Gruesome Cargoes

Horror fiction 1925-1937: ‘Not At Nights’ & ‘Creeps’

Archive for the ‘Keep on the Light’ Category

Keep on the Light

Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Christine Campbell Thomson (ed.) – Keep on the Light – (Selwyn & Blount, July, 1933)


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Many thanks to Robert Weinberg for kindly granting me permission to use his cover scans.

Hester G. Holland – The Library
Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies
Henry S. Whitehead – The Chadbourne Episode
Robert E. Howard – Worms Of The Earth
Flavia Richardson – The Black Hare
Bassett Morgan – Tiger Dust
Mary E. Counselman – The House Of Shadows
J. Dyott Mathews – Green Slime
Jessie D. Kerruish – The Seven Locked Room
Warden Ledge – Legion Of Evil
Don C. Wiley – The Head Of Wu Fang
Guy Preston – The Way He Died
Hugh B. Cave – Cult Of The White Ape
Rosalie Muspratt – Althorpe Abbey
Clark Ashton Smith – Isle Of The Torturers

Hester Holland – The Library: Margaret, fresh from her break up with her fiance, applies for the position of secretery to the elderly Lady Farrell at Wincombe Court. After enquiring if Margaret has any close family or friends and receiving the all-important ‘no’ in reply, Lady F. hires her to look after the place while she’s abroad. At first, Margaret is a little disappointed that her work involves so little and the library – “the heart of the house” – is out of bounds to her. Worse, Wincombe Court is alive, and it requires a steady stream of sacrifices. Eventually, Margaret gets to see inside the library and meets the girls who had the job before her. What’s left of them.

Hester Holland – The Library: Margaret has been jilted, and her doctor recommends that she takes time off work. She has no family so instead looks for work in the country; fresh air and all that. Her new employer, Lady Farrell tells Margaret that she must always be on guard against the rest of her family, who would heartlessly gut the old family home of its treasures if she doesn’t watch them. This is where Margaret is to come in: standing guard, playing the ‘Lady’ in Lady Farrell’s absence. Left in charge of the house, she is free to go where she will, except the library, which she somehow comes to think of as the heart of the house. There are one or two genuinely chilly moments in this one, reminding me alternately of W H Hodgson’s The Whistling Room and various stories by M R James. It can also be seen as an interesting precursor to Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings Roger Pile

Warden Ledge – Legion Of Evil: “My God! ‘Gunner’, they’re killing for the sake of killing.” When magistrate Jack Bairdsly evicts the old hag ‘Madge’, a reputed witch, from her hovel in Long Woods, she wreaks bloody vengeance with the help of an army of blood-lusting … stoats. First they attack the stable and then – with Jack, his brother-in-law, the grooms and all the horses down – they move on to the house, where Mrs. Bairdsley is sleeping …

Flavia Richardson – The Black Hare: “You be going to stay here alone, misses? … only they do say as how … strange things have happened here afore now”. So says the superstitious coachman as he and his passengers, Elizabeth and Susan, alight at Wisteria Cottage, the girls having just inherited it from an uncle, Mr. Roylance. The credulous old fool’s main cause for concern involves a black hare which can transform itself into a women and augers death or some such poppycock.
The girls are met at the door of their new home by Mrs. Verity who used to do for their late uncle. She readies a fire for them, helps them unpack and tells them to give she or her husband a shout if they need anything – she lives in a cottage at the bottom of their garden. Susan decides to explore the attic while Elizabeth settles for a relaxing bath.

As she lies in the tub, Elizabeth hears a dull thump overhead and then a droplet of blood lands in the water, followed by another. She rushes upstairs to see if her sister has met with some accident and sure enough, Susan is dead, her throat having been torn out. Elizabeth runs to the window to raise the alarm … just in time to see a black hare disappear into Mrs. Verity’s cottage …

Oscar Cook – Golden Lilies: Magistrate Chan Ah Fook must find the perpetrator of an infamous murder – the old nail-hammered-into-the-back-of-the-neck favourite – or forfeit his own life. On the advice of his beautiful wife, Lee Min Yen, who is”possessed of golden lilies incomparable in the vast domain of China”, he has the corpse brought to the courthouse. Sure enough, the dead man’s widow breaks down and confesses her guilt and Ah Fook is saved.
Ten months later, Ah Fook is wondering how his wife could have known what to do? Time to exhume her first husband …

Henry S. Whitehead – The Chadbourne Episode: Chadbourne, Conneticut. Gerald Cavenan, a veteran of Whitehead’s adventures, takes centre stage in this investigation into the disappearance of five year old Truman Curtiss, last seen in the company of ‘a lady’. Prior to the boy’s abduction, the gnawed bodies of several lambs and cats had been found up on Cemetery Ridge. Cavenan comes upon the Persian ghouls as they are feasting on the boy in the old Merritt mausoleum.

Guy Preston – The Way He Died:”No wonder none but zany’s and Lunnon-folk come nigh the place – ’tis unholy!”. The Firs has stood empty for thirty years, ever since the sadist, Mr. Grace, hung himself in despair when his plaything, Gregory Whitstable, was inconsiderate enough to die and the torture chamber, just after Grace had taken a red hot poker to him.
On the night of the anniverary, Londoner Arthur Morley is drinking in the next village at The Belhampton Arms. Learning from the landlord that the place has a reputation for being haunted, he agrees to spend the night there. Mr. Grace and his victim reenact their final moments for his benefit …

Don C. Wiley – The Head Of Wu Fang: The Mandarin is subjected to extreme torture over a period of days but remains decidedly unmoved throughout and refuses to reveal the secret of eternal life. When he’s eventually executed, his severed head curses the bandit leader, Chang, the headsman, Wong, and his sidekick, Ching Tung-Li. They each meet the ghastly deaths he predicts for them.

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