In the safe sheltered comfort of a winter's fire, as the title suggests, these stories of horror will rouse tolerable shudders; but elsewhere they had best be avoided. They are worse than ghost stories, for they haunt the mind even more than they work on the nerves. Even the cheerful nightmares among them, like "Dinah's Mammoth," and such flippant ones as "William Tyrwhitt's 'Copy,'" have this effect. Science--probably quite bad science--has inspired a few; not one has been suggested by a commonplace circumstance. On the whole, they are difficult reading--which is some defence against their powers of haunting--the produce of a restlessly inventive brain, which frets itself overmuch in its task of entertaining a stupider public than it has any notion of. The tales are clever and original; but we don't advise Mr. Capes to continue this task, where Mr. Wells easily surpasses him.
Contents: The moon stricken -- Jack and Jill -- The vanishing house -- Dark Dignum -- William Tyrwhitt’s "copy" -- A lazy romance -- Black Venn -- An eddy on the floor -- Dinah's mammoth -- The black reaper -- A voice from the pit.
"It is possible. Only the good God knows."
But I was to know later on, with a little reeling of the reason also.
* * * * *
"Camille, I want to see the Cascade de Buet."
The hunted eyes of the stricken looked into mine with a piercing glance of fear.
"Monsieur must not," he said, in a low voice.
"And why not?"
"The waters are bad--bad--haunted!"
"I fear no ghosts. Wilt thou show me the way, Camille?"
"I!" The idiot fell upon the grass with a sort of gobbling cry. I thought it the prelude to a fit of some sort, and was stepping towards him, when he rose to his feet, waved me off and hurried away down the slope homewards.
Here was food for reflection, which I mumbled in secret.
A day or two afterwards I joined Camille at midday on the heights where he was pasturing his flocks. He had shifted his ground a little distance westwards, and I could not find him at once. At last I spied him, his back to a rock, his hand dabb