Scary Ghost Stories Keeping His Promise

Scary stories often scare without explanation. Ghost stories love to scare, but in “Keeping His Promise,” the reader must go a bit deeper than just being scared. So sit back and let the terror begin.

Keeping His Promise

Young Marriott was locked in his room, cramming hard for an exam he had failed many times before. He was a “Fourth Year Man” at Edinburgh University. His parents said they would no longer supply the funds to keep him there. Marriott pulled himself together and definitely made up his mind that he would pass or die in the attempt.

His friends had promised not to disturb him that night. When the bell rang it surprised him. The landlady went to bed at 10 o’clock. As Marriott answered the door, the bell rang a second time. Wondering who it was, he stood ready for the man who dared to disturb his work. The sound of boots was so close and so loud that they seemed to travel in advance of their cause. But the man did not appear. The steps sounded under his nose, yet no one was visible.

Then a stranger came into view. Marriott saw a youngish man short and very broad. His face was the color of a piece of chalk and the eyes, which were very bright, had heavy lines underneath them. His cheeks and chin were unshaven and though the general appearance was unkempt, the man was evidently a gentleman, for he was well-dressed. But, he wore no hat, and carried none in his hand; and although rain had been falling all the evening, he had neither overcoat nor umbrella. In a flash Marriott recognized him.

“Field! Man alive! Is it you?” he gasped.

“Come in,” he said at once, his anger vanishing. “There’s been something wrong, I can see. Come in, and tell me all about it and perhaps I can help.” He hardly knew what to say, and stammered. It must be at least seven years since those days at the private school when they used to be such close friends. Field was as thin as a skeleton, and as he touched him, he had the sensation of faintness and dread. It only lasted a moment, and he attributed it to the distress and shock of seeing a former friend in such a pitiful plight.

“If you’ll forgive me for a minute,” he said, “I’ll get supper. Don’t bother to talk. Just take it easy on the sofa. I see you’re dead tired. You can tell me about it afterwards.” Marriott brought supper to his friend so he didn’t have to get up. He looked up and caught his guest’s eyes directed straight upon his own. An involuntary shudder ran through him from head to foot. The face opposite him was deadly white and wore a dreadful expression of pain and mental suffering.

Fields volunteered nothing; and Marriott had pretty well made up his mind by this time that he would not ask any questions until he had eaten and slept. Food and sleep were obviously what the poor devil needed most. They ate their supper together while the host carried on a running one-sided conversation. To see a hungry man devour cold scones, stale oatcake, and brown bread with marmalade was a revelation to this inexperienced student who had never known what it was to be without at least three meals a day.

Field seemed to be as sleepy as he was hungry. “You’re more than welcome to my bed. Tomorrow we’ll have a late breakfast and make plans.” Field maintained his “dead sleepy” silence. In less than a minute he was sound asleep.

Marriott recalled their schooldays together, and how they had vowed eternal friendship, but one of their vows together Marriott, it seemed, had completely forgotten. It was too far in the background of his memory to be recalled.

Through the half-open door came the sound of deep, long-drawn breathing, the regular, steady breathing of a tired man.

A couple of hours later, he still heard the breathing, and went cautiously up to the door to look round. His first glance fell on the bed. He stared hard. Then he rubbed his eyes and thrust his head farther round the edge of the door. With fixed eyes he stared harder still, and harder.

But it made no difference at all. He was staring into an empty room.

There, on the bed, was the impression of a body, where Field had slept. There was the mark of the head on the pillow, and the slight indentation at the foot of the bed where the boots had rested on the counterpane. And there was the breathing!

Haunted by visions of fever and insanity, Marriott put on his cap and left the house. When he returned his fellow student Greene, who was studying for the same exam was up. Read hard all night, Marriott,” Greene said, “and thought I’d drop in here to compare notes and have some breakfast. You were out early? Didn’t know you had any friends who drank, Marriott?”

“Then you hear it too, thank God!”

“Of course I hear it. The door’s open.”

Marriott explained the mystery to his friend. There must be a logical explanation they thought. Marriott noticed a pain in his arm. When he examined it he noticed blood dripping from a cut on his arm.

“It is an old scar,” whispered Marriott, his lips trembling. “Now it all comes back to me.” “Field made that scar!” repeated Marriott at length in a louder voice.

“Field! You meanlast night?”

“No, not last night. Years ago at school, with his knife. And I made a scar in his arm with mine.” Marriott was talking rapidly now.

“We exchanged drops of blood in each other’s cuts. He put a drop into my arm and I put one into his” It was a boys’ compact. We made a sacred pledge, a bargain. I remember it all perfectly now. We had been reading some dreadful book and we swore to appear to one anotherI mean, whoever died first swore to show him to the other. And we sealed the compact with each other’s blood. I remember it all so well, the hot summer afternoon in the playground, seven years ago, and one of the masters caught us and confiscated the knives, and I have never thought of it again to this day.”

It was about a week later when Marriott got the answer from his sister. Part of it he read out to Greene

“It is curious,” she wrote, “that in your letter you should have enquired after Field. It seems a terrible thing, but you know only a short while ago Sir John’s patience became exhausted, and he turned him out of the house, they say without a penny. Well, what do you think? He has killed himself. At least, it looks like suicide. Instead of leaving the house, he went down into the cellar and simply starved himself to death. They’re trying to suppress it, of course, but I heard it all from my maid, who got it from their footman. They found the body on the 14th and the doctor said he had died about 12 hours before. He was dreadfully thin.”

“Then he died on the 13th,” said Greene.

Marriott nodded.

“That’s the very night he came to see you.”

Marriott nodded again.