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there was, and fish-ponds, a brewery, and a
dairy, besides stables and that. Latterly too,
the Alderman spent most of his time there.
Thomas, the coachman, used to drive him
backwards and forwards when he had to go
to Dewcester; where he sometimes slept, if
there was anything particular going on in the
Aldermen's Room, or if there was a Ward
Election coming on; for the Alderman, you
know, was a great electioneerer. But Thomas
always came home to us: when the Alderman
slept at Dewcester, he returned to Brownham
for the sake of protection to us females, and
to attend to the things.

Now the Alderman had had a paralytic
stroke some years before; and, ever since
then, though he got quite over it, he had a
very curious step, and one of his shoes made
a queer creaking noise, not like any other
noise as ever I heard. As he used to be
coming down the front gravel walk, or going
from one part of the house to another
it was a large, old-fashioned, red brick house,
it washis shoe went "Creak! creak!"
so that you could tell exactly where he
was without seeing him. He didn't walk
heavy, and he didn't walk quick; and, long
before he came in sight, you knew he was
a coming by the noise of his creaking shoe,
though you couldn't hardly hear the sound
of his footsteps. I've heard many and many
a creaking shoe, but I never hear one creak
like that.

Thomas and me was very good friends. I
thought he'd meant more by it than he did,
though I don't believe, even now, that 'twas
all cupboard love, though certainly some of it
was. Who can tell what might have
happened, if he hadn't married the Widow
Rogers, that everybody said was left so well,
when she wasn't? Poor Thomas! The day
after his wedding was a sad day for him; he
having gone and done it, past looking back.
But we was always good friends at Brownham,
as fellow-servants ought to be. I was mistress
in the kitchen; and he didn't fare the worse
for that.

One evening he'd come back from driving the
Alderman to Dewcester, and he was to go and
fetch him in the afternoon next day. The night
was wet and muggy, with a gusty wind. As
we sat in the kitchen, we could hear the rain
beat against the outside shutters, and the
water pour from the spouts on the roof. The
wind puffed and blew, like a man in a passion,
as if it were whirling round and round the
house, to try and find a place to get in at.
Thomas had taken off his wet leggings and
things, and put on his in-door ones, and we
all sat chatting round the kitchen fire a little
later than usual. We heard the young ladies
go up stairs to bed, and then the other maids
went up to bed too, leaving Thomas and me a
little while to ourselves.

So we went on talking and talking about
the family, and about the neighbours, and I
thought that, perhaps, Thomas would say
something about his feelings; but he was just
as usual. When the kitchen clock pointed to
a quarter to twelve, I took up my candle, and
says, "Good night, Thomas, I'm going to
bed."— "Good night, cook," says he; "I'll
clear away the ladies' supper-things out
of the dining-room, and then I'll go to bed,
too, for I'm tired," says he.

I hadn't been up-stairs more than a quarter
of an hour, and hadn't finished undressing,
before I heard some one tapping at my door.
"Who's that ?" says I, in a fright.—
"That's me, cook," says Thomas, "I want to
speak to you."— I couldn't think what he
wanted to say; he 'd had plenty of time to
say anything particular, but I little thought
he'd seen the Widow Rogers that very afternoon.
So I dressed myself, and came out
into the passage, and there stood Thomas
looking more serious than I'd ever seen him
at church. "Come down stairs, cook," says
he, "I've something to tell you;" so solemnlike
that I couldn't think what could be the

We went into the kitchen. I made up the
fire a little, and sat down by it. Thomas took
a seat on the other side. He behaved just as
if he'd been at a funeral. "Cook," says he,
I'm sure you'll hear of something soon."—
"Lor, Thomas," says I, "what should I hear
of?"— "Why," says he, "you'll find the
Alderman is dead."— "Dead!" says I, "that's
very shocking!"

"It isn't half so shocking as what I have just
heard. Cook," says he, in a hollow tone of
voice, " Cook, I have just heard the Alderman's
ghost, and I'm sure we shall never see
him any more alive! When I went to clear
away the ladies' supper-things in the dining-
room, I found a glass full of punch standing in
the middle of the tray. You know that's the
way they often do, when I come home wet after
driving the Alderman"— (for they were real
ladies: it would have been too familiar-like
to say, Thomas, here's a glass of punch for
you)—" and I was just going to drink it off
to the Alderman's health, when I heard the
hall-door open, and creak! creak! creak!
came the sound of his footsteps across the
hall. I did not at the moment think it
strange he should come back to Brownham so
late, and so I sets down the punch, and takes
up a candle, and runs out of the room, to show
him a light. I could see nothing at all; but
master's footsteps passed me, and went creak!
creak! creak! up the stairs. I followed them
to the first landing-place, but still I could see
no Alderman, nor nothing. I cries out 'Good
God, sir, where are you? Don't do this!' I
stopped and listened; not a sound but the
creak! creak! creak! The footsteps went
up to his room-door; I heard the door open
and shut, and then I heard nothing more.
But, cook, the doors are all barred and locked
for the night, and how could the Alderman
get into the house? As sure as you're alive,
I've heard his ghost!"