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Algernon Blackwood's Shorter Supernatural Fiction (2 vols.)

Terrys Texas Rangers

The Last Crusaders

The Defeat of the U-Boats

Sup Richard Middleton

The Battle of Austerlitz

The Campaigns of Alexander

Sabre and Foil Fighting

The Fourth Leonaur Book of Ghost and Horror Stories

The Irish Legion

General Von Zieten

Armoured Cars and Aircraft

The Chinese Regiment

Texas Cavalry and the Laurel Brigade

The First Crusaders

The Lionheart and the Third Crusade

The Winnebagos

Roger Lamb and the American War of Independence

Gronow of the Guards

Plumer of Messines

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Fantastic Fiction: 3

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Fantastic Fiction: 3
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Author(s): H. Rider Haggard
Date Published: 2010/06
Page Count: 336
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-247-5
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-248-2

The third volume of a special Leonaur collection of fantastic stories

H. Rider Haggard's ability to give his audience a good tale well told is not in question. He was one of the most popular authors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and some of his novels are well known—at least by title—to almost everyone. His story of Ayesha—'she who must be obeyed'— has been filmed and in its day was one of the best selling novels ever. King Solomon's Mines, introduced the public to the little, wiry, white hunter Allan Quatermain. It too became instantly popular and the character went on to feature in a host of different adventures on the dark continent as well as on the silver screen several times. Leonaur have gathered together several Haggard collections for modern readers to enjoy. There is, of course, the two volume Ayesha quartet, but also the Quatermain series, the African Adventures series, the Historical Adventure series and the series of adventures set in the Ancient World. Irrespective of his central theme Haggard was never one to shy away from elements of the supernatural or fantastical, witches, ghosts, familiar spirits, god gorillas and the like appear unquestioned in even the most realistic of his stories. So it is less than surprising that Haggard also produced a body of work that positions itself uncompromisingly in the realms of the incredible. This special four volume collection from Leonaur gathers together those stories—each book featuring one novel and one or more shorter works—in a satisfying four volume set for his many aficionados to collect and relish. Available in soft cover and hard back with dust jacket.
In volume three the first story is the novel, Stella Fregelius—a fantastic tale of telepathy, psychic powers and supernatural communication with the dead. It is accompanied here by Smith and the Pharaoh's and Only a Dream. Smith is an archaeologist who finds himself locked inside the Cairo Museum for the night. There he is placed on trial for grave robbing by the ancient Egyptians in an eerie tale that is also not without its elements of humour. Only a Dream is a short 'chiller,' almost a homage to Poe, in which a prospective husband is visited by the spirit of his first wife on the eve of his marriage to the second.

It was an appalling place in which to sleep, but better, reflected Smith, than a sarcophagus or those mummy chambers. If, for instance, he could creep behind the deal boards that enclosed one of the funeral boats he would be quite comfortable there. Lifting the curtain, he slipped into the hall, where the gloom of evening had already settled. Only the skylights and the outline of the towering colossi at the far end remained visible. Close to him were the two funeral boats which he had noted when he looked into the hall earlier on that day, standing at the head of a flight of steps which led to the sunk floor of the centre. He groped his way to that on the right. As he expected, the projecting planks were not quite joined at the bow. He crept in between them and the boat and laid himself down.<br>
********<br>
Presumably, being altogether tired out, Smith did ultimately fall asleep, for how long he never knew. At any rate, it is certain that, if so, he woke up again. He could not tell the time, because his watch was not a repeater, and the place was as black as the pit. He had some matches in his pocket, and might have struck one and even have lit his pipe. To his credit be it said, however, he remembered that he was the sole tenant of one of the most valuable museums in the world, and his responsibilities with reference to fire. So he refrained from striking that match under the keel of a boat which had become very dry in the course of five thousand years.<br>
Smith found himself very wide awake indeed. Never in all his life did he remember being more so, not even in the hour of its great catastrophe, or when his godfather, Ebenezer, after much hesitation, had promised him a clerkship in the bank of which he was a director. His nerves seemed strung tight as harp-strings, and his every sense was painfully acute. Thus he could even smell the odour of mummies that floated down from the upper galleries and the earthy scent of the boat which had been buried for thousands of years in sand at the foot of the pyramid of one of the fifth dynasty kings.<br>
Moreover, he could hear all sorts of strange sounds, faint and far-away sounds which at first he thought must emanate from Cairo without. Soon, however, he grew sure that their origin was more local. Doubtless the cement work and the cases in the galleries were cracking audibly, as is the unpleasant habit of such things at night.<br>
Yet why should these common manifestations be so universal and affect him so strangely? Really, it seemed as though people were stirring all about him. More, he could have sworn that the great funeral boat beneath which he lay had become re-peopled with the crew that once it bore.<br>
He heard them at their business above him. There were trampings and a sound as though something heavy were being laid on the deck, such, for instance, as must have been made when the mummy of Pharaoh was set there for its last journey to the western bank of the Nile. Yes, and now he could have sworn again that the priestly crew were getting out the oars.<br>
Smith began to meditate flight from the neighbourhood of that place when something occurred which determined him to stop where he was.<br>
The huge hall was growing light, but not, as at first he hoped, with the rays of dawn. This light was pale and ghostly, though very penetrating. Also it had a blue tinge, unlike any other he had ever seen. At first it arose in a kind of fan or fountain at the far end of the hall, illumining the steps there and the two noble colossi which sat above.<br>
But what was this that stood at the head of the steps, radiating glory? By heavens! it was Osiris himself or the image of Osiris, god of the Dead, the Egyptian saviour of the world!<br>
There he stood, in his mummy-cloths, wearing the feathered crown, and holding in his hands, which projected from an opening in the wrappings, the crook and the scourge of power. Was he alive, or was he dead? Smith could not tell, since he never moved, only stood there, splendid and fearful, his calm, benignant face staring into nothingness.<br>
Smith became aware that the darkness between him and the vision of this god was peopled; that a great congregation was gathering, or had gathered there. The blue light began to grow; long tongues of it shot forward, which joined themselves together, illumining all that huge hall.<br>
Now, too, he saw the congregation. Before him, rank upon rank of them, stood the kings and queens of Egypt. As though at a given signal, they bowed themselves to the Osiris, and ere the tinkling of their ornaments had died away, lo! Osiris was gone. But in his place stood another, Isis, the Mother of Mystery, her deep eyes looking forth from beneath the jewelled vulture-cap. Again the congregation bowed, and, lo! she was gone. But in her place stood yet another, a radiant, lovely being, who held in her hand the Sign of Life, and wore upon her head the symbol of the shining disc—Hathor, Goddess of Love. A third time the congregation bowed, and she, too, was gone; nor did any other appear in her place.<br>
The Pharaohs and their queens began to move about and speak to each other; their voices came to his ears in one low, sweet murmur.<br>
In his amaze Smith had forgotten fear. From his hiding-place he watched them intently. Some of them he knew by their faces. There, for instance, was the long-necked Khu-en-aten, talking somewhat angrily to the imperial Rameses II. Smith could understand what he said, for this power seemed to have been given to him. He was complaining in a high, weak voice that on this, the one night of the year when they might meet, the gods, or the magic images of the gods who were put up for them to worship, should not include his god, symbolized by the “Aten,” or the sun’s disc. <br>