"And here you must on no pretence Make the first observation. Wait for the Victim to commence: No Ghost of any common sense Begins a conversation.

"If he should say 'HOW CAME YOU HERE?' (The way that YOU began, Sir,) In such a case your course is clear - 'ON THE BAT'S BACK, MY LITTLE DEAR!' Is the appropriate answer.

"If after this he says no more, You'd best perhaps curtail your Exertions--go and shake the door, And then, if he begins to snore, You'll know the thing's a failure.

"By day, if he should be alone - At home or on a walk - You merely give a hollow groan, To indicate the kind of tone In which you mean to talk.

"But if you find him with his friends, The thing is rather harder. In such a case success depends On picking up some candle-ends, Or butter, in the larder.

"With this you make a kind of slide (It answers best with suet), On which you must contrive to glide, And swing yourself from side to side - One soon learns how to do it.

"The Second tells us what is right In ceremonious calls:- 'FIRST BURN A BLUE OR CRIMSON LIGHT' (A thing I quite forgot to-night), 'THEN SCRATCH THE DOOR OR WALLS.'"

I said "You'll visit HERE no more, If you attempt the Guy. I'll have no bonfires on MY floor - And, as for scratching at the door, I'd like to see you try!"

"The Third was written to protect The interests of the Victim, And tells us, as I recollect, TO TREAT HIM WITH A GRAVE RESPECT, AND NOT TO CONTRADICT HIM."

"That's plain," said I, "as Tare and Tret, To any comprehension: I only wish SOME Ghosts I've met Would not so CONSTANTLY forget The maxim that you mention!"

"Perhaps," he said, "YOU first transgressed The laws of hospitality: All Ghosts instinctively detest The Man that fails to treat his guest With proper cordiality.

"If you address a Ghost as 'Thing!' Or strike him with a hatchet, He is permitted by the King To drop all FORMAL parleying - And then you're SURE to catch it!

"The Fourth prohibits trespassing Where other Ghosts are quartered: And those convicted of the thing (Unless when pardoned by the King) Must instantly be slaughtered.

"That simply means 'be cut up small': Ghosts soon unite anew. The process scarcely hurts at all - Not more than when YOU're what you call 'Cut up' by a Review.

"The Fifth is one you may prefer That I should quote entire:- THE KING MUST BE ADDRESSED AS 'SIR.' THIS, FROM A SIMPLE COURTIER, IS ALL THE LAWS REQUIRE:


"I'm getting rather hoarse, I fear, After so much reciting : So, if you don't object, my dear, We'll try a glass of bitter beer - I think it looks inviting."

CANTO III--Scarmoges

"And did you really walk," said I, "On such a wretched night? I always fancied Ghosts could fly - If not exactly in the sky, Yet at a fairish height."

"It's very well," said he, "for Kings To soar above the earth: But Phantoms often find that wings - Like many other pleasant things - Cost more than they are worth.

"Spectres of course are rich, and so Can buy them from the Elves: But WE prefer to keep below - They're stupid company, you know, For any but themselves:

"For, though they claim to be exempt From pride, they treat a Phantom As something quite beneath contempt - Just as no Turkey ever dreamt Of noticing a Bantam."

"They seem too proud," said I, "to go To houses such as mine. Pray, how did they contrive to know So quickly that 'the place was low,' And that I 'kept bad wine'?"

"Inspector Kobold came to you--" The little Ghost began. Here I broke in--"Inspector who? Inspecting Ghosts is something new! Explain yourself, my man!"

"His name is Kobold," said my guest: "One of the Spectre order: You'll very often see him dressed In a yellow gown, a crimson vest, And a night-cap with a border.

"He tried the Brocken business first, But caught a sort of chill ; So came to England to be nursed, And here it took the form of THIRST, Which he complains of still.

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