The Story of the Rippling Train
Mary Louisa Molesworth, 1888
‘Let’s tell ghost stories then,’ said Gladys.
‘Aren’t you tired of them? One hears nothing else nowadays. And they’re all “authentic,” really vouched for, only you never see the person who saw or heard or felt the ghost. It is always somebody’s sister or cousin, or friend’s friend,’ objected young Mrs Snowdon, another of the guests at the Quarries.
‘I don’t know that that is quite a reasonable ground for discrediting them en masse,’ said her husband. ‘It is natural enough, indeed inevitable, that the principal or principals in such cases should be much more rarely come across than the stories themselves. A hundred people can repeat the story, but the author, or rather hero, of it, can’t be in a hundred places at once. You don’t disbelieve in any other statement or narrative merely because you have never seen the prime mover in it?’
‘But I didn’t say I discredited them on that account,’ said Mrs Snowdon. ‘You take one up so, Archie. I’m not logical and reasonable–I don’t pretend to be. If I meant anything, it was that a ghost story would have a great pull over other ghost stories if one could see the person it happened to. One does get rather provoked at never coming across him or her,’ she added, a little petulantly.
She was tired; they were all rather tired, for it was the first evening since the party had assembled at the large country house known as ‘The Quarries’, on which there was not to be dancing, with the additional fatigue of ‘ten miles there and ten back again’; and three or four evenings of such doings without intermission tell, even on the young and vigorous.
Tonight, various less energetic ways of passing the evening had been proposed. Music, games, reading aloud, recitation–none had found favour in everybody’s sight, and now Gladys Lloyd’s proposal that they should ‘tell ghost stories’, seemed likely to fall flat also.
For a moment or two no one answered Mrs Snowdon’s last remarks. Then, somewhat to everybody’s surprise, the young daughter of the house turned to her mother.