“‘The night’s young. Come into my place and have a drink, if you will.’ I thanked him and said that I would. He turned towards me and let a hand fall on my knee.”
At the time I first read the above passage at the start of the introductory ‘frame story’, I laughed, even though I only laughed because I had childishly taken it out of context. I paid the price for that when I reached the story’s ending. Those who have already read it will know why! Just read the story’s final sentence.
A ghost story that has managed to avoid me until today, or vice versa! It is genuinely scary, and that may be because, like Crutchley, I am ‘susceptible’, the one who sees and has now seen. I scry stories, and I knew one day, a certain story would be my come-uppance. But I needed to know from this ‘frame story’, how, at a relatively young age, Crutchley’s hair had abruptly turned from the most attractive black to a complete whiteness…
He stays in Rouen, a place that “goes to bed early, and you don’t have sex flaunted before you wherever you look” — and it suits his temperament. But, as a pervasive sense of depression, the square garden at the claustrophobic centre of the Rouen hotel, in a room of which hotel (overlooking the garden) Crutchley was working on his article about Jeanne d’Arc, or had he already finished it? I forget. Yes, the garden is both a come-uppance and a downer, too. The description makes this clear.
And one of the most haunting scenes in ghost story literature transpires when, smoking, he first sees, from his window, the woman sitting in that garden. There followed his growing obsession to see her face, despite the hotel staff trying to save him from so doing, but whether I believe what one of the waiters told Crutchley about that woman is something I still tussle with.
“…but he will not see her when he is with one who does not see.”
My other reviews of A.M. Burrage: THE SWEEPER, SMEE, and THE WAXWORK: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/09/13/the-sweeper-by-a-m-burrage/