Twenty-Nine Short Stories of the Strange and Unusual Including ‘Confession’, ‘If the Cap Fits’, ‘The Destruction of Smith’, ‘The Man Who Found Out’ and ‘The Wings of Horus’
A fourth helping of Blackwood's tales of the uncanny
Algernon Henry Blackwood was one of the most prolific authors of supernatural and horror fiction in the history of the genre. In fact, his output was so great and rapidly produced that it is possible his entire cannon remains unknown. Born in Shooter’s Hill (which now part of south-east London) in 1869, his father was a civil servant and his mother was the widow of the 6th Duke of Manchester. As an adventurous young Englishman, Blackwood travelled to Canada and the USA where he worked at a number of jobs including as a journalist for the 'New York Times'. At the turn of the 20th century Blackwood returned to Britain and embarked upon his career as a writer of supernatural and horror stories. His output was astonishing, resulting in at least ten collections of short stories together with 14 novels and plays. He regularly broadcast his work on radio and later on television. His two best known stories are probably, ‘The Willows’ and ‘The Wendigo’. Blackwood died from a stroke in 1951. The Leonaur collection of Blackwood’s strange fiction seeks to gather together the majority of his known shorter supernatural fiction into a comprehensive set.
Among the contents of volume four of this comprehensive Leonaur collection of Blackwood's shorter fiction, the reader will discover, 'Jimbo's Longest Day', 'Strange Disappearance of a Baronet',' The Goblin's Collection', 'The Whisperers',' Wind' and many others.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
“I heard it first,” she then said softly, “the night before Jack got the fever. And as I listened, I heard him crying. But when I went in to see he was asleep. The noise stopped just outside the building.” There was a shadow in her eyes as she said this, and a hush crept in between her words. “I did not hear it go.” She said this almost beneath her breath.
He looked a moment at the ground; then, coming towards her, he took her in his arms and kissed her. And she clung very tightly to him.
“Sometimes,” he said in a quiet voice, “a mounted policeman passes down the street, I think.”
“It is a horse,” she answered. But whether it was a question or mere corroboration he did not ask, for at that moment the doctor arrived, and the question of little Jack’s health became the paramount matter of immediate interest. The great man’s verdict was uncommonly disquieting.
All that night they sat up in the sick room. It was strangely still, as though by one accord the traffic avoided the house where a little boy hung between life and death. The motor-horns even had a muffled sound, and heavy drays and wagons used the wide streets; there were fewer taxicabs about, or else they flew by noiselessly. Yet no straw was down; the expense prohibited that. And towards morning, very early, the mother decided to watch alone. She had been a trained nurse before her marriage, accustomed when she was younger to long vigils. “You go down, dear, and get a little sleep,” she urged in a whisper. “He’s quiet now. At five o’clock I’ll come for you to take my place.”
“You’ll fetch me at once,” he whispered, “if——” then hesitated as though breath failed him. A moment he stood there staring from her face to the bed. “If you hear anything,” he finished. She nodded, and he went downstairs to his study, not to his bedroom. He left the door ajar. He sat in darkness, listening. Mother, he knew, was listening, too, beside the bed. His heart was very full, for he did not believe the boy could live till morning. The picture of the room was all the time before his eyes—the shaded lamp, the table with the medicines, the little wasted figure beneath the blankets, and mother close beside it, listening. He sat alert, ready to fly upstairs at the smallest cry.
But no sound broke the stillness; the entire neighbourhood was silent; all London slept. He heard the clock strike three in the dining-room at the end of the corridor. It was still enough for that. There was not even the heavy rumble of a single produce wagon, though usually they passed about this time on their way to Smithfield and Covent Garden markets. He waited, far too anxious to close his eyes. . . .At four o’clock he would go up and relieve her vigil. Four, he knew, was the time when life sinks to its lowest ebb. . . .Then, in the middle of his reflections, thought stopped dead, and it seemed his heart stopped too.
Far away, but coming nearer with extraordinary rapidity, a sharp, clear sound broke out of the surrounding stillness—a horse’s hoofs. At first it was so distant that it might have been almost on the high roads of the country, but the amazing speed with which it came closer, and the sudden increase of the beating sound, was such, that by the time he turned his head it seemed to have entered the street outside. It was within a hundred yards of the building. The next second it was before the very door. And something in him blenched. He knew a moment’s complete paralysis.