The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories Summary

"The Eyes of the Panther" is the story of a young woman named Irene Marlowe who refuses Jenner Brading's offer of marriage because she claims she is insane. She tells him a story about a panther who terrified her mother when pregnant. When a panther appears at his window one night, he shoots and kills it, only to realize it was actually Irene.

In "The Moonlit Road," the tragic murder of Julia Hetman, a Southern woman, is told from three different perspectives. Her son tells the story of his father's despair after finding her dead body, then his horrified reaction to an unseen sight on the moonlit road. Next, Julia's husband Joel tells his version of the story under an alias: he saw a man running away from the house and assumed he was Julia's lover, so he strangled her to death. Lastly, Julia herself tells the story of her death through a medium. She did not see the person who killed her, and lingered around her home in ghost form. When she sees her husband, she runs to him with joy, only to have him flee in terror away from her.

"The Boarded Window" is about a widower named Murlock whose wife died suddenly one day. He prepares her body for burial and then falls asleep. He is awaken at night by a strange noise, and fights off a panther that was trying to drag away his wife's body. In the morning, he discovers that his wife had a bit of the panther's ear clamped between her teeth.

In "The Man and the Snake," a young man named Brayton chuckles at a book that claims the gaze of a serpent holds the power to hypnotize a man. When a snake suddenly appears in his room, he assumes it belongs to the eccentric old scientist who owns the home, but then he finds himself hypnotized by the beast. At the end, the snake is revealed to be nothing more than a stuffed toy.

"The Secret of Macarger's Gulch" is about a man named Elderson who stays in an abandoned cabin in the wilderness one night. He has a strange dream about a woman and a man with a scarred face who live in a distant city. When he wakes, he hears the sound of a struggle in the darkness, but no one else is in the cabin with him. He later learns from his friend Morgan that the MacGregors, a couple from Edinburgh, lived in that cabin before the husband murdered the wife. Morgan shows Elderson a picture of the man, Thomas MacGregor, and he is the scarred man from Elderson's dream.

In "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot," three young men challenge an older man named Grossmith to a duel after a conflict. They bring him to an abandoned house said to be haunted after the former owner, Manton, murdered his wife and children there. The next day, Grossmith is found dead in the mansion. He is completely unharmed physically except for a look of terror on his face. In the dust near his body, they find a set of footprints that are missing the middle toe of the right foot, which was a physical characteristic of his long-dead wife.

"A Psychological Shipwreck" tells the story of William Jarrett, who finds himself oddly drawn to Janette Harford, a young woman on the same ship. She is reading a book about souls coming into contact across great distances. He fails to save her when the ship sinks, and finds himself aboard a different steamer. He is informed he has been on this ship for weeks, but correctly predicts that Janette will never arrive at her destination.

In "A Holy Terror," a prospector named Jefferson Doman leaves behind his girlfriend Mary Matthews (who ends up with a mutilated face after a gambling incident), and follows a tip about gold buried in a cemetery. He digs under the grave of a woman who also had a scarred face, and is crushed to death. Months later, a wealthy man and his wife visit the area and find the aftermath. The woman dies after finding Jefferson's letters, and it is revealed that she is Mary Matthews.

"John Bartine's Watch" tells the story of a man who inherits a pocketwatch from his murdered great-grandfather, who looks just like him. Bartine feels increasing dread when looking at his watch as it gets closer to 11 pm. When his friend tricks him into looking at the watch just before 11, John Bartine dies.

In "Beyond the Wall," a wealthy young man falls in love with a woman but decides not to pursue her, though they engage in an ongoing flirtation by knocking on each other's walls. When she does not respond for some time, he grows angry with her and refuses to answer a weak knock one night, only to find out the next morning that she has died. The knocking continues after her death, however, and he eventually dies.

"Watcher by the Dead" is about a group of doctors who challenge a gambler to stay in a room with a corpse for a full night in complete darkness. The corpse is actually a living doctor pretending to be dead, and when he plays a prank on the gambler by waking up, one of them dies - but it is not entirely clear which one.

In "Moxon's Master," a man named Moxon explains that machines may be conscious as well, and creates a chess-playing machine that eventually kills him.