Fantastic Victoriana: K

ai Lung. Kai Lung was created by "Ernest Bramah" and in three collections during Bramah's lifetime and two more afterwards, beginning with The Wallet of Kai Lung (1900). Ernest Bramah Smith (1869-1942) wrote a number of Kai Lung stories and a number of stories about Max Carrados, the first blind detective. Smith was a reclusive man who shunned publicity, which is a shame, because based on the Kai Lung stories he could and should have enriched himself considerably. The Kai Lung stories, if you've never read them, are delightful arch fun, the equal in their way of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories. (And those of you who know me, a Registered Wodehouse Proseltyzer and Convertertm, know what high praise that is coming from me).

The Kai Lung stories are set in an ahistorical China That Never Was, at some point during the Qing dynasty, when matchlocks are present but most of Chinese society is rural and dominated by cruel and venal Mandarins. Kai Lung is a wandering storyteller who seems to get into trouble just by existing and who uses his extreme cleverness and his stock of stories to get out of trouble. Kai Lung claims to have a story for every occasion, and when pressed demonstrates that his boast is true. His stories are part myth, part philosophy, part comedy, and all entertainment.

The Kai Lung stories are charming and great fun. Bramah took a pseudo-Chinese idiom and made it uniquely his own:

The sun had dipped behind the western mountains before Kai Lung, with twenty li or more still between him and the city of Knei Yang, entered the camphor-laurel forest which stretched almost to his destination. No person of consequence ever made the journey unattended; but Kai Lung professed to have no fear, remarking with extempore wisdom, when warned at the previous village, that a worthless garment covered one with better protection than that afforded by an army of bowmen. Nevertheless, when within the gloomy aisles, Kai Lung more than once wished himself back at the village, or safely behind the mud walls of Knei Yang; and, making many vows concerning the amount of prayer-paper which he would assuredly burn when he was actually through the gates, he stepped out more quickly, until suddenly, at a turn in the glade, he stopped altogether, while the watchful expression into which he had unguardedly dropped at once changed into a mask of impassiveness and extreme unconcern. From behind the next tree projected a long straight rod, not unlike a slender bamboo at a distance, but, to Kai Lung's all-seeing eye, in reality the barrel of a matchlock, which would come into line with his breast if he took another step. Being a prudent man, more accustomed to guile and subservience to destiny than to force, he therefore waited, spreading out his hands in proof of his peaceful acquiescence, and smiling cheerfully until it should please the owner of the weapon to step forth. This the unseen did a moment later, still keeping his gun in an easy and convenient attitude, revealing a stout body and a scarred face, which in conjunction made it plain to Kai Lung that he was in the power of Lin Yi, a noted brigand of whom he had heard much in the villages.

"O illustrious person," said Kai Lung very earnestly, "this is evidently an unfortunate mistake. Doubtless you were expecting some exalted Mandarin to come and render you homage, and were preparing to overwhelm him with gratified confusion by escorting him yourself to your well-appointed abode. Indeed, I passed such a one on the road, very richly apparelled, who inquired of me the way to the mansion of the dignified and upright Lin Yi. By this time he is perhaps two or three li towards the east."

"However distinguished a Mandarin may be, it is fitting that I should first attend to one whose manners and accomplishments betray him to be of the Royal House," replied Lin Yi, with extreme affability. "Precede me, therefore, to my mean and uninviting hovel, while I gain more honour than I can reasonably bear by following closely in your elegant footsteps, and guarding your Imperial person with this inadequate but heavily-loaded weapon."

"The occupation is a dignified one, being to no great degree removed from that of the Sages who compiled The Books," remarked the maiden, with an encouraging smile. "Are there many stories known to your retentive mind?"

"In one form or another, all that exist are within my mental grasp," admitted Kai Lung modestly. "Thus equipped, there is no arising emergency for which I am unprepared."

"There are other things that I would learn of your craft. What kind of story is the most favourably received, and the one whereby your collecting bowl is the least ignored?"

"That depends on the nature and condition of those who stand around, and therein lies much that is essential to the art," replied Kai Lung, not without an element of pride. "Should the company be chiefly formed of the illiterate and the immature of both sexes, stories depicting the embarrassment of unnaturally round-bodied mandarins, the unpremeditated flight of eccentrically-garbed passers-by into vats of powdered rice, the despair of guardians of the street when assailed by showers of eggs and overripe lo-quats, or any other variety of humiliating pain inflicted upon the innocent and unwary, never fail to win approval. The prosperous and substantial find contentment in hearing of the unassuming virtues and frugal lives of the poor and unsuccessful. Those of humble origin, especially tea-house maidens and the like, are only really at home among stories of the exalted and quick-moving, the profusion of their robes, the magnificence of their palaces, and the general high-minded depravity of their lives. Ordinary persons require stories dealing lavishly with all the emotions, so that they may thereby have a feeling of sufficiency when contributing to the collecting bowl."

These passages give you a good idea of Bramah's virtues (and his primary failings). There is the immediately effective evocation of a "Chinese" atmosphere. That Bramah never visited China, and that the China he conjures up is a romanticized and sentimentalized version of the real thing, is true but not particularly relevant, so effective is Bramah in casting his spell and creating the universe of Kai Lung. There is the ironic humor--Kai Lung's attempt to divert Lin Yi, Lin Yi's comment about "this inadequate but heavily-loaded weapon,” Kai Ling’s description of which stories satisfy which audiences. There is the witty, indirect, flowery, overly-polite dialogue; Bramah's characters never say directly what can be said in a roundabout manner. (This tendency becomes more pronounced in the later stories). There is the density of the text, which can be off-putting; Bramah's sentences can sometimes run on at length, and his sentence construction, intended to convey the Kai Lung-esque dialogue and description, can occasionally be awkward and difficult to follow. But the effort is certainly worth it, for Bramah's stories are wonderfully entertaining. The passages I quoted above doesn't include the uniquely Kai Lung-esque aphorisms: "Beware, O contumacious Lung, 'However high the tree the shortest axe can reach its trunk.'" "He who can grasp Opportunity as she slips by does not need a lucky dream." "He who flies on an eagle’s back must sooner or later drop off.”

Now, it might reasonably be asked whether this sort of thing might be offensive. It’s true that Bramah’s China is ahistorical. But Bramah has a keen grasp of human nature, and if his characters are usually two-dimensional they are at least characters rather than stereotypes. Bramah had a great affection for China and the Chinese, and so the Kai Lung stories lack any overt racism. I defy anyone to find any covert racism in the stories, either. As for very distinctive mode of speech, when Bramah was a young man, in the years before the Revolution, he met several well-bred Chinese of the upper classes. Their manner of speech, which was ritualized and excessively polite, avoided any ego display (“I” was never used, always “this person”), paid the listener elaborate compliments, insincerely insulted the speaker, and involved as much circumlocution as possible. So the Kai Lung mode of speech was not Bramah’s creation, but had some roots in how some Chinese actually spoke.

One of the things the reader comes away from the Kai Lung stories is the sense that Bramah was simply having fun writing them. Even when the plots are somewhat serious, as when Kai Lung faces death or when Kai’s wife is kidnaped and Kai must save her, Bramah indulges in wordplay and fanciful stories with such joyous aplomb that the sense of fun is communicated to the reader. The Kai Lung stories are always amusing, and at least once per story there’s a laugh-out-loud moment. This, accompanying clever word-play, memorable aphorisms, and good, solid storytelling.

Kai Lung himself is an older man, saddened from a bad youthful experience involving a false accusation of plagiarism and poor due to his wandering lifestyle–he relies on donations from his listeners for his living money. He describes himself this way:

Indeed, the person who is now before you is none other than the outcast Kai Lung, the story-teller, one of degraded habits and no very distinguished or reputable ancestors. His friends are few, and mostly of the criminal class; his wealth is nor more than some six or eight cash, concealed in his left sandal; and his entire stock-in-trade consists of a few unendurable and badly told stories....
But Kai Lung is being falsely modest here. (As well as safe; he says this in response to the prodding of Lin Yi). At other times he is tart in putting down those who challenge the originality or creativity of his stories, and he is quite clever in doing so. Kai Lung is wise in his assessment of people, adroit in his handling of them, and inspired in his storytelling. He is at his best when his life is challenged. In Kai Lung’s Golden Hours (1922) and Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat (1928), Kai’s happiness is challenged by the malign Ming Shu, the scribe for the Mandarin Shan Tien. In the former Kai is unjustly imprisoned and put on trial and forced to pull a Scheherazade act to save his neck. In the latter Ming attempts to avenge himself on Kai by kidnapping Kai’s wife, the lovely and wise Hwa-Mei. In both stories Kai rises to the challenge, telling his best and most clever stories and skillfully outwitting his enemies.

The Kai Lung stories are undeservedly forgotten by all but connoisseurs. There are e-texts of two of the three Kai Lung collections:  The Wallet of Kai Lung and Kai Lung’s Golden Hours. You owe it to yourself to go read them.

anana. Kanana was created by Harry W. French and appeared in The Lance of Kanana (1892). French (1854-?) wrote widely, on a number of subjects, from children's novels like The Lance of Kanana to art to novels meant for adult readers. The Lance of Kanana is a novel for children and young adults, but don't let that stop you from reading it and enjoying it. Remember that a number of classics, including the Oz novels, were originally meant for children but are still enjoyed today by adults. There's no reason why The Lance of Kanana couldn't be enjoyed today by an adult. (Or a child or teenager, for that matter. Catch the kid at the right time, thrust Kanana into their hands, and you'll have a convert for life, I'm sure).

