Some people see things that others cannot. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” (H.P. Lovecraft).

Seabury Quinn: Restless Souls

Seabury Quinn, Restless Souls, Relatos de terror, Horror stories, Short stories, Science fiction stories, Anthology of horror, Antología de terror, Anthology of mystery, Antología de misterio, Scary stories, Scary Tales, Science Fiction Short Stories, Historias de ciencia ficcion, Tales of mystery

“TEN THOUSAND small green devils! What a night; what an odious night!” Jules de Grandin paused beneath the theater’s porte-cochère and scowled ferociously at the pelting rain.
“Well, summer’s dead and winter hasn’t quite come,” I reminded soothingly. “We’re bound to have a certain
amount of rain in October. The autumnal equinox—” “May Satan’s choicest imps fly off with the autumnal
equinox!” the little Frenchman interrupted. “Morbleu, it is that I have seen no sun since God alone knows when; besides that, I am most abominably hungry!” “That condition, at least, we can remedy,” I promised,
nudging him from the awning’s shelter toward my parked car. “Suppose we stop at the Café Bacchanale? They usually have something good to eat.”
“Excellent, capital,” he agreed enthusiastically, skipping nimbly into the car and rearranging the upturned collar of his raincoat. “You are a true philosopher, mon vieux. Always you tell me that which I most wish to hear.”
They were having an hilarious time at the cabaret, for it was the evening of October 31, and the management had put on a special Halloween celebration. As we passed the velvet rope that looped across the entrance to the dining room a burst of Phrygian music greeted us, and a dozen agile young women in abbreviated attire were performing intricate gyrations under the leadership of an apparently boneless damsel whose costume was principally composed of strands of jangling hawk-bells threaded round her neck and wrists and ankles.
“Welsh rabbit?” I suggested. “They make a rather tasty one here.” He nodded almost absent-mindedly as he
surveyed a couple eating at a nearby table. At last, just as the waiter brought our bubbling-hot refreshment: “Regard them, if you will, Friend Trowbridge,” he whispered. “Tell me what, if anything, you make of them.”
The girl was, as the saying goes, “a knockout.” Tall, lissome, lovely to regard, she wore a dinner dress of simple black without a single hint of ornament except a single strand of small matched pearls about her slim and rather long throat. Her hair was bright chestnut, almost coppercolored, and braided round her small head in a Grecian coronal, and in its ruddy frame her face was like some strange flower on a tall stalk. Her darkened lids and carmined mouth and pale cheeks made an interesting combination.
As I stole a second glance at her it seemed to me she had a vague yet unmistakable expression of invalidism. Nothing definite, merely the combination of certain factors which pierced the shell of my purely masculine admiration and stock response from my years of experience as a medical practitioner — a certain blueness of complexion which meant “interesting pallor” to the layman but spelled imperfectly oxidized blood to the physician; a slight tightening of the muscles about the mouth which gave her lovely pouting lips a pathetic droop; and a scarcely perceptible retraction at the junction of cheek and nose which meant fatigue of nerves or muscles, possibly both.

Idly mingling admiration and diagnosis, I turned my
glance upon her escort, and my lips tightened slightly as I
made a mental note: “Gold digger!” The man was big-boned
and coarse-featured, bullet-headed and thick-necked, and
had the pasty, toad-belly complexion of one who drinks too
much and sleeps and exercises far too little. He hardly
changed expression as the girl talked eagerly in a hushed
whisper. His whole attitude was one of proprietorship, as if
she were his thing and chattel, bought and paid for, and
constantly his fishy eyes roved round the room and rested
covetously on attractive women supping at the other tables.
“I do not like it, me,” de Grandin’s comment brought my
wandering attention back. “It is both strange and queer; it is
not right.”
“Eh?” I returned. “Quite so; I agree with you. It’s shameful
for a girl like that to sell — or maybe only rent — herself
to such a creature —”
“Non, non,” he interrupted testily. “I have no thought of
censoring their morals, such are their own affair. It is their
treatment of the food that intrigues me.”
“Food?” I echoed.
“Oui-da, food. On three distinct occasions they have
ordered refreshment, yet each time they allowed it to grow
cold; let it remain untouched until the garçon carried it
away. I ask you, is that right?”
“Why — er —” I temporized, but he hurried on.
“Once as I watched I saw the woman make as though to
lift a goblet to her lips, but the gesture of her escort halted
her; she set the beverage down untasted. What sort of people
ignore wine — the living soul of the grape?”
“Well, are you going to investigate?” I asked, grinning. I
knew his curiosity was well-nigh as boundless as his selfesteem,
and should not have been too greatly surprised if he
had marched to the strange couple’s table and demanded an
“Investigate?” he echoed thoughtfully. “Um. Perhaps I
He snapped the pewter lid of his beer-mug back, took a
long, pensive draught, then leant forward, small round eyes
unwinkingly on mine. “You know what night this is?” he
“Of course, it’s Halloween. All the little devils will be out
stealing garden gates and knocking at front doors —”
“Perhaps the larger devils will be abroad, too.”
“Oh, come, now,” I protested, “you’re surely not
“By blue, I am,” he affirmed solemnly. “Regardez, s’il
vous plaît.” He nodded toward the pair at the adjoining
Seated directly opposite the strange couple was a young
man occupying a table by himself. He was a good-looking,
sleek-haired youngster of the sort to be found by scores on
any college campus. Had de Grandin brought the same
charge of food wastage against him that he had leveled at
the other two he would have been equally justified, for the
boy left an elaborate order practically untasted while his
infatuated eyes devoured every line of the girl at the next
As I turned to look at him I noted from the corner of my
eye that the girl’s escort nodded once in the same direction,
then rose and left the table abruptly. I noticed as he walked
toward the door that his walk was more like the rapid amble
of an animal than the step of a man.
The girl half turned as she was left alone and under
lowered lashes looked at the young man so indifferently that
there was no mistaking her intent.
De Grandin watched with what seemed bleak disinterest
as the young man rose to join her, and, save for an
occasional covert glance paid no attention as they exchanged
the inane amenities customary in such cases, but
when they rose to leave a few minutes later he motioned me
to do likewise. “It is of importance that we see which way
they go,” he told me earnestly.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake, be sensible!” I chided. “Let
them flirt if they want to. I’ll warrant she’s in better
company now than she came in with —”
“Précisément, exactly, quite so!” he agreed. “It is of that
‘better company’ I think when I have the anxiety.”
“H’m, that was a tough-looking customer she was with,”
I conceded. “And for all her innocent-looking prettiness she
might be the bait in a badger-game —”
“A badger-game? Mais oui, my friend. A game-of-thebadger
in which the stakes are infinitely high!” Of the ornate
doorman he demanded, “That couple, that young man and
woman — they did go what way, Monsieur le Concierge?”
“The young man and young woman — you saw them
depart? We would know their direction —” a crumpled
dollar bill changed hands, and the doorman’s memory
revived miraculously.
“Oh, them. Yeah, I seen ’em. They went down th’ street
that-away in a big black taxi. Little English feller drivin’
’em. Looked like th’ feller’s made a mash. He’ll get mashed,
too, if th’ tough bimbo ’at brought th’ broad in ketches ’im
messin’ round with her. That gink’s one awful mean-lookin’
bozo, an’ —”
“Assuredly,” de Grandin agreed. “And this Monsieur le
Gink of whom you speak, he went which way, if you
“He come outer here like a bat outer hell ’bout ten
minutes ago. Funny thing ’bout him, too. He was walkin’
down th’ street, an’ I was watchin’ him, not special, but just
lookin’ at him, an’ I looked away for just a minute, an’
when I looked back he was gone. He wasn’t more’n half
way down th’ block when I last seen him, but when I looked
again he wasn’t there. Dam’ if I see how he managed to get
round th’ comer in that time.”
