presents: Selections from the book-
World's Best "True" Ghost Stories
A collection by C. B. Colby
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York 1988
From this book, we have selected the following four tales for your enjoyment---
Driving toward Montgomery, Alabama, late one evening, two businessmen planned to spend the night in a small town on the way. They were making good time through some low country where the road was a few feet above the surrounding land. Their headlights picked up a figure far ahead. As they drew nearer, they discovered that it was a little old lady walking briskly along the side of the road. Slowing down to speak to her, they saw that she wore a pale lavender dress, freshly pressed and sparkling clean. Her hair was nearly done and she turned a smiling face to them. She seemed completely untroubled about walking down a lonely highway in the middle of the night.
When the men asked what she was doing on the road at that time of night, she laughingly explained that she had started out to visit her daughter and grandchildren in Montgomery. She had hoped, she said, to get a ride for at least part of the way, but no one had offered her a lift; so she had just kept on walking.
The two men said they would give
her a lift as far as the next town, a two-hour drive, and
she was delighted to accept. She sat in the back seat
and, as they drove though the night, talked about
|their names, where they live, the
children's school - the usual small talk among strangers.
When the subject was exhausted, the men eventually became
engrossed in business conversation and forgot about the
passenger behind them.
When they reached their destination they stopped to let the elderly lady out. She was gone. Panic-stricken to think that she might have fallen out along the way, they headed back in search of her. But they found no signs of their passenger, even though they retraced their route to where they had picked her up, and saw her tiny footprints in the shoulder of the road where she had first talked to them.
Dismayed and mystified, they drove on to Montgomery and found her daughter's name and number in the local phone book. They felt they had to tell her abut what appeared to be a terrible accident. After listening to their story in bewilderment, the younger woman pointed to three photos on the mantel. Could they identify their passenger? The did, and she agreed that it was her mother. Without a doubt, they had talked to her. They went on to describe her dress, and the woman burst into tears. That was the dress, she said, her mother had worn when she last saw her.
"When was that?" they asked. The woman replied between sobs, "When she was buried, just three years ago today!"
|"A Night With the Dead"
It happened in the 1890's. A middle-aged couple driving a buggy along a New England road were overtaken by darkness. Not knowing how far away was the next town, they started looking for a place to spend the night. Soon they spotted a light to one side of the road and up a lane through the trees. They turned their tired horse and drove towards it.
The light turned out to be in a small farmhouse on a little hill between two huge elms. The husband rapped on the door, while his wife sat in the buggy.
An aged couple came to the door with a kerosene lamp. When the situation was explained to them, they invited the travelers in for the night. The two couples got along pleasantly, found that they had much in common and, after a warming cup of tea, they all retired. The host refused any payment for the lodgings.
The next morning the travelers rose early to be on their way. So as not to embarrass their host and hostess, they left some silver coins on the table in the hall before they slipped out of the house to hitch up their horse.
Driving to the next town, which proved to be just a couple of miles farther through the woods, they stopped at an inn for breakfast.
|Over coffee, they mentioned to the
innkeeper where they had stopped the night before and how
much they had enjoyed talking with the old couple. The
innkeeper l9ked at them in astonishment. They couldn't
have done any such thing, he told them, for he knew the
house and the Edmunds who had lived there. The Edmunds
had died 20 years before.
The travelers were incredulous. Edmunds was the name the old couple had given them. Their descriptions of the couple tallied with the innkeeper's but the travelers knew they had spoken with the Edmunds and drunk tea with them.
"Impossible," scoffed the innkeeper. The Edmunds had been burned to death in a fire that had completely destroyed their home and it had never been rebuilt. The argument grew hot. Finally the travelers insisted on driving the innkeeper back to the farm to prove they had slept there the night before.
