The Haunted Orchard by Richard Le Gallienne (1890)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror November 5, 2013
With so many dark tales dominating our reading time for October, I thought a gentle ghost story might be refreshing—something atmospheric and soothing with glittering prose to refresh our literary consciousness. English author and poet Richard Le Gallienne wrote such a story in The Haunted Orchard.
The time of year is the silvery warm summertime. Solitude, still fashionable in the 1890s, is what our narrator is thirsting for, so he travels from the dusty city to the blue and green coast of Connecticut. The greening silence of leafy trees in the quiet breezes opens his mind and sets it to rest.
He stumbles upon an abandoned farmhouse fully furnished with charming tables, old books, inviting china, and wayside flowers in the meadows. Unable to resist taking a holiday in this sweet little house, he rents it for the summer.
Just after settling in and while having a lazy afternoon with a book—Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy—under an old apple tree, he hears singing. The song is strikingly more beautiful than any birdsong he had ever heard and far more mysterious. He is totally enchanted and must discover the source.
The Haunted Orchard is a simple story with wholesome characters, charged with a hypnotic quality that Le Gallienne’s writing is esteemed for. Let the vivid images he describes stream you along to aerial spaces that only a haunted soul can enter.
Read it at East of the Web
As wonderful as it is to read this story because of the poetic elements, I hope you will listen to the Librivox Recording by Jessica Snyder. She has a melodious voice and does the story much justice, especially the little French songs. I did find that the narrated ending here was shortened and not true to the author’s intent—a mistake by my standards. So, after listening, I recommend you at least read the last paragraph of the printed story to enjoy the full denouement.
Librivox Recordings, The Haunted Orchard, Narrated by Jessica Snyder
Le Gallienne wrote a number of novels, poems, and short stories and you can find more of his work at Gutenberg.org. I found The Haunted Restaurant to be a romantic tale that was a great lunchtime read (goes well with a French Brie, apples and slice of hot crusty bread). Enjoy!
Other Reading Web Sites to Visit
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed