The Man With Two Shadows and Other Ghost Stories by Thomas Hood & Others_ Level 3 Penguin Readers.doc
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I knew it was there before I turned and saw it at the top of the stairs. Everyone went silent. Then one of the men picked up his gun and shot at it, but nothing happened. The thing just smiled...
Do you want to know about ghosts? There are many kinds.There are ghosts who tell people about death and danger, like the old man of the Bank of England, and the thin, white man of Varley Grange. There are ghosts who come back to find their murderer, like the sailor who died at sea. There are ghosts of people who can never rest because of the things they did, like that of Jacopo Ferraldi. There are ghosts of living men too â?” men in prison for crimes that they did not do. And men who see terrible
things, and ghosts before they die ...
In these six stories you will meet all these, and more. Now, do you really want to know about
Ghost stories were much more popular in the 1800s than in the 1700s. In the 1700s there were no secrets in life. People believed that science could explain everything. They were not interested in dreams or ghosts or things that they could not understand.
Then, at the beginning of the 1800s, people became bored with amusing and clever stories about real life. They wanted stories about things that science and reason could not explain. Stories about strange, foreign countries, about ghosts in big, dark houses and about mysterious animals in shadowy forests. Stories about brave young men who saved beautiful young women from death and terrible danger. People wanted stories to frighten them.
These stories were called 'Gothic' stories. Three of the most popular early Gothic stories were John Polidori's The Vampyre (1818), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1819), and Sir Walter Scott's Three Tales
of Terror (1824-1828).
Then, in the middle of the 1800s, the ghost story changed. Ghosts moved out of large, dark houses in foreign lands, and moved into ordinary houses in everyday life. Ghosts walked along streets and around gardens, and came through windows into ordinary homes. Nobody was safe. It was easier to believe in ghosts and they became even more frightening.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote many ghost stories. Two of his most famous are A
Christmas Carol (1852) and The Signalman (1866). He liked ghost stories so much that he started a
magazine for them in 1859. Many famous writers wrote for this magazine, including Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mark Lemon and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Le Fanu's stories were unusual because his ghosts were often not just in the same room, but inside the person's head.
Towards the end of the 1800s, ghost story writers followed Le Fanu's example more and more. They became interested in questions like: When does a man stop being a man? When does he start to become something different? This was the most frightening kind of story of all. It was impossible to escape from the ghost, because it lived inside you. It drank your blood and ate your heart and mind and you went crazy.
The most famous books of this type were Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
(1886), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).
All the stories in this book were written in the middle of the 1800s, at the time when ghost stories took place in everyday life. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814â?”73) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and
studied at Trinity College, Dublin. He worked for newspapers for many years. After his wife died he stayed at home and saw few people. He wrote over 20 books, but he is best known for his clever ghost stories. His books House by the Churchyard (1863), Uncle Silas (1864)Â and his book of short
stories In a Glass Darkly (1872) include some of the most frightening stories in the English language.
Mark Lemon (1809-70) was a businessman before he became a writer. He wrote songs, Christmas stories and joke books, but most of his writing was for the theatre. In 1851 he wrote a short,
funny play with Charles Dickens called Mr Nightingale's Diary, and they acted in it together. He is most
famous for starting the British magazine Punch.
Tom Hood (1835-74) was the son of the famous writer, Thomas Hood. Like his father, he wrote poems, but he is mostly famous for his amusing writing. He wrote for newspapers and wrote many children's books, often working with his sister. He also drew the pictures for many of his books.
Catherine Crowe (1800â?”76) was born in the south of England but lived in Edinburgh, Scotland,
for many years. Her real name was Catherine Stevens. She wrote a lot of children's books and other stories, but her most popular book was a book of ghost stories, The Night Side of Nature (1848).
The Dead Man of Varley Grange
'Hallo, Jack. Where are you going? Are you staying with your parents for Christmas?' Jack Darent and I were in the army together. It was December the 23rd and everyone was going away for the holiday.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Jack stood in the doorway, tall and good-looking, laughing at
my question.'Not this year. I've had enough of old aunts and my sister's six children. I'm not a family man like you. By the way, how is your beautiful sister?'
'She's very well and going to lots of parties,' I answered, smiling.
Jack looked a little sad at this. He was in love with my sister and she was in love with him, but they did not have enough money to get married. 'Well, please send her my love,' he said. 'I'm going down to your part of England â?” Westernshire â?” for some shooting. Henderson has asked me and some
others. We're staying in an old house, where I hear the shooting is very good. Perhaps you know it? It's called Varley Grange.'
