“Ghosts are such dumb things,” said Alec, “they’re slow-witted. I can always outguess a ghost.”
“How?” asked Tom.
“Well, it depends where. Take a bedroom, for example. If you use any discretion a ghost can never get you in a bedroom.
“Go on, s’pose you think there’s maybe a ghost in your bedroom—what measures do you take on getting home at night?” demanded Amory, interested.
“Take a stick” answered Alec, with ponderous reverence, “one about the length of a broom-handle. Now, the first thing to do is to get the room cleared—to do this you rush with your eyes closed into your study and turn on the lights—next, approaching the closet, carefully run the stick in the door three or four times. Then, if nothing happens, you can look in. Always, always run the stick in viciously first—never look first!”
“Of course, that’s the ancient Celtic school,” said Tom gravely.
“Yes—but they usually pray first. Anyway, you use this method to clear the closets and also for behind all doors——”
“And the bed,” Amory suggested.
“Oh, Amory, no!” cried Alec in horror. “That isn’t the way—the bed requires different tactics—let the bed alone, as you value your reason—if there is a ghost in the room and that’s only about a third of the time, it is almost always under the bed.”
“Well—” Amory began.
Alec waved him into silence.
“Of course you never look. You stand in the middle of the floor and before he knows what you’re going to do make a sudden leap for the bed—never walk near the bed; to a ghost your ankle is your most vulnerable part—once in bed, you’re safe; he may lie around under the bed all night, but you’re safe as daylight. If you still have doubts pull the blanket over your head.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise