Stories of the Supernatural
6. The Lost Ghost
Mrs. John Emerson, sitting with her needlework beside the window, looked out
and saw Mrs. Rhoda Meserve coming down the street, and knew at once by the
trend of her steps and the cant of her head that she meditated turning in at her
gate. She also knew by a certain something about her general carriage--a
thrusting forward of the neck, a bustling hitch of the shoulders--that she had
important news. Rhoda Meserve always had the news as soon as the news was
in being, and generally Mrs. John Emerson was the first to whom she imparted it.
The two women had been friends ever since Mrs. Meserve had married Simon
Meserve and come to the village to live.
Mrs. Meserve was a pretty woman, moving with graceful flirts of ruffling skirts;
her clear-cut, nervous face, as delicately tinted as a shell, looked brightly from
the plumy brim of a black hat at Mrs. Emerson in the window. Mrs. Emerson was
glad to see her coming. She returned the greeting with enthusiasm, then rose
hurriedly, ran into the cold parlour and brought out one of the best rocking-chairs.
She was just in time, after drawing it up beside the opposite window, to greet her
friend at the door.
"Good-afternoon," said she. "I declare, I'm real glad to see you. I've been alone
all day. John went to the city this morning. I thought of coming over to your house
this afternoon, but I couldn't bring my sewing very well. I am putting the ruffles on
my new black dress skirt."
"Well, I didn't have a thing on hand except my crochet work," responded Mrs.
Meserve, "and I thought I'd just run over a few minutes."
"I'm real glad you did," repeated Mrs. Emerson. "Take your things right off. Here,
I'll put them on my bed in the bedroom. Take the rocking-chair."
Mrs. Meserve settled herself in the parlour rocking-chair, while Mrs. Emerson
carried her shawl and hat into the little adjoining bedroom. When she returned
Mrs. Meserve was rocking peacefully and was already at work hooking blue wool
in and out.
"That's real pretty," said Mrs. Emerson.
"Yes, I think it's pretty," replied Mrs. Meserve.
"I suppose it's for the church fair?"
"Yes. I don't suppose it'll bring enough to pay for the worsted, let alone the work,
but I suppose I've got to make something."
"How much did that one you made for the fair last year bring?"
"It's wicked, ain't it?"
"I rather guess it is. It takes me a week every minute I can get to make one. I
wish those that bought such things for twenty-five cents had to make them.
Guess they'd sing another song. Well, I suppose I oughtn't to complain as long
as it is for the Lord, but sometimes it does seem as if the Lord didn't get much out
"Well, it's pretty work," said Mrs. Emerson, sitting down at the opposite window
and taking up her dress skirt.