The Haunted Doll’s House by M.R. James

(My other reviews of M.R. James HERE)

“…he pointed with his stick to an object which shall be described when the time comes:”

“The point of agreement was, of course, somewhere between the two, it does not matter exactly where—I think sixty guineas.”

Told by a puckish narrator (“…an inventory of costume: I am incapable of it”) who even compares, at the very end, the events he tells to those in THE MEZZOTINT to take the wind out of the sails that he had already put into them, or the air of life he had put into the mysterious eponymous object and its inhabitants and their change of clothes, and its change of décor, a tale that is never COMPLETE although it says it is COMPLETE in the middle of it, before an elbows-on-the-table moment triggers the panoply or role-play of sinister events that the poor purchaser witnesses from his own bed as if the object and its contents were actually more real than Dillet himself, but the least said about his subsequent meeting with the man who sold it to him for perhaps sixty guineas the better, I say. Or ‘left to the imagination’, as it says.

“It’s full of little things that mustn’t be displaced more than we can help.”

“…now stood on Mr. Dillet’s large kneehole table, lighted up by the evening sun which came slanting through three tall slash-windows.” (SIC in my version)

“At the angles were absurd turrets covered with arched panels.”

“…four large rooms, bedroom, dining-room, drawing-room and kitchen, each with its appropriate furniture in a very COMPLETE state. […] The stable on the right was in two storeys, with its proper COMPLEMENT of horses, coaches and grooms, and with its clock and Gothic cupola for the clock bell. […] highly COMPLACENT frame of mind.” (My upper case letters throughout – and can anything be very complete?)

“The tale was complete.” — Except it wasn’t!

“…seen as if through the wrong end of a telescope.”

“The man of the blue satin and the woman of the brocade were alone in the room, and they were talking very earnestly, seated close together at the table, their elbows on it: every now and again stopping to listen, as it seemed.”

“The seer does not like to dwell upon what he saw entering the room: he says it might be described as a frog—the size of a man—but it had scanty white hair about its head.”

Frogs never say ‘ribbit ribbit’ but Dillet Dillet?


A Kneehole Table

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