Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories

By M. R. James; Michael Cox | Go to book overview
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AN EPISODE OF CATHEDRAL
HISTORY

THERE was once a learned gentleman who was deputed to examine and report upon the archives of the cathedral of Southminster.* The examination of these records demanded a very considerable expenditure of time: hence it became advisable for him to engage lodgings in the city: for though the cathedral body were profuse in their offers of hospitality, Mr Lake felt that he would prefer to be master of his day. This was recognized as reasonable. The dean eventually wrote advising Mr Lake, if he were not already suited, to communicate with Mr Worby* the principal Verger, who occupied a house convenient to the church and was prepared to take in a quiet lodger for three or four weeks. Such an arrangement was precisely what Mr Lake desired. Terms were easily agreed upon, and early in December, like another Mr Datchery* (as he remarked to himself), the investigator found himself in the occupation of a very comfortable room in an ancient and cathedraly house.

One so familiar with the customs of cathedral churches, and treated with such obvious consideration by the dean and Chapter of this cathedral in particular, could not fail to command the respect of the Head Verger. Mr “Worby even acquiesced in certain modifications of statements he had been accustomed to offer for years to parties of visitors. Mr Lake, on his part, found the Verger a very cheery companion and took advantage of any occasion that presented itself for enjoying his conversation when the day's work was over.

One evening about nine o'clock Mr Worby knocked at his lodger's door. 'I've occasion,' he said, 'to go across to the cathedral, Mr Lake, and I think I made you a promise when I did so next I would give you the opportunity to see what it looks like at night time. It's quite fine and dry outside if you care to come.'

'To be sure I will: very much obliged to you, Mr Worby, for thinking of it. Just let me get my coat.'

-210-

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