PseudoPod 848: Browdean Farm

Show Notes

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Browdean Farm

by A.M. Burrage

Most people with limited vocabularies such as mine would describe the house loosely and comprehensively as picturesque. But it was more than beautiful in its venerable age. It had certain subtle qualities which are called Atmosphere. It invited you, as you approached it along the rough and narrow road which is ignored by those maps which are sold for the use of motorists.

In the language of very old houses it said plainly, ‘Come in. Come in.’

It said ‘Come in’ to Rudge Jefferson and me. In one of the front windows there was a notice, inscribed in an illiterate hand, to the effect that the house was to be let, and that the keys were to be obtained at the first cottage down the road. We went and got them. The woman who handed them over to us remarked that plenty of people looked over the house but nobody ever took it. It had been empty for years.

‘Damp and falling to pieces, I suppose,’ said Rudge as we returned.

‘There’s always a snag about these old places.’

The house—Browdean Farm it was called—stood some thirty yards back from the road, at the end of a strip of garden not much wider than its facade. Most of the building was plainly Tudor, but part of it was even earlier. Time was when it had been the property of prosperous yeomen, but now its acres had been added to those of another farm, and it stood shorn of all its land save the small untended gardens in front and behind, and half an acre of apple orchard.

As in most houses of that description the kitchen was the largest room. It was long and lofty and its arched roof was supported by mighty beams which stretched across its breadth. There was a huge range with a noble oven. One could fancy, in the old days of plenty, a score of harvesters supping there after their work, and beer and cider flowing as freely as spring brooks.

To our surprise the place showed few signs of damp, considering the length of time it had been untenanted, and it needed little in the way of repairs. There was not a stick of furniture in the house, but we could tell that its last occupants had been people of refinement and taste. The wallpapers upstairs, the colours of the faded paints and distempers, the presence of a bathroom—that great rarity in old farmhouses—all pointed to the probability of its having been last in the hands of an amateur of country cottages.

Jefferson told me that he knew in his bones—and for once I agreed with his bones—that Nina would love the farm. He was engaged to my sister, and they were waiting until he had saved sufficient money to give them a reasonable material start in matrimony. Like most painstaking writers of no particular reputation Jefferson had to take care of the pence and shillings, but like Nina’s, his tastes were inexpensive, and it was an understood thing that they were to live quietly together in the country.

We inquired about the rent. It was astonishingly low. Jefferson had to live somewhere while he finished a book, and he was already paying storage for the furniture which he had bought. I could look forward to some months of idleness before returning to India. There was a trout stream in the neighbourhood which would keep me occupied and out of mischief. We laid our heads together.

Jefferson did not want a house immediately, but bargains of that sort are not everyday affairs in these hard times. Besides, with me to share expenses for the next six months, the cost of living at Browdean Farm would be very low, and it seemed a profitable speculation to take the house then and there on a seven years’ lease. This is just what Jefferson did—or rather, the agreement was signed by both parties within a week.

Rudge Jefferson and I were old enough friends to understand each other thoroughly, and make allowances for each other’s temperaments. We were neither of us morose but often one or both of us would not be anxious to talk. There were indefinite hours when Rudge felt either impelled or compelled to write. We found no difficulty in coming to a working agreement. We did not feel obliged to converse at meals. We could bring books to the table if we so wished. Rudge could go to his work when he chose, and I could go off fishing or otherwise amuse myself. Only when we were both inclined for companionship need we pay any attention to each other’s existence.

And, from the April evening when we arrived half an hour after the men with the furniture, it worked admirably.

We lived practically in one room, the larger of the two front sitting-rooms. There we took our meals, talked and smoked and read. The smaller sitting-room Rudge commandeered for a study. He retired thither when the spirit moved him to invoke the muses and tap at his typewriter.

Our only servant was the woman who had lately had charge of the keys. She came in every day to cook our meals and do the housework, and, as for convenience we dined in the middle of the day, we had the place to ourselves immediately after tea. The garden we decided to tend ourselves, but although we began digging and planting with the early enthusiasm of most amateurs we soon tired of the job and let wild nature take its course.

