The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman's time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goosebumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins's short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.
Mary E. Wilkins was an American author born on October 31(Halloween), in 1852. She was at first dismissed as a serious writer because of her Feminine subjects. More recent scholarship has argued the importance of her work regarding spinster heroines or abandoned ghost children.
The Lost Ghost
The story of “The Lost Ghost” begins with two women conversing while they sew. Mrs. Meserve tells the story of a fine house that has just been rented but has been said to be haunted, declaring that she is done with haunted homes, yet she then goes into a story about her past experience with a haunted situation and the ghost story thus begins.
As a young lady, Mrs. Meserve moved into a house with roommates, Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Dennison. Mrs. Meserve tells how she had just started school as a teacher and it was a cold year so she had a heavy coat to keep warm.
One night while staying up she heard the sounds of a “very timid” knock with “little hands” at her door which she at first dismissed.
She offered for them to enter but when they didn’t, Mrs. Meserve got up to check. She opened the door to the smell of what she associated with a cellar and noticed a little face holding up her heavy coat the little face says: “I can’t find my mother.” The child then flitters away and Mrs. Meserve calls to her landladies for help.
The two roommates were aware of the hauntings and had come to accept the little ghost girl. Mrs. Meserve decided to stay regardless of the ghost and came to learn that the child had been poorly treated by her mother and father. The child was abandoned and found dead in one of the bedrooms by the townspeople. Then one morning Mrs. Bird wasn’t feeling too well and stayed in bed. During breakfast, Mrs. Meserve noticed a shadow walk by the window and when she got up to look she noticed the little girl walking hand in hand with Mrs. Bird. Mrs. Bird had died that morning.
The Wind in the Rose Bush
The second ghost story that will be examined is “The Wind in the Rose Bush”. This story is about a woman named Rebecca Flint traveling a great distance to bring back her niece Agnes to live with her. Rebecca’s sister had passed away and her sister’s husband had re-married. Rebecca came across some money and thought she would take her niece Agnes and raise her now that she had some money in the bank and also because she had no other family left. On her travels to find her niece she encounters the strangest of folks who either grunt at her or speak to her as an outsider, which adds to the resistance that Rebecca encounters on her journey. Rebecca arrives at the house and is greeted by Mrs. Dent, her niece’s stepmother.
On the way into the house, Rebecca notices a pretty little rose bush being “agitated violently” except there was no wind.
A short while later the two ladies are having tea and discussing the arrangements of having Agnes go home with her Aunt Rebecca when Rebecca sees Agnes pass by the window. The girl doesn’t enter and Mrs. Dent tells Rebecca that she must have been mistaken, Agnes never walked by. Rebecca stays the night and wakes the next day with still no sign of Agnes’s return.
Mrs. Dent continues to make up excuses for Agnes not returning and Rebecca continues to be haunted by Agnes: she awakes at night by the sounds coming from the piano and also finds in her room that a dress was laid out with the rose from the rose bush lying on it. Rebecca continues to drill Mrs. Dent with questions but is forced to return home due to a letter she received calling her home to a sick cousin. Rebecca goes back home and through research and letter writing comes to find out that her niece Agnes had died a year ago; it was suspected to have been due to neglect but there was not enough evidence.