I waited a long while, and that dizzy sense of time working in a circle took me, the circles getting larger and larger, like eddies in a pool, again. At last he looked up and rested his eyes beseechingly on me as if imploring me to be patient; I understood; I had conquered the dark – he had to break through the silence – I knew it was very hard.
I saw his lips move and at last I heard him – a thin, weak whisper came to me: “Listen – listen – for the love of God!”
I looked at him, waiting; I didn’t speak; it would have scared him. He leaned forward, swaying, his eyes fixed, not on mine, but on some awful vision of their own; the eyes of a soul in purgatory, glazed with pain.
“Listen, listen!” I heard, “the truth! You must tell it – it must be remembered; it must be written down!”
“I will tell it,” I said, very gently, “I will tell it if I live.”
“Live, live, and tell it!” he said, moaningly and then, then he began. I can’t repeat his words, all broken, shuddering phrases; he talked as if to himself only – I’ll remember as best I can.
The Prisoner by Dorothy Macardle is a short story of 1924 included in the collection Twelve Irish Ghost Stories, and let me tell you, is beseeching. It’s the story of a prisoner of Kilmainham Gaol doing a hunger strike in a punishment cell, all alone in the night. The feelings of this man are so strong, so real, that I nearly experienced them. His thoughts do go in circle and became weird and when the ghost appears it feels absolutely normal and believable.
The ghost is a tormented soul and he echoes the same feelings as the protagonist, to some extent. It is really a very classic ghost story of a soul that wants to be heard beyond his death, but what really did the story for me are the strong feelings, the vivid descriptions, not only of the place but also of the interaction between the man and the ghost.
I really really enjoyed it.
In addition to be part of the Thursday Quotables meme at Bookshelf Fantasies, which I often take part to, this post is also part of the Reading Ireland Month.
I’m also reading about hunger strikes at the moment – a suffragette novel though. By the way, read your novella the other night and enjoyed it.
I’m so happy to hear it, Anabel! I mean that you liked my story 😉
Is the book about suffragettes nice? This story, The Prisoner, was really very good.
I’m not sure you could call it “nice” exactly (I’ve finished it now) but there was lots to think about.
Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
Wow, this sounds incredible. I’ll have to find a copy.
I haven’t finished to read the anthology yet, but I have to say, all stories are good so far.
That sounds like great book. I wish I had more time to read.
It is a very good anthology of ghost stories, and this one is one of my favourite so far. Very intense.
Faith Ellerbe, Live.Wag.BARK!
I love Jazz! I play the sax so I’m very excited to see your posts for the challenge!
Hope you’ll enjoy the theme.
You have quite an unusual one but I’m sure all pet lovers will read 🙂
I can see your fascination with the 1920’s. What a turbulent era that was on so many levels and for so many different people such as the Harlem Renaissance and women’s rights. The ghost story you discus sounds both poignant and beautiful.
I don’t usually get intrigued by excerpts but this one… yeah… I’m interested!
Thanks for stopping by Davida. It is a short story, but so intense.