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It was January and the summer had been mild. As was my habit at the time, I awoke early, and began to imagine myself gainfully employed upon a new literary adventure—my first compilation of public domain material. I’d seen many other self-published collections of older stories, and often wondered if I could make a go of it. That year, I decided it was time to find out. The research was easy and pleasant; in only a few hours I had cribbed a couple of likely stories from the internet—Project Gutenberg, Wikisource, and other places. I could see that it wouldn’t take too long before I had a volume fit for publication.
I discussed the proposition with my wife after dinner that evening. “I thought I’d start with ghost stories,” I said as I served the Eton Mess. “You know, the usual suspects, British and American stuff, Edgar Allen Poe, M. R. James, all that spooky old lot. Could be a bit of money in it…”
“Damnit, McKenzie”, said my wife, a sensible woman of some fifty-three summers. “You’re meddling with forces you cannot possibly comprehend. You know what these Victorian-era ghost stories are like. Once you start down that path, there’ll be no turning back. You’ll be ruined, man. Best to steer clear of the whole goddamned mess. Have another port, and forget the whole idea.”
“Nonsense,” I said. “There’s nothing to fear in the supernatural. Ghosts? Pshaw. That’s all just harum scarum. I’ll be perfectly all right.” I drained the port, and another, and looked out the window at the old manor house up on Tapley’s Hill. I decided to take a walk up there, that very evening. What sort of peculiar curiosity had overtaken me that night?
An idea has emerged for a compendium project next year. I need a series of short stories in the public domain that deal with people who "meddle with forces they cannot possibly comprehend" and summon dark and ancient magics.
The quote itself is from Indiana Jones, but the idea is much older. I so far have the following material:
1 - O Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad (M R James)
2 - One of the 'John Silence' stories by Algernon Blackwood
3 - Something by Robert Chambers (most of his stories about about meddling)
4 - The Merewigs by Sabine Baring-Gould
I'm hoping to get recommendations for this enterprise.