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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

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Sabre and Foil Fighting

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Texas Cavalry and the Laurel Brigade

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Roger Lamb and the American War of Independence

Gronow of the Guards

Plumer of Messines

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Henry James: Volume 2

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Henry James: Volume 2
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Henry James
Date Published: 2009/12
Page Count: 452
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-040-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-044-0

The second substantial volume of this four volume Leonaur collection of ghostly fiction

Henry James was a notable American author who lived and worked in England for forty years of his life—becoming a nationalised British subject shortly before his death. He is especially remembered for his portrayal of Americans abroad and for the creativity and freedom he displayed within his diverse literary perspectives. His novels remain highly regarded and continually read. Among them are Washington Square, The Bostonians, The Ambassadors and others. In any list of James' notable achievements one title frequently appears first—just as in every list of the most highly regarded supernatural fiction a James work is also certain to appear. That story is, of course, the novella, 'The Turn of the Screw'—a tale of creeping supernatural threat, terror, polluted innocence and inevitable tragedy. It is a deserved classic of supernatural fiction and true to the nature of such things subordinates James's other work in the genre almost to obscurity. Predictably a prolific author who had both a talent for and an interest in the fiction of the bizarre and ghostly would be unlikely to venture into its shadowy realms but once. This special Leonaur collection of Henry James' supernatural fiction fills four substantial volumes for modern readers to relish. A veritable literary feast is in store for those who dare to venture within its pages.
This second volume of Henry James' forays into the fiction of the other worldly features the novella, 'The Coxon Fund,' six novelettes including, ‘The Altar of the Dead,' 'The Beast in the Jungle,' 'The Figure in the Carpet' and others, together with four short stories including 'The Visits' and 'Sir Edmund Orme.'

The next day, in the afternoon, in the great grey suburb, he knew his long walk had tired him. In the dreadful cemetery alone he had been on his feet an hour. Instinctively, coming back, they had taken him a devious course, and it was a desert in which no circling cabman hovered over possible prey. He paused on a corner and measured the dreariness; then he made out through the gathered dusk that he was in one of those tracts of London which are less gloomy by night than by day, because, in the former case of the civil gift of light.<br>
By day there was nothing, but by night there were lamps, and George Stransom was in a mood that made lamps good in themselves. It wasn’t that they could show him anything, it was only that they could burn clear. To his surprise, however, after a while, they did show him something: the arch of a high doorway approached by a low terrace of steps, in the depth of which—it formed a dim vestibule—the raising of a curtain at the moment he passed gave him a glimpse of an avenue of gloom with a glow of tapers at the end. He stopped and looked up, recognising the place as a church.<br>
The thought quickly came to him that since he was tired he might rest there; so that after a moment he had in turn pushed up the leathern curtain and gone in. It was a temple of the old persuasion, and there had evidently been a function—perhaps a service for the dead; the high altar was still a blaze of candles. This was an exhibition he always liked, and he dropped into a seat with relief. More than it had ever yet come home to him it struck him as good there should be churches.<br>
This one was almost empty and the other altars were dim; a verger shuffled about, an old woman coughed, but it seemed to Stransom there was hospitality in the thick sweet air. Was it only the savour of the incense or was it something of larger intention? He had at any rate quitted the great grey suburb and come nearer to the warm centre. He presently ceased to feel intrusive, gaining at last even a sense of community with the only worshipper in his neighbourhood, the sombre presence of a woman, in mourning unrelieved, whose back was all he could see of her and who had sunk deep into prayer at no great distance from him.<br>
He wished he could sink, like her, to the very bottom, be as motionless, as rapt in prostration. After a few moments he shifted his seat; it was almost indelicate to be so aware of her. But Stransom subsequently quite lost himself, floating away on the sea of light. If occasions like this had been more frequent in his life he would have had more present the great original type, set up in a myriad temples, of the unapproachable shrine he had erected in his mind. That shrine had begun in vague likeness to church pomps, but the echo had ended by growing more distinct than the sound.<br>
The sound now rang out, the type blazed at him with all its fires and with a mystery of radiance in which endless meanings could glow. The thing became as he sat there his appropriate altar and each starry candle an appropriate vow. He numbered them, named them, grouped them—it was the silent roll-call of his Dead. They made together a brightness vast and intense, a brightness in which the mere chapel of his thoughts grew so dim that as it faded away he asked himself if he shouldn’t find his real comfort in some material act, some outward worship.<br>
This idea took possession of him while, at a distance, the black-robed lady continued prostrate; he was quietly thrilled with his conception, which at last brought him to his feet in the sudden excitement of a plan. He wandered softly through the aisles, pausing in the different chapels, all save one applied to a special devotion. It was in this clear recess, lampless and unapplied, that he stood longest—the length of time it took him fully to grasp the conception of gilding it with his bounty. He should snatch it from no other rites and associate it with nothing profane; he would simply take it as it should be given up to him and make it a masterpiece of splendour and a mountain of fire.
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