The Presence by the Fire by H.G. Wells (1897)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror September 16, 2014
The early fiction of H.G. Wells includes a number of “uncollected stories,” and The Presence by the Fire is one that most readers (even most Wells’ fans) have never read. This somewhat sentimental ghost story was rediscovered years ago at the old British Museum Library (1990s?). Romantic love stories of the supernatural are often on my list and this one, although predictable, is a ghostly experience that reminds me of old world drama. It’s a 15-minute read, heartfelt and haunting.
Reid’s wife Mary is dying. At her deathbed, he is torn to pieces, as he knows he must let her go. She utters a last farewell to him and he hangs on through the last breath she takes in this world. How does he cope with Mary gone from his life? Perhaps his love is so strong that he can draw his departed Mary back into this world.
Read H. G. Wells’ short story The Presence by the Fire at StoryPilot.com
Speaking of ghosts …
Have you read any of the stories by novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley (1894-1984)? The Old Dark House is a haunted house tale (nowhere to be found online in text) but is a film (1931) with Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart (1 hour, 10 minutes), directed by James Whale (director of Frankenstein).
The film is black-and-white vintage spookery, shadows and candlelight, beating rain and thunder. Travelers are driven off the road from violent rain and wind and must find shelter in a storm-battered castle in Wales. There is a warm fire, weird and cranky caretakers in a castle with no beds … and, Morgan a savage who is loose on the property, a mysterious voice upstairs, a madman kept behind a locked door, and murder. Okay, so cliché after cliché saturates this story and it’s full of melodrama, but if you like the old style movies, this classic is one that harkens back like old wine, a bit musky on the palate but after a glass or two, it’s fun and interesting.
J.B. Priestley is considered to be the “sage of English Literature” and is famous for his book Man and Time (published as a companion to Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols), a book about the metaphysics of time, which I’m actually reading now as part of my research for my new novel (working title Greylock). He is an unusual author who writes about time-slips of past, present, and future.
I did find a text (an excerpt) of The Old Dark House (original title Benighted) in The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories, edited by Peter Haining on Amazon.com. This anthology has some terrific old ghost stories by authors Henry James, Jack London, Daphne du Maurier, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Fay Weldon and Muriel Spark and more (and almost none of these stories are free online).
You can watch the film The Old Dark House on YouTube Cynykyl Video
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