Abraham "Bram" Stoker (November 8, 1847 – April 20, 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

Manly Wade Wellman: When it was moonlight (tribute to Edgar Allan Poe)

Manly Wade Wellman, Vampire stories, Vampire tales, Tales of mystery, Horror stories, Scary stories, Scary Tales, Short stories, Anthology of horror, Anthology of mystery


Let . my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore,
—The Raven.

His hand, as slim as a white claw, dipped a quillful of ink and Wrote in one corner of the page the date—
March 3,1842. Then:
THE PREMATURE BURIAL
By Edgar A. Poe

     He hated his middle name, the name of his miserly and spiteful stepfather. For a moment he considered crossing out even the initial; then he told himself that he was only wool-gathering, putting off the drudgery of writing. And write he must, or. starve—the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper was.clamoring for the story he had promised. Well, today he had heard a tag of gossip—, his mother-in-law had it from, a neighbor—that revived in his mind a subject always fascinating. .
     He began rapidly to write, in a fine copperplate hand:

     There are certain themes of which' the interest is all-absorbing, but which are entirely too horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction—

     This would really be an essay, not a tale, and he could do it justice. Ofter he thought of the whole world as a vast fat cemetery, close set with tombs in which not all the occupants were at rest—too many struggled unavailingly against their smothering shrouds, their locked and weighted coffin Jids. What were his own literary, labors, he mused, but a struggle against being shut down and throttled by a society as heavy and grim and senseless as clods heaped by a sexton's spade?
     He paused, and went to the slate mantelshelf for a candle. His kerosene lamp had long ago been pawned, and it was dark for midafternoon, even in March. Elsewhere in the house his mother-in-law swept busily, and in the room next to his sounded, the quiet breathing of his invalid wife. Poor Virginia slept, and for the moment knew no pain. Returning with his light, he dipped more ink and continued down the sheet:


     To be buried while alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which, has ever fallen to. the lot of mere mortality. That it has frequently, very frequently, fallen will - scarcely be denied—

     Again his dark imagination savored the tale he had heard that day. It had happened here in Philadelphia, in this very quarter, less than a month ago. A widower had gone, after weeks of  mourning, to his wife's tomb, with flowers. Scooping to place them on the marble slab, he had heard noise beneath. At once joyful and aghast, he fetched men and crowbars, and recovered the bodv, all untouched by decay. At home that night, the woman returned to consciousness.
     So said the gossip, perhaps exaggerated, perhaps not. And the house was only six blocks away from Spring Garden Street, where he sat.
     Poe fetched out his. notebooks a.nd began to marshal bits of narrative for his composition—a gloomy tale of resurrection in Baltimore, another from France, a genuinely creepy citation from the Chirurgical Journal of Leipzig; a sworn case of revival, by electrical impulses of a dead man in London. Then he added an experience of his own, romantically embellished, a dream adventure of his boyhood in Virginia. Just as he thought to make an end, he had a new inspiration.
     Why not learn more about that reputed Philadelphia burial and the one who rose from seeming death? It would point up his piece, give it a timely local climax, insure acceptance—he could hardly risk a rejection. Too, it would satisfy his own curiosity. Laying down the pen, Poe got up. From a peg he took his wide black hat, his old military cloak that he had worn since his ill-fated cadet days at West Point. Huddling it round his slim little body, he opened the front door and went out.

