Famous Modern Ghost Stories HTML version

From Lazarus and the Gentleman from San Francisco. Published by The Stratford Company. By
permission of the publishers.
When Lazarus left the grave, where, for three days and three nights he had been under the
enigmatical sway of death, and returned alive to his dwelling, for a long time no one
noticed in him those sinister oddities, which, as time went on, made his very name a
terror. Gladdened unspeakably by the sight of him who had been returned to life, those
near to him caressed him unceasingly, and satiated their burning desire to serve him, in
solicitude for his food and drink and garments. And they dressed him gorgeously, in
bright colors of hope and laughter, and when, like to a bridegroom in his bridal vestures,
he sat again among them at the table, and again ate and drank, they wept, overwhelmed
with tenderness. And they summoned the neighbors to look at him who had risen
miraculously from the dead. These came and shared the serene joy of the hosts. Strangers
from far-off towns and hamlets came and adored the miracle in tempestuous words. Like
to a beehive was the house of Mary and Martha.
Whatever was found new in Lazarus' face and gestures was thought to be some trace of a
grave illness and of the shocks recently experienced. Evidently, the destruction wrought
by death on the corpse was only arrested by the miraculous power, but its effects were
still apparent; and what death had succeeded in doing with Lazarus' face and body, was
like an artist's unfinished sketch seen under thin glass. On Lazarus' temples, under his
eyes, and in the hollows of his cheeks, lay a deep and cadaverous blueness; cadaverously
blue also were his long fingers, and around his fingernails, grown long in the grave, the
blue had become purple and dark. On his lips the skin, swollen in the grave, had burst in
places, and thin, reddish cracks were formed, shining as though covered with transparent
mica. And he had grown stout. His body, puffed up in the grave, retained its monstrous
size and showed those frightful swellings, in which one sensed the presence of the rank
liquid of decomposition. But the heavy corpse-like odor which penetrated Lazarus'
graveclothes and, it seemed, his very body, soon entirely disappeared, the blue spots on
his face and hands grew paler, and the reddish cracks closed up, although they never
disappeared altogether. That is how Lazarus looked when he appeared before people, in
his second life, but his face looked natural to those who had seen him in the coffin.
In addition to the changes in his appearance, Lazarus' temper seemed to have undergone a
transformation, but this circumstance startled no one and attracted no attention. Before
his death Lazarus had always been cheerful and carefree, fond of laughter and a merry