The Tale of Edgar Trunk: Book 1

Michael Connelly
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I have a question, was the cloaked stranger HIM? And also when is book 2 coming out? I can't wait to read it!! Anyway I love ur writing skills. It has taken me on a journey with a small child, Edgar, who has been living in darkness nearly his whole life. While reading this, it was as if I had been immersed into the book itself. The vivid descriptions, the interesting characters, and the surprise filled story line made it almost impossible to put it down. The author had noticeable passion for his book; the type of passion that can either warm your heart or make it skip a beat.

I found myself eagerly awaiting the next page, hungry for more. All in all, I definitely recommend this book and cannot wait for the second one. As soon as I started reading I couldn't stop! After I got home from school I would read it after my homework was done! I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way.

But my disease grew upon me—for what disease is like Alcohol! One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My Page 39 original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame.

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I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity. When reason returned with the morning—when I had slept off the fumes of the night's debauch—I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty; but it was, at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul remained untouched. I again plunged into excess, and soon drowned in wine all memory of the deed.

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me.

But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart—one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not?

Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law , merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself —to offer violence to its own nature—to do wrong for the wrong's sake only—that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute.

One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree;—hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart;—hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because Page 40 I felt it had given me no reason of offence;—hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin—a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it—if such a thing wore possible—even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. The curtains of my bed were in flames. The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. The destruction was complete.

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My entire worldly wealth was swallowed up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair. I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts—and wish not to leave even a possible link imperfect. On the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins.

The walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This exception was found in a compartment wall, not very thick, which stood about the middle of the house, and against which had rested the head of my bed. The plastering had here, in great measure, resisted the action of the fire—a fact which I attributed to its having been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd were collected, and many persons seemed to be examining a particular portion of it with very minute and eager attention. The words "strange! I approached and saw, as if graven in bas relief upon the white surface, the figure of a gigantic cat.

The impression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. There was a rope about the animal's neck. When I first beheld this apparition—for I could scarcely regard it as less—my wonder and my terror were extreme. But at length reflection came to my aid.

The cat, I remembered, had been hung in a garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd—by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty Page 41 into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, had then accomplished the portraiture as I saw it.

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact just detailed, it did not the less fail to make a deep impression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid myself of the phantasm of the cat; and, during this period, there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment that seemed, but was not, remorse.

I went so far as to regret the loss of the animal, and to look about me, among the vile haunts which I now habitually frequented, for another pet of the same species, and of somewhat similar appearance, with which to supply its place. One night as I sat, half stupified, in a den of more than infamy, my attention was suddenly drawn to some black object, reposing upon the head of one of the immense hogsheads of Gin, or of Rum, which constituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for some minutes, and what now caused me surprise was the fact that I had not sooner perceived the object thereupon.

I approached it, and touched it with my hand. It was a black cat—a very large one—fully as large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast. Upon my touching him, he immediately arose, purred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared delighted with my notice. This, then, was the very creature of which I was in search. I at once offered to purchase it of the landlord; but this person made no claim to it—knew nothing of it—had never seen it before.

I continued my caresses, and, when I prepared to go home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favorite with my wife. For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me.

This was just the reverse of what I had anticipated; but— Page 42 I know not how or why it was—its evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually—very gradually—I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.

What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived of one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures.

With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch beneath my chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome caresses. If I arose to walk it would get between my feet and thus nearly throw me down, or, fastening its long and sharp claws in my dress, clamber, in this manner, to my breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly—let me confess it at once—by absolute dread of the beast.

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil—and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own—yes, even in this felon's cell, I am almost ashamed to own—that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimaeras it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called my attention, more than once, to the character of the mark of white hair, of which I have spoken, and which constituted the sole visible difference between the strange beast and the one I had destroyed.

The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees— Page 43 degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful—it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline.

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It was now the representation of an object that I shudder to name—and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared —it was now, I say, the image of a hideous—of a ghastly thing—of the GALLOWS! And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretchedness of mere Humanity. And a brute beast —whose fellow I had contemptuously destroyed— a brute beast to work out for me —for me a man, fashioned in the image of the High God—so much of insufferable wo! During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight—an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off—incumbent eternally upon my heart!

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became my sole intimates—the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas!

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit.

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The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished.

But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan. This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and Page 44 with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors.

Many projects entered my mind. At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. At another, I resolved to dig a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard—about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house.

Finally I hit upon what I considered a far better expedient than either of these. I determined to wall it up in the cellar—as the monks of the middle ages are recorded to have walled up their victims. For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening.

