The Ghost

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

There's a house across the street
That nobody goes into;
Say it's haunted, yes, they do;
Ghosts livethere, they say, or meet:
Saw one in a winding-sheet
At a window once, and took
To my heels and ran and ran,
Never gave another look,
Till I met a nigger-man.

And I told him. And he said,
"Dat ole house am ha'nted sure.
'Deed it wuz a ghost! a pure
Sure nuff ghost, I am afred.
Better run home; git ter bed;
Or he'll kotch yer. Lawzy me!
I won't pass dat house ter-night.
Onct I pass dar: whut'd I see?
Why, I seed a walking light.

"Yep; an' it went up an' down
Like a fire-bug. I wuz skeer'd
Wus'n you wuz. An' I heer'd
Chains a-trompin' all aroun':
An' I laid dar on de groun'
Skeer'd to def. An' den I seed
Whut'd yer reckon? seed my lands!
Seed a skel'ton! yarse indeed!
Hulding up two skel'ton hands.

"Den I run'd jest like you did.
Ought ter t'ar dat ole house down.
Hit's disgrace ter dis yere town
Dat's my sintimints an' rid
Us ob all de ghosts, instid
Ob a-letting 'em cavort
'Roun', an' skeer folks lef' an' right!
T'ing ter do would be ter start
Bonfire in it some dark night."
Then he turned and went away.

And I hurried home and told
Father, and he said, "That old
Negro-man has had his say;
Mine I'll have another day.
Come with me now. Let us see
If that ghost of yours now goes:
If it's a reality,
Or a fraud as I suppose."

And he took his walking-stick,
And I followed. Sure enough,
At the window was that stuff,
Sheet, or piece of old bed-tick,
Waving in the wind. And quick
In my father went. And why,
Heard him laughing; and I saw
That he had the old ghost by
A long string that he could draw.

Was n't anything at all
But an old white window-blind,
That the folks had left behind,
In the window of the hall:
Had got loosened from the wall
And the wind kept flapping it.
I laughed, too; but was almost
Just put out a little bit
Wanted it to be a ghost.

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