The Golden Leg: And Other Ghostly Campfire Tales By Dale Jarvis
Format: Paperback, 127 pages, black & white illustrations
Pub Date: October 2007
ISBN 10: 1-897317-07-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-897317-07-5
(Currently unavailable for Purchase)
One of Canada's favourite storytellers is back with a collection of classic ghost stories for young readers. If you dare, make your acquaintance with dark-cloaked ladies gliding through the silent streets, headless men fished out of the ocean’s depths, and clutching hands reaching out of the inky darkness. Author and storyteller Dale Jarvis has put together a collection of spooky stories from Newfoundland and Labrador, along with ghastly tales hand-picked from haunted spots around the world, and he has retold them in his own wonderfully creepy style.
All author's royalties from The Golden Leg will be donated to the Camp Delight Children's Oncology Camp, a project of the Candlelighters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. This annual summer camp program, designed for children between the ages of 7 and 17 diagnosed with cancer, their siblings, and siblings of children who have passed away, has hosted hundreds of campers since 1988.
Rad an Excerpt
Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were on vacation, and arrived in a city they had never visited before. Not knowing where to spend the night, they consulted the local paper. From a long list of hotels, inns and boarding houses, they chose one which they thought would best suit their needs.
When they arrived, they were not disappointed. It was a charming old hotel with a huge antique lantern hung over the entrance. The interior was just as delightful, with walls, floors, and staircases all of oak.
The hotel was completely full, except for one room which Mr. Murphy quickly booked. The room itself was at the end of a very long passage at the back of the building. It was a surprisingly large room, with a gigantic four-poster bed carved out of black wood, and a matching wardrobe set against one wall. Mrs. Murphy unpacked their belongings while Mr. Murphy relaxed, nibbling on gingerbread and reading the newspaper.
As the wife unpacked, her eyes were drawn for some reason to the old black wardrobe. She opened it up, and found that it was dark, deep, and completely empty. As she looked into it, she felt a curious sensation which was not entirely pleasant but which she could not exactly explain.
Putting the strange sensation out of her mind, she firmly closed the door to the wardrobe and finished unpacking. The couple then both relaxed, and chatted about their day. It was only when a clock from a nearby church boomed twelve that the couple realized how late it had grown. They both got ready for bed, slipped between the clean white linen sheets on the four-poster bed, and turned out the lights.
Mr. Murphy quickly fell asleep and began to snore. Mrs. Murphy lay awake and listened to her husband. Normally she found the sound of his snoring troublesome. On this particular night, it was almost comforting, for a deathlike hush seemed to hang over the house. The silence was broken by the odd creak and footstep, the rustle of curtains, and distant sighs and whisperings. All of these noises were, very possibly, the result of natural causes, but they played upon Mrs. Murphy’s imagination.
As she listened, she became aware of a smell. At first it was just the faintest whiff of something unpleasant. Gradually, it became a most offensive, pungent odour, which seemed to creep up her nostrils. She did not know what could cause such a distasteful smell, but it seemed to come from somewhere in the direction of the black wardrobe.
Finally, she could stand it no more. She slipped out of the bed and crept across the room. With every step she took, the stench increased. By the time she reached the wardrobe, the stink was so strong that she was almost suffocated. Mrs. Murphy longed to be back in bed, but was unable to tear herself away. She stretched out a trembling hand and swung open the door.
As the door yawned open, the hotel bedroom was filled with the faint, phosphorescent glow of decay. The terrified woman saw, directly in front of her own face, a human head floating in mid-air. She could only guess it was the head of a man, from the matted crop of red hair that hung down over the forehead and ears. The rest of the face was a loathsome, disgusting mass of decomposing flesh, too foul and vile to even describe. Unable to move or speak, she stood there, petrified.
With a start, the abnormal thing began to move forward. The strange spell that had rooted Mrs. Murphy to one spot was broken. With a cry of horror, she fled back to the bed and woke her husband.
His terror was even greater than hers; neither of them could speak. The head veered around and started to move swiftly toward them. As it drew closer, its awful stench caused the couple to retch and vomit. Mr. Murphy seized a lamp from the bedside table and hurled it at the disembodied head. As they might have expected, the lamp met no resistance. It passed right through the floating head, and crashed against the wall behind.
The Murphys made a frantic attempt to find the door. With the head pursuing them, they tripped over each other in their haste, and fell together in a heap.
There was now no hope for the couple, as the stinking head had caught up with them. It hovered directly above them and descended lower, lower, and lower. Finally, it passed right through them, through the floor, and vanished out of sight.
It was a long while before either of the Murphys were sufficiently recovered to rise from the floor. When they did, it was only to collapse exhausted onto their bed. They pulled the covers up over their heads and there they hid, quivering and quaking, till morning.
When the bright morning sun chased away their fears, they got up and hurried downstairs and demanded to see the hotel manager. At first, the manager tried to tell them it had all been a dream, but the Murphys were adamant that they had both seen the floating head. They were about to leave when the manager stopped them, and offered them another room for free if only they would stay and keep the terrifying tale to themselves.
“I know what you say is true,” he confessed, and he explained to the couple the origin of the head.
A hundred years earlier, a wandering peddler had been murdered in the building. The unfortunate man’s body was walled up behind the oak panelling of the room, and his head was hidden underneath the floor below the wardrobe. It was only when the smell of the rotting head started to seep out into the room that the murder was discovered.
The otherwise charming old hotel is still there, with the same huge antique lantern hanging above the main entrance, though the haunted room is seldom used. If, like the Murphys, you arrive there late at night, and the only room available is one at the end of a very long passage, with a gigantic four-poster bed and a matching black wardrobe, you may wish to find lodgings somewhere else.
More books by Dale Jarvis