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Masterpieces of Mystery Riddle Stories   By: (1858-1936)

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Masterpieces of Mystery

In Four Volumes

RIDDLE STORIES

Edited by Joseph Lewis French

Garden City New York Doubleday, Page & Company 1922

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

NOTE

The Editor desires especially to acknowledge assistance in granting the use of original material, and for helpful advice and suggestion, to Professor Brander Matthews of Columbia University, to Mrs. Anna Katherine Green Rohlfs, to Cleveland Moffett, to Arthur Reeve, creator of "Craig Kennedy," to Wilbur Daniel Steele, to Ralph Adams Cram, to Chester Bailey Fernald, to Brian Brown, to Mrs. Lillian M. Robins of the publisher's office, and to Charles E. Farrington of the Brooklyn Public Library.

FOREWORD

A distinguished American writer of fiction said to me lately: "Did you ever think of the vital American way we live? We are always going after mental gymnastics." Now the mystery story is mental gymnastics. By the time the reader has followed a chain of facts through he has exercised his mind, given himself a mental breather. But the claims of the true mystery story do not end with the general reader. It is entitled to the consideration of the discriminating because it indubitably takes its own place as a gauge of mastery in the field of the short story.

The demand was never quite so keen as it is now. The currents of literature as of all things change swiftly these times. This world of ours has become very sophisticated. It has suffered itself to be exploited till there is no external wonder left. Retroactively the demand for mystery, which is the very soul of interest, must find new expression. Thus we turn inward for fresh thrills to the human comedy, and outward to the realm of the supernatural.

The riddle story is the most naïve form of the mystery story. It may contain a certain element of the supernatural be tinged with mysticism but its motive and the revelation thereof must be frankly materialistic of the earth, earthy. In this respect it is very closely allied to the detective story. The model riddle story should be utterly mundane in motive told in direct terms. Here again the genius of that great modern master asserts itself, and in "The Oblong Box" we have an early model of its kind. The stories of this collection cover a wide range and are the choice of reading in several literatures.

JOSEPH LEWIS FRENCH.

CONTENTS

I. THE MYSTERIOUS CARD Cleveland Moffett

II. THE GREAT VALDEZ SAPPHIRE Anonymous

III. THE OBLONG BOX Edgar Allan Poe

IV. THE BIRTH MARK Nathaniel Hawthorne

V. A TERRIBLY STRANGE BED Wilkie Collins

VI. THE TORTURE BY HOPE Villiers de l'Isle Adam

VII. THE BOX WITH THE IRON CLAMPS Florence Marryat

VIII. MY FASCINATING FRIEND William Archer

IX. THE LOST ROOM Fitz James O'Brien

MASTERPIECES OF MYSTERY

RIDDLE STORIES

THE MYSTERIOUS CARD

CLEVELAND MOFFETT

Courtesy of the Author.

I

Richard Burwell, of New York, will never cease to regret that the French language was not made a part of his education.

This is why:

On the second evening after Burwell arrived in Paris, feeling lonely without his wife and daughter, who were still visiting a friend in London, his mind naturally turned to the theatre. So, after consulting the daily amusement calendar, he decided to visit the Folies Bergère , which he had heard of as one of the notable sights. During an intermission he went into the beautiful garden, where gay crowds were strolling among the flowers, and lights, and fountains. He had just seated himself at a little three legged table, with a view to enjoying the novel scene, when his attention was attracted by a lovely woman, gowned strikingly, though in perfect taste, who passed near him, leaning on the arm of a gentleman... Continue reading book >>




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