I’m trudging my way through Uncle Silas for Carl's RIP 7. Not much is happening at this point except for a lot of sneaking around. So, I squeezed a couple of short stories this weekend.
A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant.
The most lame ghost story ever written. I really hope something was lost in translation (Guy was French) because this story could have been just: “I saw a ghost once. The end.” There really isn’t much to it.
It goes like this. A guy meets a friend who says, “Hey, my wife died. I need some letters from her room but I can’t go there because of…reasons. Will you get them for me?”
“Ok, bro, and I won’t ask why you won’t go yourself which would be a reasonable thing to ask.”
The guy goes to the house where the gardener is totally rude. He gets the letters when a ghost girl enters. “Comb my hair. I’m so sad.”
“Ok.” Combs cold, cold hair.
“Thanks. Laters!” Disappears out door.
The guy writes to his friend. “Here’s your letters. There was a ghost in the room.” Friend disappears forever.
And that’s it! I hope Guy de Maupassant wrote better stories than this one.
The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral by M.R. James. (Or the Archdeacon has Magical Wood.)
This one was much better. The expectation that something weird is going to happen is established right away.
A scholar is researching the death of Dr Haynes, an archdeacon, and is given a box with his diaries. I like how anyone who dies mysteriously has a diary. It’s so convenient. This archdeacon is suspected of doing away with the last one. While he’s living in the cathedral, odd things start to happen to him. He hears voices and sees figures disappearing into the wood around the house. The stalls (or canopied church seats) have been ornately carved from the wood of a very special tree. I think you can see where this is going. I did but the ending tied everything together nicely and it all made sense. Unlike the last story.
So, one good one and one dud. Back to reading!