R. Chetwynd-Hayes (ed.) - The 16th Fontana Book Of Great Ghost Stories (1980)
Introduction - R. Chetwynd-Hayes
M. R. James - Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book Terry Tapp - Mariners Kenneth Hill - Beyond The Red Door E. and H. Heron - The Story Of Medhans Lea Patricia Moynehan - Just For The Record Pansy Pakenham - The Cook's Room William Charlton - Norton Camp Marjorie Bowen - The Prescription Heather Vineham - The Rock Garden Amyas Northcote - Brickett Bottom Pamela Hansford Johnson - The Swan Meg Buxton - The Children And The Apple Tree John Kendrick Bangs - The Water Ghost Of Harrowby Hall A. Scupham - Destination Glen Doll R. Chetwynd-Hayes - She Walks On Dry Land
Heather Vineham - The Rock Garden: “Take away the blest protectors and the dead will walk again. The black death will be back in Little Hallerton.”
Melanie inherits Briar Cottage and immediately makes plans to remove the ‘weeds’ from the rockery, despite the pleadings of the aged servant, Sarah, who came part and parcel with the property as dictated by Aunt Phyllis’s will. Why does Sarah feel so strongly about the issue? In the 17th century, Alice Newcombe had a roll of cloth sent in from plague-ridden London from which her wedding dress was to be fashioned. Her intended, Mr. Carstairs, was one of those struck down as the disease ravaged the community. When, years later, Alice again walked up the aisle, Carstairs came for her. And now the unheedful Melanie sets to work on the garden …
Pansy Pakenham - The Cook's Room: The late James Maxwell-Smith of Terncote Manor had two passions in life - detective fiction and his French cook, Elise. When he died, his bereaved lover moved home across the channel. A guest in her old attic room has a nasty experience involving a bed, the marble bust of James and the ghost of Elise who has just committed suicide (!)
Kenneth Hill - Beyond The Red Door: Two security guards are patrolling the burnt out shell of the computer room where three men were killed in an explosion. Nobody bothered to inform the dead men who carry on their Friday night shift regardless.
William Charlton - Norton Camp: Build during World War II, the Army base in the Ogley Hills has had a bad history dating from 1941 when German bombers killed five-hundred plus in one raid. Now the 19th Regiment have been posted there and for Private Debenham in particular the experience convinces him that fighting in the leech-infested swamps of Malaysia is preferable to tracking phantoms.
Terry Tapp - Mariners: New Teignton, Devon. To commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a retired naval Officer built his home as "a precise facsimile of a Galleon". Now, four-hundred years later, it's prospective new owner the retired American surgeon Dr. Gareth Vanglor learns that there's such a thing as doing a job too perfectly. As Mariners comes under siege from a ghostly English fleet, he's taken below decks to witness a succession of crude and gruesome amputations.
John Kendrick Bangs - The Water Ghost Of Harrowby Hall: The cadaverous, dripping, seaweed-festooned spectre of a young maiden saturates the haunted chamber for one hour every Christmas Eve. The latest Oglethorpe decides that enough is enough and hits on a fiendish plan to rid himself of her ladyship for good.
Marjorie Bowen - The Prescription: (London Magazine, Jan. 1929). Verall Hall, Bucks. Christmas at Mrs. Janey's and the hostess arranges for Mrs. Mahogany the famous medium to have one of her turns by way of amusement for the guests. It's all breathtakingly dull stuff which is why the party react with scepticism when the medium goes off alarming, uttering cries of "Murder!" and describing in detail the demise of a young woman who has been administered a lethal dose of arsenic, location unknown but nearby.
As Mrs. Mahogany departs she encounters latecomer Dr. Dilke. "You're very psychic, aren't you?" she states and so it proves when, that night, he's aroused from his bed and ushered aboard an ancient coach by a man desperate to save his dying wife. Dr. Dilke recognises a case of poisoning when he sees it and writes a prescription to no avail. He's a hundred years too late to save her life.
R. Chetwynd-Hayes - She Walks On Dry Land: "Let a stranger spend but one night within the boundaries of this village, then, sir - she comes up from the sea and walks on dry land."
So warns Elder Josiah Woodward in this companion piece to Markland The Hunter and he knows what he's talking about. RCH and brevity were estranged for years but there's not a word wasted in She Walks On Dry Land and the story is all the better for it. Set in Denham, East Anglia in 1810, it sees Charles Devereaux, Fourth Earl of Montcalm, blow in at The Limping Sailor with his manservant Patrick and demand rooms for the night. This upsets the locals, for reasons already specified, although the drowned girl is only a threat to outsiders. Should such a one see her face, than they run screaming to the sea and drown themselves. Charles is too stubborn to listen.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson