The Red Lodge by H R Wakefield Short Story Terror


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I first read this short story when I was about 12 or 14 years old. It was part of a horror anthology entitled Tales of Terror. (Not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock anthology of the same name.) This book, which had a off-shade green cover; featured pictures from each story in the collection. Wonderfully eerie and very evocative of the stories inside.

I cannot seem to find a copy or indeed a reference to this anthology anywhere. The closest I’ve gotten is a book called the The Eighth Fontana Book of Ghost Stories. As best I can tell this is not the book I read all those years before. The list given for the Fontana collection does not include The Rune Stone which I definitely remember being the second story in the book with The Red Lodge being the first.

A long time ago I checked this book out of the local Lincoln Library. It went missing, along with two other books I’d checked out, in a “haunted” house we lived in at that time. After paying several over-due fines the books came to light in my father’s office/study in his ‘house plan’ box. (He was a house builder)

There was no earthly reason for these three books to be in this box in the bottom of the closet in his office. When he found them there, he got rather angry with me for putting them there and reminded me that this area of his office was “out-of-bounds.” How the books got there remains a mystery.

The house itself is no longer there as he tore it down in the 1980’s to build an apartment building where the old white house stood. I’ve always wanted to talk to anyone who lived in these apartments if they’d ever experienced anything out of the ordinary. It would be interesting if this “haunted house” lived on through the apartments.

But I am digressing, very badly. So, back to the story itself.

This tale scared me to death. It also gave me an almost lifetime aversion to looking out windows at night and a ridiculous fear of old English houses located next to rivers. Especially rivers that ran behind the house’s garden.

H R Wakefield was born in 1890 and his stories were written during the 1920’s while he worked as the chief editor at a publishing house. He was well-known for his ghost stories which were very popular at the time. His work was included in this short story collection and after reading it, you can see why it is the lead story in the book.

I had to search for quite some time to find any of his short stories and finally found a copy available on the kindle of The Red Lodge. This sixteen page tale of terror in an English Queen Anne style home in the country is still capable of “putting the wind up” while you read it. I actually made sure that I read it during the day…in a brightly lit room.

The Kindle copy of the short story is a bit dear at £2.46 but it is well worth it.  Almost 43 three years have passed since I first read this book and it still has the power to scare the hell out of me.

This is a real classic of a story and well worth the money spent to read it.

So go on, read it. I dare you.

H R Wakefield short story writer, novelist, publisher, and civil servant. (1888 - 1964)
H R Wakefield short story writer, novelist, publisher, and civil servant. (1888 – 1964)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

20 thoughts on “The Red Lodge by H R Wakefield Short Story Terror”

  1. Hello, I think the book you are talking about with the green cover was called “More Tales To Tremble By,” a Whitman classic for what would today be called “young adults,” edited by Stephen Sutton. There were two of those books; the one with the green cover was the second volume in a series; the first one had a blue cover. I had both of them as a kid in the late Sixties and I loved them. I recently bought replacements for them on a used book site and re-read them after an interval of about 40 years, and I loved the stories even more! I’ve linked to an Amazon offering for “More Tales to Tremble By” in my latest post if you want to revisit this excellent volume: https://foleytown.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/classic-ghost-story/

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    1. I read both books as well. They were hardcover and I recently found The Red Lodge on its own and rereading it still gave me gooseflesh and an urge to look behind me while reading. That “icy cough” still gives me chills! I remember that book still being at my parents house until they held an auction and it seems to have been picked up by someone else. I can, however, close my eyes and still see the book in my mind’s eye. Thanks for the tip and I’ll be checking out your tale as well.Cheers matey!

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      1. Hey thanks for liking my post! “The Red Lodge” was one of my favorites from those volume,s but I didn’t remember it until I re-read it all these years later. Some years ago, when my daughter turned 10, she had a big slumber party and I was asked to produce a ghost story for all the little girls in attendence. I obliged by recounting the two I remembered the most: “God Grant That She Lie Stylle” by Cynthia Asquith and “The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving (from the first volume.) The little girls were all terrified, as in screaming out loud!

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  2. You could make my day, short story re a blind newspaper vendor in NY, knows all the footsteps of his customers, hears a very strange, frightening footstep one night. The next night one of his regulars comes by and says he would like to pay the vendor to “listen” for an enemy that has been tracking him for many years, not since an ill-fated excavation in Eygpt. Hope this rings a bell for someone, read this story once (thought it was in a Hitchcock collection) and have never seen it since. VERY scary! 🙂

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    1. You can actually find the story in a collection of Robert Arthur stories titled Ghosts and More Ghosts. A little side note here, Arthur wrote the splendid “Three Investigators” stories, which I adored as a boy…

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      1. I literally felt room open up in my brain and my shoulders relax, thank you so much for finding this information!!! 🙂

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  3. There are a few stories that have terrified me in my life and that’s one of them – I’m not even sure what it is about it, but I read it (as an adult) in The Eighth Fontana Book of Ghost Stories and it shook me up so badly that I had to put the book with the cover facing down on my nightstand because even looking at it started to unsettle me. Absolute genius.
    Apparently it was a story that actually scared M.R. James, so we’re in good company!

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    1. Well, I never knew that about M.R. James! Thanks for relating that! Yeah, it creeped me out so much that I had a phobia of looking out windows at night for years! LOL Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Cheers matey!!

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  4. Coincidences are always intriguing. I was recently extolling the ‘thrilling’ virtues of “The Red Lodge” to a literary friend, who has emailed me a link to your post. I agree with your estimation: “The Red Lodge” is, to me, one of the ten best ghost stories of the 20th century, and an under-appreciated gem. Wakefield wrote other sound ghost stories, but I haven’t yet read one in which he matches the inarticulate horror of this. M.R. James famously praised the old-school virtue of “reticence” in the supernatural story, and a great deal of what is so effectively horrible in this story involves what Wakefield’s smug jingoistic narrator is afraid to say. (There’s much more to say about why this works so well, but that’s all I’d venture here.)

    I happen to own a copy of precisely the edition of (you recall) _Tales of Terror_ that you remember so fondly. I purchased it from Ebay about fifteen years ago, in part because it contained “The Red Lodge,” partly because it has the affectingly spooky illustrations in lurid shades of green and blue on its trade binding. I can’t put my hand to it at the moment, as I’d like to help verify its publication details; unfortunately, it’s with other books in storage for the moment. Contact me if you’re eager to get more details of the edition in the future. -MCB

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    1. Wow!!! the fact that you have the book is amazing. Even without closing my eyes I can see the book with it’s (as you so accurately put it) lurid shades of green and blue. I had checked the book out of the library originally and the story of The Red Lodge stayed in my mind for years after. I remember telling my 13 year-old daughter of the story and she’s soon going to be 24. I still remember the other stories as well, but none have stayed so vividly in my memory as that one story. Thanks for sharing that mate, you’ve just made my day! Cheers!!

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