Short, scary ghost stories

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Scottish Ghost Stories (Elliott O'Donnell) online

Scottish Ghost Stories


When Captain W. de S. Smythe went to look over "---- House," in the neighbourhood of Blythswood Square, Glasgow, the only thing about the house he did not like was the bathroom--it struck him as excessively grim. The secret of the grimness did not lie, he thought, in any one particular feature--in the tall, gaunt geyser, for example (though there was always something in the look of a geyser when it was old and dilapidated, as was the case with this one, that repelled him), or in the dark drying-cupboard, or in the narrow, slit-like window; but in the room as a whole, in its atmosphere and general appearance. He could not diagnose it; he could not associate it with anything else he had ever experienced; it was a grimness that he could only specify as grim--grim with a grimness that made him feel he should not like to be alone there in the dead of night. It was a nuisance, because the rest of the house pleased him; moreover, the locality was convenient, and the rent moderate, very moderate for such a neighbourhood. He thought the matter well over as he leaned in the doorway of the bathroom. He could, of course, have the room completely renovated--new paper, new paint, and a fresh bath. Hot-water pipes! The geyser should be done away with. Geysers were hideous, dangerous, and--pshaw, what nonsense!--Ghostly! Ghostly! What absurd rot! How his wife would laugh! That decided the question. His wife! She had expressed a very ardent wish that he should take a house in or near Blythswood Square, if he could get one on anything like reasonable terms, and here was his chance. He would accompany the agent of the property to the latter's office, and the preliminaries should be forthwith settled.

Six weeks later, he and his family were installed in the house, which still reeked with the smell of fresh paint and paper. The first thing the Captain did when he got there was to steal away slyly to the bathroom, and as soon as he opened the door his heart sank. Despite the many alterations the room had undergone, the grimness was still there--there, everywhere. In the fine new six-foot bath, with its glistening, gleaming, wooden framework; in the newly papered, newly painted cupboard; in the walls, with their bright, fresh paper; in the snowy surface of the whitewashed ceiling; in the air,--the very air itself was full of it. The Captain was, as a rule, very fond of his bath, but in his new quarters he firmly resolved that some one else should use the bath before he made the experiment. In a very few days the family had all settled down, and every one, with the exception of the Captain, had had a bath, but no matter how many and how bitter were his wife's complaints, try how he would, he could not, he positively _could_ not, bring himself to wash in the bathroom--_alone_. It was all right so long as the door was open, but his wife resolutely refused to allow him to keep it open, and the moment it was shut his abject terror returned--a terror produced by nothing that he could in any way analyse or define. At last, ashamed of his cowardice, he screwed up courage, and, with a look of determined desperation in his eyes and mouth--an expression which sent his wife into fits of laughter--set out one night from his bedroom, candle in hand, and entered the bathroom. Shutting and locking the door, he lighted another candle, and, after placing them both on the mantelshelf, turned on the bath water, and began to undress.