Friday, October 28, 2011

A Book of Ghosts by S.Baring-Gould

A Book of Ghosts by S.Baring-Gould, 1904 short stories. (US Edition)  (UK Edition)

The first thing you see when you open the book is a half page of non-sequiturs.  They are actually captions to illustrations that have been omitted.  Carry on, they are not important.

Folklore was among Baring-Gould's avocations, so perhaps some of these stories are inspired by stories he heard .  The first story is a bit disappointing.  Do not let it set the tone for the whole book.  It improves, but of course you cannot expect anything like the creatures who return from the grave in today’s fiction.  Taste in ghost stories is very subjective.

If the author’s name is familiar, is because his grandson was a famous Sherlockian and an author in his own right.  It was confusing when I first saw his name, because I thought he could not possibly have written pre-copyright books, but of course it was his grandfather.

Tell me, now, did Mr. Hattersley propose to you?"

 "Well—yes, he did, and I refused him."

 "And then he went and shot himself in despair. Julia, you cannot with any face go to the ball."

 "Nobody knows that he proposed. And precisely because I do go everyone will conclude that he did not propose. I do not wish it to be supposed that he did."

 "His family, of course, must have been aware. They will see your name among those present at the assembly."

 "Aunt, they are in too great trouble to look at the paper to see who were at the dance."

"His terrible death lies at your door. How you can have the heart, Julia——"

"I don't see it. Of course, I feel it. I am awfully sorry, and awfully sorry for his father, the admiral. I cannot set him up again. I wish that when I rejected him he had gone and done as did Joe Pomeroy, marry one of his landlady's daughters."

"There, Julia, is another of your delinquencies. You lured on young Pomeroy till he proposed, then you refused him, and in a fit of vexation and mortified vanity he married a girl greatly beneath him in social position. If the ménage prove a failure you will have it on your conscience that you have wrecked his life and perhaps hers as well."

 "I cannot throw myself away as a charity to save this man or that from doing a foolish thing."
Brrr, I tend to agree with what she says - but she is as cold as any ghost!

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