A. M. Burrage: Browdean Farm

April 26, 2009

“Browdean Farm” is a ghost story. Written in 1927.

I have it in a book titled Murder Most Foul, A Collection of Great Crime Stories.

In each of these books that I have, there are many stories, but I find that only some I reread. Others I may have begun reading but left off in the middle because they did not hold my interest. Mind you, they are chosen and included by someone, yet…

Two men pass by a lonely, untenanted house in a remote village. They rent it out as one wants to write a book in quiet and the other wishes to spend time fishing in a lake in the vicinity.

After a few days strange things happen and on enquiry they learn that this was where a man by name Stryder had lived. He was married but at the same time he fell in love with another girl. The older woman goes missing and her body is exhumed from where she was buried. Stryder is convicted of murder and hanged.  His pleas to the jury that he found her dead but hastily interred her are ignored.

The two tenants bravely face the anniversary of the woman’s death and amidst creaking of gates, smashing of windowpanes, slow footfalls shuffling through the hall and other weird happenings they discover the truth.

“The Waxwork”, another story by the same author, is a favourite of mine and I read that to a gathering of SSLC (Short Story Lovers’ Club) in my house some years ago.  It must wait for its turn.

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Shirley Jackson: Charles

April 26, 2009

The story that I chose for today is “Charles” by Shirley Jackson.

“The Lottery” by the same author is perhaps  more famous and more anthologised but that dark story can wait for another day.

In this, the narrator is the mother of two small children. Laurie, the older of her two children, has just joined the kindergarten class in a school.

For several days from the first day Laurie on returning home from school describes the mischiefs that Charles did and the punishments that he received from the teacher.

With the third week of KG, Charles was an institution in the narrator’s family. There were some signs of the clever little nipper improving but still his tricks don’t seem to have ended completlely. Laurie’s mother is eager to go to the PTA meeting where she would have a chance of coming face to face with Charles’s mother.

Read the story. It is available for free online. Please google for it and select a suitable site from where you can get a doc file. (I am unable to provide a link. I reread it in a book that I have.)

In what genre would you put this story? Parenting? Psychological? Fantasy? Humour?

Quote

“I watched him go off the first morning with the older girl next door, seeing clearly that an era of my life was ended, my sweetvoiced nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character who forgot to stop at the corner and wave good-bye to me.”