As Halloween Month rolls along, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at two horror stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s son, Julian.
THE UNSEEN MAN’S STORY (1893) – A needlessly neglected mummy tale. At age twenty-eight, a Frenchman named Carigliano arrives in Egypt on assignment from the French government. He has studied Egyptology and is thrilled with his placement.
Gradually, dreams and waking visions propel him to investigate around Thebes. Once there, he discovers the previously unviolated tomb of Queen Amunuhet. Throughout the tomb’s halls and chambers he encounters reanimated mummies which stalk him, intent on killing him.
When the mummies succeed in capturing him and dragging him before the queen they serve, they prepare him for sacrifice/ execution. We readers learn that his aptitude for Egyptology and its ancient languages are due to him being the reincarnation of Amosis’ son Pantour.
That figure was Queen Amunuhet’s lover and Carigliano is being called to account for misdeeds against the queen in his previous life. Can love save the Frenchman from death?
KEN’S MYSTERY (1888) – A very mundane title for a good horror story. On Halloween, a talented young American artist and musician named Keningale is visiting Ireland and adventurously seeks out the grave of Ethelind Fionguala. That compulsion came over him after he bought an antique ring at a shop in Cork.
Keningale – Ken to his friends – was fascinated by the legend which claims that Ethelind was abducted and killed by a band of vampires in the 1500s. At her gravesite, he finds that the ring he bought had special meaning to the dead woman.
Ethelind approaches him and, in a dreamlike state, he is romanced by her. He plays his banjo for her and sings Olde Irish songs. Again, like in a dream he seems to spend a large amount of time with her, as they dance and party at her mansion.
She seduces him but when he wakes up, he is pale and weary from an enormous loss of blood. He realizes that Ethelind used her vampiric hypnotic powers to get him from the cemetery to the cobwebbed ruins of her former home. All the glamour of the place was mere illusion.
He regards the rats, bats and spiders of the ruined, damp shell of a building and is chilled by the thought that it was really among all this decay that he was preyed upon by the undead Ethelind and left unconscious. His banjo seems to have rotted with age overnight.
Weak and debilitated, he does manage to find help and ultimately recovers. However, he spends the rest of his life longing for Ethelind, painting portrait after portrait of her. Every Halloween he hopes, yet fears that she will visit him again.
These two short stories are enjoyable Halloween Season reading, helped by their use of traditional monsters like mummies and vampires. I like these tales better than Julian Hawthorne’s most acclaimed work of horror, Archibald Malmaison (1884).
FOR ISABELLA OF EGYPT, FEATURING A GOLEM, A MANDRAGORE, A LIVING DEAD MAN, A GYPSY WITCH AND A JEWISH SORCEROR CLICK HERE
FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/
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