A Tragedy in Black and White and Other Stories
Note by George
Note by George.
Dolly has just triumphantly shown me the above manuscript, with which he intends ultimately to favour the public. Did ever anyone hear of such an ass? Of course, the whole affair was a hoax. He bored me to extinction with his ceaseless prattle about his young woman and his ghosts, so I planned this business as a sort of retaliation, meaning to undeceive him afterwards, if he should be taken in, and so have a joke against him. But the muff swallowed it all so greedily, and is so proud of having seen a genuine ghost, that I can't make up my mind to tell him the truth.
Certainly, the whole affair went off most smoothly. The ghost, who was played by a clever fellow called Maitland, was, of course, concealed in my bedroom. Fortune favoured him in making his entrance and exit, but he did the part uncommonly well, and even got from Dolly a signed paper acknowledging him as a spectre. Maitland says he shall keep that paper as a proof of the lengths to which human credulity can go.page 90
It is almost needless to say that I drew the charge of the pistol before I left home, and gave the bullet to the ghost, who had no difficulty in producing it at the proper time, as Dolly invariably shuts his eyes when he fires. I had only to counterfeit a certain amount of surprise and indignation when I got home, and the hoax was complete.
I was afraid the trick would be discovered when Maitland and Dolly met, but though the latter was much struck by the likeness between my fleshly friend and his ghostly one, it never entered into his head to connect the two.
Besides, Maitland, quite unnecessarily, addled the poor fellow's brains still more by the introduction of a new idea, stating it as his belief that everyone has a double, and that probably the ghost was his (Maitland's); hence the remarkable likeness. Dolly jumped at the suggestion, and the theory has almost ousted ghosts from the first place in his speculations. He spends his time now, trying to find his friends' doubles, and lives in the hope of some day meeting the exact counterpart of himself.
In my humble opinion, that would be quite impossible.