Two men in a smoking-room were talking of their private-school days. ‘At our school,’ said A., ‘we had a ghost’s footmark on the staircase. What was it like? Oh, very unconvincing.
M. R. James’ “A School Story” comes across as a little more low key than some of his other stories. There are still ghosts, a history with some nefarious business, but it’s from the point of view of an adult man telling what happened to him as a younger boy at school.
In the case of this story, the title, as plain as it sounds, suits the story quite well. And there’s nothing negative in that – the story is enjoyable. It’s also one of the shorter James stories I’ve read so far at about six pages.
Even ghost stories can be good without being over the top. And of course if anyone is going to make “low key” come across as good it would be M. R. James.