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Last call for entering this week's book giveaway! Look for a new one to be posted on Sunday.

As many of you know, "The Shunned House" by H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorite stories.

Today's quote comes from one of the texts that inspired the tale. In a mere two paragraphs, Charles M. Skinner in his 1896 Myths and Legends of Our Own Land (which you can read in its entirety online online here) provides readers with the eerie story of "The Green Picture." Enjoy!


"The Green Picture"

"In a cellar in Green Street, Schenectady, there appeared, some years ago, the silhouette of a human form, painted on the floor in mould. It was swept and scrubbed away, but presently it was there again, and month by month, after each removal, it returned: a mass of fluffy mould, always in the shape of a recumbent man. When it was found that the house stood on the site of the old Dutch burial ground, the gossips fitted this and that together and concluded that the mould was planted by a spirit whose mortal part was put to rest a century and more ago, on the spot covered by the house, and that the spirit took this way of apprising people that they were trespassing on its grave. Others held that foul play had been done, and that a corpse, hastily and shallowly buried, was yielding itself back to the damp cellar in vegetable form, before its resolution into simpler elements. But a darker meaning was that it was the outline of a vampire that vainly strove to leave its grave, and could not because a virtuous spell had been worked about the place.

"A vampire is a dead man who walks about seeking for those whose blood he can suck, for only by supplying new life to its cold limbs can he keep the privilege of moving about the earth. He fights his way from his coffin, and those who meet his gray and stiffened shape, with fishy eyes and blackened mouth, lurking by open windows, biding his time to steal in and drink up a human life, fly from him in terror and disgust. In northern Rhode Island those who die of consumption are believed to be victims of vampires who work by charm, draining the blood by slow draughts as they lie in their graves. To lay this monster he must be taken up and burned; at least, his heart must be; and he must be disinterred in the daytime when he is asleep and unaware. If he died with blood in his heart he has this power of nightly resurrection. As late as 1892 the ceremony of heart-burning was performed at Exeter, Rhode Island, to save the family of a dead woman that was threatened with the same disease that removed her, namely, consumption. But the Schenectady vampire has yielded up all his substance, and the green picture is no more."

Note: If you'd like to know more about the historical "ceremony of heart-burning" in Exeter, in which a Rhode Island community blamed consumption on vampires, check out my "Looking Back on Genre History" segment on this episode of the StarShipSofa podcast.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2016 12:08 pm (UTC)
re: Halloween Countdown Day 12 The Green Picture
Mysteries at the Museum had a segment on the RI lady or at least something like this happening to a family up that way.

This is a great and scary post!
Oct. 13th, 2016 02:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Halloween Countdown Day 12 The Green Picture
Oooh! I watch MatM now and then, but not in an organized way. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this episode when it comes back around.

I'm so tickled that you liked this! I thought it was wonderfully spooky.
Oct. 15th, 2016 10:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Halloween Countdown Day 12 The Green Picture
The pic of the green house is beyond spooky! And so is the whole entry! You do good work w/ this countdown. :)
Oct. 12th, 2016 10:22 pm (UTC)
What an unsettling story! And, of course, Lovecraft's THE SHUNNED HOUSE is the ultimate in creepiness!
Oct. 13th, 2016 02:04 pm (UTC)
It is unsettling, isn't it? I love The Shunned House, and the more I look into what inspired it, the more wonderfully spooky things I find. It's the gift that keeps on giving!
Oct. 16th, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC)
those leaves in the foreground are a wonderful *pre-saging* of the mould that lies within the cellar.....

Skinner's 'explanation' is about as spooky as the actual story.

What I most like about writers of Lovecraft's era is the way they never seem in a hurry to tell their stories. In this day of fast-food-iness (in everything from fast food itself to writing), they take their time upon the road of words, producing pictures of lyrical clarity. Writing, like anything, i suppose, is a product of its time, reflective of its time. And so....here we are, in the age of multi-multi-multi-tasking, when even words must be compressed to succor a too-busy-to-read reader. It's refreshing to read Lovecraft and his companions, mouldy or no!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )