Ghost Story Review: "The Shell Of Sense" by Olivia Howard Dunbar
Frances has just passed away, but she can’t pass over—not quite yet. She returns home to find it “intolerably unchanged.” Her sister Theresa, with whom she’d been on good enough terms, though they’d never really spoken of their feelings, is sitting at her desk— her desk!—taking care of some correspondence.
Frances’ husband Allan comes in. She’s elated. After all, it’s he that she’s come back to see, even if Allan doesn’t believe in the supernatural:
“I came, therefore, somewhat nearer—but I did now touch him. I merely leaned toward him and with incredible softness whispered his name. That much I could not have forborne; the spell of life was too strong in me.
“But it gave him no comfort, no delight. ‘Theresa!’ he called, in a voice dreadful with alarm—and in that instant the last veil fell…”
Poor Frances comes to realize that all the time she lived happily with her husband, he and her sister were in love with each other, but out of love for and loyalty to her, they did not speak to each other of it. She’s jealous, irrationally so, making this a sad little story. The reader is sad not only for Allan and Theresa, but also for Frances who really should have left a while ago.
This story is available free of charge through Project Gutenberg.
Title: “The Shell of Sense” First appeared in the December 1908 issue of "Harper's Magazine."
Author: Olivia Howard Dunbar (1873-1953)
Last review: “Shepherd of the Planets” by Alan Mattox
Last ghost story: “A Cold Greeting” by Ambrose Bierce
©2015 Denise Longrie
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