Tag Archives: O.Henry

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

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian

Books on the Nightstand


For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

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