I have this ebook. It’s pretty creepy. I never liked the ventriloquist doll I got for Christmas in the 70s.I’d turn its head toward the wall in my closet in the corner. One night, my sister said because I do that the doll was getting mad and planning to murder me in my sleep.
They tried to tell me but I
I couldn’t stop myself and I
I came back, I came back haunted
C-C-C-came back haunted
The Woman at Seven Brothers
Wilbur Daniel Steele¹, 1908
“You—you see,” said I, “she’s cleared the rip there now, and the music’s gone. You—you hear?”
“Yes,” said she, turning back slow. “That’s where it stops every night—night after night—it stops just there—at the rip.”
When she spoke again her voice was different. I never heard the like of it, thin and taut as a thread. It made me shiver, sir.
“I hate ’em!” That’s what she said. “I hate ’em all. I’d like to see ’em dead. I’d love to see ’em torn apart on the rocks, night after night. I could bathe my hands in their blood, night after night.”
I tell you sir, I was innocent. I didn’t know any more about the world at twenty-two than some do at twelve. My uncle and aunt in Duxbury brought me up strict; I studied hard in high school, I worked hard after hours, and I went to church twice on Sundays, and I can’t see it’s right to put me in a place like this, with crazy people. Oh yes, I know they’re crazy—you can’t tell me. As for what they said in court about finding her with her husband, that’s the Inspector’s lie, sir, because he’s down on me, and wants to make it look like my fault.
No, sir, I can’t say as I thought she was handsome—not at first. For one thing, her lips were too thin and white, and her color was bad. I’ll tell you a fact, sir; that first day I came off to the Light I was sitting on my cot in the store-room (that’s where the assistant keeper sleeps at the Seven Brothers), as lonesome as I could be, away from home for the first time, and the water all around me, and, even though it was a calm day, pounding enough on the ledge to send a kind of a woom-woom-woom whining up through all that solid rock of the tower. And when old Fedderson poked his head down from the living-room with the sunshine above making a kind of bright frame around his hair and whiskers, to give me a cheery, “Make yourself to home, son!” I remember I said to myself: “He’s all right. I’ll get along with him. But his wife’s enough to sour milk.” That was queer, because she was so much under him in age—’long about twenty-eight or so, and him nearer fifty. But that’s what I said, sir.
Table of Contents
I • The Gothic Romance, 6
II • Later Influences, 54
III • Modern Ghosts, 81
IV • The Devil and His Allies, 130
V • Supernatural Life, 174
VI • The Supernatural in Folk Tales, 242
VII • Supernatural Science, 251
VIII • Conclusion, 281
About Dr. Scarborough
Dorothy Scarborough, PhD was a professor of English, a novelist, and a respected folklorist. She called herself a “song catcher.” She believed radio threatened the survival of folk songs, and she traveled around the Appalachian Mountains recording centuries-old ballads with a hand-powered Dictaphone. She collected as many of these songs as she could before those who sang them died¹. Scarborough believed these folksongs told stories about a community’s values and its collective history.
Novelist, folklorist, a catcher of songs, this conscientious, brilliant woman has left a legacy of great literary value; but, perhaps, her most enduring and valuable work, was her work recording the oral history of songs from America’s regional cultures and, in doing so, preserving the creative expressions of ordinary people from times past.
Hello Reader! And Welcome! We are giddy with excitement!
We love it when you pay us a visit. It gets lonely in here, shut up in the dark with all of these haints and haunts. We’d love to see you more regularly, so, we decided to try something new! A whole book of new and classic ghost stories, posted here and our sister blog: Haint-Blue Shudders; one story at a time. For all those stormy candle-lit nights. We know you are going to enjoy this story collection!
The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told will be published here, and at Haint-Blue—story by story—with the permission of the book’s editor, Sanguine Woods; and when it is final, it will be made available as an ebook for sale online (details TBD). As the book grows, we will add an active Table of Contents, which will allow you to jump between posts/stories as you will; and author bios with interesting details as to how their stories came about.
I hope these quality ghost stories—some dusty and long forgotten—will please you as they have us. Thanks for stopping by loyal reader. We appreciate you here at Haint-Blue!
We open our anthology, The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told with a short essay by Ernest Rhys. Rhys was a writer and editor who compiled various collections of stories during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told
Edited with an Afterword, Notes, and Annotations by Sanguine Woods.
The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told is a publication of Sanguine Woods Publishing(sm),(c) 2017. All Rights Reserved. (Note: All content in this publication is used by permission of the authors/the authors’ legal representative(s), or is available on the Public Domain. An Acknowledgements page will be included at the end of the ebook and trade paperback editions.)
