A rare and highly regarded collection of the ghostly and strange
The author of this collection of tales of the supernatural, Lady Bessie Kyffin-Taylor, undertook few forays into the realms of the fiction of the ghostly and other worldly and the result is this book of seven short stories, From out of the Silence. Originally published in an undated edition, but believed to have been released around 1920, the collection appeared just two years before the author’s death. Kyffin-Taylor’s style is judged by some to be reminiscent of the acclaimed writer of supernatural tales E. F. Benson, and must therefore be of interest to any aficionado of the genre, because the comparison elevates the quality of these tales into heady company. That said, one might mourn the fact that Kyffin-Taylor’s output was so small. So concise a volume, published so long ago and with such an uncertain history must be a rare find indeed on the antiquarian market, and so the Leonaur editors are doubly pleased to make it more widely available by including it in the Leonaur Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction series.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
I proceeded to make my arrangements for the night, in a most thorough manner. I heaped up the fire first until the leaping flames lit up even the dimmest corners of the room, making the polished floor between the rugs shine like glass. I calmly surveyed my two beds, quickly making up my mind to occupy the four-poster, so drew the little table well between the two, but in such a position that I could, if needs be, easily reach the little brass bed. I had decided not to sit up in the orthodox way and await the arrival of my visitors, ghostly or otherwise. No! I determined, I would go to bed, and to sleep if possible. I whistled cheerily to myself as I undressed, tucking my torch into the pocket of my pyjamas. I turned in, and settled myself comfortably. After about an hour’s reading, I blew out my candles, and prepared for sleep. I did sleep, and was awakened as suddenly as before, but this time by hearing the fire being gently stirred. I looked, expecting to see a bright blaze as the result, but black darkness greeted me, yet I could hear the coal being moved. I strained my eyes and ears, listening intently, and trying not to light up my torch, now ready in my hand. I heard the poker laid down. I heard the soft shuffle of felt slippers crossing the polished floor, nearer and nearer to the bed they came.<br>
I heard what sounded like a tinkle of a spoon against a glass, and a soft hand was laid on my wrist, rendering me powerless to light my torch, and turning me cold with terror. With a frantic plunge, I got to the other side of the bed, hoping and praying I should have strength to hurl myself across the little space into the brass bed, but to my unspeakable and everlasting horror, the other side of my four-poster was not empty! Someone was there—some form! With frenzied strength I sat up, flashing my torch as I did so, I suppose I was awake—I suppose I was sane though I would prefer to think I was asleep, or mad.<br>
In my four-poster lay an old man—a man with a drawn livid face, closed eyes, and snow-white hair, one of whose hands lay outside the covers—claw-like, livid—on one finger of it shone a ring—an uncut emerald in a dull silver setting! winked in the light of my torch, as I held it tremblingly, for the light to shine as far as could be. Beside him stood a woman dressed as a nurse, holding a medicine glass in her right hand, while the other hand held his wrist; an evil smile hovered on her thin lips, and her hair, lit by my torch, was dull iron grey, flattened into a hard line above thin straight eyebrows; I glanced hurriedly round, my whole room seemed changed—a large screen stood round the bed, shielding the window, the writing table seemed full of bottles, in place of my books, garments, which were not mine, lay scattered about.<br>
I was so paralysed with terror, I could neither speak nor move, but clung to my torch as the cold sweat poured from me. I saw her raise the old man’s head. I saw him drink the contents of the glass held to his lips, and then, with a frenzied leap, I made one dash for the little bed, and fell on it, fainting.