Thomas Lovell Beddoes - The Phantom Wooer (verse) J. S. Le Fanu - Narrative Of The Ghost Of A Hand Wilkie Collins - The Dream Woman Henry James - The Friends Of The Friends Guy de Maupassant - Who Knows? Oscar Wilde - The Canterville Ghost Edith Wharton - The Triumph Of Night M. R. James - Lost Hearts Rudyard Kipling - The House Surgeon H. G. Wells - The Inexperienced Ghost E. F. Benson - The Face Algernon Blackwood - With Intent To Steal Saki - The Open Window Walter De La Mare - Crewe W. F. Harvey - The Tool Carter Dickson - Blind Man's Hood Philip MacDonald - Our Feathered Friends Elizabeth Bowen - The Apple Tree John Collier - Thus I Refute Beelzy Walter De La Mare - The Listeners
E. F. Benson - The Face: Young, wealthy, healthy and happily married to Dick, Hester Ward has no business being fearful, but recurring dreams from her childhood have made her anxious that something terrible is shortly to befall her. Its all to do with her recurring two-part nightmare in which she finds herself walking along a crumbling clifftop whose grey church tower and jutting gravestones are in imminent danger of falling into the sea. But worse, far worse, is that horrible, leering face which warns her "I shall soon come for you now." At an art exhibition she recognises the original of this monster in Vandyke's portrait of Sir Roger Wyburn, and supposes she must have been exposed to it during her childhood. Her Doctor advises she take a holiday on the coast and, much to Dick's surprise, she agrees to spend some weeks convalescing at Rushton. Fully restored to health and looking forward to her return home, Hester fatally decides to take a stroll along the cliff - the same one, she soon realises, as that which has haunted her all these years. Having made a terrible discovery among the gravestones, she rushes back to her hotel and telegrams Dick to fetch her immediately. A man arrives in the foyer. It isn't her husband.
i've put off re-reading this for years as i just knew it couldn't affect me the same way twice, but Hugh Lamb's remark that Benson likely modelled the story on Rhoda Broughton's The Man With The Nose decided me to go for a rematch. Hugh, as is so often the case, is spot on. Benson has ditched the big nose and nastied other things up considerably but essentially it's the same story and a dead grim one at that. As with another of his (several) woman destroyed offerings The Outcast, what gives The Face it's power to appal is that Hester has done nothing we know of to deserve her dreadful fate.
all the rest of these have been scraped up from elsewhere on the board for convenience sake (just skip 'em) but i'll attempt Blind Man's Hood and, possibly, the Walter de la Mare couple later which, if nothing else, should give you something to laugh at.
Elizabeth Bowen - The Apple Tree: Nineteen year old Myra is finding married life difficult to cope with, not through any fault of her husband, Squire Simon who dotes on her, but on account of the tragedy which befell her as a child. Brought up in a West Country orphanage, she and Doria were thrown together through their unpopularity with the other girls. When Myra was gradually accepted into the group, Doria took it badly and hung herself from the apple tree in the yard. It was Myra who discovered the swinging corpse and the Crampton Park School affair was a seven day wonder in the newspapers. Since then, Myra has been haunted by Doria, apple tree and all, neither of whom are shy of revealing themselves in Mr. Simon’s presence either. The drain on the otherwise loving couple’s health is taking its toll. Time for interfering busybody the indomitable Mrs. Bettersley to intervene on their behalf.
J. S. Le Fanu - Narrative Of The Ghost Of A Hand: Dublin, late eighteenth century. The Prosser household are besieged by the pudgy, toad-like spectral hand which tricks its way inside the Tiled House, frightens the servants and makes an attempt on Mrs. Prosser's life. But it saves its worst for the infant son. Good fun while you're reading it but a little more mindless violence wouldn't have gone amiss if you ask me.
W. F. Harvey - The Tool: Narrated by the inmate of a mental institution. A curate on a walking holiday across the moors, discovers the body of a foreigner with a green parrot tattooed on his chest. If he wasn't horrified by the discovery, he is when he realises he's lost a day, having no recollection of staying at a certain Inn or anything he did over a 24 hour period. He has another blackout the following week during which time someone buries the corpse. Eventually it becomes apparent to him just who the murderer is.
Philip MacDonald - Our Feathered Friends: One of the great nature in revolt stories. Young Londoners Jack and Vi lost on a drive through the countryside. They abandon the car and enter a woodland glade. The birds are chirping away something crazy, their song rising in pitch and volume until Jack can barely take it. Vi stands transfixed, gazing down at the ring-leader. Jack looks up at the trees to find they are surrounded. What can our feathered friends be up to?
Saki - The Open Window: Mr. Nutter has been sent convalescing in the country to ease his nerves, so the last thing he needs is sweet little Vera confiding her dear aunt’s “tragedy” which leaves her clinging to the belief that one day her husband and two brothers will return from their resting place on the treacherous moor and step through the open window as though nothing happened.
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.