Rhyme? And Reason?

Rhyme? And Reason?

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CANTO I. The Trystyng. One winter night, at half-past nine,Cold, tired, and cross, and muddy,I had come home, too late to dine,And supper, with cigars and wine,Was waiting in the study.There was a strangeness in the room,And Something white and wavyWas standing near me in the gloom—I took it for the carpet-broomLeft by that careless slavey.

 

 

 

But presently the Thing beganTo shiver and to sneeze:On which I said “Come, come, my man!That’s a most inconsiderate plan.Less noise there, if you please!” “I’ve caught a cold,” the Thing replies,“Out there upon the landing.”I turned to look in some surprise,And there, before my very eyes,A little Ghost was standing!He trembled when he caught my eye,And got behind a chair.“How came you here,” I said, “and why?I never saw a thing so shy.Come out! Don’t shiver there!”He said “I’d gladly tell you how,And also tell you why;But” (here he gave a little bow)“You’re in so bad a temper now,You’d think it all a lie.“And as to being in a fright,Allow me to remarkThat Ghosts have just as good a right,In every way, to fear the light,As Men to fear the dark.” “No plea,” said I, “can well excuseSuch cowardice in you:For Ghosts can visit when they choose,Whereas we Humans ca’n’t refuseTo grant the interview.”He said “A flutter of alarmIs not unnatural, is it?I really feared you meant some harm:But, now I see that you are calm,Let me explain my visit.“Houses are classed, I beg to state,According to the numberOf Ghosts that they accommodate:(The Tenant merely counts as weight,With Coals and other lumber).“This is a ‘one-ghost’ house, and youWhen you arrived last summer,May have remarked a Spectre whoWas doing all that Ghosts can doTo welcome the new-comer. “In Villas this is always done—However cheaply rented:For, though of course there’s less of funWhen there is only room for one,Ghosts have to be contented.“That Spectre left you on the Third—Since then you’ve not been haunted:For, as he never sent us word,’Twas quite by accident we heardThat any one was wanted.“A Spectre has first choice, by right,In filling up a vacancy;Then Phantom, Goblin, Elf, and Sprite—If all these fail them, they inviteThe nicest Ghoul that they can see.“The Spectres said the place was low,And that you kept bad wine:So, as a Phantom had to go,And I was first, of course, you know,I couldn’t well decline.” “No doubt,” said I, “they settled whoWas fittest to be sent:Yet still to choose a brat like you,To haunt a man of forty-two,Was no great compliment!”“I’m not so young, Sir,” he replied,“As you might think. The fact is,In caverns by the water-side,And other places that I’ve tried,I’ve had a lot of practice:“But I have never taken yetA strict domestic part,And in my flurry I forgetThe Five Good Rules of EtiquetteWe have to know by heart.”My sympathies were warming fastTowards the little fellow:He was so utterly aghastAt having found a Man at last,And looked so scared and yellow....