Ghost Story Review: "Hurst of Hurstcote" by E. Nesbit
October 4, 2016 9:41am CST
John Hurst was unpopular at Eton and later at Christ Church. It was more than his habit of preferring grubbing around in books to playing cricket. And there was that strange paper on black magic… Nevertheless, the narrator, Bernard, and he got along well enough. The only thing that stood between them was Kate Danvers. Bernard got over that soon enough when he met and married his own wife. Bernard becomes a physician and Hurst—after some grand die off of relatives—becomes Hurst of Hurstcote, heir to a fine Tudor mansion. They would gut it and rebuild a cottage, a work of years to come. A year after they marry, Hurst invites Bernard to come for a visit. The two men are happy to see each other. John is enjoying some popularity with his work and his unexpected prosperity. His new marriage is a joyous one and he’s grateful to see his old classmate. The visit is pleasant, until Mrs. Hurst falls ill. At first, Bernard thinks she’ll recover in a few days, but then he realizes her illness is fatal. He tells Hurst the news frankly. “You’re wrong,” he says. “She won’t die—she can’t die.” There’s something more than denial behind these words. Bernard tries to assure him his wife is gone, her soul with her creator. He’ll see her again, in maybe thirty or forty years. This is a sad story about good intentions gone bad. As much as the reader wants to see the awkward weird kid succeed, it never works out. The reader is assured that Hurst has given up his interest in black magic and such things when he and Kate Danvers married. It’s not that she believes in those things. She just doesn’t like them and believes there are things we mortals are not meant to know. And he’s only too happy to comply. The end was not a surprise. Nevertheless, I like this little tale. Author E. Nesbit is better known for his children’s stories, Five Children Series and Bastable Children and Wouldbegoods. She wrote the odd horror story for adults as well. She and her first husband leaned politically to the Marxist. I could not find an online version of this story, though, a whole lot of people seem willing to SELL me a copy of it. *sigh* _____ Title: “Hurst of Hurstcote” Author: E. Nesbit First published: Temple Bar June 1893 Source: story
5 people like this
• Sheffield, England
4 Oct 16
I haven't read this but I've read E Nesbit's children's books - 'The Phoenix and the Carpet', the Enchanted Castle', 'Five Children and It', The Story of the Treasure Seekers, Wet Magic, etc. Her socialist principles come out strongly even in the children's books. I remember Wet Magic describing a world under the sea which was something of a socialist utopia. I don't suppose children reading it would've picked up on the messages.
2 people like this
• United States
4 Oct 16
I remember reading one of her Five Children stories when I was a kid, long ago and far away. The only thing I really remember was a secret passage and someone not liking a dog. As an ardent dog-lover even then, I thought it was impossible that a kid didn't like a dog. I don't think I wouldn't have know what a socialist was if on had bit me, as long as they treated their dogs well.