Curious, if True

Curious, if True
Strange Tales

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Curious, if True by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

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241

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Curious, if True
Strange Tales

By

5
(1 Review)
The old nurse's story -- The Poor Clare -- Lois the Witch -- The Grey Woman -- Curious, if true.

Book Excerpt

e trees for music; but I saw Dorothy look at him very fearfully, and Bessy, the kitchen-maid, said something beneath her breath, and went quite white. I saw they did not like my question, so I held my peace till I was with Dorothy alone, when I knew I could get a good deal out of her. So, the next day, I watched my time, and I coaxed and asked her who it was that played the organ; for I knew that it was the organ and not the wind well enough, for all I had kept silence before James. But Dorothy had had her lesson, I'll warrant, and never a word could I get from her. So then I tried Bessy, though I had always held my head rather above her, as I was evened to James and Dorothy, and she was little better than their servant. So she said I must never, never tell; and if ever I told, I was never to say she had told me; but it was a very strange noise, and she had heard it many a time, but most of all on winter nights, and before storms; and folks did say it was the old lord playing on the great organ in th

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Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian novelist who was beloved in her time and underappreciated in ours. Like so many of her circle of female authors in that time, she loved a good ghost story. Not all these five tales involve ghosts, but they all include the sense of atmosphere and suspense we enjoy in such a tale. The five stories are:

The Old Nurse's Story
The Poor Clare
Lois the Witch
The Grey Woman
Curious, if True

The first is an oft-anthologized, classic ghost story. Some modern readers will find it overwrought, but it certainly delivers the goods. "Lois the Witch" is more about psychology and the persecution, Salem-style, of suspected witches than it is about the supernatural. "The Grey Woman" is a thrilling novelette of a persecuted young woman who unknowingly marries an evil man. All the stories were recently dramatized on England's BBC radio, because nearly a century and a half after writing, they're still great stories.

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