The Otis Family Comes To Canterville


When Hiram B. Otis, the American businessman, bought the house called Canterville Chase, people told him that he was doing a very dangerous thing. Everybody knew that there was a ghost in the house. Lord Canterville himself told Mr Otis all about it.


"We don't like to live in the house ourselves," he said. "Too many of my family have seen the ghost. My wife's grandmother, the Duchess of Bolton, is one of them. One night, while she was dressing for dinner, two skeleton hands were put on her shoulders. She has been ill for years because of that. And my wife never got any sleep there, because of all the noises at night."


"Lord Canterville," answered Mr Otis, "I will buy both the house and the ghost. I come from a modern country, and we can buy nearly everything in America - but not ghosts. So, if there really is a ghost in the house, we can send it home to America, and people will pay to go and see it."


"I'm afraid that the house really does have a ghost," said Lord Canterville, smiling. "Perhaps there are no ghosts in your country, but our ghost has been in the house for three hundred years, and it always appears before the death of one of the family."


"Well, so does the family doctor, Lord Canterville. But there are no ghosts, sir, in any country - not even in famous old British families."


"Very well," said Lord Canterville. "If you're happy to have a ghost in the house, that's all right. But please remember that I did tell you about it."


And so Mr Hiram B. Otis bought the house, and a few weeks later he and his family went down to Canterville Chase on the train.


Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost. Oxford Bookworms Library; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002

Stage 2 (700 headwords)