“I think that your perplexity is justified,” de Grandin
answered as I brought the car to a stop at the curb, then, to
me: “Hasten, Friend Trowbridge. I would that we get them
in sight before they are lost in the storm.”
It was a matter of only a few minutes to pick up the tail
light of the big car in which the truants sped toward the
outskirts of town. Occasionally we lost them, only to catch
them again almost immediately, for their route led straight
out Orient Boulevard toward the Old Turnpike. “This is the
craziest thing we’ve ever done,” I grumbled. “There isn’t
any more chance that we’ll catch them than — great Scott,
they’ve stopped!”
Improbably, the big car had drawn up at the imposing
Canterbury Gate of Shadow Lawn Cemetery.
De Grandin leant forward in his seat like a jockey in the
saddle. “Quick, hurry, make all speed, my friend!” he
besought. “We must catch them before they alight!”
Try as I would my efforts were futile. Only an empty
limousine and a profanely bewildered chauffeur awaited us
when we drew up at the burying ground, our engine puffing
like a winded horse.
“Which way, my friend — where did they go?” de
Grandin vaulted from the car before we had come to a full
“Inside th’ graveyard!” answered the driver. “What th’
hell d’ye know about that? Bringin’ me way out here where
th’ devil says ‘Good Night!’ an’ leavin’ me as flat as a dam’
pancake.” His voice took on a shrill falsetto in imitation of
a woman’s. “‘You needn’t wait for us, driver, we’ll not be
com’ back,’ she says. Good God A’ mighty, who th’ hell but
dead corpses goes into th’ cemet’ry an’ don’t come back?”
“Who, indeed?” the Frenchman echoed, then, to me:
“Come, Friend Trowbridge, we must hasten, we must find
them all soon, or it is too late!”
Solemn as the purpose to which it was dedicated, the
burial park stretched dark and forbidding about us as we
stepped through the grille in the imposing stone gateway.
The curving ravelled avenues, bordered with double rows of
hemlocks, stretched away like labyrinthine mazes, and the
black turf with its occasional corrugations of mounded
graves or decorations of pallid marble, sloped upward from
us, seemingly to infinity.
Like a terrier on the scent de Grandin hurried forward,
bending now and then to pass beneath the downwardswaying
bough of some rain-laden evergreen, then hurrying
still faster.
“You know this place, Friend Trowbridge?” he demanded
during one of his brief halts.
“Better than I want to,” I admitted. “I’ve been here to
several funerals.”
“Good!” he returned. “You can tell me then where is the
— how do you call him? — the receiving vault?”
“Over there, almost in the center of the park,” I answered,
and he nodded understandingly, then took up his course,
almost at a run.
Finally we reached the squat grey-stone receiving
mausoleum, and he tried one of the heavy doors after
another. “A loss!” he announced disappointedly as each of
the tomb’s great metal doors defied his efforts. “It seems we
must search elsewhere.”
He trotted to the open space reserved for parking funeral
vehicles and cast a quick appraising look about, arrived at a
decision and started like a cross-country runner down the
winding road that led to a long row of family mausoleums.
At each he stopped, trying the strong metal gratings at its
entrance, peering into its gloomy interior with the aid of his
pocket flashlight.
Tomb after tomb we visited, till both my breath and
patience were exhausted. “What’s all this nonsense?” I
demanded. “What’re you looking for —”
“That which I fear to find,” he panted, casting the beam
of his light about. “If we are balked — ah? Look, my friend,
look and tell me what it is you see.”
In the narrow cone of light cast by his small electric torch
I descried a dark form draped across the steps of a
mausoleum. “Wh-why, it’s a man!” I exclaimed.
“I hope so,” he replied. “It may be we shall find the mere
relic of one, but — ah? So. He is still breathing.”
Taking the flashlight from him I played its ray on the still
form stretched upon the tomb steps. it was the young man
we had seen leave the café with the strange woman. On his
forehead was a nasty cut, as though from some blunt
instrument swung with terrific force — a blackjack, for
Quickly, skillfully, de Grandin ran his supple, practised
hands over the youngster’s body, pressed his fingers to his
pulse, bent to listen at his chest. “He lives,” he announced
at the end of his inspection, “but his heart, I do not like it.
Come; let us take him hence, my friend.”
“And now, mon brave,” he demanded half an hour later
when we had revived the unconscious man with smelling
salts and cold applications, “perhaps you will be good
enough to tell us why you left the haunts of the living to
foregather with the dead?”
The patient made a feeble effort to rise from the
examination table, gave it up as too difficult and sank back.
“I thought I was dead,” he confessed.
“U’m?” the Frenchman regarded him narrowly. “You
have not yet answered our question, young Monsieur.”
The boy made a second attempt to rise, and an agonized
expression spread over his face, his hand shot up to his left
breast, and he fell back, half lolling, half writhing on the
“Quick, Friend Trowbridge, the amyl nitrite, where is it?”
de Grandin asked.
“Over there,” I waved my hand toward the medicine
cabinet. “You’ll find some three-minim capsules in the third
In a moment he secured the pearly little pellets, crushed
one in his handkerchief and applied it to the fainting boy’s
nostrils. “Ah, that is better, n’est-ce-pas, my poor one?” he
“Yes, thanks,” the other replied, taking another deep
inhalation of the powerful restorative, “much better.” Then,
“How’d you know what to give me? I didn’t think —”
“My friend,” the Frenchman interrupted with a smile, “I
was practising the treatment of angina pectoris when you
were still unthought of. Now, if you are sufficiently
restored, you will please tell us why you left the Café
Bacchanale, and what occurred thereafter. We wait.”
Slowly, assisted by de Grandin on one side and me on the
other, the young man descended from the table and seated
himself in an easy chair. “I’m Donald Rochester,” he
introduced himself, “and this was to have been my last night
on earth.”
“Ah?” Jules de Grandin murmured.
“Six months ago.” the young man continued, “Dr.
Simmons told me I had angina pectoris. My case was pretty
far advanced when he made his diagnosis, and he gave me
only a little while to live. Two weeks ago he told me I’d be
lucky to see the month out, and the pain was getting more
severe and the attacks more frequent; so today I decided to
give myself one last party, then go home and make a quick,
clean job of it.”
“Damn!” I muttered. I knew Simmons, a pompous old
ass, but a first-rate diagnostician and a good heart man,
though absolutely brutal with his patients.
“I ordered the sort of meal they haven’t allowed me in the
last half year,” Rochester went on, “and was just about to
start enjoying it when — when I saw her come in. Did” —
he turned from de Grandin to me as if expecting greater
understanding from a fellow countryman — “did you see
her, too?” An expression of almost religious rapture overspread
his face.
“Perfectly, mon vieux,” de Grandin returned. “We all saw
her. Tell us more.”
“I always thought this talk of love at first sight was a lot
of tripe, but I’m cured now. I even forgot my farewell meal,
couldn’t see or think of anything but her. If I’d had even two
more years to live, I thought, nothing could have kept me
from hunting her out and asking her to marry —”
“Précisément, assuredly, quite so,” the Frenchman
interrupted testily. “We do concede that you were fascinated,
Monsieur; but, for the love of twenty thousand pale
blue monkeys, I entreat you tell us what you did, not what
you thought.”
“I just sat and goggled at her sir. Couldn’t do anything
else. When that big brute she was with got up and left and
she smiled at me, this poor old heart of mine almost blinked
out, I tell you. When she smiled a second time there wasn’t
enough chain in the country to keep me from her.