Kanana is a teenager, thirteen years old, of the Bedouin tribe of the Beni Sad in the years after the Faithful of Islam have swept across the desert and before Byzantium fell. (Actually, for the ignorant among the American reading audience, it's possible that The Lance of Kanana, whose hero is an Arab Muslim, would be unenjoyable. Those of you who are unable to enjoy such a book should return to watching FoxNews [their slogan: We tell the patriotic lies. You swallow them] and cheering for American bombs to blow up Iraqi bazaars). He is the despair of his father, for he will not take up the sword and lance as any real man would. Kanana's reasoning, that "I am taught that Allah created these animals and cares for them, and that I cannot please him if I allow them to suffer; it must be surely that men are more precious to Allan than animals. Why should we kill one another, even if we are Arabs and Ishamelites?" mystifies Kanana's father, the "Terror of the Desert" and Sheikh of the Beni Sad, who cannot understand why any son of his should believe in such liberal rubbish. The other Beni Sad are similarly scornful of Kanana who as a result is an outcast among them, despised and ignored, working as a shepherd rather than as a warrior. Until one day Kanana's brother is captured, along with the caravan he was escorting, and the Sheikh approaches Kanana to reproach him. Kanana, who knew nothing of his brother's fate, vows to go and bring his brother back. The Sheikh his father disbelieves him, but Kanana swears it.

And off Kanana goes, and through great cleverness and trickery Kanana's brother returns to the Sheikh, on the top of the white camel of the family. Kanana meanwhile goes from adventure to adventure, helping first Caliph Omar of Mecca and then the great general Kahled, acting as courier and scout, displaying bravery, loyalty and great ingenuity. Thanks to Kanana's efforts the invading army of the Byzantines is destroy and all of Arabia is saved. Kanana eventually sacrifices himself to see that general Kahled can win the final battle with the Byzantines, but not before being greatly honored by his father and the Beni Sad, by Caliph Omar, and by Kahled himself, and for decades afterward "the name of Kanana is still a magic battle-cry among the sons of Ishmael."

The Lance of Kanana is one of those children's books which an adult can read and reread with great pleasure. Kanana is not a mighty warrior, although he has the muscles of a shepherd. Rather, he achieves his great feats through an exceedingly sharp and clever mind, through careful observation and careful planning, and through an honest, straightforward personality. He's also kind, caring a great deal for the animals he shepherds and then rides, and after making a three-week ride in two weeks, nearly killing himself in the process, his first words are for the dromedary he rode, which also almost died. Kanana is a great role model for a child, in other words, which is yet another reason why The Lance of Kanana would be a good book for a child to read. For adults, the book is well written, very smoothly told. French goes into no great depth in his portrayal of Bedouin culture, but is a good enough writer to create an impression of familiarity, as if the reader, having finished Kanana, is now familiar with Bedu culture. The dialogue is straightforward but sharp, the action scenes suitably stirring without being bloodthirsty, and the characters quickly and expertly drawn.

The Lance of Kanana is a quick, entertaining read, and for the right child or teenager could be one of the favorites of their life.

eene, Anthony. Anthony Keene was created by Frank Barrett and appeared in A Recoiling Vengeance (1888) and Under a Strange Mask (1889). Frank Barrett (1848-?) is an author about whom I know little. Mr. Keene, on the other hand, is slightly more knowable. He is a family lawyer who solves crimes involving his clients or prevents his clients from being victimized, a sort of Perry Mason some decades beforehand. He describes himself as "a simple country lawyer," but is (as you might have guessed) substantially more than that. He's sixty-four, and is enjoyable cynical, being able to make sardonic comments about the difference between first- and second-rate hypocrites and manipulators: stamina. ("Your second-rate player opens the game well, but in the critical finish, exalted by success into an undue appreciation of his own ability, or his adversary's inability, he abandons careful tactics, and makes rash and reckless moves that inevitably lead to his own ruin.") He takes a rather dim view of the mass of humanity, as might be expected from someone in his position, but he nonetheless is an idealist, in his own rather jaded way, and is quite pleased when people do the right thing and help others before themselves. He works in the small town of Coneyford, but finds more than enough business there to keep him busy, what with human nature and all. ("Plums that have the appearance of ripeness before their season are rotten at the kernel invariably").

elly, Jocko. Jocko Kelly was created by "A Boston Globe Reporter" and appeared in the Hub Ten Cent Novels, the Yankee 5 Cent Library and the New York Dime Library in 1894. Who "A Boston Globe Reporter" was has never really been known, but it is quite likely that he was an actual reporter for the Boston Globe, because there was a real Jocko Kelly, and the Hub Ten Cent Novels followed the facts of the real Jocko Kelly's case rather closely, as a reporter for the Globe who covered the police beat would have been familiar with them. The real Jocko Kelly was a Boston Irish hoodlum active in the late 1880s and early 1890s who gained a certain amount of notoriety for escaping from the prison in Charlestown, a borough of Boston.

The fictional Jocko Kelly had a more interesting career than the real thing. The Jocko Kelly of the stories, whose gang consisted of Sly Pete Waldron, Limpy Joe Capron, and Silky Jack, robbed a jewelry store in Boston and escapes from the Boston police. They dispose of the swag in Providence, Rhode Island, and then go to New York City, where they trip the light fantastic. Limpy Joe has a disagreement with Jocko, gets poisoned accidentally, and confesses all to the Boston PD before dying. Kelly is arrested on an outbound train and sentenced to 25 years in Charlestown.

Jocko joins a league of prisoners in Charlestown (pronounced "Chahlstaown" by the natives) who are plotting a mass escape. Jocko slips over the prison wall and escapes, joining up with Sly Pete. They rob a safe, along with Fighting Bill Grant, and then leave Boston, trailed by Nat Spence, a top detective. Jocko visits his sister one last time, fooling the police who are waiting for him (this was supposedly based on a true incident), and then sails to England. The English police are waiting for him, but he eludes them and goes to Liverpool. He escapes from a police trap there and goes to London, but Nat Spence catches up with him there, and off Kelly goes to prison.

endall, Margaret. Margaret Kendall was created by A.T. Quiller-Couch and appeared in "A Pair of Hands” (The Cornish Magazine, December 1898). Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was the creator of John Christian and Elspeth’s Son, and I have information on him in the John Christian entry. “A Pair of Hands” is Q’s third story I’ve read for this site, and is the third one I feel is excellent. “A Pair of Hands” begins with elderly Emily Le Petyt telling her daughters and nieces about the how she not only has seen a ghost, but lived with one for a long while. When she was younger she rented a house on the coast of Cornwall. The house had formerly been rented by various bad people, from drinkers to child abusing colonials, and so the farmer who owns the house was suspicious, but he eventually trusted Emily enough to rent to her. There was one condition, however: the housekeeper, Mary Carkeek, had to stay at the house. Emily is dubious, but the house is charming and Mrs. Carkeek is a kindly middle-aged womanwho Emily takes to immediately, and so she rents it. She discovers fairly quickly that the housework is done amazingly quickly, and that everything is just as neat and tidy as she could wish for. In fact, when Emily wishes for fresh roses on the dining table, the roses are there the next day, even if Emily did not say anything to Carkeek about it. At first Emily thinks that Mrs. Carkeek does the housekeeping after Emily has gone to bed, but Emily notices too many oddities for her own comfort, and it is clear that Mrs. Carkeek is hiding something. Too, Emily feels loved in the house, very much so, and the feeling is over and above what the normal. One night Emily hears water running and goes to investigate. She turns the tap off and returns to bed, only to wake up hours later and hear the tap running again. She goes back to the kitchen and sees a pair of hands, two small girl’s hands and wrists, washing themselves clean under the tap. The hands end after the wrist. Emily drops her candle and runs. The next morning she asks Mrs. Carkeek about it. Mrs. Carkeek tells her that Margaret was the daughter of Squire Kendall, the former owner of the house, and that she died over twenty years ago, aged seven, of diphtheria. It is Margaret who has been doing the housework, and it is Margaret who has taken to Emily so much and made her feel loved. Emily is a much better tenant than the previous ones, after all, and probably a better one than future tenants. Emily spends three years at the house, until finally the farmer who owns the house sells to it Colonel Kendall, the brother of the Squire who was Margaret’s father. So out Emily has to go, and so she does, sadly, but before she leaves she slips into the pantry and calls out Margaret’s name:

“There was no answer at all. I had scarcely dared to hope for one. Yet I tried again, and, shutting my eyes this time, stretched out both hands and whispered:
“And I will swear to my dying day that two little hands stole and rested–for a moment only–in mine.”
It’s interesting what a difference talent makes. In the hands of a lesser writer this story might be mawkish and overly sentimental, but Q is such a good writer and has such a deft hand at creating character and situation that the story ends up being sad and sweet, just like he intended. You might or might not get a little misty at the ending, but you will find it nice and fitting. Although Q repeats the housekeeping spirit motif he used in “The Laird’s Luck,” the tone of “A Pair of Hands” is different enough that it doesn’t feel like he’s repeating himself. I can’t really find that much more to say about “A Pair of Hands” except that it’s excellent and even affecting.

