|Actually William Dean Howells, another favourite author of mine|
First published in Hutchinson's Magazine, May 1929
Collected in More Spook Stories (1934)
(First read 18/06/2012)
This spook story has the same basic premise as the novel Alan (1924): the young and youthful wife of an elderly writer is rotting her life away serving as his amanuensis. The writer (Christopher) in fact:
was not yet fifty [but] appeared an old man; his mouth had a senile droop, his eyes an unfocused watery vagueness, his hands were creased with wrinkled skin. Fresh from her April thoughts, Nellie suddenly shuddered with a qualm of horror and repulsion at the sight of him ...Having finished his magnum opus, Christopher promptly falls seriously ill and, rather than face a lifetime of dreary nursing, Nellie helps him on his way to the other side ... where, obviously, he doesn't want to go: he determinedly comes back to wreck his widow's life in toto. Her lover (Chris' ex-doctor) dumps her, so she tops herself, 'ironically' by exactly the same method she used to bump off her better half. The End.
A very daft story. The message ~ if we can call it that ~ is: "Even wives who deserve to be free don't deserve to be free." It can be read online here.