THE GHOST OF JERRY BUNDLER.
Scene.—The Commercial Room in an old-fashioned hotel in a small country town. An air of old-fashioned comfort is in evidence everywhere. Old sporting prints on the walls.
On the table up C. are half a dozen candlesticks, old-fashioned shape with snuffer attached. Two pairs of carpet slippers are set up within fender. Red curtains to window recess. Shutters or blinds to windows. Armchair and about six other chairs in the room. One old-fashioned settle. One small table. Clock. Decanter of water, half a dozen toddy tumblers. Matches, etc. The only light is a ruddy glow from the fire. Kettle on hob. Moonlight from R. of window when shutter is opened. Practical chandelier from ceiling or lights at side of mantelpiece. Doctor's coat and muffler on chair up L., his cap on mantelpiece.
All lights out, dark stage. Opening music. Curtain rise—ticking of clock heard. Wind, then church clock chimes, the Lights come very slowly up, when the red glow is seen in the fireplace the low murmurs of the characters heard, and gradually get louder as lights come up to when Somers' voice tops all.
(The stage occupied by all characters except George the waiter. Discovered, Penfold, sitting in arm chair L. of fire, above it. Doctor Leek standing above fire and leaning on mantel-shelf. Hirst sitting on settle below fire and nearest to audience. Somers seated on settle with him but above him. Malcolm and Beldon on chairs R. C., facing fire. All are smoking, and drink from their respective glasses from time to time. Somers has just finished a story as Curtain rises.)
Omnes. Oh, I say, that sounds impossible, etc.
Somers. Haunted or not haunted, the fact remains that no one stays in the house long. It's been let to several tenants since the time of the murder, but they never completed their tenancy. The last tenant held out for a month, but at last he gave up like the rest, and cleared out, although he had done the place up thoroughly, and must have been pounds out of pocket by the transaction.
Malcolm. Well, it's a capital ghost story, I admit, that is, as a story, but I for one can't swallow it.
Hirst. I don't know, it is not nearly so improbable as some I have heard. Of course it's an old idea that spirits like to get into the company of human beings. A man told me once, that he travelled down by the Great Western, with a ghost as fellow passenger, and hadn't the slightest suspicion of it, until the inspector came for tickets. My friend said, the way that ghost tried to keep up appearances, by feeling in all its pockets, and even looking on the floor for its ticket, was quite touching. Ultimately it gave it up, and with a loud groan vanished through the ventilator.
(Somers, Malcolm and Leek laugh heartily.)
Beldon. Oh, I say come now, that'll do.
Penfold (seriously). Personally I don't think it's a subject for jesting. I have never seen an apparition myself, but I have known people who have, and I consider that they form a very interesting link between us and the after life....