Margaret is rather sweet, isn’t she? She was a dainty little girl in life–that’s why she was washing her hands when Emily caught her, because all the housework makes her dirty–but in death she’s diligent and a hard worker and, well, nice.

ennedy, Launcelot. Launcelot Kennedy was created by S. R. Crockett and appeared in The Grey Man (1896). Crockett (1859-1914) was a Scottish minister who wrote a wide range of historical romances, most with a Scottish theme. He’s on this site for Sir Toady Lion (see the Child Adventurers section).

The Grey Man is cracking great fun, a wonderful mix of Robert Louis Stevenson and Stanley Weyman. The novel is set in Scotland in the 16th century, when James VI was king of the country but the country lairds quarreled as if they had no master. Launcelot Kennedy is one of the Kennedies of Kirrieoch, in the service of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, who is himself in the service of the Earl of Cassilli. Their enemies are the Kennedies of Bargany, and it is the feud between Cassilli and Bargany which occupies much of the book. Part of the problem is the theft of a chest of treasure which rightfully belongs to the Earl of Cassilli but which the Barganies have stolen. Part of the problem is a few murders of Cassilli men committed by the Barganies, especially by the vile Thomas Kennedy, the “Wolf of Drummurchie.” Part of the problem is the schemes of the Grey Man of the book’s title, who is eventually revealed to be a laird rival to Cassilli and Bargany and who plots to make both them and all the other lairds dance to his tune. And part of the problem is that the Kennedies, both Cassilli and Bargany, love fighting, love the feud, and love being led by true men–not the Earl of Cassilli, who is a good man-at-arms but something of a knave otherwise, but by Sir Thomas Kennedy and by Gilbert Kennedy, the Lord of Bargany.

So Lance grows up in this atmosphere of feudal war. His first exposure to it is as a child, when he watches a Bargany tower sacked by the Earl of Cassilli, sees the Barganies swear vengeance, and then watches his father rescue a Bible from being burned, which earns him (and Lance) the respect of Gilbert Kennedy and the hatred of the Grey Man, so-called because of his long grey cloak and grey slouch hat. Later, as an 18-year-old, Lance goes on a mission with the Earl and his allies to recover the stolen treasure chest; the mission fails due to the wiles of the Grey Man, but Lance distinguishes himself at arms. Lance fights in a losing battle–in the streets of Edinburgh, no less!–against the Barganies, with the Grey Man being instrumental in the defeat of the Earl’s forces. Lance prevents the assassination of Sir Thomas but later witnesses the death in battle of Gilbert Kennedy, a man Lance had come to respect and even love, enemy though he was. Lance fails to stop a second assassination attempt on Sir Thomas, and enters directly into the Earl’s service. Lance goes in search of Sir Thomas’ killers, which eventually leads him to the cave of Sawney Bean, and then out, but only through the most timely pibroch yet played on a pair of bagpipes. And eventually justice is done and the Grey Man beheaded for his crimes, though not before wounds are taken, the uncanny seen, and innocents killed.

Meanwhile Lance is also learning about love. He’s young and foolish and so falls in love with Marjorie, Sir Thomas’ daughter, and it is only after a long while, and with some heartbreak, that he discovers that she is in love with Gilbert of the Barganies. But she insists they can’t be together, since her father intends to marry her off to James Mure, son of John Mure, a laird and enemy of Sir Thomas, as a way to ally the Mures with Sir Thomas. James is a brute animal, but Marjorie is a good daughter and a good Kennedy and knows her duty, and does it. This leaves Lance with Nell Kennedy, Marjorie’s daughter and a long-time tormentor of his. But the pair grow close over their adventures together, including a harrowing time in Sawney Bean’s cave, and the novel ends with their marriage and Lance a landed knight.

When I said that The Grey Man is a wonderful mix of Robert Louis Stevenson and Stanley Weyman, I meant just that. Those of you who’ve read this site thoroughly will know how highly I esteem Weyman’s historical romances, which I (along with Jessica Amanda Salmonson, who is far better schooled in historical romances than I) consider to be the epitome of the form. And you’ll also know how well I think of Stevenson, whose Kidnapped (see the David Balfour for more on that marvel) was thrilling. Crockett has some of the virtues of both.

Like Stevenson, Crockett was a Scottish patriot, after a fashion; he was, with J.M. Barrie, one of the “Kailyard School” of Scottish writers who wrote sentimental, nostalgic, and unrealistic stories about rural Scotland and the Scottish. So, just as Stevenson did in Kidnapped, Crockett writes a celebration of the Scottish people and culture and landscape. Crockett’s approach is more sentimental and less realistic than Stevenson’s; The Grey Man is very much a romance (in the old sense) and an adventure novel, and so there’s much more of a sense that Launcelot Kennedy is enjoying his life than there ever was for David Balfour in Kidnapped. But Crockett makes as much use of the Scottish dialect as Stevenson did, and as with Stevenson the Gaelic words in The Grey Man are individually insensible to modern readers, but in context they are understandable. (How you’ll feel about Crockett’s use of Gaelic is another matter. The brogue that I so hated in “Thrawn Janet” rather charmed me here, although I think that’s because Crockett did a better job of contextualizing the Gaelic here than Stevenson did in his story. But Crockett also makes the Gaelic colorful and fun, at times, so that a character who is not listening to reason is said to have “his daft coat on him that day.”) Generally the novel has a thick Scots atmosphere, from its vocabulary to the phrasing of the narration to the history and culture and superstitions of the characters, and even if the historical backdrop isn’t very well contextualized we still understand what’s going on and why.

What Crockett took from Weyman is the approach to the subject matter. Weyman, as I said elsewhere (echoing Jessica Amanda Salmonson), took what was best from Sir Walter Scott and Dumas père and omitted what wasn’t needed. Crockett does that as well, including a great deal of thrilling and even romantic (in the old sense) incident while leaving out the ponderous narrative and awkward, speechifying rhetoric. The storytelling style is old-fashioned, as is the narration, but it’s not ponderous, and in context even the use of the word “Lo!” doesn’t jar. The content is wonderful, with swordfights, vendettas, a quest, and battles, and the characterization is efficient enough to make us care, just a little, about what happens to the characters.

There are also a few interesting individual aspects to the novel. Crockett was a minister, and some of his fiction was nakedly didactic and pro-Christianity, but Lance’s statements about Christianity and the Bible often seem more humorous and sardonic, along the lines of “I should have spent my Sunday afternoon learning my prayers than training to fight with my sword,” than anything else. Had I not known Crockett was a minister, I’d never have guessed he was, based on The Grey Man. The humor in the novel isn’t obtrusive, but it does appear somewhat sneakily, especially in Lance’s statements about himself, especially when he is boasting about his experience with and knowledge of women; Crockett essentially invites us to laugh at Lance, though in a very gentle way. It is also striking how close The Grey Man is in many ways to modern fantasy fiction--or, rather, how much modern fantasy fiction, with its quest narrative and emphasis on combat, took from the historical romances of the late 19th and early 20th century.

And, finally, Crockett makes use of the legend of the dreadful cannibal Sawny Bean. A Google search for “sawney beane” will turn up lots of results and give you lots of information on Sawney Bean. It’s a centuries-old story which has often been used as fodder for stories and in novels. Except it’s a myth. It never happened. It was a lie made up by one “Captain Johnson,” may have been none other than Daniel DeFoe, and didn’t exist before around 1700. It was a lie used by the English to defame the Scots. So while it makes for good grue in books like The Grey Man, it didn’t happen.

Lance Kennedy is a headstrong young squire who uses his brain as well as his brawn to gain recognition and the esteem of his peers and superiors. He’s physically strong and quick and is a good fighter, but he’s still only 18 and so is prone to pettish sulks and an undue need to display himself in front of women and prove himself to other fighting men. He’s disobedient except with regard to his soldierly duties and something of a ho when it comes to women. He can be daring and bold in the conception of war plans and is fearless in battle. But he’s not as taken with the culture of vendetta as many of his friends and family are, and he quite easily sees the virtues of other men, even his enemies.

The Grey Man is something of a rarity now; I had the devil’s own time at finding a copy. I hope some wise publisher out there will reprint it, since it’s great fun.

ettle, Captain Owen. The memorable Captain Kettle was the creation of C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne (1866-1944). Hyne wrote widely, producing still-remembered books of fantasy (The Lost Continent in 1900), science fiction (Empire of the World in 1910) and secret service/adventure stories in his "Major Colt" series. Hyne, a Brit, was one of the most prolific writers of early magazine science fiction, and although he is today forgotten, he does not deserve such a fate.

Captain Kettle's adventures first appeared in Pearson's Magazine in 1897, later appearing in novel form (Adventures of Captain Kettle, 1897) and then in several films in the teens and 1920s. Kettle is quite memorable, his stories being written with a certain sardonic wit and the character himself being a notable anti-hero. Kettle is an English ship's captain without a ship; he hires himself out to anyone who'll pay him (he has a wife and children who he loves, and he has to support them). The payment is the thing, for Kettle; the morality of the job itself does not bother him. He's quite willing to run a blockade shipping arms to, for example, rebels in Cuba--just so long as he gets paid.

