VOLUME I

The Tragedy


CHAPTER 1

I, the Man, will not take up the time of my readers by detailing the circumstances under which Alice, the Maid, roused in me the desire for vengeance which resulted in the tale I am about to relate. Suffice it to say that Alice cruelly and unjustifiably jilted me! In my bitterness of spirit, I swore that if I ever had an opportunity to get hold of her, I would make her voluptuous person recompense me for my disappointment, and that I would snatch from her by force the bridegroom's privileges that I so ardently coveted. But I dissemble! Alice and I had many mutual friends to whom this rupture was unknown; we were therefore constantly meeting each other, and if I gave her the slightest hint of my intentions towards her it would have been fatal to the very doubtful chances of success that I had! Indeed, so successfully did I conceal my real feelings under a cloak of genuine acceptance of her action that she had not the faintest idea (as she afterwards admitted to me) that I was playing a part.

But, as the proverb says, everything comes to the man who waits. For some considerable time, it seemed as if it would be wise on my part to abandon my desire for vengeance, as the circumstances of our daily lives were such as did not promise the remotest chance of my getting possession of Alice under conditions of either place or time suitable for the accomplishment of my purpose. Nevertheless, I controlled my patience and hoped for the best, enduring as well as I could the torture of unsatisfied desire and increasing lust.

It then happened that I had occasion to change my residence, and in my search for fresh quarters, I came across a modest suite consisting of a sitting room and two bedrooms, which would by themselves have suited me excellently; but with them the landlord desired to let what he termed a box or lumber room. I demurred to this addition, but as he remained firm, I asked to see the room. It was most peculiar both as regards access and appearance.

The former was by a short passage from the landing and furnished with remarkably well-fitting doors at each end. The room was nearly square, of a good size and lofty, but the walls were unbroken, save by the one entrance, light and air being derived from a skylight, or rather lantern, which occupied the greater part of the roof and was supported by four strong and stout wooden pillars. Further, the walls were thickly padded, while iron rings were let into them at regular distances all 'round in two rows, one close to the door and the other at a height of about eight feet. From the roof beams, rope pulleys dangled in pairs between the pillars, while the two recesses on the entrance side, caused by the projection of the passage into the room, looked as if they had at one time been separated from the rest of the room by bars, almost as if they were cells. So strange indeed was the appearance of the whole room that I asked its history and was informed that the house had been built as a private lunatic asylum at the time that the now unfashionable square in which it stood was one of the centers of fashion, and that this was the old "mad room" in which violent patients were confined, the bolts, rings, and pulleys being used to restrain them when they were very violent, while the padding and the double doors made the room absolutely sound-proof and prevented the ravings of the inmates from annoying the neighbors. The landlord added that the soundproof quality was no fiction, as the room had frequently been tested by incredulous visitors.

Like lightning the thought flashed through my brain. Was not this room the very place for the consummation of my scheme of revenge? If I succeeded in luring Alice into it, she would be completely at my mercy—her screams for help would not be heard and would only increase my pleasure, while the bolts, rings, pulleys, etc., supplemented with a little suitable furniture, would enable me to secure her in any way I wished and to hold her fixed while I amused myself with her. .....


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