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By Susan Hill

By the well known storyteller Susan Hill--whose first ghost tale, the girl in Black, has run for eighteen years as a play in London's West End--here is a brand new tackle a sort that's totally classical and, in Hill's capable palms, newly important. the fellow within the photo is a haunting story of loss, love, and the very basest worry of our beings.

a unprecedented ghost tale from a latest grasp. within the condo of Oliver's previous professor at Cambridge, there's a portray at the wall, a mysterious depiction of masked revelers on the Venice carnival. in this chilly winter's evening, the outdated professor has made up our minds to bare the painting's eerie mystery. The darkish artwork of the Venetian scene, rather than imitating lifestyles, has the facility to entrap it. To stare into the portray is to play dangerously with the unseen demons it hides, and turn into the sufferer of its macabre good looks.

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I have not had such hassle placing a portray. And approximately something i used to be adamant. i didn't wish it within the room the place I slept. i didn't even take it into the bed room. but i'm really not a superstitious guy, and up until eventually that point had in simple terms ever suffered nightmares if i used to be sick and had a fever. simply because I had such hassle discovering the suitable position for it, finally I left the portray propped up there, opposed to the bookcase. and that i couldn't cease it. at any time when I got here again into those rooms, it drew me. I spent extra time taking a look at it – no, into it – than I did with photos of some distance better attractiveness and benefit. I appeared to want it, to spend a ways an excessive amount of time having a look into each nook, each face. i didn't pay attention from now on from the tiresome pest within the public sale rooms, and that i quickly forgot approximately him totally. only one curious factor occurred round that point. It used to be within the autumn of an analogous yr, the 1st week of Michaelmas time period and an evening whilst the 1st chills of autumn had me ring for a hearth. It used to be blazing up good, and that i used to be operating at my table, within the circle of lamplight, while I occurred to look up for a moment. The Venetian portray was once at once in my sight and anything approximately it made me glance extra heavily. cleansing had printed clean depths to the image, and lots more and plenty extra aspect used to be now transparent. i'll see way more those who have been crowded at the course beside the water, numerous rows deep in locations, and gondolas and different craft encumbered with revellers, a few masked, others no longer, at the canal. I had studied the faces over and over, and every time i discovered extra. humans frolicked of home windows and over balconies, extra have been within the dim recesses of rooms within the palazzi. yet now, it was once just one individual, one determine, which stuck my eye and stood out from all of the leisure, and even if he was once close to front of the image, i didn't imagine I had spotted the fellow sooner than. He was once no longer the lagoon or the boats, yet relatively clear of them and out of the scene – he appeared, in reality, to be taking a look at me, and into this room. He wore outfits of the day yet simple ones, now not the flowery fancy costume of the various carnival-goers, and he used to be now not masked. yet of the revellers just about him wore mask and either looked as if it would have their arms upon him, one on his shoulder, the opposite around his left wrist, virtually as though they have been attempting to preserve a carry of him or maybe pull him again. His face had a wierd expression, as though he have been right away astonished and afraid. He was once taking a look clear of the scene simply because he didn't wish to be a part of it and into my room, at me – at an individual in entrance of the image – with what i will be able to simply describe as pleading. yet for what? What used to be he asking? The surprise used to be seeing a man’s determine there in any respect while I had formerly no longer spotted it. I meant that the lamplight, forged at the portray at a selected perspective, had printed the determine sincerely for the 1st time. regardless of the cause, his expression distressed me and that i couldn't paintings with my former deep focus. within the evening, I woke numerous instances, and, as soon as, out of a wierd dream during which the guy within the photo was once drowning within the canal and stretching out his hands for me to save lots of him, and so shiny used to be the dream that I obtained away from bed and got here in the following, switched at the lamp and checked out the image.

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