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The Mezzotint

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The Mezzotint

by M.R. James

Genre: Ghost Story
Setting:
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Reviewed

EXCERPT:

‘Now,’ he said, ‘Nisbet, I want you to tell me exactly what you see in that picture. Describe it, if you don’t mind, rather minutely. I’ll tell you why afterwards.’

‘Well,’ said Nisbet, ‘I have here a view of a country-house–English, I presume–by moonlight.’

‘Moonlight? You’re sure of that?’

‘Certainly. The moon appears to be on the wane, if you wish for details, and there are clouds in the sky.’

‘All right. Go on. I’ll swear,’ added Williams in an aside, ‘there was no moon when I saw it first.’

‘Well, there’s not much more to be said,’ Nisbet continued. ‘The house has one–two–three rows of windows, five in each row, except at the bottom, where there’s a porch instead of the middle one, and–‘

‘But what about figures?’ said Williams, with marked interest.

‘There aren’t any,’ said Nisbet; ‘but–‘

‘What! No figure on the grass in front?’

‘Not a thing.’

‘You’ll swear to that?’

‘Certainly I will. But there’s just one other thing.’

‘What?’

‘Why, one of the windows on the ground-floor–left of the door–is open.’

‘Is it really so? My goodness! he must have got in,’ said Williams, with great excitement; and he hurried to the back of the sofa on which Nisbet was sitting, and, catching the picture from him, verified the matter for himself.

It was quite true. There was no figure, and there was the open window. Williams, after a moment of speechless surprise, went to the writing-table and scribbled for a short time. Then he brought two papers to Nisbet, and asked him first to sign one–it was his own description of the picture, which you have just heard–and then to read the other which was Williams’s statement written the night before.

‘What can it all mean?’ said Nisbet.


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