Bram Stoker

The Judge's House

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The Judge's House by Bram Stoker is a classic ghost story by the Irish author Bram Stoker. It was first published in the special Christmas issue of the weekly "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" magazine, on December 5th 1891. It was later republished in "Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories" in 1914, and has since appeared in many anthologies. The story centres on Malcolm Malcolmson, a graduate student who is studying for his final examinations in Mathematics. He arrives in a small town called Benchurch, looking for a quiet place to stay and work, while preparing for his final examinations. Determined to have privacy, he rents a rambling Jacobean mansion, surrounded by high brick walls, which has been uninhabited for many years. The lawyer acting as agent for the house is delighted to hear that Malcolmson wants to rent it, but warns him that the house has been empty for so long that the locals have developed an "absurd prejudice" about it. Malcolmson makes light of these local rumours and superstitions. He pays his rent and asks for the name of someone who might act as his housekeeper. At the local inn, the landlady, Mrs. Witham, is shocked to hear that Malcolmson will be living in what was known as the "Judge's House". She tells him that a hundred or more years ago, a judge had lived there who was notorious for his harsh sentences. Mrs. Witham admits that she does not know why this should bother her unduly, but she is worried for him. Malcolmson brushes this aside, so Mrs. Witham offers to secure the necessary provisions for him, while Malcolmson goes out to engage the old woman recommended by the agent.
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