Famous Modern Ghost Stories HTML version

The Haunted Orchard
From Harper's Magazine, January, 1912. By permission of Harper and Brothers and Richard Le
Spring was once more in the world. As she sang to herself in the faraway woodlands her
voice reached even the ears of the city, weary with the long winter. Daffodils flowered at
the entrances to the Subway, furniture removing vans blocked the side streets, children
clustered like blossoms on the doorsteps, the open cars were running, and the cry of the
"cash clo'" man was once more heard in the land.
Yes, it was the spring, and the city dreamed wistfully of lilacs and the dewy piping of
birds in gnarled old apple-trees, of dogwood lighting up with sudden silver the thickening
woods, of water-plants unfolding their glossy scrolls in pools of morning freshness.
On Sunday mornings, the outbound trains were thronged with eager pilgrims, hastening
out of the city, to behold once more the ancient marvel of the spring; and, on Sunday
evenings, the railway termini were aflower with banners of blossom from rifled
woodland and orchard carried in the hands of the returning pilgrims, whose eyes still
shone with the spring magic, in whose ears still sang the fairy music.
And as I beheld these signs of the vernal equinox I knew that I, too, must follow the
music, forsake awhile the beautiful siren we call the city, and in the green silences meet
once more my sweetheart Solitude.
As the train drew out of the Grand Central, I hummed to myself,
"I've a neater, sweeter maiden, in a greener, cleaner land"
and so I said good-by to the city, and went forth with beating heart to meet the spring.
I had been told of an almost forgotten corner on the south coast of Connecticut, where the
spring and I could live in an inviolate loneliness—a place uninhabited save by birds and
blossoms, woods and thick grass, and an occasional silent farmer, and pervaded by the
breath and shimmer of the Sound.
Nor had rumor lied, for when the train set me down at my destination I stepped out into
the most wonderful green hush, a leafy Sabbath silence through which the very train, as it
went farther on its way, seemed to steal as noiselessly as possible for fear of breaking the
After a winter in the town, to be dropped thus suddenly into the intense quiet of the
country-side makes an almost ghostly impression upon one, as of an enchanted silence, a