Fiction ~ short story
Published in Hutchinson's Magazine, July 1924
Collected in Spook Stories (1928)
(First read 08/08/2012)
Reconciliation is EFB's hommage to his favourite novel, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Luckily for us he doesn't set it in the wastes of Northern England¹ but in an unspecified location in the South, possibly Hampshire or Dorset, though it could equally well be Cornwall or Kent.
Hugh Verrall's family have owned Garth Place since the time of Queen Anne², when his ancestor and namesake took it in payment of gambling debts from the previous owner, a wastrel named Francis Garth. The latter died in penury shortly thereafter and proceeded to haunt the place for some time but, at the time our story happens, the hauntings have been in abeyance for some while³. Now then, when our Unnamed Narrator comes to stay, the ghost makes a reappearance and hangs around right up until the time⁴ when, for unrelated reasons, Hugh is forced to sell the house ... and sells it to a direct descendant of the original Francis Garth. Obviously the ending is a happy one.
Verdict: Far more interesting as a take on Wuthering Heights than as a ghost story ~ U.N. (as lily-livered as ever) seems to be the only person actually afraid of the spook, which does nothing more significant than ... well, hang around a lot ~, Reconciliation is a pleasant if somewhat long-winded read. It's available online here.
¹ Unlike, for example, Corstophine (also 1924).
² Which is to say circa 1700.
³ For some mysterious reason Benson, usually the stickler for precise time periods, is very reticent on the numbers here.
⁴ Sorry, I'm making a gash of this but the time frame is a pain to describe: U.N. starts in the present, recalls his first visit to Garth Place, during which he was told the Garth/Verrall story that happened 200 years previously, then returns to the visit, and finally back to the present.