     MARCH had come in like a lion and, lionlike, roared and rampaged over Philadelphia. Dry, cold dust
blew up into Poe's full gray eyes, and he hardened his mouth under the gay dark mustache. His shins felt goosefleshy; his striped trousers vvere unseasonably thin and his shoes badly needed mending. Which way lay his journey?
     He remembered the name of the street, and something about a ruined garden. Eventually he came to the place, or what must be the place—the garden was certainly "ruined, full of dry, hardy weeds that still stood in great ragged clumps after the hard winter. Poe forced open the creaky gate, went up the rough-flagged path vta the stoop. He saw a bronzed nameplate—"Gauber," it said. Yes, that was the
name he had heard. He swung the knocker loudly, and thought he caught a whisper of movement inside. But the door did not open.
     "Nobody lives there, Mr. Poe," said someone from the street. It was a grocery boy, with a heavy basket, on his arm. Poe left the doorstep. He knew the lad; indeed he owed the grocer eleven dollars.
     "Are you sure?" Poe prompted.
     "Well"—and the boy "shifted the. weight of his burden—"if anybody lived here, they'd buy from our shop, wouldn't they? And I'd deliver, wouldn't I? But I've had this job-for six months, and never set  foot inside that door."
     Poe thanked him and walked down the street, but did not -take the turn that would lead home. Instead he sought the shop of one Pemberton, a printer and a friend, to pass the time of day and ask for a loan.
     Pemberton could not lend even one dollar—times were hard—but he offered a drink of Monongahela whiskey, which Poe forced himself to refuse; then a supper of crackers, cheese and garlic sausage, which Poe thankfully shared. At home, unless his mother-in-law had begged or borrowed from the neighbors, would be only bread and molasses. It was past sundown when the writer shook hands with Pemberton, thanked him with warm courtesy for his hospitality, and ventured into the evening.
     Thank Heaven, it did not rain. Poe was saddened by storms. The wind had abated and the March sky was clear save for a tiny fluff of scudding cl6ud and a banked dark line at the horizon, while up rose a full moon the color of frozen cream. Poe squinted from under his hat brim at the shadow-pattern on the disk. Might he not write another story of a lunar voyage—like the one about Hans Pfaal, but dead serious this time? Musing thus, he "walked along the dusk-filling street until he came again opposite the ruined garden, the creaky gate, and the house with the doorplate marked: "Gauber." .
     Hello, the grocery boy had been wrong. There was light inside the front window, water-blue light—or was there? Anyway, motion—yes, a figure stooped there, as if to peer out at him. Poe turned in at the gate, and knocked at the door once again. Four or five moments of silence; then he heard the old lock grating. The door moved inward, slowly and noisily. Poe fancied that he had been wrong about the blue light, for he saw only darkness inside. A voice spoke:
     "Well, sir?"
     The two words came huskily" but softly, as though the door-opener scarcely breathed. Poe swept off his broad black hat and made one of his graceful bows.
     "If you will pardon me—" He paused, not knowing whether he addressed man or woman. "This is the Gauber residence?"
     "It is," was the reply, soft, hoarse and sexless. "Your business, sir?"
     Poe spoke with official crispness; he had been a sergeant-major of artillery before he was twenty-one, and knew how to inject the proper note. "I am here on public duty," he announced. "I am a journalist, tracing a strange report."
     "Journalist?" repeated his interrogator. "Strange report? Coftie in, sir."
     Poe complied, and the door closed abruptly behind him, with a rusty snick of the lock. He remembered being in jail once, and how the door of his cell had slammed just so. It was not a pleasant memory. But he saw more clearly, now he was inside— his eyes got used to the tiny trickle of moonlight.
     He stood in a dark hallway, all paneled in wood, with no furniture, drapes or pictures. With him was a woman, in full skirt and downdrawn lace cap, a woman as tall as he and with intent eyes that glowed as from within. She neither moved nor spoke, but waited for him to tell her more of his errand.
     Poe did so, giving his name and, stretching a point, claiming to be a subeditor of the Dollar Newspaper, definitely assigned to the interview. "And now, madam, concerning this story that is rife concerning a premature burial—"
     She had moved very close, but as his face turned toward her she drew back. Poe fancied that his breath had blown her away like a feather; then, remembering Pemberton's garlic sausage, he was chagrined. To confirm his new thought, the woman was offering him wine—to sweeten his breath.
     "Would you take a glass of canary, Mr. Poe?" she invited, and opened a side door. He followed her
into a room papered in pale blue. Moonglow, drenching it, reflected from that paper and seemed an artificial light. That was what he had seen from outside. From an undraped table his hostess lifted a bottle, poured wine into a metal goblet and offered it.
     Poe wanted that wine, but he had recently promised his sick wife, solemnly and honestly, to abstain from even a sip of the drink that so easily upset him. Through thirsty lips he said: "I thank you kindly, .but I am a temperance man."
     "Oh," and she smiled. Poe saw white teeth. Then: "I am Elva Gauber— Mrs. John Gauber. The matter of which you ask I cannot explain clearly, but it is true. My husband was buried, in the Eastman Lutheran Churchyard—"
     "I had heard, Mrs. Gauber, that the burial concerned a woman." "No, my husband. He had been
ill. He felt cold and quiet. A physician, a Dr. Mecliem, pronounced him dead, and he was interred beneath a marble slab in his family vault." She sounded weary, but her voice was calm. "This happened
shortly after the New Year. On Valentine's Day, I brought flowers. Beneath his slab he stirred and struggled. I had him brought forth. And he lives—after a fashion—today."
     "Lives today?" repeated Poe. "in this house?"
     "Would you care to see him? Interview him?" Poe's heart raced, his spine chilled. It was his peculiarity that such sensations gave him pleasure. "I would like nothing better." he assured her, end she went to another door, as inner one.

