‘The Doll’s Ghost’ by F. Marion Crawford

The Doll’s Ghost by F. Marion Crawford, 1894

The magic trick:

Raising the stakes on a supernatural story by having a young child go missing

There’s something really creepy about dolls. Some might say that what’s even creepier is an old man who obsesses over dolls. Just a thought.

This story has both.

Anyway, in addition to the creepy doll, we also have a missing child. A human being child. Not a doll. So even while we’re scared by the supernatural, there are very real stakes too. And that’s quite a trick on Crawford’s part.

The selection:

“Pa-pa,” it said, with a break between the syllables.

Mr. Puckler stood up in a single jump, and his chair fell over backwards with a smashing noise upon the wooden floor. The candle had almost gone out.

It was Nina’s doll voice that had spoken, and he should have known it among the voices of a hundred other dolls. And yet there was something more in it, a little human ring, with a pitiful cry and a call for help, and the wail of a hurt child. Mr. Puckler stood up, stark and stiff, and tried to look round, but at first he could not, for he seemed to be frozen from head to foot.

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