Christmas Ghost Stories: A Strange Christmas Game by J. H. Riddle

A Christmas Game

Why didn’t Santa ever bring me THIS????

Today’s installment of our Christmas Ghost Story Series, A Strange Christmas Game by J.H. Riddle, comes to us as a YouTube reading (audio only) for your enjoyment while pottering about the room dusting or drinking or knitting or doing whatever you like to do behind closed doors in the presence of a YouTube video narrated by a fellow with a colorful British Isles accent from god knows where.

This particular story has a particularly romantic context, with young, attractive poor people coming into sudden wealth, and an evil that endures beyond the grave threatening their happiness. Along with a super passive-aggressive relative. Enjoy!

Of course, Elf Bowling is the actual REAL best Christmas game, but there are no ghosts in it. Elf Bowling 2 was pretty rad too!


Christmas Ghost Stories: The Curse of the Catafalques, by F. Anstey

Ah, The Curse of the Catafalques. This is a gooder.

As explained previously, all this month leading up to The Big Day we will be featuring that delightful tradition of Christmas Ghost Stories here on the ol’ blog, focusing particularly on those which are out of copyright and can actually be posted instead of just referred to furtively and referenced with shoddily-edited YouTube clips of the dreadful tv movie adaptation.

And this one is my favourite.

Well, second-favourite, as I always save the fave-fave for The Big Day. But you’ll find this one a delight. Well, no. You’ll probably find it infuriating. I remember clearly the first time I read it I actually flung the book across the room, which is the sort of thing you read about people doing in old books, like flirting with their fans and narrowly escaping quicksand, but which never, ever happens in real life.

Only it did. I flung the HELL out of that book. And then I swore at it. My aunt came in to check on me, as I was lying in bed with a fever and she was worried I’d gotten out of bed to pee and just keeled over. She was not interested in hearing about how frustrating this Christmas ghost story was. She was very focused, my aunt, and once she’d determined that I was not only not keeled over but seemingly regaining my strength, she told me I was expected downstairs for dinner that night and that there’d be no more lying around in bed sick from then on.

So, ever since then I have been very careful not to read anything frustrating around my aunt. It’s Just! Not! Worth! It!

Anyhoodle, here’s our story. It’s heavy on the atmospherics, almost perfectly atmospheric, in fact. If it were any more atmospheric it would vanish into thin air. And for whatever reason, I found it on the Australian Gutenberg site, because the protagonist spends some time on Australia (voluntarily, of all things), leaves, and then things begin to happen, as is the way. I mean, have you been there?



Krampus comes calling

The Curse of the Catafalques
F. Anstey

Chapter I

Unless I am very much mistaken, until the time when I was subjected to
the strange and exceptional experience which I now propose to relate,
I had never been brought into close contact with anything of a
supernatural description. At least if I ever was, the circumstance can
have made no lasting impression upon me, as I am quite unable to
recall it. But in the “Curse of the Catafalques” I was confronted with
a horror so weird and so altogether unusual, that I doubt whether I
shall ever succeed in wholly forgetting it–and I know that I have
never felt really well since.

It is difficult for me to tell my story intelligibly without some
account of my previous history by way of introduction, although I will
try to make it as little diffuse as I may.

I had not been a success at home; I was an orphan, and, in my anxiety
to please a wealthy uncle upon whom I was practically dependent, I had
consented to submit myself to a series of competitive examinations for
quite a variety of professions, but in each successive instance I
achieved the same disheartening failure. Some explanation of this may,
no doubt, be found in the fact that, with a fatal want of forethought,
I had entirely omitted to prepare myself by any particular course of
study–which, as I discovered too late, is almost indispensable to
success in these intellectual contests.

My uncle himself took this view, and conceiving–not without
discernment–that I was by no means likely to retrieve myself by any
severe degree of application in the future, he had me shipped out to
Australia, where he had correspondents and friends who would put
things in my way.

They did put several things in my way–and, as might have been
expected, I came to grief over every one of them, until at length,
having given a fair trial to each opening that had been provided for
me, I began to perceive that my uncle had made a grave mistake in
believing me suited for a colonial career.

I resolved to return home and convince him of his error, and give him
one more opportunity of repairing it; he had failed to discover the
best means of utilizing my undoubted ability, yet I would not reproach
him (nor do I reproach him even now), for I too have felt the

In pursuance of my resolution, I booked my passage home by one of the
Orient liners from Melbourne to London. About an hour before the ship
was to leave her moorings, I went on board and made my way at once to
the stateroom which I was to share with a fellow passenger, whose
acquaintance I then made for the first time.

He was a tall cadaverous young man of about my own age, and my first
view of him was not encouraging, for when I came in, I found him
rolling restlessly on the cabin floor, and uttering hollow groans.

“This will never do,” I said, after I had introduced myself; “if
you’re like this now, my good sir, what will you be when we’re fairly
out at sea? You must husband your resources for that.”

“And why trouble to roll? The ship will do all that for you, if you
will only have patience.”

He explained, somewhat brusquely, that he was suffering from mental
agony, not seasickness; and by a little pertinacious questioning (for
I would not allow myself to be rebuffed) I was soon in possession of
the secret which was troubling my companion, whose name, as I also
learned, was Augustus McFadden.

It seemed that his parents had emigrated before his birth, and he had
lived all his life in the Colony, where he was contented and fairly
prosperous–when an eccentric old aunt of his over in England happened
to die.

She left McFadden himself nothing, having given by her will the bulk
of her property to the only daughter of a baronet of ancient family,
in whom she took a strong interest. But the will was not without its
effect upon her existence, for it expressly mentioned the desire of
the testatrix that the baronet should receive her nephew Augustus if
he presented himself within a certain time, and should afford him
every facility for proving his fitness for acceptance as a suitor. The
alliance was merely recommended, however, not enjoined, and the gift
was unfettered by any conditions.

“I heard of it first,” said McFadden, “from Chlorine’s father
(Chlorine is her name, you know)”.

Sir Paul Catafalque wrote to me, informing me of the mention of my
name in my aunt’s will, enclosing his daughter’s photograph, and
formally inviting me to come over and do my best, if my affections
were not preengaged, to carry out the last wishes of the departed. He
added that I might expect to receive shortly a packet from my aunt’s
executors which would explain matters fully, and in which I should
find certain directions for my guidance. The photograph decided me; it
was so eminently pleasing that I felt at once that my poor aunt’s
wishes must be sacred to me. I could not wait for the packet to
arrive, and so I wrote at once to Sir Paul accepting the invitation.

“Yes,” he added, with another of the hollow groans, “miserable wretch
that I am, I pledged my honor to present myself as a suitor, and now–
now–here I am, actually embarked upon the desperate errand!”

He seemed inclined to begin to roll again here, but I stopped him.
“Really,” I said, “I think in your place, with an excellent chance–
for I presume the lady’s heart is also disengaged–with an excellent
chance of winning a baronet’s daughter with a considerable fortune and
a pleasing appearance, I should bear up better.”

“You think so,” he rejoined, “but you do not know all! The very day
after I had despatched my fatal letter, my aunt’s explanatory packet
arrived. I tell you that when I read the hideous revelations it
contained, and knew to what horrors I had innocently pledged myself,
my hair stood on end, and I believe it has remained on end ever since.
But it was too late. Here I am, engaged to carry out a task from which
my inmost soul recoils. Ah, if I dared but retract!”

“Then why in the name of common sense, don’t you retract?” I asked.
“Write and say that you much regret that a previous engagement, which
you had unfortunately overlooked, deprives you of the pleasure of

“Impossible,” he said; “it would be agony to me to feel that I had
incurred Chlorine’s contempt, even though I only know her through a
photograph at present. If I were to back out of it now, she would have
reason to despise me, would she not?”

“Perhaps she would,” I said.

“You see my dilemma–I cannot retract; on the other hand, I dare not
go on. The only thing, as I have thought lately, which could save me
and my honor at the same time would be my death on the voyage out, for
then my cowardice would remain undiscovered.”

“Well,” I said, “you can die on the voyage out if you want to–there
need be no difficulty about that. All you have to do is just to slip
over the side some dark night when no one is looking. I tell you
what,” I added (for somehow I began to feel a friendly interest in
this poor slack-baked creature): “if you don’t find your nerves equal
to it when it comes to the point, I don’t mind giving you a leg over

“I never intended to go as far as that,” he said, rather pettishly,
and without any sign of gratitude for my offer; “I don’t care about
actually dying, if she could only be made to believe I had died that
would be quite enough for me. I could live on here, happy in the
thought that I was saved from her scorn. But how can she be made to
believe it?–that’s the point.”

“Precisely,” I said. “You can hardly write yourself and inform her
that you died on the voyage.”

“You might do this, though: sail to England as you propose, and go to
see her under another name, and break the sad intelligence to her.”

“Why, to be sure, I might do that!” he said, with some animation; “I
should certainly not be recognized–she can have no photograph of me,
for I have never been photographed. And yet—no,” he added, with a
shudder, “it is useless. I can’t do it; I dare not trust myself under
that roof!”

“I must find some other way. You have given me an idea. Listen,” he
said, after a short pause:

“You seem to take an interest in me; you are going to London; the
Catafalques live there, or near it, at some place called Parson’s
Green. Can I ask a great favor of you–would you very much mind
seeking them out yourself as a fellow-voyager of mine? I could not
expect you to tell a positive untruth on my account–but if, in the
course of an interview with Chlorine, you could contrive to convey the
impression that I died on my way to her side, you would be doing me a
service I can never repay!”

“I should very much prefer to do you a service that you could repay,”
was my very natural rejoinder.

“She will not require strict proof,” he continued eagerly; “I could
give you enough papers and things to convince her that you come from
me. Say you will do me this kindness!”

I hesitated for some time longer, not so much, perhaps, from scruples
of a conscientious kind as from a disinclination to undertake a
troublesome commission for an entire stranger—gratuitously. But
McFadden pressed me hard, and at length he made an appeal to springs
in my nature which are never touched in vain, and I yielded.

When we had settled the question in its financial aspect, I said to
McFadden, “The only thing now is–how would you prefer to pass away?
Shall I make you fall over and be devoured by a shark? That would be a
picturesque end–and I could do myself justice over the shark? I
should make the young lady weep considerably.”

“That won’t do at all!” he said irritably; “I can see from her face
that Chlorine is a girl of a delicate sensibility, and would be
disgusted by the idea of any suitor of hers spending his last cohesive
moments inside such a beastly repulsive thing as a shark. I don’t want
to be associated in her mind with anything so unpleasant. No, sir; I
will die–if you will oblige me by remembering it–of a low fever, of
a noninfectious type, at sunset, gazing at her portrait with my fading
eyesight and gasping her name with my last breath. She will cry more
over that!”

“I might work it up into something effective, certainly,” I admitted;
“and, by the way, if you are going to expire in my stateroom, I ought
to know a little more about you than I do. There is time still before
the tender goes; you might do worse than spend it in coaching me in
your life’s history.”

He gave me a few leading facts, and supplied me with several documents
for study on the voyage; he even abandoned to me the whole of his
traveling arrangements, which proved far more complete and serviceable
than my own.

And then the “All-ashore” bell rang, and McFadden, as he bade me
farewell, took from his pocket a bulky packet. “You have saved me,” he
said. “Now I can banish every recollection of this miserable episode.
I need no longer preserve my poor aunt’s directions; let them go,

Before I could say anything, he had fastened something heavy to the
parcel and dropped it through the cabin-light into the sea, after
which he went ashore, and I have never seen nor heard of him since.

During the voyage I had leisure to think seriously over the affair,
and the more I thought of the task I had undertaken, the less I liked

No man with the instincts of a gentleman can feel any satisfaction at
finding himself on the way to harrow up a poor young lady’s feelings
by a perfectly fictitious account of the death of a poor-spirited
suitor who could selfishly save his reputation at her expense.

And so strong was my feeling about this from the very first, that I
doubt whether, if McFadden’s terms had been a shade less liberal, I
could ever have brought myself to consent.

But it struck me that, under judiciously sympathetic treatment, the
lady might prove not inconsolable, and that I myself might be able to
heal the wound I was about to inflict.

I found a subtle pleasure in the thought of this, for, unless McFadden
had misinformed me, Chlorine’s fortune was considerable, and did not
depend upon any marriage she might or might not make. On the other
hand, I was penniless, and it seemed to me only too likely that her
parents might seek to found some objection to me on that ground.

I studied the photograph McFadden had left with me; it was that of a
pensive but distinctly pretty face, with an absence of firmness in it
that betrayed a plastic nature. I felt certain that if I only had the
recommendation, as McFadden had, of an aunt’s dying wishes, it would
not take me long to effect a complete conquest.

And then, as naturally as possible, came the thought–why should not I
procure myself the advantages of this recommendation? Nothing could be
easier; I had merely to present myself as Augustus McFadden, who was
hitherto a mere name to them; the information I already possessed as
to his past life would enable me to support the character, and as it
seemed that the baronet lived in great seclusion, I could easily
contrive to keep out of the way of the few friends and relations I had
in London until my position was secure.

What harm would this innocent deception do to anyone? McFadden, even
if he ever knew, would have no right to complain–he had given up all
pretentions himself–and if he was merely anxious to preserve his
reputation, his wishes would be more than carried out, for I flattered
myself that whatever ideal Chlorine might have formed of her destined
suitor, I should come much nearer to it than poor McFadden could ever
have done. No, he would gain, positively gain, by my assumption. He
could not have counted upon arousing more than a mild regret as it
was; now he would be fondly, it might be madly, loved. By proxy, it is
true, but that was far more than he deserved.

Chlorine was not injured–far from it; she would have a suitor to
welcome, not weep over, and his mere surname could make no possible
difference to her. And lastly, it was a distinct benefit to me, for
with a new name and an excellent reputation success would be an
absolute certainty.

What wonder, then, that the scheme, which opened out a far more manly
and honorable means of obtaining a livelihood than any I had
previously contemplated, should have grown more attractively feasible
each day, until I resolved at last to carry it out? Let rigid
moralists blame me if they will; I have never pretended to be better
than the average run of mankind (though I am certainly no worse), and
no one who really knows what human nature is will reproach me very
keenly for obeying what was almost an instinct. And I may say this,
that if ever an unfortunate man was bitterly punished for a fraud
which was harmless, if not actually pious, by a visitation of intense
and protracted terror, that person was I!

Chapter II

After arriving in England, and before presenting myself at Parson’s
Green in my assumed character, I took one precaution against any
danger there might be of my throwing away my liberty in a fit of
youthful impulsiveness. I went to Somerset House, and carefully
examined the probate copy of the late Miss Petronia McFadden’s last
will and testament.

Nothing could have been more satisfactory; a sum of between forty and
fifty thousand pounds was Chlorine’s unconditionally, just as McFadden
had said. I searched, but could find nothing in the will whatever to
prevent her property, under the then existing state of the law, from
passing under the entire control of a future husband.

After this, then, I could no longer restrain my ardor, and so, one
foggy afternoon about the middle of December, I found myself driving
towards the house in which I reckoned upon achieving a comfortable

Parson’s Green was reached at last; a small triangular open space
bordered on two of its sides by mean and modern erections, but on the
third by some ancient mansions, gloomy and neglected-looking indeed,
but with traces on them still of their former consequence.

