For today’s choice, a selection from Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, Cynthia Asquith’s “The Corner Shop.” In his (typically smart-ass) intro, Dahl mentions meeting Asquith, the grand dame of the English Ghost story, and getting a ghostly reading list from her, many of which he found bad to unreadable (seemingly the more famous the writer, the weaker the story correlated for many cases.)
He did find a set worth anthologizing, including one by Asquith herself. A nicely folded example of the “haunted shop” genre. (Complete with a critique of neo-liberal economics.)
Here’s the opening (full text does not seem to be available, but it’s likely in your local library).
The Corner Shop
Peter Wood’s executors found their task a very easy one. He had left his affairs in perfect order. The only surprise yielded by his methodical writing-table was a sealed envelope on which was written: ‘Not wishing to be bothered by well-meaning Research Societies, I have never shown the enclosed to anyone, but after my death all are welcome to read what, to the best of my knowledge, is a true story.’
The manuscript which bore a date three years previous to the death of the writer was as follows.
‘I have long wished to record an experience of my youth. I won’t attempt any explanation. I draw no conclusions. I merely narrate certain events.’
‘One foggy evening, at the end of a day of enforced idleness…’