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The Ghost in the Mill
by [?]

“Why, ye see, boys, she was as withered and wrinkled and brown as an old frosted punkin-vine; and her little snaky eyes sparkled and snapped, and it made yer head kind o’ dizzy to look at ’em; and folks used to say that anybody that Ketury got mad at was sure to get the worst of it fust or last. And so, no matter what day or hour Ketury had a mind to rap at anybody’s door, folks gen’lly thought it was best to let her in; but then, they never thought her coming was for any good, for she was just like the wind,—she came when the fit was on her, she staid jest so long as it pleased her, and went when she got ready, and not before. Ketury understood English, and could talk it well enough, but always seemed to scorn it, and was allers mowin’ and mutterin’ to herself in Indian, and winkin’ and blinkin’ as if she saw more folks round than you did, so that she wa’n’t no way pleasant company; and yet everybody took good care to be polite to her.

So old Cack asked her to come in, and didn’t make no question where she come from, or what she come on; but he knew it was twelve good miles from where she lived to his hut, and the snow was drifted above her middle: and Cap’n Eb declared that there wa’n’t no track, nor sign o’ a track, of anybody’s coming through that snow next morning.”

“How did she get there, then?” said I.

“Didn’t ye never see brown leaves a-ridin’ on the wind? Well, Cap’n Eb he says, ‘she came on the wind,’ and I’m sure it was strong enough to fetch her. But Cack he got her down into the warm corner, and he poured her out a mug o’ hot toddy, and give her: but ye see her bein’ there sort o’ stopped the conversation; for she sot there a-rockin’ back’ards and for’ards, a-sippin her toddy, and a-mutterin’, and lookin’ up chimbley.

“Cap’n Eb says in all his born days he never hearn such screeches and yells as the wind give over that chimbley; and old Cack got so frightened, you could fairly hear his teeth chatter.

“But Cap’n Eb he was a putty brave man, and he wa’n’t goin’ to have conversation stopped by no woman, witch or no witch; and so, when he see her mutterin’, and lookin’ up chimbley, he spoke up, and says he, ‘Well, Ketury, what do you see?’ says he.’Come, out with it; don’t keep it to yourself.’ Ye see Cap’n Eb was a hearty fellow, and then he was a leetle warmed up with the toddy.

“Then he said he see an evil kind o’ smile on Ketury’s face, and she rattled her necklace o’ bones and snakes’ tails; and her eyes seemed to snap; and she looked up the chimbley, and called out, ‘Come down, come down! let’s see who ye be.’

“Then there was a scratchin’ and a rumblin’ and a groan; and a pair of feet come down the chimbley, and stood right in the middle of the haarth, the toes pi’ntin’ out’rds, with shoes and silver buckles a-shin-in’ in the firelight. Cap’n Eb says he never come so near bein’ scared in his life; and, as to old Cack, he jest wilted right down in his chair.

“Then old Ketury got up, and reached her stick up chimbley, and called out louder, ‘Come down, come down! let’s see who ye be.’ And, sure enough, down came a pair o’ legs, and j’ined right on to the feet: good fair legs they was, with ribbed stockings and leather breeches.