My cab stopped before the gloomiest of them all–a square grim house
with dull and small-paned windows, flanked by two narrow and
projecting wings, and built of dingy brick, faced with yellow-stone.
Some old scrollwork railings, with a corroded frame in the middle for
a long departed oil lamp, separated the house from the road; inside
was a semicircular patch of rank grass, and a damp gravel sweep led
from the heavy gate to a square portico supported by two wasted black
wooden pillars.

As I stood there, after pulling the pear-shaped bell-handle, and heard
the bell tinkling and jangling fretfully within, and as I glanced up
at the dull housefront looming cheerless out of the fog-laden December
twilight, I felt my confidence beginning to abandon me for the first
time, and I really was almost inclined to give the whole thing up and
run away.

Before I could make up my mind, a mouldy and melancholy butler had
come slowly down the sweep and opened the gate—and my opportunity
had fled. Later I remembered how, as I walked along the gravel, a wild
and wailing scream pierced the heavy silence–it seemed at once a
lamentation and a warning. But as the District Railway was quite near,
I did not attach any particular importance to the sound at the time.

I followed the butler through a dank and chilly hall, where an antique
lamp hung glimmering feebly through its panes of dusty stained glass,
up a broad carved staircase, and along some tortuous paneled passages,
until at length I was ushered into a long and rather low reception
room, scantily furnished with the tarnished mirrors and spindle-legged
brocaded furniture of a bygone century.

A tall and meager old man, with a long white beard, and haggard,
sunken black eyes, was seated at one side of the high chimney-piece,
while opposite him sat a little limp old lady with a nervous
expression, and dressed in trailing black robes relieved by a little
yellow lace about the head and throat. As I saw them, I recognized at
once that I was in the presence of Sir Paul Catafalque and his wife.

They both rose slowly, and advanced arm-in-arm in their old-fashioned
way, and met me with a stately solemnity. “You are indeed welcome,”
they said in faint hollow voices. “We thank you for this proof of your
chivalry and devotion. It cannot be but that such courage and such
self-sacrifice will meet with their reward!”

And although I did not quite understand how they could have discerned,
as yet, that I was chivalrous and devoted, I was too glad to have made
a good impression to do anything but beg them not to mention it.

And then a slender figure, with a drooping head, a wan face, and large
sad eyes, came softly down the dimly-lighted room towards me, and I
and my destined bride met for the first time.

As I had expected, after she had once anxiously raised her eyes, and
allowed them to rest upon me, her face was lighted up by an evident
relief, as she discovered that the fulfillment of my aunt’s wishes
would not be so distasteful to her, personally, as it might have been.

For myself, I was upon the whole rather disappointed in her; the
portrait had flattered her considerably–the real Chlorine was thinner
and paler than I had been led to anticipate, while there was a settled
melancholy in her manner which I felt would prevent her from being an
exhilarating companion.

And I must say I prefer a touch of archness and animation in
womankind, and, if I had been free to consult my own tastes, should
have greatly preferred to become a member of a more cheerful family.
Under the circumstances, however, I was not entitled to be too
particular, and I put up with it.

From the moment of my arrival I fell easily and naturally into the
position of an honored guest, who might be expected in time to form
nearer and dearer relations with the family, and certainly I was
afforded every opportunity of doing so.

I made no mistakes, for the diligence with which I had got up
McFadden’s antecedents enabled me to give perfectly satisfactory
replies to most of the few allusions or questions that were addressed
to me, and I drew upon my imagination for the rest.

But those days I spent in the baronet’s family were far from lively:
the Catafalques went nowhere; they seemed to know nobody; at least no
visitors ever called or dined there while I was with them, and the
time dragged slowly on in a terrible monotony in that dim tomb of a
house, which I was not expected to leave except for very brief
periods, for Sir Paul would grow uneasy if I walked out alone–even to

There was something, indeed, about the attitude of both the old people
towards myself which I could only consider as extremely puzzling. They
would follow me about with a jealous care, blended with anxious alarm,
and their faces as they looked at me wore an expression of tearful
admiration, touched with something of pity, as for some youthful
martyr; at times, too, they spoke of the gratitude they felt, and
professed a determined hopefulness as to my ultimate success.

Now I was well aware that this is not the ordinary bearing of the
parents of an heiress to a suitor who, however deserving in other
respects, is both obscure and penniless, and the only way in which I
could account for it was by the supposition that there was some latent
defect in Chlorine’s temper or constitution, which entitled the man
who won her to commiseration, and which would also explain their
evident anxiety to get her off their hands.

But although anything of this kind would be, of course, a drawback, I
felt that forty or fifty thousand pounds would be a fair set-off–and
I could not expect everything.

When the time came at which I felt that I could safely speak to
Chlorine of what lay nearest my heart, I found an unforeseen
difficulty in bringing her to confess that she reciprocated my

She seemed to shrink unaccountably from speaking the word which gave
me the right to claim her, confessing that she dreaded it not for her
own sake, but for mine alone, which struck me as an unpleasantly
morbid trait in so young a girl.

Again and again I protested that I was willing to run all risks–as I
was–and again and again she resisted, though always more faintly,
until at last my efforts were successful, and I forced from her lips
the assent which was of so much importance to me.

But it cost her a great effort, and I believe she even swooned
immediately afterwards; but this is only conjecture, as I lost no time
in seeking Sir Paul and clenching the matter before Chlorine had time
to retract.

He heard what I had to tell him with a strange light of triumph and
relief in his weary eyes.

“You have made an old man very happy and hopeful,” he said. “I ought,
perhaps, even now to deter you, but I am too selfish for that. And you
are young and brave and ardent; why need we despair? I suppose,” he
added, looking keenly at me, “you would prefer as little delay as

“I should indeed,” I replied. I was pleased, for I had not expected to
find him so sensible as that.

“Then leave all preliminaries to me; when the day and time have been
settled, I will let you know. As you are aware, it will be necessary
to have your signature to this document; and here, my boy, I must in
conscience warn you solemnly that by signing you make your decision
irrevocable–irrevocable, you understand?”

When I had heard this, I need scarcely say that I was all eagerness to
sign; so great was my haste that I did not even try to decipher the
somewhat crabbed and antiquated writing in which the terms of the
agreement were set out.

I was anxious to impress the baronet with a sense of my gentlemanly
feeling and the confidence I had in him, while I naturally presumed
that, since the contract was binding upon me, the baronet would, as a
man of honor, hold it equally conclusive on his own side.

As I look back upon it now, it seems simply extraordinary that I
should have been so easily satisfied, have taken so little pains to
find out the exact position in which I was placing myself; but, with
the ingenuous confidence of youth, I fell an easy victim, as I was to
realize later with terrible enlightenment.

“Say nothing of this to Chlorine,” said Sir Paul, as I handed him the
document signed, “until the final arrangements are made; it will only
distress her unnecessarily.”

I wondered why at the time, but I promised to obey, supposing that he
knew best, and for some days after that I made no mention to Chlorine
of the approaching day which was to witness our union.

As we were continually together, I began to regard her with an esteem
which I had not thought possible at first. Her looks improved
considerably under the influence of happiness, and I found she could
converse intelligently enough upon several topics, and did not bore me
nearly as much as I was fully prepared for.

And so the time passed less heavily, until one afternoon the baronet
took me aside mysteriously. “Prepare yourself, Augustus,” (they had
all learned to call me Augustus), he said; “all is arranged. The event
upon which our dearest hopes depend is fixed for tomorrow–in the Gray
Chamber of course, and at midnight.”

I thought this a curious time and place for the ceremony, but I had
divined his eccentric passion for privacy and retirement, and only
imagined that he had procured some very special form of license.

“But you do not know the Gray Chamber,” he added.

“Come with me, and I will show you where it is.” And he led me up the
broad staircase, and, stopping at the end of a passage before an
immense door covered with black baize and studded with brass nails,
which gave it a hideous resemblance to a gigantic coffin lid, he
pressed a spring, and it fell slowly back.

I saw a long dim gallery, whose very existence nothing in the external
appearance of the mansion had led me to suspect; it led to a heavy
oaken door with cumbrous plates and fastenings of metal.

“Tomorrow night is Christmas eve, as you are doubtless aware,” he said
in a hushed voice. “At twelve, then, you will present yourself at
yonder door–the door of the Gray Chamber–where you must fulfill the
engagement you have made.”

I was surprised at his choosing such a place for the ceremony; it
would have been more cheerful in the long drawing room; but it was
evidently a whim of his, and I was too happy to think of opposing it.
I hastened at once to Chlorine, with her father’s sanction, and told
her that the crowning moment of both our lives was fixed at last.

The effect of my announcement was astonishing: she fainted, for which
I remonstrated with her as soon as she came to herself. “Such extreme
sensitiveness, my love,” I could not help saying, “may be highly
creditable to your sense of maidenly propriety, but allow me to say
that I can scarcely regard it as a compliment.”

“Augustus,” she said, “you must not think I doubt you; and yet–and
yet–the ordeal will be a severe one for you.”

“I will steel my nerves,” I said grimly (for I was annoyed with her);
“and, after all, Chlorine, the ceremony is not invariably fatal; I
have heard of the victim surviving it–occasionally.”

“How brave you are!” she said earnestly. “I will imitate you,
Augustus; I too will hope.”

I really thought her insane, which alarmed me for the validity of the
marriage. “Yes, I am weak, foolish, I know,” she continued; “but oh, I
shudder so when I think of you, away in that gloomy Gray Chamber,
going through it all alone!”

This confirmed my worst fears. No wonder her parents felt grateful to
me for relieving them of such a responsibility! “May I ask where you
intend to be at the time?” I inquired very quietly.

“You will not think us unfeeling,” she replied, “but dear papa
considered that such anxiety as ours would be scarcely endurable did
we not seek some distraction from it; and so, as a special favor, he
has procured evening orders for Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s
Inn Fields, where we shall drive immediately after dinner.”

I knew that the proper way to treat the insane was by reasoning with
them gently, so as to place their own absurdity clearly before them.
“If you are forgetting your anxiety in Sir John Soane’s Museum, while
I cool my heels in the Gray Chamber,” I said, “is it probable that any
clergyman will be induced to perform the marriage ceremony? Did you
really think two people can be united separately?”

She was astonished this time. “You are joking!” she cried; “you cannot
really believe that we are to be married in–in the Gray Chamber?”

“Then will you tell me where we are to be married?” I asked. “I think
I have the right to know–it can hardly be at the Museum!”

She turned upon me with a sudden misgiving; “I could almost fancy,”
she said anxiously, “that this is no feigned ignorance. Augustus, your
aunt sent you a message–tell me, have you read it?” Now, owing to
McFadden’s want of consideration, this was my one weak point–I had
not read it, and thus I felt myself upon delicate ground. The message
evidently related to business of importance which was to be transacted
in this Gray Chamber, and as the genuine McFadden clearly knew all
about it, it would have been simply suicidal to confess my own

“Why of course, darling, of course,” I said hastily. “You must think
no more of my silly joke; there is something I have to arrange in the
Gray Chamber before I can call you mine. But, tell me, why does it
make you so uneasy?” I added, thinking it might be prudent to find out
beforehand what formality was expected from me.

“I cannot help it–no, I cannot!” she cried, “the test is so
searching–are you sure that you are prepared at all points? I
overheard my father say that no precaution could safely be neglected.
I have such a terrible foreboding that, after all, this may come
between us.”

It was clear enough to me now; the baronet was by no means so simple
and confiding in his choice of a son-in-law as I had imagined, and had
no intention, after all, of accepting me without some inquiry into my
past life, my habits, and my prospects.

That he should seek to make this examination more impressive by
appointing this ridiculous midnight interview for it, was only what
might have been expected from an old man of his confirmed

But I knew I could easily contrive to satisfy the baronet, and with
the idea of consoling Chlorine, I said as much. “Why will you persist
in treating me like a child, Augustus?” she broke out almost
petulantly. “They have tried to hide it all from me, but do you
suppose I do not know that in the Gray Chamber you will have to
encounter one far more formidable, far more difficult to satisfy, than
poor dear papa?”

“I see you know more than I–more than I thought you did,” I said.
“Let us understand one another, Chlorine–tell me exactly how much you

“I have told you all I know,” she said; “it is your turn to confide in

“Not even for your sweet sake, my dearest,” I was obliged to say, “can
I break the seal that is set upon my tongue. You must not press me.
Come, let us talk of other things.”

But I now saw that matters were worse than I had thought; instead of
the feeble old baronet I should have to deal with a stranger, some
exacting and officious friend or relation perhaps, or, more probably,
a keen family solicitor who would put questions I should not care
about answering, and even be capable of insisting upon strict

It was that, of course; they would try to tie my hands by a strict
settlement, with a brace of cautious trustees; unless I was very
careful, all I should get by my marriage would be a paltry life-
interest, contingent upon my surviving my wife.

This revolted me; it seems to me that when law comes in with its
offensively suspicious restraints upon the husband and its
indelicately premature provisions for the offspring, all the poetry of
love is gone at once. By allowing the wife to receive the income “for
her separate use and free from the control of her husband,” as the
phrase runs, you infallibly brush the bloom from the peach, and
implant the “little speck within the fruit” which, as Tennyson
beautifully says, will widen by and by and make the music mute.

This may be overstrained on my part, but it represents my honest
conviction; I was determined to have nothing to do with law. If it was
necessary, I felt quite sure enough of Chlorine to defy Sir Paul. I
would refuse to meet a family solicitor anywhere, and I intended to
say so plainly at the first convenient opportunity.

Chapter III

The opportunity came after dinner that evening when we were all in the
drawing-room, Lady Catafalque dozing uneasily in her armchair behind a
fire screen, and Chlorine, in the further room, playing funereal
dirges in the darkness, and pressing the stiff keys of the old piano
with a languid uncertain touch.

Drawing a chair up to Sir Paul’s, I began to broach the subject calmly
and temperately. “I find,” I said, “that we have not quite understood
one another over this affair in the Gray Chamber. When I agreed to an
appointment there, I thought–well, it doesn’t matter what I thought,
I was a little too premature. What I want to say now is, that while I
have no objection to you, as Chlorine’s father, asking me any
questions (in reason) about myself, I feel a delicacy in discussing my
private affairs with a perfect stranger.”

His burning eyes looked me through and through; “I don’t understand,”
he said. “Tell me what you are talking about.”

I began all over again, telling him exactly what I felt about
solicitors and settlements. “Are you well?” he asked sternly. “What
have I ever said about settlements or solicitors?”

I saw that I was wrong again, and could only stammer something to the
effect that a remark of Chlorine’s had given me this impression.

“What she could have said to convey such an idea passes my
comprehension,” he said gravely; “but she knows nothing—she’s a mere
child. I have felt from the first, my boy, that your aunt’s intention
was to benefit you quite as much as my own daughter. Believe me, I
shall not attempt to restrict you in any way; I shall be too rejoiced
to see you come forth in safety from the Gray Chamber.”

All the relief I had begun to feel respecting the settlements was
poisoned by these last words.

Why did he talk of that confounded Gray Chamber as if it were a fiery
furnace, or a cage of lions? What mystery was there concealed beneath
all this, and how, since I was obviously supposed to be thoroughly
acquainted with it, could I manage to penetrate the secret of this
perplexing appointment?

While he had been speaking, the faint, mournful music died away, and,
looking up, I saw Chlorine, a pale, slight form, standing framed in
the archway which connected the two rooms.

“Go back to your piano, my child,” said the baronet; “Augustus and I
have much to talk about which is not for your ears.

