one of the villagers about Dennis Varley's murder of his sister. I'm sure you know it, so I won't tell you again.'
'Yes, I do know it,' I said. 'I also know that anyone who sees the ghosts of both Dennis and his sister will have terrible bad luck.'
'Not only that,' said Jack. 'Anyone who sees the sister's face will die within one year.' His face turned whiter as he said this and he did not speak for a few minutes. Then he continued his story.
'Well, that night we felt far less brave than in the morning. At eleven o'clock we all waited in different places for the ghosts to come. I was at the top of the stairs with Harford opposite me. There was a storm outside and the wind made a sound like someone crying. At midnight there was a scream from Henderson downstairs and Harford and I jumped up. We saw the dead man coming slowly up the stairs towards us. Henderson ran after it and, as the ghost passed us, we felt cold and terribly afraid.
Then, suddenly, Harford held my arm and pointed. I turned and saw the ghost of the sister coming. She wore a long, black and white dress and she had a big cross round her neck. I could not see her face, but I wanted to •— I don't know why, I couldn't stop myself. I went towards her and, as I did so, she looked up.'
'You saw her face? What was it like?' I asked. 'I saw it,' he said,'but I can never describe it to anyone.' 'Well, what happened next?' I asked.
'I can't remember. I think Г fell. Everything just went black. I left the house the next day. I know that I'll die in a year and something terrible will happen to Harford. He saw her too, but not her face. The others only saw the brother.'
I decided not to tell my sister the terrible story, but soon things happened which everyone heard about. Bob Harford's wife ran away from him two days after they got married. He has gone to live in a wild part of Canada and no one hears from him any more. And Jack Darent? Poor, handsome Jack Darent died in South Africa about eleven months after I met him in the cafe that day. And my sister Bella? She is still beautiful, but she always wears black and she always looks sad.
Mark Lemon, 1866
When I first came to London thirty years ago, I met a young
man, James Loxley, who worked in the wine business. The company he worked for sold wine to pubs and restaurants, and just after I met him he got a new job in the company with more money. Because of this he was able to get married and I went to his wedding. His wife was a pretty girl with fair hair and blue eyes. It was clear to everyone that they loved each other.
They went to live in a new house outside London and I visited them often. Over the next three years, they had two beautiful children and they were a very happy family. They did not have much money and had only one servant, a rather stupid girl called Susan. One year they asked me to come to their home for Christmas dinner. We had a lovely meal and then sat in their sitting-room, laughing and talking. It was a small but comfortable room. In the corner was a Christmas tree and on the wall was a painting of Loxley s mother and father, who were both dead. Loxley loved this painting. He told me that it was just like his parents and he often felt that they were really in the room with him.
After Christmas Loxley came with me to visit my old uncle for a few days. He seemed very quiet during the trip and I thought perhaps he wanted to be with his wife and children. When the holiday was over, we travelled to London together early in the morning to go to work. He seemed worried during the journey but he did not say why. The next day I could not believe it when I heard that he was in prison for stealing money from his company. I immediately went to see him and on the way I remembered his quietness over the last few days. I also began to think about how expensive it was with two children and how Loxley probably needed money. But, no, it was impossible. I knew that he was an honest man.
At the prison I talked to him and this is the story he told me:
'On December the 24th, Christmas Eve, I went to one of my customers, John Rogers, and asked him to pay his bill. He is often late with payments and I wanted to get the money before the Christmas holiday. He gave me a cheque and I immediately took it to the bank and cashed it, because in the past this customer has written a cheque and then stopped it before we could get the cash. Jt was too late to go to the office, so I decided to keep the money until after the holiday. I put it in my. pocket and went
home. On the day we left my house to visit your uncle, I could not find the money and I became very worried. I looked all over the house, but it was nowhere. I was afraid to go back to work. When I told my boss about it, he did not understand why I didn't come to the office immediately when I couldn't find the money. He did not believe my story and called me a thief.'
At that moment we heard someone crying and screaming outside the door. It was Loxley's wife, Martha. She ran in, held her husband in her arms and cried and cried. It was terrible to see. After some time the prison guard told us to leave, and I took her home, still crying. She became ill and her mother came to stay with her and the children. The servant, Susan, was also there. She seemed to be a good girl and was always ready to help, but she seemed very unhappy about the problem and sometimes cried more than Martha. I visited the little house almost every day and, one day, I found Martha very excited.
'What's happened, Martha?' I asked.
'Well, you probably won't believe this,' she said, 'but last night I saw my husband's ghost.'
'But James isn't dead,' I said,'he's only in prison.'
'I know, I know,' she said, 'but listen to this. Last night at midnight I was in the sitting-room — I couldn't sleep as usual. I was sitting worrying about our problems. Suddenly I looked up and saw James come into the room without a sound. He sat down over there in his favourite chair and looked at the picture of his father for a few minutes without speaking. Then he stood up and looked at me with a face full of love and walked out of the room.'
'Perhaps you were half asleep and dreamed it,' I said, but She was sure about what happened and did not want to listen to me.
Susan, the servant girl, was in the room with us and was listening to the conversation, looking very afraid. 'Did you speak to the ghost, Mrs Loxley? Did it say anything to you?' she asked.
'No, Susan. I've told you everything that happened,' said Martha.
I left the house that day feeling very worried as Martha was looking so white and tired. I thought about calling a doctor, but I decided to wait and see what happened. The next day I visited them again and found Martha even more excited.