A cover image of a first edition of Captain Kettle.Hyne has a good touch at description and seems to be quite knowledgeable about life at sea; as far as Victorian sea fiction goes, the Kettle stories are well-written examples of the form. What really sets the Kettle stories apart, however, is the character of Kettle himself. He is a short, cigar-smoking, red-bearded, pugnacious, brutal character (who later in the series gains a peg-leg), but not entirely without a conscience; he says of himself, "I quite well know the kind of brute I am; trouble with a crew or any other set of living men at sea is just meat and drink to me, and I'm bitterly ashamed of the taste. Every time I sit underneath our minister in the chapel here in South Shields I grow more ashamed. And if you heard the beautiful poetical way that man talks of peace and green fields, and golden harps, you'd understand."

That's Kettle in a nutshell. He is a brute; he rules his crew through fear, and when faced with a mutiny he is quite willing to kill the mutineers:

That evening the crew came aft in a state of mild mutiny, and Kettle attended to their needs with gusto.

He prefaced his remarks by a slight exhibition of marksmanship. He cut away the vane which showed dimly on the fore-topmast truck with a single bullet, and then, after dextrously reloading his revolver, lounged over the white rail of the upper bridge with the weapon in his hand.

He told the malcontents he was glad of the opportunity to give them his views on matters generally. He informed them genially that for their personal wishes he cared not one decimal of a jot. He stated plainly that he had got them on board, and intended by their help to carry out his owner's instructions whether they hated them or not. And finally he gave them his candid assurance that if any cur amongst them presumed to disobey the least of his orders, he would shoot that man neatly through the head without further preamble.

Later, when the crew attacks him as he is sleeping, "he woke before their fingers touched him, broke the jaw of one with a camp-stool, and so maltreated the others with the same weapon, that they were glad enough to run away even with the exasperating knowledge that they left their taskmaster undamaged behind them." When confronted with a blockade ship that he's trying to pass, he contemplates boarding it and taking it by "sheer hand to hand fighting;" when appointed king by the Cubans he's willing to shoot rebels.

And yet he's not unlikable; he has his own sort of charisma, is not wholly without conscience, and he is given to writing poetry in tight spots. His stories really deserve to be rediscovered and read all over again, for they are quite entertaining. At least the folks at Gaslight have put some of them on the Web in e-text form (see below); perhaps more will be forthcoming?

Adventures of Captain Kettle
Three e-texts.

iang Ho of the Golden Belt. Kiang Ho was created by "Philip Reade" and appeared (just the once, alas) in "Tom Edison Jr.'s Electric Sea Spider; or, The wizard of the submarine world," in The Nugget Library #134, 11 February 1892). In that issue he faces off against Tom Edison, Jr. While I wouldn't normally give the opponents of dime novel heroes their own entries on my site, Kiang Ho is memorable enough that I think he deserves one. He's also the first real Fu Manchu-like Yellow Peril villain, so he merits an entry on that score alone.

Kiang Ho is the "US-educated Chinese mastermind of sea crime." (The text of the Tom Edison, Jr. stories are much kinder to Junior, who is a vile Yankee running dog imperialist. All things considered, that's not that much of an exaggeration of Tom Edison, Jr.'s nature; while Kiang Ho is an old-fashioned criminal mastermind and pirate, Tom Edison Jr. is the worst sort of self-righteous American imperialist and expansionist, racist to the core and completely convinced of his own moral superiority. I go into a little detail about this in Tom Edison, Jr.'s entry but much more so in the Frank Reade entry, Reade being the archetypal Edisonade). When Tom encounters Kiang Ho, Kiang (a Mongolian, although the text repeatedly refers to him as "Chinese") rules a port town in China and has assembled a fleet of ships with which he dominates the Yellow Sea. Besides his armed junks and the Ylang Ylang (a "steel clad ram"), Kiang Ho has a submarine. This submarine, the Sea Serpent, is technologically advanced; although it eventually falls to defeat to Edison Jr.'s Sea Spider, it had some strong early innings. Kiang's submarine is yellow and moves through the water with a sinuous, snake-like motion. (This is contrasted with the Sea Spider's waterbug-like movements). It has fin-like wings which help it to steer through the water, and can achieve great speed. It naturally has electric lights and can fire deadly "steel balls" (though not, of course, torpedoes, which are the province of Edison Jr)., and can whirl around in a circle at high speed. (This maneuver, embodying what Edison Jr. calls the "spiral principle," astonishes Edison Jr., who cries out that Kiang Ho has "outstripped us all." If even the racist, ego-puffed schmuck Edison Jr. is admiring of Kiang Ho, you know he has to be capable).

It turns out that Kiang Ho is not just a pirate and brilliant inventor; he was also educated and trained at Harvard. That doesn't slow down Tom Ed Jr., however. He raids Kiang Ho's home islands, frees various Yankee prisoners, and smashes most of Kiang Ho's fleet. The Sea Serpent and the Sea Spider then go at it, and there's the requisite amount of exchanges of fire, storming of submarines in powered suits, and hand to hand combat, with Tom Ed's "electric rifle" being matched by Kiang Ho's "electric water gun." Tom Ed is locked in battle with Kiang Ho, who is at least seven feet tall and is using his superior strength to overwhelm Tom Ed, when Tom Ed's female cousin Georgie, a a stowaway on the Sea Spider, shoots Kiang Ho in the back, killing him. Kiang Ho deserved better than this, and it's my hope that some day he'll be brought back. Not likely, I know, but I hope.

iêu. Kiêu was created by Nguyên Du and appeared in Kim Vân Kiêu (c. 1800). Nguyên Du (1765-1820) is considered, still, the national poet of Vietnam, his work widely read even today. As a teenager Nguyên fought against the Tay Son rebels whose revolt was destroying the country, but he soon saw the futility of it and moved to the mountains and became a poet. From there he became a Mandarin, and a successful one, an able and honest administrator who was more at home with the poor than the gentry.

And he wrote Kim Vân Kiêu, which was so influential that after its appearance no Vietnamese writer could ignore it for over a century. Kim Vân Kiêu is a Vietnamese "scholar-beauty story" in the form of a 3,254 line poem. The scholar-beauty story was initially a collection of several dozen works of prose fiction which became popular reading in China in the 17th century and which were read in translation in many countries in southeast Asia. The typical scholar-beauty story involves the pair meeting, falling in love, overcoming obstacles, passing official examinations, marrying, and living happily ever after. (Boy meets girl, boy meets exam, boy passes exam, boy wins girl--it's the oldest story). Nguyên Du took as his model Chin Yun Ch'iao chuan (The story of Chin, Yun, and Chi'ao, late 17th century), a Chinese story which brought together the "knight errant" (see the Chinese heroes section) and the scholar-beauty stories. (Chin Yun Ch'iao chuan was a most atypical story for its time and place).

Kiêu is not, as you might have assumed, the scholar of Kim Vân Kiêu, but rather the beauty. (I've seen her name written as "Ts'ui-ch'iao," but that, I think, is the Chinese name of the heroine, from Chin Yun Ch'iao chuan; I believe "Kiêu" is the heroine's name in Vietnamese, so I'm going with "Kiêu" rather than "Ts'ui-ch'iao"). The scholar and ostensible hero of Kim Vân Kiêu is Chin Chung, a handsome young man who meets Kiêu and is quite taken with her, as she is with him. The two become engaged secretly, but then Chin Chung has to leave on a trip to see to some family business. When he returns, four months later, he discovers that Kiêu's father was unjustly accused of a crime by a local magistrate, and that to save her father Kiêu agreed to become the concubine of a local merchant. Kiêu  leaves Chin Chung a note urging him to forget about her and to marry her younger sister, Thuy Van. Chin Chung does but never forgets about Kiêu and spends the next sixteen years looking for her. He finally finds her, after Thuy Van has died and he has become a degree-holder and an official, and Kiêu agrees to become his second wife on one condition: that their marriage never be consummated. (When they meet for a second time she throws herself in his arms, but except for that one night the two never make love).

The reason Kiêu won't sleep with Chin Chung him is the reason that she, and not he, is the hero of this entry. Kiêu, you see, is a model of filial devotion and love. She becomes the mistress of the merchant to save her father. Then, when the merchant is tired of her, she becomes a prostitute, a concubine (again), a maid, a Buddhist nun, a prostitute (again), the wife of a rebel chieftain, a prisoner of war, a Buddhist nun (again), and finally Chin Chung's wife. She won't sleep with Chin Chung because of all she has been through and everything she has done; she has too much respect for Chin Chung to allow him to sully himself with her. Kiêu is a good musician and poet, is beautiful and sensitive, and deeply loves her father and Chin Chung (which is why she wanted him to marry her sister--so he could be happy). Kiêu is beautiful, good, and doomed, and by poem's end that doom is lying heavily upon her, even with her marriage to the man she loves. The Vietnamese have it as hông nhan bac mênh: Beautiful women will suffer a perilous fate. Kiêu, by story's end, knows this all too well.

im. Kim was created by Rudyard Kipling and appeared in Kim (1901). Kipling (1865-1936) is, I'd almost wager to say, better known than read, but then most people have, at some point in their lives, read The Jungle Book or Kim or his poem "If" or Captains Courageous or Stalky Co. or Just So Stories or Puck of Pook's Hill or--but you take my point. You might not think you've read any Kipling, but you likely have. Everyone knows who he is, of course, or thinks they do--poet laureate of British Imperialism and Empire, writer of innocent children's stories, proponent of racism and bigotry, banner-man for virtues we've regrettably forgotten, etc etc etc.