“But why not?” she said; “oh, why not? Papa! Dearest mother! Augustus!
I can bear it no longer! I have often felt of late that we are living
this strange life under the shadow of some fearful Thing, which would
chase all cheerfulness from any home. More than this I did not seek to
know; I dared not ask. But now, when I know that Augustus, whom I love
with my whole heart, must shortly face this ghastly presence, you
cannot wonder if I seek to learn the real extent of the danger that
awaits him! Tell me all. I can bear the worst–for it cannot be more
horrible than my own fears!”

Lady Catafalque had roused herself and was wringing her long mittened
hands and moaning feebly. “Paul,” she said, “you must not tell her; it
will kill her; she is not strong!” Her husband seemed undecided, and I
myself began to feel exquisitely uncomfortable. Chlorine’s words
pointed to something infinitely more terrible than a mere solicitor.

“Poor girl,” said Sir Paul at last, “it was for your own good that the
whole truth has been thus concealed from you; but now, perhaps, the
time has come when the truest kindness will be to reveal all. What do
you say, Augustus?” “I–I agree with you,” I replied faintly; “she
ought to be told.”

“Precisely!” he said. “Break to her, then, the nature of the ordeal
which lies before you.”

It was the very thing which I wanted to be broken to me! I would have
given the world to know all about it myself, and so I stared at his
gloomy old face with eyes that must have betrayed my helpless dismay.
At last I saved myself by suggesting that such a story would come less
harshly from a parent’s lips.

“Well, so be it,” he said. “Chlorine, compose yourself, dearest one;
sit down there, and summon up all your fortitude to hear what I am
about to tell you. You must know, then–I think you had better let
your mother give you a cup of tea before I begin; it will steady your

During the delay which followed–for Sir Paul did not consider his
daughter sufficiently fortified until she had taken at least three
cups–I suffered tortures of suspense, which I dared not betray.

They never thought of offering me any tea, though the merest observer
might have noticed how very badly I wanted it.

At last the baronet was satisfied, and not without a sort of gloomy
enjoyment and a proud relish of the distinction implied in his
exceptional affliction, he began his weird and almost incredible tale.

“It is now,” said he, “some centuries since our ill-fated house was
first afflicted with the family curse which still attends it. A
certain Humfrey de Catafalque, by his acquaintance with the black art,
as it was said, had procured the services of a species of familiar, a
dread and supernatural being. For some reason he had conceived a
bitter enmity towards his nearest relations, whom he hated with a
virulence that not even death could soften. For, by a refinement of
malice, he bequeathed this baleful thing to his descendants forever,
as an inalienable heirloom! And to this day it follows the title–and
the head of the family for the time being is bound to provide it with
a secret apartment under his own roof. But that is not the worst as
each member of our house succeeds to the ancestral rank and honors, he
must seek an interview with ‘The Curse,’ as it has been styled for
generations. And, in that interview, it is decided whether the spell
is to be broken and the Curse depart from us forever–or whether it is
to continue its blighting influence, and hold yet another life in
miserable thraldom.”

“And are you one of its thralls then, papa?” faltered Chlorine.

“I am, indeed,” he said. “I failed to quell it, as every Catafalque,
however brave and resolute, has failed yet. It checks all my accounts,
and woe to me if that cold, withering eye discovers the slightest
error–even in the pence column! I could not describe the extent of my
bondage to you, my daughter, or the humiliation of having to go and
tremble monthly before that awful presence.

“Not even yet, old as I am, have I grown quite accustomed to it!”

Never, in my wildest imaginings, had I anticipated anything one
quarter so dreadful as this; but still I clung to the hope that it was
impossible to bring me into the affair.

“But, Sir Paul,” I said–“Sir Paul, you–you mustn’t stop there, or
you’ll alarm Chlorine more than there’s any need to do. She–ha, ha!–
don’t you see, she has got some idea into her head that I have to go
through much the same sort of thing. Just explain that to her. I’m not
a Catafalque, Chlorine, so it–it can’t interfere with me. That is so,
isn’t it, Sir Paul? Good heavens, sir, don’t torture her like this!” I
cried, as he was silent. “Speak out!”

“You mean well, Augustus,” he said, “but the time for deceiving her
has gone by; she must know the worst. Yes, my poor child,” he
continued to Chlorine, whose eyes were wide with terror–though I
fancy mine were even wider–“unhappily, though our beloved Augustus is
not a Catafalque himself, he has of his own free will brought himself
within the influence of the Curse, and he, too, at the appointed hour,
must keep the awful assignation, and brave all that the most fiendish
malevolence can do to shake his resolution.”

I could not say a single word; the horror of the idea was altogether
too much for me, and I fell back on my chair in a state of speechless

“You see,” Sir Paul went on explaining, “it is not only all new
baronets, but every one who would seek an alliance with the females of
our race, who must, by the terms of that strange bequest, also undergo
this trial. It may be in some degree owing to this necessity that,
ever since Humfrey de Catafalque’s diabolical testament first took
effect, every maiden of our House has died a spinster.” (Here Chlorine
hid her face with a low wail.) “In 1770, it is true, one solitary
suitor was emboldened by love and daring to face the ordeal. He went
calmly and resolutely to the chamber where the Curse was then lodged,
and the next morning they found him outside the door–a gibbering

I writhed on my chair. “Augustus!” cried Chlorine wildly, “promise me
you will not permit the Curse to turn you into a gibbering maniac. I
think if I saw you gibber I should die!”

I was on the verge of gibbering then; I dared not trust myself to

“Nay, Chlorine,” said Sir Paul more cheerfully “there is no cause for
alarm; all has been made smooth for Augustus.” (I began to brighten a
little at this.) “His Aunt Petronia had made a special study of the
old-world science of incantation, and had undoubtedly succeeded at
last in discovering the master-word which, employed according to her
directions, would almost certainly break the unhallowed spell. In her
compassionate attachment to us, she formed the design of persuading a
youth of blameless life and antecedents to present himself as our
champion, and the reports she had been given of our dear Augustus’s
irreproachable character led her to select him as a likely instrument.
And her confidence in his generosity and courage was indeed well-
founded, for he responded at once to the appeal of his departed aunt,
and, with her instructions for his safeguard, and the consciousness of
his virtue as an additional protection, there is hope, my child,
strong hope, that, though the struggle may be a long and bitter one,
yet Augustus will emerge a victor!”

I saw very little ground for expecting to emerge as anything of the
kind, or for that matter to emerge at all, except in installments–for
the master-word which was to abash the demon was probably inside the
packet of instructions, and that was certainly somewhere at the bottom
of the sea, outside Melbourne, fathoms below the surface.

I could bear no more. “It’s simply astonishing to me,” I said, “that
in the nineteenth century, hardly six miles from Charing Cross, you
can calmly allow this hideous ‘Curse,’ or whatever you call it, to
have things all its own way like this.”

“What can I do, Augustus?” he asked helplessly.

“Do? Anything!” I retorted wildly (for I scarcely knew what I said).
“Take it out for an airing (it must want an airing by this time); take
it out–and lose it! Or get both the archbishops to step in and lay it
for you. Sell the house, and make the purchaser take it at a
valuation, with the other fixtures. I certainly would not live under
the same roof with it. And I want you to understand one thing–I was
never told all this; I have been kept in the dark about it. Of course
I knew there was some kind of a curse in the family–but I never
dreamed of anything so bad as this, and I never had any intention of
being boxed up alone with it either. I shall not go near the Gray

“Not go near it!” they all cried aghast.

“Not on any account,” I said, for I felt firmer and easier now that I
had taken up this position.

“If the Curse has any business with me, let it come down and settle it
here before you all in a plain straightforward manner. Let us go about
it in a businesslike way. On second thoughts,” I added, fearing lest
they should find means of carrying out this suggestion, “I won’t meet
it anywhere!”

“And why–why won’t you meet it?” they asked breathlessly.

“Because,” I explained desperately, “because I’m–I’m a materialist.”
(I had not been previously aware that I had any decided opinions on
the question, but I could not stay then to consider the point.) “How
can I have any dealings with a preposterous supernatural something
which my reason forbids me to believe in? You see my difficulty? It
would be inconsistent, to begin with, and–and extremely painful to
both sides.”

“No more of this ribaldry,” said Sir Paul sternly. “It may be terribly
remembered against you when the hour comes. Keep a guard over your
tongue, for all our sakes, and more especially your own. Recollect
that the Curse knows all that passes beneath this roof. And do not
forget, too, that you are pledged–irrevocably pledged. You must
confront the Curse!”

Only a short hour ago, and I had counted Chlorine’s fortune and
Chlorine as virtually mine; and now I saw my golden dreams roughly
shattered forever! And, oh, what a wrench it was to tear myself from
them! What it cost me to speak the words that barred my Paradise to me

But if I wished to avoid confronting the Curse–and I did wish this
very much–I had no other course. “I had no right to pledge myself,” I
said, with quivering lips, “under all the circumstances.”

“Why not,” they demanded again; “what circumstances?”

“Well, in the first place,” I assured them earnestly, “I’m a base
impostor. I am indeed. I’m not Augustus McFadden at all. My real name
is of no consequence–but it’s a prettier one than that.

“As for McFadden, he, I regret to say, is now no more.”

Why on earth I could not have told the plain truth here has always
been a mystery to me. I suppose I had been lying so long that it was
difficult to break myself of this occasionally inconvenient trick at
so short a notice, but I certainly mixed things up to a hopeless

“Yes,” I continued mournfully, “McFadden is dead; I will tell you how
he died if you would care to know. During his voyage here he fell
overboard, and was almost instantly appropriated by a gigantic shark,
when, as I happened to be present, I enjoyed the melancholy privilege
of seeing him pass away. For one brief moment I beheld him between the
jaws of the creature, so pale but so composed (I refer to McFadden,
you understand–not the shark), he threw just one glance up at me, and
with a smile, the sad sweetness of which I shall never forget (it was
McFadden’s smile, I mean, of course–not the shark’s), he, courteous
and considerate to the last, requested me to break the news and
remember him very kindly to you all. And, in the same instant, he
abruptly vanished within the monster–and I saw neither of them

Of course in bringing the shark in at all I was acting directly
contrary to my instructions, but I quite forgot them in my anxiety to
escape the acquaintance of the Curse of the Catafalques.

“If this is true, sir,” said the baronet haughtily when I had
finished, “you have indeed deceived us basely.”

“That,” I replied, “is what I was endeavoring to bring out. You see,
it puts it quite out of my power to meet your family Curse. I should
not feel justified in intruding upon it. So, if you will kindly let
some one fetch a fly or a cab in half an hour–”

“Stop!” cried Chlorine. “Augustus, as I will call you still, you must
not go like this. If you have stooped to deceit, it was for love of
me, and–and Mr. McFadden is dead. If he had been alive, I should have
felt it my duty to allow him an opportunity of winning my affection,
but he is lying in his silent tomb, and–and I have learnt to love
you. Stay, then; stay and brave the Curse; we may yet be happy!”

I saw how foolish I had been not to tell the truth at first, and I
hastened to repair this error.

“When I described McFadden as dead,” I said hoarsely, “it was a loose
way of putting the facts–because, to be quite accurate, he isn’t
dead. We found out afterwards that it was another fellow the shark had
swallowed, and, in fact, another shark altogether. So he is alive and
well now, at Melbourne, but when he came to know about the Curse, he
was too much frightened to come across, and he asked me to call and
make his excuses. I have now done so, and will trespass no further on
your kindness–if you will tell somebody to bring a vehicle of any
sort in a quarter of an hour.”

“Pardon me,” said the baronet, “but we cannot part in this way. I
feared when first I saw you that your resolution might give way under
the strain; it is only natural, I admit. But you deceive yourself if
you think we cannot see that these extraordinary and utterly
contradictory stories are prompted by sudden panic. I quite understand
it, Augustus; I cannot blame you; but to allow you to withdraw now
would be worse than weakness on my part. The panic will pass, you will
forget these fears tomorrow, you must forget them; remember, you have
promised. For your own sake, I shall take care that you do not forfeit
that solemn bond, for I dare not let you run the danger of exciting
the Curse by a deliberate insult.”

I saw clearly that his conduct was dictated by a deliberate and most
repulsive selfishness; he did not entirely believe me, but he was
determined that if there was any chance that I, whoever I might be,
could free him from his present thraldom, he would not let it escape

I raved, I protested, I implored–all in vain; they would not believe
a single word I said, they positively refused to release me, and
insisted upon my performing my engagement.

And at last Chlorine and her mother left the room, with a little
contempt for my unworthiness mingled with their evident compassion;
and a little later Sir Paul conducted me to my room, and locked me in
“till,” as he said, “I had returned to my senses.”

Chapter IV

What a night I passed, as I tossed sleeplessly from side to side under
the canopy of my old-fashioned bedstead, torturing my fevered brain
with vain speculations as to the fate the morrow was to bring me.

I felt myself perfectly helpless; I saw no way out of it; they seemed
bent upon offering me up as a sacrifice to this private Moloch of
theirs. The baronet was quite capable of keeping me locked up all the
next day and pushing me into the Gray Chamber to take my chance when
the hour came.

If I had only some idea what the Curse was like to look at, I thought
I might not feel quite so afraid of it; the vague and impalpable
awfulness of the thing was intolerable, and the very thought of it
caused me to fling myself about in an ecstasy of horror.

By degrees, however, as daybreak came near, I grew calmer–until at
length I arrived at a decision. It seemed evident to me that, as I
could not avoid my fate, the wisest course was to go forth to meet it
with as good a grace as possible. Then, should I by some fortunate
accident come well out of it, my fortune was ensured.

But if I went on repudiating my assumed self to the very last, I
should surely arouse a suspicion which the most signal rout of the
Curse would not serve to dispel.

And after all, as I began to think, the whole thing had probably been
much exaggerated; if I could only keep my head, and exercise all my
powers of cool impudence, I might contrive to hoodwink this formidable
relic of medieval days, which must have fallen rather behind the age
by this time. It might even turn out to be (although I was hardly
sanguine as to this) as big a humbug as I was myself, and we should
meet with confidential winks, like the two augurs.

But, at all events, I resolved to see this mysterious affair out, and
trust to my customary good luck to bring me safely through, and so,
having found the door unlocked, I came down to breakfast something
like my usual self, and set myself to remove the unfavorable
impression I had made on the previous night.

They did it from consideration for me, but still it was mistaken
kindness for them all to leave me entirely to my own thoughts during
the whole of the day, for I was driven to mope alone about the gloom-
laden building, until by dinnertime I was very low indeed from nervous

We dined in almost unbroken silence; now and then, as Sir Paul saw my
hand approaching a decanter, he would open his lips to observe that I
should need the clearest head and the firmest nerve ere long, and warn
me solemnly against the brown sherry; from time to time, too, Chlorine
and her mother stole apprehensive glances at me, and sighed heavily
between every course. I never remember eating a dinner with so little

The meal came to an end at last; the ladies rose, and Sir Paul and I
were left to brood over the dessert. I fancy both of us felt a
delicacy in starting a conversation, and before I could hit upon a
safe remark, Lady Catafalque and her daughter returned, dressed, to my
unspeakable horror, in readiness to go out. Worse than that even, Sir
Paul apparently intended to accompany them, for he rose at their

“It is now time for us to bid you a solemn farewell, Augustus,” he
said, in his hollow old voice.

“You have three hours before you yet, and if you are wise, you will
spend them in earnest self-preparation.