     OPENING it, she paused on the threshold, as though summoning her resolution for a plunge into cold, swift water. Then she started down a flight of steps.
     Poe followed, unconsciously drawing the door shut behind him:
     The gloom of midnight, of prison —yes, of the tomb— fell at once upon those stairs. He heard  Elva Gauber gasp:
     "No —the moonlight let it in—" And then she fell, heavily and limply;rolling downstairs.
     Aghast, Poe quickly groped his way after her. She lay against a door at the foot of the flight wedged against the panel. He touched her— she was cold and rigid, without motion or elasticity of life. His thin hand groped for and found the knob of the lower door,flung; it open. More dim reflected moonlight, and he made shift to drag the woman into it.
      Almost at once she sighed heavily, lifted her head, and row. "How stupid of me," she apologised hoarsely.
      "The fault was mine." protested Poe. "Your nerves, your health, have naturally suffered. The sudden dark —the closeness—overcame you." He fumbled in his pocket for a tinder-box. "Suffer me to strike a light."
      But she held out a hand to stop him. "No. no. The moon is sufficient." She walked to a small, oblong pane set in the wall. Her hands, thin as Poe's own, with long grubby nut's, hooked on the sill. Her face bathed in the full light of the moon. Strengthened and grew calm. She breathed deeply, olmost voluptuously. "I am quite recovered," she snid. "Do not fear for me. You need not stand so nenr, sir."
      He had forgotten 'hat garlic odor, and drew bach contritely. She must be as sensitive to the smell as ... as . . . what it that was sickened and driven away by garlic? Poe could not remember, and took time to note that they were in a basement, stone-walled and with a floor of dirt. In one corner water seemed lo drip, forming a dunk pool of mud. Close to this, set into the wall, showed a latched trapdoor of planks, thick and wide, dented crosswise, as though to cover a window. But no window would be set so low. Everything smelt earthy and close, as though fresh air had been shut out for decades.
      "Your husband is here?" ho inquired
      "Yes." She walked to the shutter-like trap, unlatched it and drew it open.
      The recess beyond was as black as ink, and from it came u feeble mutter. Poe followed Elva Gauber, and strained his eyes. In a little stone-flagged nook a bed had been made up. Upon it lay a man, stripped almost naked. His skin was as white as dead bone, and only his eyes, now opening, had life. He gazed at Elva Gauber, and past her at Poe.
      "Go away." he mumbled.
      "Sir." ventured Poe formally. "I have come to hear of bow you come to life in the grave—"
      "It's a lie." broke in the man on the pallet. He writhed halfway to a sitting posture, laboring upward as against a crushing weight. The wash of moonlight showed how wasted and fragile he was. His face stared and snarled bare-toothed, like a skull. "A lie, I say!" he cried, with a sudden strength that might well have been his last. "Told by this monster who is not—my wife—"
     The shutter-trap slammed upon his cries. Elva Gauber faced Poe, withdrawing a pace to avoid his garlic breath.
     "You have seen my husband," she said. "Was it a pretty sight, sir?"
     He did not answer, and she moved across the dirt to the stair doorway. "Will you go up first?" she asked. "At the top, hold the door open, that I may have—" She said "life," or, perhaps, "light." Poe could not be sure which.
     Plainly she, who had almost welcomed his intrusion at first, now sought to lead him away. Her eyes, compelling as shouted commands, were fixed upon him. He felt their power, and bowed to it.
     Obediently he mounted the stairs, and stood Avith the upper door wide. Elva Gauber came up after him. At the top her eyes again seized his. Suddenly Poe knew more than ever before about the mesmeric impulses he loved to write about.
     "I hope," she said measuredly, "that you have not found your visit fruitless. I live here alone—seeing nobody, caring for the poor thing that was once my husband, John Gauber. My mind is not clear. Perhaps my manners are not good. Forgive me, and good night."

