This second helping of tales from the casebooks of fictional sleuths of the supernatural continues in the same chilling and engrossing style as the First Leonaur Book of Supernatural Detectives with a generous collection of stories penned by masters—and mistresses—of the craft of writing spooky detective stories. This volume contains fourteen investigations in which dauntless detectives of the bizarre face all kinds of hazards in order to unravel the causes of strange and unearthly occurrences. Included here are ‘The Door Into Infinity’ by Edmond Hamilton, ‘The Spectre House’ by Gelett Burgess, ‘The Telepather’ by Henry A. Hering, ‘The Haunted Homestead’ by Henry Herbert and other enjoyable yarns to thrill and terrify readers! An essential anthology series for all aficionados of the genre.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
“From the old family records and papers that were entrusted to me I found that there could be no possible doubt that prior to something like a hundred and fifty years ago there were some very extraordinary and disagreeable coincidences, to put the thing in the least emotional way. In the whole of the two centuries prior to that date there were five first-born girls out of a total of seven generations of the family. Each of these girls grew up to maidenhood and each became engaged, and each one died during the period of engagement, two by suicide, one by falling from a window, one from a ‘broken heart’ (presumably heart failure, owing to sudden shock through fright). The fifth girl was killed one evening in the park ’round the house; but just how, there seemed to be no exact knowledge; only that there was an impression that she had been kicked by a horse. She was dead when found. Now, you see, all of these deaths might be attributed in a way—even the suicides—to natural causes, I mean as distinct from supernatural. You see? Yet, in every case the maidens had undoubtedly suffered some extraordinary and terrifying experiences during their various courtships for in all of the records there was mention either of the neighing of an unseen horse or of the sounds of an invisible horse galloping, as well as many other peculiar and quite inexplicable manifestations. You begin to understand now, I think, just how extraordinary a business it was that I was asked to look into.
“I gathered from one account that the haunting of the girls was so constant and horrible that two of the girls’ lovers fairly ran away from their ladyloves. And I think it was this, more than anything else, that made me feel that there had been something more in it than a mere succession of uncomfortable coincidences.
“I got hold of these facts before I had been many hours in the house and after this I went pretty carefully into the details of the thing that happened on the night of Miss Hisgins’s engagement to Beaumont. It seems that as the two of them were going through the big lower corridor, just after dusk and before the lamps had been lighted, there had been a sudden, horrible neighing in the corridor, close to them. Immediately afterward Beaumont received a tremendous blow or kick which broke his right forearm. Then the rest of the family and the servants came running to know what was wrong. Lights were brought and the corridor and, afterward, the whole house searched, but nothing unusual was found.
“You can imagine the excitement in the house and the half incredulous, half believing talk about the old legend. Then, later, in the middle of the night the old Captain was waked by the sound of a great horse galloping ’round and ’round the house.
“Several times after this both Beaumont and the girl said that they had heard the sounds of hoofs near to them after dusk, in several of the rooms and corridors.
“Three nights later Beaumont was waked by a strange neighing in the night-time seeming to come from the direction of his sweetheart’s bedroom. He ran hurriedly for her father and the two of them raced to her room. They found her awake and ill with sheer terror, having been awakened by the neighing, seemingly close to her bed.
“The night before I arrived, there had been a fresh happening and they were all in a frightfully nervy state, as you can imagine.
“I spent most of the first day, as I have hinted, in getting hold of details; but after dinner I slacked off and played billiards all the evening with Beaumont and Miss Hisgins. We stopped about ten o’clock and had coffee and I got Beaumont to give me full particulars about the thing that had happened the evening before.
“He and Miss Hisgins had been sitting quietly in her aunt’s boudoir whilst the old lady chaperoned them, behind a book. It was growing dusk and the lamp was at her end of the table. The rest of the house was not yet lit as the evening had come earlier than usual.
“Well, it seems that the door into the hall was open and suddenly the girl said: ‘H’sh! what’s that?’
“They both listened and then Beaumont heard it—the sound of a horse outside of the front door.
“‘Your father?’ he suggested, but she reminded him that her father was not riding.
“Of course they were both ready to feel queer, as you can suppose, but Beaumont made an effort to shake this off and went into the hall to see whether anyone was at the entrance. It was pretty dark in the hall and he could see the glass panels of the inner draft door, clear-cut in the darkness of the hall. He walked over to the glass and looked through into the drive beyond, but there nothing in sight.
“He felt nervous and puzzled and opened the inner door and went out on to the carriage-circle. Almost directly afterward the great hall door swung to with a crash behind him. He told me that he had a sudden awful feeling of having been trapped in some way—that is how he put it. He whirled ’round and gripped the door handle, but something seemed to be holding it with a vast grip on the other side. Then, before he could be fixed in his mind that this was so, he was able to turn the handle and open the door.
“He paused a moment in the doorway and peered into the hall, for he had hardly steadied his mind sufficiently to know whether he was really frightened or not. Then he heard his sweetheart blow him a kiss out of the greyness of the big, unlit hall and he knew that she had followed him from the boudoir. He blew her a kiss back and stepped inside the doorway, meaning to go to her. And then, suddenly, in a flash of sickening knowledge he knew that it was not his sweetheart who had blown him that kiss. He knew that something was trying to tempt him alone into the darkness and that the girl had never left the boudoir. He jumped back and in the same instant of time he heard the kiss again, nearer to him. He called out at the top of his voice: ‘Mary, stay in the boudoir. Don’t move out of the boudoir until I come to you.’ He heard her call something in reply from the boudoir and then he had struck a clump of a dozen or so matches and was holding them above his head and looking ’round the hall. There was no one in it, but even as the matches burned out there came the sounds of a great horse galloping down the empty drive.