Oct.11, 1816 — Candles lit in the choir for the first time at evening prayers. It came as a shock: I find that I absolutely shrink from the dark season.
Dec. 6 — I do indeed miss Letitia’s company. The evenings are very trying. The house is too large for a lonely man, and visitors of any kind are too rare. I get an uncomfortable impression when going to my room that there is company of some kind…
Jan. 15, 1817 — I had occasion to come downstairs last night to my workroom for my watch, which I had inadvertently left on my table when I went up to bed. I think I was at the top of the last flight when I had a sudden impression of a sharp whisper in my ear ‘Take care.’ I clutched the balusters and naturally looked round at once. Of course, there was nothing. After a moment I went on — it was no good turning back — but I had as nearly as possible fallen: a cat — a large one by the feel of it — slipped between my feet, but again, of course, I saw nothing. It may have been the kitchen cat, but I do not think it was.
Oct. 22 — The whispering in my house was more persistent tonight. I seemed not to be rid of it in my room. I have not noticed this before. A nervous man, which I am not, and hope I am not becoming, would have been much annoyed, if not alarmed, by it. The cat was on the stairs tonight. I think it sits there always. There is no kitchen cat.
Nov. 5 — I am much troubled in sleep. No definite image presented itself, but I was pursued by the very vivid impression that wet lips were whispering into my ear with great rapidity and emphasis for some time together…
Jan. 9, 1818 — Allen thinks this a very noisy house. He thinks, too, that my cat is an unusually large and fine specimen, but very wild.
Jan.11 — Allen left me today. I must be firm."
Excerpts from “The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral”, by M.R. James.
Despite it being mid May, the weather here is more like late October - cold, dark, and pouring with rain. Perfect weather for ghost stories…