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

Terrys Texas Rangers

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Sabre and Foil Fighting

The Fourth Leonaur Book of Ghost and Horror Stories

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Gronow of the Guards

Plumer of Messines

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of John Kendrick Bangs: Volume 1

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The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of John Kendrick Bangs: Volume 1
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): John Kendrick Bangs
Date Published: 2010/08
Page Count: 336
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-326-7
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-325-0

The first of three volumes by the master of satirical ghost stories

American author John Kendrick Bangs was a well known writer and editor whose work appeared in Life, Harper’s Bazaar and Harper’s Magazine. His speciality was making his readers laugh and he was delightfully termed the editor in charge of the Department of Humour for all three publications. This job profile no doubt gave him enormous satisfaction and he went on to edit both The Metropolitan Magazine and Puck which was the foremost American humour magazine at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century. It is by no means unusual for those with a taste for the weird and ghostly to also enjoy humour, for often is the sharp intake of a breath of fright followed by a burst of laughter—if only in relief? However, John Kendrick Bangs could combine both the other worldly and genuine satire in his stories to create truly humorous supernatural tales. The 'Associated Shades' novellas that appear in volume two of this Leonaur three volume collection are a good example; in them we follow real (but deceased) historical personalities as they 'live again' and join forces with famous fictional characters in incredible adventures on the banks of the River Styx. Although Bangs always looked for the opportunity to raise a smile in his stories readers may be assured that they can also be genuinely chilling. John Kendrick Bangs is a true 'original' of supernatural fiction and this special Leonaur collection, available in softcover and hardback with dust jacket, will enable collectors and aficionados alike to read and own this unique talent in an attractive matched set.
Volume one contains the novel Toppleton’s Client or A Spirit in Exile and ten short stories of the strange and unusual.

A prey to these disquieting reflections, Toppleton lay in the chair for at least an hour. The last rays of a setting sun trembled through the leaves of the tree that shaded the western side of the room, and darkness fell over all; and with the darkness there came into Toppleton’s life an experience that scattered his fears of a moment since to the winds, and so tried and exercised his courage, that that fast fading quality gained a renewed strength for the fearful battle with a supernatural foe, in which he had, out of his goodness of heart, undertaken to engage.<br>
A clock in the hall outside began to strike the hour of six in deep measured tones, that to Toppleton in his agitated state of mind was uncomfortably suggestive of the bell in Coleridge’s line that “Knells us back to a world of death.” At the last stroke of the hammer the tone seemed to become discordant, and in a frenzy of nervous despair Toppleton opened his eyes and sprang to his feet. As he did so, his whole being became palpitant with terror, for staring at him out of the darkness he perceived a small orb-like something whose hue was that of an emerald in combustion.<br>
He clapped his hands over his eyes for a moment, but that phosphorescent gleam penetrated them, and then he perceived that it was not an eye that rested upon him, but a ray of light shining through a small hole that had escaped his searching glance in the wainscoting. The relief of this discovery was so great that it gave him courage to investigate, and stepping lightly across the room, noiseless as a particle of dust, he climbed upon a chair and peeped through the aperture, though it nearly blinded him to do so. To shade his eyes from the blinding light, he again covered them with his hand, and again observed that its intensity was sufficient to pierce through the obstruction and dazzle his vision. The hand so softened the light, however, that he could see what there was on the other side of the wall, though it was far from being a pretty sight that met his gaze.<br>
What he saw was a small oblong room in which there was no window, and, at first glance, no means of entrance or exit. It was high-ceiled like the room in which he stood, and, with the exception of a narrow couch covered with a black velvet robe, with a small pillow of the same material at the far end, the room was bare of furniture. There was no fire, no fixture of any kind, lamp or otherwise, from which illumination could come, and yet the room was brilliant with that same green light that Chatford had described to Hopkins at his office in the Temple.<br>
So dazzling was it, that for a moment Hopkins had difficulty in ascertaining just what there was in the apartment, but as he looked he became conscious of forms which grew more and more distinct as his eye accustomed itself to the light. On the couch in a moment appeared, rigid as in death, the body of Barncastle; the eyes lustreless and staring, the hands characterless and bluish even in the green light, the cheeks sunken and the massive forehead white and cold as marble.<br>
The sight chilled Toppleton to the marrow, and he averted his eyes from the horrible spectacle only to see one even more dreadful, for on the other side of the apartment, grinning fiendishly, the source of the wonderful light that flooded the room, he now perceived the fiend, making ready to assume once more the habiliments of mortality. He was stirring a potion, and, as Hopkins watched him, he began to whistle a combination of discords that went through Toppleton’s ears like a knife.<br>
The watcher became sick at heart. This was the frightful thing he had to cope with! So frightful was it that he tried to remove his eye from the peephole, and seek again the easy chair, when to his horror he found that he could not move. If his eye had in reality been glued to the aperture, he would not have found it more firmly fixed than it was at present. As he struggled to get away from the vision that was every moment being burned more and more indelibly into his mind, the fiend’s fearful mirth increased, at the close of one of the paroxysms of which he lifted the cup in which the potion had been mixed to his lips, and quaffed its contents to the very dregs.<br>
As the last drop trickled down the fiend’s throat, Hopkins was startled further to see the light growing dim, and then he noticed that the fiend was rapidly decreasing in size, shrinking slowly from a huge spectral presence into a hardly visible ball of green fire which rolled across the apartment to where the body lay; up the side of the couch to the pillow; along the pillow to that marble white forehead; where it paused. A tremor passed through the human frame lying prostrate there, and in a moment all was dark as night.
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