I could tell at once that he was a ghost. There was a certain translucency about him: The sallow light of the lamp on my library desk shone out not only behind him but through him, acquiring an emerald tint from the specter of his velvet smoking jacket as it did so. I also, nearly as quickly, recognized whose ghost he was. I knew that fierce gaunt face from the few nineteenth-century photographs that we have of him. It was the latter realization, rather than the former, that caused a gasp of wonder to escape my lips. To meet a ghost has never seemed to me a particularly astonishing eventuality; but to meet one of such eminence, and in my own home …

“You must excuse me,” he said after a moment, in a voice that somehow was both perfectly audible and yet, at the same time, seemed to emanate from a very great distance; “It was not my intention to cause you alarm.” He had only the slightest trace of a Parisian accent, I noticed.

I assured him that, to the contrary, he had done me a great honor by dropping by.

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