Title: A Bottomless Grave and Other Victorian Tales of Terror.
Author: J. Keighley Snowden, Guy de Maupassant, Rhoda Broughton, Dorothea Gerard, Georgina C. Clark, Richard Marsh, W. Carlton Dawe, Erckmann-Chatrian (Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian), Guy Boothby, Robert Barr, E. and H. Heron.
Genre: Fiction, literature, short stories, horror, humour.
Country: U.K., France, Wales, Scotland, Australia.
Publication Date: 1859, 1867, 1879, 1895, 1892, 1893, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1916 (this collection 1977).
Summary: This book collects 21 Victorian ghost and horror stories. (Stories 11-21 in this post, refer to PART 1 for 1-11). A Ghost Slayer (1893) by J. Keighley Snowden is a tale of the hilarious downfall of a dubious hunter of ghosts. The Tomb (1903) by Guy de Maupassant is a grotesque tale of one's man incurable longing for his deceased lover. In The Man with the Nose (1879) by Rhoda Broughton, a newly-wed couple is haunted by the bride's recurring nightmare of being visited by a dark and menacing man who had once mesmerized her at a fair when she was young. In My Nightmare (1892) by Dorothea Gerard, a soldier whose regiment is ordered to move from Eastern Galicia to the bustling town of Silberstadt (Austria), where the soldiers feel overwhelmed, until a devoted servant who goes missing is found to have met a brutal and chilling fate. In A Life-Watch (1867) by Georgina C. Clark, a young couple that takes a mysterious tenant into their home discover the woman's horrifying and dark secret when she passes away. In The Haunted Chair (1902) by Richard Marsh, a gentelmen's club gets mysterious visits from a disgraced member who has recently allegedly departed on an oversea voyage. In Coolies (1895) by W. Carlton Dawe, a ship transporting a bunch of Chinese passengers to Singapore is taken hostage by a passenger uprising. In The Three Souls (1859) by Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian, a man ends up in a terrifying madman's experiment when he consents to humour the man's philosophy of humans' possession of three souls. In A Strange Goldfield (1904) by Guy Boothby, a group of friends have a mysterious meeting when camping outside a sinister abandoned mining town. In An Alpine Divorce (1893) by Robert Barr, a man takes his loathed wife to the top of a mountain in Switzerland in order to murder her, but she has terrible plans of her own for that mountaintop. In The Story of Baelbrow (1916) by E. and H. Heron, a house with an infamous but harmless ghost gets a paranormal upgrade when the owner sends home a creepy and magical artifact.
My rating: 8/10
♥ There is no printer's error in the title of this story. The word, I wish to say indubitably, is "slayer", from to slay—to put to death by violence.
The story relates to that barbarous age, hardly reckoned yet as part of the past, when the march of scientific invention had not reached the spirit world. At times, by a happy blunder of empirical research, some dilettante ghost would succeed in banging a door, imitating with some fidelity the clanking of chains, emptying a plate-rack, altering the colour of a candle, or even effecting a momentary and imperfect materialisation. To the same extent that these little accidents gave delight to their authors, they came upon people still in the flesh as a surprise. The weak thing about them was that they conveyed so little. Since then, of course, keeping pace with the times, the dim investigators of the underworld have in turn perfected a rudimentary sing-language of knocks, a very perfect and ingenious method of manipulating a bit of slate pencil, and several other processes the nature of which, in the absence of patent rights, they prefer to keep secret—less unauthorised imitators should make money out of them. We miss the old, sweet flavour of romance; but henceforth the function of the "medium" is not less easy and simple than it is honourable.
Not so in the times of which I write. It required a special talent to prophesy with facility and precision on the spontaneous howling of a dog in the dark. Anyone can see a spirit hand nowadays; some have even been privileged to grasp one, and to recognise its smooth and waxy texture: but the seer who, in those days, could sometimes discern a poor formless, impalpable ghost where other men saw nothing, possessed a rare and precious gift.
