A Bad Half Hour can be found in

ISFDB.org Magazine Entry

Ghost Stories

April 1929

Do the dead ever reveal their secrets?
The green-eyed woman dared to stake her life on one chance to talk with a qhost!

A Bad Half Hour


As told to
Walter Adolphe Roberts

THE fact that I attended the seance in my friend Stanley's apartment was in itself rather extraordinary. I am not a spiritualist, and I have never cared enough for the subject even to investigate those public meetings where mercenary, tired mediums try to read the future for all comers at so much a head. I knew, of course, that Walter Stanley was a sincere student of the occult, and that he had faith in mediumship of the higher sort. He had urged me to weigh the evidence in certain books, but I had not done so. Then, one afternoon, he telephoned the invitation I have mentioned.

"There's a psychic named Bertram coming at nine," he said. "I haven't seen him work, but he's reported to have strange powers. At least, he doesn't do it for money, so the chief excuse for suspecting him of being a faker is absent. It would be worth your while to join us."

Stanley was not very insistent I afterwards learned that he wanted to round out a party of seven, and he had thought of me at the last moment. He fully expected me to decline.

But I experienced one of those sudden hunches which influence human conduct so often and so mysteriously. It would have been impossible for me to say whether I felt I would bring good or evil upon myself by going. I only knew that I desired quite violently to be present, and that a cold wave crinkled the skin between my shoulder blades like a foreboding of uncanny adventure. The amazing outcome—but even to hint at what that proved to be would spoil my story.

"All right," I called back, "you can count me in." I was fairly prompt in reaching the apartment on Central Park West, yet all the other guests were ahead of me. I was acquainted only with Walter Stanley. As he introduced me around the circle, two persons impressed me in a definite way. The first was the medium, Theodore Bertram, a gaunt, prematurely old man who slouched behind a table and turned a queer, bird-like face to greet me. His snow-white hair, large, round eyes and hooked nose gave him a startling resemblance to a screech-owl.

The other individual was a tall, dark girl with a tragic expression in eyes that were much lighter in color than her complexion warranted. Having once seen them, it was out of the question for anybody to forget those stony, greenish eyes. Her name was Fritzi Schneider. I had lived in Vienna, and I judged from her accent that she was a native of that city. I asked her whether I was right. She replied curtly in the affirmative, but added that she had been in New York for eight years.

The remaining members of the group were a lawyer called Colton and his sister, Ethel and Marjorie.

After seating us all at the table with the medium, Stanley substituted bulbs of red glass for the ordinary bulbs in the floor lamp. He then turned off all the other lights, and the room was suffused with a ruddy glow in which, as soon as one's eyes grew accustomed to it, objects could be distinguished quite clearly.

At Bertram's direction, we joined him in resting the tips of our fingers on the table, though there was no attempt to complete a circle by having the hands touch each other. "This helps us to concentrate," the medium explained, in a queer, squeaking voice. "It...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.