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The Phantom Of Bogue Holauba 1911   By: (1850-1922)

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By Charles Egbert Craddock


Gordon never forgot the sensation he experienced on first beholding it. There was no mist in the midnight. The moon was large and low. The darkness of the dense, towering forests on either hand impinged in no wise on the melancholy realm of wan light in which the Mississippi lay, unshadowed, solitary, silent as always, its channel here a mile or more in breadth.

He had been observing how the mighty water course was sending out its currents into a bayou, called Bogue Holauba, as if the larger stream were a tributary of the lesser. This peculiarity of the river in the deltaic region, to throw off volume instead of continually receiving affluents, was unaccustomed to him, being a stranger to the locality, and for a moment it focussed his interest The next, his every faculty was concentrated on a singular phenomenon on the bank of the bogue.

He caught his breath with a gasp; then, without conscious volition, he sought to explain it to his own shocked senses, to realize it as some illusion, some combination of natural causes, the hour, the pallor pervading the air, the distance, for his boat was near the middle of the stream, but the definiteness of the vision annulled his efforts.

There on the broad, low margin, distinct, yet with a coercive conviction of unreality, the figure of a man drawn in lines of vague light paced slowly to and fro; an old man, he would have said, bent and wizened, swaying back and forth, in expressive contortions, a very pantomime of woe, wringing gaunt hands and arms above his head, and now and again bowing low in recurrent paroxysms of despair. The wind held its breath, and the river, mute as ever, made no sign, and the encompassing alluvial wilderness stood for a type of solitude. Only the splashing of the paddle of the "dug out" gave token of the presence of life in all the land.

Gordon could not restrain his wonder. "What what is that Thing over there on the bank of the bogue?" he called out to the negro servant who was paddling the canoe.

He was all unprepared for the effect of his words. Indeed, he was fain to hold hard to the gunwales. For the negro, with a sudden galvanic start, let slip the paddle from his hand, recovering it only by a mighty lunge in a mechanical impulse of self preservation. The dug out, the most tricksy craft afloat, rocked violently in the commotion and threatened to capsize. Then, as it finally righted, its course was hastily changed, and under the impetus of panic terror it went shooting down the river at a tremendous speed.

"Why, what does all this meant" demanded Gordon.

"Don't ye talk ter me, boss!" the boatman, with chattering teeth, adjured his passenger. "Don't ye talk ter me, boss! Don't tell me ye seed somepin over dar on Bogue Holauba 'kase ef ye do I'se gwine ter turn dis dug out upside down an' swim out ter de Arkansas side. I ain't gwine ter paddle dis boat fur no ghost seer, sure 's ye are born. I ain't gwine ter have no traffickin' wid ghosts nur ghost seers nuther. I'd die 'fore de year's out, sure!"

The sincerity of the servant's fright was attested by the change in his manner. He had been hitherto all cheerful, though respectful, affability, evidently bidding high for a tip. Now he crouched disconsolate and sullen in his place, wielding the paddle with all his might, and sedulously holding down his head, avoiding the stranger's eye.

Gordon felt the whole situation in some sort an affront to his dignity, and the apparition being withdrawn from view by the changed direction, he was in better case to take account of this, to revolt at the uncouth character of the craft and guide sent for him; the absence of any member of his entertainers family to welcome the visitor, here at their instance and invitation; the hour of the night; the uncanny incident of the inexplicable apparition, but when that thought recurred to him he sheered off precipitately from the recollection.

It had the salutary effect of predisposing him to make the best of the situation... Continue reading book >>

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