The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe: Eight Short Stories of the Strange and Unusual Including ‘The Ghost in the Mill,’ ‘How to Fight the Devil’ and ‘The Visit to the Haunted House’
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) remains renowned as an author for her novel, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (1852) which took as its theme the harsh lives of African-American slaves in the southern states of America during the pre-Civil War period. The publication of that book exposed the unpalatable and monstrous injustice of slavery to an international readership which had no personal experience of it. She will always be remembered as a tireless campaigner whose work galvanised anti-slavery movements in the northern states and as a committed feminist and advocate for women's rights. In addition to her most famous book she wrote thirty others on a variety of subjects as well as the short stories collected here. Although Harriet Beecher Stowe's excursions into the fiction of the ghostly and peculiar were comparatively few in number, they are charmingly set within the world of the rural south of America in the mid-19th century and are populated by a cast of unforgettable period characters. All of those tales are gathered together in this special Leonaur edition.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
“Wal, sure enough, he see a man a-crouchin’ over the stove, with his back to him, a-stretchin’ out his hands to warm ’em. He had on a sou’wester and a pea-jacket, with a red tippet round his neck; and his clothes was drippin’ as if he’d just come in from a rain.
“‘What the divil!’ says Tom. And he riz right up, and rubbed his eyes. ‘Bill Bridges,’ says he, ‘what shine be you up to now?’ For Bill was a master oneasy crittur, and allers a-gettin’ up and walkin’ nights; and Tom, he thought it was Bill. But in a minute, he looked over, and there, sure enough, was Bill, fast asleep in his bunk, mouth wide open, snoring like a Jericho ram’s-horn. Tom looked round, and counted every man in his bunk, and then says he, ‘Who the devil is this? for there’s Bob Coffin on deck, and the rest is all here.’
“Wal, Tom wa’n’t a man to be put under too easy. He hed his thoughts about him allers; and the fust he thought in every pinch was what to do. So, he sot considerin’ a minute, sort o’ winkin’ his eyes to be sure he saw straight, when, sure enough, there come another man backin’ down the companion-way.
“‘Wal, there’s Bob Coffin, anyhow,’ says Tom to himself. But no, the other man, he turned: Tom see his face; and, sure as you live, it was the face of a dead corpse. Its eyes was sot, and it jest came as still across the cabin, and sot down by the stove, and kind o’ shivered, and put out its hands as if it was gettin’ warm.
“Tom said that there was a cold air round in the cabin, as if an iceberg was comin’ near, and he felt cold chills running down his back; but he jumped out of his bunk, and took a step forward. ‘Speak!’ says he. ‘Who be you? and what do you want?’
“They never spoke, nor looked up, but kept kind o’ shivering and crouching over the stove.
“‘Wal,’ says Tom, ‘I’ll see who you be, anyhow.’ And he walked right up to the last man that come in, and reached out to catch hold of his coat-collar; but his hand jest went through him like moonshine, and in a minute he all faded away; and when he turned round the other one was gone too. Tom stood there, looking this way and that; but there warn’t nothing but the old stove, and the lantern swingin’, and the men all snorin’ round in their bunks. Tom, he sung out to Bob Coffin. ‘Hullo, up there!’ says he. But Bob never answered, and Tom, he went up, and found Bob down on his knees, his teeth a-chatterin’ like a bag o’ nails, trying to say his prayers; and all he could think of was, ‘Now I lay me,’ and he kep’ going that over and over. Ye see, boys, Bob was a drefful wicked, swearin’ crittur, and hadn’t said no prayers since he was tew years old, and it didn’t come natural to him. Tom give a grip on his collar, and shook him. ‘Hold yer yawp,’ said he. ‘What you howlin’ about? What’s up?’