Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories

By M. R. James; Michael Cox | Go to book overview

MR HUMPHREYS AND HIS
INHERITANCE

ABOUT fifteen years ago, on a date late in August or early in September, a train drew up at Wilsthorpe, a country station in eastern England. Out of it stepped (with other passengers) a rather tall and reasonably good-looking young man, carrying a hand bag and some papers tied up in a packet.

He was expecting to be met, one would say, from the way in which he looked about him: and he was, as obviously, expected. The stationmaster ran forward a step or two, and then, seeming to recollect himself, turned and beckoned to a stout and consequential person with a short round beard who was scanning the train with some appearance of bewilderment. 'Mr Cooper,' he called out, 'Mr Cooper, I think this is your gentleman'; and then, to the passenger who had just alighted, 'Mr Humphreys, sir? Glad to bid you welcome to Wilsthorpe.* There's a cart from the Hall for your luggage, and here's Mr Cooper, what I think you know.' Mr Cooper had hurried up, and now raised his hat and shook hands. 'Very pleased, I'm sure,' he said, 'to give the echo to Mr Palmer's kind words. I should have been the first to render expression to them but for the face not being familiar to me, Mr Humphreys. May your residence among us be marked as a red-letter day, sir.' 'Thank you very much, Mr Cooper,' said Humphreys, 'for your good wishes, and Mr Palmer also. I do hope very much that this change of—er—tenancy—which you must all regret, I am sure—will not be to the detriment of those with whom I shall be brought in contact.' He stopped, feeling that the words were not fitting themselves together in the happiest way, and Mr Cooper cut in. 'Oh you may rest satisfied of that, Mr Humphreys. I'll take it upon myself to assure you, sir, that a warm welcome awaits you on all sides. And as to any change of propriety* turning out detrimental to the neighbourhood, well, your late uncle——' and here Mr Cooper also stopped, possibly in obedience to an

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Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Note on the Text xxxi
  • Select Bibliography xxxiii
  • A Chronology of M. R. James xxxvi
  • 'Casting the Runes' and Other Ghost Stories xxxix
  • Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book 1
  • The Mezzotint 14
  • Number 13 26
  • Count Magnus 43
  • 'Oh, Whistle, and I'Ll Come to You, My Lad' 57
  • The Treasure of Abbot Thomas 78
  • A School Story 97
  • The Rose Garden 105
  • The Tractate Middoth 117
  • Casting the Runes 135
  • The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral 157
  • Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance 172
  • The Diary of Mr Poynter 199
  • An Episode of Cathedral History 210
  • The Uncommon Prayer-Book 228
  • A Neighbour's Landmark 244
  • A Warning to the Curious 257
  • Rats 275
  • The Experiment 281
  • The Malice of Inanimate Objects 288
  • A Vignette 293
  • Explanatory Notes 299
  • Appendix - M. R. James on Ghost Stories 337
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