“You’d have thought she’d known me all her life, the
way she fell in step when we went out of the café. She had
a big black car waiting outside and I climbed right in with
her. Before I knew it, I was telling her who I was, how long
I had to live, and how my only regret was losing her, just
when I’d found her. I —”
“Parbleu, you told her that?”
“I surely did, and a lot more — blurted out that I loved
her before I knew what I was about.”
“And she —”
“Gentlemen, I’m not sure whether I ought to have
delirium or not with this disease, but I’m pretty sure I’ve
had a touch of something. Now, I want you to know I’m not
crazy before I tell you the rest; but I might have had a heart
attack or something, then fallen asleep and dreamed it.”
“Say on, Monsieur,” de Grandin ordered rather grimly.
“We listen.”
“Very well. When I said I loved her that girl just put her
hands up to her eyes — like this — as if to wipe away some
unshed tears. I half expected she’d be angry, or maybe
giggle, but she didn’t. All she said was, ‘Too late — oh, too
“‘I know it is,’ I answered. ‘I’ve already told you I’m as
good as dead, but I can’t go west without telling you how I
“Then she said, ‘Oh, no, it’s not that, my dear. That’s not
at all what I meant. For I love you, too, though I’ve no right
to say so — I’ve no right to love anyone — it’s too late for
me, too.’
“After that I just took her in my arms and held her tight,
and she sobbed as if her heart would break. Finally I asked
her to make me a promise. ‘I’ll rest better in my grave if I
know you’ll never go out with that ugly brute I saw you
with tonight,’ I told her, and she let out a little scream and
cried harder than ever.
“Then I had the awful thought that maybe she was
married to him, and that was what she meant when she said
it was too late. So I asked her point blank.
“She said something devilish queer then. She told me, ‘I
must go to him whenever he wants me. Though I hate him
as you can never understand; when he calls I have to go.
This is the first time I’ve ever gone with him, but I must go
again, and again, and again! She kept screaming the word
till I stopped her mouth with kisses.
“Presently the car stopped and we got out. We were at
some sort of park, I think, but I was so engrossed in helping
her compose herself I didn’t notice much of anything.
“She led me through a big gate and down a winding road.
At last we stopped before some sort of lodge-house, and I
took her in my arms for one last kiss.
“I don’t know whether the rest of it really happened or
whether I passed out and dreamed it. What I thought
happened was this: instead of putting her lips against mine,
she put them around them and seemed to draw the very
breath out of my lungs. I could feel myself go faint, like a
swimmer caught in the surf and mauled and pounded till the
breath’s knocked out of him, and my eyes seemed blinded
with a sort of mist; then everything went sort o’ dark green
round me, and I began sagging at the knees. I could still feel
her arms round me, and remember being surprised at her
strength, but it seemed as if she’d transferred her lips to my
throat. I kept getting weaker and weaker with a sort of
languorous ecstasy, if that means anything to you. Rather
like sinking to sleep in a soft dry bed with a big drink of
brandy tucked under your belt after you’re dog-tired with
cold and exposure. Next thing I knew I’d toppled over and
fallen down the steps with no more strength in my knees
than a rag doll has. I must have got an awful crack on the
head when I went down, for I passed out completely, and
the next thing I remember was waking to find you
gentlemen working over me. Tell me, did I dream it all? I’m
— just — about — played — out.”
The sentence trailed off slowly, as if he were falling to
sleep, and his head dropped forward while his hands slipped
nervelessly from his lap, trailing flaccidly to the floor.
“Has he gone?” I whispered as de Grandin sprang across
the room and ripped his collar open.
“Not quite,” he answered. “More amyl nitrite, if you
please; he will revive in a moment, but go home he shall not
unless he promises not to destroy himself. Mon Dieu,
destroyed he would be, body and soul, were he to put a
bullet through his brain before — ah-ha? Behold, Friend
Trowbridge, it is even as I feared!”
Against the young man’s throat there showed two tiny
perforated wounds, as though a fine needle had been thrust
through a fold of skin.
“H’m,” I commented. “If there were four of them I’d say
a snake had bitten him.”
“She has! Name of a little blue man, she has!” he retorted.
“A serpent more virulent and subtle than any which goes on
its belly has sunk her fangs in him; he is envenomed surely
as if he had been t victim of a cobra’s bite; but by the wings
of Jacob’s Angel we shall thwart her, my friend. We shall
show her Jules de Grandin must be reckoned with — her,
and that fish-eyed paramour of hers as well, or may I eat
stewed turnips for my Christmas dinner and wash them
down with ditch-water!”
It was a serious face he showed at breakfast the next day.
“You have perhaps a half hour’s liberty this morning?” he
asked as he drained his fourth cup of coffee.
“H’m, I suppose so. Anything special you’d like to do?”
“There is, indeed. I should like to go again to Shadow
Lawn Cemetery. I would examine it by daylight, if you
“Shadow Lawn?” I echoed in amazement. “What in this
world —”
“Only partially,” he interrupted. “Unless I am much more
mistaken than I think our business has as much to do with
the next world as this. Come; you have your patients to
attend, I have my duties to perform. Let us go.”
The rain had vanished with the night and a bright
November sun was shining when we reached the graveyard.
Making straight for the tomb where we had found young
Rochester the night before, de Grandin halted and inspected
it carefully. On the lintel of the massive doorway he invited
my attention to the single incised word:
“U’m?” he nursed his narrow pointed chin between a
thoughtful thumb and forefinger. “That name I must
remember, Friend Trowbridge.”
Inside the tomb, arranged in two superimposed rows,
were the crypts containing the remains of deceased
Heathertons, each sealed by a white marble slab set with
cement in a bronze frame, a two-lined legend telling the
name and vital data of the occupant. The withering remains
of a wreath clung by a knot of ribbon to the bronze ring-bolt
ornamenting the marble panel of the farthest crypt, and
behind the desiccating circle of roses and ruscus leaves I
made out:
Sept. 28, 1926 Oct. 2, 1948
“You see?” he asked.
“I see a girl named Alice Heatherton died a month ago at
the age of twenty-two,” I admitted, “but what that has to do
with last night is more than I can —”
“Of course,” he broke in with a chuckle somehow lacking
merriment. “But certainly. There are many things you do not
see, my old one, and there are many more at which you
blink your eyes, like a child passing over the unpleasant
pages of a picture book. Now, if you will be so kind as to
leave me, I shall interview Monsieur l’Intendant of this so
lovely park, and several other people as well. If possible I
shall return in time for dinner, but” — he raised his
shoulders in a fatalistic shrug — “at times we must forego
a meal in deference to duty. Yes, it is unfortunately so.”
The consommé had grown cold and the roast lamb kilndried
in the oven when the stutter of my study telephone
called me. “Trowbridge, my friend,” de Grandin’s voice,
shrill with excitement, came across the wire, “meet me at
Adelphi Mansions quickly as you can. I would have you for
“Witness?” I echoed. “What —” A sharp click notified
me he had hung up and I was left bewildered at the
unresponsive instrument.
He was waiting for me at the entrance of the fashionable
apartment house when I arrived, and refused to answer my
impatient questions as he dragged me through the ornate
entrance and down the rug-strewn foyer to the elevators. As
the car shot upward he reached in his pocket and produced
a shiny thumb-smudged photograph. “This I begged from le
Journal,” he explained. “They had no further use for it.”
“Good heavens!” I exclaimed as I looked at the picture.
“Wh — why, it’s —”
“Assuredly it is,” he answered in a level tone. “It is the
girl we saw last night beyond a doubt; the girl whose tomb
we visited this morning; the girl who gave the kiss of death
to the young Rochester.”
“But that’s impossible! She —”
His short laugh interrupted. “I was convinced you would
say just that, Friend Trowbridge. Come, let us hear what
Madame Heatherton can tell us.”
