My friend, Jacob Dowling, Esq., had been spending the day very agreeably in his counting-room with some companions, and at night retired to the domestic circle to ravel out some intricate accounts. Seated at his parlour table he ordered his wife and children out of the room and addressed himse...
<p>My friend, Jacob Dowling, Esq., had been spending the day very agreeably in his counting-room with some companions, and at night retired to the domestic circle to ravel out some intricate accounts. Seated at his parlour table he ordered his wife and children out of the room and addressed himself to business. While clambering wearily up a column of figures he felt upon his cheek the touch of something that seemed to cling clammily to the skin like the caress of a naked oyster. Thoughtfully setting down the result of his addition so far as he had proceeded with it, he turned about and looked up.</p>
<p>“I beg your pardon, sir,” said he, “but you have not the advantage of my acquaintance.”</p>
<p>“Why, Jake,” replied the apparition – whom I have thought it useless to describe – “don’t you know me?”</p>
<p>“I confess that your countenance is familiar,” returned my friend, “but I cannot at this moment recall your name. I never forget a face, but names I cannot remember.”</p>
<p>“Jake!” rumbled the spectre with sepulchral dignity, a look of displeasure crawling across his pallid features, “you’re foolin’.”</p>
<p>“I give you my word I am quite serious. Oblige me with your name, and favour me with a statement of your business with me at this hour.”</p>
<p>The disembodied party sank uninvited into a chair, spread out his knees and stared blankly at a Dutch clock with an air of weariness and profound discouragement. Perceiving that his guest was making himself tolerably comfortable my friend turned again to his figures, and silence reigned supreme. The fire in the grate burned noiselessly with a mysterious blue light, as if it could do more if it wished; the Dutch clock looked wise, and swung its pendulum with studied exactness, like one who is determined to do his precise duty and shun responsibility; the cat assumed an attitude of intelligent neutrality. Finally the spectre trained his pale eyes upon his host, pulled in a long breath and remarked:</p>
<p>“Jake, I’m yur dead father. I come back to have a talk with ye ’bout the way things is agoin’ on. I want to know ’f you think it’s right notter recognise yur dead parent?”</p>
<p>“It is a little rough on you, dear,” replied the son without...