The Hurrying Blackness

A Journey   by Edith Wharton (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 3, 2014


images-2This odd little story has a ghostly presence and Edith Wharton’s well-sustained tones and imagery conjure a deep oppressive mood.

A woman is traveling with her husband on a long-distance train to New York. She is on her way back home to her family. Her husband is seriously ill.

The opening lines at the start of her journey, “As she lay in her berth, staring at the shadows overhead, the rush of the wheels was in her brain …” are the polar opposite of what happens at the end of her journey.





We are inside this woman’s “circles of wakeful lucidity” but there’s much more going on. I like what is not being said as much as what is communicated.


As the days pass, this lovely and devoted wife tries to attend to her husband’s needs, protect him, and  keep everyone else on the train away from him for his privacy. Her anxiety, loneliness, and frightening helplessness prevail as the train zooms across the countryside.



On this journey, death is also a passenger.


When her journey is over and she thinks her worst terror has past, there is one more drama to come. I read the ending again and ever so slowly. That last image inside the darkened Harlem tunnel is the true haunting in this story


Edith Wharton is most famous for her skills of subtle irony and drama. We know her best works to be The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth, and of course her ghost stories.



Read A Journey at

No audio available for A Journey but Librivox does have a number of her short reads on their Tales of Men edition. It includes The Eyes and Afterward and others you might like. Listen to the audio of Edith Wharton’s short stories here at Librivox.



Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 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


Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors


Filed under fiction, Hauntings, literary horror, psychological horror, short stories, tales of terror

3 responses to “The Hurrying Blackness

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In Lunar Extra ~ “A Journey” | The Writerly Reader

  2. I too read the ending over a few times. Yes, Wharton is being a bit vague, but I found the ending to reflect the dream she had. Denial of death, fear of death, fear of being alone all come into play, especially with her last gesture.


  3. Jay

    Hi Paula,
    I just read the story now on my lunch hour. Wharton is impressive as usual, but I confess I don’t completely understand the ending – which I went over a few times in an effort to. Maybe we’re not supposed to be sure what has happened to her? Actually, I just had a new idea as I typed this but am reluctant to share due to the specter of “spoiler”….

    Liked by 1 person

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