     POE FOUND himself ushered from the house, and outside the wind was howling once again. The front door closed behind him, and the lock grated.
     The fresh air, the whip of gale in his face, and the absence of Elva Gauber's impelling gaze suddenly brought him back, as though from sleep, to a realization of what had happened—or what had not happened.
     He had come out, on this uncomfortable March evening, to investigate the report of a premature burial. He had seen a ghastly sick thing, that had called the gossip a lie. Somehow, then, he had been drawn abruptly away—stopped from full study of what might be one of the strangest adventures it was ever a writer's good fortune to know. Why was he letting things drop at this stage?
     He decided not to let them drop. That would be worse than staying away altogether.
     He made up his mind, formed quickly a plan. Leaving the doorstep, he turned from the gate, slipped
quickly around the house. He knelt by the foundation at the side, just where a small oblong pane was set flush with the ground.
     Bending his head, he found that he could see plainly inside, by reason of the flood of moonlight—a phenomenon, he realized, for generally an apartment was disclosed only by light within. The open doorway to the stairs, the swamp mess of mud in the corner, the out-flung trapdoor, were discernible. And something stood or huddled at the exposed niche—something that bent itself upon and above the frail white body of John Gauber.
     Full skirt, white cap—it was Elva Gauber. She bent herself down, her face was touching the face or shoulder of her husband.
     Poe's heart, never the healthiest of organs, began to.drum and race. He pressed closer to the pane, for a better glimpse of what went on in the cellar. His shadow cut away some of the light. Elva Gauber turned to look.
     Her face was as pale as the moon itself. Like the moon, it was shadowed in irregular patches. She came quickly, almost running, toward the pane where Poe crouched. He saw her, plainly and, at close hand.
     Dark, wet, sticky stains lay upon her mouth and cheeks. Her tongue roved out, licking at the stains−
     Blood!
     Poe sprang up and ran to the front of the house. He forced his thin, trembling fingers to seize the knocker, to swing it heavily again and again. When there was no answer, he pushed heavily against the door, itself—it did not give. He to a window, rapped on it, pried at the sill, lifted his .fist to smash the glass.
     A silhouette moved beyond the pane, and threw it up. Something shot out fit him .like a pale, snake striking—before he could move back, fingers had twisted in the, front of his coat. Elva Gauber's eyes glared into his.
     Her cap was off, her dark hair fallen in disorder. Blood still smeared and dewed her mouth and jowls.
     “You have pried too .far,” she said, in a voice as measured and cold as the drip from icicles. "I was going to spare you, because of the odor about you that repelled me — the garlic. I showed you a little, enough to warn any wise person, and let you go. Now—"
     Poe struggled to free, himself. Her grip was immovable, like the clutch of a steel trap. She grimaced in triumph, yet she could not quite face him — the garlic still clung to his breath,
     “Look in my eyes,” she bade him. "Look—you cannot refuse, you can not escape. You will die, with John —and the two of you/ dying, shall rise again like me. I'll have two fountains of life while you remain— two companions after you die."
     "Woman,'' said - Poe, fighting, against her stabbing gaze, "you are mad."
     She snickered gustily. " I am sane, and so are you. We both know thatmI speak the truth. We both know the futility of your struggle.'" Her voice rose a little. "Through a chink in the tomb, as I lay dead; a ray of moonlight streamed and, struck my eyes. I woke. I struggled. I was set free. Now at night, when the-moon shines— Ugh! Don't breathe that herb in my face!"
     She turned her head away. At that instant it seemed to Poe that a curtain of utter darkness fell, and with it sank down the form of' Elva Gauber.