And yet so many of the critics who write about him seem to view him through ideological filters. Coming to him as an adult, with an open mind, is something of a revelation. I won't cover his whole career here, but I will say that George Orwell gets it right (as he usually does) in his essay "Rudyard Kipling:"

Kipling is in the peculiar position of having been a byword for fifty years. During five literary generations every enlightened person has despised him, and at the end of that time nine-tenths of those enlightened persons are forgotten and Kipling is in some sense still there.

...the first clue to any understanding of Kipling, morally or politically, is the fact that he was not a Fascist...Kipling’s outlook is prefascist. He still believes that pride comes before a fall and that the gods punish hubris.

...because he identifies himself with the official class, he does possess one thing which ‘enlightened’ people seldom or never possess, and that is a sense of responsibility. The middle-class Left hate him for this quite as much as for his cruelty and vulgarity. All left-wing parties in the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something which they do not really wish to destroy. They have internationalist aims, and at the same time they struggle to keep up a standard of life with which those aims are incompatible. We all live by robbing Asiatic coolies, and those of us who are ‘enlightened’ all maintain that those coolies ought to be set free; but our standard of living, and hence our ‘enlightenment’, demands that the robbery shall continue. A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, ‘making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep’. It is true that Kipling does not understand the economic aspect of the relationship between the highbrow and the blimp. He does not see that the map is painted red chiefly in order that the coolie may be exploited. Instead of the coolie he sees the Indian Civil Servant; but even on that plane his grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them. the stupid early years of this century, the blimps, having at last discovered someone who could be called a poet and who was on their side, set Kipling on a pedestal, and some of his more sententious poems, such as ‘If’, were given almost biblical status. But it is doubtful whether the blimps have ever read him with attention, any more than they have read the Bible. Much of what he says they could not possibly approve. Few people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her than this gutter patriot. As a rule it is the British working class that he is attacking, but not always. That phrase about ‘the flannelled fools at the wicket and the muddied oafs at the goal’ sticks like an arrow to this day, and it is aimed at the Eton and Harrow match as well as the Cup-Tie Final. Some of the verses he wrote about the Boer War have a curiously modern ring, so far as their subject-matter goes. ‘Stellenbosch’, which must have been written about 1902, sums up what every intelligent infantry officer was saying in 1918, or is saying now, for that matter.

...yet it remains true that he has far more interest in the common soldier, far more anxiety that he shall get a fair deal, than most of the ‘liberals’ of his day or our own. He sees that the soldier is neglected, meanly underpaid and hypocritically despised by the people whose incomes he safeguards. ‘I came to realize’, he says in his posthumous memoirs, ‘the bare horrors of the private’s life, and the unnecessary torments he endured’. He is accused of glorifying war, and perhaps he does so, but not in the usual manner, by pretending that war is a sort of football match. Like most people capable of writing battle poetry, Kipling had never been in battle, but his vision of war is realistic. He knows that bullets hurt, that under fire everyone is terrified, that the ordinary soldier never knows what the war is about or what is happening except in his own corner of the battlefield, and that British troops, like other troops, frequently run away. reason for Kipling’s power as a good bad poet I have already suggested — his sense of responsibility, which made it possible for him to have a world-view, even though it happened to be a false one. Although he had no direct connexion with any political party, Kipling was a Conservative, a thing that does not exist nowadays. Those who now call themselves Conservatives are either Liberals, Fascists or the accomplices of Fascists. He identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition. In a gifted writer this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality. The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions. Where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly. Moreover, anyone who starts out with a pessimistic, reactionary view of life tends to be justified by events, for Utopia never arrives and ‘the gods of the copybook headings’, as Kipling himself put it, always return. Kipling sold out to the British governing class, not financially but emotionally. This warped his political judgement, for the British ruling class were not what he imagined, and it led him into abysses of folly and snobbery, but he gained a corresponding advantage from having at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like. It is a great thing in his favour that he is not witty, not ‘daring’, has no wish to épater les bourgeois. He dealt largely in platitudes, and since we live in a world of platitudes, much of what he said sticks. Even his worst follies seem less shallow and less irritating than the ‘enlightened’ utterances of the same period, such as Wilde’s epigrams or the collection of cracker-mottoes at the end of Man and Superman.

You should just read the whole essay, since it's not overly long and very well-written. This isn't to say that Orwell is entirely correct. His charge of sadism, for example, is not correct insofar as Kim is concerned. But Orwell gets a lot more right than he does wrong.

What does this have to do with Kim? Relatively little, I suppose, but it should give you an indication of how interestingly complex Kipling is. He's not at all an ignorant, unthinking mouthpiece for Empire, and his treatment of race and race relations is, if not nuanced, at least more thoughtful than his critics would have you believe.

Kim is about Kim O'Hara, the son of a British soldier who is orphaned while young and grows up on the streets of Lahore, cared for only by an Indian woman who lets him run wild and do as he wishes. One day he meets a Tibetan lama and helps him go to a local museum. The two strike up a friendship, and so Kim accompanies the lama on his quest for the river of enlightenment, begging for the lama and acting as his chela (disciple). Kim is, at the same time, carrying a message from an agent of the British Secret Service to a British Colonel; this message, when delivered, helps avert a local rebellion. Kim finds the British regiment his father belonged to and is sent to a British school, where he is educated. Meanwhile Kim is recruited by the British Secret Service, and after three years leaves school and goes on missions for the Secret Service. Eventually Kim rejoins his beloved lama and makes a trek through the Himalayas to help foil a Russian spy mission. They succeed, but the lama is injured, and in a harrowing trek Kim carries the lama back to safety and civilization. Kim and the lama heal, and the lama finds enlightenment.

I loved this book. Kim is charming and excellently-written, the work of a craftsman with heart and skill. My views may be influenced by the surfeit of Victor Hugo and James Fennimore Cooper and such-like I've had to endure recently, but I think I'd feel the same about Kim and Kipling if I'd come to the book cold. I confess that I'd never read Kim before, which I count as a major loss. How I'd have loved this book as a child or teenager! As it was, well, I can already see that I'll be rereading this book regularly, perhaps every year.

What's so good about it? In no particular order:

Finally, there's Kim himself. He begins as a cocky, knowledgeable urchin who helps the lama out of curiosity, but as the novel progresses he grows and becomes a young man. All through it, though, he remains the same in many ways. He loves the game of deceit and secrets, but he is not cruel and helps others when he can. He loves the lama and does all he can to help him, even at some cost to himself. He's impish and clever, but good-natured. He's boastful, but clever enough to back up his boasts. And he's oh-so-wise about human nature.

Kim is excellent. If you haven't read it, you should do so immediately.

imberlin, Arthur. Arthur Kimberlin was created by W.C. Morrow and appeared in “Over an Absinthe Bottle” (originally “The Pale Dice-Thrower,” The Argonaut, 2 January 1893). Morrow (1852-1923) was an associate of Ambrose Bierce and a San Franciscan writer who became known as one of the founding fathers of American Decadence. “Over an Absinthe Bottle” is an ironic, Biercean tale. Arthur Kimberlin is starving in San Francisco. It’s night, it’s raining, and Kimberlin has been without food for seventy hours. He is too proud to beg and too ignorant to steal, and he can only huddle in the rain outside the kitchens of the restaurants on Market Street, taking in the smells of food which he can’t afford to order. But as he stumbles past a saloon he sees a stranger standing in a doorway. The stranger, whose pallor is extraordinary and whose appearance is one of unspeakable anguish, hails Kimberlin, and offers to buy him a drink. Kimberlin goes inside the saloon with him, and when they’re together in a private booth the stranger gives Kimberlin a $20 and sends him to the bar to buy a bottle of absinthe. Kimberlin is very tempted to run and buy food with the money, “but the coward in him (there are other names for this) tripped his resolution,” and he simply buys the bottle and returns to the booth. The pale man stares into space and only notices Kimberlin when he seats himself within the pale man’s field of vision. He then proposes to Kimberlin than they begin dicing for the change from the $20. Kimberlin, who finds that the absinthe warms his stomach wonderfully and improves his acuity, agrees, and they begin gaming. The dice fall Kimberlin’s way, and he wins and wins and wins. The stranger merely pulls ever more money from his pockets. The absinthe conceals the stomach pains for a time, but they eventually return, stronger and harsher, but Kimberlin is too caught up in the game to order any food. The stranger acts peculiarly, grimacing and sinking into a kind of apathy, and sometimes, when Kimberlin has made a particularly lucky throw, staring at Kimberlin “with a steadiness that made the young man quail.” At last the pale stranger tells Kimberlin, “You have won seventy-four thousand dollars, which is exactly the amount I have remaining. We have been playing for several hours. I am tired and I suppose you are. Let us finish the game. Each will now stake his all and throw a final game for it.”

Kimberlin wins. But the stranger merely looks at him with his unearthly stare, and Kimberlin is too frightened to move. Kimberlin hears, from the adjoining booth, two men discussing a recent daring bank robbery committed by an infamous thief who has been living, for the past eight years, by his skill at the dice. The two men are searching for this thief. Kimberlin and the pale stranger just look at each other, and the quiet draws out; “his imperturbability was amazing, his absolute stillness terrifying.” Kimberlin drinks another glass of absinthe and touches the stranger’s hand, only to draw back in fear; the man’s hand is as cold as stone. The pair stare at each other, but suddenly Kimberlin sees a flash of light and bounds to his feet. He takes the money and walks into the city, delightedly fantasizing about the vast meals he would consume. “The streets widened, the stars became suns, and dimmed the electric lights, and the most intoxicating odors and the sweetest music filled the air. Shouting, laughing, and singing, Kimberlin joined in a great chorus that swept over the city, and then–“

The two detectives who Kimberlin had overheard burst into the booth and find Kimberlin and the stranger seated across from each other over the dice table, their money between them, and both men quite dead.

