Category Archives: O. Henry

A Wave of Whispers, Truman Capote Style

Miriam by Truman Capote (1945)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,  December 29, 2015

Let’s bring in the New Year with a ghost story. Or is this really a ghost story?



Mrs. H.T. Miller lives alone, a routine and dull life since her husband passed away. She’s gray-haired and friendless, smokes occasionally, and has a pet canary named Tommy. One night, with nothing to do she goes to the movies. There, Mrs. Miller meets a little girl named Miriam.



Mrs. Miller offered a peppermint. “What’s your name, dear?”

 “Miriam,” she said, as though, in some curious way, it were information already familiar.

 “Why, isn’t that funny—my name’s Miriam, too. And it’s not a terribly common name either. Now, don’t tell me your last name’s Miller!”

 “Just Miriam.”

 “But isn’t that funny?”

 “Moderately,” said Miriam, and rolled a peppermint on her tongue.


It snows all week. Mrs. Miller loses track of time in her empty days, until one night the doorbell rings persistently and sends Mrs. Miller into a panic. She opens the door.

“Hello,” says Miriam. “I’ve waited so long, you could at least let me in.”

No sugar ‘n spice here. Try sinister n’ saucy.  There are roses and almonds and a beautiful French doll. And a child who won’t go away.

Author Truman Capote is well-known for his darker tales; most readers know his most famous book In Cold Blood. While some readers might read Miriam as a ghost story, others will find it dreamy with psychological aspects: grief and abandonment themes or self-reflection and disappointment struggles … or a woman gone mad. Once you read this very short story, and enter Capote’s uncertain and eerie world of Mrs. Miller … you’ll know.


Miriam won an O.Henry Award in 1946, and was one of Capote’s first short stories. He was known as the “tiny terror” and a childhood friend of author Harper Lee.


[Truman at 23 years old. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, Reproduction number LC-USZ62-118429 DLC. WikiCommons.]


Read the short story Miriam at

Watch the 12-minute film (posted by YeseniaBaygorriaH). Produced by Rowena Riley and Lilianna Greenfield-Sanders.“>


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine  

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For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

Happy New Year to all my blog followers here!

This blog was viewed 15,000 times in 2015, spanning visitors from 118 countries,

with over 200 followers.

All time views since 2012 is just shy of 40,000. Thank you!

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Imps and Devils

The Furnished Room  by O. Henry  (1906)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    September 3, 2013


Enter the redbrick house. Foul and tainted air pervade. Go up the darkened staircase. At each turn are vacant niches.

It may be that statues of the saints had stood there, but it was not difficult to conceive that imps and devils had dragged them forth in the darkness and down to the unholy depths of some furnished pit below.

Imps and devil may not be the only residents of this boarding house in old New York at the turn of the century. Possibly a few vagrant ghosts preside? If there is such a thing as a ghostly fragrance, you’ll smell it here at Mrs. Purdy’s house with rooms to let to the fashionably bohemian stage people.

A weary young man rents the back room on the third floor. He is in a ceaseless pursuit, searching New York for his love, an actress, a singer, a fair beauty with reddish gold hair: Missing … Miss Eloise Vashner.

He sees that hundreds of lodgers have come and gone from this tiny room, leaving their ghostly remnants: fingerprints on the walls, a medicine bottle, the name “Marie” scrawled on the window glass, hairpins, scarf, buttons. Who has lived in this room? the young man wants to know.

Mrs. Purdy has her answer ready.

If you like wordplay, inverted sentences, similes and metaphors, and a clever twist ending, O. Henry is your guy. Who else but Henry could describe such keen visual imagery of a fireplace mantel’s outline  … veiled behind some pert drapery drawn rakishly askew like the sashes of the Amazonian ballet. Amazonian ballet!

Henry rarely wrote about the supernatural and that’s what makes this short story so extra special and one that absolutely belongs in my Tales of Terror.


Read it here at East of the Web

Listen to the narration at LibriVox Recording on YouTube (16 minutes)


Other “Reading Fiction” Web Sites to Visit



The Story Reading Ape Blog

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For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Hauntings, horror, literature, mysteries, O. Henry, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror