What Is "A Ghost Story" by Mark Twain About?

"A Ghost Story" by Mark Twain tells the frightening story of an encounter with a ghost. The ghost in the story is inspired by the Cardiff Giant hoax. In 1869, workers found what appeared to be a 10-foot tall petrified man, but it was actually a statue built by George Hull, a man who claimed giants once lived on Earth, explains a Lock Haven University website.

"A Ghost Story" begins with a man returning to a rented room in an old building in New York City. After settling in, the man begins to think of old memories and people he once knew. This causes the man to inexplicably experience a feeling of dread. During the middle of the night, the man is awakened by something pulling on the covers of the bed. He then hears footsteps and what he thinks is a voice. The movement and sounds suddenly stop, causing the man to believe it was a dream.

The man's fears soon return after he turns on a light and sees giant footprints on the floor in the room. Shortly after, the noises return and the man also sees strange faces in the dark. Eventually, the man is able to make out the form of a giant man who he immediately recognizes as the Cardiff Giant. Knowing the giant means him no harm, he settles down and has a short conversation with him before falling back asleep.