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THE BELLS

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					                                        THE BELLS

There once was an evil priest who did not fear God or man. His duties for the church
included counting the offerings and ringing the bells to summon people to Mass. But his
heart was filled with greed, and he began to take advantage of the good people of his
parish. The priest stole money out of the offerings to keep for himself, and when he had
filled a chest full of gold, he killed a man and buried him with the chest so the murdered
man's ghost would guard it. Anyone who tried to dig for the treasure would be devoured
by the skeleton of the murdered man.

The evil priest planned to return to Spain with his ill-gotten treasure, but he fell ill with a
fever a week before his ship was scheduled to leave. On his deathbed, the priest repented
of his crime. He swore to his confessor that his soul would not rest until he returned the
gold to God. The priest died before he could reveal the place where the treasure was
buried. As he gasped out his last breath, he said: "Follow the bells. They will lead you to
the treasure."

The Padre who attended the dying priest did not heed his words. But the sweeper who
was working in the hallway at the time of the evil priest's death was struck by the notion
of buried treasure. He was very poor and wanted a better life for himself and his family,
so the sweeper determined to take the treasure for himself. Each night for a week, he took
a shovel and dug in the monastery gardens, searching for the priests treasure. He found
nothing.

One night the sweeper was awakened from his dreams by the sound of the parish bells
ringing out loudly in the darkness. He leapt to his feet, fearing some emergency, and then
realized that his wife and children had not stirred in their beds. Remembering the evil
priest's last words, the sweeper felt sure that the mysterious ringing of the bells was for
his ears alone, to lead him to the treasure.

Taking his shovel, the sweeper followed the sound of the church bells up and up into the
hills. He was gasping for breath when he reached the source of the sound. He was on a
wide ledge overlooking the valley. Two trees guarded the spot, and it was beside these
trees that the glowing, ghostly church bells hovered. Taking his shovel, the poor sweeper
dug a deep hole among the roots of the trees. After several moments, his shovel hit
something hard! Eagerly, he swept the dirt away from the object and found a small chest.
He hauled it out of the ditch with trembling hands, placed it on a rock, and broke the lock
with the edge of his shovel. when he opened it, piles of yellow gold met his dazzled eyes.
He gathered up a handful of coins, reveling in the weight of so much money. The coins
were cool to his touch, and he felt the smoothness of the metal as he rubbed the coins
between his fingers. And that was when he heard the moaning...

Looking up, the sweeper saw the skeleton of the murdered man whom the evil priest had
buried with the treasure. It was rising out of the pit under the trees, eye sockets glowing
with blue flames. "Mine," the skeleton intoned, stretching its bony arms toward the
sweeper. "Mine!"
The sweeper screamed in terror and leapt away from the box of treasure, dropping the
coins that he held in his hands. He ran down the hill as fast as he could go, the skeleton in
hot pursuit. Behind him, the bells began to ring again as he fled for his life from the
ledge.

The sweeper kept running long after the sounds of pursuit ceased, and did not stop until
he reached his home. It was only then that he realized he had left his shovel back with the
buried treasure on top of the hill. it was an expensive shovel and he could not afford to
lose it.

Waiting until daylight, the sweeper went reluctantly back up into the hills to retrieve it.
When he reached the ledge, there was no sign of the skeleton, the chest of money, or the
hole he had dug the night before. He found his shovel at the top of a tall tree whose first
branches began nearly twenty feet above his head. The skeleton must have placed it there
after it chased him down the hill, he decided grimly, knowing that there was no way he
could retrieve it.

Turning sadly away, the sweeper's eye was caught by a gleam in the bushes near the rock
where he had placed the treasure chest the night before. Carefully, keeping his eye on the
place where the skeleton lay buried, the sweeper felt around the rock until his hand closed
on two gold coins that the ghost had missed. Casually he put the coins in his pocket and
hurried from the ledge. When he got home, the sweeper put the coins into a sock and hid
it under the floorboard for safekeeping.

The sweeper never went back to the ledge to retrieve the evil priest's buried treasure,
though sometimes he was still awakened by the mysterious sound of the bells. He knew it
would take someone more pious than himself to banish the ghost of the murdered man
and reclaim the money for God. But he did use the gold coins to send his eldest son to
school, and with the left-over change, he bought himself a new shovel.

                          THE DOCTOR AND THE GHOST

Little Simeon came running into the surgery. He bent over, winded, and gasped
desperately several times before he could speak.

"Doc. Doc! My paw got strychnine poison in his thumb. We amputated it right away, but
the poison is still moving up his arm. You gotta come quick!"

The doctor grabbed his medical bag and hustled out the door immediately. It took but a
moment to saddle the mare, and he swung the boy up in front of him and galloped out of
the yard and down the road towards the Houd place, which was two miles away.

Simeon the elder was lying on his bed being attended by his wives and a large number of
his children.
"Doctor, you must help me," Simeon gasped, waving the stump of his thumb at the
doctor. "The strychnine is up to my shoulder. If it gets in my vitals, I will die."