Our first month was ideal and idyllic. The weather was kind, and everything seemed to go in our favour. The trout gave me all the fun I could have hoped for, and Rudge was satisfied with the quality and quantity of his output. I had no difficulty adapting myself to his little ways, and soon discovered that his best hours for working were in the mornings and the late evenings, so I left him to himself at those times. We took our last meal, a light cold supper, at about half-past nine, and very often I stayed out until that hour.

You must not think that we lived like two recluses under the same roof. Sometimes Rudge was not in the mood for work and hinted at a desire for companionship. Then we went out for long walks, or he came to watch me fish. He was himself a ham-handed angler and seldom attempted to throw a fly. Often we went to drink light ale at the village inn, a mile distant. And always after supper we smoked and talked for an hour or so before turning in.

It was then, while we were sitting quietly, that we discovered that the house, which was mute by day, owned strange voices which gave tongue after dark. They were the noises which, I suppose, one ought to expect to hear in an old house half full of timber when the world around it is hushed and sleeping. They might have been nerve-racking if one of us had been there alone, but as it was we took little notice at first. Mostly they proceeded from the kitchen, whence we heard the creaking of beams, sobbing noises, gasping noises, and queer indescribable scufflings.

While neither of us believed in ghosts we laughingly agreed that the house ought to be haunted, and by something a little more sensational than the sounds of timber contracting and the wind in the kitchen chimney. We knew ourselves to be the unwilling hosts of a colony of rats, which was in itself sufficient to account for most nocturnal noises. Rudge said that he wanted to meet the ghost of an eighteenth century miser, who couldn’t rest until he had shown where the money was hidden. There was some practical use in that sort of bogie. And although, as time went on, these night noises became louder and more persistent, we put them down to ‘natural causes’ and made no effort to investigate them. It occurred to us both that some more rats had discovered a good home, and although we talked of trapping them our talk came to nothing.

We had been at the farm about a month before Rudge Jefferson began to show symptoms of ‘nerves’. All writers are the same. Neurotic brutes! But I said nothing to him and waited for him to diagnose his own trouble and ease up a little with his work.

It was at about that time that I, walking homewards one morning just about lunch-time, with my rod over my shoulder, encountered the local policeman just outside the village inn. He wished me a good day which was at once hearty and respectful, and at the same time passed the back of his hand over a thirsty-looking moustache. The hint was obvious, and only a heart of stone could have refrained from inviting him inside. Besides, I believe in keeping in with the police.

He was one of those country constables who become fixtures in quiet, out-of-the-way districts, where they live and let live, and often go into pensioned retirement without bringing more than half-a-dozen cases before the petty sessions. This worthy was named Hicks, and I had already discovered that everybody liked him. He did not look for trouble. He had rabbits from the local poachers, beer from local cyclists who rode after dark without lights, and more beer from the landlord who chose to exercise his own discretion with regard to closing time.

P C. Hicks drank a pint of bitter with me and gave me his best respects. He asked me how we were getting on up at the farm. Admirably, I told him; and then he looked at me closely, as if to see if I were sincere, or, rather, to search my eyes for the passing of some afterthought.

Having found me guileless, as it seemed, he went on to tell me his length of service—he had been eighteen years on the beat—and of how little trouble he had been to anybody. There was something pathetic in the protestations of the middle-aged Bobby that, to all the world, he had been a man and a brother. He seemed tacitly to be asking for reciprocity, and his own vagueness drew me out of my depth.

You know those beautifully vague men, who pride themselves for being diplomatists on the principle that a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse? The people who will hint and hint and hint, the asses who will wander round and round and round the haystack with hardly a nibble at it? He was one of them. He wanted to tell me something without actually telling me, to exact from me a promise about something he chose not to mention.

I found myself in dialectical tangles with him, and at last I laughingly gave up the task of trying to follow his labyrinthine thoughts. I ordered two more bitters and then he said, ‘Well, sir, if anything ’appens up at the farm, you needn’ get talkin’ about it. We done our best. What’s past is past, and can’t be altered. There isn’t no sense in settin’ people against us. ’ I knew from his inflection on the word that ‘us’ was the police. He did not look at me while he spoke. He was staring at something straight across the counter, and I happened by sheer glance to follow the direction of his gaze.