The natural comparison of Morrow’s work is to Bierce, and “Over an Absinthe Bottle” certainly has the Biercean sardonic tone and the twist ending. But Morrow, as a fin de sieclist, wrote “Bottle” in a very sensual and impressionistic style, so that the reader is vividly made aware of Kimberlin’s physical feelings, his fright at the pale stranger’s quite unnatural gaze and his excruciating hunger pains. Even if the ending is slightly predictable, the story itself is so intelligently and entertainingly written that no one will mind. It’s unfair to compare “Over an Absinthe Bottle” to Bierce’s work, although it is inevitable; “Bottle” stands quite well on its own, and will make the discerning reader wish for a cheap reprint of The Ape, the Idiot, and Other People (1897), a collection of Morrow’s work.

Poor Kimberlin. Starving and desperate, a gentleman in desperate straits. He ended up in a better place, obviously, and it should be some consolation to him that he took a professional thief and gambler for almost $150K, and did it honestly.

ing in the Golden Mask. The King in the Golden Mask was created by Marcel Schwob and appeared in “Le Roi au Masque d’or” (“The King in the Golden Mask,” Le Roi Au Masque D’Or, 1892). Schwob (1857-1905), a minor French writer, was the creator of Septima and Sufrah, and I have more information on him there.

In a nameless city a nameless king is presiding over his court when a mendicant comes to the door of his palace. The king, like his subjects, wears a mask; his mask is golden, majestic, and noble, and the masks of his court reflect their position: the masks of the jesters are laughing, the masks of the priests scowl, and the masks of the king’s women are smiling and gracious. For time out of mind the faces of the rulers of the city have been covered by masks. The king allows the mendicant to enter his throne room despite the high priest advising against ti. The mendicant, who is blind, tells the king that the faces behind the masks of his court are the opposites of what they should be: the priests are laughing, the jesters crying, and the women grimacing. And further that the king does not know the common people, and that he does not even know his own face. The king has the mendicant removed from the court, but the king is troubled by the mendicant’s words, for there are no mirrors in the palace, and he is suddenly insecure about his own beauty. So the king slips out of the palace and goes to the woods which surround the city. He sees a beautiful young girl and is gripped with the urge to kiss her skin, to adore an unclothed face. The king takes off his mask, but the girl screams and flees. The king looks at his own face in the river and sees that he is a leper.

The king returns to his palace, convinced that the guards can see that he is a leper, and walks through a hall in which hang the portraits of his ancestors. The king looks for the ancestor which cursed his line with leprosy, tearing down the cloths which hang before the faces of the paintings, but he does not find an answer. He looks at his jesters and priests and women, who are wearing their masks even in their sleep, and he strikes a gong next to his bed, summoning his guards and the priests and jesters and women. He orders them to take off their masks, and he sees that the mendicant was right: the priests’ faces are coarse and humorous from laughing at him, the jesters’ faces are grave and wan with sorrow, and the faces of the king’s women are filled with boredom and stupidity. The king decries his state of anguish and takes off his own mask, displaying his leprosy, and he swears he will no longer see the appearances of the world, and drives the clasps of the mask into his eyes, bursting them. He then stumbles out of the palace and the city and wanders through the forest. He meets a young girl there. She is a leper, but he can’t see that and she doesn’t tell him, and they wander together, her being kind to him and he thinking that she is horrified by his leprosy. But before they reach the City of the Wretched, where the outcasts of the king’s city have gone to live, the king dies. The girl weeps, for the king died thinking he was a leper, while she could see that his face was clear of the disease. The mendicant appears and tells her that his heart’s blood cured his sickness, and that, though he died wretched, “but now he has laid aside all masks, whether of gold, leprosy, or the flesh.”

“The King in the Golden Mask” is closer to “Septima, Enchantress” than to “Sufrah, Geomancer.” “King” has the same ironic, Decadent tone and lush description as “Septima,” and is the kind of dark fantasy which today would be called Clark Ashton Smith-esque. Literate and entertaining, “King” is another example of why Schwob was influential on the authors he was.

The King isn’t exactly a tragic hero, since it’s hard to call his pre-fall state hubristic. He’s more ignorant than anything. His fall is Lear-like, actually, the play being a perhaps unconscious influence on Schwob when he wrote the story. The King is a sad character, whose disillusionment is harsh and whose redemption comes too late.

ing in Yellow. The King in Yellow was created by Robert Chambers and appeared in The King in Yellow (1895). Chambers (1865-1933), who created Yue-Laou, was a popular writer in his day, best known for shop-girl romances and historical novels, but he is remembered today for his fantasy and horror stories, most notably "The King in Yellow." I realize that I'm slinging that phrase around somewhat loosely, so allow me to explain. There was Chambers' book, The King in Yellow, which was a collection of short stories, one of which was the story "The King in Yellow." But this entry, for The King in Yellow, refers to the fictional construct, the play called The King in Yellow. (There was also the character The King in Yellow, about whom the play was written).

The King in Yellow is a play which drives those who read it insane. Its unknown author is universally execrated, except for those who have fallen under the work's spell. One such describes the play in this way:

I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth--a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow. When the French Government seized the translated copies which had just arrived in Paris, London, of course, became eager to read it. It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in those wicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked. The very banality and innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect.
Chambers wisely quotes from the play only sparingly. The two most distinctive quotes are these:
"Along the shore the cloud waves break
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
                                       In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
                                       Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
                                       Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thus, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
                                       Lost Carcosa."

CAMILLA: You, sir, should unmask.
CASSILDA: Indeed, it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
STRANGER: I wear no mask.
CAMILLA: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda). No mask? No mask!
That last passage is deliberately resonant with Poe's "Masque of the Red Death," but Chambers' work is no Poe lift. Chambers' stories are written in a brisk style which holds up well today. It's Chambers' style as much as anything which makes the horror of the stories so effective. Chambers was a big influence on Lovecraft, who wrote of The King in Yellow (Chambers' book) that it "really achieves notable heights of cosmic fear." Chambers' style compares well with Lovecraft's; both deliver a sense of mounting dread, but Chambers goes for understatement where Lovecraft overstated matters, and the former, in cases like this, is more effective than the latter.

The King in Yellow (the play) is linked in some nebulous and horrible fashion with The King in Yellow, an alien god whose "scalloped tatters...must hide Ythill forever." The King is in turn linked in some way with "Carcosa, where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the Lake of Hali." The King himself occasionally appears on Earth, animating dead bodies and claiming (or reclaiming) those who have eluded him. To read The King in Yellow (the play) is to be exposed to the King and to fall under his influence, going mad in the meantime.

The King in Yellow (the book) is really quite good, and should be read by anyone wishing to be knowledgeable about the history of horror fiction.

Robert W. Chambers and the King in Yellow
An impressively thorough examination of the author, the work, his inspirations and influences. An exemplary page. Part of the Classic Horror and Fantasy Page, whose loss (in that it is no longer being maintained) was a sad day indeed for the 'Net.

ing Lion. King Lion appeared in The Boy's Own Volume (Midsummer-Christmas, 1864). His creator is unknown.

As you've no doubt figured out, if you've gotten this far, this site covers a wide range of material. Some of it is regarded as Art and is in the canon, as with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some of it is low art and the very definition of ephemera, as with Spring-Heeled Jack. And some of it is just plain goofy, as with Phosphor and now with King Lion.

It's like this. Linton Maberly, a big game hunter, is stirred by "the love of travel and an indomitable spirit of adventure" and goes to Africa to hunt big game. He hears a lion's roar and goes looking for the lion. Maberly brings down a buck, only to be startled by the "princely form of a full-grown lion, who was regarding my movements with a calm curiosity that manifest plainly a consciousness of his own power." Maberly drops his rifle, the wuss, and "instictively" forms "that ever-potent sign known to all Freemasons, and which none may see without flying instantaneously to the relief of their suffering brother." The hunter realizes the foolishness of this, but he's in extremis so I suppose I shouldn't blame him too much. And then...well, let him tell it:

Ye brethren of the mystic tie, imagine my astonishment when the terrible beast paused, drew back for a few paces, and sank gently on the ground, while the flaming light died out of his eyes, and was replaced by a mild and gentle radiance. Rising, he slowly advanced, looked me steadfastly in the face, and made that dread COUNTERSIGN known only to those who have passed through the Three Degrees of the mystic order, and whose courageous hearts have carried them through the terrible ordeals before which so many craven natures have fainted, and under which so many feeble souls have quailed.
To this Maberly "involuntarily" bursts into "peals of laughter."
But I suppose the lion disapproved of this unceremonious treatment, for, shaking his head, he raised a paw admonishingly, while his eyes emitted gleams of topaz-coloured light. These indications of anger were enough to remind me of the uncomfortable position in which I was placed. I therefore determined to try the effect of a few more queries, which I asked in the mystic language of our craft. Having done so, all other feelings were swallowed up in utter amazement as I read in his answer that he was not only a brother, but that he had actually arrived at the dignity of a "Past Master!"
Fancy that!