     HE PEERED,in the sudden gloom. She was collapsed .across the window sill, like a discarded puppet in its booth. Her hand; still twisted in the bosom of his coat, and he pried himself, loose from: it, finger by steely, cold finger. Then he turned to flee from this place of shadowed peril to body and soul.
     As he turned, he saw whence had come the dark. A cloud had come up from its place on the horizon—the fat; sooty bank he had noted there at sundown—and now it obscured the moon. Poe paused, in midre treat, gazing.
     His thoughtful eye gauged "the speed and size of the clould. It curtained the moon, would continue to curtain it for—well, ten minutes. And for that ten minutes Elva;Gauber would lie motionless, lifeless. She had told the truth about the moon giving her life. "Hadn't she fallen like one slain on the stairs when they were darkened. Poe began grimly to string the evidence together.
     It was Elva Gauber, not her husband, who had died and gone to the family vault: She had. come back to life, or a mockery of life, by touch of the moon's rays. Such light was an unpredictable force—it made dogs howl, it flogged madmen to violence, it brought fear,, or black sorrow, or ecstasy. Old legends said that it was the birth of fairies, the transformation of werewolves, the motive power of broom-riding witches. It was surely the source of the strength and evil animating what had been the corpse of Elva Gauber —and he, Poe, must not stand there dreaming.
     He summoned all the courage that was his, and scrambled in at the window through which slumped the woman's form. He groped across the room to the cellar door, opened it and went down the stairs, through the door at the bottom, and into the stone-walled basement.
    It was dark, moonless still. Poe paused only to bring forth his tinder box, strike a light and kindle the end of a tightly twisted linen rag. It gave a feeble steady light, and he found his way to the shutter, opened it and touched the naked, wasted shoulder of John Gauber.
     "Get up," he said. "I've come to save you."
     The skullface feebly shifted its position to meet his gaze. The man managed to speak, moaningly:
     "Useless. I can't move—unless she lets me. Her eyes keep me here —half alive. I'd have died long ago, but somehow—"
     Poe thought of a wretched spider, paralyzed by the sting of a mudwasp, lying helpless in its captive's close den until the hour of feeding comes. He bent down, holding his blazing tinder close.' He could see Gauber's neck, and it was a mass of tiny puncture wounds, some of them still beaded with blood drops fresh or dried. He winced, but bode firm in his purpose.
     "Let me guess the truth," he said quickly. "Your wife was brought home from the grave, came back to a seeming of life. She put a spell on you, or played a trick—made you a helpless prisoner. That isn't contrary to nature, that last. I've studied mesmerism."
     "It's true," John Gaubermumbled.
     "And nightly she comes to drink your blood?"
     Gauber weakly nodded. "Yes. She was beginning just now, but ran upstairs. She will be coming, back."
     "Good," said Poe bleakly. "Perhaps she will come back to more than she expects. Have you ever heard of vampires? Probably not, but I have studied them, too. I began to guess, I think, when first she was so repelled by the odor of garlic. Vampires lie-motionless by day, and walk and feed at night. They are creatures of the moon—their food is blood. Come."
     Poe broke off, put out his light, and lifted the man in his arms. Gauber was as light as a child. The
writer carried him to the slanting shelter of the closedin staircase, and there set him against the'wall. Over him Poe spread his. old cadet cloak. In the gloom, the gray of the cloak harmonized with the gray of the wall stones. The poor fellow would be well hidden.
     Next Poe flung off his coat, waistcoat and shirt. Heaping his clothing in a deeper shadow of the stairway, he stood up, stripped to the- waist." His skin was almost as bloodlessly pale as Gauber's, his chest and arms almost as gaunt. He dared believe that he might pass momentarily for the unfortunate man.
     The cellar sprang full of light again. The cloud must be passing from the moon. PoeJistened. There
was' a dragging sound above, then footsteps.
     Elva Gauber, the blood drinker by night, had revived.
     Now for it. Poe hurried to the niche, thrust himself in and pulled the trapdoor shut after him.
     He grinned, sharing a horrid paradox with the blackness around him. He had heard all the fabled ways of destroying vampires—transfixing stakes, holy water, prayer, fire. But he, Edgar Allan Poe, had evolved a new way. Myriads of tales whispered frighteningly of fiends lying in wait for normal men, but who ever heard of a normal man lying in wait for a fiend? Well, he had never considered himself normal, in spirit', or brain, or taste.
     He stretched out, feet together, hands crossed on his bare midriff. Thus it would be in the tomb, he
found himself thinking. To his mind  came a snatch of poetry by a man named Bryant, published long ago in a New England review—Breathless darkness, and the narrow house. It was breathless and dark, enough in this hole, Heaven knew, and narrow as well. He rejected, almost hysterically, the implication of being buried. To break the ugly spell, that daunted him where thought of Elva Gauber failed, he turned sideways to face the wall, hiss naked arm, lying across his cheek and temple.
     As his ear touched the musty bedding, it brought to him once again the echo of footsteps, footsteps descending stairs. They were rhythmic, confident. They were eager.
     Elva Gauber was coming to seek again her interrupted repast.
     Now she was crossing the floor. She did not pause or turn aside— she had not noticed her husband, lying under the cadet cloak in the shadow of the stairs. The noise came straight to the trapdoor, and he heard her fumbling for the latch.

