The Unquiet Grave – Short Stories

Peter Hawkins
The Unquiet Grave – Short Stories


The dead do not always lie quietly in their graves. Sometimes they have unfinished business with the living world, and want revenge for a wrong done to them. Perhaps in life they did wrong themselves and even in death can find no peace, so they must come back to bring trouble and fear to the living.

In these five stories the dead can come at any time, in any place, and in the strangest of ways – to an Oxford College, where Mr Williams is looking with interest at an old picture; or in bright sunshine to an inn where young Mr Thomson is spending his holiday. When the lights go out in Mr Edward Dunning’s room and he reaches out to find the matches, what is it that his fingers touch in the dark? The wife and stepson of Squire Bowles have a question to ask, but only the Squire knows the answer, and how can you ask a question of a man who lies dead in his grave?

And when Professor Parkins blows an old whistle he has found, is it only the wind that answers, or something more? Something unseen, unheard, but more horrible than you could ever imagine …

Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford
It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide in
Oxford New York
Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto
With offices in
Argentina Austria Brazil Chile Czech Republic France Greece Guatemala Hungary Italy Japan Poland Portugal Singapore South Korea Switzerland Thailand Turkey Ukraine Vietnam
OXFORD and OXFORD ENGLISH are registered trade marks of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries
This simplified edition © Oxford University Press 2008
Database right Oxford University Press (maker)
First published in Oxford Bookworms 1996
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
No unauthorized photocopying
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the ELT Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above
You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer
Any websites referred to in this publication are in the public domain and their addresses are provided by Oxford University Press for information only
Oxford University Press disclaims any responsibility for the content
ISBN 978 0 19 479191 5
Typeset by Wyvern Typesetting Ltd, Bristol
Printed in Hong Kong
e-Book ISBN 978 0 19 463030 6
e-Book first published 2015
Illustrated by: Paul Fisher Johnson
Word count (main text): 15,860 words
For more information on the Oxford Bookworms Library, visit

The Picture

For several years Mr Williams worked for the museum at the University of Oxford, enlarging its already famous collection of drawings and pictures of English country houses and churches. It is hard to imagine anything less alarming than collecting pictures of houses and churches, but Mr Williams found that even this peaceful work had its unexpected dark corners.

He bought many pictures for the museum from the London shop of Mr J. W. Britnell. Twice a year Mr Britnell sent a list of pictures to all his regular customers, who could then choose which pictures they wanted to look at before deciding whether to buy.

In February 1895 Mr Williams received a list from Mr Britnell with the following letter:

Dear Sir,

I think you might be interested in Picture Number 978 in our list, which I will be happy to send to you if you wish.

J. W. Britnell

Mr Williams turned to Number 978 in the list and found the following note:

Number 978. Artist unknown. Picture of an English country house, early nineteenth century. 25 centimetres by 40 centimetres. £20.

It did not sound very interesting and the price seemed high. However, Mr Williams added it to the pictures that he asked Mr Britnell to send to him.

The pictures arrived at the museum one Saturday afternoon, just after Mr Williams had left. They were brought round to his rooms in college so that he could look at them over the weekend. Mr Williams found them on his table when he and his friend, Mr Binks, came in to have tea.

Picture Number 978 showed the front of quite a large country house. It had three rows of windows with the door in the middle of the bottom row. There were trees on both sides of the house and a large lawn in front of it. The letters A.W.F. were written in the corner of the picture. Mr Williams thought that it was not very well done, probably the work of an amateur artist, and he could not understand why Mr Britnell thought it was worth twenty pounds. He turned it over and saw that there was a piece of paper on the back with part of a name on it. All he could read were the ends of two lines of writing. The first said, ‘ – ngly Hall’; the second, ‘ – ssex’.

Mr Williams thought that it would be interesting to see if he could find the name of the house in one of his guidebooks before sending the picture back on Monday morning. Meanwhile, he put the picture on the table, lit the lamp because it was now getting dark, and made the tea.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20