Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Part 2: More Ghost Stories

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Thomas Berger, and PG Distributed
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PART 2: More Ghost Stories

M.R. JAMES

GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY

These stories are dedicated to all those who at various times have
listened to them.

CONTENTS

PART I: GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY

Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book

Lost Hearts

The Mezzotint

The Ash-tree

Number 13

Count Magnus

‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas

PART 2: MORE GHOST STORIES

A School Story

The Rose Garden

The Tractate Middoth

Casting the Runes

The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral

Martin’s Close

Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance

* * * * *

The first six of the seven tales were Christmas productions, the very
first (‘A School Story’) having been made up for the benefit of King’s
College Choir School. ‘The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral’ was printed in
Contemporary Review; ‘Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance’ was written to
fill up the volume. In ‘A School Story’ I had Temple Grove, East Sheen in
mind; in ‘The Tractate Middoth’, Cambridge University Library; in
‘Martin’s Close’, Sampford Courtenay in Devon. The Cathedral of
Barchester is a blend of Canterbury, Salisbury, and Hereford.

M.R. JAMES

* * * * *

A SCHOOL STORY

Two men in a smoking-room were talking of their private-school days. ‘At
our school,’ said A., ‘we had a ghost’s footmark on the staircase. What
was it like? Oh, very unconvincing. Just the shape of a shoe, with a
square toe, if I remember right. The staircase was a stone one. I never
heard any story about the thing. That seems odd, when you come to think
of it. Why didn’t somebody invent one, I wonder?’

‘You never can tell with little boys. They have a mythology of their own.

There’s a subject for you, by the way—”The Folklore of Private

Schools”.’

‘Yes; the crop is rather scanty, though. I imagine, if you were to
investigate the cycle of ghost stories, for instance, which the boys at
private schools tell each other, they would all turn out to be
highly-compressed versions of stories out of books.’

‘Nowadays the Strand and Pearson’s, and so on, would be extensively
drawn upon.’

‘No doubt: they weren’t born or thought of in my time. Let’s see. I
wonder if I can remember the staple ones that I was told. First, there
was the house with a room in which a series of people insisted on passing
a night; and each of them in the morning was found kneeling in a corner,
and had just time to say, “I’ve seen it,” and died.’

‘Wasn’t that the house in Berkeley Square?’

‘I dare say it was. Then there was the man who heard a noise in the
passage at night, opened his door, and saw someone crawling towards him
on all fours with his eye hanging out on his cheek. There was besides,
let me think—Yes! the room where a man was found dead in bed with a
horseshoe mark on his forehead, and the floor under the bed was covered
with marks of horseshoes also; I don’t know why. Also there was the lady
who, on locking her bedroom door in a strange house, heard a thin voice
among the bed-curtains say, “Now we’re shut in for the night.” None of
those had any explanation or sequel. I wonder if they go on still, those
stories.’

‘Oh, likely enough—with additions from the magazines, as I said. You

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