Opposite us, and hanging from a shelf so as to face the customers, was a little tear-off calendar. The date recorded there was the nineteenth of May. Two evenings later—which is to say the evening of May the twenty-first—I returned home at half-past nine full of suppressed excitement. I had a story to tell Rudge, and I was yet not sure if I should be wise in telling it. His nerves had grown worse during the past two days, but after all there are nerves and nerves, and my talc might interest without harming him.

It was only just dusk and not a tithe of the stars were burning as I walked up the garden path, inhaling the rank scents of those hardy flowers which had sprung up untended in that miniature wilderness. The sitting-room window was dark, but the subdued light of an oil lamp burned behind the curtains of Rudge’s study. I found the door unbarred, walked in, and entered the study. You see, it was supper-time, and Rudge might safely be intruded upon.

Rather to my surprise the room was empty, but I surmised that Rudge had gone up to wash. That he had lately been at work was evident from the fact that a sheet of paper, half used, lay in the roller of the typewriter. I sat down in the revolving chair to see what he had written—I was allowed that privilege—and was astonished to see that he had ended in the middle of a sentence. In some respects he was a methodical person, and this was unlike him. The last word he had written was ‘the’, and the last letter of that word was black and prominent as if he had slammed down the key with unnecessary force.

Two minutes later, while I was still reading, a probable explanation was revealed to me. I heard the gate click and footfalls on the path. Naturally I guessed that Rudge, temperamental as he was, had suddenly tired of his work and gone out for a walk. I heard the footsteps come to within a few yards of the house, when they left the path, fell softer on grass and weeds, and approached the window. The curtain obscured my view, but on the glass I heard the tap of finger-tips and the clink of nails.

I did not pause to reflect that Rudge, if he had gone out, must know that he had left the door on the latch, or that he could have no reason to suppose that I was already in the house. One does not consider these things in so brief a time. I just called out, ‘Right-ho’, and went round to the front door to let him in. Having opened the front door I leaned out and saw him—Rudge, I imagined—peering in at the study window. He was no more than a dark, bent shadow in the dusk, crowned by a soft felt hat, such as he generally wore. ‘Right ho,’ I said again, and, leaving the door wide for him, I hurried into the kitchen. There was some salad left in soak which had to be shaken and wiped before bringing it to the table. I remember that, as I walked through to the sink, one of the beams over my head creaked noisily.

I washed the salad and returned towards the dining-room. As I turned into the hall a gust of air from the still open door passed like a cool caress across my face. Then, before I had time to enter the dining-room, I heard the gate click at the end of the garden path, and footfalls on the gravel. I waited to see who it was. It was Rudge—and he was bareheaded.

He produced a book at supper, and sat scowling at it over his left arm while he ate. This was permitted by our rules, but I had something to tell him, and after a while I forced my voice upon his attention.

‘Rudge,’ I said, ‘I’ve made a discovery this evening. I know how you got this place so cheap.’

He sat up with a start, stared at me, and winced.

‘How?’ he demanded.

‘This is Stanley Stryde’s old house. Don’t you remember Stanley Stryde?’

He was pale already, but I saw him turn paler still.

‘I remember the name vaguely,’ he said. ‘Wasn’t he a murderer?’

‘He was,’ I answered. ‘I didn’t remember the case very well. But my memory’s been refreshed today. Everybody here thought we knew, and the curious delicacy of the bucolic mind forbade mentioning it to us. It was rather a grisly business, and the odd thing is that local opinion is in favour of Stryde’s innocence, although he was hanged.’

Rudge’s eyes had grown larger.

‘I remember the name,’ he said, ‘but I forget the case. Tell me.’

‘Well, Stanley Stryde was an artist who took this place. He was what we should call in common parlance a dirty dog. He’d got himself entangled with the daughter of a neighbouring farmer—the family has left here since—and then he found himself morally and socially compelled to marry her. At the same time he fell in love with another girl, so he lured the old one here and did her in. Don’t you remember now?’