Back they went the two miles. There, to their horror, all they found was an empty cellar hole overgrown with weeds and filled with burned timbers and blackened furniture. The couple could not believe their eyes. But then it was the innkeeper's turn to pale. With a cry to terror, the wife pointed a shaky finger at one spot in the charred rubble below them. On what might have been a hall table, shone a half dollar and two quarters, just the amount the travelers had left in payment that morning while the Edmunds were still "asleep".
Black Thing in the Cellar"
This ghost tale from New Jersey may illustrate the moral that if you happen to have a ghost in your house, the most practical curse of action is to be hospitable. It might even pay off in hard cash...
It seems that a house in Trenton had been known to be haunted for many years, and nobody would rent it, in spite of its being an attractive little cottage in a nice neighborhood. Finally a local man with a rather bad reputation appeared and offered to take it over. The owner informed him of the house's reputation and detailed its history. The man was not at all fazed. He laughed and signed the lease, saying he wasn't afraid of man, monster, or ghost.
One night, after living in the house about a week, the tenant had to go into the cellar. He took a candle and headed down. He was two steps above its stone floor when a huge black "thing" rose up at the bottom of the stairs. It had two glowing yellow-white eyes that seemed to stare clear through him. The man was startled but instead of fleeing he swore at the phantom and hurled his candlestick at it.
The neighbors found him a day or so later. He was alive, but all his hair was burned of, and he was a mass of bruises from head to toe. He moved out as soon as he was able to.
|The next tenant was a gentle elderly lady
who did a great deal of work for the local church. She
had heard about the phantom, but the little house was
inexpensive and it suited her and she decided to move in,
ghost or no ghost. She would take her chances, she said.
It was lucky for her that she did.
After several days in the house, with no disturbance, she too had to go to the cellar after dark. As the gleams of the candle lighted up the stone cellar, the black thing rose up before her. She held the candle higher and said very calmly, "My, you startled me, my friend, but what in the name of heaven do you want? Is there anything I can do to help you, as long as we are going to live here together?"
To her astonishment the black shape motioned for the lady to follow. It slowly drifted back across the stone flagging of the floor to an old wooden chest in the corner. She followed with the candle and obeyed the directions of the "thing" when it motioned for her to move the chest aside. It was empty, and she moved it easily. She found a loose flagstone underneath. The murky figure motioned for her to lift the flagstone, and again she complied.
Underneath it was a lead-lined box full of old gold coins. She stared at them for a moment. Then, half to herself, she said, "Can these be for me?" and turned to look at the phantom. It was gone but a cool breeze touched her on the cheek, in an almost friendly caress.
~~~Tale # 4~~~
On a small isolated farm in South Carolina an old woman lived alone with her dog. One night, as she was going about her chores, she became aware of an odd whistling sound somewhere outside. It did not sound like high wind in the pines, noises of nature, or a human whistle. It was very strange. Curious, she went to the farmhouse door. As she did, she noticed that her small terrier was barking and howling on the back porch. This porch, which was enclosed, made a dark and snug haven for the pup.
She opened the door. The wavering and high-pitched whistle seemed to be coming towards the house from across the hills, yet it was as hard to locate as the chirp of a cricket. It must be some of the local youngsters trying to frighten her, she thought, but she shut and bolted the door and hastily got her late husband's revolver - just in case. She returned to the door to await whatever
|might be going to happen next. She left
the dog on the back porch. If it were just pranksters his
barking would frighten them away.
The whistle came nearer, although the old woman could see nothing. Then it seemed to turn, pass slowly around the house and approach the porch, where the now hysterical terrier was almost beside himself with excitement.
Soon there was a terrific outcry and sounds of struggle on the back porch. Then silence - as complete as it was terrifying. The lady, alone in the stillness, shook with fright. She did not dare go out onto the porch. Eventually she went to bed.
The next morning she in investigated. The dog was gone, and blood was spattered all about. What had taken place? The whistle had stopped when the struggle began. But what was it that had caused the blood shed? What happened to the little terrier? Nobody ever found out.
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