“In Dark New England Days” a Creepy Tale by Sarah Orne Jewett, 1890

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Photo by Gato-Azul.

In Dark New England Days

Sarah Orne Jewett, 1890

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(This story first appeared in Century 40, 1890 issue; opening above.)

The last of the neighbors was going home; officious Mrs. Peter Downs had lingered late and sought for additional housework with which to prolong her stay. She had talked incessantly, and buzzed like a busy bee as she helped to put away the best crockery after the funeral supper, while the sisters Betsey and Hannah Knowles grew every moment more forbidding and unwilling to speak. They lighted a solitary small oil lamp at last, as if for Sunday evening idleness, and put it on the side table in the kitchen.

“We ain’t intending to make a late evening of it,” announced Betsey, the elder, standing before Mrs. Downs in an expectant, final way, making an irresistible opportunity for saying good-night. “I’m sure we’re more than obleeged to ye, — ain’t we, Hannah? — but I don’t feel ‘s if we ought to keep ye longer. We ain’t going to do no more to-night, but set down a spell and kind of collect ourselves, and then make for bed.”

Martha [Susan] Downs offered one more plea. “I’d stop all night with ye an’ welcome; ’tis gettin’ late — an’ dark,” she added plaintively; but the sisters shook their heads quickly, while Hannah said that they might as well get used to staying alone, since they would have to do it first or last. In spite of herself Mrs. Downs was obliged to put on her funeral best bonnet and shawl and start on her homeward way.

“Close-mouthed old maids!” she grumbled as the door shut behind her all too soon and denied her the light of the lamp along the footpath. Suddenly there was a bright ray from the window, as if some one had pushed back the curtain and stood with the lamp close to the sash. “That’s Hannah,” said the retreating guest. “She’d told me somethin’ about things, I know, if it hadn’t ‘a’ been for Betsey. Catch me workin’ myself to pieces again for ’em.” But, however grudgingly this was said, Mrs. Downs’s conscience told her that the industry of the past two days had been somewhat selfish on her part; she had hoped that in the excitement of this unexpected funeral season she might for once be taken into the sisters’ confidence. More than this, she knew that they were certain of her motive, and had deliberately refused the expected satisfaction. “‘Tain’t as if I was one o’ them curious busy-bodies anyway,” she said to herself pityingly; “they might ‘a’ neighbored with somebody for once, I do believe.” Everybody would have a question ready for her the next day, for it was known that she had been slaving herself devotedly since the news had come of old Captain Knowles’s sudden death in his bed from a stroke, the last of three which had in the course of a year or two changed him from a strong old man to a feeble, chair-bound cripple.

Mrs. Downs stepped bravely along the dark country road; she could see a light in her own kitchen window half a mile away, and did not stop to notice either the penetrating dampness or the shadowy woods at her right. It was a cloudy night, but there was a dim light over the open fields. She had a disposition of mind towards the exciting circumstances of death and burial, and was in request at such times among her neighbors; in this she was like a city person who prefers tragedy to comedy, but not having the semblance within her reach, she made the most of looking on at real griefs and departures.

Some one was walking towards her in the road; suddenly she heard footsteps. The figure stopped, then came forward again.

“Oh, ’tis you, ain’t it?” with a tone of disappointment. “I cal’lated you’d stop all night, ‘t had got to be so late, an’ I was just going over to the Knowles gals’; well, to kind o’ ask how they be, an'” — Mr. Peter Downs was evidently counting on his visit.

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An Excerpt: from “One Who Saw” a Ghost Story by A. M. Burrage, 1931

(This story was first published in the author’s 1931 collection Someone in the Room.)

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Art by “Seth” from the “A Ghost Story for Christmas” edition of “One Who Saw” by A. M. Burrage, published by The Haunted Bookshop in 2015. (The Haunted Bookshop published four other vintage titles in the series of small hand-cut, French-flap editions: “The Diary of Mr. Pointer” by M. R. James; “The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens; “Afterward” by Edith Wharton; and “The Crown Derby Plate” by Elizabeth Bowen.)

