Sandy Sees His Own Ha’nt

Having finished cleaning his clothes, Sandy went out to the kitchen for supper, after which he found himself with nothing to do. Mr. Delamere’s absence relieved him from attendance at the house during the evening. He might have smoked his pipe tranquilly in the kitchen until bedtime, had not the cook intimated, rather pointedly, that she expected other company. To a man of Sandy’s tact a word was sufficient, and he resigned himself to seeking companionship elsewhere.

Under normal circumstances, Sandy would have attended prayer-meeting on this particular evening of the week; but being still in contumacy, and cherishing what he considered the just resentment of a man falsely accused, he stifled the inclination which by long habit led him toward the church, and set out for the house of a friend with whom it occurred to him that he might spend the evening pleasantly. Unfortunately, his friend proved to be not at home, so Sandy turned his footsteps toward the lower part of the town, where the streets were well lighted, and on pleasant evenings quite animated. On the way he met Josh Green, whom he had known for many years, though their paths did not often cross. In his loneliness Sandy accepted an invitation to go with Josh and have a drink⁠—a single drink. When Sandy was going home about eleven o’clock, three sheets in the wind, such was the potent effect of the single drink and those which had followed it, he was scared almost into soberness by a remarkable apparition. As it seemed to Sandy, he saw himself hurrying along in front of himself toward the house. Possibly the muddled condition of Sandy’s intellect had so affected his judgment as to vitiate any conclusion he might draw, but Sandy was quite sober enough to perceive that the figure ahead of him wore his best clothes and looked exactly like him, but seemed to be in something more of a hurry, a discrepancy which Sandy at once corrected by quickening his own pace so as to maintain as nearly as possible an equal distance between himself and his double. The situation was certainly an incomprehensible one, and savored of the supernatural.

“Ef dat’s me gwine ’long in front,” mused Sandy, in vinous perplexity, “den who is dis behin’ here? Dere ain’ but one er me, an’ my ha’nt wouldn’ leave my body ’tel I wuz dead. Ef dat’s me in front, den I mus’ be my own ha’nt; an’ whichever one of us is de ha’nt, de yuther must be dead an’ don’ know it. I don’ know what ter make er no sech gwines-on, I don’t. Maybe it ain’ me after all, but it certainly do look lack me.”

When the apparition disappeared in the house by the side door, Sandy stood in the yard for several minutes, under the shade of an elm-tree, before he could make up his mind to enter the house. He took courage, however, upon the reflection that perhaps, after all, it was only the bad liquor he had drunk. Bad liquor often made people see double.

He entered the house. It was dark, except for a light in Tom Delamere’s room. Sandy tapped softly at the door.

“Who’s there?” came Delamere’s voice, in a somewhat startled tone, after a momentary silence.

“It’s me, suh; Sandy.”

They both spoke softly. It was the rule of the house when Mr. Delamere had retired, and though he was not at home, habit held its wonted sway.

“Just a moment, Sandy.”

Sandy waited patiently in the hall until the door was opened. If the room showed any signs of haste or disorder, Sandy was too full of his own thoughts⁠—and other things⁠—to notice them.

“What do you want, Sandy,” asked Tom.

“Mistuh Tom,” asked Sandy solemnly, “ef I wuz in yo’ place, an’ you wuz in my place, an’ we wuz bofe in de same place, whar would I be?”

Tom looked at Sandy keenly, with a touch of apprehension. Did Sandy mean anything in particular by this enigmatical inquiry, and if so, what? But Sandy’s face clearly indicated a state of mind in which consecutive thought was improbable; and after a brief glance Delamere breathed more freely.

“I give it up, Sandy,” he responded lightly. “That’s too deep for me.”

“ ’Scuse me, Mistuh Tom, but is you heared er seed anybody er anything come in de house fer de las’ ten minutes?”

“Why, no, Sandy, I haven’t heard anyone. I came from the club an hour ago. I had forgotten my key, and Sally got up and let me in, and then went back to bed. I’ve been sitting here reading ever since. I should have heard anyone who came in.”

“Mistuh Tom,” inquired Sandy anxiously, “would you ’low dat I’d be’n drinkin’ too much?”

“No, Sandy, I should say you were sober enough, though of course you may have had a few drinks. Perhaps you’d like another? I’ve got something good here.”

“No, suh, Mistuh Tom, no, suh! No mo’ liquor fer me, suh, never! When liquor kin make a man see his own ha’nt, it’s ’bout time fer dat man ter quit drinkin’, it sho’ is! Good night, Mistuh Tom.”

As Sandy turned to go, Delamere was struck by a sudden and daring thought. The creature of impulse, he acted upon it immediately.

“By the way, Sandy,” he exclaimed carelessly, “I can pay you back that money you were good enough to lend me this afternoon. I think I’ll sleep better if I have the debt off my mind, and I shouldn’t wonder if you would. You don’t mind having it in gold, do you?”

“No, indeed, suh,” replied Sandy. “I ain’ seen no gol’ fer so long dat de sight er it’d be good fer my eyes.”

Tom counted out ten five-dollar gold pieces upon the table at his elbow.

“And here’s another, Sandy,” he said, adding an eleventh, “as interest for the use of it.”

“Thank y’, Mistuh Tom. I didn’t spec’ no in-trus’, but I don’ never ’fuse gol’ w’en I kin git it.”

“And here,” added Delamere, reaching carelessly into a bureau drawer, “is a little old silk purse that I’ve had since I was a boy. I’ll put the gold in it, Sandy; it will hold it very nicely.”

“Thank y’, Mistuh Tom. You’re a gentleman, suh, an’ wo’thy er de fam’ly name. Good night, suh, an’ I hope yo’ dreams’ll be pleasanter ’n’ mine. Ef it wa’n’t fer dis gol’ kinder takin’ my min’ off’n dat ha’nt, I don’ s’pose I’d be able to do much sleepin’ ter-night. Good night, suh.”

“Good night, Sandy.”

Whether or not Delamere slept soundly, or was troubled by dreams, pleasant or unpleasant, it is nevertheless true that he locked his door, and sat up an hour later, looking through the drawers of his bureau, and burning several articles in the little iron stove which constituted part of the bedroom furniture.

It is also true that he rose very early, before the household was stirring. The cook slept in a room off the kitchen, which was in an outhouse in the back yard. She was just stretching herself, preparatory to getting up, when Tom came to her window and said that he was going off fishing, to be gone all day, and that he would not wait for breakfast.