FOR a part of the distance between
Auburn and Newcastle the road--first on one side of a creek and then on
the other--occupies the whole bottom of the ravine, being partly cut out
of the steep hillside, and partly built up with boulders removed from the
creek-bed by the miners. The hills are wooded, the course of the ravine
is sinuous. In a dark night care- ful driving is required in order not
to go off into the water. The night that I have in memory was dark, the
creek a torrent, swollen by a recent storm. I had driven up from Newcastle
and was within about a mile of Auburn in the darkest and narrowest part
of the ravine, looking intently ahead of my horse for the roadway. Suddenly
I saw a man almost under the animal's nose, and reined in with a jerk that
came near setting the creature upon its haunches.
'I beg your pardon,' I said; 'I did not see you, sir.'
'You could hardly be expected to see me,' the man replied civilly, approaching
the side of the vehicle; 'and the noise of the creek prevented my hearing
I at once recognized the voice, although five years had passed since I
had heard it. I was not particu- larly well pleased to hear it now.
'You are Dr. Dorrimore, I think,' said I.
'Yes; and you are my good friend Mr. Manrich. I am more than glad to see
you--the excess,' he added, with a light laugh, 'being due to the fact
that I am going your way, and naturally expect an invitation to ride with
'Which I extend with all my heart.'
That was not altogether true.
Dr. Dorrimore thanked me as he seated himself beside me, and I drove cautiously
forward, as before. Doubtless it is fancy, but it seems to me now that
the remaining distance was made in a chill fog; that I was uncomfortably
cold; that the way was longer than ever before, and the town, when we reached
it, cheerless, forbidding, and desolate. It must have been early in the
evening, yet I do not recollect a light in any of the houses nor a living
thing in the streets. Dorrimore explained at some length how he hap- pened
to be there, and where he had been during the years that had elapsed since
I had seen him. I recall the fact of the narrative, but none of the facts
narrated. He had been in foreign countries and had returned--this is all
that my memory retains, and this I already knew. As to myself I cannot
remember that I spoke a word, though doubtless I did.
Of one thing I am distinctly conscious: the man's presence at my side was
strangely distasteful and disquieting--so much so that when I at last pulled
up under the lights of the Putnam House I experi- enced a sense of having
escaped some spiritual peril of a nature peculiarly forbidding. This sense
of relief was somewhat modified by the discovery that Dr. Dorrimore was
living at the same hotel.
In partial explanation of my feelings
regarding Dr. Dorrimore I will relate briefly the circumstances under which
I had met him some years before. One evening a half-dozen men of whom I
was one were sitting in the library of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.
The conversation had turned to the sub- ject of sleight-
of-hand and the feats of the prestidigi-
tateurs, one of whom was then exhibiting at a local theatre.
'These fellows are pretenders in a double sense,' said one of the party;
'they can do nothing which it is worth one's while to be made a dupe by.
The humblest wayside juggler in India could mystify them to the verge of
'For example, how?' asked another, lighting a cigar.
'For example, by all their common and familiar performances--throwing large
objects into the air which never come down; causing plants to sprout, grow
visibly and blossom, in bare ground chosen by spectators; putting a man
into a wicker basket, piercing him through and through with a sword while
he shrieks and bleeds, and then--the basket being opened nothing is there;
tossing the free end of a silken ladder into the air, mounting it and disappearing.'
'Nonsense!' I said, rather uncivilly, I fear. 'You surely do not believe
'Certainly not: I have seen them too often.'
'But I do,' said a journalist of considerable local fame as a picturesque
reporter. 'I have so frequently related them that nothing but observation
could shake my conviction. Why, gentlemen, I have my own word for it.'
Nobody laughed--all were looking at something behind me. Turning in my
seat I saw a man in evening dress who had just entered the room. He was
exceedingly dark, almost swarthy, with a thin face, black-bearded to the
lips, an abundance of coarse black hair in some disorder, a high nose and
eyes that glittered with as soulless an expression as those of a cobra.