“Crutchley had been five days at the hotel when something strange happened. It was his custom to undress in the dark, because his windows were overlooked by a dozen others and, by first of all turning off the light, he was saved from drawing the great shutters. That night he was smoking while he undressed, and when he was in his pyjamas he went to one of the open windows to throw out the stub of his cigarette. Having done so he lingered, looking out.

The usual unnatural stillness brooded over the garden square, intensified now by the spell of the night. Somewhere in the sky the moon was shining, and a few stray silver beams dappled the top of the north wall. The plane tree stood like a living thing entranced. Not one of its lower branches stirred, and its leaves might have been carved out of jade. Just enough light filtered from the sky to make the features of the garden faintly visible. Crutchley looked where his cigarette had fallen and now lay like a glow-worm, and raised his eyes to one of the long green decrepit seats. With a faint, unreasonable thrill and a cold tingling of the nostrils he realized that somebody was sitting there.

As his eyes grew more used to the darkness the huddled form took the shape of a woman. She sat with her head turned away, one arm thrown along the sloping back of the seat, and her face resting against it. He said that her attitude was one of extreme dejection, of abject and complete despair.

Crutchley, you must understand, couldn’t see her at all clearly, although she was not a dozen yards distant. Her dress was dark, but he could make out none of its details save that something like a flimsy scarf or thick veil trailed over the shoulder nearest him. He stood watching her, pricked by a vague sense of pity and conscious that, if she looked up, he would hardly be visible to her beyond the window, and that, in any event, the still glowing stub of cigarette would explain his presence.

But she did not look up, she did not move at all while Crutchley stood watching. So still she was that it was hard for him to realize that she breathed. She seemed to have fallen completely under the spell of the garden in which nothing ever stirred, and the scene before Crutchley’s eyes might have been a nocturnal picture painted in oils.

Of course he made a guess or two about her. At the sight of anything unusual one’s subconscious mind immediately begins to speculate and to suggest theories. Here, thought Crutchley, was a woman with some great sorrow, who, before retiring to her room had come to sit in this quiet garden, and there, under the stars, had given way to her despair.

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Art by “Seth” from the “A Ghost Story for Christmas” edition of “One Who Saw” by A. M. Burrage, published by The Haunted Bookshop in 2015.

 

I don’t know how long Crutchley stood there, but probably it wasn’t for many seconds. Thought is swift and time is slow when one stands still watching a motionless scene. He owned that his curiosity was deeply intrigued, and it was intrigued in a somewhat unusual way. He found himself desiring less to know the reason of her despair than to see her face. He had a definite and urgent temptation to go out and look at her, to use force if necessary in turning her face so that he might look into her eyes. If you knew Crutchley at all well you must know that he was something more than ordinarily conventional. He concerned himself not only with what a gentleman ought to do but with what a gentleman ought to think. Thus when he came to realize that he was not only spying upon a strange woman’s grief, but actually feeling tempted to force himself upon her and stare into eyes which he guessed were blinded by tears, it was sufficient to tear him away from the window and send him padding across the floor to the high bed at the far end of the room.

But he made no effort to sleep. He lay listening, waiting for a sound from the other side of those windows. In that silence he knew he must hear the least sound outside. But for ten minutes he listened in vain, picturing to himself the woman still rigid in the same posture of despair. Presently he could bear it no longer. He jumped out of bed and went once more to the window. He told himself that it was human pity which drove him there. He walked heavily on his bare feet and he coughed. He made as much noise as he was reasonably able to make, hoping that she would hear and bestir herself. But when he reached the open window and looked out the seat was empty.

Crutchley stared at the empty seat, not quite crediting the evidence of his eyes. You see, according to his account, she couldn’t have touched that loose gravel with her foot without making a distinct sound and to re-enter the hotel she must have opened a door with creaking hinges and a noisy latch. Yet he had heard nothing, and the garden was empty. Next morning he even tried the experiment of walking on tiptoe across the garden to see if it could be done in utter silence, and he was satisfied that it could not. Even an old grey cat, which he found blinking on a window ledge, made the gravel clink under its pads when he called it to him to be stroked.

Well, he slept indifferently that night, and in the morning, when the chambermaid came in, he asked her who was the sad-looking lady whom he had seen sitting at night in the garden.”

