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ghost stories
Scary and exciting Ghost Stories from around the World . . .

Ghost Story Title : Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book Part-4 by Montague Rhodes James


Ghost Story:

'A penwiper? No, no such thing in the house. A rat? No, too black. A large spider? I trust to goodness
not--no. Good God! a hand like the hand in that picture!'
In another infinitesimal flash he had taken it in. Pale, dusky skin, covering nothing but bones and tendons of
appalling strength; coarse black hairs, longer than ever grew on a human hand; nails rising from the ends of
the fingers and curving sharply down and forward, gray, horny and wrinkled.
He flew out of his chair with deadly, inconceivable terror clutching at his heart. The shape, whose left hand
rested on the table, was rising to a standing posture behind his seat, its right hand crooked above his scalp.
There was black and tattered drapery about it; the coarse hair covered it as in the drawing. The lower jaw was
thin--what can I call it?--shallow, like a beast's; teeth showed behind the black lips; there was no nose; the
eyes, of a fiery yellow, against which the pupils showed black and intense, and the exulting hate and thirst to
destroy life which shone there, were the most horrifying feature in the whole vision. There was intelligence of
a kind in them--intelligence beyond that of a beast, below that of a man.
The feelings which this horror stirred in Dennistoun were the intensest physical fear and the most profound
mental loathing. What did he do? What could he do? He has never been quite certain what words he said, but
he knows that he spoke, that he grasped blindly at the silver crucifix, that he was conscious of a movement
towards him on the part of the demon, and that he screamed with the voice of an animal in hideous pain.
Pierre and Bertrand, the two sturdy little serving-men, who rushed in, saw nothing, but felt themselves thrust
aside by something that passed out between them, and found Dennistoun in a swoon. They sat up with him
that night, and his two friends were at St. Bertrand by nine o'clock next morning. He himself, though still
shaken and nervous, was almost himself by that time, and his story found credence with them, though not
until they had seen the drawing and talked with the sacristan.
Almost at dawn the little man had come to the inn on some pretense, and had listened with the deepest interest
to the story retailed by the landlady. He showed no surprise.
'It is he--it is he! I have seen him myself,' was his only comment; and to all questionings but one reply was
vouchsafed: 'Deux fois je l'ai vu; mille fois je l'ai senti.' He would tell them nothing of the provenance of the
book, nor any details of his experiences. 'I shall soon sleep, and my rest will be sweet. Why should you
trouble me?' he said.[B]
We shall never know what he or Canon Alberic de Maulon suffered. At the back of that fateful drawing were some lines of writing which may be supposed to throw light on the situation:
'Contradictio Salomonis cum demonio nocturno. Albericus de Mauleone delineavit. V. Deus in adiutorium.
Ps. Qui habitat. Sancte Bertrande, demoniorum effugator, intercede pro me miserrimo. Primum uidi nocte
12^{mi} Dec. 1694: uidebo mox ultimum. Peccaui et passus sum, plura adhuc passurus. Dec. 29, 1701.'[C]
I have never quite understood what was Dennistoun's view of the events I have narrated. He quoted to me
once a test from Ecclesiasticus: 'Some spirits there be that are created for vengeance, and in their fury lay on
sore strokes.' On another occasion he said: 'Isaiah was a very sensible man; doesn't he say something about
night monsters living in the ruins of Babylon? These things are rather beyond us at present.'
Another confidence of his impressed me rather, and I sympathized with it. We had been, last year, to
Comminges, to see Canon Alberic's tomb. It is a great marble erection with an effigy of the Canon in a large
wig and soutane, and an elaborate eulogy of his learning below. I saw Dennistoun talking for some time with
the Vicar of St. Bertrand's, and as we drove away he said to me: 'I hope it isn't wrong: you know I am a
Presbyterian--but I--I believe there will be 'saying of Mass and singing of dirges' for Alberic de Maulon's
rest.' Then he added, with a touch of the Northern British in his tone, 'I had no notion they came so dear.'

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