Rudge wrinkled his nose.

‘Yes, vaguely,’ he said. ‘Didn’t he bury the body and afterwards try to make out that she’d committed suicide? So this is the house, is it? Funny nobody told us before.’

‘They thought we knew,’ I repeated, ‘and nobody liked to mention it. As if it were some disgrace to us, you know! Oh, and, of course, the house is haunted.’

Rudge stared at me and frowned.

‘I don’t know about “haunted”,’ he said, ‘but it’s been a damned uncomfortable house to sit in for the past few evenings. I mean at twilight, when I’ve been waiting for you. My nerves have been pretty raw lately. Tonight I couldn’t stand it, so I went out for a stroll.’

‘Left in the middle of a sentence,’ I remarked.

‘Oh, so you noticed that, did you?’

‘By the way,’ I asked, ‘what made you go out a second time?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘But my dear chap, you did! Because the first time you came in you wore your hat, and two minutes later I saw you walking up the garden path without one.’

‘That’s when I did come back. I haven’t worn a hat at all this evening.’

‘Then who’ I began.

‘And that reminds me,’ he continued quickly, ‘when vow come in of an evening you needn’t sneak up to the window and tap on it with your fingers. It doesn’t frighten me, but it’s disconcerting. You can always walk into the room to let me know you’ve come back.’

I sat and looked at him and laughed.

‘But, my dear chap, I haven’t done such a thing yet.’

‘You old liar!’ he exclaimed with an uneasy laugh, ‘you’ve been doing it every evening for the past week—until tonight, when I didn’t give you the chance.’

‘I swear I haven’t, Rudge. But if you thought that, it explains why you did the same thing to me tonight.’

I saw from his face that I had made some queer mistake, and interrupted his denial to ask, ‘Then who was the man I saw peering in at the window? I saw him from the door. I thought you’d tapped at the window to be let in, not knowing that the door was open. So I went round and saw—I thought it was you—and called out, “Right ho.’”

We looked at each other again and laughed uneasily.

‘It seems we’ve got our ghost after all,’ Rudge said half jestingly.

‘Or somebody’s trying to pull our leg,’ I amended.

‘I don’t know that I should fancy meeting the ghost of a murderer. But, joking apart, the house has been getting on my nerves of late. And those noises we’ve always heard have been getting louder and more mysterious lately. ’

As if to corroborate a statement which needed no evidence so far as I was concerned we heard a scuffling sound from the kitchen followed by the loud creaking of timber. We laughed again puzzled uneasy laughter, for the thing was still half a joke.

‘There you are!’ said Rudge, and got upon his legs. ‘I’m going to investigate this.’

He crossed the room and suddenly halted. I knew why. Then he turned about with an odd, shamed chuckle.

‘No,’ he said, ‘there’s no sense in it. I shall find nothing there. Why should I pander to my nerves?’

I had nothing to say. But I knew that in turning back he was pandering to cowardice, because just then I would have done almost anything rather than enter that kitchen. Had anybody asked me then where the murder was done I could have told them with as much certainty as if I had just been reading about it in the papers.

Rudge sat down again.

‘Don’t laugh at me,’ he said. ‘I know this is all rot, but I’ve got a hideous feeling that things hidden and unseen around us are moving steadily to a crisis.’

‘Cheerful brute,’ I said smiling.

‘I know. It’s only my nerves, of course. I don’t want to infect you with them. But the noises we hear, and the fellow who comes and taps at the window—they want some explaining away, don’t they?’

‘Especially now that we know that somebody was murdered here,’ I agreed. ‘I’m beginning to wish we didn’t know about that.’

Rudge went early to bed that night, but I sat up reading. As often happens to me I fell asleep over my book, and when I woke I was almost in darkness, for the lamp needed filling. The last jagged, blue flame swelled and dwindled, fluttering like a moth and tapping against the glass. And as I watched it I became suddenly aware of the cause of my waking. I had heard the latch snap on the garden gate. And in that moment I began to hear them—the footfalls.

