"Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance"
from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Part 2, by M. R. James
Well, you know that anytime someone in a ghost story gets an inheritance, it's bound to come with something sinister, and this tale doesn't break with tradition. Overall, a decent story... There were some ends that I felt were not satisfactorily tied up, but to compensate, there were the requisite Creepy Moments.
This was the last story in the book. I heartily recommend it to anyone fond of old ghost stories.
More Specific Comments (on this story only):
-- Thank you, story, for introducing me to the word "valetudinarian", which was purposely misspelled as "valentudinarian". (Someone in poor health and generally obsessed with his/her health.)
-- Mr. Cooper is a male Mrs. Malaprop.
-- Something about the middle of this story-- the labyrinth? the temple? both?-- reminded me strongly of some other short story (I think) I've read in the past several years, but I can't figure out which one. I thought it was in a volume of short stories by Daphne du Maurier, but I looked through that and can't find it... so I'm stumped. All I can recall is a group of people hanging out around a temple/shrine-- possibly in the center of a maze-- and something ancient and evil coming into play.
-- The "hole in the paper" scene! It had the vibe of some of the creepiest modern horror movies-- particularly Japanese films or remakes thereof. (The Ring, maybe...)
-- So... what was up with the mysterious moving/changing shrubs/trees in the garden? That could have used a bit more explanation, I think. Or at least I would have liked a little more development on that point. I guess it was just meant to suggest that there was something wrong about the maze-- and that it was slowly working its way toward the house.
-- Are the carvings on the globe more than a mishmash of figures to suggest Generic Evil? If you're up for it, this article offers an interesting take on the story.