-End of Excerpt-


The story is available for $.99 at Amazon in a small, nicely designed and illustrated digital format, part of A Ghost Story for Christmas series of five IMG_6590stories designed and illustrated by “Seth” (inset: cover by “Seth” 2015):

 https://www.amazon.com/A.M.-Burrage/e/B00IORS3AU/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

The story is also included in Volume 1: Waxwork & Other Stories by A. M. Burrage (Burrage Press 2013)—the first of 10 volumes (see inset of three covers and link below) that collect Burrage’s short fiction work in both print, and affordable digital editions ($5.99 at Amazon; publisher: Burrage Press, 2013):

https://www.amazon.com/Waxwork-Other-Stories-M-Collection-ebook/dp/B00GJQ9Q2M/ref=pd_sim_351_4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=K4Z8V7MW80PC46GF5WXZ

The other 9 volumes in the series can be purchased via the authors Amazon page here (all 10 volumes have identical covers, but cast in a different pastel shade (see inset images below):

Click here to buy all 10 volumes of the collected supernatural stories of A. M. Burrage

About the Author

Alfred McLelland Burrage was born in 1889. His father and uncle were both writers, primarily of boy’s fiction, and by age 16 AM Burrage had joined them and quickly became a master of the market publishing his stories regularly across a number of publications. By the start of the Great War Burrage was well established but in 1916 he was conscripted to fight on the Western Front, his experiences becoming the classic book War is War by Ex-Private X. For the remainder of his life Burrage was rarely printed in book form but continued to write and be published on a prodigious scale in magazines and newspapers. His supernatural stories are, by common consent, some of the best ever written. Succinct yet full of character each reveals a twist and a flavour that is unsettling…..sometimes menacing….always disturbing. In this volume we bring you – The Waxwork, The Case of Mr Ryalstone, One Who Saw, The Running Tide, The Oak Saplings, The Blue Bonnet, Through The Eyes Of A Child, Mr. Garshaw’s Companion, The Cottage In The Wood, The Strange Case of Dolly Frewan & The Sweeper.

A Little Night Reading, Orbit, ed., Dave Allen, 1975, TOC

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Table of Contents

Introduction ~ Dave Allen
The Monkey’s Paw ~ W. W. Jacobs
Oh, Whistle and I’ll come to you, My Lad ~ M. R. James
The Signalman ~ Charles Dickens
The Open Window ~ ‘Saki’
Clarimonde ~ Theophile Gautier
The Black Cat ~ Edgar Allan Poe
The Canterville Ghost ~ Oscar Wilde
Nobody’s House ~ A. M. Burrage
Was it a Dream? ~ Guy de Maupassant
The Birds ~ Daphne du Maurier
The Furnished Room ~ O. Henry
The Withered Arm ~ Thomas Hardy
The Man with a Malady ~ J. F. Sullivan
Tcheriapin ~ Sax Rohmer
The Brown Hand ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lottery ~ Shirley Jackson
The Inn of the Two Witches ~ Joseph Conrad
The Rose Garden ~ M. R. James
The Inexperienced Ghost ~ H. G. Wells
The Squaw ~ Bram Stoker

Wanna Get to Know the World’s Greatest Horror Writer Better?

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H. P. Lovecraft: How to Become More Intimate With Both the Man & the Work in Just 2 Steps!


First, read this (it’s short)…

Born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft always felt as though he were an anachronism of the time in which he lived. His great fondness for the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations as well as his love of such fantasies as Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Arabian Nights provided the backdrop for the fascinating tales he would spin later in his life. By the age of twelve, he had already mastered the standard English meters of poetry and was mainly a poet until about 1917, when the life blood of prose poured forth out of his pen and leaked mesmerizing tales on to the parchment stained with his imagination. Lovecraft drew much of his inspiration from the works of Edgar Allen [sic] Poe, whose style is evident in many of Lovecraft’s stories. S.T. Joshi, a leading literary critic who has devoted much time to the study of Lovecraft and written several volumes about his life and works, says Lovecraft’s discovery of Poe at the age of eight gave Lovecraft’s writing “the greatest impetus it ever received.”

