Tales of Terror and Mystery HTML version

The Terror of Blue John Gap
The following narrative was found among the papers of Dr. James Hardcastle, who died
of phthisis on February 4th, 1908, at 36, Upper Coventry Flats, South Kensington. Those
who knew him best, while refusing to express an opinion upon this particular statement,
are unanimous in asserting that he was a man of a sober and scientific turn of mind,
absolutely devoid of imagination, and most unlikely to invent any abnormal series of
events. The paper was contained in an envelope, which was docketed, "A Short Account
of the Circumstances which occurred near Miss Allerton's Farm in North-West
Derbyshire in the Spring of Last Year." The envelope was sealed, and on the other side
was written in pencil--
"It may interest, and perhaps pain you, to know that the incredulity with which you met
my story has prevented me from ever opening my mouth upon the subject again. I leave
this record after my death, and perhaps strangers may be found to have more confidence
in me than my friend."
Inquiry has failed to elicit who this Seaton may have been. I may add that the visit of the
deceased to Allerton's Farm, and the general nature of the alarm there, apart from his
particular explanation, have been absolutely established. With this foreword I append his
account exactly as he left it. It is in the form of a diary, some entries in which have been
expanded, while a few have been erased.
April 17.--Already I feel the benefit of this wonderful upland air. The farm of the
Allertons lies fourteen hundred and twenty feet above sea-level, so it may well be a
bracing climate. Beyond the usual morning cough I have very little discomfort, and, what
with the fresh milk and the home-grown mutton, I have every chance of putting on
weight. I think Saunderson will be pleased.
The two Miss Allertons are charmingly quaint and kind, two dear little hard-working old
maids, who are ready to lavish all the heart which might have gone out to husband and to
children upon an invalid stranger. Truly, the old maid is a most useful person, one of the
reserve forces of the community. They talk of the superfluous woman, but what would
the poor superfluous man do without her kindly presence? By the way, in their simplicity
they very quickly let out the reason why Saunderson recommended their farm. The
Professor rose from the ranks himself, and I believe that in his youth he was not above
scaring crows in these very fields.
It is a most lonely spot, and the walks are picturesque in the extreme. The farm consists
of grazing land lying at the bottom of an irregular valley. On each side are the fantastic
limestone hills, formed of rock so soft that you can break it away with your hands. All
this country is hollow. Could you strike it with some gigantic hammer it would boom like