“At midnight, punctually, for you must not dare to delay, you will go
to the Gray Chamber–the way thither you know, and you will find the
Curse prepared for you. Good-bye, then, brave and devoted boy; stand
firm, and no harm can befall you!”

“You are going away, all of you!” I cried. They were not what you
might call a gay family to sit up with, but even their society was
better than my own.

“Upon these dread occasions,” he explained, “it is absolutely
forbidden for any human being but one to remain in the house. All the
servants have already left, and we are about to take our departure for
a private hotel near the Strand. We shall just have time, if we start
at once, to inspect the Soane Museum on our way thither, which will
serve as some distraction from the terrible anxiety we shall be

At this I believe I positively howled with terror; all my old panic
came back with a rush.

“Don’t leave me all alone with It!” I cried; “I shall go mad if you

Sir Paul simply turned on his heel in silent contempt, and his wife
followed him; but Chlorine remained behind for one instant, and
somehow, as she gazed at me with a yearning pity in her sad eyes, I
thought I had never seen her looking so pretty before.

“Augustus,” she said, “get up.” (I suppose I must have been on the
floor somewhere.) “Be a man; show us we were not mistaken in you. You
know I would spare you this if I could; but we are powerless. Oh, be
brave, or I shall lose you forever!”

Her appeal did seem to put a little courage into me; I staggered up
and kissed her slender hand and vowed sincerely to be worthy of her.

And then she too passed out, and the heavy hall door slammed behind
the three, and the rusty old gate screeched like a banshee as it swung
back and closed with a clang.

I heard the carriage-wheels grind the slush, and the next moment I
knew that I was shut up on Christmas eve in that somber mansion–with
the Curse of the Catafalques as my sole companion.

I don’t think the generous ardor with which Chlorine’s last words had
inspired me lasted very long, for I caught myself shivering before the
clock struck nine, and, drawing up a clumsy leathern armchair close to
the fire, I piled on the logs and tried to get rid of a certain
horrible sensation of internal vacancy which was beginning to afflict

I tried to look my situation fairly in the face; whatever reason and
common sense had to say about it, there seemed no possible doubt that
something of a supernatural order was shut up in that great chamber
down the corridor, and also that, if I meant to win Chlorine, I must
go up and have some kind of an interview with it. Once more I wished I
had some definite idea to go upon; what description of being should I
find this Curse? Would it be aggressively ugly, like the bogie of my
infancy, or should I see a lank and unsubstantial shape, draped in
clinging black, with nothing visible beneath it but a pair of burning
hollow eyes and one long pale bony hand? Really I could not decide
which would be the more trying of the two.

By and by I began to recollect unwillingly all the frightful stories I
had ever read; one in particular came back to me–the adventure of a
foreign marshal who, after much industry, succeeded in invoking an
evil spirit, which came bouncing into the room shaped like a gigantic
ball, with, I think, a hideous face in the middle of it, and would not
be got rid of until the horrified marshal had spent hours in hard
praying and persistent exorcism!

What should I do if the Curse was a globular one and came rolling all
round the room after me?

Then there was another appalling tale I had read in some magazine–a
tale of a secret chamber, too, and in some respects a very similar
case to my own, for there the heir of some great house had to go in
and meet a mysterious aged person with strange eyes and an evil smile,
who kept attempting to shake hands with him.

Nothing should induce me to shake hands with the Curse of the
Catafalques, however apparently friendly I might find it.

But it was not very likely to be friendly, for it was one of those
mystic powers of darkness which know nearly everything–it would
detect me as an impostor directly, and what would become of me? I
declare I almost resolved to confess all and sob out my deceit upon
its bosom, and the only thing which made me pause was the reflection
that probably the Curse did not possess a bosom.

By this time I had worked myself up to such a pitch of terror that I
found it absolutely necessary to brace my nerves, and I did brace
them. I emptied all the three decanters, but as Sir Paul’s cellar was
none of the best, the only result was that, while my courage and
daring were not perceptibly heightened, I was conscious of feeling
exceedingly unwell.

Tobacco, no doubt, would have calmed and soothed me, but I did not
dare to smoke. For the Curse, being old-fashioned, might object to the
smell of it, and I was anxious to avoid exciting its prejudices

And so I simply sat in my chair and shook. Every now and then I heard
steps on the frosty path outside: sometimes a rapid tread, as of some
happy person bound to scenes of Christmas revelry, and little dreaming
of the miserable wretch he was passing; sometimes the slow creaking
tramp of the Fulham policeman on his beat.

What if I called him in and gave the Curse into custody—either for
putting me in bodily fear (as it was undeniably doing), or for being
found on the premises under suspicious circumstances?

There was a certain audacity about this means of cutting the knot that
fascinated me at first, but still I did not venture to adopt it,
thinking it most probable that the stolid constable would decline to
interfere as soon as he knew the facts; and even if he did, it would
certainly annoy Sir Paul extremely to hear of his Family Curse
spending its Christmas in a police cell, and I felt instinctively that
he would consider it a piece of unpardonable bad taste on my part.

So one hour passed. A few minutes after ten I heard more footsteps and
voices in low consultation, as if a band of men had collected outside
the railings. Could there be any indication without of the horrors
these walls contained?

But no; the gaunt housefront kept its secret too well; they were
merely the waits. They saluted me with the old carol, “God rest you,
merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay!” which should have encouraged
me, but it didn’t and they followed that up by a wheezy but pathetic
rendering of “The Mistletoe Bough.”

For a time I did not object to them; while they were scraping and
blowing outside I felt less abandoned and cut off from human help, and
then they might arouse softer sentiments in the Curse upstairs by
their seasonable strains: these things do happen at Christmas
sometimes. But their performance was really so infernally bad that it
was calculated rather to irritate than subdue any evil spirit, and
very soon I rushed to the window and beckoned to them furiously to go

Unhappily, they thought I was inviting them indoors for refreshment,
and came round to the gate, when they knocked and rang incessantly for
a quarter of an hour.

This must have stirred the Curse up quite enough, but when they had
gone, there came a man with a barrel organ, which was suffering from
some complicated internal disorder, causing it to play its whole
repertory at once, in maddening discords. Even the grinder himself
seemed dimly aware that his instrument was not doing itself justice,
for he would stop occasionally, as if to ponder or examine it. But he
was evidently a sanguine person and had hopes of bringing it round by
a little perseverance; so, as Parson’s Green was well-suited by its
quiet for this mode of treatment, he remained there till he must have
reduced the Curse to a rampant and rabid condition.

He went at last, and then the silence that followed began to my
excited fancy (for I certainly saw nothing) to be invaded by strange
sounds that echoed about the old house. I heard sharp reports from the
furniture, sighing moans in the draughty passages, doors opening and
shutting, and–worse still–stealthy padding footsteps, both above and
in the ghostly hall outside!

I sat there in an ice-cold perspiration, until my nerves required more
bracing, to effect which I had recourse to the spirit-case.

And after a short time my fears began to melt away rapidly. What a
ridiculous bugbear I was making of this thing after all! Was I not too
hasty in setting it down as ugly and hostile before I had seen it…
how did I know it was anything which deserved my horror?

Here a gush of sentiment came over me at the thought that it might be
that for long centuries the poor Curse had been cruelly
misunderstood–that it might be a blessing in disguise.

I was so affected by the thought that I resolved to go up at once and
wish it a merry Christmas through the keyhole, just to show that I
came in no unfriendly spirit.

But would not that seem as if I was afraid of it? I scorned the idea
of being afraid. Why, for two straws, I would go straight in and pull
its nose for it–if it had a nose! I went out with this object, not
very steadily, but before I had reached the top of the dim and misty
staircase, I had given up all ideas of defiance, and merely intended
to go as far as the corridor by way of a preliminary canter.

The coffin-lid door stood open, and I looked apprehensively down the
corridor; the grim metal fittings on the massive door of the Gray
Chamber were gleaming with a mysterious pale light, something between
the phenomena obtained by electricity and the peculiar phosphorescence
observable in a decayed shellfish; under the door I saw the reflection
of a sullen red glow, and within I could hear sounds like the roar of
a mighty wind, above which peals of fiendish mirth rang out at
intervals, and were followed by a hideous dull clanking.

It seemed only too evident that the Curse was getting up the steam for
our interview. I did not stay there long, because I was afraid that it
might dart out suddenly and catch me eavesdropping, which would be a
hopelessly bad beginning. I got back to the dining room, somehow; the
fire had taken advantage of my short absence to go out, and I was
surprised to find by the light of the fast-dimming lamp that it was a
quarter to twelve already.

Only fifteen more fleeting minutes and then–unless I gave tip
Chlorine and her fortune forever–I must go up and knock at that awful
door, and enter the presence of the frightful mystic Thing that was
roaring and laughing and clanking on the other side!

Stupidly I sat and stared at the clock; in five minutes, now, I should
be beginning my desperate duel with one of the powers of darkness–a
thought which gave me sickening qualms.

I was clinging to the thought that I had still two precious minutes
left–perhaps my last moments of safety and sanity—when the lamp
expired with a gurgling sob, and left me in the dark.

I was afraid of sitting there all alone any longer, and besides, if I
lingered, the Curse might come down and fetch me. The horror of this
idea made me resolve to go up at once, especially as scrupulous
punctuality might propitiate it.

Groping my way to the door, I reached the hall and stood there,
swaying under the old stained-glass lantern. And then I made a
terrible discovery. I was not in a condition to transact any business;
I had disregarded Sir Paul’s well-meant warning at dinner; I was not
my own master. I was lost!

The clock in the adjoining room tolled twelve, and from without the
distant steeples proclaimed in faint peals and chimes that it was
Christmas morn. My hour had come!

Why did I not mount those stairs? I tried again and again, and fell
down every time, and at each attempt I knew the Curse would be getting
more and more impatient.

I was quite five minutes late, and yet, with all my eagerness to be
punctual, I could not get up that staircase. It was a horrible
situation, but it was not at its worst even then, for I heard a
jarring sound above, as if heavy rusty bolts were being withdrawn.

The Curse was coming down to see what had become of me! I should have
to confess my inability to go upstairs without assistance, and so
place myself wholly at its mercy!

I made one more desperate effort, and then–and then, upon my word, I
don’t know how it was exactly–but, as I looked wildly about, I caught
sight of my hat on the hat-rack below, and the thoughts it roused in
me proved too strong for resistance. Perhaps it was weak of me, but I
venture to think that very few men in my position would have behaved
any better.

I renounced my ingenious and elaborate scheme forever, the door
(fortunately for me) was neither locked nor bolted, and the next
moment I was running for my life along the road to Chelsea, urged on
by the fancy that the Curse itself was in hot pursuit.

For weeks after that I lay in hiding, starting at every sound, so
fearful was I that the outraged Curse might track me down at last; all
my worldly possessions were at Parson’s Green, and I could not bring
myself to write or call for them, nor indeed have I seen any of the
Catafalques since that awful Christmas eve.

I wish to have nothing more to do with them, for I feel naturally that
they took a cruel advantage of my youth and inexperience, and I shall
always resent the deception and constraint to which I so nearly fell a

But it occurs to me that those who may have followed my strange story
with any curiosity and interest may be slightly disappointed at its
conclusion, which I cannot deny is a lame and unsatisfactory one.

They expected, no doubt, to be told what the Curse’s personal
appearance is, and how it comports itself in that ghastly Gray
Chamber, what it said to me, and what I said to it, and what happened
after that.

This information, as will be easily understood, I cannot pretend to
give, and, for myself, I have long ceased to feel the slightest
curiosity on any of these points. But for the benefit of such as are
less indifferent, I may suggest that almost any eligible bachelor
would easily obtain the opportunities I failed to enjoy by simply
calling at the old mansion at Parson’s Green, and presenting himself
to the baronet as a suitor for his daughter’s hand.

I shall be most happy to allow my name to be used as a reference.


Was that a sound? Is someone there?

Christmas Ghost Stories: Told After Supper, by Jerome K. Jerome

So begins our advent, full of ghosties and ghoulies and various other alliterative spookies that begin with the letter G and even several that do not. We will begin with Jerome K. Jerome’s classic, Told After Supper (via Fullbooks), which adequately captures both the spookiness and the ridiculousness of Christmas Ghost Stories.

Please be aware that by “Christmas Ghost Stories” we do not mean ghost stories that occur at Christmas. Oh, heavens no. Ghosts are strictly an advent phenomenon, as Jerome (may I call you that? Jerome?) points out. The ghostiest day and night of the year is Christmas Eve, and, of course, at midnight the animals gain the ability to speak. And you’re damn lucky if you happen to miss what your cat says about you behind your back.

Anyhoodle, we are going to attempt to post one delightful, seasonal, spooky and out-of-copyright story per day here until The Big Day. When, by god, Santa better bring me a goddamn pony once and for all. I’ve about had it with that old charlatan.

Was that a sound? Is someone there?

Was that a sound? Is someone there?

Told After Supper
Jerome K. Jerome

This etext was prepared by David Price, email
from the 1891 Leadenhall Press edition.


How the Stories came to be told
Teddy Biffles’ Story–Johnson and Emily; or, the Faithful Ghost
Interlude–The Doctor’s Story
Mr. Coombe’s Story–The Haunted Mill; or, the Ruined Home
My Uncle’s Story–The Ghost of the Blue Chamber
A Personal Explanation
My Own Story

It was Christmas Eve.

I begin this way because it is the proper, orthodox, respectable
way to begin, and I have been brought up in a proper, orthodox,
respectable way, and taught to always do the proper, orthodox,
respectable thing; and the habit clings to me.

Of course, as a mere matter of information it is quite unnecessary
to mention the date at all. The experienced reader knows it was
Christmas Eve, without my telling him. It always is Christmas Eve,
in a ghost story,

Christmas Eve is the ghosts’ great gala night. On Christmas Eve
they hold their annual fete. On Christmas Eve everybody in
Ghostland who IS anybody–or rather, speaking of ghosts, one should
say, I suppose, every nobody who IS any nobody–comes out to show
himself or herself, to see and to be seen, to promenade about and
display their winding-sheets and grave-clothes to each other, to
criticise one another’s style, and sneer at one another’s

“Christmas Eve parade,” as I expect they themselves term it, is a
function, doubtless, eagerly prepared for and looked forward to
throughout Ghostland, especially the swagger set, such as the
murdered Barons, the crime-stained Countesses, and the Earls who
came over with the Conqueror, and assassinated their relatives, and
died raving mad.

Hollow moans and fiendish grins are, one may be sure, energetically
practised up. Blood-curdling shrieks and marrow-freezing gestures
are probably rehearsed for weeks beforehand. Rusty chains and gory
daggers are over-hauled, and put into good working order; and
sheets and shrouds, laid carefully by from the previous year’s
show, are taken down and shaken out, and mended, and aired.

Oh, it is a stirring night in Ghostland, the night of December the

Ghosts never come out on Christmas night itself, you may have
noticed. Christmas Eve, we suspect, has been too much for them;
they are not used to excitement. For about a week after Christmas
Eve, the gentlemen ghosts, no doubt, feel as if they were all head,
and go about making solemn resolutions to themselves that they will
stop in next Christmas Eve; while lady spectres are contradictory
and snappish, and liable to burst into tears and leave the room
hurriedly on being spoken to, for no perceptible cause whatever.