His wives started wailing, and all the children echoed them so there was a tremendous
noise in the room. The doctor held up his hands and shouted: "Be assured my sisters and
brothers, that God has sent me in good time to cure Brother Simeon. With my
Thomsonian medicines to aid his recovery, Brother Simeon will soon be well."

His words calmed the family. After repeated reassurances, Simeon's wives bustled out of
the room followed by the children, leaving the doctor room to work. As the doctor treated
Simeon with the first dose of medicine, he could smell dinner being prepared and hear the
voices of Simeon's children doing their homework around the kitchen table.

When the doctor descended the stairs, Simeon's wives came out of the kitchen, and asked
him to stay to dinner. He declined regretfully, having other patients to see that evening.
But before he left he gave them careful instructions on the care of Simeon, and told them
he would be by tomorrow to give Simeon another dose of the special tonics.

The doctor visited Simeon every morning and night for four days, giving him a thorough
case of Thomsonian medicines each visit. By the fourth day, Simeon was so much better
that the doctor determined that the poison had been checked. Deciding that no more
treatment was necessary, he declared Simeon well and went home, well satisfied with the
successful recovery of his patient.

Two nights later, the doctor was awakened from a deep sleep by a bright light shining
right in his eyes. He sat up quickly, shading his eyes. At first he thought that he had
overslept. But the light was not coming from the window. As his eyes adjusted to the
brilliance, he saw a woman dressed in white standing at the foot of the bed. She was
surrounded by a heavenly light, and she glowed within as well. The doctor gasped in fear
and huddled underneath his bedclothes.

"Do not be afraid," the spirit said in a kind voice. The doctor took heart at her words. He
withdrew his head from the covers and looked right at the glowing woman.

"I have been sent to you from the other world," the woman said.

"Who are you?" The doctor asked.

"In life, I was called Sally Ann. I was a cousin to Sisters Thompson and Smith."

"Why have you been sent here?" asked the doctor.

"I have been sent to tell you that Brother Simeon will die of strychnine poisoning if you
do not double your diligence."
The doctor swallowed guiltily, remembering his pride in having cured Brother Simeon.
One of the earliest lessons he had learned was how pride goeth before destruction. Yet
here he was falling into the same trap.

He thanked the ghost for her warning and promised to go to Brother Simeon at daybreak.
Satisfied, the ghost vanished and the room was in darkness once more.

The next morning the doctor went to Brother Simeon's house and recommenced his
treatment. Simeon confessed to the doctor that he had begun having trouble with his arm
again, but was unsure whether or not it was serious enough to call him out. The doctor
continued dosing his patient with the Thomsonian medicine until Simeon was completely
well.

Brother Simeon lived for another twenty-five years in good health, for which he credited
the doctor and his Thomsonian medicine. As for Sisters Thomson and Smith, they
recognized the doctor's description of the ghost at once. It was their cousin Sally Ann
Chamberlain from Nauvoo, who had died fourteen years before.

                                   THE MELT SHOP

All the men working in the Melt Shop of the steel mill soon learned to be very careful
around the furnace and the ladles full of molten steel. Every worker feared what would
happen if the chains holding the ladles full of hot liquid ever broke while they passed
overhead. Burning to death in molten steel might be a quick demise, but it would be
agonizing.

One poor fellow who used to work in the Melt Shop had tripped over a rigger hose back
in 1922 and had fallen into a ladle of hot steel. His body was immediately liquefied; there
was nothing left for his family to bury save for a small nugget of steel that was skimmed
from the tainted ladle before its contents was dumped into a vacant lot. From that day
onward, the workers said that the workman's ghost clanked and moaned its way around
the Shop at night, searching for his dead body.

Now the newest steel worker, a young man recently moved to Pittsburgh, laughed
mockingly when he heard the story about the ghost. He even volunteered to work the late
shift just to prove to the other men that they were wrong about the ghost. The young man
liked the extra money this earned him, and soon his reputation for fearlessness and his
scorn for the ghost were the talk of the mill.

There came an evening the young man found himself alone on the furnace floor. It was
the slow time between shifts, and by rights he should already be on his way home.
However, he had stayed behind for a moment to complete a small task, and he hummed
contently to himself as he bent over his work. He gradually became aware of a muffled
sound coming from somewhere to his left. He ignored it, since the mechanized processes
all around him often made strange sounds.
The sound grew louder, and the young man looked up from his labors to see a glowing
white mist gathering in the air a few yards away from where he stood. The mist emitted a
faint rapping noise, which slowly clarified into steady thud of a workman's approaching
footsteps.

The young man gasped, his arms breaking out into goosebumps in spite of the heat from
the furnace. He watched with unblinking eyes and pounding heart as the mist solidified
into the glowing figure of a workman making his rounds. Suddenly, the workman tripped
and fell downwards in slow motion toward a shimmering ladle full of steaming molten
steel. The phantom workman's body plunged into the hot liquid, and he tried in vain to
grab the sides of the ladle and pull himself out, unwilling to believe that he was doomed.
Then, his body liquefying beneath him and his face hideously twisted with pain, the
ghostly workman screamed desperately for someone to save him as he sank downward
into the red-hot ladle. With a final, hair-raising shriek, the apparition disappeared.

