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PAGE 4

The Ghost in the Mill
by [?]

“Wal, ye see, Cap’n Eb he told me, that when he come to them bars and looked up, and saw the dark a-comin’ down, and the storm a-thickenin’ up, he felt that things was gettin’ pretty consid’able serious. There was a dark piece o’ woods on ahead of him inside the bars; and he knew, come to get in there, the light would give out clean. So he jest thought he’d take the hoss out o’ the team, and go ahead a little, and see where he was. So he driv his oxen up ag’in the fence, and took out the hoss, and got on him, and pushed along through the woods, not rightly knowin’ where he was goin’.

“Wal, afore long he see a light through the trees; and, sure enough, he come out to Cack Sparrock’s old mill.

“It was a pretty consid’able gloomy sort of a place, that are old mill was. There was a great fall of water that come rushin’ down the rocks, and fell in a deep pool; and it sounded sort o’ wild and lonesome: but Cap’n Eb he knocked on the door with his whiphandle, and got in.

“There, to be sure, sot old Cack beside a great blazin’ fire, with his rum-jug at his elbow. He was a drefful fellow to drink, Cack was! For all that, there was some good in him, for he was pleasant-spoken and ‘bliging; and he made the cap’n welcome.

“‘Ye see, Cack,’ said Cap’n Eb, ‘I’m off my road, and got snowed up down by your bars,’ says he.

“‘Want ter know!’ says Cack.’Calculate you’ll jest have to camp down here till mornin’,’ says he.

“Wal, so old Cack he got out his tin lantern, and went with Cap’n Eb back to the bars to help him fetch along his critturs. He told him he could put ’em under the mill-shed. So they got the critturs up to the shed, and got the cart under; and by that time the storm was awful.

“But Cack he made a great roarin’ fire, ’cause, ye see, Cack allers had slab-wood a plenty from his mill; and a roarin’ fire is jest so much company. It sort o’ keeps a fellow’s spirits up, a good fire does. So Cack he sot on his old teakettle, and made a swingeing lot o’ toddy; and he and Cap’n Eb were havin’ a tol’able comfortable time there. Cack was a pretty good hand to tell stories; and Cap’n Eb warn’t no way backward in that line, and kep’ up his end pretty well: and pretty soon they was a-roarin’ and haw-hawin’ inside about as loud as the storm outside; when all of a sudden, ’bout midnight, there come a loud rap on the door.

“‘Lordy massy! what’s that?’ says Cack. Folks is rather startled allers to be checked up sudden when they are a-carryin’ on and laughin’; and it was such an awful blowy night, it was a little scary to have a rap on the door.

“Wal, they waited a minit, and didn’t hear nothin’ but the wind a-screechin’ round the chimbley; and old Cack was jest goin’ on with his story, when the rap come ag’in, harder’n ever, as if it’d shook the door open.

“‘Wal,’ says old Cack, ‘if ’tis the Devil, we’d jest as good’s open, and have it out with him to onst,’ says he; and so he got up and opened the door and, sure enough, there was old Ketury there. Expect you’ve heard your grandma tell about old Ketury. She used to come to meetin’s sometimes, and her husband was one o’ the prayin’ Indians; but Ketury was one of the rael wild sort, and you couldn’t no more convert her than you could convert a wild-cat or a painter [panther]. Lordy massy! Ketury used to come to meetin’, and sit there on them Indian benches; and when the second bell was a-tollin’, and when Parson Lothrop and his wife was comin’ up the broad aisle, and everybody in the house ris’ up and stood, Ketury would sit there, and look at ’em out o’ the corner o’ her eyes; and folks used to say she rattled them necklaces o’ rattlesnakes’ tails and wild-cat teeth, and sich like heathen trumpery, and looked for all the world as if the spirit of the old Sarpent himself was in her. I’ve seen her sit and look at Lady Lothrop out o’ the corner o’ her eyes; and her old brown baggy neck would kind o’ twist and work; and her eyes they looked so, that ’twas enough to scare a body. For all the world, she looked jest as if she was a-workin’ up to spring at her. Lady Lothrop was jest as kind to Ketury as she always was to every poor crittur. She’d bow and smile as gracious to her when meetin’ was over, and she come down the aisle, passin’ out o, meetin’; but Ketury never took no notice. Ye see, Ketury’s father was one o’ them great powwows down to Martha’s Vineyard; and people used to say she was set apart, when she was a child, to the sarvice o’ the Devil: any way, she never could be
made nothin’ of in a Christian way. She come down to Parson Lothrop’s study once or twice to be catechised; but he couldn’t get a word out o’ her, and she kind o’ seemed to sit scornful while he was a-talkin’. Folks said, if it was in old times, Ketury wouldn’t have been allowed to go on so; but Parson Lothrop’s so sort o’ mild, he let her take pretty much her own way. Everybody thought that Ketury was a witch: at least, she knew consid’able more’n she ought to know, and so they was kind o’ ‘fraid on her. Cap’n Eb says he never see a fellow seem scareder than Cack did when he see Ketury a-standin’ there.