Famous Modern Ghost Stories
BY GUY DE MAUPASSANT
Translated for this volume by M. Charles Sommer.
We were speaking of sequestration, alluding to a recent lawsuit. It was at the close of a
friendly evening in a very old mansion in the Rue de Grenelle, and each of the guests had
a story to tell, which he assured us was true.
Then the old Marquis de la Tour-Samuel, eighty-two years of age, rose and came forward
to lean on the mantelpiece. He told the following story in his slightly quavering voice.
"I, also, have witnessed a strange thing—so strange that it has been the nightmare of my
life. It happened fifty-six years ago, and yet there is not a month when I do not see it
again in my dreams. From that day I have borne a mark, a stamp of fear,—do you
"Yes, for ten minutes I was a prey to terror, in such a way that ever since a constant dread
has remained in my soul. Unexpected sounds chill me to the heart; objects which I can ill
distinguish in the evening shadows make me long to flee. I am afraid at night.
"No! I would not have owned such a thing before reaching my present age. But now I
may tell everything. One may fear imaginary dangers at eighty-two years old. But before
actual danger I have never turned back, mesdames.
"That affair so upset my mind, filled me with such a deep, mysterious unrest that I never
could tell it. I kept it in that inmost part, that corner where we conceal our sad, our
shameful secrets, all the weaknesses of our life which cannot be confessed.
"I will tell you that strange happening just as it took place, with no attempt to explain it.
Unless I went mad for one short hour it must be explainable, though. Yet I was not mad,
and I will prove it to you. Imagine what you will. Here are the simple facts:
"It was in 1827, in July. I was quartered with my regiment in Rouen.
"One day, as I was strolling on the quay, I came across a man I believed I recognized,
though I could not place him with certainty. I instinctively went more slowly, ready to
pause. The stranger saw my impulse, looked at me, and fell into my arms.
"It was a friend of my younger days, of whom I had been very fond. He seemed to have
become half a century older in the five years since I had seen him. His hair was white,
and he stooped in his walk, as if he were exhausted. He understood my amazement and
told me the story of his life.