Told After Supper
Mr. Coombes's Story
Well, you all know my brother-in-law, Mr. Parkins (began Mr. Coombes, taking the long
clay pipe from his mouth, and putting it behind his ear: we did not know his brother-in-
law, but we said we did, so as to save time), and you know of course that he once took a
lease of an old Mill in Surrey, and went to live there.
Now you must know that, years ago, this very mill had been occupied by a wicked old
miser, who died there, leaving--so it was rumoured- -all his money hidden somewhere
about the place. Naturally enough, every one who had since come to live at the mill had
tried to find the treasure; but none had ever succeeded, and the local wiseacres said that
nobody ever would, unless the ghost of the miserly miller should, one day, take a fancy to
one of the tenants, and disclose to him the secret of the hiding-place.
My brother-in-law did not attach much importance to the story, regarding it as an old
woman's tale, and, unlike his predecessors, made no attempt whatever to discover the
"Unless business was very different then from what it is now," said my brother-in-law, "I
don't see how a miller could very well have saved anything, however much of a miser he
might have been: at all events, not enough to make it worth the trouble of looking for it."
Still, he could not altogether get rid of the idea of that treasure.
One night he went to bed. There was nothing very extraordinary about that, I admit. He
often did go to bed of a night. What WAS remarkable, however, was that exactly as the
clock of the village church chimed the last stroke of twelve, my brother-in-law woke up
with a start, and felt himself quite unable to go to sleep again.
Joe (his Christian name was Joe) sat up in bed, and looked around.
At the foot of the bed something stood very still, wrapped in shadow.
It moved into the moonlight, and then my brother-in-law saw that it was the figure of a
wizened little old man, in knee-breeches and a pig-tail.
In an instant the story of the hidden treasure and the old miser flashed across his mind.
"He's come to show me where it's hid," thought my brother-in-law; and he resolved that
he would not spend all this money on himself, but would devote a small percentage of it
towards doing good to others.