Ghosts Without Experience

After the disappointment of the previous ghost story, I was a bit nervous about climbing back aboard this particular train. But I need not have worried: The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost by H. G. Wells was a marvelous treat.
Couldn’t even “Boo!” properly!

While works like The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Island of Doctor Moreau are more well known, Wells was a prodigious writer of both fiction and non fiction. His works include short stories and long novels, essays, histories, and political commentary. He’s one of the progenitors of modern Science Fiction, and there’s a reason his works have stood the test of time: he was an excellent writer.

The tale at hand, a very short story originally published in 1902, concerns a man who had a run-in with a ghost. Narrated by a member of The Mermaid Club, it’s easy to imagine the after-dinner brandy snifter in his hand as he recounts his experience: It seems the night before, as he was on his way up to his room at his social club, he encountered the ghost in the hall. Only the poor chap didn’t seem to know what he was about – couldn’t even “Boo” properly. On further interview, it turns out he wasn’t even a former member, he just picked the place because he was supposed to haunt somewhere, and “it [the club] was old and oak-panelled”.

After more coaxing, he explained more of his plight: he must complete a series of complicated gestures in order to return to The Other Side of Things. Our storyteller helps the ghost practice the gesticulations (which he of course illustrates to his audience at the club), and the ghost eventually gets it right, winking out of sight.

Freemasons: secret handshakes and majestic facial hair.

One of his fellows points out that the gestures are very similar to those used in a particular Masonic ceremony. So, if it worked for the ghost, will it work for our raconteur? Will he, too, break on through to the other side if he completes all of the gestures? It seems there’s only one way to find out…

If you’d like to read this tale for yourself, Feedbooks has The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost for FREE. You can listen to a recording of the tale, read by Toby Paradis, over on Librivox.
There’s plenty of other Wellian tales in the Public Domain! A few not named above include:

A Modern Utopia
 Tales of Space and Time 
The Sleeper Awakes
A Dream of Armageddon 

A full list of Wells titles on Feedbooks can be found here.

We’re fans of Wells here. You can see what Dileas had to say about The Star.
Havilah has gathered some great biographical information with her review of The Country of the Blind.
And find out why Gen is afraid of hot houses with her view on The Flowering of the Strange Orchid.

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