WHEN Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American ambassador, bought Canterville Chase, everyone told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted.
Indeed, Lord Canterville himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honour, had felt it his duty to mention the fact to Mr Otis when they came to discuss terms.
'We have not cared to live in the place ourselves,' said Lord Canterville, 'since my grand-aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton, was frightened into a fit, from which she never really recovered, by two skeleton hands being placed on her shoulders as she was dressing for dinner.'
'I feel bound to tell you, Mr Otis, that the ghost has been seen by several living members of my family.'
'As well as by the rector of the parish, the Rev. Augustus Dampier, who is a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.'
'After the unfortunate accident to the Duchess, none of our younger servants would stay with us, and Lady Canterville often got very little sleep at night, in consequence of the mysterious noises that came from the corridor and the library.'
Ambassador: A diplomat who represents his country Canterville Chase: The name of the house Punctilious: Fussy and precise Terms: The conditions of the sale
Cared: Here it means 'wanted' Dowager: An aristocratic widow Fit: A violent collapse of the nervous system Bound: Compelled
Rector: A type of priest Parish: The area that a church administers Fellow: Here it means 'a senior member' In consequence: As a result