A trim Negro maid in black-and-white uniform answered
our summons and took our cards to her mistress. As she left
the rather sumptuous reception room I glanced covertly
about, noting rugs from China and the Near East, early
American mahogany and an elaborately wrought medieval
tapestry depicting a scene from the Nibelungenlied with its
legend in formal Gothic text: “Hic Siegfriedum Aureum Occidunt
— Here They Slay Siegfried the Golden.”
“Dr. Trowbridge? Dr. de Grandin?” the soft, cultured
voice recalled me from my study of the fabric as an
imposing white-haired lady entered.
“Madame, a thousand pardons for this intrusion!” de
Grandin clicked his heels together and bowed stiffly from
the hips. “Believe me, we have no desire to trespass on your
privacy, but a matter of the utmost importance brings us.
You will forgive me if I inquire of the circumstances of your
daughter’s death, for I am of the Sûreté of Paris, and make
investigation as a scientific research.”
Mrs. Heatherton was, to use an overworked expression,
a “perfect lady.” Nine women out of ten would have frozen
at de Grandin’s announcement, but she was the tenth. The
direct glance the little Frenchman gave her and his evident
sincerity, combined with perfect manners and immaculate
dress, carried conviction. “Please be seated, gentlemen,” she
invited. “I cannot see where my poor child’s tragedy can
interest an officer of the Paris secret police, but I’ve no
objection to telling all I can; you could get a garbled version
from the newspapers anyway.
“Alice was my youngest child. She and my son Ralph
were two years apart, almost to the day. Ralph graduated
from Cornell year before last, majoring in civil engineering,
and went to Florida to take charge of some construction
work. Alice died while visiting him.”
“But — forgive my seeming rudeness, Madame — your
son, is not he also deceased?”
“Yes,” our hostess assented. “He is dead, also. They died
almost together. There was a man down there, a fellow
townsman of ours, Joachim Palenzeke — not the sort of
person one knows, but Ralph’s superior in the work. He had
something to do with promoting the land development, I
believe. When Alice went to visit Ralph this person
presumed on his position and the fact that we were all from
Harrisonville, and attempted to force his attentions on her.”
“One sees. And then?” de Grandin prompted softly.
“Ralph resented his overtures. Palenzeke made some
insulting remarks — some scurrilous allusions to Alice and
me, I’ve been told, and they fought. Ralph was a small man,
but a thoroughbred. Palenzeke was almost a giant, but a
thoroughgoing coward. When Ralph began to get the better
of him he drew a pistol and fired five shots into my poor
son’s body. Ralph died the next day after hours of terrible
“His murderer fled to the swamps where it would be
difficult to track him with hounds, and according to some
Negro squatters he committed suicide, but there must have
been some mistake, for —” she broke off, pressing her
crumpled handkerchief to her mouth, as if to force back the
De Grandin reached from his chair and patted her hand
gently, as if consoling a child. “Dear lady,” he murmured,
“I am distressed, believe me, but also please believe me
when I say I do not ask these so heart-breaking questions
idly. Tell me, if you will, why you believe the story of this
vile miscreant’s suicide an error.”
“Because — because he was seen again! He killed
“Nom d’un nom! Do you say so?” His comment was a
suppressed shout. “Tell me, tell me, Madame, how came
this vileness about? This is of the great importance; this
explains much which was inexplicable. Say on, chère
Madame, I implore you!”
“Alice was prostrated at the tragedy of Ralph’s murder —
somehow, she seemed to think she was responsible for it —
but in a few days she recovered enough to make
preparations to return home with his body.
“There was no railway nearer than fifteen miles, and she
wanted to catch an early train, so she set out by motor the
night before her train was due. As she drove through a
length of lonely, unlighted road between two stretches of
undrained swampland someone emerged from the tall reeds
— we have the chauffeur’s statement for this — and leaped
upon the running-board. He struck the driver senseless with
a single blow, but not before he had been recognized. It was
Joachim Palenzeke. The car ran into the swamp when the
driver lost consciousness, but fortunately for him the mud
was deep enough to stall the machine, though not deep
enough to engulf it. He recovered in a short time and raised
the alarm.
“A sheriff’s posse found them both next morning.
Palenzeke had apparently slipped in the bog while trying to
escape and been drowned. Alice was dead — from shock,
the doctors said. Her lips were terribly bruised, and there
was a wound on her throat, though not serious enough to
have caused death; and she had been —”
“Enough! No more, Madame, I entreat you! Sang de
Saint Denis, is Jules de Grandin a monster that he should
roll a stone upon a mother’s breaking heart? Dieu de Dieu,
non! But tell me, if you can, and then I shall ask you no
more — what became of this ten-thousand-times-damned —
your pardon, Madame! — this so execrable cochon of a
“They brought him home for burial,” Mrs. Heatherton
replied softly. “His family is very wealthy. Some of them
were bootleggers during prohibition, some are real estate
speculators, some are politicians. He had the most elaborate
funeral ever seen in the local Greek Orthodox Church —
they say the flowers alone cost more than five thousand
dollars — but Father Apostolakos refused to say Mass over
him, merely recited a short prayer, and denied him burial in
the consecrated part of the church cemetery.”
“Ah!” de Grandin looked meaningfully at me, as if to say,
“I told you as much!”
“This may interest you, too, though I don’t know,” Mrs.
Heatherton added: “A friend of mine who knows a reporter
on the Journal — newspapermen know everything,” she
added with simple naïveté “told me that the coward really
must have tried suicide and failed, for there was a bulletmark
on his temple, though of course it couldn’t have been
fatal, since they found him drowned in the swamp. Do you
suppose he could have wounded himself purposely where
those Negro swamp-dwellers could see, so that the story of
his suicide would get about and the officers stop looking for
“Quite possibly,” de Grandin agreed as he rose.
“Madame, we are your debtors more than you suspect, and
though you cannot know it, we have saved you at least one
pang this night. Adieu, chère Madame, and may the good
God watch over you — and yours.” He laid his lips to her
fingers and bowed himself from the room.
As we passed through the outer door we caught the echo
of a sob and Mrs. Heatherton’s despairing cry: “Me and
mine — there are no ‘mine.’ All, all are gone!”
“La Pauvre!” de Grandin murmured as he closed the door
softly. “All the more reason for le bon Dieu’s watchfulness,
though she knows it not!”
“Now what?” I demanded, dabbing furtively at my eyes
with my handkerchief.
The Frenchman made no effort to conceal his tears. They
trickled down his face as if he had been a half-grown
schoolboy. “Go home, my friend,” he ordered. “Me, I shall
consult the priest of that Greek Church. From what I hear of
him he must be a capital fellow. I think he will give
credence to my story. If not, parbleu, we must take matters
into our own hands. Meantime, crave humble pardon from
the excellent Nora for having neglected her dinner and ask
that she prepare some slight refreshment, then be ready to
accompany me again when we shall have regaled ourselves.
Nom d’un canard vert, we have a busy night before us, my
old and rare!”
It was nearly midnight when he returned, but from the
sparkle in his eyes I knew he had successfully attended to
some of his “offices.”
“Barbe d’une chèvre,” he exclaimed as he disposed of his
sixth cold lamb sandwich and emptied his eighth glass of
Ponte Canet, “that Father Apostolakos is no man’s fool, my
friend. He is no empty-headed modem who knows so much
that he knows nothing; a man versed in the occult may talk
freely with him and be understood. Yes. He will help us.”
“U’m?” I commented noncommittally, my mouth halffilled
with lamb sandwich.