♥ He had his faults, like the greatest men. He was very worldly, or, as they say in Cragside, "leet gi'en'; he took more whiskey than is good for any man; and his love of practical joking was a thing to be regretted. But the mantle worn long ago by the fearsome Witch of Endor had come down to him in a direct line of apostolic succession. There was not a boggart in all the country side, from the Coach and Six with the headless coachman and postillions to the Lonesome Babby, that wailed in a leafless wood before the first snow fell, with which he was not on nodding terms. And when the spirit of prophecy came upon him, and he spake of the things which he had heard and seen, a bleak and mournful sense of awe—a consciousness of wintry desolation with thirty degrees of frost—stole over the festivities in Molly's alehouse kitchen.
♥ It is true that the house was haunted (by a disagreeable old woman in spectacles and a red shawl, who, though bent on no conceivable errand, carried an eternal marketing basket), that the windows had been stoned out, and that the roof let the weather in through a gap made by the fallen chimney. But Binney Driver was ready to put the place in repair, and Weasel held in derision the doddering, grandmotherly spectre.
"Shoo'll quit," he said, "when whoo sees ahr Susannah."
So he got in a few sticks of furniture, made himself hilariously drunk before bed-time, and bade the neighbourhood good night several times from the bedroom window, before he tumbled in between the blankets.
♥ Weasel reached the door at a bound, seized the beam, and, in a frenzy of terror, dashed it down the stone stairs in her wake.
"Hit her? Aye, for seur it hit her," he added, in reply to a question which his calculated silence had provoked. "Wha, ther' a blue rick (smoke) come up an' filled t' cham'er, an' Aw hed to oppen t' window to let aht a strang smell o' sulphur 'at ommost choaked ahr Susannah! We saw nowt no moor of Owd Betty efter that, an' willn't, Aw'se wager." Then, after a reflective pause, he spoke in a low uneasy voice these dreadful words: "But some way, we nivver gate warm agean all t' neet. T'air smelled o' moulds—clammy-like." Nor did they get warm on subsequent nights, as it would seem—till Binney Driver said a prayer in the room, and gave them another pair of blankets.
Alas, poor ghost! In this way a grievous felony was piously condoned.
♥ "Wha, freeze me if he bean't flaid!? cried another, with a great laugh; and they nearly came to blows over that mortal insult—for Weasel, though now past the prime of his strength, was afraid, at all events, of nothing that was made of flesh and blood.
♥ The night was black, and full of clamour. The sun had set among driving clouds, and the wind had fathered fury as "the dead of the night's high noon" drew near. Blast upon blast came hurtling down from the hills. The fallen leaves went scurrying by them among the gravel path, or, caught up in eddies, flicked sharply against the strollers' faces. Somewhere in the deep and gloomy park an iron gate kept clanking. Between the gusts the big trees moaned unceasingly, and they heard the bleating of frightened sheep, and the swish and rattle of a swollen beck, coursing down its perilous channel close by. Occasionally the harvest lightning gleamed faintly for a moment, and when it flickered out a wall of darkness rose up before them, barring the way. A bat, wheeling blindly at one of these times, struck Weasel's calumniator part of the neck, and clinging for an instant, administered a shock to his bravado.
A sober man, with a cheerful heart in his bosom, might have admired the storm. I have known men, blessed with strong animal spirits and clear consciences, who would shout for sheer joy when they heard the elements brawl so. But upon these tipsy revellers the effect was different.
♥ They were scared past the shame of confessing it. They huddled together in the dark, clutching one another's garments and uttering incoherent lamentations.
~~A Ghost Slayer by J. Keighley Snowden.
♥ "I love her.
"I loved her, not with a sensual love, not simply from kindness of soul and heart, but with an absolute, perfect love, with mad passion.
"Listen to what I have to say:
"When I first met her, I felt a strange sensation on seeing her. It was not astonishment, nor admiration, for it was not what is called love at first sight, but it was a delightful sensation, as though I had been plunged in a tepid bath. Her movements captivated me, her voice enchanted me, it gave me infinite pleasure to watch everything about her. It also seemed to me that I had known her for a long time, that I had seen her before. She seemed to have some of my spirit within her.
"She seemed to me like an answer to an appeal from my soul, to this vague and continuous appeal which forces us towards Hope throughout the whole course of our lives."