Lovecraft’s family life was filled with tragedy. In 1893, Lovecraft’s father, a traveling salesman named Winfield Scott Lovecraft, became paralyzed and remained in a coma until his death in 1898. As a result of this unfortunate turn of events, Lovecraft’s grandfather, Whipple V. Phillips, a wealthy industrialist, sustained Lovecraft and his mother, Sarah Susan Lovecraft, until he met his death in 1904. From this point on, poverty would be Lovecraft’s lot in life until his untimely demise at the age of forty-six in 1937. Though Lovecraft loved his mother dearly, he suffered much emotional scarring from her as she deemed him ugly and, for no apparent reason, hated him for his father’s poor health. She was hospitalized for her disturbed psychological condition and Lovecraft made no special efforts to see her during her final days. Her death in 1921, however, led Lovecraft to combat suicidal tendencies. After the collapse of his brief and unhappy marriage to Sonia H. Greene, Lovecraft lived with his aunt, Lilian D. Clark, until her death in 1932. He then moved in with his other aunt, Annie E. Phillips Gamwell, and remained with her until his death.

Some believe Lovecraft’s greatest accomplishment was his correspondence with fans of his work and other authors. It is estimated that he wrote over 100,000 letters in his life to such people as Henry Kuttner, Samuel Loveman, and Vincent Starrett. The letters describe his feelings about the nature of life, his aspirations, and his interests. Some readers find these more fascinating than his fiction works as they unleash his true writing genius completely unfettered.

(from “H.P. Lovecraft, 1890-1937,” an article published on the University of North Carolina at Pembroke website)


Now, click here…

http://www.teemingbrain.com/2013/06/03/how-to-read-lovecraft-a-practical-beginners-guide/

The Sugar Fuck Sensation, A Bitchin Urban Poem

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(Tumblr)

The Sugar-Fuck Sensation

(A 1-Minute Poem)

I’ve discovered the boobie-doobie
time machine. The glossy
skin-flick magazine. Wet buzz,
effervescent upper. The schplooge
I want to have for supper.
In youth, it was summer fling in
frosty glass on beach-sand, babe-hunting
bikini chicks—midlife finds the chick a
dick—in a lick, the chick with a dick
(you pick). It’s almost better than
S&M. It fucks my stress. It gropes
my sin. An alternative to wank-a-whacking.
And, sometimes, even ass-smacking.
I horde it. Crave it. I misbehave it.
I’ll never live without this—
obsession, possession, this sandpail
confession. Preoccupation,
Sugar-Fuck sensation—I’ve tried but can’t
explain it. But, then, ‘Love is an endless
mystery, for nothing can contain it…’
Talk to Mama,
Baby.

– Mrs. maudlin, 2017

(from Mrs. Maudlin’s Bitchin Urban Poetry)

(C)2017. All Rights Reserved.

Supernatural Sleuths (Stories of Occult Detection), ed. Peter Haining, TOC

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9 • Introduction (Supernatural Sleuths: Stories of Occult Investigators) • (1986) • essay by Peter Haining
11 • The Ghost Detective • (1866) • short story by Mark Lemon
24 • Selecting a Ghost • (1883) • novelette by Arthur Conan Doyle (variant of The Secret of Goresthorpe Grange)
42 • The Story of the Moor Road • [Flaxman Low] • (1916) • short story by Kate Prichard and Hesketh Prichard [as by E. Heron and H. Heron]
56 • A Victim of Higher Space • [John Silence] • (1914) • novelette by Algernon Blackwood
77 • Case of the Haunting of Grange • [Moris Klaw] • (1913) • novelette by Sax Rohmer (variant of The Haunting of Grange)
98 • The Telepather • (1930) • short story by Henry A. Hering
113 • The Poltergeist • [Jules de Grandin] • (1927) • novelette by Seabury Quinn
138 • The Sinister Shape • [Dr. Muncing] • (1932) • novelette by Gordon MacCreagh (variant of The Case of the Sinister Shape)
162 • Panic in Wild Harbor • (1929) • short story by Gordon Malherbe Hillman [as by Gordon Hillman]
172 • The Case of the Bronze Door • [Miles Pennoyer] • (1945) • novelette by Margery Lawrence
204 • The Case of the Red-Headed Women • [Neils Orsen] • (1943) • short story by Dennis Wheatley
216 • Apparition in the Sun • [Lucius Leffing] • (1963) • short story by Joseph Payne Brennan