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October 08 , 2007

Barbara Rebell


Barbara Rebell

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From Out the Vasty Deep

Love, ghosts, mystery and a sense of impending horror are the ingredients of this story which is interesting and readable.  No, this is not a story of a monster from the ocean depths. What spirits can a seance bring from the beyond? Was murder done in a time past and will that knowledge bring more death? Why do the spirits reveal dark secrets…

As Barbara Rebell, still Barbara Rebell, though she had been a wife, a most unhappy wife, for six years, stepped from the small dark vestibule into the dimly-lighted hall of Chancton Priory, her foot slipped on the floor; and she would have fallen had not a man's hand, small but curiously bony and fleshless, grasped her right arm, while, at the same moment, a deep voice from out the darkness exclaimed, "A good omen! So stumbled the Conqueror!" 

The accent in which the odd words were uttered would have told a tale as to the speaker's hard-bitten nationality to most English-speaking folk: not so to the woman to whom they were addressed. Yet they smote on her ear as though laden with welcome, for they recalled the voice of a certain Andrew Johnstone, the Scotch Governor of the West Indian island of Santa Maria, whose brotherly kindness and unobtrusive sympathy had been more comfortable to her, in a moment of great humiliation and distress, than his English wife's more openly expressed concern and more eagerly offered friendship. 

And then, as the stranger advanced, hesitatingly, into the hall, she found herself confronted by an odd, indeed an amazing figure, which yet also brought a quick sense of being at last in a dear familiar place offering both welcome and shelter. For she was at once aware that this must be the notable Jane Turke, Madame Sampiero's housekeeper, one to whom Barbara's own mother had often referred when telling her little daughter of the delights of Chancton Priory—of the Sussex country house to which, when dying, the thoughts of Richard Rebell's wife seemed ever turning with sick longing and regret.

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