Moreover, in one of the walls was a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, that had been filled up, and made to resemble the red of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily displace the bricks at this point, insert the corpse, and wall the whole up as before, so that no eye could detect any thing suspicious. And in this calculation I was not deceived.

By means of a crow-bar I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it in that position, while, with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brickwork.

When I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The wall did not present the slightest appearance of having been disturbed. The rubbish on the floor was picked up with the minutest care. I looked around triumphantly, and said to myself—"Here at least, then, my labor has not been in vain. My next step was to look for the beast which had been the cause of so much wretchedness; for I had, at length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been able to meet with it, at the Page 45 moment, there could have been no doubt of its fate; but it appeared that the crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my previous anger, and forebore to present itself in my present mood.

It is impossible to describe, or to imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my bosom. It did not make its appearance during the night—and thus for one night at least, since its introduction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept; aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon my soul! The second and the third day passed, and still my tormentor came not.

Once again I breathed as a freeman. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises forever! I should behold it no more! My happiness was supreme! The guilt of my dark deed disturbed me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but these had been readily answered. Even a search had been instituted—but of course nothing was to be discovered.

I looked upon my future felicity as secured. Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in their search. They left no nook or corner unexplored. At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in innocence.

I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. The police were thoroughly satisfied and prepared to depart. The glee at my heart was too strong to be restrained. I burned to say if but one word, by way of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance of my guiltlessness. I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By the bye, gentlemen, this—this is a very well constructed house. These walls are you going, gentlemen? But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb!

Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. Swooning, I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the party upon the stairs remained motionless, through extremity of terror and of awe. In the next, a dozen stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman.

I had walled the monster up within the tomb! Of these latter, those who doubt, are your mere doubters by profession—an unprofitable and disreputable tribe. There can be no more absolute waste of time than the attempt to prove , at the present day, that man, by mere exercise of will, can so impress his fellow, as to cast him into an abnormal condition, of which the phenomena resemble very closely those of death , or at least resemble them more nearly than they do the phenomena of any other normal condition within our cognizance; that, while in this state, the person so impressed employs only with effort, and then feebly, the external organs of sense, yet perceives, with keenly refined perception, and through channels supposed unknown, matters beyond the scope of the physical organs; that, moreover, his intellectual faculties are wonderfully exalted and invigorated; that his sympathies with the person so impressing him are profound; and, finally, that his susceptibility to the impression increases with its frequency, while, in the same proportion, the peculiar phenomena elicited are more extended and more pronounced.

I say that these—which are the laws of mesmerism in its general features—it would be supererogation to demonstrate; nor shall I inflict upon my readers so needless a demonstration to-day. My purpose at present is a very different one indeed. I am impelled, even in the teeth of a world of prejudice, to detail without comment the very remarkable substance of a colloquy, occurring between a sleep-waker and myself.

I had been long in the habit of mesmerizing the person in Page 48 question, Mr. Vankirk, and the usual acute susceptibility and exaltation of the mesmeric perception had supervened. For many months he had been laboring under confirmed phthisis, the more distressing effects of which had been relieved by my manipulations; and on the night of Wednesday, the fifteenth instant, I was summoned to his bedside. The invalid was suffering with acute pain in the region of the heart, and breathed with great difficulty, having all the ordinary symptoms of asthma.

In spasms such as these he had usually found relief from the application of mustard to the nervous centres, but tonight this had been attempted in vain. As I entered his room he greeted me with a cheerful smile, and although evidently in much bodily pain, appeared to be, mentally, quite at ease. I need not tell you how sceptical I have hitherto been on the topic of the soul's immortality. I cannot deny that there has always existed, as if in that very soul which I have been denying, a vague half-sentiment of its own existence. But this half-sentiment at no time amounted to conviction. With it my reason had nothing to do.

All attempts at logical inquiry resulted, indeed, in leaving me more sceptical than before. I had been advised to study Cousin. I studied him in his own works as well as in those of his European and American echoes. The 'Charles Elwood' of Mr. Brownson, for example, was placed in my hands. I read it with profound attention.

Throughout I found it logical, but the portions which were not merely logical were unhappily the initial arguments of the disbelieving hero of the book. In his summing up it seemed evident to me that the reasoner had not even succeeded in convincing himself. His end had plainly forgotten his beginning, like the government of Trinculo. In short, I was not long in perceiving that if man is to be intellectually convinced of his own immortality, he will never be so convinced by the mere abstractions which have been so long the fashion of the moralists of England, of France, and of Germany.

