Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Do you w-a-n-t to be s-h-a-v-e-d?"

Who’s up for a visit from the “Barber’s Ghost”, let’s just say I’m glad that I don’t require a shave. A sneaky traveling man finds a way to play on the fears of others and comes away a little richer. This was an article that appeared in the Weekly Wisconsin Patriot out of Madison, WI in 1863.

A gentleman, traveling some years since in the upper part of this state, called at a tavern and requested entertainment for the night. – The landlord informed him that it was out of his power to accommodate him as his house was already full. He persisted in stopping, as he, as well as his horse, was almost exhausted with traveling. After much solicitation, the landlord consented to his stopping, provided he would sleep in a certain room that had not been occupied for a long time, in consequence of a belief that it was haunted by the  ghost of a barber, who was reported to have been murdered in that  room some years before.
“Very well,” says the man, “I’m not afraid of ghosts.”
After having refreshed himself, he inquired of the landlord how and in what manner the room in which he was to lodge what haunted. The landlord replied that shortly after they retired to rest an unknown voice was heard in a protracted and trembling accent saying, “Do you want to be shaved.”
“Well,” replied the man, “if he comes he may shave me.”
He then requested to be shown to the apartment, in going to which he was conducted through a large room where were seated a great number of persons at a gaming table.
Feeling a curiosity which almost every on possesses after having heard of ghost stories, he carefully searched every corner of his room, but could discover nothing but the usual furniture of his apartments. He then lay down, but did not close his eyes to sleep immediately; and in a few minutes he imagined he heard a voice saying –
“Do you w-a-n-t to be s-h-a-v-e-d?”
He rose from his bed and searched every part of the room, but could discover nothing. He again went to bed; but no sooner had he began to compose himself to sleep, than the question was again repeated. He again rose and went to the window, the sound appearing to proceed from the quarter, and stood awhile silent. After a few moments of anxious suspense, he again heard the sound distinctly; and convinced that it was from without, he opened the window, when the questions was repeated full in his ear, which startled him not a little. Upon minute examination, however, he observed that the limb of a large oak tree, which stood near the window, projected so near the house that every breath of wind, to a lively imagination, made a noise resembling the interrogation –
“Do you w-a-n-t to be s-h-a-v-e-d?”
Having satisfied himself that ghost was nothing more nor less that limb of a tree coming in contact with the house, he again went to bed, and attempted to get asleep; but he was now interrupted by peels of laughter, and an occasional volley of oaths and curses, from the room where the gamblers were assembled. Thinking that he could turn the late discover to his own advantage he took a sheet from the bed and wrapped it around him, and taking the wash basin in his hand, and throwing a towel over his arm, proceeded to the room of gamblers, and opening the door walked in exclaiming in a tremulous voice –
“Do you w-a-n-t to be s-h-a-v-e-d?”
Terrified at the sudden appearance of the ghost, the gamblers were thrown into the greatest confusion in attempting to escape – some jumping through the windows, and others tumbling heels over head down stairs. Our ghost, taking advantage of a clear room, deliberately swept a large amount of money from the table into the basin, and retired unseen to his own room.
The next morning he found the house in the utmost confusion. He was immediately asked if he rested well, to which he replied in the affirmative.
“Well, no wonder,” said the landlord, “for the ghost, instead of going to his own room, made a mistake, and came to ours, frightened us out of the room, and took away every dollar of our money.”
The guest, without being the least suspected, quietly ate his own breakfast, and departed many hundred dollars the richer by the adventure. 

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