The lion proceeds to feed Maberly, welcomes him into his cave, goes out hunting with him, and then begins teaching him the written language of his people, a kind of hieroglyphics. They continue to communicate and travel together, going to...again, I should let him tell it:

Of my journey to Liondens, the capital of the leonine kingdom, and what there befell me--how I became a naturalised subject of that most puissant of monarchs, King Lion MMMMMMMCXXXV, and was by him made Lord High Chancellor of Liondens, Royal Leonine Historian, and Archiver--also how I found favour in the eyes of the king and the whole nation, and was allowed to transcribe some of their most sacred and ancient records, showing the history and manners of this wonderful race for never so many thousand years ago--of these and many other things the coming pages will be the revelators.
King Lion is an actual monarch, and his kingdom is a real kingdom. His real name is "Zambinie," which means "Prince of Prowess." He has various allies, including leopards and vultures, and various enemies, most especiallly the baboons. (The root of the enmity is wounded pride. Linton Maberly is wounded, and Blondinus MMMMXXVI, the King of the Baboons, and Dr. Sanguineous, his physican, want to bleed Maberly, but Zambinie and his physician Dr. Leo Experience both say no, believing that bleeding is a barbaric practice. This leads to hurt feelings and eventually to war). King Lion's kingdom is full of animals practicing trades, including doctors and merchants. King Lion has a wife, Queen Leno. King Lion has a capital, Liondens, a city of eight granite pyramids, caverns and caves, well-tended lawns and plants. And King Lion has a court; when Maberly curls Zambinie's mane, having curled hair becomes a fad in Liondens.

Maberly learns the language of the lions fairly quickly, although other animals have their own patois and Maberly is sometimes forced to rely upon the lions or vultures to translate for him. He has a very good time in Liondens with Zambinie and the other lions, but eventually it becomes clear that he needs to marry. Maberly wants to live in Liondens, however, and this poses a problem for him. The woman he had in mind during the adventure breaks up with him because of the lions; she thinks he would have picked up "some of their ruthlessness of nature." Other women he proposes marriage refuse to settle with him in Liondens, and so the story ends with Maberly still looking for a wife.

Zambinie, King Lion MMMMMMMCXXXV, is a wise, far-seeing monarch, a patriot for his people. He has a business-like and a practical attitude, and while he is friendly toward Maberly he is nonetheless a king. He's also a devoted Mason. He tells a surprised Maberly that Masonism was instituted by King Lion I "long before men or even baboons came to live upon the earth."

Now, shouldn't some forward-thinking small press publisher reprint this little wonder?

ingston, Colonel Richard. Colonel Kingston was created by Robert Buchanan and appeared in Stormy Waters: a story of today (1885). Buchanan (1841-1901) was a prolific poet, novelist and dramatist; his Complete Poetical Works runs to two volumes and over 1000 pages and his non-poetical bibliography is similarly respectable.

Stormy Waters is one of a number of anarchist novels (see the Virginia Clare, Mr. Lampooner, Dr. Schultz, and Anarchists entries for more on these) of the 1880s and 1890s. Stormy Waters is in many ways typical of them. It's a love story between seaman Harry Hastings, just back from a tour of the Atlantic (including the Americas), and Mary Morton. They were in love before he left, and they're still in love when he returns, but complications have arisen in the meantime. Esther, Mary's sister, has been dishonored (by who is not immediately revealed) and is in a bad way. Worse, Colonel Kingston has his sites set on Mary. Then, after Harry has returned and Mary has rejected Kingston for Harry, Kingston manipulates Michael Morton, Mary's father and one of Kingston's dupes, into killing the Squire of Gorseley, Kingston's cousin. Kingston then arranges a frame to fall upon Harry. Harry flees to London, pursued by the police. This removes Kingston's romantic opponent as well as making Kingston the new Squire of Gorseley, thus giving him access to his family estate. Then Kingston lets Mary in on the truth and places her in a deucedly bad position: either Mary marries Kingston (thus dooming her love) or Kingston reveals the truth (thus dooming Mary's father). Meanwhile Kingston and the Inflexibles, his gang of anarchist dynamitards, are hard at work north of London. Kingston manipulates Michael Morton into setting off a bomb in the London streets. Things seem to be getting worse and worse for Harry and Mary, but good eventually triumphs and Kingston is arrested, leaving Harry and Mary free to marry.

Colonel Kingston is one of the more villainous characters to appear on this site. He's not particularly gleeful or cackling in his villainy, and in that he's no Doomsman, but he is quite thorough at doing wrong, and he does enjoy it. He spent time in America before returning to England; while there he went by "Colonel Altamont." To the other Inflexibles he is known as "Number 13." He's a schemer and opportunist, leading the anarchists not to create a better society but to gain power for himself. (His long-term goal is to become the President of the Republic). The Inflexibles don't know that, however. They think he's just as ardent as they are. (They are a deadly lot, scorning theory and writing all posturing and favoring direct and bloody action). Although the text describes him as a "revolutionary firebrand" and an "infernal fiend," the truth is that he is a "slave of sensuality, sensuality in every shape, but above all, in the gratification of his animal passion. Everything was made to pander to it, and the more pure the object of his lust was, the more intense was his desire to trail her virtue in the mire." He ruined Esther, eventually making her walk the streets, and after tossing her aside fixates on Mary--he desperately wants to "ruin" her. His past is full of ruined women, just like Esther. He's actually a gamesman, and has a sneaking admiration for those who outwit him--but such men and women aren't many. Michael Morton, before he dies, says that "like Satan (Kingston) can assume a virtuous shape," and that Kingston "dragged me down lower and lower till my life's blood is drained away."

Stormy Waters is mildly entertaining, although it has a somewhat ponderous jocularity as well as a rather shrill straining for emotion. Interestingly, however, it does give the anarchists a decent hearing; while it's clear they are the villains, some of their arguments about the abuses of power are hard to rebut.

nights in Marble. The Knights in Marble were created by E. Nesbit and appeared in “Man-Size in Marble,” which first appeared in Grim Tales (1893). Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) is mentioned a couple of times in the Child Adventurers section, but she really deserves more of a write-up than the passing mention I gave her there. Nesbit is considered to be the first writer of modern children’s fiction and was very influential on writer’s of children’s fiction in the 20th century. If Jules Verne was essentially a 19th century writer and H.G. Wells essentially a 20th century writer, F. Anstey (a heavy influence on Nesbit, and creator of  The Garuda Stone) was essentially a 19th century writer, while Nesbit was a 20th century writer.

But Nesbit wrote other things besides children’s fiction, and “Man-Size in Marble,” a nasty little conte cruel (see the Venus of Ille entry for more on that), is representative of what she was capable of. It’s usually described as a horror story. I didn’t find it scary, but it’s well-written, and it is indeed cruel.

The narrator of “Man-Size in Marble” and his wife are newlyweds, just moved to the country, and although their finances are slim they are happy together, with each other, a cottage with a lovely garden, and even a peasant woman to do the cooking. And near the house is a lovely church, with two marble statues of knights by the altar. But one October evening before All Saints’ Eve the peasant woman, Mrs. Dorman, insists that she is going to take a weekend’s leave that week. For Laura, the narrator’s wife, this is bad, since Laura hates doing any of the cooking. When the narrator speaks to Mrs. Dorman about this, she refuses to explain why she wants to leave, only hinting that the cottage “was a big house in Catholic times, and there was a many deeds done here,” and that the marble effigies, on All Saints’ Eve, “sits up on their slabs, and gets off of them, and then walks down the aisle, [I in their marble...and as the church clock strike eleven they walks out of the church door, and over the graves, and along the bier-balk, and if it’s a wet night there’s the marks of their feet in the morning.” But what the knights are supposed to do when they walk about, beyond visiting the cottage in which the narrator and Laura live, Mrs. Dorman will not say. The knights, you see, were bad men, centuries ago, and who knows what they’re capable of?

All Saints’ Eve arrives, and Laura has a presentiment of evil which the narrator laughs off. He goes for a walk and discovers the knights are missing from their slabs. He finds his neighbor, a doctor, and drags him back to the church, where they find the knights. Except one of them has a broken hand, which the knights did not have before. And when the narrator returns to his home, he finds Laura, “fallen back across a table...her eyes wide, wide open. They saw nothing now.” And clutched in her hand is a grey marble finger.

I complain elsewhere on the site about the predictability of some of the Victorian ghost and horror stories. “Man-Size in Marble” was predictable to a point; it was obvious that the knights were going to rise. What they would do, however, was not. Killing Laura is cruel and rather arbitrary on Nesbit’s part, which I think was the point, and why I consider the story a kind of conte cruel. The story itself is adequately told, with a few nicely turned phrases. It has an 1890s feel to it, being a good deal more brisk and readable than earlier horror stories; the dialogue is a bit punchier and the descriptions more apt, if not poetic. It’s not scary, is “Man-Size in Marble,” but it’s horrible in its own cruel way.

The knights’

names were lost, but the peasants told of them that they had been fierce and wicked men, marauders by land and sea, who had been the scourge of their time, and had been guilty of deeds so foul that the house they had lived–the big house, by the way, that had stood on the site of our cottage–had been stricken by lightning and the vengeance of Heaven. But for all that, the gold of their heirs had bought them a place in the church.

osekin. The Kosekin were created by James De Mille and appeared in A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (1888). De Mille (1833-1880) was a Canadian teacher (a Professor of English at Dalhousie) and a prolific writer, esp. of adventure fiction and boys’ stories.

