Ghost story review: "The Dead Smile" by F. Marion Crawford

@msiduri (5757)
United States
September 19, 2016 7:23am CST
Sir Hugh Ockram is a miserable old cuss by anyone’s definition. He’s nearing the end of his wretched life and he smiles, drawing his parchment-like skin back to reveal his predatory teeth. Nurse Macdonald said once when Sir Hugh smiled, he saw the faces of two women in hell—two dead women he had betrayed. His son Gabriel and his niece Evelyn Warburton wish to marry. People were still marrying their first cousins. They can’t help notice that, as beautiful as Evelyn is and as angelic and innocent as Gabriel is, they have the same smile as old Sir Hugh. Sir Hugh’s response to their desire to marry is a study passive-aggression: “If you have made up your mind to be married, I cannot hinder you, and I don’t suppose you attach the smallest importance to my consent—” He later adds, “You will marry when I am dead, though there is a very good reason why you had better not—” And, of course, “Never mind the reason.” He takes a secret involving Evelyn’s paternity to the grave, though 100-year-old Nurse Macdonald, knowing the end is near, tries everything to get him to reveal it. He smiles and is still smiling when he’s laid to rest in the north vault beside his father. But that’s not the end of the story. A banshee or two comes calling. Not even Christmas, with new Sir Gabriel at the helm, is safe from supernatural interference. But supernatural phenomena are not new to the residents of the Ockram house. Ancestor Sir Vernon, beheaded for treason under James II (reigned 1685-1688), won’t stay in his coffin. He doesn’t do much except freak out people who enter the crypt. Of course, Sir Hugh’s secret is obvious (if not the details) to everyone except Gabriel and Evelyn. The mechanism for their finding it out is unlikely and, I thought, rather clumsy. But the story contained banshees appearing at the windows and howling, Evelyn got to faint, and the old cuss was discomfited in the afterlife. This is not a gotta read, but it is entertaining. This story is available in the collection Wandering Ghosts at Project Gutenberg: _____ Title: “The Dead Smile” Author: F. Marion Crawford (1854-1909) First published: Ainslee's August 1899 Source: ISFDB
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/40386
4 people like this
4 responses
@JohnRoberts (49196)
• Los Angeles, California
26 Sep 16
Sounds fun actually. Would have made a great cheap movie in the 60s.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
27 Sep 16
Well, with the hint of incest (which never actually occurs) they could never actually make the movies in the 60s. Even first cousins marrying was looked at rather askance.
1 person likes this
@silvermist (18123)
• India
21 Sep 16
@msiduri After reading many such stories,I am not scared.As you said,the secret is obvious.The author keeps on describing things,But it is entertaining.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
21 Sep 16
I thought so. I certainly didn't regret reading it. It was fun, esp. at the end when the smile is finally wiped off the face of old Sir Hugh.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (39946)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Sep 16
I tagged it so I can come back and read it.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
19 Sep 16
How you enjoy it. It's a bit on the heavy side.
1 person likes this
• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
19 Sep 16
Sounds interesting, but scary
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5757)
• United States
19 Sep 16
It might have scared me when I was younger, but now I just found it fun.
1 person likes this