Ghosts with no position to maintain–mere middle-class ghosts–
occasionally, I believe, do a little haunting on off-nights: on
All-hallows Eve, and at Midsummer; and some will even run up for a
mere local event–to celebrate, for instance, the anniversary of
the hanging of somebody’s grandfather, or to prophesy a misfortune.

He does love prophesying a misfortune, does the average British
ghost. Send him out to prognosticate trouble to somebody, and he
is happy. Let him force his way into a peaceful home, and turn the
whole house upside down by foretelling a funeral, or predicting a
bankruptcy, or hinting at a coming disgrace, or some other terrible
disaster, about which nobody in their senses want to know sooner
they could possibly help, and the prior knowledge of which can
serve no useful purpose whatsoever, and he feels that he is
combining duty with pleasure. He would never forgive himself if
anybody in his family had a trouble and he had not been there for a
couple of months beforehand, doing silly tricks on the lawn, or
balancing himself on somebody’s bed-rail.

Then there are, besides, the very young, or very conscientious
ghosts with a lost will or an undiscovered number weighing heavy on
their minds, who will haunt steadily all the year round; and also
the fussy ghost, who is indignant at having been buried in the
dust-bin or in the village pond, and who never gives the parish a
single night’s quiet until somebody has paid for a first-class
funeral for him.

But these are the exceptions. As I have said, the average orthodox
ghost does his one turn a year, on Christmas Eve, and is satisfied.

Why on Christmas Eve, of all nights in the year, I never could
myself understand. It is invariably one of the most dismal of
nights to be out in–cold, muddy, and wet. And besides, at
Christmas time, everybody has quite enough to put up with in the
way of a houseful of living relations, without wanting the ghosts
of any dead ones mooning about the place, I am sure.

There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas–something
about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts, like
the dampness of the summer rains brings out the frogs and snails.

And not only do the ghosts themselves always walk on Christmas Eve,
but live people always sit and talk about them on Christmas Eve.
Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on
Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories.
Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell
authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive
season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and
murders, and blood.

There is a good deal of similarity about our ghostly experiences;
but this of course is not our fault but the fault ghosts, who never
will try any new performances, but always will keep steadily to
old, safe business. The consequence is that, when you have been at
one Christmas Eve party, and heard six people relate their
adventures with spirits, you do not require to hear any more ghost
stories. To listen to any further ghost stories after that would
be like sitting out two farcical comedies, or taking in two comic
journals; the repetition would become wearisome.

There is always the young man who was, one year, spending the
Christmas at a country house, and, on Christmas Eve, they put him
to sleep in the west wing. Then in the middle of the night, the
room door quietly opens and somebody–generally a lady in her
night-dress–walks slowly in, and comes and sits on the bed. The
young man thinks it must be one of the visitors, or some relative
of the family, though he does not remember having previously seen
her, who, unable to go to sleep, and feeling lonesome, all by
herself, has come into his room for a chat. He has no idea it is a
ghost: he is so unsuspicious. She does not speak, however; and,
when he looks again, she is gone!

The young man relates the circumstance at the breakfast-table next
morning, and asks each of the ladies present if it were she who was
his visitor. But they all assure him that it was not, and the
host, who has grown deadly pale, begs him to say no more about the
matter, which strikes the young man as a singularly strange

After breakfast the host takes the young man into a corner, and
explains to him that what he saw was the ghost of a lady who had
been murdered in that very bed, or who had murdered somebody else
there–it does not really matter which: you can be a ghost by
murdering somebody else or by being murdered yourself, whichever
you prefer. The murdered ghost is, perhaps, the more popular; but,
on the other hand, you can frighten people better if you are the
murdered one, because then you can show your wounds and do groans.

Then there is the sceptical guest–it is always ‘the guest’ who
gets let in for this sort of thing, by-the-bye. A ghost never
thinks much of his own family: it is ‘the guest’ he likes to haunt
who after listening to the host’s ghost story, on Christmas Eve,
laughs at it, and says that he does not believe there are such
things as ghosts at all; and that he will sleep in the haunted
chamber that very night, if they will let him.

Everybody urges him not to be reckless, but he persists in his
foolhardiness, and goes up to the Yellow Chamber (or whatever
colour the haunted room may be) with a light heart and a candle,
and wishes them all good-night, and shuts the door.

Next morning he has got snow-white hair.

He does not tell anybody what he has seen: it is too awful.

There is also the plucky guest, who sees a ghost, and knows it is a
ghost, and watches it, as it comes into the room and disappears
through the wainscot, after which, as the ghost does not seem to be
coming back, and there is nothing, consequently, to be gained by
stopping awake, he goes to sleep.

He does not mention having seen the ghost to anybody, for fear of
frightening them–some people are so nervous about ghosts,–but
determines to wait for the next night, and see if the apparition
appears again.

It does appear again, and, this time, he gets out of bed, dresses
himself and does his hair, and follows it; and then discovers a
secret passage leading from the bedroom down into the beer-cellar,-
-a passage which, no doubt, was not unfrequently made use of in the
bad old days of yore.

After him comes the young man who woke up with a strange sensation
in the middle of the night, and found his rich bachelor uncle
standing by his bedside. The rich uncle smiled a weird sort of
smile and vanished. The young man immediately got up and looked at
his watch. It had stopped at half-past four, he having forgotten
to wind it.

He made inquiries the next day, and found that, strangely enough,
his rich uncle, whose only nephew he was, had married a widow with
eleven children at exactly a quarter to twelve, only two days ago,

The young man does not attempt to explain the circumstance. All he
does is to vouch for the truth of his narrative.

And, to mention another case, there is the gentleman who is
returning home late at night, from a Freemasons’ dinner, and who,
noticing a light issuing from a ruined abbey, creeps up, and looks
through the keyhole. He sees the ghost of a ‘grey sister’ kissing
the ghost of a brown monk, and is so inexpressibly shocked and
frightened that he faints on the spot, and is discovered there the
next morning, lying in a heap against the door, still speechless,
and with his faithful latch-key clasped tightly in his hand.

All these things happen on Christmas Eve, they are all told of on
Christmas Eve. For ghost stories to be told on any other evening
than the evening of the twenty-fourth of December would be
impossible in English society as at present regulated. Therefore,
in introducing the sad but authentic ghost stories that follow
hereafter, I feel that it is unnecessary to inform the student of
Anglo-Saxon literature that the date on which they were told and on
which the incidents took place was–Christmas Eve.

Nevertheless, I do so.


It was Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve at my Uncle John’s; Christmas
Eve (There is too much ‘Christmas Eve’ about this book. I can see
that myself. It is beginning to get monotonous even to me. But I
don’t see how to avoid it now.) at No. 47 Laburnham Grove, Tooting!
Christmas Eve in the dimly-lighted (there was a gas-strike on)
front parlour, where the flickering fire-light threw strange
shadows on the highly coloured wall-paper, while without, in the
wild street, the storm raged pitilessly, and the wind, like some
unquiet spirit, flew, moaning, across the square, and passed,
wailing with a troubled cry, round by the milk-shop.

We had had supper, and were sitting round, talking and smoking.

We had had a very good supper–a very good supper, indeed.
Unpleasantness has occurred since, in our family, in connection
with this party. Rumours have been put about in our family,
concerning the matter generally, but more particularly concerning
my own share in it, and remarks have been passed which have not so
much surprised me, because I know what our family are, but which
have pained me very much. As for my Aunt Maria, I do not know when
I shall care to see her again. I should have thought Aunt Maria
might have known me better.

But although injustice–gross injustice, as I shall explain later
on–has been done to myself, that shall not deter me from doing
justice to others; even to those who have made unfeeling
insinuations. I will do justice to Aunt Maria’s hot veal pasties,
and toasted lobsters, followed by her own special make of
cheesecakes, warm (there is no sense, to my thinking, in cold
cheesecakes; you lose half the flavour), and washed down by Uncle
John’s own particular old ale, and acknowledge that they were most
tasty. I did justice to them then; Aunt Maria herself could not
but admit that.

After supper, Uncle brewed some whisky-punch. I did justice to
that also; Uncle John himself said so. He said he was glad to
notice that I liked it.

Aunt went to bed soon after supper, leaving the local curate, old
Dr. Scrubbles, Mr. Samuel Coombes, our member of the County
Council, Teddy Biffles, and myself to keep Uncle company. We
agreed that it was too early to give in for some time yet, so Uncle
brewed another bowl of punch; and I think we all did justice to
that–at least I know I did. It is a passion with me, is the
desire to do justice.

We sat up for a long while, and the Doctor brewed some gin-punch
later on, for a change, though I could not taste much difference
myself. But it was all good, and we were very happy–everybody was
so kind.

Uncle John told us a very funny story in the course of the evening.
Oh, it WAS a funny story! I forget what it was about now, but I
know it amused me very much at the time; I do not think I ever
laughed so much in all my life. It is strange that I cannot
recollect that story too, because he told it us four times. And it
was entirely our own fault that he did not tell it us a fifth.
After that, the Doctor sang a very clever song, in the course of
which he imitated all the different animals in a farmyard. He did
mix them a bit. He brayed for the bantam cock, and crowed for the
pig; but we knew what he meant all right.

I started relating a most interesting anecdote, but was somewhat
surprised to observe, as I went on, that nobody was paying the
slightest attention to me whatever. I thought this rather rude of
them at first, until it dawned upon me that I was talking to myself
all the time, instead of out aloud, so that, of course, they did
not know that I was telling them a tale at all, and were probably
puzzled to understand the meaning of my animated expression and
eloquent gestures. It was a most curious mistake for any one to
make. I never knew such a thing happen to me before.

Later on, our curate did tricks with cards. He asked us if we had
ever seen a game called the “Three Card Trick.” He said it was an
artifice by means of which low, unscrupulous men, frequenters of
race-meetings and such like haunts, swindled foolish young fellows
out of their money. He said it was a very simple trick to do: it
all depended on the quickness of the hand. It was the quickness of
the hand deceived the eye.

He said he would show us the imposture so that we might be warned
against it, and not be taken in by it; and he fetched Uncle’s pack
of cards from the tea-caddy, and, selecting three cards from the
pack, two plain cards and one picture card, sat down on the
hearthrug, and explained to us what he was going to do.

He said: “Now I shall take these three cards in my hand–so–and
let you all see them. And then I shall quietly lay them down on
the rug, with the backs uppermost, and ask you to pick out the
picture card. And you’ll think you know which one it is.” And he
did it.

Old Mr. Coombes, who is also one of our churchwardens, said it was
the middle card.

“You fancy you saw it,” said our curate, smiling.

“I don’t ‘fancy’ anything at all about it,” replied Mr. Coombes, “I
tell you it’s the middle card. I’ll bet you half a dollar it’s the
middle card.”

“There you are, that’s just what I was explaining to you,” said our
curate, turning to the rest of us; “that’s the way these foolish
young fellows that I was speaking of are lured on to lose their
money. They make sure they know the card, they fancy they saw it.
They don’t grasp the idea that it is the quickness of the hand that
has deceived their eye.”

He said he had known young men go off to a boat race, or a cricket
match, with pounds in their pocket, and come home, early in the
afternoon, stone broke; having lost all their money at this
demoralising game.

He said he should take Mr. Coombes’s half-crown, because it would
teach Mr. Coombes a very useful lesson, and probably be the means
of saving Mr. Coombes’s money in the future; and he should give the
two-and-sixpence to the blanket fund.

“Don’t you worry about that,” retorted old Mr. Coombes. “Don’t you
take the half-crown OUT of the blanket fund: that’s all.”

And he put his money on the middle card, and turned it up.

Sure enough, it really was the queen!

We were all very much surprised, especially the curate.

He said that it did sometimes happen that way, though–that a man
did sometimes lay on the right card, by accident.

Our curate said it was, however, the most unfortunate thing a man
could do for himself, if he only knew it, because, when a man tried
and won, it gave him a taste for the so-called sport, and it lured
him on into risking again and again; until he had to retire from
the contest, a broken and ruined man.

Then he did the trick again. Mr. Coombes said it was the card next
the coal-scuttle this time, and wanted to put five shillings on it.

We laughed at him, and tried to persuade him against it. He would
listen to no advice, however, but insisted on plunging.

Our curate said very well then: he had warned him, and that was
all that he could do. If he (Mr. Coombes) was determined to make a
fool of himself, he (Mr. Coombes) must do so.

Our curate said he should take the five shillings and that would
put things right again with the blanket fund.

So Mr. Coombes put two half-crowns on the card next the coal-
scuttle and turned it up.

Sure enough, it was the queen again!

After that, Uncle John had a florin on, and HE won.

And then we all played at it; and we all won. All except the
curate, that is. He had a very bad quarter of an hour. I never
knew a man have such hard luck at cards. He lost every time.

We had some more punch after that; and Uncle made such a funny
mistake in brewing it: he left out the whisky. Oh, we did laugh
at him, and we made him put in double quantity afterwards, as a

Oh, we did have such fun that evening!

And then, somehow or other, we must have got on to ghosts; because
the next recollection I have is that we were telling ghost stories
to each other.


Teddy Biffles told the first story, I will let him repeat it here
in his own words.

(Do not ask me how it is that I recollect his own exact words–
whether I took them down in shorthand at the time, or whether he
had the story written out, and handed me the MS. afterwards for
publication in this book, because I should not tell you if you did.
It is a trade secret.)

Biffles called his story –
(Teddy Biffles’ Story)
I was little more than a lad when I first met with Johnson. I was
home for the Christmas holidays, and, it being Christmas Eve, I had
been allowed to sit up very late. On opening the door of my little
bedroom, to go in, I found myself face to face with Johnson, who
was coming out. It passed through me, and uttering a long low wail
of misery, disappeared out of the staircase window.

I was startled for the moment–I was only a schoolboy at the time,
and had never seen a ghost before,–and felt a little nervous about
going to bed. But, on reflection, I remembered that it was only
sinful people that spirits could do any harm to, and so tucked
myself up, and went to sleep.

In the morning I told the Pater what I had seen.

“Oh yes, that was old Johnson,” he answered. “Don’t you be
frightened of that; he lives here.” And then he told me the poor
thing’s history.

It seemed that Johnson, when it was alive, had loved, in early
life, the daughter of a former lessee of our house, a very
beautiful girl, whose Christian name had been Emily. Father did
not know her other name.

Johnson was too poor to marry the girl, so he kissed her good-bye,
told her he would soon be back, and went off to Australia to make
his fortune.

But Australia was not then what it became later on. Travellers
through the bush were few and far between in those early days; and,
even when one was caught, the portable property found upon the body
was often of hardly sufficiently negotiable value to pay the simple
funeral expenses rendered necessary. So that it took Johnson
nearly twenty years to make his fortune.

The self-imposed task was accomplished at last, however, and then,
having successfully eluded the police, and got clear out of the
Colony, he returned to England, full of hope and joy, to claim his

He reached the house to find it silent and deserted. All that the
neighbours could tell him was that, soon after his own departure,
the family had, on one foggy night, unostentatiously disappeared,
and that nobody had ever seen or heard anything of them since,
although the landlord and most of the local tradesmen had made
searching inquiries.

Poor Johnson, frenzied with grief, sought his lost love all over
the world. But he never found her, and, after years of fruitless
effort, he returned to end his lonely life in the very house where,
in the happy bygone days, he and his beloved Emily had passed so
many blissful hours.

He had lived there quite alone, wandering about the empty rooms,
weeping and calling to his Emily to come back to him; and when the
poor old fellow died, his ghost still kept the business on.

