A Supernatural Visitant

Horror: A True Tale   by Anonymous (1861)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 25, 2014

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What if … you are sleeping alone in your bedroom, snug under your deep coverlets, and you wake suddenly feeling a wicked chill. A bit more heat in the room would do and you attempt to rise up and fetch your robe, which you had flung at the bottom of the bed upon retiring. Eyes half open, the dull darkness surrounds you as you spread your hands across the coverlet for the robe. You run your hand over the bed, searching, wondering where the heck it is. Open your eyes—the robe is suddenly handed to you by an unseen arm.

This is the kind of fear we love to read in stories. And this is exactly the kind of fear evoked in Horror: A True Tale. We all have these fears of someone, or some ghastly thing, invading the safety of our beds.

Meet the lovely Rose, a young woman of nineteen, living in the countryside with her sisters Lucy and Minnie and their father, a wealthy landlord.

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Their old Tudor mansion is full of turrets and gables and small chambers that the servants refuse to enter because of the dark deeds that history claims happened there.

Rose tells us of the festivities on a splendid Christmas Eve celebration at the mansion with guests regally dressed and chatting in the greatly decorated hall. The matriarch of the family attends, the rich Lady Speldhurst (think Downton Abbey).

“Lady Speldhurst … Her gray silk dress, her spotless lace, old-fashioned jewels, and prim neatness of array, were well suited to the intelligence of her face, with its thin lips, and eyes of a piercing black, undimmed by age. Those eyes made me uncomfortable … they followed my every movement with curious scrutiny.”

Lady Speldhurst is Rose’s godmother, and she plans on spending the night. Rose generously agrees to give up her most comfortable bedchamber for her godmother, and stay in a “disused chamber … which is called haunted … the green room … the sins it had witnessed, the blood spilled, the poison administered by unnatural hate within its walls.”

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Naturally Rose resists these ideas, and indeed resists the warnings of her godmother and sisters about staying in this closed up bedchamber. Until when, in the green room, after the hearth fires die down, Rose feels something malignant is near.

 

Author John Berwick Harwood wrote many ghost stories (many under Anonymous) and this short story is said to be his work. He also wrote The Underground Ghost, and The Painted Room at Blackston Manor.  Harwood’s elaborate descriptions  invite you into the scenery and action with a deep suspense. There is a bit of melodrama but it suits the elements without being obnoxious. Harwood wrote some twenty novels and several Christmas horror stories but I can’t find much of his work out there. What a pity because I’d love to read more. Do leave a comment of what you think of this little horror story.

 

Read Horror: A True Tale at ReadBookOnline.net

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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2 Comments

Filed under fiction, ghost stories, horror, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

2 responses to “A Supernatural Visitant

  1. Hi Lisa. Good point about rose giving up her room. Rose does make a point, though, about her pride vs. being a weak and superstitious creature unable to pass the night in a strange bed. She seemed challenged by Speldhurst and her sisters to defy the expectations of women being helpless and easily frightened. I just loved Lady Speldhurst! Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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  2. Another great find! I thought the use of the fairytale motifs to be very effective. The idea that the old lady was the bad fairy at the protagonist’s christening and this: “I have heard since then of the Scottish belief that those doomed to some great calamity become fey, and are never so disposed for merriment and laughter as just before the blow falls.” *shudder*

    The suspense builds throughout nicely. I will say there is one thing that did detract from the story, and that is the fact that the narrator was offered so many chances to escape her fate. As a reader I can’t help feeling annoyed. I can’t help but think that it would have been less contrived if they had simply left it at “she had to give her room up.”

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