Class 10 – English Literature – A Shady Plot Elsie Brown

John Hallock has to write a ghost story which will get published, but he is not able to think up a plot to write the story. To get inspiration and to make the circumstances suitable, he starts seeing a ghost of a woman named Helen, who answers his questions and makes a demand to stop the use of Ouija boards. Later John’s wife also came to know about it about which was mysterious in the beginning. Things ended in a cordial way between the couple and John got an excellent plot to give shape to his ghost story.

The Story Retold
Need to Write a Ghost Story Jenkins demands another story on supernatural powers from John Hallock; something which can give horror to the readers, because that is what the public wants. He thinks that John is good at writing ghost stories because his ghosts are live propositions. John accepts to write the story although he does not have any plot in his mind, but he knows that this is the only magazine where his writing is published and therefore he sits down to write.
John Starts Wandering When John sits down to write his mind starts to wander off to other things. Then he started to stare at the ceiling. He started talking to himself aloud, when suddenly a voice answered him. The voice then started taking shape in pieces. She was long and angular, with enormous fishy eyes behind big bone-rimmed spectacles, and her hair in a tight wad at the back of her head, with a solid jaw. The entire figure starts looking absolutely real.
The Conversation Between the Ghost and John
The ghost told Hallock that she too used to write in the other world. Later she became a reader but faced many problems. Therefore she and others like her decided to form ‘The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau’. They roam here and there and help the writers who don’t have sufficient ideas to write their stories.
They give the writers’ thinking a shape and when their work is done, they have to report to their main office. The ghost, whose name was Helen, further told him about the Ouija Board fanatics. She told him that they had stopped wandering and now they sit at one place and answer questions. She thus told him to ask his friends and acquaintances to stop using the Ouija board.
Lavinia Enters the Scene
Lavinia, who is John’s wife, listens to loud voices coming from the room. When she questions John he refuses to answer. She tells him that she had bought an Ouija board for him. She calls for an Ouija board party, which John refuses to attend initially. Later when he attends the party Lavinia pairs him with Laura Hinkle who is a flirtatious woman. At the party when the Ouija board is used it takes the name of John as a ‘traitor’.
Everyone is surprised. Hallock saw the board was going round faster than ever. He tried to get up but his fingers seemed stuck to the board. Hinkle asked the board who was talking. The board spelt ‘H-E-L-E-N’. Miss Hinkle asked Lavinia if she knew anyone by the name of Helen. Lavinia told that someone with the name Helen had been trying to communicate with her husband. Very soon other couples began to report that the board was taking Hallock’s name. At the party John asks everyone not to use the Ouija board but nobody listens to him.
John and Lavinia’s Relation Go Through a Turmoil
At the party Lavinia could not handle the situation and looked towards Hallock in suspicion as she had done in the library the evening before. Hallock did not know when the party ended as he went to his room and went to asleep. Next morning he could not see his wife and when he was sitting in his library trying to make another try for his story, a slip of paper slid under the door. It read, ‘Dear John, I am going back to my grandmother: My lawyer will
communicate with you later.’ John wished that he dead.
The Ghost Appears Again
Suddenly the voice of the ghost could be heard again which agreed that he should be dead. Hallock asked the ghost why she appeared in parts. She said that if he gave her time she would appear in full. She was now too tired to materialise. She had come back again just to know when his wife was going to get rid of the Ouija board. Hallock blamed the ghost for disturbing his relations with his wife. It was due to her th+t Lavinia had decided to leave. Meanwhile Gladolia came at the door remarked to Hallock that she did not like the cook (black magic) and would leave her job. Hallock again blamed the ghost for this.

Hallock, Lavinia and the Ghost
And then the door opened and Lavinia entered. She was ready to leave with her suitcase. John tried his best to conceal the ghost from Lavinia but she was very clearly able to make out that John was hiding something from her. She was now obsessed to know what was actually going on about Which he was mysterious. Hallock thought that Lavinia would faint if she saw a ghost because she used to fear even a mouse. She argued with John over flirting at the Ouija board party.
While they were arguing, she saw who was behind John and then the voice of the ghost revealed herself that she was Helen. Lavinia was shocked to see the ghost and faced it very strongly. Lavinia asked her whether she was Helen of Troy and the ghost agreed that she was Helen of Troy, New York and disappeared saying a goodbye.
Hallock and Lavinia Settle Down
Lavinia forgivingly fell into the arms of John and regretted to misunderstand her husband. Hallock now felt a strong desire to write. He claimed ‘loudly, I’ve got the bulliest(best) plot to write a ghost story’.