**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Strange Crime Of John Boulnois
by [?]

“I don’t think it can go on without a smash,” said the young man with red hair, getting up and shaking himself. “Old Boulnois may be squared–or he may be square. But if he’s square he’s thick–what you might call cubic. But I don’t believe it’s possible.”

“He is a man of grand intellectual powers,” said Calhoun Kidd in a deep voice.

“Yes,” answered Dalroy; “but even a man of grand intellectual powers can’t be such a blighted fool as all that. Must you be going on? I shall be following myself in a minute or two.”

But Calhoun Kidd, having finished a milk and soda, betook himself smartly up the road towards the Grey Cottage, leaving his cynical informant to his whisky and tobacco. The last of the daylight had faded; the skies were of a dark, green-grey, like slate, studded here and there with a star, but lighter on the left side of the sky, with the promise of a rising moon.

The Grey Cottage, which stood entrenched, as it were, in a square of stiff, high thorn-hedges, was so close under the pines and palisades of the Park that Kidd at first mistook it for the Park Lodge. Finding the name on the narrow wooden gate, however, and seeing by his watch that the hour of the “Thinker’s” appointment had just struck, he went in and knocked at the front door. Inside the garden hedge, he could see that the house, though unpretentious enough, was larger and more luxurious than it looked at first, and was quite a different kind of place from a porter’s lodge. A dog-kennel and a beehive stood outside, like symbols of old English country-life; the moon was rising behind a plantation of prosperous pear trees, the dog that came out of the kennel was reverend-looking and reluctant to bark; and the plain, elderly man-servant who opened the door was brief but dignified.

“Mr Boulnois asked me to offer his apologies, sir,” he said, “but he has been obliged to go out suddenly.”

“But see here, I had an appointment,” said the interviewer, with a rising voice. “Do you know where he went to?”

“To Pendragon Park, sir,” said the servant, rather sombrely, and began to close the door.

Kidd started a little.

“Did he go with Mrs–with the rest of the party?” he asked rather vaguely.

“No, sir,” said the man shortly; “he stayed behind, and then went out alone.” And he shut the door, brutally, but with an air of duty not done.

The American, that curious compound of impudence and sensitiveness, was annoyed. He felt a strong desire to hustle them all along a bit and teach them business habits; the hoary old dog and the grizzled, heavy-faced old butler with his prehistoric shirt-front, and the drowsy old moon, and above all the scatter-brained old philosopher who couldn’t keep an appointment.

“If that’s the way he goes on he deserves to lose his wife’s purest devotion,” said Mr Calhoun Kidd. “But perhaps he’s gone over to make a row. In that case I reckon a man from the Western Sun will be on the spot.”

And turning the corner by the open lodge-gates, he set off, stumping up the long avenue of black pine-woods that pointed in abrupt perspective towards the inner gardens of Pendragon Park. The trees were as black and orderly as plumes upon a hearse; there were still a few stars. He was a man with more literary than direct natural associations; the word “Ravenswood” came into his head repeatedly. It was partly the raven colour of the pine-woods; but partly also an indescribable atmosphere almost described in Scott’s great tragedy; the smell of something that died in the eighteenth century; the smell of dank gardens and broken urns, of wrongs that will never now be righted; of something that is none the less incurably sad because it is strangely unreal.

More than once, as he went up that strange, black road of tragic artifice, he stopped, startled, thinking he heard steps in front of him. He could see nothing in front but the twin sombre walls of pine and the wedge of starlit sky above them. At first he thought he must have fancied it or been mocked by a mere echo of his own tramp. But as he went on he was more and more inclined to conclude, with the remains of his reason, that there really were other feet upon the road. He thought hazily of ghosts; and was surprised how swiftly he could see the image of an appropriate and local ghost, one with a face as white as Pierrot’s, but patched with black. The apex of the triangle of dark-blue sky was growing brighter and bluer, but he did not realize as yet that this was because he was coming nearer to the lights of the great house and garden. He only felt that the atmosphere was growing more intense, there was in the sadness more violence and secrecy–more–he hesitated for the word, and then said it with a jerk of laughter–Catastrophism.