Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Water Ghost, A Christmas Eve Tale

The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall  by John Kendrick Bangs  (1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror December 24, 2012

 

12-Howsham-Hall-q85-303x200‘The trouble with Harrowby Hall was that it was haunted …’ writes John Kendrick Bangs, American author/humorist, known at the turn of the  century for his humorous supernatural fiction. He immortalized Bangsian Fantasy, which were spoofs about the afterlife.

This water ghost, a creepy and soggy feminine figure, appears every Christmas Eve at midnight, casting her cavernous blue eyes into the Hall’s owner Henry Hartwick Oglethorpe. She displays her long ‘aqueously bony’ fingers and bits of dripping seaweed while she draws the weedy ends across Henry’s forehead, until he feels nearly insane, swooning and going unconscious, at the same time soaking him thoroughly in seawater.

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There’s a heartless sea nymph, a curse, a death and Henry’s heir to Harrowby Hall who must deal with the water ghost haunting him every Christmas Eve in this same flooding way. Who wins in this little Christmas tale, man or ghost? The Water Ghost is really quite entertaining and probably a fun story to read aloud. The images are charming and the ghost quite polite actually. A perfect story to sparkle the spirit on this Christmas Eve.

You can find it here: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/WateGhos.shtml

Listen to the narration by Librivox http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIJf_4_wwa8

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Other  stories by Bang:

Thurlow’s Christmas Story (1894)  Short story is published in Ghosts: A Treasury of Chilling Tales of Old & New by Marvin Kaye, at your library or on Amazon.com

Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others (1898) Paperback on Amazon.com

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Ghoultide Greetings! Christmas Ghost Stories

The Snow by Hugh Walpole

and

The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton by Charles Dickens

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, December 18, 2012

Is it Christmas yet? Not quite, but here’s a holiday story to get you in the merry mood for those of us who love Christmas ghosts.

It’s Christmas Eve in The Snow by Hugh Walpole (bestselling author of 1930s but one of those forgotten authors fairly neglected these days). Walpole published five volumes of short stories and 36 novels and was thought of as an equal to Henry James. Virginia Woolf praised his gifts for telling details. The Snow is no jolly Christmas tale with family gathering round for festivities; this story is deeply haunting, leaving the reader in a wintry cold that will surely chill your holiday spirits.

In the dusk of the passage of a Cathedral, Mrs. Ryder, a rather sweet woman, sees an image, ‘…old-fashioned grey cloak, the untidy grey hair and the sharp outline of the pale cheek and pointed chin.’ Mrs. Ryder can’t quite decide if this sinister woman is from her imagination, her increasing madness, or in fact truly real with the ‘… sweep of the grey dress, falling in folds to the ground, the flash of a gold ring on the white hand.’

Whose white hand is this?

The terror she feels is certainly real. A voice faintly comes to her ears: “I warned you. This is for the last time. . . .”

Shivering with this threat, Mrs. Ryder flees to her home and stands in her drawing-room at the window, ghostly snow falling over the great hulk of the Cathedral next door. One gets the dreadful feeling of confinement, a heavy white lid coming down.

When we meet Mr. Ryder, we find him a rather cross, brooding husband who admits to their failed marriage and speaks of a separation. He likes to call that Cathedral next door a flying ship. But to Mrs. Ryder the Cathedral is more like ‘a crouching beast licking its lips over the miserable sinners that it was forever devouring.’

Can fear really whisper in your ear? Mrs. Ryder flees to the Cathedral on Christmas Eve in the thick muffling snow and discovers … the ghost.

You can experience this sinister little Christmas treat at http://moonlightstories.magick7.com/1/1680.htm

[This link was functioning originally but of late had some problems. If you can’t access the story here, you can find it in the book The Best Supernatural Stories of Hugh Walpole, or A Century of Creepy Stories by Hugh Walpole, probably at your local library or online purchases.]

The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton by Charles Dickens

Gabriel Grub is a gravedigger, walking at twilight with his lantern, spade, and wicker bottle. He treads the hard crisp snow inside the graveyard on Christmas Eve. A wild frozen voice speaks.

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Read it at Gutenberg.org (Chapter 29 in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers):
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/580/580-h/580-h.htm#link2HCH0029

Also here at http://www.readbookonline.net/read/156/4515/

 

Merry, merry!

 

 

 

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

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Captain Murderer by Dickens, Forgotten Tale of Old

Captain Murderer by Charles Dickens

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   December 11, 2012 

Captain Murderer is a short story written by Charles Dickens (1000 words, flash fiction before flash was trendy–Dickens was so cool!) and was published in All the Year Round, A Weekly Journal in 1860.  During this Christmas season, we often talk about a Dickens’ Christmas and read or watch A Christmas Carol, delighting in the ghosts of the past. Captain Murderer is  not as popular a story as A Christmas Carol, but definitely fits into the realm of Tales of Terror. And this one is an especially forgotten tale of old.

This wretched character, the Captain, has immense wealth, is an offshoot of the Bluebeard family, and likes to show off his coach driven by a pack of glorious milk-white steeds. But Captain Murderer has a sinister preoccupation with matrimony. His horrific appetite for young brides opens this story when he gives his new wife a golden rolling pin and a silver pie board. He instructs her to bake him a pie. Seems harmless enough, right?

“Dear Captain Murderer, what pie is this to be?” his wife, of exactly one month after the wedding day, asks as she turns up her laced-silk sleeves.

“A meat pie,” the captain replies.

A meat pie? Captain Murderer, known for his ever-sharp teeth that he has professionally filed regularly, has a gruesome secret suggestion for the meat filling. His bride rolls out the crust, curls it into the baking pan and as she looks up into the looking glass, she sees the Captain cutting her head off.

Whack!

Can you imagine the view in that mirror? I’ll let Dickens reveal in his own creepy style about the baking and eating, the subsequent brides who met similar destinies, and the rather juicy ending. But I will add one note: dessert is a sweet revenge.

You can read Dickens’ Captain Murderer at the link below. For myself, I don’t think I shall look at another meat pie quite the same ever again.

Don’t hesitate to comment! I would love to hear from you.

http://www.shortstoryarchive.com/d/captain_murderer.html

TUESDAY’S  TALE OF TERROR will appear weekly.

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