One of the group rose and introduced him as Dr. Dorrimore, of Calcutta.
As each of us was presented in turn he acknowledged the fact with a profound
bow in the Oriental manner, but with nothing of Oriental gravity. His smile
impressed me as cynical and a trifle contemptuous. His whole demeanour
I can describe only as disagreeably engaging.
His presence led the conversation into other chan- nels. He said little--I
do not recall anything of what he did say. I thought his voice singularly
rich and melodious, but it affected me in the same way as his eyes and
smile. In a few minutes I rose to go. He also rose and put on his overcoat.
'Mr. Manrich,' he said, 'I am going your way.'
'The devil you are!' I thought. 'How do you know which way I am going?'
Then I said, 'I shall be pleased to have your company.'
We left the building together. No cabs were in sight, the street cars had
gone to bed, there was a full moon and the cool night air was delightful;
we walked up the California Street Hill. I took that direction thinking
he would naturally wish to take another, toward one of the hotels.
'You do not believe what is told of the Hindu jugglers,' he said abruptly.
'How do you know that?' I asked.
Without replying he laid his hand lightly upon my arm and with the other
pointed to the stone side- walk directly in front. There, almost at our
feet, lay the dead body of a man, the face upturned and white in the moonlight!
A sword whose hilt sparkled with gems stood fixed and upright in the breast;
a pool of blood had collected on the stones of the sidewalk.
I was startled and terrified--not only by what I saw, but by the circumstances
under which I saw it. Repeatedly during our ascent of the hill my eyes,
I thought, had traversed the whole reach of that sidewalk, from street
to street. How could they have been insensible to this dreadful object
now so con-spicuous in the white moonlight.
As my dazed faculties cleared I observed that the body was in evening dress;
the overcoat thrown wide open revealed the dress-coat, the white tie, the
broad expanse of shirt front pierced by the sword. And--horrible revelation!--the
face, except for its pallor, was that of my companion! It was to the minutest
detail of dress and feature Dr. Dorri- more himself. Bewildered and horrified,
I turned to look for the living man. He was nowhere visible, and with an
added terror I retired from the place, down the hill in the direction whence
I had come. I had taken but a few strides when a strong grasp upon my shoulder
arrested me. I came near crying out with terror: the dead man, the sword
still fixed in his breast, stood beside me! Pulling out the sword with
his disengaged hand, he flung it from him, the moonlight glinting upon
the jewels of its hilt and the unsullied steel of its blade. It fell with
a clang upon the sidewalk ahead and--vanished! The man, swarthy as before,
relaxed his grasp upon my shoul- der and looked at me with the same cynical
regard that I had observed on first meeting him. The dead have not that
look--it partly restored me, and turn- ing my head backward, I saw the
smooth white expanse of sidewalk, unbroken from street to street.
'What is all this nonsense, you devil?' I de- manded, fiercely enough,
though weak and trembling in every limb.
'It is what some are pleased to call jugglery,' he answered, with a light,
He turned down Dupont Street and I saw him no more until we met in the
On the day after my second meeting
with Dr. Dorrimore I did not see him: the clerk in the Put- nam House explained
that a slight illness confined him to his rooms. That afternoon at the
railway station I was surprised and made happy by the unexpected arrival
of Miss Margaret Corray and her mother, from Oakland.
This is not a love story. I am no story-teller, and love as it is cannot
be portrayed in a literature domi- nated and enthralled by the debasing
tyranny which 'sentences letters' in the name of the Young Girl. Under
the Young Girl's blighting reign--or rather under the rule of those false
Ministers of the Censure who have appointed themselves to the custody of
veils her sacred fires,
And, unaware, Morality expires,
famished upon the sifted meal and
distilled water of a prudish purveyance.
