“The Ghost-Extinguisher” by Gelett Burgess
My attention was first called to the possibility of manufacturing a practicable ghost-extinguisher by a real-estate agent in San Francisco.
Our ghost-hunting narrator Garrish learns about an ancient Japanese* method of ridding properties of “ghosts” or rather the astral remains of the recently dead. Garrish sciences-up the ritual and devises a way to capture and store ghosts. When the ghost hunting business runs dry in his local area, Garrish takes a trip to England, thinking that the old country should be lousy with ghosts. Unfortunately, in England having a ghost in your house is sort of a status symbol, so no one wants their ghosts
busted er, extinguished. Ever a capitalist, Garrish realizes he has a supply that is in demand. Not surprisingly, things don’t go as planned…
This is fun story. It brings to mind, of course, Ghostbusters, but also The Frighteners, in which hauntings are levied for fun and profit.
* Early 20th century racism alert!
Gelett Burgess was an artist, art critic, and humorist of some note. In addition to “The Purple Cow,” he also coined the term “blurb,” thus giving authors everywhere something to seek or be pestered for depending on which side of fame that author stands.