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Patience Pottlebury's Ghost by Caroline F. Preston (Horatio Alger, Jr.)

Author: Preston, Caroline F. (Alger, Horatio, 1832-1899.)
Title: Patience Pottleberry's Ghost.
In: Gleason's Literary Companion, Vol. 6, no. 3 (January 21, 1865)
Published: Boston : F. Gleason, 1865.
Format: 4 columns ; 28 cm.
Horatio Alger Collection.
Notes: From Gleason's Literary Companion, Vol. 6, no. 3 (January 21, 1865).
Location: PS 1029 .A3 P (Special Collections)
Optically scanned and encoded by Mark A. Williams
Horatio Alger Digital Serials Project, Northern llinois University Libraries
DeKalb, IL
13-March-2000


PATIENCE POTTLEBERRY set her face like a flint against all mankind. Possibly she had a spite against them, because they had never shown a predilection for her society even in those days, when, though not fair she might at least claim the attraction of youth. Be it as it may, she had come to regard man as a sort of necessary nuisance with whom the less she had to do, the better. So far as this prejudice regarded her own comfort, it made little difference, but there was one person to whom it did make a vast deal of difference, and this was Kitty Pottleberry, her niece.

A word as to Kitty. She was a fresh, plump, rosy, little body, just the one to make a young man's heart go pit-a pat. She was the orphan child of Miss Pottleberry's sister, and her spinster aunt, being well to do, had undertaken the charge of her. She was disposed to treat her kindly, but had so frowned upon all the young men who had shown indications of "making up" to Kitty that it was quite evident she intended to bring her up an old maid like herself. Now Kitty didn't relish this intention of her aunt. She had numerous objections to it, the greatest and most important being Jark Hargrave, a handsome young carpenter, who lived near by, that is, when he was at home.

Miss Patience had observed with alarm that Jack had several times accompanied Kitty home from church. She treated him, therefore, with such polar rigidity that Jack had never but once ventured to accept Kitty's invitation to call Had he followed his own inclination he would have passed at least every other evening with her. This, under the circumstances, required a degree of courage which he did not possess.

One afternoon he was made happy by the following note from Kitty :

DEAR Jack : Aunt Patience is going to the sewing circle to-night. She will go about half past six and wont be at home till nine or ten o'clock. I don't think I shall go,having a bad headache. I may feel lonely without aunt. KITTY.

Jack laughed in his sleeve at the headache, the cause of which he at once fathomed.

"As to Kitty being lonely," he said to himself, " I'll take care of that."

About seven o'clock a low knock was heard at the side door of Miss Pottleberry's cottage. The door was opened by Kitty who started back in affected surprise, just as if she didn't expect him.

"How's your headache, Kitty?" asked Jack, looking decidedly roguish.

"It feels a little better than it did," said Kitty, an odd little smile gathering on her features.

"Where's the old lady? Is she gone?" asked Jack, a little apprehensively.

"Yes, Jack. She's at this moment sewing industriously on some flannel night-caps for the young Hottentots, I expect. Won't you come in?"

"I think I will. Perhaps I can supply her place while she's gone. I'm very much disappointed to find your aunt is away."

"Shall I tell her so when she comes home, Jack?"

"Yes, if yon think it best, Kitty."

There was a bright fire on the hearth, and two arm-chairs drawn up in front. Jack seated himself in one, Kitty in the other.

"Now Kitty," said Jack, socially, "this is what I call comfortable. I wish we could sit so every night, Kitty."

"Yes, Jack, it would be pleasant."

"And so we will, too."

"Aunt would never consent."

"How can she help herself when we're married?"

"O Jack!" exclaimed Kitty, pretending to be very much horrified.

"Yes, Kitty, I mean it—when we're married. I know your aunt wants you to be an old maid like herself. But, bless you, Kitty, you never was cut out for an old maid."

"Aunty says that marriages are almost always unhappy."

"Do you agree with her, Kitty?"

Kitty laughed.

"I see you don't. But what's on the hearth, in the tin mug?"

"Some camomile tea, aunt made for my headache."

Jack laughed heartily. "I can tell you of something better than camomile tea for curing the headache."

"What is it?" Jack bent towards Kitty, and something was heard very much like a kiss.

"Now be quiet, Jack. If you don't, I'll go off and leave you."

I am not going to relate any more of the conversation that took place between the young lovers, for though very interesting to themselves, I doubt whether it would prove equally agreeable to my readers. They were so much absorb-d that they were entirely unconscious of the passage of time. Two hours and a half passed, and the clock was pointing to half past nine, when a creaking step was heard outside, and a fumbling was heard at the front door.