Let it suffice that Miss Corray and I were engaged in marriage. She and
her mother went to the hotel at which I lived, and for two weeks I saw
her daily. That I was happy needs hardly be said; the only bar to my perfect
enjoyment of those golden days was the presence of Dr. Dorrimore, whom
I had felt compelled to introduce to the ladies.
By them he was evidently held in favour. What could I say? I knew absolutely
nothing to his dis- credit. His manners were those of a cultivated and
considerate gentleman; and to women a man's man- ner is the man. On one
or two occasions when I saw Miss Corray walking with him I was furious,
and once had the indiscretion to protest. Asked for rea- sons, I had none
to give, and fancied I saw in her expression a shade of contempt for the
vagaries of a jealous mind. In time I grew morose and con- sciously disagreeable,
and resolved in my madness to return to San Francisco the next day. Of
this, however, I said nothing.
There was at Auburn an old, abandoned
cemetery. It was nearly in the heart of the town, yet by night it was as
gruesome a place as the most dismal of human moods could crave. The railings
about the plots were prostrate, decayed, or altogether gone. Many of the
graves were sunken, from others grew sturdy pines, whose roots had committed
unspeak- able sin. The headstones were fallen and broken across; brambles
overran the ground; the fence was mostly gone, and cows and pigs wandered
there at will; the place was a dishonour to the living, a calumny on the
dead, a blasphemy against God.
The evening of the day on which I had taken my madman's resolution to depart
in anger from all that was dear to me found me in that congenial spot.
The light of the half moon fell ghostly through the foliage of trees in
spots and patches, revealing much that was unsightly, and the black shadows
seemed conspiracies withholding to the proper time revelations of darker
import. Passing along what had been a gravel path, I saw emerging from
shadow the figure of Dr. Dorrimore. I was myself in shadow, and stood still
with clenched hands and set teeth, trying to control the impulse to leap
upon and stran- gle him. A moment later a second figure joined him and
clung to his arm. It was Margaret Corray!
I cannot rightly relate what occurred. I know that I sprang forward, bent
upon murder; I know that I was found in the grey of the morning, bruised
and bloody, with finger marks upon my throat. I was taken to the Putnam
House, where for days I lay in a delirium. All this I know, for I have
been told. And of my own knowledge I know that when consciousness returned
with convalescence I sent for the clerk of the hotel.
'Are Mrs. Corray and her daughter still here?' I asked.
'What name did you say?'
'Nobody of that name has been here.'
'I beg you will not trifle with me,' I said petu- lantly. 'You see that
I am all right now; tell me the truth.'
'I give you my word,' he replied with evident sin- cerity, 'we have had
no guests of that name.'
His words stupefied me. I lay for a few moments in silence; then I asked:
'Where is Dr. Dorrimore?'
'He left on the morning of your fight and has not been heard of since.
It was a rough deal he gave you.'
Such are the facts of this case.
Margaret Corray is now my wife. She has never seen Auburn, and dur- ing
the weeks whose history as it shaped itself in my brain I have endeavoured
to relate, was living at her home in Oakland, wondering where her lover
was and why he did not write. The other day I saw in the Baltimore Sun
the following paragraph:
'Professor Valentine Dorrimore, the hypnotist, had a large audience last
night. The lecturer, who has lived most of his life in India, gave some
mar- vellous exhibitions of his power, hypnotizing anyone who chose to
submit himself to the experiment, by merely looking at him. In fact, he
twice hypnotized the entire audience (reporters alone exempted), making
all entertain the most extraordinary illusions. The most valuable feature
of the lecture was the disclosure of the methods of the Hindu jugglers
in their famous performances, familiar in the mouths of travellers. The
professor declares that these thaumaturgists have acquired such skill in
the art which he learned at their feet that they perform their miracles
by simply throwing the "spectators" into a state of hypnosis and telling
them what to see and hear. His assertion that a peculiarly susceptible
subject may be kept in the realm of the unreal for weeks, months, and even
years, dominated by what-ever delusions and hallucinations the operator
may from time to time suggest, is a trifle disquieting.'