The Marble Statue is a scary ghost story about a mewly-married couple who go to Ireland for their honeymoon. It is based on an old ghost story by E. Nesbit called “Man-Size in Marble”.
After my wife and I got married, we decided to spend our honeymoon in Ireland. We rented a small cottage in a rural village in the South of the country.
The cottage was a delightful little stone building with just four rooms and the walls were covered in ivy. It would make the ideal country home for our one-month stay.
The owner the cottage was a local woman named Mrs Gorman. She came over every day to act as our housekeeper, cooking the dinner and cleaning up. We became quite friendly with her and, some nights, she would entertain us with old Irish ghost stories and folklore.
There was a large, lonely church nearby and we loved to go there in the evenings, when the light was fading. The path that led to the church went through the woods and ended at the graveyard wall. They called it the “Bier Walk” because this was the path they used years ago to carry the corpses for burial.
The church had a heavy oak door that was never locked. Inside, the great stone arches rose into darkness and moonlight filtered through the beautiful stained-glass windows.
In one corner of the church, to the right of the altar, there was an alcove that contained a grey marble statue. It was the figure of a knight in armor lying on a stone slab, with his hands clutching a huge sword. In the dim light of the church, this marble statue seemed to be surrounded by an eerie glow.
Nobody knew the name of the knight, but they said he was an extremely evil man, who had been guilty of deeds so foul that he had been cursed by God and the house he lived in was struck by lightning. Looking at the stern, wicked face, carved in marble, it was easy to believe that it was the likeness of an evil man, but I wondered why his statue would be displayed in a church.
For the first two weeks of our honeymoon, everything was lovely and relaxing. In those days, I used to paint and my wife used to write short stories. We were having the time of our lives. By day, I would paint the beautiful landscapes while my wife would write in her notebook. By night, we would sit by the fire and listen to tales about the Banshee, the Dullahan and all manner of strange things that walked in the night.
Then, something changed.
Mrs Gorman came to us one day and her face was very grave. She announced that she had to go away for a few days, but she wouldn’t say why. My wife wasn’t happy about this at all, because now she would have to cook the dinners and wash up the dirty dishes.
I kept pestering Mrs Gorman about her reasons for leaving and eventually, she gave in.
“I suppose I should tell you,” she said in a low voice. “There are some legends about this house. They say there were many evil deeds done here. The things I’ve heard are enough to make your blood run cold. If you’ve been down to the church, you may have seen the big marble statue beside the altar…”
“You mean the knight in armour?” I said.
“I mean that evil man carved out of marble,” she said. “They say that on Halloween night, that monstrosity sits up on his slab like a dead man rising from the grave and as the church bell strikes eleven, he goes walking out into the night, tramping over the graves and all along the bier-walk…”
“You don’t really believe that, do you?” I asked.
“Of course I do,” she snapped, “because I know people who have seen the marks of his feet along the path, the morning after.”
“And where does he go?” I asked.
“Where do you think?” she spat. “Back here to his home. Sure isn’t this where he lived when he was alive? And they say woe betide anyone who chances to meet him along the way. If you’re smart, you’ll take my advice. Keep the door locked on Halloween night and don’t open it for anyone or anything.”
After that, she clammed up and refused to say another word about it. After she left, I didn’t mention anything to my wife about the legend of the shape that walked in marble because I didn’t want to frighten her.
When Halloween came, I cooked dinner for my wife as a treat and we sat by the fire, enjoying a bottle of wine. Outside, the sun was setting and a fine white mist curled up around the house.
Around ten o’clock, my wife said she was tired and was going to go to bed soon. I was restless, so I decided to go outside for a breath of fresh air. I strolled out of the front door, leaving it unlocked.
There was a strange grey light in the sky. I walked up and down, taking in the beauty of the night. It was absolutely silent. No birds singing, no rabbits scurrying and not even a gentle wind rustling the trees. Across the tops of the trees, I could see the church tower standing out black and grey against the night sky.
I heard the church bell striking eleven and when I looked in the window, I saw my wife asleep on the sofa. I decided to take a little walk.
As I strolled along the path that led to the church, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind me. I stopped and listened and the noise stopped too. I kept walking and I thought I heard the sound of footsteps. I had the strangest feeling that someone was following me, but when I looked around, no one was there.
When I got to the graveyard, I noticed that the door of the church was open. I went inside. It was only as I was walking down the aisle that I remembered with a sudden chill, that this was the very night when, according to the legend, the marble statue began to walk.
By the dim moonlight, I saw something that made me stop in my tracks. My heart sank into my stomach and a shiver washed over me.
The marble statue was gone. The stone slab was bare.
Was I going mad? Was it some kind of vile practical joke?
Then a horror seized me. A sickening, overwhelming horror. A premonition of impending doom.
I ran out of the church, jumped the graveyard wall in one leap and took off down the path. As I was running, a dark figure stepped out of the shadows and seemed to block my way.
“Who are you?” I shouted.
The figure stepped into the moonlight and I realized it was the parish priest.
“What’s gotten into you?” he asked.
“The marble figures are gone from the church,” I cried.
He just laughed and said, “I think you’ve been listening to a few too many old wives’ tales.”
“I’m telling you, I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” I said. “They’re gone.”
“Well, come back with me and we’ll have a look,” the priest said.
We walked back up the path, got over the graveyard wall and went back into the church. Everything was as quiet and as still as the grave. The place smelled of damp and sodden earth. We walked up the aisle together and I shut my eyes, knowing the figures wouldn’t be there.
“Here they are,” the priest said cheerfully.
I opened my eyes. He was right. I saw the huge marble shape lying on its slab. I let out a deep sigh.
“It must have been a trick of the light,” I said.
The priest leaned over and peered at the statue.
“Look,” he said. “The hand is broken.”
And so it was.
When I went home that night, the cottage was in darkness. I couldn’t see my wife anywhere. I turned on the lights and noticed her feet poking out from behind the sofa. She was lying there in a pool of blood.
I fell to my knees and began sobbing. She had been murdered. Her head was crushed and flattened an her brains spilled out on the floor.
I grabbed her hand and noticed there was something tightly clenched between her cold, dead fingers. I prised open her hand to see what she was holding.
It was a grey marble finger.