The Lost Ghost

The Lost Ghost by Mary Wilkins Freeman (1903)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 28, 2015



Stephen King once said, “We need ghost stories because, in fact, we are ghosts.”

It was a dreadful little face, with something about it which made it different from any other face on earth, but it was so pitiful that somehow it did away a good deal with the dreadfulness. And there were two little hands spotted purple with the cold, holding up my winter coat, and a strange little far-away voice said: ‘I can’t find my mother.’

“‘For Heaven’s sake,’ I said, ‘who are you?’

 “Then the little voice said again: ‘I can’t find my mother.’ ”


Two sisters are living in an old country house with a ghost. But this is not your usual ghostly apparitions.  Mary Wilkins Freeman wrote the most emotional and hypnotic ghost story in The Lost Ghost. Our story begins with two women in rocking chairs discussing their beliefs about ghosts. Mrs. Meserve recounts a story of when she was a student and boarded with two spinsters in a lovely but haunted house. I challenge you to read this and not weep. The audio below is the best!


Read The Lost Ghost at East of the


Listen to the audio by Librivox on




In The Southwest Chamber, we have two sisters, Amanda and Sophia, who are running a boarding house. Aunt Harriet has died in the southwest bed chamber. This is a homespun, charming, and yet sinister little tale. Again, Mary Wilkins Freeman lures you in with a comfortable and enchanting setting that turns wicked.


Read The Southwest Chamber at



imgresMary Wilkins Freeman lived in Brattleboro, Vermont during the late 1800s-1930 and became famous for depicting women living in rural villages of New England. After years of writing with no financial payment, she sold her first story The Beggar for $10.  She became a prolific writer, published fifteen volumes of short stories, fifty uncollected stories and essays, fourteen novels, three plays, three volumes of poetry, and eight children’s books. In 1926 she was awarded the William Dean Howells Gold Medal for Fiction by the American Academy of Letters, and later that year she was inducted into the prestigious National Institute for Arts and Letters.


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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, horror blogs, literature, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror, Women In Horror

5 responses to “The Lost Ghost

  1. latasha

    I enjoyed this short story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, that’s good and certainly would be the sinister perspective, yes, you’re right. A far more chilling ending than how I saw it. I associated the cold with pervasive unhappiness and loneliness. A reader certainly can draw on evil motivation as you point out. I didn’t get that suggestion. If the child were a trick or deception to get Mrs. Bird, I expect Freeman would have dropped a hint, even a subtle one. The holding hands, the white snow path, the smile on Mrs. Bird’s face convinced me the result was a good one and mutual.


  3. So you accepted the sentimental interpretation of “The Lost Ghost.” I did the same when I first read it, but further thought about how MWF used ambiguity has me wondering. My thoughts:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian, I didn’t see the ending as ambiguous. And I found no evil victory because Mrs. Bird had very generous and sincere desires to help the child, and she did. If anything, for me, evil lost the ultimate power over the child. Compassion won. Do you have another perspective?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, Paula, that that is the obvious interpretation: Mrs. Bird takes the place of the mother out of love, and so lays the child to rest. It’s a nice reading. I like it.

        But . . . the whole story is set in a framework that implies ghosts are unnatural and dreadful. It’s always associated with the cold, the cold of death. The first time the child appears, it seems to be hurting the cat. And what child would still be seeking as abusive a mother as that one had? Well, yes, some, I admit, would. But then why can’t it find its mother? Or, more importantly, its father (who is not dead, but why should that stop the ghost)?

        All these allusions to dreadfulness raise nasty possibilities. What if the child is malevolently seeking to lure some kind-hearted person to their death? For in that she succeeds. What if it is not the child at all, but just looks like it?

        Far-fetched? Perhaps so. But I wonder.

        Liked by 1 person

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