♥ "Think of it! A being is there, one whom you adore, a unique being, for in the whole wide world there is no one who resembled her. This being has given herself to you, with you she creates this mysterious union called love. Her glance seems to you vaster than space, more charming than the world, her bright glance full of tender smiles. This being loves you. When she speaks to you her voice overwhelms you with happiness.
"And suddenly she disappears! Think of it! She disappears not only from your sight, but from everybody's. She is dead. Do you understand what that word means? Never, never, never more, nowhere, will this being exist. Those eyes will never see again. Never will this voice, never will any voice like this, among human voices, pronounce one word in the same way that she pronounced it.
"There will never be another face born like hers. Never, never! The cast of statues is kept; the stamp the reproduces objects with the same outlines and the same colours is preserved. But this body and this face will never be seen again on this earth. And still there will be born thousands of beings, millions, thousands of millions, and even more, and among all these women there will never be found one like her. Can that be possible? It makes one mad to think of it!
"She lived twenty years, no more, and she has disappeared forever, forever, forever! She thought, she smiled, she loved me. Now there is nothing more. The flies which die in the autumn are of as much importance as we in creation. Nothing more! And I thought how her body, her fresh, warm body, so soft, so white, so beautiful, was rotting away in the depths of a box under the ground. And her soul, her mind, her love—where were they?"
♥ "However, I opened the coffin and thrust in my lighted lantern, and saw her. Her face was blue, swollen, horrible! Black liquid had flowed from her mouth.
"She! It was she! I was seized with horror. But I put out my arm and caught her hair to pull this monstrous face towards me! It was at that moment I was arrested.
"All night I carried with me, as one retains the perfume of a woman after a sexual embrace, the filthy smell of this putrefaction, the odour of my beloved!
"Do what you like with me."
~~The Tomb by Guy de Maupassant.
♥ "Do you like the seaside?" asks Elizabeth, lifting her little brown head and her small happy face from the map of English sea-coast along which her forefinger is slowly travelling.
"Since you ask me, distinctly no," reply I, for once venturing to have a decided opinion of my own, which during the last few weeks of imbecility I can be hardly said to have had.
♥ "That is right," she says, with a sigh of relief, "I try to think about it as little as possible; but sometimes, in the dead black of the night, when God seems a long way off, and the devil near, it comes back to me so strongly—I feel, do not you know, as if he were there somewhere in the room, and I must get up and follow him."
♥ I have got over it; we have both got over it, tolerably, creditably; but after all, it is a much severer ordeal for a man than a woman, who, with a bouquet to occupy her hands, and a veil to gently shroud her features, need merely be prettily passive. I am alluding, I need hardly say, to the religious ceremony of marriage, which I flatter myself I have gone through with a stiff sheepishness not unworthy of my country.
♥ The long evening has at last slidden into night—night far advanced—night melting into earliest day. All Brussels is asleep. What is it that has made me take this sudden, headlong plunge out of sleep into wakefulness? Who is it that is clutching at and calling upon me? What is it that is making me struggle mistily up into a sitting posture, and try to revive my sleep-numbed senses? A summer night is never wholly dark; by the hall light that steals through the closed persiennes and open windows I see my wife standing beside my bed; the extremity of terror on her face, and her fingers digging themselves with painful tenacity into my arm.
"Tighter, tighter!" she is crying wildly. "What are you thinking of? You are letting me go!"
♥ Up by the still and solemn monastery we came, with its small and narrow windows, calculated to hinder the holy fathers from promenading curious eyes on the world, the flesh, and the devil, tripping past them in blue gauze veils: below us grass and green trees, houses with high-pitched roofs, little dormer-windows, and shutters yet greener than the grass; below us the lake in its rippleless peace, calm, quiet, motionless as Bethesda's pool before the coming of the troubling angel.
♥ A pause. My eyes stray away to the mountains. Pilatus on the right, with his jagged peak and slender snow-chains about his harsh neck; hill after hill rising silent, eternal, like guardian spirits standing hand in hand around their child, the lake. As I look, suddenly they have all flushed, as at some noblest thought, and over all their sullen faces streams an ineffable rosy joy—a solemn and wonderful effulgence, such as Israel saw reflected from the features of the Eternal in their prophet's transfigured eyes. The unutterable peace and stainless beauty of earth and sky seem to lie softly on my soul. "Would God I could stay! Would God all life could be like this!" I say, devoutly, and the aspiration has the reverent earnestness of a prayer.
