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Cynthia Asquith – When Churchyards Yawn

Posted by demonik on September 2, 2007

Cynthia Asquith (ed.) – When Churchyards Yawn (Hutchinson, 1931, Arrow, 1963)


Elizabeth Bowen – The Apple Tree
Hugh Walpole – A Little Ghost
L. P. Hartley – The Cotillion
Ann Bridge – The Buick Saloon
Algernon Blackwood – A Threefold Cord …
Arthur Machen – Opening The Door
Shane Leslie – As In A Glass Dimly
W. S. Morrison – The Horns Of The Bull
William Gerhari – The Man Who Came Back
Mrs. Belloc Lowndes – The Unbolted Door
Oliver Onions – “John Gladwin Says”
Philip MacDonald – Our Feathered Friends
Cynthia Asquith – “God Grante That She Lye Stille”

Elizabeth Bowen – The Apple Tree: Nineteen year old Myra is finding married life difficult to cope with, not through any fault of her husband, Squire Simon who dotes on her, but on account of the tragedy which befell her as a child. Brought up in a West Country orphanage, she and Doria were thrown together through their unpopularity with the other girls. When Myra was gradually accepted into the group, Doria took it badly and hung herself from the apple tree in the yard. It was Myra who discovered the swinging corpse and the Crampton Park School affair was a seven day wonder in the newspapers. Since then, Myra has been haunted by Doria, apple tree and all, neither of whom are shy of revealing themselves in Mr. Simon’s presence either. The drain on the otherwise loving couple’s health is taking its toll. Time for interfering busybody the indomitable Mrs. Bettersley to intervene on their behalf.

Lady Cynthia Asquith – God Grante That She Lye Stille: Mosstone Village. Margaret Clewer, the youthful owner of the manor house is a charming if elusive young lady with a heart condition and “a very considerable degree of anaemia” according to the diagnosis of the narrator, Dr. Stone, with whom she has fallen in love. Margaret herself complains “I don’t feel any sense of being a separate, continuous entity … I can’t find any essential core of personality – nothing that is equally there when I’m alone, with you, or with other people. There’s no real continuity, I’m hopelessly fluid!” Stone realises too late that his patient’s ailment has a supernatural basis as her ancestress, the sixteenth century Elspeth Clewer, is gradually taking possession, causing the sweet natured girl to tear the heads off her beloved pet birds and launch a vicious attack on the nurse. Can Stone prevent the love of his life being obliterated by the vampiric Elspeth?

William Gerhardi – The Man Who Came Back: Gentle ghost story of a dying old timer who can’t bear to think of being separated from his library and imagines the afterlife as an inexhaustible supply of great books and time enough to read them.

W. S. Morrison – The Horns Of The Bull: “But sons, if either of you leaves his island for the blood of the other, my curse will strike him … and his brother will triumph over him” – so says the dying elder of the Isle of the Lamb. The two sons, Orm and Iain, have loathed each other all their lives so their father leaves Orm the Isle of the Lamb and Iain the neighbouring Isle of the Bull to prevent them killing each other the minute he’s dead. Orm, the more war-like and devious of the pair, rules his people with black magic and terror while his brother lives as a hermit. You have probably already deduced who is responsible for triggering the final conflict and who prevails in a story that has more to do with folklore than terror.

Mrs. Belloc Lowdnes – The Unbolted Door: Mr. Jack Torquil refuses to accept that his son John, euphemistically reported “missing” in conflict toward the close of WW1 is dead. It’s possible that the Germans took him prisoner or he may have been committed to a mental hospital so the door has stayed unlatched for years awaiting his happy return. His wife Anne detests her husband his delusion, his inability to the truth and their once happy marriage has been dead since the day that curt telegram arrived. Now, on the anniversary of the Armistice, the handle of the unbolted door turns in the darkness ….

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