It was there, the Pater said, when he took the house, and the agent
had knocked ten pounds a year off the rent in consequence.

After that, I was continually meeting Johnson about the place at
all times of the night, and so, indeed, were we all. We used to
walk round it and stand aside to let it pass, at first; but, when
we grew at home with it, and there seemed no necessity for so much
ceremony, we used to walk straight through it. You could not say
it was ever much in the way.

It was a gentle, harmless, old ghost, too, and we all felt very
sorry for it, and pitied it. The women folk, indeed, made quite a
pet of it, for a while. Its faithfulness touched them so.

But as time went on, it grew to be a bit a bore. You see it was
full of sadness. There was nothing cheerful or genial about it.
You felt sorry for it, but it irritated you. It would sit on the
stairs and cry for hours at a stretch; and, whenever we woke up in
the night, one was sure to hear it pottering about the passages and
in and out of the different rooms, moaning and sighing, so that we
could not get to sleep again very easily. And when we had a party
on, it would come and sit outside the drawing-room door, and sob
all the time. It did not do anybody any harm exactly, but it cast
a gloom over the whole affair.

“Oh, I’m getting sick of this old fool,” said the Pater, one
evening (the Dad can be very blunt, when he is put out, as you
know), after Johnson had been more of a nuisance than usual, and
had spoiled a good game of whist, by sitting up the chimney and
groaning, till nobody knew what were trumps or what suit had been
led, even. “We shall have to get rid of him, somehow or other. I
wish I knew how to do it.”

“Well,” said the Mater, “depend upon it, you’ll never see the last
of him until he’s found Emily’s grave. That’s what he is after.
You find Emily’s grave, and put him on to that, and he’ll stop
there. That’s the only thing to do. You mark my words.”

The idea seemed reasonable, but the difficulty in the way was that
we none of us knew where Emily’s grave was any more than the ghost
of Johnson himself did. The Governor suggested palming off some
other Emily’s grave upon the poor thing, but, as luck would have
it, there did not seem to have been an Emily of any sort buried
anywhere for miles round. I never came across a neighbourhood so
utterly destitute of dead Emilies.

I thought for a bit, and then I hazarded a suggestion myself.

“Couldn’t we fake up something for the old chap?” I queried. “He
seems a simple-minded old sort. He might take it in. Anyhow, we
could but try.”

“By Jove, so we will,” exclaimed my father; and the very next
morning we had the workmen in, and fixed up a little mound at the
bottom of the orchard with a tombstone over it, bearing the
following inscription:-
“That ought to fetch him,” mused the Dad as he surveyed the work
when finished. “I am sure I hope it does.”

It did!

We lured him down there that very night; and–well, there, it was
one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen, the way Johnson
sprang upon that tombstone and wept. Dad and old Squibbins, the
gardener, cried like children when they saw it.

Johnson has never troubled us any more in the house since then. It
spends every night now, sobbing on the grave, and seems quite

“There still?” Oh yes. I’ll take you fellows down and show you
it, next time you come to our place: 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. are its
general hours, 10 to 2 on Saturdays.


It made me cry very much, that story, young Biffles told it with so
much feeling. We were all a little thoughtful after it, and I
noticed even the old Doctor covertly wipe away a tear. Uncle John
brewed another bowl of punch, however, and we gradually grew more

The Doctor, indeed, after a while became almost cheerful, and told
us about the ghost of one of his patients.

I cannot give you his story. I wish I could. They all said
afterwards that it was the best of the lot–the most ghastly and
terrible–but I could not make any sense of it myself. It seemed
so incomplete.

He began all right and then something seemed to happen, and then he
was finishing it. I cannot make out what he did with the middle of
the story.

It ended up, I know, however, with somebody finding something; and
that put Mr. Coombes in mind of a very curious affair that took
place at an old Mill, once kept by his brother-in-law.

Mr. Coombes said he would tell us his story, and before anybody
could stop him, he had begun.

Mr Coombes said the story was called –
(Mr. Coombes’s Story)
Well, you all know my brother-in-law, Mr. Parkins (began Mr.
Coombes, taking the long clay pipe from his mouth, and putting it
behind his ear: we did not know his brother-in-law, but we said we
did, so as to save time), and you know of course that he once took
a lease of an old Mill in Surrey, and went to live there.

Now you must know that, years ago, this very mill had been occupied
by a wicked old miser, who died there, leaving–so it was rumoured-
-all his money hidden somewhere about the place. Naturally enough,
every one who had since come to live at the mill had tried to find
the treasure; but none had ever succeeded, and the local wiseacres
said that nobody ever would, unless the ghost of the miserly miller
should, one day, take a fancy to one of the tenants, and disclose
to him the secret of the hiding-place.

My brother-in-law did not attach much importance to the story,
regarding it as an old woman’s tale, and, unlike his predecessors,
made no attempt whatever to discover the hidden gold.

“Unless business was very different then from what it is now,” said
my brother-in-law, “I don’t see how a miller could very well have
saved anything, however much of a miser he might have been: at all
events, not enough to make it worth the trouble of looking for it.”

Still, he could not altogether get rid of the idea of that

One night he went to bed. There was nothing very extraordinary
about that, I admit. He often did go to bed of a night. What WAS
remarkable, however, was that exactly as the clock of the village
church chimed the last stroke of twelve, my brother-in-law woke up
with a start, and felt himself quite unable to go to sleep again.

Joe (his Christian name was Joe) sat up in bed, and looked around.

At the foot of the bed something stood very still, wrapped in

It moved into the moonlight, and then my brother-in-law saw that it
was the figure of a wizened little old man, in knee-breeches and a

In an instant the story of the hidden treasure and the old miser
flashed across his mind.

“He’s come to show me where it’s hid,” thought my brother-in-law;
and he resolved that he would not spend all this money on himself,
but would devote a small percentage of it towards doing good to

The apparition moved towards the door: my brother-in-law put on
his trousers and followed it. The ghost went downstairs into the
kitchen, glided over and stood in front of the hearth, sighed and

Next morning, Joe had a couple of bricklayers in, and made them
haul out the stove and pull down the chimney, while he stood behind
with a potato-sack in which to put the gold.

They knocked down half the wall, and never found so much as a four-
penny bit. My brother-in-law did not know what to think.

The next night the old man appeared again, and again led the way
into the kitchen. This time, however, instead of going to the
fireplace, it stood more in the middle of the room, and sighed

“Oh, I see what he means now,” said my brother-in-law to himself;
“it’s under the floor. Why did the old idiot go and stand up
against the stove, so as to make me think it was up the chimney?”

They spent the next day in taking up the kitchen floor; but the
only thing they found was a three-pronged fork, and the handle of
that was broken.

On the third night, the ghost reappeared, quite unabashed, and for
a third time made for the kitchen. Arrived there, it looked up at
the ceiling and vanished.

“Umph! he don’t seem to have learned much sense where he’s been
to,” muttered Joe, as he trotted back to bed; “I should have
thought he might have done that at first.”

Still, there seemed no doubt now where the treasure lay, and the
first thing after breakfast they started pulling down the ceiling.
They got every inch of the ceiling down, and they took up the
boards of the room above.

They discovered about as much treasure as you would expect to find
in an empty quart-pot.

On the fourth night, when the ghost appeared, as usual, my brother-
in-law was so wild that he threw his boots at it; and the boots
passed through the body, and broke a looking-glass.

On the fifth night, when Joe awoke, as he always did now at twelve,
the ghost was standing in a dejected attitude, looking very
miserable. There was an appealing look in its large sad eyes that
quite touched my brother-in-law.

“After all,” he thought, “perhaps the silly chap’s doing his best.
Maybe he has forgotten where he really did put it, and is trying to
remember. I’ll give him another chance.”

The ghost appeared grateful and delighted at seeing Joe prepare to
follow him, and led the way into the attic, pointed to the ceiling,
and vanished.

“Well, he’s hit it this time, I do hope,” said my brother-in-law;
and next day they set to work to take the roof off the place.

It took them three days to get the roof thoroughly off, and all
they found was a bird’s nest; after securing which they covered up
the house with tarpaulins, to keep it dry.

You might have thought that would have cured the poor fellow of
looking for treasure. But it didn’t.

He said there must be something in it all, or the ghost would never
keep on coming as it did; and that, having gone so far, he would go
on to the end, and solve the mystery, cost what it might.

Night after night, he would get out of his bed and follow that
spectral old fraud about the house. Each night, the old man would
indicate a different place; and, on each following day, my brother-
in-law would proceed to break up the mill at the point indicated,
and look for the treasure. At the end of three weeks, there was
not a room in the mill fit to live in. Every wall had been pulled
down, every floor had been taken up, every ceiling had had a hole
knocked in it. And then, as suddenly as they had begun, the
ghost’s visits ceased; and my brother-in-law was left in peace, to
rebuild the place at his leisure.

“What induced the old image to play such a silly trick upon a
family man and a ratepayer?” Ah! that’s just what I cannot tell

Some said that the ghost of the wicked old man had done it to
punish my brother-in-law for not believing in him at first; while
others held that the apparition was probably that of some deceased
local plumber and glazier, who would naturally take an interest in
seeing a house knocked about and spoilt. But nobody knew anything
for certain.


We had some more punch, and then the curate told us a story.

I could not make head or tail of the curate’s story, so I cannot
retail it to you. We none of us could make head or tail of that
story. It was a good story enough, so far as material went. There
seemed to be an enormous amount of plot, and enough incident to
have made a dozen novels. I never before heard a story containing
so much incident, nor one dealing with so many varied characters.

I should say that every human being our curate had ever known or
met, or heard of, was brought into that story. There were simply
hundreds of them. Every five seconds he would introduce into the
tale a completely fresh collection of characters accompanied by a
brand new set of incidents.

This was the sort of story it was:-

“Well, then, my uncle went into the garden, and got his gun, but,
of course, it wasn’t there, and Scroggins said he didn’t believe

“Didn’t believe what? Who’s Scroggins?”

“Scroggins! Oh, why he was the other man, you know–it was wife.”

“WHAT was his wife–what’s SHE got to do with it?”

“Why, that’s what I’m telling you. It was she that found the hat.
She’d come up with her cousin to London–her cousin was my sister-
in-law, and the other niece had married a man named Evans, and
Evans, after it was all over, had taken the box round to Mr.
Jacobs’, because Jacobs’ father had seen the man, when he was
alive, and when he was dead, Joseph–”

“Now look here, never you mind Evans and the box; what’s become of
your uncle and the gun?”

“The gun! What gun?”

“Why, the gun that your uncle used to keep in the garden, and that
wasn’t there. What did he do with it? Did he kill any of these
people with it–these Jacobses and Evanses and Scrogginses and
Josephses? Because, if so, it was a good and useful work, and we
should enjoy hearing about it.”

“No–oh no–how could he?–he had been built up alive in the wall,
you know, and when Edward IV spoke to the abbot about it, my sister
said that in her then state of health she could not and would not,
as it was endangering the child’s life. So they christened it
Horatio, after her own son, who had been killed at Waterloo before
he was born, and Lord Napier himself said–”

“Look here, do you know what you are talking about?” we asked him
at this point.

He said “No,” but he knew it was every word of it true, because his
aunt had seen it herself. Whereupon we covered him over with the
tablecloth, and he went to sleep.

And then Uncle told us a story.

Uncle said his was a real story.

(My Uncle’s Story)

“I don’t want to make you fellows nervous,” began my uncle in a
peculiarly impressive, not to say blood-curdling, tone of voice,
“and if you would rather that I did not mention it, I won’t; but,
as a matter of fact, this very house, in which we are now sitting,
is haunted.”

“You don’t say that!” exclaimed Mr. Coombes.

“What’s the use of your saying I don’t say it when I have just said
it?” retorted my uncle somewhat pettishly. “You do talk so
foolishly. I tell you the house is haunted. Regularly on
Christmas Eve the Blue Chamber [they called the room next to the
nursery the ‘blue chamber,’ at my uncle’s, most of the toilet
service being of that shade] is haunted by the ghost of a sinful
man–a man who once killed a Christmas wait with a lump of coal.”

“How did he do it?” asked Mr. Coombes, with eager anxiousness.
“Was it difficult?”

“I do not know how he did it,” replied my uncle; “he did not
explain the process. The wait had taken up a position just inside
the front gate, and was singing a ballad. It is presumed that,
when he opened his mouth for B flat, the lump of coal was thrown by
the sinful man from one of the windows, and that it went down the
wait’s throat and choked him.”

“You want to be a good shot, but it is certainly worth trying,”
murmured Mr. Coombes thoughtfully.

“But that was not his only crime, alas!” added my uncle. “Prior to
that he had killed a solo cornet-player.”

“No! Is that really a fact?” exclaimed Mr. Coombes.

“Of course it’s a fact,” answered my uncle testily; “at all events,
as much a fact as you can expect to get in a case of this sort.

“How very captious you are this evening. The circumstantial
evidence was overwhelming. The poor fellow, the cornet-player, had
been in the neighbourhood barely a month. Old Mr. Bishop, who kept
the ‘Jolly Sand Boys’ at the time, and from whom I had the story,
said he had never known a more hard-working and energetic solo
cornet-player. He, the cornet-player, only knew two tunes, but Mr.
Bishop said that the man could not have played with more vigour, or
for more hours in a day, if he had known forty. The two tunes he
did play were “Annie Laurie” and “Home, Sweet Home”; and as
regarded his performance of the former melody, Mr. Bishop said that
a mere child could have told what it was meant for.

“This musician–this poor, friendless artist used to come regularly
and play in this street just opposite for two hours every evening.
One evening he was seen, evidently in response to an invitation,
going into this very house, BUT WAS NEVER SEEN COMING OUT OF IT!”

“Did the townsfolk try offering any reward for his recovery?” asked
Mr. Coombes.

“Not a ha’penny,” replied my uncle.

“Another summer,” continued my uncle, “a German band visited here,
intending–so they announced on their arrival–to stay till the

“On the second day from their arrival, the whole company, as fine
and healthy a body of men as one could wish to see, were invited to
dinner by this sinful man, and, after spending the whole of the
next twenty-four hours in bed, left the town a broken and dyspeptic
crew; the parish doctor, who had attended them, giving it as his
opinion that it was doubtful if they would, any of them, be fit to
play an air again.”

“You–you don’t know the recipe, do you?” asked Mr. Coombes.

“Unfortunately I do not,” replied my uncle; “but the chief
ingredient was said to have been railway refreshment-room pork-pie.

“I forget the man’s other crimes,” my uncle went on; “I used to
know them all at one time, but my memory is not what it was. I do
not, however, believe I am doing his memory an injustice in
believing that he was not entirely unconnected with the death, and
subsequent burial, of a gentleman who used to play the harp with
his toes; and that neither was he altogether unresponsible for the
lonely grave of an unknown stranger who had once visited the
neighbourhood, an Italian peasant lad, a performer upon the barrel-

“Every Christmas Eve,” said my uncle, cleaving with low impressive
tones the strange awed silence that, like a shadow, seemed to have
slowly stolen into and settled down upon the room, “the ghost of
this sinful man haunts the Blue Chamber, in this very house.
There, from midnight until cock-crow, amid wild muffled shrieks and
groans and mocking laughter and the ghostly sound of horrid blows,
it does fierce phantom fight with the spirits of the solo cornet-
player and the murdered wait, assisted at intervals, by the shades
of the German band; while the ghost of the strangled harpist plays
mad ghostly melodies with ghostly toes on the ghost of a broken

Uncle said the Blue Chamber was comparatively useless as a
sleeping-apartment on Christmas Eve.