“Precisely,” he agreed, refilling his glass and lifting
another sandwich from the tray. “Exactly, my friend. The
good papa is supreme in matters ecclesiastical, and
tomorrow he will give the necessary orders without so much
as ‘by your leave’ from the estimable ex-bootleggers, real
estate dealers and politicians who compose the illustrious
Palenzeke clan. The sandwiches are all gone, and the bottle
empty? Good, then let us be upon our way.”
“Where?” I demanded.
“To the young Monsieur Rochester’s. Me, I would have
further talk with that one.”
As we left the house I saw him transfer a small oblong
packet from his jacket to his overcoat. “What’s that?” I
“A thing the good father lent me. I hope we shall have no
occasion to use it, but it will prove convenient if we do.”
A light mist, dappled here and there with chilling rain,
was settling in the streets as we set off for Rochester’s. Half
an hour’s cautious driving brought us to the place, and as we
drew up at the curb the Frenchman pointed to a lighted
window on the seventh floor. “That burns in his suite,” he
informed me. “Can it be he entertains at this hour?”
The night elevator operator snored in a chair in the lobby,
and, guided by de Grandin’s cautious gesture, I followed his
lead up the stairs. “We need not announce our coming,” he
whispered as we rounded the landing of the sixth floor. “It
is better that we come as a surprise, I think.”
Another flight we climbed silently, and paused before the
door of Rochester’s apartment. De Grandin rapped once
softly, repeated the summons more authoritatively, and was
about to try the knob when we heard footsteps beyond the
Young Rochester wore a silk robe over his pyjamas, his
hair was somewhat disarranged, but he looked neither
sleepy nor particularly pleased to see us.
“We are unexpected, it seems,” de Grandin announced,
“but we are here, nevertheless, Be kind enough to stand
aside and let us enter, if you please.”
“Not now,” the young man refused. “I can’t see you now.
If you’ll come back tomorrow morning —”
“This is tomorrow morning, mon vieux,” the little
Frenchman interrupted. “Midnight struck an hour ago.” He
brushed past our reluctant host and hurried down the long
hall to the living room.
The room was tastefully furnished in typically masculine
style, heavy chairs of hickory and maple, Turkish carpets, a
table with a shaded lamp, a long couch piled with pillows
before the fireplace in which a bed of cannel coal glowed in
a brass grate. An after-tang of cigarette smoke hung in the
air, but mingled with it was the faint, provocative scent of
De Grandin paused upon the threshold, threw his head
back and sniffed like a hound at fault. Directly opposite the
entrance was a wide arch closed by two Paisley shawls hung
lambrequinwise from a brass rod, and toward this he
marched, his right hand in his topcoat pocket, the ebony
cane which I knew concealed a sword blade held lightly in
his left.
“De Grandin!” I cried in shocked protest, aghast at his air
of proprietorship.
“Don’t!” Rochester called warningly. “You mustn’t —”
The hangings at the archway parted and a girl stepped
from between them. The long, close-clinging gown of
purple tissue she wore was almost as diaphanous as smoke,
and through it we could see the white outlines of her body.
Her copper-colored hair flowed in a cloven tide about her
face and over smooth bare shoulders. Halted in the act of
stepping, one small bare foot showed its blue-veined
whiteness in sharp silhouette against the rust-red of the
Borkhara rug.
As her eyes met de Grandin she paused with a sibilant
intake of breath, and her eyes widened with a look of fright.
It was no shamefaced glance she gave him; no expression of
confusion at detected guilt or brazen attempt at facing out a
hopelessly embarrassing situation. Rather, it was the look of
one in dire peril, such a look as she might have given a
rattlesnake writhing toward her.
“So!” she breathed, and I could see the thin stuff of her
gown grow tight across her breasts. “So you know! I was
afraid you would, but —” She broke off as he took another
step toward her and swerved until his right-hand coat pocket
was within arm’s length of her.
“Mais oui, mais oui, Mademoiselle la Morte,” he returned,
bowing ceremoniously, but not removing his hand from
his pocket. “I know, as you say. The question now arises,
‘What shall we do about it?’”
“See here,” Rochester flung himself between them,
“what’s the meaning of this unpardonable intrusion —”
The little Frenchman turned to him, a look of mild inquiry
on his face. “You demand an explanation? If explanations
are in order —”
“See here, damn you, I’m my own man, and not
accountable to anyone. Alice and I love each other. She
came to me tonight of her own free will —”
“En vérité?” the Frenchman interrupted. “How did she
come, Monsieur?”
The young man seemed to catch his breath like a runner
struggling to regain his wind at the end of a hard course. “I
— I went out for a little while,” he faltered, “and when I
came back —”
“My poor one!” de Grandin broke in sympathetically.
“You do lie like a gentleman, but also you lie very poorly.
You are in need of practice. Attend me, I will tell you how
she came: this night, I do not know exactly when, but well
after sundown, you heard a knock-rap at your window or
door, and when you looked out, voilà, there was the so
lovely demoiselle. You thought you dreamed, but once
again the pretty fingers tap-tapped at the windowpane, and
the soft, lovely eyes looked love at you, and you opened
your door or window and bade her enter, content to entertain
the dream of her, since there was no chance of her coming
in the flesh. Tell me, young Monsieur, and you, too, lovely
Mademoiselle, do I not recite the facts?”
Rochester and the girl stared at him in amazement. Only
the quivering of the young man’s eyelids and the trembling
of the girl’s sensitive lips gave testimony he had spoken
For a moment there was a tense, vibrant silence; then with
a little gasping cry the girl lurched forward on soft,
soundless feet and dropped to her knees before de Grandin.
“Have pity — be merciful!” she begged. “Be merciful to me
as you may one day hope for mercy. It’s such a little thing
I ask. You know what I am; do you also know who I am,
and why I am now — now the accursed thing you see?” She
buried her face in her hands. “Oh, it’s cruel — too cruel!”
she sobbed. “I was so young; my whole life lay before me.
I’d never known real love until it was too late. You can’t be
so unkind as to drive me back now; you can’t!”
“Ma pauvre!” de Grandin laid his hand upon the girl’s
bowed, shining head. “My innocent, poor lamb who met the
butcher ere you had the lambkin’s right to play! I know all
there is to know of you. Your sainted mother told me far
more than she dreamed this evening. I am not cruel, my little
lovely one; I am all sympathy and sorrow, but life is cruel
and death is even crueller. Also, you know what the inevitable
end must be if I forebear to do my duty. If I could
work a miracle I would roll back the gates of dead, and bid
you live and love until your natural time had come to die,
but —”
“I don’t care what the end must be!” the girl blazed,
sinking back until she sat upon the upturned soles of her
bare feet. “I only know that I’ve been cheated out of every
woman’s birthright. I’ve found love now, and I want it; I
want it! He’s mine, I tell you, mine —” She cowered,
groveling before him — “Think what a little thing I’m
asking!” Inching forward on her knees she took his hand in
both of hers and fondled it against her cheek. “I’m asking
just a little drop of blood now and then; just a little, tiny
drop to keep my body whole and beautiful. If I were like
other women and Donald were my lover he’d be glad to
give me a transfusion — to give me a whole pint or quart of
his blood any time I needed it. Is it so much, then, when I
ask only an occasional drop? Just a drop now and then, and
once in a while a draft of living breath from his lungs to —”
“To slay his poor sick body, then destroy his young, clean
soul!” the Frenchman interrupted softly. “It is not of the
living that I think so much, but of the dead. Would you deny
him quiet rest in his grave when he shall have lost his life
because of you? Would you refuse him peaceful sleep until
the dawn of God’s Great Tomorrow?”
“O-o-oh!” the cry wrung from her writhing lips was like
the wail of a lost spirit. “You’re right — it is his soul we
must protect. I’d kill that, too, as mine was killed that night
in the swamps. Oh, pity, pity me, dear Lord! Thou who didst
heal the lepers and despised not the Magdalen, have pity on
me, the soiled, the unclean!”