'He came again,' she almost shouted. 'This time he stood in front of the painting of his father and pointed at it. Then he turned to me and held out his arms. I ran towards him, but he disappeared and I crashed into the wall. I think he means there is something behind the picture. Please, will you help me to take it down and look?'
The painting was quite high on the wall and I needed a ladder to reach it. I called Susan and asked her to bring one.
'A ladder?' she asked. 'What for?'
When I explained about the painting I was surprised to see her face turn white. 'There isn't a ladder,' she said quickly.
'But I'm sure I saw one,' I said, 'just outside the kitchen door. Oh well, my mistake. Don't worry.'
Susan didn't leave the room but watched as I stood on a chair and began to take the picture of Loxley's father down. Suddenly she screamed,'It was me, Mrs Loxley. I know why the ghost came. The money's behind the picture. I hid it there.' She began to cry and cry, and it was some time before she could tell the story.
'It was on Christmas Eve,' she said. 'Mr Loxley came home a bit late. I was behind him as he was walking upstairs, and he took his handkerchief out of his pocket. As he did so, the money fell out. He didn't notice, but I did and I picked it up. It was more money than I've seen in my life, Mrs Loxley, I couldn't stop myself. Then I was frightened about someone finding it on me or in my room, so I hid it behind that picture. Oh, please Mrs Loxley. Don't send me to prison.'
Well, as soon as Susan told her story to the police, James was a free man, and the family are now living happily in Australia.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, 1838
In the year 1750 I was working at the church in Castleton, a small town in the south of England. One night a knock at the door woke me up. Outside was a poor little girl, crying loudly. After a few minutes, I understood that her father was very ill, almost dying, and she wanted me to come to him.
'Of course I'll come,' I said. 'Where do you live? Who is your father?' She did not answer but began to cry more loudly. Again I
waited until she was calm, and then asked her the same question.
'My father is Pat Connell,' she said, 'and now I'm sure that you won't come.
I knew about Pat Connell. He was a bad man, who often stole things, and he drank too much beer. I never saw him in church. He was a bad man, but he was dying and I had to go to him, to say a few words to help him as he died.
I put on my coat and followed the poor little girl through me cold, dark streets. We walked quickly and our way took us to the worst part of the town. The streets were narrow, the houses were old and there was a terrible smell. The girl went through a small door and I followed her up the broken stairs to the top of the building. She took me up to the bedroom where her father lay. His wife and children were sitting round the bed watching worriedly. The doctor was also with him. I went closer to the man and looked at his face, which was blue from too much drink. His lips were black and, from his breathing, I felt sure that death was not far away.
'Is there any hope?' I asked the doctor. He shook his head and listened to the man's heart.
'This man is dead,' he said, and turned away from the bed.
The wife and children began to cry. I stood still, watching them, feeling sad that I was too late to help the dead man, too late to talk to him about God.
Suddenly the wife screamed and pointed at the bed. I turned round quickly and saw the body of the man sitting up in bed. For a few seconds I could not move. I stood, confused, thinking of dead men and ghosts until I realized that the man was alive. The doctor ran to look at him and found blood running from a cut in the man's body.
'The blood coming out has made him better,' he said. 'I've never seen this before. He's very lucky.'
The doctor and the man's wife made him comfortable, and I left, promising to return the next day. I did go back the next day and the day after, but the sick man was always sleeping. On the third day I returned and found him awake. As I went in, he shouted, 'Oh, thank you, thank you for coming. I want to talk to you.' I sat down next to the bed and he began to talk.
'I've been a very bad man, I know that,' he said. 'I've stolen, I've drunk too much, I've had a bad life, but I don't want to go to hell.' He began to cry and could not stop for some time. I gave him a glass of water and he continued. 'I must tell you what happened that night you came here. I know you'll understand as a man of the church. I came in late after drinking a lot of beer. I went to bed but woke up a few hours later. I wanted to get some air but I didn't want to wake the children by opening the window, so I started to go downstairs. As it was very dark I counted the stairs so that I did not fall at the bottom. Well, I got to the bottom of the first stairs, but suddenly the floor broke under me and I started to fall.
'I fell and fell for a long time through the blackness and when I stopped I was at a big table. Sitting at the table were lots of men. There was a smell of fire all around and the light was red. Suddenly, I realized that I was in hell. I was dead. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. I tried to stand up. I wanted to run away, but the man sitting next to me put his hand on my shoulder. "Sit down, my friend. You can never leave this place," he said. His voice was weak, like a child's. Then at the end of the table the tallest of the men stood up. I felt that he was able to control me; he seemed very strong, and he had such a terrible face. He pointed at me with his long, black finger. "You can leave now," he said in a frightening voice, "but you must promise to come back in three months' time." I shouted, "I promise to come back, but in God's name let me go now."The next thing I knew I was sitting up in bed and the doctor was there. Oh, please tell me, was it hell? Did I go to hell or was it just a terrible dream?
|'I won't be a cruel king. I won't kill dragons and peasants. I'll love my||Lately things won't go my way Lately everything is grey|
|Sister nightfall morten Veland||The end will crush the light And sends a message, It won't please|
|Gone I couldn't murder your promise||Serenity In Murder Let me take you down without a sound|
|Gone I couldn't murder your promise Right before my eyes|