A. N. L. Munby – The Alabaster Hand (Tandem, 1974: originally Dobson, 1949)
“Centuries-old houses, ancient leather volumes, illuminated manuscripts and long-revered traditions – these are the stuff of which the most fearsome tales can be woven. The stories in this book challenge comparisons with those of that master of the uncanny tale, the author of Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary, to whom they are dedicated”.
Tales for a winter evenings, when the curtains are drawn, the wind-blown ivy taps against the glass, and a clammy fog swirls round the house …
Tales for a summer night when the moon casts strange shadows and the grass rustles as though someone were passing ….
Tales to read in a fire-lit library, where secret knowledge is lockedin dusty parchments …
Tales to remember in the Crypt of an ancient church or the dank chill of a graveyard .. .
Tales which will haunt you long after you have closed this book and turned out the light.
The Alabaster Hand
The Topley Place Sale
The Tudor Chimney
A Christmas Game
The White Sack
The Negro’s Head
The Tregganet Book Of Hours
An Encounter In The Mist
The Devil’s Autograph
A Christmas Game: Dorchester, 1880’s. Father invites Fenton, an old school friend, to spend Christmas with his family after a chance meeting in Exeter. The man has an aversion to anybody mentioning his years as an administrator in New Zealand.
Despite this, things are fine until the family settle down to play ‘dead man’ (as made infamous by Ray Bradbury in The October Game) and Fenton is handed two squishy grapes in the dark. He screams and suffers a stroke. Shortly after, the narrator, a young medical student sees the ghost of a blind Aborigine stumbling about the yard and it’s obvious who he’s come for.
The Tregganet Book Of Hours: St. Denoil, Cornwall. How an illustration in a Calendar of Saints came to be defaced and replaced. It all goes back to the 15th century when Lord of the Manor and pirate Hector Tregganet cheated Thomas Prest (!) out of his land by circulating stories among the superstitious peasants that he practiced witchcraft. They duly torched Prest’s house with he and his wife trapped inside. Before he died, Prest pronounced a curse on Tregganet that he “would never be buried with his forefathers in the church of St. Fagan.” On his death in 1510, Tregganet’s coffin was indeed taken into the church, but ….
continues on The Alabaster Hand thread on the Vault forum