Scalding tears of agony fell between the fingers of her
long, almost transparent hands as she held them before her
eyes. Then: “I am ready,” she announced, seeming to find
courage for complete renunciation. “Do what you must to
me. If it must be the knife and stake, strike quickly. I shall
not scream or cry, if I can help it.”
For a long moment he looked in her face as he might have
looked in the casket of a dear friend. “Ma pauvre,” he
murmured compassionately. “My poor, brave, lovely one!”
Abruptly he turned to Rochester. “Monsieur,” he
announced sharply, “I would examine you. I would
determine the state of your health.”
We stared at him astounded as he proceeded to strip back
the — young man’s pyjamas jacket and listen carefully at
his chest, testing by percussion, counting the pulse action,
then feeling slowly up and down the arm. “U’m” he
remarked judicially at the end of the examination, “you are
in bad condition, my friend. With medicines, careful
nursing, and more luck than the physician generally has, we
might keep you alive another month. Again, you might drop
over any moment. But in all my life I have never given a
patient his death warrant with more happiness.”
Two of us looked at him in mute wonder; it was the girl
who understood. “You mean,” she trilled, laughter and a
light the like of which there never was on land or sea
breaking in her eyes, “you mean that I can have him till —”
He grinned at her delightedly. There was a positively
gleeful chuckle in his voice as he replied: “Precisely,
exactly, quite so, Mademoiselle.” Turning from her he
addressed Rochester.
“You and Mademoiselle Alice are to love each other as
much as you please while life holds out. And afterwards” —
he stretched his hand out to grasp the girl’s fingers —
“afterwards I shall do the needful for you both. Ha,
Monsieur Diable, I have tricked you nicely; Jules de
Grandin had made one great fool of hell!” He threw his head
back and assumed an attitude of defiance, eyes flashing, lips
twitching with excitement and elation.
The girl bent forward, took his hand and covered it with
kisses. “Oh, you’re kind — kind!” she sobbed brokenly.
“No other man in all the world, knowing what you know,
would have done what you have done!”
“Mais non, mais certainement non, Mademoiselle,” he
agreed imperturbably. “You do forget that I am Jules de
“Come, Trowbridge, my friend,” he admonished, “we
obtrude here most unwarrantably. What have we, who
drained the purple wine of youth long years ago, to do with
those who laugh and love the night away? Let us go.”
Hand in hand, the lovers followed us to the hall, but as we
paused upon the threshold —
Rat-tat-tat! something struck the fog-glazed window, and
as I wheeled in my tracks I felt the breath go hot in my
throat. Beyond the window, seemingly adrift in the fog,
there was a human form. A second glance told me it was the
brutal-faced man we had seen at the café the previous night.
But now his ugly, evil face was like the devil’s, not merely
a wicked man’s.
“Eh bien, Monsieur, is it you, indeed?” de Grandin asked
nonchalantly. “I thought you might appear, so I am ready for
“Do not invite him in,” he called the sharp command to
Rochester. “He cannot come in unbidden. Hold your
beloved, place your hand or lips against her mouth, lest she
who is his thing and chattel, however unwillingly, give him
permission to enter. Remember, he cannot cross the sill
without the invitation of someone in this room!”
Flinging up the sash he regarded the apparition
sardonically. “What have you to say, Monsieur le Vampire,
before I send you hence?” he asked.
The thing outside mouthed at us, very fury robbing it of
words. At last: “She’s mine!” it shrieked. “I made her what
she is, and she belongs to me. I’ll have her, and that doughfaced,
dying thing she holds in her arms, too. All, all of you
are mine! I shall be king, I shall be emperor of the dead! Not
you nor any mortal can stop me. I am all-powerful, supreme,
I am —”
“You are the greatest liar outside burning hell,” de
Grandin cut in icily. “As for your power and your claims,
Monsieur Monkey-Face, tomorrow you shall have nothing,
not even so much as a little plot of earth to call a grave.
Meanwhile, behold this, devil’s spawn; behold and be
Whipping his hand from his topcoat pocket he produced
a small flat case like the leather containers sometimes used
for holding photographs, pressed a concealed spring and
snapped back its top. For a moment the thing in the night
gazed at the object with stupefied, unbelieving horror; then
with a wild cry fell backward, its uncouth motion somehow
reminding me of a hooked bass.
“You do not like it, I see,” the Frenchman mocked.
“Parbleu, you stinking truant from the charnel-house, let us
see what nearer contact will effect!” He stretched his hand
out till the leather-cased object almost touched the phantom
face outside the window.
A wild, inhuman screech echoed, and as the demon face
retreated we saw a weal of red across its forehead, as if the
Frenchman had scored it with a hot iron.
“Close the windows, mes amis,” he ordered casually as
though nothing hideous hovered outside. “Shut them tight
and hold each other close until the morning comes and
shadows flee away. Bonne nuit!”
“For heaven’s sake,” I besought as we began our
homeward drive, “what’s it all mean? You and Rochester
called that girl Alice, and she’s the speaking image of the
girl we saw in the café last night. But Alice Heatherton is
dead. Her mother told us how she died this evening; we saw
her tomb this morning. Are there two Alice Heathertons, or
is this girl her double —”
“In a way,” he answered. “It was Alice Heatherton we
saw back there, my friend, yet not the Alice Heatherton of
whom her mother spoke this evening, nor yet the one whose
tomb we saw this morning —”
“For God’s sake,” I burst out, “stop this damned doubletalk!
Was or was it not Alice Heatherton —”
“Be patient, my old one,” he counseled. “At present I can
not tell you, but later I will have a complete explanation —
I hope.”
Daylight was just breaking when his pounding on my
bedroom door roused me from coma-like sleep. “Up, Friend
Trowbridge!” he shouted, punctuating his summons with
another knock. “Up and dress as quickly as may be. We
must be off at once. Tragedy has overtaken them!”
Scarcely knowing what I did I stumbled from the bed, felt
my way into my clothes and, sleep still filming my eyes,
descended to the lower hall where he waited in a perfect
frenzy of excitement.
“What’s happened?” I asked as we started for
“The worst,” he answered. “Ten minutes ago I was
awakened by the telephone. ‘It is for Friend Trowbridge,’ I
told me. ‘Some patient with the mal de l’estamac desires a
little paregoric and much sympathy. I shall not waken him,
for he is all tired with the night’s exertions.’ But still the bell
kept ringing, and so I answered it. My friend, it was Alice.
Hélas, as strong as her love was, her bondage was still
stronger. But when the harm was done she had the courage
to call us. Remember that when you come to judge her.”
I would have paused for explanation, but he waved me on
impatiently. “Make haste; oh, hurry, hurry!” he urged. “We
must go to him at once. Perhaps it is even now too late.”
There was no traffic in the streets, and we made the run
to Rochester’s apartment in record time. Almost before we
realized it we were at his door once more, and this time de
Grandin stood upon no ceremony. Flinging the door open he
raced down the hall and into the living room, pausing at the
threshold with a sharp indrawn breath. “So!” he breathed.
“He was most thorough, that one.”
The place was a shambles. Chairs were overturned,
pictures hung awry, bits of broken bric-à-brac were strewn
about, the long throw-cover of the center table had been
jerked off, overturning the lamp and scattering ashtrays and
cigarette boxes indiscriminately.
Donald Rochester lay on the rug before the dead fire, one
leg bent queerly under him, his right arm stretched out
flaccidly along the floor and bent at a sharp right angle at
the wrist.
The Frenchman crossed the room at a run, unclasping the
lock of his kit as he leaped. Dropping to his knees he
listened intently at the young man’s chest a moment, then
stripped back his sleeve, swabbed his arm with alcohol and
thrust the needle of his hypodermic through a fold of skin.