"Goodness, gracious!" exclaimed Kitty springing to her feet in dismay. "What shall we do! There's aunt come home."

"The dickens!"

"What shall I do?"

"I'll face her like a man."

"No. That won't do. Run, hide somewhere. Up stairs Do hurry."

She opened the door at the foot of the staircase, and Jack bounded up stairs. Kitty immediately closed the door, and sat down beside the fire looking considerably flushed.

Her aunt entered the room.

"Well. Kitty, child, how do you feel? Is your headache better?"

"Yes ma'am," said Kitty meekly.

"You have a good deal of color. Do you feel feverish?'"

"No ma'am—that is, not much. Did yon have a pleasant meeting?"

"Very, and a very profitable one. I made a night-cap and a half. You would have enjoyed being there."

"Yes ma'am," said Kitty, who doubted it very much all the time.

"Did you drink your camomile tea?" asked Miss Patience.

"There's a little left," said Kitty, displaying the mug from which she had emptied three-quarters out of the window.

"Very well. But you'd better drink the rest."

"No, aunt, I don't think it will be necessary. My headache doesn't trouble me much now."

At this moment a loud noise was heard in the room above, as if an article had fallen upon the floor.

"Bless me, what's that?" ejaculated Miss Patience.

"Perhaps it's the cat," said Kitty, turning pale. "Shall I go up and see?"

Miss Patience had taken off her shoes, and was warming her feet at the fire, otherwise she would have gone up herself. As it was she allowed Kitty to go up in her stead.

Running up-stairs Kitty discerned her lover just getting into the closet in her aunt's room.

"Confound it," said he, "I happened to hit the tongs, and down they crashed. Did you hear them?"

"Yes; they made an awful noise. Aunt sent me up to see what was the matter. But what are you meaning to do, Jack? You won't stay here all night?"

"I'm going to get your aunt's consent to my marriage to-night."

"It's impossible."

"We'll see. Is vour aunt afraid of ghosts?"

"Yes, she's very superstitious."

"All right then."

"What do you mean to do?"

"Never you mind. You'd better go down stairs or your aunt will be trotting up after you, and that would upset all."

"What made you stay up stairs so long?" asked Miss Patience crossly, when Kitty had returned from her mission.

"I wanted to make sure whether it was the cat, aunt."

"Did you find her?"

"No."

"What was it fell down?"

"The tongs."

"They must have tumbled down themselves."

Kitty was relieved by her aunt's conclusion and sat down quietly by the table.

Half an hour later Miss Patience indicated her intention of going to bed. She took one candle and Kitty another, and both went up to their respective chambers; Kitty did not undress, but listened breathlessly to hear what would happen.

Meanwhile Miss Patience removed her wig, and was about taking off her stockings when a noise was heard. The closet door opened, and out stalked a tall figure attired in a white sheet.

"Merciful goodness! a ghost!" ejaculated Miss Patience horror stricken.

[see engraving]

"Merciful goodness! A Ghost!" Ejaculated Miss Patience.

"Patience Pottleberry!" said the ghost in a cavernous voice.

"What do you want?" asked the spinster in a quavering voice. "Who are you?"

"I am the spirit of Catherine's father," returned Jack. "I am come to demand an account of your stewardship."

"O mercy! I've tried to take good care of her."

"Then why do you stand In the way of her happiness?"

"I—I never meant to"

"But you do. She's in love with an excellent young man, and you prevent her marrying him. If she should die, it will be laid at your door."

"I—I didn't know she loved him so much. Besides I don't approve of marriage."

"You are a fool,'' said the spirit irreverently. "Consent to her marriage to-morrow, and I will leave you. Otherwise I will come back every night."

"I will—I do," said the terrified spinster. "Please go away."

"Shut your eyes for five minutes. When you open them I shall be gone. But remember your promise."

Miss Patience kept her eyes closed for ten minutes, so fearful was she that the ghost would be offended. When she opened them she found herself alone in the chamber. The next day she signified to Kitty that she had no objections. She even exhibited an eagerness to have the ceremony take place, which equally surprised and gratified Kitty. Kitty is now Mrs. Jack Hargrave, and her aunt lives alone. Since that memorable night Miss Patience has been undisturbed by ghostly visitants much to her relief. Though she never says anything about the occurrence she always shakes her head and looks wise whenever ghosts are mentioned, and there is a current report that her house is haunted.