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A Thin Ghost and Others by M. R. James

A THIN GHOST AND OTHERS

by

MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES, LITT.D.

Provost Of Eton College Author of "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary," "More Ghost Stories," etc.

Third Impression

New York Longmans, Green & Co. London: Edward Arnold 1920 (All rights reserved)

PREFACE

Two of these stories, the third and fourth, have appeared in print in the _Cambridge Review_, and I wish to thank the proprietor for permitting me to republish them here.

I have had my doubts about the wisdom of publishing a third set of tales; sequels are, not only proverbially but actually, very hazardous things. However, the tales make no pretence but to amuse, and my friends have not seldom asked for the publication. So not a great deal is risked, perhaps, and perhaps also some one's Christmas may be the cheerfuller for a storybook which, I think, only once mentions the war.

CONTENTS

PAGE

THE RESIDENCE AT WHITMINSTER 1

THE DIARY OF MR. POYNTER 49

AN EPISODE OF CATHEDRAL HISTORY 73

THE STORY OF A DISAPPEARANCE AND AN APPEARANCE 107

TWO DOCTORS 135

THE RESIDENCE AT WHITMINSTER

A Thin Ghost and Others

THE RESIDENCE AT WHITMINSTER

Dr. Ashton--Thomas Ashton, Doctor of Divinity--sat in his study, habited in a dressing-gown, and with a silk cap on his shaven head--his wig being for the time taken off and placed on its block on a side table. He was a man of some fifty-five years, strongly made, of a sanguine complexion, an angry eye, and a long upper lip. Face and eye were lighted up at the moment when I picture him by the level ray of an afternoon sun that shone in upon him through a tall sash window, giving on the west. The room into which it shone was also tall, lined with book-cases, and, where the wall showed between them, panelled. On the table near the doctor's elbow was a green cloth, and upon it what he would have called a silver standish--a tray with inkstands--quill pens, a calf-bound book or two, some papers, a churchwarden pipe and brass tobacco-box, a flask cased in plaited straw, and a liqueur glass. The year was 1730, the month December, the hour somewhat past three in the afternoon.

I have described in these lines pretty much all that a superficial observer would have noted when he looked into the room. What met Dr. Ashton's eye when he looked out of it, sitting in his leather arm-chair? Little more than the tops of the shrubs and fruit-trees of his garden could be seen from that point, but the red brick wall of it was visible in almost all the length of its western side. In the middle of that was a gate--a double gate of rather elaborate iron scroll-work, which allowed something of a view beyond. Through it he could see that the ground sloped away almost at once to a bottom, along which a stream must run, and rose steeply from it on the other side, up to a field that was park-like in character, and thickly studded with oaks, now, of course, leafless. They did not stand so thick together but that some glimpse of sky and horizon could be seen between their stems. The sky was now golden and the horizon, a horizon of distant woods, it seemed, was purple.


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