My story begins in November, many years ago. I was a young man of twenty-three. I worked for a solicitor called Mr Bentley. Sometimes the work was uninteresting, but I worked hard. I wanted to do well.
That November morning, the weather was cold. A thick, yellow fog covered London. The fog filled people's ears and eyes. It got into houses, shops and offices.
Mr Bentley called me into his office.
`Sit down, Arthur, sit down,' Mr Bentley said. He pointed to a paper on his desk.
`This is the will of Mrs Drablow. Mrs Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House in Yorkshire. A strange old lady and a strange house. Have you ever been to Yorkshire, Arthur?'
`Well, my boy, go home and pack your bag. Mrs Drablow is dead. She has no relatives in England. And we are her solicitors. I want you to go to the funeral.'
Mr Bentley saw that I was surprised. `I can't go myself,' Mr Bentley said quickly. `I'm too busy.'
`After the funeral,' he went on, `I want you to go to Eel Marsh House. I want you to look at the old lady's papers. Bring back anything important.'
Mr Bentley stood up.
`The funeral's at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning,' he said. `Take the afternoon train from King's Cross Station. Here is the key to Eel Marsh House. Mrs Drablow's will and other important papers are in this envelope.'
And he held out a large, brown envelope. Written on the front of the envelope was: Mrs Alice Drablow, Eel Marsh House, Nine Lives Causeway, Crythin Gifford, Yorkshire.
`What a strange address!' I said.
`Yes, it's a strange address and it's a strange place,' Mr Bentley said. `Now off you go, my boy.'
There wasn't much time to get ready for the journey. I quickly packed my bag. Then I wrote a note to Stella, my fiancée. Then I set off for King's Cross Station.
The fog was thicker now. The smell of fog was everywhere. At last I reached the big, noisy station. I was beginning to feel excited. I was going on a journey. I had an important job to do.
I was soon sitting in the train. And then it was moving. Slowly at first and then faster. The fog of London was left behind. Darkness fell. I was on my way north - to Eel Marsh House.
I changed trains at Crewe. Then I changed trains again at a small town called Homerby, in Yorkshire. The air was cold.
The wind blew rain on my face.
The little train I got into at Homerby was old and dirty. I put the brown envelope on the seat beside me. I opened my newspaper and began to read.
A few minutes later, a big man with a red face got into the carriage. He sat down as the train began to move out of Homerby.
`It's cold in here,' I said. `But I've left the fog of London behind me.'
`We don't have fogs here. We have mists. The mists come in from the sea,' the big man said.
We sat for a few moments in silence. Then I saw the big man look at the envelope on the seat beside me.
`Drablow,' he said. `Are you a relative?'
`No, I'm a solicitor,' I said. `I'm going to the funeral.' 'You'll be the only one there, Mr ...?' `My name's Kipps, Arthur Kipps,' I told him. `I'm Samuel Daily,' the big man said. `Didn't Mrs Drablow have any friends?' I asked.
`No, she didn't have any friends,' Mr Daily said. `People become strange when they live in strange places.'
`Are you trying to frighten me, Mr Daily?' I asked. He stared at me.
`No, I'm not trying to frighten you,' he said. `But there are other people in Crythin Gifford who will try to frighten you.'
I suddenly felt very cold.
`Where are you staying tonight?' Mr Daily asked me. `I'm going to stay at the Gifford Arms.'
`The Gifford Arms is a comfortable inn,' said Mr Daily. `I go past it on my way home. You can come with me in my car.'
Mr Daily's car was waiting at the station. A few minutes later, it stopped outside the inn. Mr Daily gave me his card with his address on it.
'That's where I live,' he said. `If you need any help, come and see me.'
The Gifford Arms was warm and comfortable. After a good supper, I went to bed.
I slept well. Thank God I did. I never slept so well again.