How Love Came to Professor Guildea
Robert Smythe Hichens¹, 1900
“It seemed to be a human voice, and yet oddly sexless. In order to resolve his doubt he withdrew into the darkness of the curtains, ceased to watch Napoleon and simply listened with keen attention, striving to forget that he was listening to a bird, and to imagine that he was overhearing a human being in conversation. After two or three minutes’ silence the voice spoke again, and at some length, apparently repeating several times an affectionate series of ejaculations with a cooing emphasis that was unutterably mawkish and offensive. The sickliness of the voice, its falling intonations and its strange indelicacy, combined with a die-away- softness and meretricious refinement, made the Father’s flesh creep….”
Dull people often wondered how it came about that Father Murchison and Professor Frederic Guildea were intimate friends. The one was all faith, the other all skepticism. The nature of the Father was based on love. He viewed the world with an almost childlike tenderness above his long, black cassock; and his mild, yet perfectly fearless, blue eyes seemed always to be watching the goodness that exists in humanity, and rejoicing at what they saw. The Professor, on the other hand, had a hard face like a hatchet, tipped with an aggressive black goatee beard. His eyes were quick, piercing and irreverent. The lines about his small, thin-lipped mouth were almost cruel. His voice was harsh and dry, sometimes, when he grew energetic, almost soprano. It fired off words with a sharp and clipping utterance. His habitual manner was one of distrust and investigation. It was impossible to suppose that, in his busy life, he found any time for love, either of humanity in general or of an individual.
Yet his days were spent in scientific investigations which conferred immense benefits upon the world.
Both men were celibates. Father Murchison was a member of an Anglican order which forbade him to marry. Professor Guildea had a poor opinion of most things, but especially of women. He had formerly held a post as lecturer at Birmingham. But when his fame as a discoverer grew he removed to London. There, at a lecture he gave in the East End, he first met Father Murchison. They spoke a few words. Perhaps the bright intelligence of the priest appealed to the man of science, who was inclined, as a rule, to regard the clergy with some contempt. Perhaps the transparent sincerity of this devotee, full of common sense, attracted him. As he was leaving the hall he abruptly asked the Father to call on him at his house in Hyde Park Place. And the Father, who seldom went into the West End, except to preach, accepted the invitation.
“When will you come?” said Guildea.
He was folding up the blue paper on which his notes were written in a tiny, clear hand. The leaves rustled drily in accompaniment to his sharp, dry voice.
“On Sunday week I am preaching in the evening at St. Saviour’s, not far off,” said the Father.
“I don’t go to church.”
“No,” said the Father, without any accent of surprise or condemnation.
“Come to supper afterwards?”
“Thank you. I will.”
What Did Miss Darrington See?
Emma B. Cobb, 1870
“It is not hyperbole; it is truth,” he said, softly, a sudden paleness replacing the flush on his face. He stood close behind her, and leaned over to look at the sheet from which she had been singing. His fingers rested for a moment with a light touch upon her hair—a touch inexpressibly soft and caressing—as he repeated:
“‘My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.’”
“Why, yes,” he went on, dreamily, “surely the earth does not furnish a grave so deep…’
It was not so very long ago, for it was only about a year before the outbreak of the great rebellion, that Colonel Sibthorpe, living at Catalpa Grove, County, Kentucky, wrote to Mr. Allen, a merchant in Boston, with whom he had large dealings, to procure for him a governess. The correspondent was requested to look out for a young person capable of “finishing” the education of the colonel’s two motherless daughters, aged respectively eighteen and sixteen, and of preparing his younger son for admission to a Southern college.
Mr. Allen was at first not a little embarrassed by a commission so entirely out of the ordinary course of business; but as he had a strong desire to oblige his Kentucky friend and customer, he at once set about making inquiries for a suitable person to “fill the order.” Whether his search was attended with much or little difficulty I am unable to say; I only know that it resulted in the engagement, at a liberal salary, of Miss Elizabeth Darrington, from whom I have derived the chief incidents of the story I am about to relate, and who has reluctantly consented to my making them public.