“Hark!” said uncle, raising a warning hand towards the ceiling,
while we held our breath, and listened; “Hark! I believe they are
at it now–in the BLUE CHAMBER!”


I rose up, and said that I would sleep in the Blue Chamber.

Before I tell you my own story, however–the story of what happened
in the Blue Chamber–I would wish to preface it with –


I feel a good deal of hesitation about telling you this story of my
own. You see it is not a story like the other stories that I have
been telling you, or rather that Teddy Biffles, Mr. Coombes, and my
uncle have been telling you: it is a true story. It is not a
story told by a person sitting round a fire on Christmas Eve,
drinking whisky punch: it is a record of events that actually

Indeed, it is not a ‘story’ at all, in the commonly accepted
meaning of the word: it is a report. It is, I feel, almost out of
place in a book of this kind. It is more suitable to a biography,
or an English history.

There is another thing that makes it difficult for me to tell you
this story, and that is, that it is all about myself. In telling
you this story, I shall have to keep on talking about myself; and
talking about ourselves is what we modern-day authors have a strong
objection to doing. If we literary men of the new school have one
praiseworthy yearning more ever present to our minds than another
it is the yearning never to appear in the slightest degree

I myself, so I am told, carry this coyness–this shrinking
reticence concerning anything connected with my own personality,
almost too far; and people grumble at me because of it. People
come to me and say –

“Well, now, why don’t you talk about yourself a bit? That’s what
we want to read about. Tell us something about yourself.”

But I have always replied, “No.” It is not that I do not think the
subject an interesting one. I cannot myself conceive of any topic
more likely to prove fascinating to the world as a whole, or at all
events to the cultured portion of it. But I will not do it, on
principle. It is inartistic, and it sets a bad example to the
younger men. Other writers (a few of them) do it, I know; but I
will not–not as a rule.

Under ordinary circumstances, therefore, I should not tell you this
story at all. I should say to myself, “No! It is a good story, it
is a moral story, it is a strange, weird, enthralling sort of a
story; and the public, I know, would like to hear it; and I should
like to tell it to them; but it is all about myself–about what I
said, and what I saw, and what I did, and I cannot do it. My
retiring, anti-egotistical nature will not permit me to talk in
this way about myself.”

But the circumstances surrounding this story are not ordinary, and
there are reasons prompting me, in spite of my modesty, to rather
welcome the opportunity of relating it.

As I stated at the beginning, there has been unpleasantness in our
family over this party of ours, and, as regards myself in
particular, and my share in the events I am now about to set forth,
gross injustice has been done me.

As a means of replacing my character in its proper light–of
dispelling the clouds of calumny and misconception with which it
has been darkened, I feel that my best course is to give a simple,
dignified narration of the plain facts, and allow the unprejudiced
to judge for themselves. My chief object, I candidly confess, is
to clear myself from unjust aspersion. Spurred by this motive–and
I think it is an honourable and a right motive–I find I am enabled
to overcome my usual repugnance to talking about myself, and can
thus tell –


As soon as my uncle had finished his story, I, as I have already
told you, rose up and said that _I_ would sleep in the Blue Chamber
that very night.

“Never!” cried my uncle, springing up. “You shall not put yourself
in this deadly peril. Besides, the bed is not made.”

“Never mind the bed,” I replied. “I have lived in furnished
apartments for gentlemen, and have been accustomed to sleep on beds
that have never been made from one year’s end to the other. Do not
thwart me in my resolve. I am young, and have had a clear
conscience now for over a month. The spirits will not harm me. I
may even do them some little good, and induce them to be quiet and
go away. Besides, I should like to see the show.”

Saying which, I sat down again. (How Mr. Coombes came to be in my
chair, instead of at the other side of the room, where he had been
all the evening; and why he never offered to apologise when I sat
right down on top of him; and why young Biffles should have tried
to palm himself off upon me as my Uncle John, and induced me, under
that erroneous impression, to shake him by the hand for nearly
three minutes, and tell him that I had always regarded him as
father,–are matters that, to this day, I have never been able to
fully understand.)

They tried to dissuade me from what they termed my foolhardy
enterprise, but I remained firm, and claimed my privilege. I was
‘the guest.’ ‘The guest’ always sleeps in the haunted chamber on
Christmas Eve; it is his perquisite.

They said that if I put it on that footing, they had, of course, no
answer; and they lighted a candle for me, and accompanied me
upstairs in a body.

Whether elevated by the feeling that I was doing a noble action, or
animated by a mere general consciousness of rectitude, is not for
me to say, but I went upstairs that night with remarkable buoyancy.
It was as much as I could do to stop at the landing when I came to
it; I felt I wanted to go on up to the roof. But, with the help of
the banisters, I restrained my ambition, wished them all good-
night, and went in and shut the door.

Things began to go wrong with me from the very first. The candle
tumbled out of the candlestick before my hand was off the lock. It
kept on tumbling out of the candlestick, and every time I picked
put it up and put it in, it tumbled out again: I never saw such a
slippery candle. I gave up attempting to use the candlestick at
last, and carried the candle about in my hand; and, even then, it
would not keep upright. So I got wild and threw it out of window,
and undressed and went to bed in the dark.

I did not go to sleep,–I did not feel sleepy at all,–I lay on my
back, looking up at the ceiling, and thinking of things. I wish I
could remember some of the ideas that came to me as I lay there,
because they were so amusing. I laughed at them myself till the
bed shook.

I had been lying like this for half an hour or so, and had
forgotten all about the ghost, when, on casually casting my eyes
round the room, I noticed for the first time a singularly
contented-looking phantom, sitting in the easy-chair by the fire,
smoking the ghost of a long clay pipe.

I fancied for the moment, as most people would under similar
circumstances, that I must be dreaming. I sat up, and rubbed my

No! It was a ghost, clear enough. I could see the back of the
chair through his body. He looked over towards me, took the
shadowy pipe from his lips, and nodded.

The most surprising part of the whole thing to me was that I did
not feel in the least alarmed. If anything, I was rather pleased
to see him. It was company.

I said, “Good evening. It’s been a cold day!”

He said he had not noticed it himself, but dared say I was right.

We remained silent for a few seconds, and then, wishing to put it
pleasantly, I said, “I believe I have the honour of addressing the
ghost of the gentleman who had the accident with the wait?”

He smiled, and said it was very good of me to remember it. One
wait was not much to boast of, but still, every little helped.

I was somewhat staggered at his answer. I had expected a groan of
remorse. The ghost appeared, on the contrary, to be rather
conceited over the business. I thought that, as he had taken my
reference to the wait so quietly, perhaps he would not be offended
if I questioned him about the organ-grinder. I felt curious about
that poor boy.

“Is it true,” I asked, “that you had a hand in the death of that
Italian peasant lad who came to the town once with a barrel-organ
that played nothing but Scotch airs?”

He quite fired up. “Had a hand in it!” he exclaimed indignantly.
“Who has dared to pretend that he assisted me? I murdered the
youth myself. Nobody helped me. Alone I did it. Show me the man
who says I didn’t.”

I calmed him. I assured him that I had never, in my own mind,
doubted that he was the real and only assassin, and I went on and
asked him what he had done with the body of the cornet-player he
had killed.

He said, “To which one may you be alluding?”

“Oh, were there any more then?” I inquired.

He smiled, and gave a little cough. He said he did not like to
appear to be boasting, but that, counting trombones, there were

“Dear me!” I replied, “you must have had quite a busy time of it,
one way and another.”

He said that perhaps he ought not to be the one to say so, but that
really, speaking of ordinary middle-society, he thought there were
few ghosts who could look back upon a life of more sustained

He puffed away in silence for a few seconds, while I sat watching
him. I had never seen a ghost smoking a pipe before, that I could
remember, and it interested me.

I asked him what tobacco he used, and he replied, “The ghost of cut
cavendish, as a rule.”

He explained that the ghost of all the tobacco that a man smoked in
life belonged to him when he became dead. He said he himself had
smoked a good deal of cut cavendish when he was alive, so that he
was well supplied with the ghost of it now.

I observed that it was a useful thing to know that, and I made up
my mind to smoke as much tobacco as ever I could before I died.

I thought I might as well start at once, so I said I would join him
in a pipe, and he said, “Do, old man”; and I reached over and got
out the necessary paraphernalia from my coat pocket and lit up.

We grew quite chummy after that, and he told me all his crimes. He
said he had lived next door once to a young lady who was learning
to play the guitar, while a gentleman who practised on the bass-
viol lived opposite. And he, with fiendish cunning, had introduced
these two unsuspecting young people to one another, and had
persuaded them to elope with each other against their parents’
wishes, and take their musical instruments with them; and they had
done so, and, before the honeymoon was over, SHE had broken his
head with the bass-viol, and HE had tried to cram the guitar down
her throat, and had injured her for life.

My friend said he used to lure muffin-men into the passage and then
stuff them with their own wares till they burst and died. He said
he had quieted eighteen that way.

Young men and women who recited long and dreary poems at evening
parties, and callow youths who walked about the streets late at
night, playing concertinas, he used to get together and poison in
batches of ten, so as to save expense; and park orators and
temperance lecturers he used to shut up six in a small room with a
glass of water and a collection-box apiece, and let them talk each
other to death.

It did one good to listen to him.

I asked him when he expected the other ghosts–the ghosts of the
wait and the cornet-player, and the German band that Uncle John had
mentioned. He smiled, and said they would never come again, any of

I said, “Why; isn’t it true, then, that they meet you here every
Christmas Eve for a row?”

He replied that it WAS true. Every Christmas Eve, for twenty-five
years, had he and they fought in that room; but they would never
trouble him nor anybody else again. One by one, had he laid them
out, spoilt, and utterly useless for all haunting purposes. He had
finished off the last German-band ghost that very evening, just
before I came upstairs, and had thrown what was left of it out
through the slit between the window-sashes. He said it would never
be worth calling a ghost again.

“I suppose you will still come yourself, as usual?” I said. “They
would be sorry to miss you, I know.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied; “there’s nothing much to come for
now. Unless,” he added kindly, “YOU are going to be here. I’ll
come if you will sleep here next Christmas Eve.”

“I have taken a liking to you,” he continued; “you don’t fly off,
screeching, when you see a party, and your hair doesn’t stand on
end. You’ve no idea,” he said, “how sick I am of seeing people’s
hair standing on end.”

He said it irritated him.

Just then a slight noise reached us from the yard below, and he
started and turned deathly black.

“You are ill,” I cried, springing towards him; “tell me the best
thing to do for you. Shall I drink some brandy, and give you the
ghost of it?”

He remained silent, listening intently for a moment, and then he
gave a sigh of relief, and the shade came back to his cheek.

“It’s all right,” he murmured; “I was afraid it was the cock.”

“Oh, it’s too early for that,” I said. “Why, it’s only the middle
of the night.”

“Oh, that doesn’t make any difference to those cursed chickens,” he
replied bitterly. “They would just as soon crow in the middle of
the night as at any other time–sooner, if they thought it would
spoil a chap’s evening out. I believe they do it on purpose.”

He said a friend of his, the ghost of a man who had killed a water-
rate collector, used to haunt a house in Long Acre, where they kept
fowls in the cellar, and every time a policeman went by and flashed
his bull’s-eye down the grating, the old cock there would fancy it
was the sun, and start crowing like mad; when, of course, the poor
ghost had to dissolve, and it would, in consequence, get back home
sometimes as early as one o’clock in the morning, swearing
fearfully because it had only been out for an hour.

I agreed that it seemed very unfair.

“Oh, it’s an absurd arrangement altogether,” he continued, quite
angrily. “I can’t imagine what our old man could have been
thinking of when he made it. As I have said to him, over and over
again, ‘Have a fixed time, and let everybody stick to it–say four
o’clock in summer, and six in winter. Then one would know what one
was about.'”

“How do you manage when there isn’t any cock handy?” I inquired.

He was on the point of replying, when again he started and
listened. This time I distinctly heard Mr. Bowles’s cock, next
door, crow twice.

“There you are,” he said, rising and reaching for his hat; “that’s
the sort of thing we have to put up with. What IS the time?”

I looked at my watch, and found it was half-past three.

“I thought as much,” he muttered. “I’ll wring that blessed bird’s
neck if I get hold of it.” And he prepared to go.

“If you can wait half a minute,” I said, getting out of bed, “I’ll
go a bit of the way with you.”

“It’s very good of you,” he rejoined, pausing, “but it seems unkind
to drag you out.”

“Not at all,” I replied; “I shall like a walk.” And I partially
dressed myself, and took my umbrella; and he put his arm through
mine, and we went out together.

Just by the gate we met Jones, one of the local constables.

“Good-night, Jones,” I said (I always feel affable at Christmas-

“Good-night, sir,” answered the man a little gruffly, I thought.
“May I ask what you’re a-doing of?”

“Oh, it’s all right,” I responded, with a wave of my umbrella; “I’m
just seeing my friend part of the way home.”

He said, “What friend?”

“Oh, ah, of course,” I laughed; “I forgot. He’s invisible to you.
He is the ghost of the gentleman that killed the wait. I’m just
going to the corner with him.”

“Ah, I don’t think I would, if I was you, sir,” said Jones
severely. “If you take my advice, you’ll say good-bye to your
friend here, and go back indoors. Perhaps you are not aware that
you are walking about with nothing on but a night-shirt and a pair
of boots and an opera-hat. Where’s your trousers?”

I did not like the man’s manner at all. I said, “Jones! I don’t
wish to have to report you, but it seems to me you’ve been
drinking. My trousers are where a man’s trousers ought to be–on
his legs. I distinctly remember putting them on.”

“Well, you haven’t got them on now,” he retorted.

“I beg your pardon,” I replied. “I tell you I have; I think I
ought to know.”

“I think so, too,” he answered, “but you evidently don’t. Now you
come along indoors with me, and don’t let’s have any more of it.”

Uncle John came to the door at this point, having been awaked, I
suppose, by the altercation; and, at the same moment, Aunt Maria
appeared at the window in her nightcap.

I explained the constable’s mistake to them, treating the matter as
lightly as I could, so as not to get the man into trouble, and I
turned for confirmation to the ghost.

He was gone! He had left me without a word–without even saying

It struck me as so unkind, his having gone off in that way, that I
burst into tears; and Uncle John came out, and led me back into the

On reaching my room, I discovered that Jones was right. I had not
put on my trousers, after all. They were still hanging over the
bed-rail. I suppose, in my anxiety not to keep the ghost waiting,
I must have forgotten them.

Such are the plain facts of the case, out of which it must,
doubtless, to the healthy, charitable mind appear impossible that
calumny could spring.

But it has.

Persons–I say ‘persons’–have professed themselves unable to
understand the simple circumstances herein narrated, except in the
light of explanations at once misleading and insulting. Slurs have
been cast and aspersions made on me by those of my own flesh and

But I bear no ill-feeling. I merely, as I have said, set forth
this statement for the purpose of clearing my character from
injurious suspicion.
Back to Full Books

Anonymous Investigation

#Dramasec and Dramamine

only fake anons dox real anons, Ed Eddinni Draughn

only fake anons dox real anons, Ed Eddinni Draughn

Are you still here? huh.

