Friday, 8 July 2016
The Ghost of Down Hill by Edgar Wallace
This is a rather rare edition of this story, which I found for next to nothing in a secondhand book shop many years ago. Even more unusual is that it still had the dust jacket, though in a somewhat fragile state. Here is the rather spooky passage that is illustrated in the book jacket art:
'The Ghost of Down Hill' by Edgar Wallace, 1929:
"She undressed and sat in her kimono by the open window looking over the garden. It was the third quarter of the moon and it was rising as she looked out upon that most wonderful of landscapes. The snowy expanse of the Downs lay in blue shadow and the moonlight flooded the broad white Weald with an uncanny radiance. She sighed happily, switched off the light and snuggled into bed. The strangeness of the room and , perhaps, the queer smell which all new furniture has, prevented her sleeping as soundly as she expected.
She turned from side to side, dozing fitfully, and then she heard the faint sound of a foot on the gravel path outside. From the position of the patch of moonlight on the floor she knew it must be very late and wondered if her uncle was in the habit of taking midnight strolls on such a freezing night. Slipping out of bed she pulled on her dressing-gown, walked to the window, and looked out. And then her blood froze, and her knees gave under her, for there in the middle of the garden path, standing out against the snowy background, was a figure in the sombre habit of a monk! The cowl was drawn over his head and the face was invisible.
It stood there motionless, its hands concealed in its wide sleeves, its head bent as in thought. Then slowly the head turned and the moonlight fell upon the bony face, the hollow sockets of its eyes, the white gleam of its fleshless teeth.
For a moment she stared, paralysed, incapable of sound or movement; and then she found her voice, and with a shrill scream collapsed on the floor in a dead faint".