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A College Ghost

From Our Story

Ferry Hall. Courtesy WSU Libraries-MASC.
In the "airly days" of the State College at Pullman, before the old Ferry Hall burned, and in the bleak month of November when the wind, is wont to whistle drearily around boys’ dormitories and country grave yards, the peaceful life of the student community of the college was disturbed by the appearance of a ghostly form upon the campus for several successive nights. It always appeared at about the same hour of the evening, which strangely enough was shortly after eleven o’clock when the lights were out in old Ferry Hall and no one, not even those returning from a date with the best girl, had caught a glimpse of it after midnight.

Mere glimpses of it had at first been caught, and upon any attempt to investigate, it had vanished into thin air in the darkness. It seemed to float rather than move upon the ground and the white outline was quite formless.

Very little was said about it at first, but on the night in question three or four persons testified to the fact of its appearance. On that night a student who was steward, afterwards a captain in the Philippine war and later a successful business man in the Yakima Valley, sat in the pantry to see to it that no person bearing a candle should appear for was he not attempting to destroy the cockroaches with a heavy gas which might explode. By his side for company was his room-mate, a callow youth from Spokane, scarcely yet out of knickerbockers. By chance the steward pushed a crock with his feet. "What's that?," exclaimed the callow youth from Spokane. "I heard nothing. What did you hear?" said, the steward. "I heard something, but I don't know what it is", said the youth. Steward: "Do you believe in ghosts?" "Not much; they ain't no ghosts", said callow youth. Steward: "One of the boys saw something like one last night out back of old college hall." "Aw, nothing to it."

After eleven when all lights were out and steward and callow youth were in their room on the fourth story and preparing to retire, the latter by chance looking out of the window whispered excitedly, “There it is, don’t you see it? Over there by the greenhouse?” “Where?”, said the steward. “Right there; don’t you see it. I see it plainly. See its moving up the hill”. “There’s nothing there, I tell you,” said the steward. “I see nothing; it’s in your mind’s eye. Come to bed.” “Well, I did see it anyway, whatever it was”, said the callow youth.

The story leaked out the next day, enough of it at least to have several watchers out of the north window after the lights were out the next night. About 11:30 someone discovered a white figure on the campus west of old college hall. It did not reach to the ground by two or three feet. It seemed to rise and fall. Occasionally it disappeared entirely. By and by, a second figure appeared farther up the hill. The callow youth was greatly excited. A tall prep of about thirty-five, a firm believer in ghosts, was deeply excited at this confirmation of former experiences. The steward offered to go down and face the ghost. Armed with a loaded revolver, the steward descended to the campus. The onlookers could not see him as he approached the one figure which remained. Suddenly two successive flashes of light and the bang of the revolver were seen and heard. Nothing but blackness remained. The ghost had vanished. The steward reported that he had found no trace after he had shot.

Next day the callow youth appeared in the President’s office. “I don’t believe in ghosts”, said he, “but there’s something awfully mysterious about here and I guess I’d better be going home.” Then came the story. An hour later the student steward was waiting in the President’s office when the latter wheeled around in his swivel chair and said, “Tell me all you know about ghosts.” The steward’s jaw dropped.

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