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

Terrys Texas Rangers

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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

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Funny Bones

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Funny Bones
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Author(s): Selected by Dorothy Scarborough
Date Published: 2009/05
Page Count: 236
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-691-5
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-692-2

Haunted and humorous—an irresistible anthology of spooky fiction

Almost everybody loves a good ghost story. Masters (and especially mistresses) of the art of the short story have left us many finely crafted examples to enjoy around a warm, open fire as the dark and cold press in but remain excluded behind thick curtains. There is a certain pleasing thrill—a titillation of enjoyment—in the most unadulterated frightening tales. This book takes a different tack. Not content to give the reader a shudder of fear, the editor has sought out some of the finest exponents of the genre, and chosen stories that seek to bring a smile—and perhaps a chuckle—to the faces of enthusiasts of haunted tales. ‘Funny Bones’ contains 19 stories of the supernatural to amuse and frighten—often at the same time. Great fun!

He dropped the gold pieces into a kind of medieval pouch which was fastened at his belt, while he repeated: <br>
“The foot of the Princess Hermonthis to be used for a paper weight!”<br>
Then, fastening upon me his phosphorescent pupils he said, in a voice strident as the wails of a cat which has just swallowed a fish bone:<br>
“Old Pharaoh will not be pleased; he loved his daughter—that dear man.”<br>
“You speak of him as though you were his contemporary; no matter how old you may be, you do not date back to the pyramids of Egypt,” I answered laughingly from the threshold of the shop.<br>
I returned home, delighted with my purchase.<br>
To make use of it at once, I placed the foot of the exalted Princess Hermonthis on a stack of papers—sketches of verses, undecipherable mosaics of crossed out words, unfinished articles, forgotten letters, posted in the desk drawer, a mistake often made by absent-minded people; the effect was pleasing, bizarre, and romantic.<br>
Highly delighted with this decoration, I went down into the street, and took a walk with all the importance and pride proper to a man who has the inexpressible advantage over the passersby he elbows, of possessing a fragment of the Princess Hermonthis, daughter of Pharaoh.<br>
I thought people who did not possess, like myself, a paper weight so genuinely Egyptian, were objects of ridicule, and it seemed to me the proper business of the sensible man to have a mummy’s foot upon his desk.<br>
Happily, an encounter with several friends distracted me from my raptures over my recent acquisition, I went to dinner with them, for it would have been hard for me to dine alone.<br>
When I returned at night, with my brain somewhat muddled by the effects of a few glasses of wine, a vague whiff of oriental perfume tickled delicately my olfactory nerves. The heat of the room had warmed the natron, the bitumen, and the myrrh in which the paraschites who embalmed the dead had bathed the body of the Princess; it was a delicate, yet penetrating perfume, which four thousand years had not been able to dissipate.<br>
The Dream of Egypt was for the Eternal; its odours have the solidity of granite, and last as long.<br>
In a short time I drank full draughts from the black cup of sleep; for an hour or two all remained in obscurity; Oblivion and Nothingness submerged me in their sombre waves.<br>
Nevertheless the haziness of my perceptions gradually cleared away, dreams began to brush me lightly in their silent flight.
The eyes of my soul opened, and I saw my room as it was in reality. I might have believed myself awake, if I had not had a vague consciousness that I was asleep, and that something very unusual was about to take place.<br>
The odour of myrrh had increased in intensity, and I had a slight headache, which I very naturally attributed to several glasses of champagne that we had drunk to unknown gods, and to our future success.<br>
I scrutinized my room with a feeling of expectation, which there was nothing to justify. Each piece of furniture was in its usual place; the lamp, softly shaded by the milky whiteness of its ground crystal globe, burned upon the console, the water colours glowed from under the Bohemian glass; the curtains hung in heavy drooping folds; everything suggested tranquillity and slumber.<br>
Nevertheless, after a few moments the quiet of the room was disturbed, the woodwork creaked furtively, the ash-covered log suddenly spurted out a blue flame, and the surfaces of the plaques seemed like metallic eyes, watching, like myself, for what was about to happen.<br>
By chance my eyes fell on the table on which I had placed the foot of the Princess Hermonthis.<br>
Instead of remaining in the state of immobility proper to a foot which has been embalmed for four thousand years, it moved about in an agitated manner, twitching, leaping about over the papers like a frightened frog; one might have thought it in contact with a galvanic battery; I could hear distinctly the quick tap of the little heel, hard as the hoof of a gazelle.<br>
I became rather dissatisfied with my purchase, for I like paper weights of sedentary habits—besides I found it very unnatural for feet to move about without legs, and I began to feel something closely resembling fear.<br>
Suddenly I noticed a movement of one of the folds of my curtains, and I heard a stamping like that made by a person hopping about on one foot. I must admit that I grew hot and cold by turns, that I felt a mysterious breeze blowing down my back, and that my hair stood on end so suddenly that it forced my night-cap to a leap of several degrees.<br>
The curtains partly opened, and I saw the strangest figure possible advancing.<br>
It was a young girl, as coffee-coloured as Amani the dancer, and of a perfect beauty of the purest Egyptian type. She had slanting almond-shaped eyes, with eyebrows so black that they appeared blue; her nose was finely chiselled, almost Grecian in its delicacy; she might have been taken for a Corinthian statue of bronze, had not her prominent cheekbones and rather African fullness of lips indicated without a doubt the hieroglyphic race which dwelt on the banks of the Nile.<br>
Her arms, thin, spindle shaped, like those of very young girls, were encircled with a kind of metal ornament, and bracelets of glass beads; her hair was twisted into little cords; on her breast hung a green paste idol, identified by her whip of seven lashes as Isis, guide of souls—a golden ornament shone on her forehead, and slight traces of rouge were visible on the coppery tints of her cheeks.
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