A Strange Manuscript is a combination satire and Lost World story. The framing story of Manuscript involves a yacht, owned by an Upper Class Twit Of The Year candidate, which comes upon a copper cylinder in the middle of the Atlantic. Inside the cylinder is a manuscript, written on a kind of parchment. The author of the manuscript was Adam More, who, in 1843, on the return trip from conveying convicts to Van Dieman’s Land, is stranded in the seas north of the South Pole. More eventually lands on a large, warm, desolate island, and after privation and an encounter with brutish cannibals More meets the Kosekin, a race of small white men who may be descended from the lost tribes of Israel. The Kosekin live in caves, and their culture is the reverse of Western culture in many ways. The poor are honored and the rich scorned; the Kosekin are ruled over by the Grand Council of Paupers, a group of old, quite impoverished men and women. Death is seen by the Kosekin to be a high honor, and ritual sacrifices and lethal hunts of the dinosaur-like beasts which inhabit the Kosekin’s country are welcomed parts of their culture. The highest honor, to the Kosekin, is to be served as the main dish at a sacred feast. Lovers among the Kosekin do not marry, for lovers want to give all to the ones they love, and marrying them therefore implies selfishness. And so on. More meets Almah, a beautiful woman from another (undescribed) Antarctic country. Almah is not of the Kosekin and greatly dislikes their culture, and so she and More fall in love. This marks the two of them for sacrifice, and after a failed attempt at escape the pair are brought to a pyramid to be sacrificed. More kills several of the Kosekin with his rifle, saving Almah from being sacrificed, and so the Kosekin see him as “the Father of Thunder! Ruler of Cloud and Darkness! Judge of Death!” and so a supernatural power, to be worshiped rather than sacrificed. More and Almah then set about changing the Kosekin society.

Interestingly, although A Strange Manuscript was published in 1888, it was written in the late 1870s, before H. Rider Haggard began the Lost World craze with King Solomon’s Mines (1885; see the Allan Quatermain entry) and She (1886-7; see Ayesha entry). A Strange Manuscript was undoubtedly brought out by its publisher to capitalize on the popularity of Haggard’s novels, but De Mille actually preceded Haggard. This wasn’t entirely original on De Mille’s part, of course. There were a number of predecessors to Haggard; a brief skim through Jessica Salmonson’s excellent Catalog of Lost Race, Jungle Adventure, and Prehistoric Fantasies shows quite a few novels which might be classified as pre-Haggardian Lost World novels. Even so, A Strange Manuscript anticipates Haggard’s approach, if not his style. De Mille includes a good amount of realistic detail, from environment to nautical, so that the premise is as credible as possible. As well, De Mille takes from Verne the tactic of using up-to-date science in a serious manner. De Mille clearly put some thought into the writing of the novel, and from a purely technical standpoint A Strange Manuscript is a better written novel than many of the pre- and post-Haggard Lost World romances. De Mille also includes a great deal of satiric material, sending up contemporary British society and thought, from New Money status seekers to British gentlemen adventurers to utopias and utopianists to communists.

And yet the novel was not interesting to me and did not hold my interest. Much of the satire is obvious and unsophisticated. If De Mille intended to parody the characterization of British adventurers in the person of More, he did so only too well, creating a stodgy and drearily boring character, and Almah is little better. Claims for wit in A Strange Manuscript are sadly misplaced; De Mille’s humor is only the of the broadest kind. De Mille used a hammer when a scalpel would have been more effective. Ultimately the novel is lacking in any sense of energy or verve; one gets the sense that De Mille was merely going through the paces. A Strange Manuscript is the final result of a good, educated mind spending its time and energy on a project which finally bored it.

The Kosekin embrace contradictory philosophies. They are very generous with their wealth, but their generosity is ultimately self-centered and competitive. They value love, but privilege self-abnegation rather than the union of lovers. Death is an honor, being ritually eaten is a still higher honor, and they compete for that. And they lack the ability to understand other philosophies.

reuzgang. Kreuzgang was created by “Bonaventura” and appeared in Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura (The Night Watches of Bonaventura, Journal von Neuen Original Romanen, 1804-5). The true identity of “Bonaventura” was for a very long time disputed, but is now generally accepted to be E.A.F. Klingemann (1777-1831), a German theatre director, author of plays, and a contributor to early Romantic writing.

The Night Watches of Bonaventura is a savage act of nihilism and defiance. In sixteen short passages, one for each night spent on patrol, Kreuzgang tells harsh stories of the city, its inhabitants, his own life and background. Kreuzgang sees a poet, at work late at night, and a dying man rejecting the condolences of a priest; Kreuzgang sees glowing spirits creeping near a churchyard wall and visits the wake of the now excommunicated dying man, at which there is a fight between a relative of the deadman and some would-be thieves who turn out to be devils; Kreuzgang sees two lovers vowing truth to each other, each false to the other; Kreuzgang relates the sad and dark story of his own life; from his childhood to his experiences in the theatre; Kreuzgang relates the story of Don Juan, who cuckolded his own brother Don Ponce; Kreuzgang tells the story of how he played a delicious prank, blowing his horn and fooling the city’s inhabitants into thinking that the Last Judgment had come, and what happened afterward; Kreuzgang tells about his experiences as a shoemaker and then as a poet, and how he defended himself against several dozen lawsuits; Kreuzgang visits the garret in which the poet he saw on his first night watch lived, muses on the poet, and reads the poet’s “Letter of Refusal to Life,” and his “Tragedy: Man,” Kreuzgang tells of his experiences in the insane asylum, describes the madnesses of his fellow inmates, and delivers his “Monolog of the Insane;” Kreuzgang tells the story of how he witnessed a nun, pregnant despite living in a convent, being walled up alive for her sin; Kreuzgang tells a sad story of love; Kreuzgang encounters a Fool near a cemetery; Kreuzgang describes his sad love affair with another inmate of the asylum; and, finally, Kreuzgang describes his meeting with his Gypsy/Romany mother and the revelation of his father’s true identity.

Kafka’s philosophy was described, some years ago, in this way: “When Life Itself was the Malady.” Klingemann anticipates that outlook in The Night Watches. The grim scenes Kreuzgang witnesses and lives through echo and reinforce Kreuzgang’s own philosophy, which is both bleak (human life is meaningless) and angry (society and humanity are both corrupt and stupidly, emptily vacillating). The ugliness of people, the capriciousness of existence and fate, the heartbreaks and cruelties he and others endure, all of these have made him a scornful, saturnine observer of humanity and life. Kreuzgang is an essentialist and so is not surprised (neither are we) to learn that he was conceived when his Romany mother seduced his alchemist father during his father’s attempt to summon up the Devil. Kreuzgang was conceived the very moment when the Devil appeared, and since the Devil was in a good humor he agreed to be Kreuzgang’s godfather.

Klingemann had a serious hate-on for society. The Night Watches are an attack against not just Romanticism but existence itself. As Gerald Gillespie put it, Mario Praz’s famous phrase is apposite in describing Klingemann’s work: “The Night Watches is an act of Romantic agony.” It is not just humanity which Klingemann sees as a lie, but nature itself fills Klingemann with horror. Existence is a meaningless nightmare, the lie that life has meaning is a pernicious one, and only the dead in their eternal sleep are to be envied.

The Night Watches is almost more philosophy than fiction. It has a surfeit of stagelike speechifying, and what character development there is is negative and confirms the book’s philosophy, but the novel is redeemed by its good ideas and the bracing savagery of its attack. This isn’t the sort of book you read for the plot or the characters; you read it for its delivery, for how the nihilistic atheism and the cynical wit of Kreuzgang’s and Klingemann’s presentation. There’s also an odd sort of blase, matter of fact acceptance of the supernatural, whether it is the fight with the devils at the wake or Kreuzgang’s godfather Himself.

Kreuzgang is the Devil’s godson, but that role brings him no pleasure. He’s no Hero-Villain (see the John Melmoth entry); he isn’t passionate enough for that. His cynicism is intellectual, as is his contempt for the universe; he lacks emotional energy.  He isn’t languorous so much as emotionally dead and capable of only intellectual exertions. He does have a “predilection for folly,” but his lack of emotional vigor, exacerbated by his personal history, leaves him preferring to be an observer rather than someone who takes action. He’s content to wander the streets, observe the stupidities of humanity, and make cynical observations.

A. Abällino to Axel
B. Hajji Baba to Amelia Butterworth
C. Cahina to Inspector John Cutting
D. The Damned Thing to Dyson
E. Robert Easterley to Pedro Arbuez d'Espila
F. Fantomas to the Fulgurator
G. "G" to Dr. Ginochio Gyves
H. Les Habits Noir to the Hypnotist
I-J. Ichor to Rob Joslyn
K. Kai Lung to Kreuzgang.
L. Lady Detectives to Arsène Lupin
M. Madame Koluchy to Dora Myrl
N. Nameless Child to Alice Nutter
O. Jack O'Halloran to Ozmar the Mystic
P. Pan to Psammead
Q. Dr. Jack Quartz to Quong Lung
R. A.J. Raffles to Lord Ruthven
S. Mr. Sabin to Count Szémioth
T-U. Adrian Temple to Undine
V. Vaila to Vril
W. Hilda Wade to Wung-Ti
X-Y. Xipéhuz to Yuki-onna
Z. Zaleski to Zoe

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