Five inches

While staying a night in ... I spoke with one of the townsfolk in the pub. He told me this story of betrayal and revenge:

"When I was a boy, I had a best friend with whom I played out in the moor. Although we knew the landscape, one day he made a wrong step and sank in. He held out his hand to me, Sir, I swear, it was only five inches away, but I just couldn't move. I saw him drown and returned alone.

Years passed, and still I could see his pale hand in my dreams, reaching out for me, but I couldn't take it. I got work in a Victorian style manor that was said to be haunted for many years, but I didn't care much. What frightened me most was my master. He was thin and pale, had grey eyes and white hair, and he moved silently like a shadow. His day was more or less the same. In the morning he read the Times, then he took long walks in the garden, and in the evening he used to sit in front of the fireside, reading Wilde or drinking a Lagavúlin.

So I worked five years for my master and never saw the ghost said to haunt in his manor. But one day, when I cleaned the gutter, I slipped and could hardly hold myself on the gutter. Then out of nowhere the ghost appeared. It was my master, but also it was my old friend who died in the moor. He took out his hand to mine till it was - Sir I sway - it was exactly five inches away. I let go. Falling to my doom, I heard the ghost say: 'The doubt is settled.'
Now if you could excuse me, Sir, it's late, and my master waits for me."