A Cold Greeting

terror May 27, 2021 0
A Cold Greeting

Double exposure for surrey ghost figure.



This is a story told by the late Benson Foley of San Francisco:
“In the summer of 1881 I met a man named James H. Conway, a resident
of Franklin, Tennessee. He was visiting San Francisco for his health,
deluded man, and brought me a note of introduction from Mr. Lawrence
Barting. I had known Barting as a captain in the Federal army during the
civil war. At its close he had settled in Franklin, and in time became, I had
reason to think, somewhat prominent as a lawyer. Barting had always
seemed to me an honorable and truthful man, and the warm friendship
which he expressed in his note for Mr. Conway was to me sufficient
evidence that the latter was in every way worthy of my confidence and
esteem. At dinner one day Conway told me that it had been solemnly
agreed between him and Barting that the one who died first should, if
possible, communicate with the other from beyond the grave, in some
unmistakable way – just how, they had left (wisely, it seemed to me) to be
decided by the deceased, according to the opportunities that his altered
circumstances might present.
“A few weeks after the conversation in which Mr. Conway spoke of this
agreement, I met him one day, walking slowly down Montgomery street,
apparently, from his abstracted air, in deep thought. He greeted me
coldly with merely a movement of the head and passed on, leaving me
standing on the walk, with half-proffered hand, surprised and naturally
somewhat piqued. The next day I met him again in the office of the
Palace Hotel, and seeing him about to repeat the disagreeable
performance of the day before, intercepted him in a doorway, with a
friendly salutation, and bluntly requested an explanation of his altered
manner. He hesitated a moment; then, looking me frankly in the eyes,
“‘I do not think, Mr. Foley, that I have any longer a claim to your
friendship, since Mr. Barting appears to have withdrawn his own from me –
for what reason, I protest I do not know. If he has not already informed
you he probably will do so.’
“‘But,’ I replied, ‘I have not heard from Mr. Barting.’
“‘Heard from him!’ he repeated, with apparent surprise. ‘Why, he is here. I
met him yesterday ten minutes before meeting you. I gave you exactly

the same greeting that he gave me. I met him again not a quarter of an
hour ago, and his manner was precisely the same: he merely bowed and
passed on. I shall not soon forget your civility to me. Good morning, or – as
it may please you – farewell.’
“All this seemed to me singularly considerate and delicate behavior on
the part of Mr. Conway.
“As dramatic situations and literary effects are foreign to my purpose I will
explain at once that Mr. Barting was dead. He had died in Nashville four
days before this conversation. Calling on Mr. Conway, I apprised him of
our friend’s death, showing him the letters announcing it. He was visibly
affected in a way that forbade me to entertain a doubt of his sincerity.
“‘It seems incredible,’ he said, after a period of reflection. ‘I suppose I
must have mistaken another man for Barting, and that man’s cold
greeting was merely a stranger’s civil acknowledgment of my own. I
remember, indeed, that he lacked Barting’s mustache.’
“‘Doubtless it was another man,’ I assented; and the subject was never
afterward mentioned between us. But I had in my pocket a photograph
of Barting, which had been inclosed in the letter from his widow. It had
been taken a week before his death, and was without a mustache.”

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