"Why do you say, 'Would God!'" she cries passionately, "when it lies with yourself?"
♥ "Can you give me any good reason why I should stay?" I ask, dictatorially.
But I am resolved not to stay.
~~The Man with the Nose by Rhoda Broughton.
♥ Most people have a pet nightmare. Mine consists of a single human figure, sitting immovable, in an attitude which is stamped so deeply on my memory that, although almost twenty years have passed since the day on which I saw it, I could draw it to-day—supposing I could draw at all—down to the most trivial details of its appearance, down to the last touch of its immediate surroundings.
♥ I took the weapon from the dead man's hand in the presence of the commission and examined it minutely. Then I lifted the dead man's head and counted the bullet-wounds on his chest, an found they tallied exactly; five shots were planted round about the heart, it was the sixth one only that had gone clean through it. The man had sat himself down there with the deliberate intention of shooting himself through the heart, but his anatomical knowledge not being such as to enable him to hit the right mark at once, he had failed five times; the sixth time at last, his perseverance had been crowned with success. He must have watched for some favourable moment to abduct the key of the cellar-entrance from the guard-room, must then have unlocked the door and conscientiously returned the key to its place, after which he methodically set about carrying his plan into effect. The thickness of the old walls had completely deadened all echo of the shots.
~~My Nightmare by Dorothea Gerard
♥ We do many foolish things in early life. I did what the world esteems a very foolish thing—married for love. Harry and I were equally poor, and the affronted world turned it back upon us. The wealthy heads of both houses, determining to give us leisure to repent after having married in haste, left us to ourselves. Harry obtained, through an old friend of the family, a situation as clerk in a mercantile house in the City. The salary was a small one, and many a shift and contrivance was endured by us in those days. And yet we were very happy. Like an obstinate fond young couple, we refused to learn the lesson our offended elders set us, and we would not repent, but struggled on through the battle of life in the ranks with the rest. Yes, I am proud to say that we fought and conquered. Now that our mansion is built in the favoured locality of the West; now that I rumble along streets in my carriage that I have trodden once burdened with goloshes and umbrellas when the weather would not smile, however much we smiled at Fate; now that, amongst not a few good and true and tried friends, many throng to our gay parties who would not then have condescended to cross our threshold—now I can look back and call to mind many an incident of our early life with pleasure.
♥ Turning on me her eyes—peculiar grey eyes, that looked as if she never slept or wept..
♥ Harry sprang up and seized the night-light. Surely it is the lid of the heavy chest suddenly slammed, and there are thieves in the house, thought I, as I ran after my spouse, lest there might be danger for him alone, and just as if a feeble woman in her night array, like myself, could be any protection. In moments of sudden fear we do not stay to reason, but act upon impulse. In another moment we stood in the double chamber below. It was untenanted, save by the dead.
♥ If I am mad, I was not accountable for it, and cannot be judged for it. And if I am sane, I have expiated by a long life-watch of cruel and horrible self-torture. To live all my days in a house converted into a mausoleum; to be condemned to sit upon an unburied coffin; to be encumbered everywhere with a tenant who should be in the tomb; to live along with death; to eat side by side with a skeleton; to taste food out of a blood-red hand, and have a blood-red sky ever before me—are parts of my punishment. I never see a blue sky or a grey distance. Everything has a sanguinary haze over it, as if I looked through spectacles of flame-colour. And yet I did not shed blood—ah, no, I did not do that.
♥ As I loved him? As I do love him—passionately, wildly, fearfully, madly, so that I can never take my gaze off his coffin; so that I rise in the darkness and silence of the night to kiss and embrace the cold wood; and I feel my passion and my remorse eating out my heart. I cannot weep. I never shed a tear now, as I never shed a tear then. My grief is cold and tearless, as my rage was cold and tearless and my happiness cold and tearless when we lived. Outwardly, only outwardly. Within I was and am a human volcano, and the fire is consuming my heart and brain, sense and being, slowly, slowly—heaven, how slowly! It is retribution.
♥ Could we literally know the future, of what use would it be? Should we be warned, advised, or guided? No! Doom is doom, and we should rush on blindly towards it.
