William Croft Dickinson (1897-1963) was a professor of Scottish history at Edinburgh University, and wrote his ghost stories in the manner of M. R. James. However most of Dickinson's stories were based on well-known supernatural incidents in Scottish history. The majority of the stories in this volume are narrated by an antiquarian professor to his colleagues as first-hand experiences.
"The Keepers of the Wall"--The ancient custom of burying victims within the foundations of a wall to strengthen it comes alive for an archeologist who insists on visiting an ancient castle during the evening hours.
"Return at Dusk"--A Professor of Anthropology refuses to look into a mirror at twilight, after a strange experience in Cairntoul Castle.
"The Eve of St Botulph"--An historian discovers an ancient chronicle that relates satanic occurrences at the Abby of Dundrennan.
"Can These Stones Speak?"--This story is built around the medieval custom of punishing nuns who had broken their vows by burying them alive.
"The Work of Evil"--The librarian in charge of the Rare Book Room keeps an old book locked in a safe, after the two men who attempted to read it died by strangulation.
"The Return of the Native"--Dr. MacDonald, a visiting Fulbright Professor tries to trace his ancestors back to a certain location in Scotland and is visited by an ancient curse on his family.
"Quieta Non Movere"-- 'Don't disturb things that are at peace,' i.e. 'Let sleeping dogs lie.' Two curious historians open a cairn where a witch's supernatural dog was buried.
"Let the Dead Bury the Dead"--An archeologist asks for his colleague's assistance at a lonely Bronze Age burial site.
"The Castle Guide"--A castle custodian gives his evening visitor a queer sort of tour.
"The Witch's Bone"--A witch's artifact allows a professor to revenge himself upon a contemptuous colleague.
"The Sweet Singers"--University colleagues at a golf tournament hear strange voices chanting the 51st Psalm.
"The House of the Balfother"--This story might be based on the legend of 'Earl Beardie' at Glamis Castle, who was forced to play cards with the Devil until Doomsday after he broke the Sabbath.
"His Own Number"--A computer technician, who also happens to be a Highlander quits his post after a computer thrice gives him the same answer to three different calculations.
The last five stories in "Dark Encounters" do not have quite the same chill factor as the first eight, so I expect the author was trying to build up his collection of tales to the unlucky number (to the superstitious, at least) of thirteen. However, each story has a unique theme and the first eight will produce satisfactory shivers up the spines of classical ghost story lovers.
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