Ghost Story Review: "The Four-Fifteen Express" by Amelia B. Edwards and Charles Dickens
July 14, 2016 8:11am CST
William Langford is on his way by rail to spend the month of December with his boyhood friend Jonathan Jelf. He asked for a private car and is just getting comfortable when a gentleman entered, opening the car with a private key. He recognizes him as a cousin of his host’s wife named Dwerrihouse, a railroad director. He’d not seen him in three years, but got the impression those three years had not been kind to him. The two men talk. Dwerrihouse says he won’t be joining the Jelf household for the holidays just yet. He has business to take care in Blackwater. He’s quite chatting about his business, noting, among other things, that he’s carrying £75,000. When Dwerrihouse gets off at Blackwater, he leaves behind a monogrammed cigar case. While he has a chance, Langford chases after him. He sees him briefly talking with another man. A cart passes between him and the two other men and they seem to disappear. The whistle blows and Langford must return to the train. Later at dinner, Langford mentions to Mrs. Jelf that he rode on the train with her cousin. A sudden silence falls over the room. Another guest changes the subject, asking about Langford’s recent travels abroad. Afterward, when he asks if he has said something wrong, Langford is told privately that John Dwerrihouse absconded three months earlier with £75,000 of the company’s money and has not been heard of since. In the concluding paragraphs, the authors note that the malefactor was hanged at the Old Bailey in January 1857. His likeness in wax was placed in Madame Tusssaud’s Chamber of Horrors “in the midst of a select society of ladies and gentlemen of atrocious memory.” I’ve been unable to find mention of either bad’un or victim on the modern repository of human knowledge AKA Google. This is a classical ghost story, with the ghost coming back seeking justice. It is however, on the long side. The reader has to make his way through the same material a couple of times. It is a 19th century piece, though, very period. All things considered, it is an engaging enough little read. This novelette is available from Project Gutenberg in the collection A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest. ______ Title: “The Four-Fifteen Express” Author: Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870) First published in Routledge's Christmas Annual 1866, 1867 Source: ISFDB *An earlier version of this review appeared at another site. It has been updated and expanded for its inclusion in myLot.*
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• United States
14 Jul 16
Hmm... I know I commented on this earlier. Where'd it go? Oh, well. The sum total of my wise remarks was that I think Dickens did a bit of collaborating, esp, w/female writers, on the Q.T. The e-book I read this in lists only Amelia B. Edwards, but ISFDB lists both her and Dickens.