Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Snoring Ghost
by [?]

Clown. Madman, thou errest: I say there is no darkness
but Ignorance, in which thou art more puzzled than the
Egyptians in their fog…. What is the opinion of Pythagoras
concerning wild fowl?

Malvolio. That the soul of our grandam might haply
inhabit a bird.

Clown. What thinkest thou of his opinion?

Malvolio. I think nobly of the soul, and in no way
approve his opinion.

Twelfth Night, iv. 2.

“I remember,” said Mrs. Overtheway, “I remember my first visit. That is, I remember the occasion when I and my sister Fatima did, for the first time in our lives, go out visiting without our mother, or any grown-up person to take care of us.”

“Do you remember your mother?” asked Ida.

“Quite well, my dear, I am thankful to say. The best and kindest of mothers!”

“Was your father alive, too?” Ida asked, with a sigh.

The old lady paused, pitying the anxious little face opposite, but Ida went on eagerly:

“Please tell me what he was like.”

“He was a good deal older than my mother, who had married very early. He was a very learned man. His tastes and accomplishments were many and various, and he was very young-hearted and enthusiastic in the pursuit of them all his life. He was apt to take up one subject of interest after another, and to be for the time completely absorbed in it. And, I must tell you, that whatever the subject might be, so long as his head was full of it, the house seemed full of it too. It influenced the conversation at meals, the habits of the household, the names of the pet animals, and even of the children. I was called Mary, in a fever of chivalrous enthusiasm for the fair and luckless Queen of Scotland, and Fatima received her name when the study of Arabic had brought about an eastern mania. My father had wished to call her Shahrazad, after the renowned sultana of the ‘Arabian Nights’ but when he called upon the curate to arrange for the baptism, that worthy man flatly rebelled. A long discussion ended in my father’s making a list of eastern names, from which the curate selected that of Fatima as being least repugnant to the sobriety of the parish registers. So Fatima she was called, and as she grew up pale, and moon-faced, and dark-eyed, the name became her very well.”

“Was it this Fatima who went out visiting with you?” asked Ida.

“Yes, my dear; and now as to the visit. The invitation came on my thirteenth birthday.

“One’s birthday is generally a day of some importance. A very notable day whilst one is young, but less so when one is old, when one is being carried quickly through the last stages of life, and when it seems hardly worth while to count time so near the end of the journey. Even in youth, however some birthdays are more important than others. I remember looking forward to my tenth birthday as to a high point of dignity and advancement; and the just pride of the occasion on which I first wrote my age with more figures than one. With similar feelings, I longed to be thirteen. The being able to write my age with two figures had not, after all, shed any special lustre upon life; but when I was ‘in my teens’ it must ‘feel different somehow.’ So I thought. Moreover, this birthday was really to bring with it solid advantages. I was now to be allowed to read certain books of a more grown-up character than I had read hitherto, and to sit up till nine o’clock. I was to wear sandals to my shoes. My hair was henceforth to grow as long as I and the Fates would permit, and the skirts of my frocks were to take an inch in the same direction. ‘In four more years,’ I said to Fatima, as we sat on the eve of my birthday, discussing its manifold advantages, ‘in four more years I shall be grown up. Miss Ansted was introduced at seventeen.’ The prospect was illimitable.