Between the Lights by E.F. Benson (1912)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror December 15, 2015
Christmas ghost stories are a worldwide tradition. This story by E.F. Benson takes place on December 24, Christmas Eve. A story within a story, if you will, and striking a dark tone. Between the Lights is perfect for a read aloud, guests sitting round the hearth, glasses of nog in hands, fire spitting, candlelight throwing shadows against the dark windows.
Outside, wind drives the snow and only the sounds of the scurry of snowflakes and the voice of our narrator prevail. He reports about another Christmas Eve’s event at this same house as he sat in his chair.
“It was nearly dark, but a little light came in from the door opposite to me, which seemed to lead into a passage that communicated with the exterior of the place … there now burned a dim firelight, and my eyes were drawn there. Shapes were gathered round it; what they were I could not at first see.”
But our narrator does see what materializes between the lights and it’s not just shadows or faded light. “It haunted me; for months, I think, it was never quite out of my mind, but lingered somewhere in the dusk of consciousness …”
What does he see between the lights that Christmas Eve night? What happens to the dusk of his consciousness in the clear light of day? Phantom of the mind … or real?
Read Between the Lights at Gutenberg.net.au (Australia). Scroll to the Table of Contents and select the title (4th story).
Listen to the Podcast. No. 11 on the itunes list at Corvidae.co.UK. Narrated by Richard Crowest.
Edward Frederic Benson (known as Fred) was an English author of over 50 novels and various collections of short stories. He is famous for his scandalous novel Dodo in 1893 and Mapp and Lucia (Lucia series, 1920s), which explore Edwardian society (not quite Downton Abbey but certainly full of English snobbery, small town rivalry, and British high society). He has had a cult following for decades because of the Lucia series. Many of his readers remember him for his ghost stories. More info on this author and his novels at the EF Benson Society.
[Images from WikiCommons.]
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