I heard the rhythmic crunch of gravel and then the swish of long grass and plantains, and then a shadow nodded on the blind. It loomed up large and suddenly became stationary. A loose pane rattled under the impact of fingers.

Perhaps there was a moon, perhaps not, but there was at least bright starlight in the world outside. The drawn blind looked like dim bluish glass, and the shadow of something outside was cut as cleanly as a silhouette clipped away with scissors. I saw only the head and shoulders of a man, who wore a dented felt hat. His head lolled over on to his left shoulder, just I had always imagined a man’s head would loll if—well, if he had been hanged. And I knew in my blood that he was a Horror and that he wanted me for something.

I felt my hair bristle and suddenly I was streaming with sweat. I don’t remember turning and running, but I have a vague recollection of cannoning off the door post and stumbling in the hall. And when I reached my bed I don’t know if I fainted or fell asleep.

No, I didn’t tell Rudge next day. His nerves were in a bad enough state already. Besides, in the fresh glory of a May morning it was easy to persuade myself that the episode had been an evil dream. But I did question Mrs Jaines, our charwoman, when she arrived, and I saw a look half stubborn, and half guilty cross her face.


Yes, of course, she remembered the murder happening, but she didn’t remember much about it. Mr Stryde was quite a nice gentleman, although rather a one for the ladies, and she had worked for him sometimes. Stryde’s defence was that the poor girl had committed suicide and that he’d lost his head and buried the body when he found it. Lots of people thought that was true, but they’d hanged Mr Stryde for it all the same. And that was all I could get out of Mrs Jaines.

I smiled grimly to myself. As if the woman didn’t remember every detail!

As if the neighbourhood had talked of anything else for the two following years! And then I remembered the policeman’s strange words and how he had been staring at the calendar while he spoke.

So that morning when I called at the inn for my usual glass of beer, I, too, looked at the calendar and asked the landlord if he could tell me the date of the murder.

‘Yes, sir,’ he said, ‘it was May the’ And then he stopped himself. ‘Why, it was eight years ago, tonight!’ he said.

I went out again that evening and came in at the usual hour. But that evening Rudge came down the path to meet me. He was white and sick-looking.

‘He’s been here again,’ he said, ‘half an hour ago.’

‘You saw him this time?’ I asked jerkily.

‘Yes, I did as you did and went round to the door.’ He paused and added quite soberly, ‘He is a ghost, you know.’

‘What happened?’ I asked, looking uneasily around me.

‘Oh! I went round to the door when I heard him tapping at the window, and there he was, as you saw him yesterday evening, trying to look through into the room. He must have heard me for he turned and stared. His head was drooping all on one side, like a poppy on a broken stem. He came towards me, and I couldn’t stand that, so I turned and ran into the house and locked the door. ’

He spoke in a tone half weary, half matter of fact, and suddenly I knew that it was all true. I don’t mean that I knew that just his story was true. I knew that the house was haunted and that the thing which we had both seen was part of the man who had once been Sydney Stryde.

When once one has accepted the hitherto incredible it is strange how soon one can adapt oneself to the altered point of view.

‘This is the anniversary of the—the murder,’ I said quietly. ‘I should think something—something worse will happen tonight. Shall we see it through or shall we beat it?’

And almost in a whisper Rudge said, ‘Poor devil! Oughtn’t one to pity? He wants to tell us something, you know.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘or show us something.’

Together we walked into the house. We were braver in each other’s company, and we did not again discuss the problem of going or staying. We stayed. I can pass over the details of how we spent that evening. They are of no importance to the story. We were left in peace until just after eleven o’clock, when once more we heard the garden gate being opened, and footfalls which by this time we were able to recognize came up the path and through the long grass to the window. We could see nothing, for our lamp was alight, but I knew what it looked like—the thing that stood outside had now tapped softly upon the glass. And in spite of having Rudge for company I lost my head and screamed at it.

‘Get back to hell! Get back to hell, I tell you!’ I heard myself shout.