♥ ..but going over the details of my life has raises in my mind a horrible suspicion, more exquisitely agonising than all that has gone before—a suspicion the bare form of which, as it suddenly came before me, cast me into that frenzied fit which has closed the weary life of one who neither wants nor wishes to die—one who only desires to live her vague life on and on, gazing eternally at the sarcophagus. The idea, the certainty so terrible in its nature, is, that Lionel was not dead when I placed him in the chest. Lionel was under the influence of the narcotic, but living—Lionel my love, my husband, was put living into the tomb and stifled by his beautiful wife's mad hands; and his young wife of sixteen summers locked up his life and the secret of her crime and sat down heartlessly beside it to perform her cruel life-watch. Let her die.
~~A Life-Watch by Georgina C. Clark.
♥ How he had vowed that he would turn over a new leaf, actually with tears upon his knees! And this was how he had done it; before he had reached his journeys end, he had gambled away the money which was not his, and was in debt besides. Frank Osborne must have been fashioned something like the dog which loves its master the more, the more he illtreats it. His heart went out in pity to the scamp across the seas. He had no delusions; he had long been conscious that the man was hopeless. And yet he knew very well that if he could have had his way he would have gone at once to comfort him. Poor Geoff! What an all-round mess he seemed to have made of things—and he had had the ball at his feet when he started—poor, dear old Geoff! With his knuckles Mr Osborne wiped a suspicious moisture from his eyes. Geoff was all right—if he had only been able to prevent money from slipping from between his fingers, had been gifted with a sense of meum et tuum—not a nicer fellow in the world!
~~The Haunted Chair by Richard Marsh.
♥ ..but that is what any yellow man would do, or white one either, if he thought he wouldn't get found out. Both are "on the make"; honestly on it if possible, if not, one must seize every trifling advantage. The aggregate mounts up rapidly. In China one must either "squeeze" or be "squeezed", and as the former is the more pleasant sensation, its cultivation is obvious. Might is always right; but cunning is the supreme test of intelligence.
♥ The sky was clear, the glass set fair. On the starboard bow the sun, a great golden chrysanthemum, was sloping down to the west. I never knew a brighter day bring a blacker night.
♥ "Your infernal——" began the old man. But no. Since I cannot give the captain's impressive language in full, it would be folly to attempt any other. When the gods are angry the heavens thunder and the world quakes. Our captain was a god in his way, and when he spoke in anger, his rage coloured the atmosphere. He, however, gave the impudent Chinaman to understand that the bridge was the Olympus of the gods, and that neither mortals nor inferior deities had any right there.
♥ And so away he went, an awful bully of a man, but one in whom there was a lot of good run wild.
♥ "My God! we're done for," he wailed. "These devils will rip us up, Anderson, and then chuck us overboard."
"They may do what they like with me when I am dead," I answered; "but I am not dead yet."
~~Coolies by W. Carlton Dawe.
♥ University life is the life of a lord: you get up at midday: you sample your pipe: you empty one or two small glasses of schnapps: and then you button your overcoat up to your chin, put on your hat in the Prussian manner over the left ear and you go quietly to listen, for half an hour, to the well known Professor Hâsenkopf. Everyone is free to yarn or even to go to sleep if that suits him.
When the lecture is over, you go to the inn, stretch your legs under the table; the pretty serving girls rush about with dishes of sausages, slices of ham and tankards of strong beer. You hum a tune, you drink, you eat. One whistles for the inn's dog Hector, the other grabs Charlotte or Gretel by the waist... At times fighting breaks out, cudgel blows shower down, tankards totter and beer mugs fall. The watch comes and he arrests you and you go and spend the night in jail.
And thus, the days the months and the years pass! One meets, in Heidelberg, future princes, dukes and barons; one also meets the sons of cobblers, schoolmasters and respectable business men. The young lordlings keep to their own clique, but the rest mingle in brotherly fashion.
♥ "Kasper," he said to me in a sharp voice, and, proceeding through interrogation in the manner of Socrates, "Kasper, what is the soul?"