     LIGHT, blue as skimmed milk, poured into his nook. A shadow fell in the midst of it, full upon him. His imagination, ever outstripping reality, whispered that the shadow had weight, like lead—oppressive, baleful.
     "John," said the voice of Elva Gauber in his ear, "I've come back. You know why—you know what
for." Her voice sounded greedy, as though it came through loose, trembling lips. "You're my only source of strength now. I thought tonight, that a stranger—but he got away. He had a cursed odor about him, anyway."
     Her hand touched the skin of his neck. She was prodding him, like a butcher fingering a doomed beast. "Don't hold yourself away from me, John," she was commanding, in a voice of harsh mockery. "You know it won't dp any good. This is the night of the full moon, and I have power for anything, anything!" She was trying to drag his arm away from his face. "You won't gain by—" She broke off, aghast. Then, in a wild-dry-throated scream:
     "You're not John!"
     Poe whipped over on his back, and his bird-claw hands shot out and seized her—one hand clinching upon her snaky disorder of dark hair, the other digging its fingertips into the chill flesh of her arm.
     The scream quivered away into a horrible breathless rattle. Poe dragged his captive violently inward, throwing all his collected strength into the effort. Her feet were jerked from the floor and she flew into the recess, hurtling above and beyond Poe's recumbent body. She struck the inner stones with a crashing force that might break bones, and would have collapsed upon Poe; but, at the same moment, he had released her and slid swiftly out upon the floor of the cellar.
     With frantic haste he seized the edge of the back-flung trapdoor. Elva Gauber struggled up on hands and knees, among the tumbled bedclothes in the niche; then Poe had slammed the panel shut.
     She threw herself against it from within, yammering and wailing like an animal in a trap. She" was almost as strong as he, and for a moment he thought that she would win out of the niche. But, sweating and wheezing, he bore against the planks with his shoulder, bracing his feet against the earth. His fingers found the latch, lifted it, forced it into place.
     "Dark," moaned Elva Gauber from inside. "Dark—no moon—" Her voice trailed off.
     Poe went to the muddy pool in the corner, thrust in his hands. The muck was slimy but workable. He pushed a double handful of it against the trapdoor, sealing cracks and edges. Another handful, another. Using his palms like trowels, he coated the boards with thick mud.
     "Gauber," he said breathlessly, "how are you?"
     "All right—I think." The voice was strangely strong and clear. Looking over his shoulder, Poe saw
that Gauber had come upright of himself, still pale but apparently steady. "What are you doing?" Gauber asked.
     "Walling her up," jerked out Poe, scooping still more mud. "Walling her up forever, with her devil."
     He had a momentary flash of inspiration, a symbolic germ of a story; in it a man sealed a woman into such a nook of the wall, and with her an embodiment of active evil—perhaps in the form of a black cat.
     Pausing at last to breathe deeply, he smiled to himself. Even in the direst of danger, the most heartbreaking moment of toil arid fear, he must ever be coining new plots for stories.
     "I cannot thank you enough," Gauber was saying to him. "I feel that all will be well—if only she
stays there."
     Poe put his ear to the wall. "Not a whisper of motion, sir. She's shut off from moonlight—from life arid power. Can you help me with my clothes? I fell terribly chilled."

     His MOTHER-IN-LAW met him on the threshold when he returned to the house in Spring Garden Street. Under the white widow's cap; her strong-boned face was drawn with worry.
     "Eddie, are you ill?" She was really asking if he had been drinking. A look reassured her. "No," she answered herself, "but you've been away from home so long. And you're dirty, Eddie—filthy. You
must wash."
     He let her lead him iri, pour hot water into a basin. As he scrubbed himself, he formed excuses, a banal lie about a long walk for inspiration, a moment of dizzy weariness, a stiiirible
into a mud puddle. „
     "I'll make you some nice hot coffee, Eddie," his mother-in-law offered.
     "Please," he responded, and went back to his room with'the slate mantelpiece. Again he lighted the candle, sat down and took up his pen.
     His mind was embellishing the story inspiration that had come to him at such a black moment, in the cellar of the Gauber house. He'd work on that tomorrow. The United States Saturday Post would take it, he hoped. Title? He -would call it simply "The Black Cat."
     But' to finish the present task! He dipped his pen in ink. How to begin? Plow to end? How, after writing and publishing such an account, to defend himself against the growing whisper of his insanity?
     He decided to forget it, if he cguld —at least to seek healthy company, comfort, quiet—perhaps even to write some light verse, some humorous articles and stories. For the first time in his life, he had had enough of the macabre.
     Quickly he wrote a final paragraph:

     There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the semblance of a Hell—but the imagination of man is no Carathis, to explore with impunity its every cavern. Alas! The grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful— but, like the Demons in whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us—;they must be suffered to slumber, or we will perish.

     That would do for the public, decided Edgar Allan Poe. In any case, it would do for the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper.
   His mother-in-law brought in the coffee.

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