And it was Rudge, Rudge the sensitive neurotic, who kept his head, for human psychology is past human understanding.

‘No,’ he called out in a thin quaver, ‘come in. Come in, if we can help you.’

And then, as if regretting his courage on the instant, he caught my hand and held it, drawing me towards him.

The front door was locked, but it was no barrier to that which responded to the invitation. We heard slow footfalls shuffling through the hall, the footfalls, it seemed to me, of a man whose head was a burden to him. I died a thousand deaths as they approached the door of our room, but they passed and died away up the passage. And then I heard a whisper from Rudge.

‘He’s gone through into the kitchen. I think he wants us to follow.’

I shouldn’t have gone if Rudge hadn’t half dragged me by the hand. And as I went the sweat from the roots of my stiffened hair ran down my cheeks. The kitchen door was closed, and we halted outside it, both of us breathing as if we had been running hard. Then Rudge held his breath for a moment, lifted the latch, and took a quick step across the threshold. And in that same instant he froze my chilled blood with a scream such as I had heard in war-time from a wounded horse.

He had almost fainted when he fell into my arms, but he had the presence of mind to pull the door after him, so that I saw nothing. I half dragged, half carried him into the dining-room and gave him brandy. And suddenly I became aware that a great peace had settled upon the house I can only liken it to the freshness and the sweetness of the earth after a storm has passed. Rudge felt it, too, for presently he began to talk.

‘What was he—doing?’ I asked in a whisper.

‘He? He wasn’t there—not in the kitchen.’

‘Not in the kitchen? Then what—who’

‘It was She. Only She. She was kicking and struggling. From the middle beam, you know. And there was an overturned chair at her feet.’

He shuddered convulsively.

‘She was far worse than he,’ he said presently—‘far worse.’

And then later, ‘Poor devil! So he didn’t do it, you see!’

Next morning we had it out with Mrs Jaines and we did not permit her memory to be hazy or defective. She must have known that we had seen something and presently she burst into tears.

‘He said he’d found her hanging in the kitchen, poor gentleman, and that he’d buried her because he was afraid people would say he’d done it. But the jury wouldn’t believe him, and the doctors all said that it wasn’t time, and that the marks on her neck were where he’d strangled her with a rope. I don’t believe to this day he did it, I don’t! But nothing can’t ever bring him back.’ She paused at that and added. ‘Not back to life, I mean—real life, like you and me, I mean.’

And that was all we heard and all we wished to hear.

Afterwards Rudge said to me, ‘For his sake, the truth as we know it ought to be told to everybody. I suppose the police know?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘the police know—now. But as Mrs Jaines said, it can’t bring him back.’

‘Who wants to bring him back?’ exclaimed Rudge with a shudder. ‘But perhaps if people knew—as we know—it might let him rest. I am sure that was what he wanted—just that people should know.’

He paused and drew a long breath through his lips.

‘You write it,’ he said jerkily. ‘I can’t!’

And so I have.

Host Commentary

PseudoPod, Episode 848 for January 13, 2023. Browdean Farm by A.M. Burrage

Hey there, I’m Scott Campbell, assistant editor and your host for this week. So… Another year of unmitigated horror in the books. And another year of PseudoPod. Had to get that joke in there. We are looking forward to presenting this year’s bumper crop of horror stories for you. Especially appropriate silencer tonight’s story is Browdean Farm which originally appeared in the 1927 collection Some Ghost Stories

Alfred McLelland Burrage (1889–1956) was noted in his time as an author of fiction for boys which he published under the pseudonym Frank Lelland, including a popular series called “Tufty”. After his death, however, Burrage became best known for his ghost stories. After his father died in 1906, A. M. Burrage began writing fiction, partly to support his familY. Burrage’s main market for his fiction were British pulp magazines, such as The Grand Magazine, The Novel Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine and The Weekly Tale-Teller.
He served in the Artists Rifles in the First World War, and published a memoir of his war experiences, War Is War, as “Ex-Private X”. Burrage is now remembered mainly for his horror fiction, some of which was originally collected in the books Some Ghost Stories (1927) and Someone in the Room (1931) – often under his “Ex-Private X” name. His work generally is on a spectrum somewhere between the ghost stories of M.R. James and H.R. Wakefield, neither as stuffily antiquarian as the former, nor as sensationalistic as the latter. He died at Edgware General Hospital at the age of sixty-seven on 18 December 1956.

