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The Pale Ape

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Language: English
Wordcount: 5,439 / 15 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 60.8
LoC Category: PN
Downloads: 1,129
Added to site: 2008.01.14 19699
Genre: Short Story

e with Huggins Lister in that wilderness of Hargen. The young man was, or pretended to be, interested in old things, and would have me show him all the cassone and old needlework, the Spanish glasses giving their glints of gold, the old girandoles with their amorini. He dined with me, we two alone, and Mrs. Wiseman: for Sir Philip more than ever kept himself to himself. Only, on the fourth evening when Huggins Lister and I were walking in the park, Sir Philip suddenly appeared before us, walking with precipitate steps the other way; did not pause, nor utter a sound, as he passed by us with a bowed brow, his hat raised; but when he had gone some way beyond us, he stopped, and -- shook his finger at us! was going, too, I am sure, to venture to say something, but failed; and suddenly was gone on his way again. I remember being very offended at the moment: but a moment more, God forgive me, had forgotten that Sir Philip Lister lived.

I showed the young man the apes, and the Queen's Room, and the cascades,

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 2.8 from 4 reviews: ***
Paulo Respighi

A new governess comes to an isolated manor to tutor the daughter of a man writing a history of an Egyptian kingdom. Besides servants and later, a visiting cousin, the place is empty. Three apes are kept caged outside, and there are rumors that a fourth ape had escaped and been found dead, but haunted the mansion.
A nicely menacing story with good characters and description, and a plot that doesn't skimp on the mayhem.

Henry L. Ratliff


Plot bullets

  • There is a new governess at the mansion.

  • Several live chimpanzees are kept on the premises.

  • There are rumors of the ghost of a pale faced ape that once lived there and now walks the grounds.

  • More than rumors haunt the governess.

  • She marries a cousin of the household.

  • Things may get worse.

C. Alan Loewen

Matthew Phipps Shiel (1865 – 1947) wrote The Pale Ape in 1911 as part of a collection of other stories.

Readers will notice the tropes of the standard gothic romance: the young lady in distress, the old house, the family secrets, insanity and death. Like a well-known recipie, they are all there.

The story takes place in 1908 when the unnamed heroine takes the role of governess to a precocious 12-year old girl at Hargen Hall, ruled over by the child\'s eccentric older brother, Sir Philip Lister.

Like we have seen in so many gothic romances over the years, the story becomes a mystery with peeping toms that may not be quite human, dark halls with guttering candles, a family mystery, and a tragic ending.

It\'s a very short read and if interested in the gothic romance genre, it makes for an interesting 15 minutes of diversion.


Stupid horror short story. It borrows from the werewolf theme, but neither the plot nor the character development are any good.



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