by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
The doors were wide, the story saith,Philip Holberton writes: In these lines a ghost follows its enemy. It can be seen but is completely powerless: he could not stir.
Out of the night came the patient wraith,
He might not speak, and he could not stir
A hair of the Baron’s minniver—
Speechless and strengthless, a shadow thin,
He roved the castle to seek his kin.
And oh, ’twas a piteous thing to see
The dumb ghost follow his enemy!
… It had cloth ceilings to create an air-pocket under the thatched roof. Once when a powerfully unpleasant smell pervaded the house, it was traced to a small dead squirrel trapped under the roof – an incident that Rudyard used in this story. [ Andrew Lycett p. 163][The incident of the dead cat in “An Unsavoury Interlude” in Stalky & Co. also comes to mind; Ed.]
The only detection that Strickland performs for us seems to satisfy his own pleasure in his authority rather than to reveal any of the famed nearly superhuman powers of seeing into the native mind that he is credited with.Philip Mason likewise (pp. 104-5):
…murder was suspected; can it be supposed that the house was not searched ? It would have been full of police for a week. It was the hot weather and it would not have been long before a corpse became noticeable…Imray’s bearer would have been closely questioned…these are glaring absurdities…[That is as may be, but the story rushes along with such gusto that the reader – and particularly this one – never noticed ! Ed.]
The result was not entirely satisfactory, and perhaps it might have been foretold that the gruesome story ... would suffer by being translated from the suggestiveness of narrative to the harsh realism of stage presentation.