The scene was a commercial room in a hotel in a small country town. The boarders-Penfold, Dr. Leek, Hirst, Somers, Malcolm and Beldon-were talking about ghosts. Somers told them about a house that was haunted by a spirit. No tenants stayed long in the house. None took his stories seriously. But Somers told yet another story of how a ghost was travelling as a fellow passenger in Great Western with a man. Later, when the ticket collector wanted tickets, he pretended to look for it and jumped through the ventilator with a groan. Penfold, an old man of sixty-two, then remarked that the hotel itself was connected with the story of a ghost. Once a thief called Jerry Bundler, a thief of London was staying in the hotel. The police came to the hotel searching for him. The thief was sure to be arrested.
An officer climbed up to his window, but the thief threw him down the window and thus killed him. But when the police force opened the room where the thief was staying, they found him hanged from the top of a four-post bed. The incident had happened some eighty years ago. Penfold even revealed that his father himself had seen the ghost of the thief. It was in the same commercial room that Jerry had taken his last supper. When the incidents described happened in distant places, none were seriously affected. But when the incident of Jerry Bundler was said to have taken place in that very same hotel itself, everyone felt a little uneasy. Penfold went away to sleep after that. The people began to drink to overcome the fright. Hirst, who was very fond of playing practical jokes, proposed that he would dress up as the ghost of Jerry and frighten Penfold. Though Malcolm and Beldon supported the idea, Dr. Leek and Somers did not like it as the joke might frighten the old man too much and make him ill.
Malcolm felt sure that he would not be frightened. He even betted a sovereign if Hirst could frighten him. Hirst accepted the bet and proposed to frighten him first and then the old man. Hirst went out to prepare himself for the piece of acting. While they were all talking, George the waiter came in trembling in fear. He said that he had seen the ghost in the bar. It had a death-like white face and short cropped hair. A little later Hirst himself entered the room shivering in deadly fear. He too said that he had seen the ghost at the foot of the stairs. All were frightened mortally. Malcolm decided that he would never come to the house again and George decided to leave his job the very next day itself. Somers thought that they had made a spiritual circle to attract the ghost, as they were all thinking of the ghost at the same time.
All of them except Somers and Hirst went out to see if there was anything in the bar. Hirst revealed that he was the ghost that George had seen. Now he had come into the room to frighten all of them. Malcolm, Beldon, Dr. Leek and George came back. They had seen nothing though Malcolm was not very sure if he had not seen something. Hirst pretended to be very frightened. He asked Somers to sleep with him in the same room. Then they went out to sleep. Malcolm and Beldon who were very much frightened, decided to sleep together in the same room with George also in it. Malcolm and Beldon accompanied George to the bar where George was to put out the gas. Dr. Leek was getting ready to go out. The three came back. The gas lights were put out. It was at this time that the handle of the door was heard moving. Then the door opened.
A figure of breeches, white stockings, buckled shoes with a handkerchief tied around the neck appeared. The figure then untied the handkerchief and its head fell on to one shoulder. It advanced towards Malcolm. Dr. Leek fired his revolver. The shot hit the figure. The figure writhed and fell on the ground with a choking cough. Malcolm went forward and removed the wig from the figure and found that it was Hirst. Somers came in. He saw what had happened and fainted in the arms of George. Thus the play shows how a practical joke may be fatal at times and it also shows that the fear of spirits is rather a universal one.