"According to Thales it is a sort of magnet. According to Asclepius, an arousal of the senses. Anaximander says that it is a compound of earth and water, Empodocles the blood, Hippocrates a spirit spread through the body. Zeno, the quintessence of the four elements. Xenocrates..."
"Good! good! But what do you think is the substance of the soul?"
"Me, Wolfgang? I say, with Lactantius, that I know nothing about it. I am an Epicurean by nature. Now according to the Epicureans, all judgement comes from the senses; as the soul does not fall under my senses, I am unable to judge."
♥ The side street which we hurriedly followed plunged behind the cathedral, into a block of houses as old as Heidelberg. The roofs leaning at right angles; the wooden balconies where fluttered the washing of the lower classes; the exterior stairs with their worm-eaten handrails; the hundreds of ragged figures, leaning out of the attic windows and looking eagerly at the strangers who were penetrating their lair; the long poles, going from one roof to the other, laden with bloody hides; then the thick smoke escaping from zigzag pipes at every floor; all this blended together and passed before my eyes like a resurrection of the Middle Ages. The sky was fine, its azure angles scalloped by the old gables, and its luminous rays stretching out now and then over the tumble-down walls, added to my emotion by the strangeness of the contrast.
It was one of those moments when man loses all presence of mind.
♥ I followed a high wall of dry earth, at the end of which was a spiral staircase with broken steps. We climbed across the débris and, although my friend didn't stop repeating to me in an impatient voice "higher... higher..." I stopped at times, gripped by terror, on the pretext of getting my breath and examining the recesses of the gloomy dwelling, but really to deliberate whether it wasn't in fact time to flee.
At last we reached the foot of a ladder whose steps disappeared through a loft in the midst of the darkness. I still ask myself to-day how I had the rashness to climb this ladder without demanding the slightest explanation from my friend Wolfgang. It appears that madness is contagious.
♥ "Look here, Wolfgang," I angrily answered him. "If you have brought me here to discuss metaphysics, you have made a great mistake. I was just leaving Hâsenkopf's lecture and I was going to the inn to have lunch when you intercepted me. I have had my daily dose of abstraction. It is enough for me. Therefore, explain yourself clearly or let me get bacl on the track of food."
"You then, only live for food," he said in a sharp tone. "Do you realise that I have spent days without touching food for the love of science?"
"To each his taste; you live on syllogisms or horned arguments; me, I like sausages and beer."
♥ "Not only do we have a soul, a thing accepted since the beginning of history, but from plant to man, all beings live. They are animated, therefore they have a soul. You don't need six years of study under Hâsenkopf to agree with me that all organised beings have one soul at least. But the more their organisation perfects itself, the more complicated it gets, and the more the souls multiply. This is what distinguishes animate beings from each other. The plant has only one soul, the vegetable soul. Its function is simple, unique—merely nutrition, by the air, by means of the leaves, and by the earth through the roots. The animal has two souls. First of all the vegetable soul, whose functions are the same as those of the plant—nutrition by the lungs and intestines, which are true plants; and the animal soul, so called, which has as its function feeling and whose organ is the heart. Finally man, who is up to the present the height of earthly creation, has three souls—the vegetable soul, the animal soul whose functions are exercised as in the beast, and the human soul which has its object, reason and intelligence, and its organ is the brain. The more the animal nears man in the perfection of its cerebral organisation, the more it shares in this third soul, such as the dog, the horse, the elephant. But alone the man of genius possesses it in all its fullness."
♥ "You know the opinions of the classic philosophers on the nature of souls. They accepted four of them, united in man. Caro, the flesh, a mixture of earth and water which death dissolves; Manes, the spirit, which wanders around tombs—its name comes from manere, to remain, to stay, Umbra, the shade, more immaterial than Manes, it disappears after visiting its relatives; finally Spiritus, the spirit, the immaterial substance which climbs up to the gods. This classification appeared right to me; it was a question of breaking down the human being so as to establish the distinct existence of the three souls, an abstraction made from the flesh. Reason told me that each man, before reaching his highest development, must have passed through the state of plant or animal; in other words that Pythagoras had caught sight of the reality, without being able to provide proof of it. Well, as for myself, I wanted to solve this problem. It was necessary to successively extinguish the three souls in myself, then revive them. I had recourse to rigorous fasting. Unfortunately, the human soul, in order to let the animal soul act freely, had to succumb first. Hunger made me lose the faculty of observing myself in the animal state. By exhausting myself I was putting myself in the position of not being able to judge. After a host of fruitless attempts my own organism I remained convinced that there was only one way of attaining my goal; that was to act on a third person. But who would want to be a party to this type of observation?"