Your reader, W.J. Walton, is an artist, musician, author, storyteller, and performer who lives in Harrington Delaware with his partner Paula. He is the author and illustrator of a children’s book about a curious horseshoe crab called Polly, and the creator and star of the live horror host show Mr. Moribund’s Theatre of Terror. He enjoys painting, gardening, reading, writing, board games, and playing guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, and other things with strings. In his spare time, he drinks coffee

Now, you notice that man standing in the garden, he has a story for you, and we promise you, it’s true.

Every author knows that when they release their story into the world, they lose control. How editors, audiences, and critics see it can and do vary wildly from the author’s vision. Time also can change how that vision is seen, sending it into obscurity or be discovered by new audiences. The same problem happens when you leave this world. Death means that you have no control over your story. Family, friends, and co-workers now have free reign to, intentionally or not, change your narrative. Multiply this by a thousand if you’re a public figure. Everybody wants to put you into their story, whether you fit or not. I think that’s ghost stories like this appeal with the whole “unfinished business” trope. You can still have a chance to shape your story from beyond the grave. Hell, doing it from beyond the grave makes it a more interesting story. But you still might make sure your story is a good one while you’re among the living.

To keep our stories going, we need money. I realize things are a bit chaotic right now, but if you have a few bucks to spare, we can use it to pay everyone: our writers, our readers and all our staff. So if you love what we do, go to and click on “feed the pod”. You can donate to our Patreon, which gets you access to lots of cool stuff, including extra CatsCast episodes, or make one-off or regular payments via Ko-fi or PayPal.

And… if you have a bit more money, check out our Voidmerch store? We have a huge range of hoodies, t-shirts and other goodies with our logos… and the other Escape Artists podcasts, I suppose. You can find the link at or just go to voidmersh.threadlesscom.

But if things are a little too chaotic right now, consider leaving reviews of our episodes, and mentioning us on your social medias of choice. It all helps.

PseudoPod is part of the Escape Artists Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and this episode is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license. Theme music is by permission of Anders Manga.

Your closing quote is from Chuck Palahniuk “If the living are haunted by the dead, then the dead are haunted by their own mistakes.”

About the Author

Alfred McLelland Burrage

Alfred McLelland Burrage

Alfred McLelland Burrage (1889–1956) was noted in his time as an author of fiction for boys which he published under the pseudonym Frank Lelland, including a popular series called “Tufty”. After his death, however, Burrage became best known for his ghost stories. After his father died in 1906, A. M. Burrage began writing fiction, partly to support his family. Burrage’s main market for his fiction were British pulp magazines, such as The Grand Magazine, The Novel Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine and The Weekly Tale-Teller.

He served in the Artists Rifles in the First World War, and published a memoir of his war experiences, War Is War, as “Ex-Private X”. Burrage is now remembered mainly for his horror fiction, some of which was originally collected in the books Some Ghost Stories (1927) and Someone in the Room (1931) – often under his “Ex-Private X” name. His work generally is on a spectrum somewhere between the ghost stories of M.R. James and H.R. Wakefield, neither as stuffily antiquarian as the former, nor as sensationalistic as the latter. He died at Edgware General Hospital at the age of sixty-seven on 18 December 1956.

Find more by Alfred McLelland Burrage

Alfred McLelland Burrage

About the Narrator

W.J. Walton

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W.J. Walton is an artist, musician, author, storyteller, and performer who lives in Harrington Delaware with his partner Paula. He is the author and illustrator of a children’s book about a curious horseshoe crab called Polly, and the creator and star of the live horror host show Mr. Moribund’s Theatre of Terror. He enjoys painting, gardening, reading, writing, board games, and playing guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, and other things with strings. In his spare time, he drinks coffee.

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