“It is a desperate chance I take,” he muttered as he drove the
plunger home, “but the case is urgent; le bon Dieu knows
how urgent.”
Rochester’s eyelids fluttered as the powerful stimulant
took effect. He moaned and turned his head with great
effort, but made no move to rise. As I knelt beside de
Grandin and helped him raise the injured man I understood
the cause of his lethargy. His spine had been fractured at the
fourth dorsal veterbra, paralysis resulting.
“Monsieur,” the little Frenchman whispered softly, “you
are going fast. Your minutes are now more than numbered
on the circle of the watch-face. Tell us, tell us quickly, what
occurred.” Once more he injected stimulant into Rochester’s
The young man wet his blued lips with the tip of his
tongue, attempted a deep breath, but found the effort too
great. “It was he — the fellow you scared off last night,” he
whispered hoarsely.
“After you’d gone Alice and I lay on the hearth rug,
counting our minutes together as a miser counts his gold. I
heaped coals on the fire, for she was chilled, but it didn’t
seem to do any good. Finally she began to pant and choke,
and I let her draw breath from me. That revived her a little,
and when she’d sucked some blood from my throat she
seemed almost herself again, though I could feel no
movement of her heart as she lay against me.
“It must have been just before daybreak — I don’t know
just when, for I’d fallen asleep in her arms — when I heard
a clattering at the window, and someone calling to be let in.
I remembered your warning, and tried to hold Alice, but she
fought me off. She ran to the window and flung it up as she
called, ‘Enter, master; there is none to stop you now.’
“He made straight for me, and when she realized what he
was about she tried to stop him, but he flung her aside as if
she were a rag doll — took her by the hair and dashed her
against the wall. I heard her bones crack as she struck it.
“I grappled with him, but I was no more his match than
a three-year-old child was mine. He threw me down and
broke my arms and legs with his feet. The pain was terrible.
Then he grabbed me up and hurled me to the floor again,
and after that I felt no pain, except this dreadful headache.
I couldn’t move, but I was conscious, and the last thing I
remember was seeing Alice stepping out the window with
him, hand in hand. She didn’t even look back.”
He paused a moment, fighting desperately for breath,
then, still lower, “Oh, Alice — how could you? And I loved
you so!”
“Peace, my poor one,” bade de Grandin. “She did not do
it of her own accord. That fiend holds her in bondage she
cannot resist. She is his thing and chattel more completely
than ever black slave belonged to his master. Hear me; go
with this thought uppermost in your mind: She loved you,
she loves you. It is because she called us we are here now,
and her last word was one of love for you. Do you hear me?
Do you understand? ’Tis sad to die, mon pauvre, but surely
it is something to die loving and beloved. Many a man lives
out his whole life without as much, and many there are who
would trade a whole span of four score gladly for five little
minutes of the ecstasy that was yours last night.
“Monsieur Rochester — do you hear me?” he spoke
sharply, for the young man’s face was taking on the
greyness of impending death.
“Ye-es. She loves me — she loves me. Alice!” With the
name sighing on his lips his facial muscles loosened and his
eyes took on the glazed, unwinking stare of eyes that see no
De Grandin gently drew the lids across the sightless eyes
and raised the fallen jaw, then set about straightening the
room with methodical haste. “As a licensed practitioner you
will sign the death certificate,” he announced matter-offactly.
“Our young friend suffered from angina pectoris.
This morning he had an attack, and after calling us fell from
the chair on which he stood to reach his medicine, thereby
fracturing several bones. He told us this when we arrived to
find him dying. You understand?”
“I’m hanged if I do,” I denied. “You know as well as I—”
“That the police would have awkward questions to
address to us,” he reminded me. “We were the last ones to
see him alive. Do you conceive that they would credit what
we said if we told them the truth?”
Much as I disliked it, I followed his orders to the letter
and the poor boy’s body was turned over to the ministrations
of Mortician Martin within an hour.
As Rochester had been an orphan without known family
de Grandin assumed the role of next friend, made all
arrangements for the funeral, and gave orders that the
remains be cremated without delay, the ashes to be turned
over to him for final disposition.
Most of the day was taken up in making these arrangements
and in my round of professional calls. I was
thoroughly exhausted by four o’clock in the afternoon, but
de Grandin, hustling, indefatigable, seemed fresh as he had
been at daybreak.
“Not yet, my friend,” he denied as I would have sunk into
the embrace of an easy chair, “there is yet something to be
done. Did not you hear my promise to the never-quite-to-besufficiently-
anathematized Palenzeke last night?”
“Eh, your promise?”
“Précisément. We have one great surprise in store for that
Grumbling, but with curiosity that overrode my fatigue,
I drove him to the little Greek Orthodox parsonage. Parked
at the door was the severely plain black service wagon of a
funeral director, its chauffeur yawning audibly at the delay
in getting through his errand.
De Grandin ran lightly up the steps, gained admission and
returned in a few minutes with the venerable priest arrayed
in full canonicals. “Allons mon enfant,” he told the
chauffeur, “be on your way; we follow.”
Even when the imposing granite walls of the North
Hudson Crematory loomed before us I failed to understand
his hardly suppressed glee.
All arrangements had apparently been made. In the little
chapel over the retort Father Apostolakos recited the
orthodox burial office, and the casket sank slowly from view
on the concealed elevator provided for conveying it to the
incineration chamber below.
The aged priest bowed courteously to us and left the
building, seating himself in my car, and I was about to
follow when de Grandin motioned to me imperatively. “Not
yet, Friend Trowbridge,” he told me. “Come below and I
will show you something.”
We made our way to the subterranean chamber where
incineration took place. The casket rested on a low wheeled
track before the yawning cavern of the retort, but de
Grandin stopped the attendants as they were about to roll it
into place. Tiptoeing across the tiled floor he bent above the
casket, motioning me to join him.
As I paused beside him I recognized the heavy, evil
features of the man we had first seen with Alice, the same
bestial, furious face which had mouthed curses at us from
outside Rochester’s window the night before. I would have
drawn back, but the Frenchman clutched me firmly by the
elbow, drawing me still nearer the body.
“Tiens, Monsieur le Cadavre,” he whispered as he bent
above the dead thing, “what think you of this, hein? You
who would be king and emperor of the dead, you who
boasted that no power on earth could balk you — did not
Jules de Grandin promise you that you should have nothing,
not even one poor plot of earth to call a grave? Pah,
murderer and ravisher of women, man-killer, where is now
your power? Go — go through the furnace fire to hell-fire,
and take this with you!” He pursed his lips and spat full in
the cold upturned visage of the corpse.
It might have been a trick of overwrought nerves or an
optical illusion produced by the electric lights, but I still
believe I saw the dead, long-buried body writhe in its casket
and a look of terrible, unutterable hate disfigure the waxen
He stepped back, nodding to the attendants, and the
casket slid noiselessly into the retort. A whirring sounded as
the pressure pump was started, and in a moment came the
subdued roar of oil-flames shooting from the burners.
He raised his narrow shoulders in a shrug. “C’est une
affaire finie.”
It was somewhat after midnight when we made our way
once more to Shadow Lawn Cemetery. Unerringly as
though going to an appointment de Grandin led the way to
the Heatherton family mausoleum, let himself through the
massive bronze gates with a key he had procured
somewhere, and ordered me to stand guard outside.
Lighted by the flash of his electric torch he entered the
tomb, a long cloth-covered parcel clasped under his arm. A
moment later I heard the clink of metal on metal the sound
of some heavy object being drawn across the floor; then, as
I grew half hysterical at the long continued silence, there
came the short, half-stifled sound of a gasping cry, the sort
of cry a patient in the dental chair gives when a tooth is
extracted without anaesthetic.
