Friday, October 28, 2016

"With the Cunning That Belongs Only to the Insane, He Formulated His Revenge"

"The Waxen Witness."
By M. Ellis Winter (?-?).
First appearance: Munsey's Magazine, September 1920.
Short story (6 pages, 3 illos).
Online at UNZ (HERE).
"Hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul!"
The lesson is clear: Dead men do tell tales, if we're willing to hear them.

Principal characters:
~ Harvey Denzil:
   "I know that he has been your lover for months, and that you contemplate eloping with him. I am going to save you the trouble."
~ Adam Grimthorpe:
   "From the square bay window Adam Grimthorpe saw them walk away together toward the cliff road leading to the hall."
~ Kathleen Denzil:
   "'They won't hang Grant? They mustn't! I love him!' she said at length, and fell in a dead faint at the inspector's feet."
~ Grant Merrion:
   "Don't go about shouting that!"

Comment: While the author has a tendency to overcooked prose ("He laughed fiendishly"; "All the bitterness that lies in the dregs of the cup of illicit love was hers, and she drained it, perforce"; "there can be no heaven for me without him") and you might have seen this same plot played out in countless movies and TV shows (sometimes with different outcomes), this could be one of the first, if not the first, appearance of this particular storyline—but we could be wrong about that.

- Our author must remain a man of mystery since, apart from two known story credits in Munsey's, we can't find out anything about him.
- Just recently we encountered another love triangle (HERE), but one with a decidedly different resolution.

The bottom line: "Don't let two men fall in love with you, girls. It's not the sort of thing that ends well."
Ally Carter

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