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When The Great Gobbo awoke, it was dark. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened for the hour.
To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve!
Christer’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, “Was it a dream or not?”
Suddenly light flashed up in the room and The Great Gobbo found himself face to face with an unearthly visitor.
It was a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers.
Even this, though, when The Great Gobbo looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness.
“Iz yew der spirit oo dat uvver wun woz bangin on abowt?” asked The Great Gobbo.
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.
“Oo, an wot iz yew?” The Great Gobbo demanded.
“I am the Ghost of Fumbbl Past.”
“Ang on, I no yew doant I?”
“Yes I zoggin do, itz yew, Kam!”
“Err, no, I’m not him, you must be mistaken. Anyway, about your soul…”
“It bluddy iz yew, I kan see yer Flyin Sammiches logo on yer tunic!”
“I don’t know what you are talking about” said the spirit in an indignant but not totally convincing voice.
“Av yew bin in me larder you fat obit?”
“No!” replied the ghost, as a chicken drumstick was surreptitiously dropped to the floor.
“Why are yew in me zoggin kave?”
“Your welfare!” said the Ghost.
The Great Gobbo expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. Or words to that effect.
“Look you stupid green git, I am here to save your soul so shut your face and walk with me” said the sprit rather testily.
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.
The Great Gobbo pleaded that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that the chair was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, zebra print fur dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at that time. Albeit in a less eloquent manner.
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” said the Spirit.
As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and they were in another scene and place; a room, not very large or handsome, but full of comfort. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more goblins there, than The Great Gobbo in his agitated state of mind could count. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, everybody laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much.
And now The Great Gobbo looked on more attentively than ever, as he started to recognise faces. There was Greeda Stinkbreath, and Rish Earchewwa! And over there Masha Bigfist and Borg Fathead!
“Oi, spirit!” said The Great Gobbo, “wot is diz place?”
“I told you these are shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me! You used to tell epic tales about these heroic players and now you sully there memory by whinging about not winning Fumbbler of the year.”
“Ang on, it woz yew oo grassed me up to der tax man an forced me ter get anuvva job!” The Great gobbo exclaimed, “Itz yoar zoggin falt I ad ter kut down on me Fumbbl time!”
He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a sheepish face wrestled with it.
In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle after The Great Gobbo floored the spirit with a swift kick to the goolies in the opening exchanges, he was busy putting the boot in when he was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own cave before he sank into a heavy sleep.
To be continued….