Perhaps you have seen Miss Darrington? If so, I dare be sworn that you remember her more vividly than many a handsomer woman. At the time I speak of she was about twenty-four, a small figure, slight now, but promising fullness as time should go on; a face neither beautiful nor plain in feature, but showing intellect and esprit, and a manner unmistakably that of a gentlewoman. (It is a word little used now, but it expresses what I mean far more accurately than the flip pant term “lady.”) Sprung from one of the oldest and best families in Massachusetts—one which had produced governors and legislators in the early colonial time, and in nearly every generation since some man of shining mark—she had not only inherited a fair share of the family talent, but she had breathed an atmosphere of intellect and culture from her infancy. She had also been early forced by circumstances into a position of self-reliance, and had learned to think and act independently. The result was a character not so easily summed up as that of a woman of the model sort, made up after the ideal of newspaper homilists, and the reverend gentlemen who lecture on the “Woman Question.” Such as these would have found something of a paganism in the very virtues of Miss Darrington, without, perhaps, perceiving that there was a touch of nobility even in her faults. Proud, certainly—every thing about her, from the curve of her well-cut lip to the high-arched instep of a rather small foot, attested to that fact. Cold? I am not so sure. Her best friends said so; and at least the glance of her eye was cool and steady. Yet she had a keen physical organization, and enjoyed life with a zest unknown to duller and narrower natures. In short, she was one of those women, peculiarly the product of our later civilization, in whom the brain is uppermost, feeling in abeyance, and gifted with a power of self-rule which, if they do suffer, enables them to hide it as skillfully as a Mohican. She liked men, but they seldom got farther with her than the point of good-comradeship. Very young men, by the way, were inclined to fight a little shy of her; but she liked shrewd elderly ones, and these were always her admirers. Her manner, too, was not the modest violet manner of the model woman; there was just a touch of conscious power in it—a fine, well-bred self-assertion, which stood her in good stead in her peculiar position at Catalpa Grove, and enabled her to keep the young ladies of the house very much in order. In those days Northern governesses of the meek sort used often to fare a little dismally among those high-spirited and not over-cultivated Southern girls. But one glance into the level gray eyes of Miss Darrington would have convinced a duller than the Sibthorpes that this was a woman on whom it would be dangerous to play off any airs of superiority. They had a wholesome fear of her at the end of the first hour, but they cordially liked her by the end of the first week, and their respect and liking never diminished while she remained with them. The truth is, real New England “blue blood” is the very bluest in America, and the pride it engenders is more than a match for the haughtiest “F. F. V.”—a fact which our Southern friends did not know so well before the war as they do now, for the reason that in their isolated plantation life they were seldom brought in contact with the real thing. They had their estimate of the Northern spirit from second and third rate specimens. The Sibthorpes were fine girls, however, and when they found out the stuff the governess had in her they were ready enough to make Catalpa Grove a pleasant abode for her, and soon its gayeties were incomplete without her.
The grove was in a populous county, and within easy visiting distance of the city of L—. There was always open house, and a very delightful house at that. The colonel was a good specimen of the Kentucky gentleman, frank, hearty, hospitable, and well-bred, until you touched his prejudices. He greatly admired Miss Darrington, and, in deed, showed some disposition to give his feelings practical expression, but was skillfully checked by the lady before he had committed himself. It did not in the least suit her book to be made love to by her host. She had undertaken a profitable year’s task, and she wanted the salary. She did not choose either to resign the chance of earning it or to be made uncomfortable by the presence in the house of a rejected suitor.
You think I am describing a hard and selfish woman. What do you think she was down there governessing for, that finely trained, thorough-bred creature, among those free-and-easy, not over intellectual Kentuckians? She was the eldest of four children. Her father was dead, and her mother a delicate, fine lady, as lovely and as helpless as a baby or a flower. Elizabeth was the support of the family. She kept the children at school, and wrote every week to her mother a long letter, full of fun and nonsense and merry rattle, to make that dear woman believe she had not a care in the world. But, trust me, she had plenty.
Miss Darrington had been about six months at the grove when, one morning in March, the household was thrown into a little cheerful commotion by a letter from Tom Sibthorpe, the colonel’s eldest son, announcing his return home. He wrote to say that he should bring with him a friend, a young Cuban, with whom he had been traveling, and whom—for I am compelled to give him a fictitious name—I shall call Raphael Aldama. The expected advent of this stranger caused not a little excitement to the. young ladies of the grove. He was of Spanish birth, but his family had lived for years in Havana, and he had formerly been at school with Tom Sibthorpe in New Orleans. The girls had never seen him; but they told Miss Darrington the most remarkable stories about him, of his wonderful personal beauty, his astonishing strength, his terrible temper and reckless daring, his duels and scrapes. He was very rich, very haughty, very magnificent. They were wild to see him, but rather inclined to be afraid of him. He was said to be as irresistible with women as he was dangerous with men. Miss Darrington did not find their picture of the expected guest particularly attractive. She laughed to herself, mentally decided that the romantic Cuban was probably a very ordinary young savage, and thought no more about him.