The Ash-Tree #685997

di M. R. James

Old Classics Audiobooks

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The Ash-Tree by M. R. James Audiobook is a ghost story by British writer M.R. James, included in his 1904 collection Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

Plot summary:
In 1690, the English county of Suffolk is wracked with a fear of witches. Many girls and women are accused of casting spells and causing mayhem. One such accused woman is a Mrs. Mothersole, a wealthier noblewoman who has property of her own. The only evidence of her witchcraft are eyewitness accounts by Sir Matthew Fell, the owner of a local seat named Castringham.

Outside his bedroom window grows a monstrous ash tree, where on moonlit nights he would sometimes supposedly see Mrs. Mothersole climbing the trunk and snipping branches with a dagger. She always escaped and disappeared before he could catch her. Despite her pleas, she is found guilty and hanged. Before the noose is pulled, she dully intones "There will be guests at the Hall".

She is buried in the local graveyard.
A few weeks later, Sir Matthew and the local vicar are walking by the ash tree at dusk when they spy a creature in the branches that disappears before they can get a good look. As it is a warm night, the squire leaves his window open. The next day, he is found dead in his bed with a severe look of pain and terror on his face. Though a postmortem is performed, no cause of death can be found.

Sir Matthew's son, Sir Matthew II, inherits Castringham and refuses to stay in his father's bedroom. Over forty years pass and he passes away in 1735. When the family plot in the local graveyard needs to be expanded to fit his remains, Mrs. Mothersole's resting place is exhumed to make room and the coffin is found to be empty, with no body. The locals are puzzled as to who could have robbed the grave.
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81.7 MB
M. R. James