel was in the Atlantic, possibly not far from the spot where we saw the phantom.

In his last letter to Erna, in which he announced his intention to take his life, he bitterly reproached her for what he called her faithlessness, and swore that she would never live to wed another man; that he would come back from the spirit world to claim his bride when the proper time had come. This letter of a morbid, oversensitive discarded suitor was the cause of the poor girl's melancholy and depression. The vision of that spectre on the yard-arm killed her.

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