Winter Tales Time: Number Ninety

Every year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I like to share some winter tales — stories to tell or to read around a warm fire on a cold dark night, preferably with a steamy hot drink to wrap your hands around. I’m a bit late getting started this year, but I’m starting with a classic: a haunted house story by Irish writer Bithia Mary Croker (1848-1920).

Dark mansion by jailem d32bfx0

For a period extending over some years, a notice appeared periodically in various daily papers. It read:

“To let furnished, for a term of years, at a very low rental, a large old-fashioned family residence, comprising eleven bed-rooms, four reception rooms, dressing-rooms, two staircases, complete servants’ offices, ample accommodation for a Gentleman’s establishment, including six-stall stable, coach-house, etc.”

This advertisement referred to number ninety.

I knew better. I knew that it would never, never find a tenant. I knew that it was passed on as a hopeless case, from house-agent to house-agent. I knew that it would never be occupied, save by rats-and, more than this, I knew the reason why!

John Hollyoak, skeptic, agrees to spend the night in Number Ninety, a house of “such a desperate reputation, that even the adjoining mansions stood vacant.” Does it change his mind? Of course it does.

You can read Number Ninety here.


A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.

Ms. Croker lived in British-occupied India for 14 years with her husband, and much of her fiction is set there. To Let is the tale of a haunted bungalow in the Himalayas. It’s a good one.

Image: Haunted Mansion by Jailem, some rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Winter Tales Time: Number Ninety

    • No, I’ve not read that one! Looks like an homage to Turn of the Screw, from the description.

      I’ve been really busy this year, and I haven’t had as much time to post winter tales as I’d like; but this years theme does seem to be haunted houses…

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