• fr
  • en

“THERE IS ROOM FOR ONE MORE”

I saw this story in a very old black and white film. I read it in a collection of stories published by Benson, and had read before that it in a collection of true tales, of which I cannot recall the author.

It took place in England in between 1905 and 1910. A man is in hospital. He is a rich, upper-class man with a private room. He has been in hospital for several weeks and this is his last night there before he goes home the next day. And, while he is dreaming, he gets up, goes to the window: it is broad daylight. The clock in the building opposite his window says 12-o’clock. The street is empty: no noise, nothing moving. Suddenly he hears the wheels of an approaching vehicle. He sees a horse-drawn cart carrying at least twenty coffins. The cart stops beneath his window. The driver, whose face he had not yet seen because of a hat, lifts his face towards the man. He can perfectly distinguish his features and in particular a large mole on the man’s left cheek and a long grey moustache. “There is still room for one more person,” said the driver loudly and directly to him. Stupefied, horrified, the sick man steps back and wakes up. He can see through the window the tranquil and quite night outside. Perturbed, he cannot fall back asleep.

The next morning he feels tired and nervous, but he is overjoyed to be leaving the hospital. He gets up, gets dressed, and is discharged from the hospital. With his bag in hand, he steps out onto the sidewalk into the fresh air. He goes to the bus stop: he waits a few minutes. The bus drives up, stops. The ticket-taker opens the door and our friend recoils in fright. The ticket-taker’s face is identical to that of the driver with the cart piled high with coffins: a mole on his cheek and a long grey moustache. “There is still room for one more person,” the ticket-taker exclaims. Paralysed, incapable of the smallest movement. Our friend does not budge. The ticket-taker shuts the door and the bus drives away. At the next curve, it skids on the ground dampened with rain. It falls in the ravine; all of the passengers are killed.


by  Prince Michael of Greece