'Varley Grange?' I said.'Oh no, Jack.You can't go there.'
'Why not?' he asked, surprised.
'I've heard ... uncomfortable things about that house,' I said, searching for the right words.
'Uncomfortable? What do you mean?' laughed Jack. 'It'll probably be a bit cold and there'll be a few rats maybe, but Henderson's French cook is coming and he's bringing lots of wine. I'm sure I won't feel the cold.'
'No, Jack. I don't think you quite understand ...' I began. I think he thought I was a bit crazy.
'Well, I must go, or I'll miss the train. See you after Christmas,' he said happily, not hearing my last words, and he was gone.
When I got home, my wife, my sister Bella, and my two children were all waiting for me to have tea.
'I've just seen Jack Darent, Bella,' I said.
'Oh yes,' she answered, pretending not to be interested. 'And where s he going for Christmas?'
'You'll be surprised when I tell you. He's going to Varley Grange.'
'Varley Grange?' she said. 'But that's terrible! Did you try to stop him?'
'Of course I did, but he didn't understand.'
She did not wait to hear any more, but ran out of the room, crying.
My wife was very confused. She was from London, not Westernshire, and she did not know the story of Varley Grange. 'Why is she crying?' she asked. 'What is this place you're talking about?'
'Well, my dear, do you believe in ghosts?' I asked her.
'Of course not,' she said, looking at the children, who were listening carefully. 'Wait, let me take the children out.'
When the children were playing happily in another room, I told her the story.'Varley Grange is an old house in Westernshire. It belonged to the Varley family - all of them are dead now. The last two members of the family, Dennis Varley and his sister, lived there a hundred years ago. The sister fell in love with a poor man and her brother didn't want them to marry. To stop them, he locked her up. One night she and her lover ran away, but her brother caught her and took her back to Varley Grange, where he killed her.'
'He murdered his own sister?'
'Yes. And since that day, Dennis Varley's ghost has walked around the house. Many people have seen it. They say that if you
also see the ghost of his sister, you will have very bad luck or a serious illness, or perhaps you'll even die.'
Of course, my wife did not believe the story and we all forgot about it until a week later when I saw Jack again, sitting in a London cafe.
'Well, Jack, how was the shooting?' I asked. From his white face I saw that all was not well. He asked me to sit down.Â Â ""
'I understand now what you were saying before I left London,' he began. 'I'm only sorry I didn't listen to you.'
'Did you see something?' I asked.
'I saw everything,' he whispered. 'Let me tell you what happened. We all left London together and had a good journey down to Westernshire. We were all very happy and that night we slept well. The next day, we went shooting. It was wonderful -birds everywhere. We shot about two hundred altogether, and
Henderson's French cook made us a wonderful dinner from them. After the food we all sat around drinking coffee, smoking and telling stories about shooting and fishing. Suddenly one of us â?” I
can't remember who it was â?” shouted and pointed up to the top of the stairs. We all looked round and
there was a man looking down at us.'
'How was he dressed?' I asked.
'He was wearing black clothes, but it was his face that I noticed most. It was white and thin and he had a long beard and terrible eyes. He looked like a dead man. As we watched he went into my bedroom and everyone ran to the stairs. We searched all the rooms but could find nothing.
'Well, none of us slept very well that night, but the next morning at breakfast, Henderson asked us not to talk about it any more. He seemed quite angry and did not want the servants to hear. We had another good day's shooting and we all slept well that night. Two nights went by and nothing happened. Then, on the third night, we were sitting by the fire after dinner as before, when suddenly the room went cold. I knew it was there before I turned and saw it at the top of the stairs. Everyone went silent. Then one of the men picked up his gun and shot at it, but nothing happened. The thing just smiled and, once again, went into my bedroom.
'The next morning, four out of the eight of us decided to leave immediately. Some said they had important business in London, others suddenly remembered that they had to see their families. Anyway, there were four of us left - Wells, Harford, Henderson and myself. In the morning, we were all happy and laughing about the ghost and we decided that someone from the village was probably making fools of us. Henderson told us the story he heard from one of the villagers about Dennis Varley's murder of his sister. I'm sure you know it, so I won't tell you again.'
'Yes, I do know it,' I said. 'I also know that anyone who sees the ghosts of both Dennis and his
sister will have terrible bad ...
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