Wolfganf paused, his lips contracted and brusquely he added:
"I needed a subject at at cost. I decided to experiment on a worthless being."
At this point I shuddered. This man then was capable of anything.
♥ The pale face of Wolfgang was leaning through the ventilator. He wasn't laughing. He appeared to feel neither joy, satisfaction or remorse: he was observing me!
Oh! how this face frightened me! Had he laughed, had he enjoyed his vengeance, I would have hoped to bend him... but he just observed!
We remained thus, our eyes fixed on each other, one terror stricken, the other cold, calm, attentive, as if facing an inert object. The insect pierced by a needle, which he observes under a microscope, if it thinks, if it understands the eye of man, must have these sorts of visions.
I had to die to satisfy the curiosity of a monster. I understood that entreaty would be useless, so I said nothing.
♥ In the midst of this fury I suddenly noticed that the old woman had collapsed, and I conceived the idea of drinking her blood. Extreme necessity carries man to excesses that would make one shudder. It is then that the wild beast is aroused in us and all sentiment of justice, of good-will fades before the instinct of self-preservation.
~~The Three Souls by Erckmann-Chatrian.
♥ In some natures there are no half-tones; nothing but raw primary colours.
♥ Doubtless there exists in this world precisely the right woman for any given man to marry, and vice versa; but when you consider that a human being has the opportunity of being acquainted with only a few hundred people, and out of the few hundred that there are but a dozen or less whom he knows intimately, and out of the dozen, one or two friends at most, it will easily be seen, when we remember the number of millions who inhabit this world, that probably, since the earth was created, the right man has never yet met the right woman. The mathematical chances are all against such a meeting, and this is the reason that divorce courts exist. Marriage at best is but a compromise, and if two people happen to be united who are of an uncompromising nature there is trouble.
♥ When a man's mind dwells too much on any one subject, no one can tell just how far he will go. The mind is a delicate instrument, and even the law recognises that it is easily thrown from its balance. Bodman's friends—for he had friends—claim that his mind was unhinged; but neither his friends nor his enemies suspected the truth of the episode, which turned out to be the most important, as it was the most ominous, event in his life.
♥ Nevertheless, cunning is often a quality in a mind that has gone wrong.
~~An Alpine Divorce by Robert Barr.
♥ "To begin at the beginning," said Flaxman Low, "everybody who, in a rational and honest manner, investigates the phenomena of spiritsim will, sooner or later, meet in them some perplexing element, which is not to be explained by any of the ordinary theories. For reasons into which I need not now enter, this present case appears to me to be one of these. I am led to believe that the ghost which has for so many years given dim and vague manifestations of its existence in this house is a vampire."
Swaffam threw back his head with an incredulous gesture.
"We no longer live in the middle ages, Mr Low! And besides, how could a vampire come here?" he said scoffingly.
"It is held by some authorities on these subjects that under certain conditions a vampire may be self-created. You tell me that this house is built upon an ancient barrow, in fact, on a spot where we might naturally expect to find such an elemental psychic germ. In those dead human systems were contained all the seeds for good and evil. The power which causes these psychic seeds or germs to grow is thought, and from being long dwelt on an indulged, a thought might finally gain a mysterious vitality, which could go on increasing more and more by attracting to itself suitable and appropriate elements from its environment. For a long period this germ remained a helpless intelligence, awaiting the opportunity to assume some material form, by means of which to carry out its desires. The invisible is the real; the material only subserves its manifestation. The impalpable reality already existed, when you provided for it a physical medium for action by unwrapping the mummy's form. Now, we can only judge of the nature of the germ by its manifestation through matter. Here we have every indication of a vampire intelligence touching into life and energy the dead human frame. Hence the mark on the neck of its victims, and their bloodless and anæmic condition. For a vampire, as you know, sucks blood."
~~The Story of Baelbrow by E. and H. Heron.