Famous Modern Ghost Stories HTML version

The Beast with Five Fingers
From The New Decameron, by Various Hands. Copyright, 1919, by Robert M. McBride and
Company. By permission of the publishers.
When I was a little boy I once went with my father to call on Adrian Borlsover. I played
on the floor with a black spaniel while my father appealed for a subscription. Just before
we left my father said, "Mr. Borlsover, may my son here shake hands with you? It will be
a thing to look back upon with pride when he grows to be a man."
I came up to the bed on which the old man was lying and put my hand in his, awed by the
still beauty of his face. He spoke to me kindly, and hoped that I should always try to
please my father. Then he placed his right hand on my head and asked for a blessing to
rest upon me. "Amen!" said my father, and I followed him out of the room, feeling as if I
wanted to cry. But my father was in excellent spirits.
"That old gentleman, Jim," said he, "is the most wonderful man in the whole town. For
ten years he has been quite blind."
"But I saw his eyes," I said. "They were ever so black and shiny; they weren't shut up like
Nora's puppies. Can't he see at all?"
And so I learnt for the first time that a man might have eyes that looked dark and
beautiful and shining without being able to see.
"Just like Mrs. Tomlinson has big ears," I said, "and can't hear at all except when Mr.
Tomlinson shouts."
"Jim," said my father, "it's not right to talk about a lady's ears. Remember what Mr.
Borlsover said about pleasing me and being a good boy."
That was the only time I saw Adrian Borlsover. I soon forgot about him and the hand
which he laid in blessing on my head. But for a week I prayed that those dark tender eyes
might see.
"His spaniel may have puppies," I said in my prayers, "and he will never be able to know
how funny they look with their eyes all closed up. Please let old Mr. Borlsover see."
Adrian Borlsover, as my father had said, was a wonderful man. He came of an eccentric
family. Borlsovers' sons, for some reason, always seemed to marry very ordinary women,
which perhaps accounted for the fact that no Borlsover had been a genius, and only one