Me too, so let’s get to it. Here’s what happens on FB when I ban Ed “Eddinni” Draughn, a mentally ill, dox-obsessed, unemployable would-be magician from a small group on Facebook…for doxing. He promised to show this thread to his therapist, but somehow I think he’s lying. So why don’t you?

The short form: he faildoxed me, then impersonated several of my friends, attempting to scare me off, then banned my friends when they showed up to laugh at him, then obligingly listed for me all kinds of different Facebook pages he and his imaginary friends have created, apparently either to dox people who have annoyed him or to impersonate yet other famous, accomplished people. Yep, that’s how you manage a soopor-sikrit cabal on Facebook, Ed.

Then he tries to teach people about OPSEC.

Ms. Murphy gets mention as though she is not a Fed being in her position she definitely knows Feds, but has not come clean as to who they are within our collective. She also knows of one of the biggest Feds and (or) informants that is deeply rooted in our collective a person named #s1egewho she no doubt knows of his real identity, as any journalist within Anon worth their salt knows exactly who s1ege is. Her hiding this information, makes her a great liability to our idea.

Dox on Lorraine Murphy from Cryptosphere and Anonymous Reason This highly known Anonymous member… –
Lorraine Murphy Ed i told you a thousand times I neither know nor care who s1ege or his band of feddies are. They don’t interest me. I don’t know why you fanboy so hard on all the feds: the jester, s1ege, and the rest, but nobody really falls for those pages where you pretend to be them.


Hide 67 Replies
Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards He doesn’t run these pages. We know for a fact you are friends with Maurizio (s1ege). So you are admitting they are feds and you are friends with them. We are good friends with you. We are glad you switched from the Dilaudid to the Tylenol. Please get well.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy I will so I can kick your ass, moron.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Lorraine Murphy The administrators of this page are far from joking. Keep not taking us seriously and under estimating us it just fuels our rage even more. s1ege knows we aren’t joking he needs to reveal himself immediately as obviously some knows who he is. We keep saying the fallout will be way worse and it will be on HIM. He likes to troll and make jokes not taking shit seriously. If s1ege comes to us admits who he is, then the shit storm will be over. We need proof of some kind too. We feel it’s a few people. The worse thing anyone can do is ignore this !!!!!


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Lorraine Murphy so? You want to kick our ass huh? You are pissed you got caught in a Lie saying they are Feds and you couldn’t care less when for a fact we know you are Friends with Maurizio Domenico. Before telling stories know we are everywhere. You tell him whoever is voicing s1ege to just say “Look okay I’m s1ege / we’re s1ege it started out ….” Etc. We are true Anon, and Anon doesn’t keep shit from other United Anons. You know lots of people are sick of hearing about s1ege, phaglord Ed, that Chris W. dude. You ask him if it’s really worth lots of people going down. It’s not us but him, j35t3r too. th3j35t3r we know for a fact is fed, guess what ask if we care. We heard he was successfully doxed anyway. Look on a solemn promise here in typing if s1ege does not reveal his true identity, then this will seem like kiddy shit, you got that?!


Ed The Fed The Voice
Ed The Fed The Voice Lorraine Murphy OMG get over yourselves people FFS. Also whoever runs this page get my damn dox off it, and everyone elses. Lorraine Murphy this here is ME. You know my page is you ever need anything to say. I don’t run this page here.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy OH god are you still here? You seem upset by something.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Lorraine Murphy “Lori” you know who this is? You know me quite well actually. I’m one of the most vocal voices of Anonymous I run the subreddit actually. We are good friends you and I. It’s Gregg, Gregg Housh. I thought it was time to start holding our idea up to higher standards. You know how I feel about the truth. So before you go running your mouth which we both know you have make sure you know who runs a page ;)
Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy oh my god Gregg Housh is going to pee himself laughing. Gregg, get a load of this famefag.
Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hrs


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Well I’m not laughing lulz. You know how I’ve always felt about s1ege that he is a huge distraction that needs to be dealt with.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy And you are perhaps the least capable person of dealing with him on the face of the planet. if you weren’t obsessed with people more famous than you, you wouldn’t be so distracted by them. you’re kind of creepy in a mark david chapman way.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy not that i think you’re even as capable as him.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Lori we have talked about you not thinking before you speak. There are a few people you know that run this page that you would be very surprised. That is why we know quite a bit and can dig up what we can and even more. Call me.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy just another loser who can’t get women to give him a call. so he pretends to be people who’ve actually done something. imagine if you took all the time you spend doxing and making pages and spamming and used it to do something that wasn’t sad and pathetic and ultimately embarrassing.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Shall I get Jake to start talking you know he is not afraid to give you the very blunt truth which you seem to need to hear.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy just imagine all those hours you’d have to do something useful…if only you knew how to.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Davis and you have clashed before he’ll give you a piece of his mind.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy are you sure any of your enablers have any to spare?


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy it’s been… but it’s time for me to go watch a movie. have fun with the voices in your head and all your imaginary friends.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Lori it’s Davis cut your shit now or I’ll light up your phone !


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy ha who the hell is davis. nice of you to ban the real gregg. smooth move, noob.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy phone is just, like, sitting there. being quiet


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy tick tock, eddie.
Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy OH, oh, you are trying to impersonate Jake Davisnow? aw, Ed, you really are cray-cray. do you know what his lawyer would happily do to you for making the insinuation that he has nothing better to do than phone hacking people on facebook who’ve pissed off an unemployable would-be hypnotist? it would be comedic if it weren’t so sad. which of my other friends are you going to impersonate and then ban next? might not be wise to annoy all these OG Anons. Just sayin’.
Like · Reply · 1 · 19 hrs · Edited
Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable I agree…


Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable I am VERY annoyed by what I’m seeing right now.


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards We were kidding none of those people run this page neither does Ed as we’ve doxed him too. You have zero clue who to tuns this page, and for you that is good. We could be a number of different well let’s just say corporations. Lorraine Murphy the people that run this page has everything we need at our fingertips and we’ll just leave it at that. You obviously have zero intelligence, intelligence being a key word here. ;)


Anonymous Setting Standards
Anonymous Setting Standards Glen Barnstable Jake how are you? Still keeping up your probation?


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy That’s not Jake you tard. Jesus Christ, don’t you even know what t0piary sounds like? How many of my friends are you going to try to impersonate and then pick fights with? As I said before, it would be funny if it wasn’t so small and sad. Get therapy, Ed.
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable LMFAO!!!!


Glen Barnstable

Glen Barnstable I’m not anyone you know…. I guarantee it.

I would love it if you would pick a fight with me. In fact, it would make my day. Show us your best mother fucker… You’re gonna need it.

I’m sick and tired of people like you… “Doxing” all sorts of people, which aren’t even real fucking doxes. You don’t even know what the fuck that even is…

You’re a joke and a fraud. You’re NOT anonymous and dont you dare even try to call yourself an Anon.

I hope you’re ready for a shit storm.

Unlike · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
Glen Barnstable

Glen Barnstable Oh and by you even hinting at you being involved in some corporation, clearly in opposition to Anonymous and involved in the slandering of my fellow Anon brothers and sisters, I have now taken this matter personally.

So gather all your little fucking tools you got and start using them because you’re about to feel the wrath of a mother fuckin Titan bitch.

Unlike · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy today he’s impersonating the jester again.
Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy Glen Barnstable an anonenema? he could use it. clearly there are no laxatives available where he lives.
Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs


Ed The Fed The Voice

Ed The Fed The Voice Ms. Lorraine Murphy kindly keep your name from your mouth please. I am a true Anon, even as “Nick Cooper” in which we were friends I commented on your post shared some even, posted in your group, I am very much a activist as much as I can be being behiSee More

The Wikileaks Documentary — Full Version – YouTube


Cults, and How They Are Created
Cults, and How They Are Created Here is another one.


Anonymous For The Victims Sector
Anonymous For The Victims Sector Another Lorraine Murphy are you getting it yet? Ed


Stop Islamic State of Iraq and Syria


Operation Take Down Cyber Bullies For Good.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy So, what meds are you actually taking now?


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy any of your personalities can answer, it’s fine.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy I know how you love maltego, and i’d thank you for all the pages to put in it except we had those and more quite some time ago. tick tock. tick. tock.


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn I’m on meds for Anxiety, Mood, Depression, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Sciatica, Colitis … Etc if you must know about 22 pills a day.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy they’re not working very well, are they, hon?
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn What do you mean? My meds work fine I’ve always been Med Compliant, just not good with Therapy. I see a Therapist early next month the first time in 7 years. They’ve wanted to do E.C.T. … etc. Since 15 I’ve been on about 30 different medications they work for a while then stop. They’ve ran out of meds to try. It’s therapy they think is key for me. See I’m open if you just ask.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy good. show your therapist this thread.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn Why is that? I have commented with the pages I run. This exact page I have no idea who runs. See the thing with you personally and a few others is you upset me and that is never a good thing to upset me plain and simple, no matter who you are. I personally know a ex fed who will remain nameless except to say he found my private unlisted number and called me. He knew stuff about me that S.E, can’t dig up. He has lots of friends who are P.I.’s though he himself is not. He is ex alphabet and ex military. He told me I could change my number make it private all I want but he could find out always. He told me I had X amount of time to take back some stuff I had written as I’ve been trolled and lied to so many times I thought he was lying. He sent me a official email actually encouraging me to get a Lawyer or my Police to read. I was like Holy Shit. We are fine now.
Anonymous Justice Sector
Anonymous Justice Sector Here is another page I run which is to share knowledge more or less.


Anonymous Justice Sector

Anonymous Justice Sector

OSInt, Cyberstalking, Footprinting and…


Anonymous Justice Sector

Anonymous Justice Sector This is a very good talk stuff I didn’t even know. If you use Bing Maps, you can see where people are tweeting from. If you look at picfog using hashtags you see all sorts of tweeted images, like the former openbook for facebook. This fool tweeted a piSee More


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy yeah, we know that one too


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy Ed Eddini Draughn you threatening me, ed?
Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn No those are on that page have been lol.


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy Anonymous Justice Sector youre REALLY not in a position to teach any of those skills, Ed.
Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy ah, i see the kettle has boiled. off to have some tea and talk to some of my friends. you’ll probably try to impersonate them again tomorrow. ask your therapist why impersonating famous anons and hackers is a bad idea.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs


Ed Eddini Draughn

Ed Eddini Draughn I don’t make threats lol. Those are just good videos. Of course this tool is my favorite, in combo with Maltego. Michael Brazzel who made this was / is a cop and has worked for the Feds. He’s great on Internet security.


Ed The Fed The Voice
Ed The Fed The Voice I don’t teach those are only some of the videos that I like, and I like sharing them. I don’t impersonate anyone, I’m me plain and simple. :)


Ed The Fed The Voice
Ed The Fed The Voice Lorraine Murphy 😂 I’m me but months ago before everything went down with Anon I used this Analogy quite a bit and many Anons agreed again BEFORE some of the shit went down which I was at fault and Anon too. I’m still Anon, but a bit Rogue. As far as the activism I said I was / am not a hacker at all, but using the real Lulzsec I always said I was more a “Topiary” than a “Kayla” though true Davis can hack. I’m more a voice in other words.


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn I was friends with #s1ege, Maurizio we had like 60+ friends in common. My issue with him, is that he is a Coward that hides behind the “s1ege” name not saying his real first name, NO last name but the other “known” profile he goes under. Anons don’t do that to each other. I have been trolled so many times with people saying they are s1ege or so and so is s1ege yes it gets draining. On another profile I had guessed it was James St. Patrick or Raymond Johanson I had wrote both. It is a lie that #NWH was behind the big d.d.o.s. attack. It only seemed like s1ege with Anon Itel was spreading that around. I put two and two together. Anyway only Raymond had written me back and I told him I wrote James. Then Raymond said HE was Anon Intel so those two are same person in other words. He may not be s1ege actually he doesn’t care. I do know from Xavier Luloff that Mark Lubbers and Harvey Harris now Maj Houl has butted heads with s1ege. I know a few things from a chat I intercepted, is that s1ege is oldfag, part of black bloc, infatada, has been around since at least 05, has a ego, and makes waves, from tech republic interview can hack to a extent as he has told websites what their vulnerabilities are, and writes. Ash Fawkes apparently knows him personally I guess so the clues are there.


Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable You’re more of a douche… Actually no, you dont deserve that glory… You’re the shit the douche cleans.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn How? I’m busy running my pages trying to make a small difference.


Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable lol And by the way, YOU DONT KNOW SHIT ABOUT SHIT…
Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable Right… Sure you are pal… More like trying to be a fuckin leaderfag and spread your assholiness across the internet like a disease.
Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn Hey Glen I can talk bud without a mask. You? I have never hid my feelings about s1ege. Actually I use to like the jester too even spoke highly of him, defended him as most Anons don’t like J. I then go on twitter to see he blocked me from following him which I have no clue as to why. So him and s1ege unfortunately are on my shit list. That is never a good place to be either. I’m a good person just don’t get on my bad side as when I come back I come back hard. Like with Love when I love it deep and full, same thing with my anger.


Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable Bitch please… Im not afraid of you. Dont threaten me fool.
Glen Barnstable
Glen Barnstable I dont hide behind a mask by the way… The fact that you havnt figured that out yet is why Im not afraid of your sorry ass in any way.
Lorraine Murphy
Eileen Townsend
Eileen Townsend love your earrings


Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy thanks, i still have them somewhere


Ed The Fed The Voice

Ed The Fed The Voice If you only see my profile and my public post Glen.

This is very interesting, and like most one I have watched. This does go into computers too. It’s talks about “Evil Maid Attacks”, where a maid does MORE than clean your room when you are out. I’m sSee More


Ed The Fed The Voice

Ed The Fed The Voice This is a very good talk. It throws out some of the myths too. Like just because a person has their arms crossed or is twitching doesn’t necessarily mean deception. Myself I have my arms crossed a lot as it’s comfortable. I squirm a lot as well. You leSee More


Ed The Fed The Voice
Ed The Fed The Voice I got nothing to prove Glen as I always say those who count know me. I hope you get better Bud :)


Ed Eddini Draughn
Ed Eddini Draughn Here is that interview of the Guy that created that inteltechnique website with that tool I did a tutorial on which is in the pinned post. The guy knows his stuff having helped Federal Agencies and being a former Law Enforcement as well.


Ed Eddini Draughn

Ed Eddini Draughn As one who goes after Pedophiles this link has much invaluable information. Please #share this.…/pedophile-symbols-and…/


Glen Barnstable

Glen Barnstable No DOX for me???

Aww…. I feel left out.

Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr


1 Reply
Lorraine Murphy
Lorraine Murphy like i said, the meds are not working.


Lorraine Murphy
Featured Image -- 26516

30 Ways To Piss Off Reporters

This is good. This is VERY good.


During media training sessions, I share examples of easy ways to completely piss off a reporter — not as a tutorial — but as a cheeky way to say DO NOT do these things ever if you want to maintain any kind of healthy relationship with media.

Below you will find the ones that bothered me when I worked as a journalist. There are definitely others so feel free to share in the comments section below. I had some help from some friends and former colleagues. So, please do add to the discussion.

Do any of these things, and you’re in for a world of fun. Trust me.

1. Tell a reporter how to do their job – They love that. Criticize the subjective tone or focus of a story while you’re at it. Bonus points if you can do this while never mentioning that the story was technically 100% accurate.


View original post 1,576 more words