LOST HEARTS by M. R. James


“; for he never took his ‘urdy-gurdy, and there it lays on the shelf.”

 This sinister  story of the near 12 year old orphan Stephen taken on by  his elderly cousin Abney,  a man ostensibly into dark lore of various kinds, including having earlier fostered a gypsy girl and another boy, now vanished, and I infer they are linked to the harvesting of at least three human hearts as a spell to obviate death. Each heart a padlock slipping off? Yet, why is Mrs Bunch the servant (“Mrs Bunch was the most comfortable and human person”) said to have a “powerful intellect”? And, after all, she is the one who discreetly places a veil over the bathroom window. And thus I think she knew, more than she let on, about the scratches on the door and the rents in Stephen’s nightgown, and about the talking rats heard by Parkes in the wine cellar! So we now know that she actually rifled Abney, as his disloyal accomplice! Or is this old hat? Or simply wrong?

“…he felt as if an endless procession of unseen people were sweeping past him on the wind, borne on resistlessly and aimlessly, vainly striving to stop themselves, to catch at something that might arrest their flight…”


All my ongoing reviews of MRJ: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/my-ongoing-reviews-of-m-r-james-stories/

PS: my general tentative contention is that it was Mrs Bunch who lacerated Abney, based on various clues in the text.
PPS: please see comment below.

5 thoughts on “LOST HEARTS by M. R. James

  1. Well, it was the ghost children’s revenge (as probably intended by MRJ for us to believe); or Mrs Bunch helping them as they are ghosts and are not capable of physical revenge; or she, with her ‘powerful intellect’ and possibly as accomplice to Abney, transcended MRJ’s intentions or knowledge (!) because she, being elderly, too, had her own rites to enact …
    I shall go through the story again and re-assess.

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