The young man's scream of sheer terror was so loud that it cut through the voice of the
phantom, echoing and re-echoing through the furnace room. Dropping his tools as if he
himself were burning up, the young man raced for the exit, followed by the gut-
wrenching sound of maniacal laughter.

The young man packed his bag as soon as he got back to his lodgings and returned home,
never to enter a Melt Shop again. But the ghost of the dead steel worker continued to
haunt the Melt Shop until it closed.

They say that to this day, people walking near the spot where the Melt Shop once stood
can still hear the steel worker's dying scream, followed by the sound of maniacal
laughter.

                            THE GHOST IN THE STACKS

I saw her out of the corner of my eye while I was studying in a remote corner of the
second-level stacks in the library. She was pretty, with reddish hair and pensive, wide
eyes in an intelligent face. I straightened up, patted my hair to make sure it was smooth,
and took another look. She was gone. I felt my shoulders sag a bit as I turned back to my
books. Oh well. There were more important things, like studying hard so that I got into
medical school when I graduated next year.

Still, I kept seeing the girl's pretty face whenever I closed my eyes, and I was still
thinking about her as I left the library. A few of my friends shouted to me and I walked
over to their gathering place.

"Where've you been, Tony?" my friend Jeff called.

"At the library," I said, patting my backpack for emphasis.

"You have been studying?" Jeff asked incredulously.
I grinned. "I've gotta crack down now so I can get into med school," I replied to his jibe.
"Can't always be partying with you losers!"

That set them off, as I had intended, and kept the jokes flying until dinnertime.

Although I didn't admit it to myself, I chose the same spot in the stacks for my studies the
following afternoon, hoping to see the pretty girl again. I was in luck. After about an
hour, she appeared among the shelves, browsing intently. I noticed that she was wearing
the same red flowered dress with a buttoned-down white sweater. She must like that
outfit. It was time for me to do some browsing too, I thought, straightening my shirt and
rising casually. I turned to walk into the shelves and stopped abruptly. She was gone! I
was astonished. She must be quick, I thought. It had only taken me a few seconds to rise
and turn, but in that short time she had managed to move away without me seeing her do
so. I walked casually through the stacks, glancing this way and that, trying to spot her
again. No luck. With a sigh, I turned back to my seat and my studies, a frustrated man.

I didn't see the girl again for several weeks. Then one day, as I rushed out of the stacks
towards my friend Jeff, who was impatiently beckoning to me to hurry up, I saw her
rising from a seat in a far corner. I stopped abruptly and turning, hoping to catch her eye
as she moved into the stacks, but she did not turn her head. Ignoring Jeff, who was calling
my name impatiently, I backtracked in the hope of at least walking passed her and saying
hello. I stopped at the entrance of the stacks where the pretty girl with reddish hair had
just walked. There was no one there. I shivered a bit. This was getting spooky. Was she
avoiding me? Why? We had never spoken, and I certainly could not be accused of staring
at her, since I had only seen her for a total of maybe thirty seconds! Shaking my head at
the mystery, I went back over to Jeff and exited the library.

Later that week, I decided to skip the football game to cram for a big exam. Just about
everyone else was at the game, so the library was nearly deserted as I strolled over to my
favorite study spot in the stacks on the second level. I'd given up on seeing the pretty girl
with the reddish hair. Obviously, some things were just not meant to be.

I was deep into my studies when I heard the sound of books and shelves tumbling to the
floor. I leapt up and ran toward the sounds. To my horror, the pretty dark-haired girl
whom I'd been trying to meet lay on the floor with books all around her. She was
unconscious, and my heart gave a painful thump when I realized that there was blood
staining her red dress. And then, right before my eyes, she vanished. I sat down abruptly
on the floor, my legs shaking too hard to hold me. I had just seen a ghost.

It was then that I remembered the story of the girl who had been murder in the library
back in the sixties. I knew at once that it was her. I had just seen the reenactment of her
final moments of life. I buried my face in my shaking hands, feeling a terrible grief at the
tragic loss of such a beautiful girl. From what I had heard, her murderer was never
apprehended. It made me furious to think that justice had never been served. Slowly, I
uncoiled my body and rose to my feet. The aisle between the stacks was empty now, and
so was my heart. I was too unnerved to study anymore in this deserted place, so I grabbed
my books and went back to my room.

I saw the girl one more time before I graduated. I was reading at my favorite study cartel
when I felt a chill in the air. I shivered and looked up. And there was the ghost of the
pretty girl, standing a few feet away from me. Our eyes met, and I saw fear and despair in
her face. Immediately, my own face twisted in sympathy, and I impulsively held out my
hand toward her. At the sight of my distress, she reached her hand back toward me as if
to comfort me, and she gave me a tiny smile. Then she was gone.

In that moment, I knew wherever the girl had gone after her death, she was just fine. And
I felt sure that someday, somewhere, her killer would be brought to justice; if not in this
world, then most assuredly in the next.

				
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