Another period of silence, broken by the rasp of heavy
objects being moved, and the Frenchman emerged from the
tomb, tears streaming down his face. “Peace,” he announced
chokingly. “I brought her peace, Friend Trowbridge, but oh!
how pitiful it was to hear her moan, and still more pitiful to
see the lovely, live-seeming body shudder in the embrace of
relentless death. It is not hard to see the living die, my old
one, but the dead! Mordieu, my soul will be in torment
every time I think of what I had to do tonight for mercy’s
Jules de Grandin chose a cigar from the humidor and set
it glowing with the precision that distinguished his every
movement. “I grant you the events of the last three days
have been decidedly queer,” he agreed as he sent a cloud of
fragrant smoke ceilingward. “But what would you? All that
lies outside our everyday experience is queer. To one who
has not studied biology the sight of an amoeba beneath the
microscope is queer; the Eskimos undoubtlessly thought
Monsieur Byrd’s airplane queer; we think the sights which
we have seen these nights queer. It is our luck — and all
mankind’s — that they are.
“To begin: just as there exist today certain protozoa
which are probably identical with the earliest forms of life
on earth, so there are still, though constantly diminishing in
numbers, certain holdovers of ancient evil. Time was when
earth swarmed with them — devils and devilkins, imps,
satyrs and demons, elementals, werewolves and vampires.
All once were numerous; all, perhaps, exist in considerable
numbers to this day, though we know them not, and most of
us never so much as hear of them. It is with the vampire that
we had to deal this time. You know him, no?
“Strictly, he is an earthbound soul, a spirit which because
of manifold sins and wickedness is bound to the world
wherein it once worked evil and cannot take itself to its
proper place. He is in India in considerable numbers, also in
Russia, Hungary, Romania and throughout the Balkans —
wherever civilization is very old and decadent, there he
seems to find a favorable soil. Sometimes he steals the body
of one already dead; sometimes he remains in the body
which he had in life, and then he is most terrible of all, for
he needs nourishment for that body, but not such
nourishment as you or I take. No, he subsists on the life
force of the living, imbibed through their blood, for the
blood is the life. He must suck the breath from those who
live, or he cannot breathe; he must drink their blood, or he
dies of starvation. And here is where the danger rises: a
suicide, one who dies under a curse, or one who has been
inoculated with the vampire virus by having his blood
sucked by a vampire, becomes a vampire after death.
Innocent of all wrong he may be, often is, yet he is doomed
to tread the earth by night, preying ceaselessly upon the
living, ever recruiting the grisly ranks of his tribe. You
“Consider this case: This sacré Palenzeke, because of his
murder and suicide, perhaps partly because of his Slavic
ancestry, maybe also because of his many other sins,
became a vampire when he killed himself to death. Madame
Heatherton’s informant was correct, he had destroyed
himself; but his evil body and more evil soul remained in
partnership, ten thousand times a greater menace to mankind
than when they had been partners in their natural life.
“Enjoying the supernatural power of his life-in-death, he
rose from the swamplands, waylaid Mademoiselle Alice,
assaulted her chauffeur, then dragged her off into the bog to
work his evil will on her, gratifying at once his bestial lust,
his vampire’s thirst for blood and his revenge for her
rejection of his wooing. When he had killed her, he had
made her such a thing as he was. More, he had gained
dominion over her. She was his toy, his plaything, his
automaton, without will or volition of her own. What he
commanded she must do, however much she hated doing it.
You will recall, perhaps, how she told the young Rochester
that she must go out with the villain, although she hated
him? Also, how she bade him enter the apartment where she
and her beloved lay in love’s embrace, although his entrance
meant her lover’s undoing?
“Now, if the vampire added all the powers of living men
to his dead powers we should have no defense, but
fortunately he is subject to unbreakable laws. He can not
independently cross the thread of a running stream, he must
be carried; he can not enter any house or dwelling until
invited by someone therein; he can fly through the air, enter
at keyholes and window-chinks, or through the crack of the
door, but he can move about only at night — between sunset
and cock-crow. From sunrise to dark he is only a corpse,
helpless as any other, and must lie corpse-dead in his tomb.
At such times he can easily be slain, but only in certain
ways. First, if his heart be pierced by a stake of ash and —
his head severed from his body, he is dead in good earnest,
and can no more rise to plague us. Second, if he can be
completely burned to ashes he is no more, for fire cleanses
all things.
“Now, with this information, fit together the puzzle that
so mystifies you: the other night at the Café Bacchanale I
liked the looks of that one not at all. He had the face of a
dead man and the look of a born villain, as well as the eye
of a fish. Of his companion I thoroughly approved, though
she, too, had an other-worldly look. Wondering about them,
I watched them from my eye’s tail, and when I observed that
they ate nothing I thought it not only strange, but menacing.
Normal people do not do such things; abnormal people
usually are dangerous.
“When Palenzeke left the young woman, after indicating
she might flirt with the young Rochester, I liked the look of
things a little less. My first thought was that it might be a
game of decoy and robbery — how do you call him? — the
game of the badger? Accordingly, I thought it best to follow
them to see what we should see. Eh bien, my friend, we saw
a plenty, n’est-ce-pas?
“You will recall young Rochester’s experience in the
cemetery. As he related it to us I saw at once what manner
of foeman we must grapple with, though at that time I did
not know how innocent Mademoiselle Alice was. Our
information from Madame Heatherton confirmed my worst
fears. What we beheld at Rochester’s apartment that night
proved all I had imagined, and more.
“But me, I had not been idle meantime. Oh, no. I had seen
the good Father Apostolakos and told him what I had
learned. He understood at once, and made immediate
arrangements to have Palenzeke’s foul body exhumed and
taken to the crematory for incineration. He also lent me a
sacred ikon, the blessèd image of a saint whose potency to
repel demons had more than once been proved. Perhaps you
noticed how Mademoiselle Alice shrank from me when I
approached her with the relic in my pocket? And how the
restless soul of Palenzeke flinched from it as flesh recoils
from white-hot iron?
“Very well. Rochester loved this woman already dead. He
himself was moribund. Why not let him taste of love with
the shade of the woman who returned his passion for the
few days he had yet to live? When he died, as die he must,
I was prepared to treat his poor clay so that, though he were
already half a vampire from the vampire’s kisses on his
throat, he could yet do no harm. You know I have done so.
The cleansing fire has rendered Palenzeke impotent. Also,
I had pledged myself to do as much for the poor, lovely,
sinned-against Alice when her brief aftermath of earthly
happiness should have expired. You heard me promise her,
and I have kept my word.
“I could not bear to hurt her needlessly, so when I went
to her with stake and knife tonight I took also a syringe
loaded with five grains of morphine and gave her an
injection before I began my work. I do not think she
suffered greatly. Her moan of dissolution and the portion of
her poor body as the stake pierced through her heart, they
were but reflex acts, not signs of conscious misery.”
“But look here,” I objected, “if Alice were a vampire, as
you say, and able to float about after dark, how comes it that
she lay in her casket when you went there tonight?”
“Oh, my friend,” tears welled up in his eyes, “she waited
for me.”
We had a definite engagement; the poor one lay in her
casket, awaiting the knife and stake which should set her
free from bondage. She — she smiled at me and pressed my
hand when I had dragged her from the tomb!”
He wiped his eyes and poured an ounce or so of cognac
into a bud-shaped inhaler. “To you, young Rochester, and to
your lovely lady,” he said as he raised the glass in salute.
“Though there be neither marrying nor giving in marriage
where you are, may your restless souls find peace and rest
eternally — together.”
The fragile goblet shattered as he tossed it, emptied, into
the fireplace.

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