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The Shape of Fear   By: (1862-1935)

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First Page:

THE SHAPE OF FEAR

AND OTHER GHOSTLY TALES

By Elia Wilkinson Peattie

Original Transcriber's Note:

I have omitted signature indicators and italicization of the running heads. In addition, I have made the following changes to the text:

PAGE LINE ORIGINAL CHANGED TO 156 1 where as were as 156 4 mouth mouth. 165 5 Wedgwood Wedgewood 166 9 Wedgwood Wedgewood 167 6 surperfluous superfluous 172 11 every ever 173 17 Bogg Boggs

CONTENTS

THE SHAPE OF FEAR

ON THE NORTHERN ICE

THEIR DEAR LITTLE GHOST

A SPECTRAL COLLIE

THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT

STORY OF AN OBSTINATE CORPSE

A CHILD OF THE RAIN

THE ROOM OF THE EVIL THOUGHT

STORY OF THE VANISHING PATIENT

THE PIANO NEXT DOOR

AN ASTRAL ONION

FROM THE LOOM OF THE DEAD

A GRAMMATICAL GHOST

THE SHAPE OF FEAR

TIM O'CONNOR who was descended from the O'Conors with one N started life as a poet and an enthusiast. His mother had designed him for the priesthood, and at the age of fifteen, most of his verses had an ecclesiastical tinge, but, somehow or other, he got into the newspaper business instead, and became a pessimistic gentleman, with a literary style of great beauty and an income of modest proportions. He fell in with men who talked of art for art's sake, though what right they had to speak of art at all nobody knew, and little by little his view of life and love became more or less profane. He met a woman who sucked his heart's blood, and he knew it and made no protest; nay, to the great amusement of the fellows who talked of art for art's sake, he went the length of marrying her. He could not in decency explain that he had the traditions of fine gentlemen behind him and so had to do as he did, because his friends might not have understood. He laughed at the days when he had thought of the priesthood, blushed when he ran across any of those tender and exquisite old verses he had written in his youth, and became addicted to absinthe and other less peculiar drinks, and to gaming a little to escape a madness of ennui.

As the years went by he avoided, with more and more scorn, that part of the world which he denominated Philistine, and consorted only with the fellows who flocked about Jim O'Malley's saloon. He was pleased with solitude, or with these convivial wits, and with not very much else beside. Jim O'Malley was a sort of Irish poem, set to inspiring measure. He was, in fact, a Hibernian Mæcenas, who knew better than to put bad whiskey before a man of talent, or tell a trite tale in the presence of a wit. The recountal of his disquisitions on politics and other current matters had enabled no less than three men to acquire national reputations; and a number of wretches, having gone the way of men who talk of art for art's sake, and dying in foreign lands, or hospitals, or asylums, having no one else to be homesick for, had been homesick for Jim O'Malley, and wept for the sound of his voice and the grasp of his hearty hand.

When Tim O'Connor turned his back upon most of the things he was born to and took up with the life which he consistently lived till the unspeakable end, he was unable to get rid of certain peculiarities. For example, in spite of all his debauchery, he continued to look like the Beloved Apostle. Notwithstanding abject friendships he wrote limpid and noble English. Purity seemed to dog his heels, no matter how violently he attempted to escape from her. He was never so drunk that he was not an exquisite, and even his creditors, who had become inured to his deceptions, confessed it was a privilege to meet so perfect a gentleman. The creature who held him in bondage, body and soul, actually came to love him for his gentleness, and for some quality which baffled her, and made her ache with a strange longing which she could not define... Continue reading book >>




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