|Cover attributed to George Wilson.|
|Cover by Jesse Santos.|
|Cover by George Wilson.|
|Cover attributed to George Wilson.|
|Cover by Bruce Pennington. Panther Books, 1974.|
"So, on the forenoon of that same day, Theophile, together with Gerome and six others chosen for their hardihood, sallied forth and made search of the forest for miles around. They entered with torches and lifted crosses the deep caves to which they came, but found no fiercer thing than wolf or badger. Also, they searched the crumbling vaults of the deserted castle of Faussesflammes, which was said to be haunted by vampires. But nowhere could they trace the monster or find any sign of its lairing."
"On the night following the desecration of the graves, two charcoal-burners who plied their trade in the forest not far from Perigon, were slain in their hut. Other charcoal-burners, dwelling near by, heard the shrill screams that fell to sudden silence; and peering fearfully through the chinks of their bolted doors, they saw anon in the starlight the departure of a black, obscenely glowing shape that issued from the hut."
"Vainly I consulted the stars and made use of geomancy and necromancy; and the familiars whom I interrogated professed themselves ignorant, saying that the Beast was altogether alien and beyond the ken of sublunar spirits."
"Passing among the ancient trees that towered thickly behind Perigon, he thought that he discerned a light from the windows, and was much cheered thereby. But, going on, he saw that the light was near at hand, beneath a lowering bough. It moved as with the flitting of a fen-fire, and was of changeable color, being pale as a corposant, or ruddy as new-spilled blood, or green as the poisonous distillation that surrounds the moon."
|Line engraving by P. Vanderbank, 1683.|
"If we more nearly consider the condition of Vipers and noxious Animals, we shall discover another higher provision of Nature: how, although in their paucity she hath not abridged their malignity, yet hath she notoriously effected it by their secession or latitancy. For not only offensive insects, as Hornets, Wasps, and the like, but sanguineous corticated Animals, as Serpents, Toads, and Lizards, do lie hid and betake themselves to coverts in the Winter. Whereby most Countries enjoying the immunity of Ireland and Candie, there ariseth a temporal security from their venoms; and an intermission of their mischiefs, mercifully requiting the time of their activities."
[From "Of the Viper," in Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Third Book), 1646-1672.]
"Whatever particle of a doubt there may have been in Mrs. Owens’s own mind, there was considerable more of doubt and apprehension in Mr. Evening’s as he weighed, in his rooming house, the rash decision he had made to visit formidable Mrs. Owens in -- one could not say her business establishment, since she had none -- but her background of accumulation of heirlooms, which vague world was, he could only admit, also his own. Because he had never known or understood people well, and he was the most insignificant of 'collectors,' he was at a loss as to why Mrs. Owens should feel he had anything to give her, and since her 'legend' was too well known to him, he knew she, likewise, had nothing at all to give him, except, and this was why he was going, the 'look-in' which his visit would give him. Whatever risk there was in going to see her, and there appeared to be some, he felt, from 'warnings' of a queer kind from those who had dealt with her, it was worth something just to get inside, even though again he had been informed by those in the business it would be doubtful if he would be allowed to mention 'purchase' and in the end it was also doubtful he would be allowed even a close peek.
"On the other hand, if Mrs. Owens wanted him to tell her something -- this crossed his mind as he went toward her huge pillared house, though he could not imagine even vaguely what he could have to tell her, and if she was mad enough to think him capable of entertaining her, for after all she was a lonely ancient lady on the threshold of death, he would disabuse her of all such expectations almost as soon as they had met. He was uneasy with old women, he supposed, though in his work he spent more time with them than with other people, and he wanted, he finally said out loud to himself, that hand-painted china cup, 1910, no matter what it might cost him. He fancied she might yield it to him at some atrocious illegal price. It was no more improbable, after all, than that she had invited him in the first place. Mrs. Owens never invited anybody, that is, from the outside, and the inside people in her life had all died or were incapacitated from paying calls. Yes, he had been summoned, and he could hope at least therefore that what everybody else told him was at least thinkable -- purchase, and if that was not in store for him, then the other improbable thing, 'viewing.'"
[From "Mr. Evening," in The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy.]