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"An enormous one," said Henry. "Everyone thinks of the ides of March in connection with
the assassination of Julius Caesar, and everyone knows that is March 15 on our calendar. It
is only natural to suppose that the ides of every month falls on the fifteenth, but I checked the
encyclopedia while you were completing your account and that is true only of March, May,
July, and October. In all the other months, including April, the ides fall on the thirteenth of the
month. Since the ides of April falls on April thirteenth, Miss Claire began on that day, very
correctly, and was surprised that you questioned the matter and seemed to expect her to
delay two days for no reason."
Halsted was at the encyclopedia. "Henry's right, by God," he said.
Soskind's eyes opened in a fixed glare. "And I started two days late?"
Henry said, softly, "If Professor Trent had known you did not know when the ides of April
was, I suspect you would have lost the competition by a somewhat wider margin."
Soskind seemed to collapse inward in his chair. He said, in a mutter, "What do I do now?"
Henry said, "My experience with matters of the heart, sir, is limited, but I believe you had
better waste no more time. Leave now and try to see the young lady. She may give you a
chance to explain and what I know of such matters leads me to think you had better grovel. -
Grovel quite abjectly, sir."
Eleanor Sullivan was managing editor of EQMM all through the period during which I wrote
the Black Widowers stories. Since Fred Dannay always worked from his Westchester
home, it was to Eleanor that I brought my stories, and it was with her that I carried on an
assiduous and platonic flirtation. (Not that I wanted it to be platonic, you understand, but she
After Fred had passed on, she took over as editor, and following the grand tradition that
Fred had established she kept EQMM moving onward rock - steady. That includes (I am
thankful to say) the occasional appearance of a Black Widower story, and of an occasional
Union Club story, too.
This is the first Black Widower story she accepted in her capacity as editor, and I think that
is suitable, for it is a romance.
Very few of my Black Widower stories involve a murder or a violent crime of any kind (that's
my personal distaste for violence, although that is not absolute as you will know if you have
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read my story "The Woman in the Bar," which appeared earlier in this collection). What's
more very few, if any, of my stories involve romance (mainly because I started writing when I
was very young, and before I had had any personal experience at all with romance). Still, I
would rather have romance than violence in a Black Widower story, and when I manage to
do this I like the result, and so, in this case, did Eleanor, who is very sweet and softhearted
indeed. The story appeared in the May 1983 issue of EQMM.
Neither Brute Nor Human
THE MONTHLY DINNER of the Black Widowers was well under way and Emmanuel Rubin,
his fork uplifted, and waving threateningly in the air, temporarily ignored his rack of lamb and
said, "Edgar Allan Poe was the first important practitioner of the modern detective story and
of the modern science fiction story. I'll give him that."
"Nice of you," murmured James Drake, the host of the occasion, in a low aside.
Rubin ignored him. "He lifted the horror story to new heights, too. Still, he had a morbid and
unhealthy preoccupation with death."
"Not at all," said Geoffrey Avalon, in his deep voice, his thick eyebrows lowering into a
frown. "Poe was writing in the first half of the nineteenth century, and there was still virtually
no protection against infectious disease at the time. Life was short and death was ever -
present. He wasn't being morbid; he was being realistic."
Roger Halsted said, "Absolutely! Read any fiction of the nineteenth century. Read Dickens
and the death of Little Nell, or Harriet Beecher Stowe and the death of Little Eva. Children
frequently died in fiction because they frequently died in real life."
Rubin's eyes, magnified by his thick glasses, took on a stubborn gleam, and his sparse
beard seemed to bristle. "It's not death in itself. It's how you treat it. You can deal with it as
the doorway to heaven, and treat the dying person as a saint - see the death of Beth in Little
Women. That can be sickeningly sentimental, but it is meant to be uplifting. Poe, on the
other hand, dwells with an unholy glee on the elements of degradation and decay. He makes
death worse than it is and - Come on, you all know very well what 'morbid' is."
He returned to his lamb and attacked it with vigor. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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