Abstractions may amuse and exercise, but take no hold Page 49 on the mind. Here upon earth, at least, philosophy, I am persuaded, will always in vain call upon us to look upon qualities as things. The will may assent—the soul—the intellect, never. But latterly there has been a certain deepening of the feeling, until it has come so nearly to resemble the acquiescence of reason, that I find it difficult to distinguish between the two. I am enabled, too, plainly to trace this effect to the mesmeric influence. I cannot better explain my meaning than by the hypothesis that the mesmeric exaltation enables me to perceive a train of ratiocination which, in my abnormal existence, convinces, but which, in full accordance with the mesmeric phenomena, does not extend, except through its effect , into my normal condition.

In sleep-walking, the reasoning and its conclusion—the cause and its effect—are present together. In my natural state, the cause vanishing, the effect only, and perhaps only partially, remains. You have often observed the profound self-cognizance evinced by the sleep-waker—the extensive knowledge he displays upon all points relating to the mesmeric condition itself; and from this self-cognizance may be deduced hints for the proper conduct of a catechism.

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I consented of course to make this experiment. A few passes threw Mr. Vankirk into the mesmeric sleep. His breathing became immediately more easy, and he seemed to suffer no physical uneasiness. The following conversation then ensued:—V. Yes—no; I would rather sleep more soundly. After a few more passes. How do you think your present illness will result? After a long hesitation and speaking as if with effort. If I were awake I should like to die, but now it is no matter. The mesmeric condition is so near death as to content me. I wish you would explain yourself, Mr. I am willing to do so, but it requires more effort than I feel able to make.

You do not question me properly. The beginning! You know that the beginning is GOD. This was said in a low, fluctuating tone, and with every sign of the most profound veneration. Hesitating for many minutes. While I was awake I knew what you meant by "spirit," but now it seems only a word—such for instance as truth, beauty—a quality, I mean. There is no immateriality—it is a mere word. That which is not matter, is not at all—unless qualities are things.

This reply startled me very much. After a long pause, and mutteringly. Another long pause. Nor is he matter, as you underhand it. But there are gradations of matter of which man knows nothing; the grosser impelling the finer, the finer pervading the grosser. The atmosphere, for example, impels the electric principle, while the electric principle permeates the atmosphere. These gradations of matter increase in rarity or fineness, until we arrive at a matter unparticled without particles—indivisible— one ; and here the law of impulsion and permeation is modified.

The ultimate, or unparticled matter, not only permeates all things but impels all things and thus is all things within itself. This matter is God. What men attempt to embody in the word "thought," is this matter in motion. The metaphysicians maintain that all notion is reducible Page 51 to motion and thinking, and that the latter is the origin of the former. Yes; and I now see the confusion of idea.

Motion is the action of mind —not of thinking. The unparticled matter, or God, in quiescence, is as nearly as we can conceive it what men call mind. And the power of self-movement equivalent in effect to human volition is, in the unparticled matter, the result of its unity and omniprevalence; how I know not, and now clearly see that I shall never know.

But the unparticled matter, set in motion by a law, or quality, existing within itself, is thinking. Can you give me no more precise idea of what you term the unparticled matter? The matters of which man is cognizant, escape the senses in gradation. We have, for example, a metal, a piece of wood, a drop of water, the atmosphere, a gas, caloric, electricity, the luminiferous ether. Now we call all these things matter, and embrace all matter in one general definition; but in spite of this, there can be no two ideas more essentially distinct than that which we attach to a metal, and that which we attach to the luminiferous ether.

When we reach the latter, we feel an almost irresistible inclination to class it with spirit, or with nihility. The only consideration which restrains us is our conception of its atomic constitution; and here, even, we have to seek aid from our notion of an atom, as something possessing in infinite minuteness, solidity, palpability, weight.

Destroy the idea of the atomic constitution and we should no longer be able to regard the ether as an entity, or at least as matter. For want of a better word we might term it spirit. Take, now, a step beyond the luminiferous ether—conceive a matter as much more rare than the ether, as this ether is more rare than the metal, and we arrive at once in spite of all the school dogmas at a unique mass—an unparticled matter. For although we may admit infinite littleness in the atoms themselves, the infinitude of littleness in the spaces between them is an absurdity. There will be a point—there will be a degree of rarity, at which, if the atoms are sufficiently numerous, the interspaces must vanish, and the mass absolutely coalesce.

But the consideration of the atomic constitution being now taken away, the nature of the mass inevitably glides into what we conceive Page 52 spirit. It is clear, however, that it is as fully matter as before. The truth is, it is impossible to conceive spirit, since it is impossible to imagine what is not. When we flatter ourselves that we have formed its conception, we have merely deceived our understanding by the consideration of infinitely ratified matter.

There seems to me an insurmountable objection to the idea of absolute coalescence;—and that is the very slight resistance experienced by the heavenly bodies in their revolutions through space—a resistance now ascertained, it is true, to exist in some degree, but which is, nevertheless, so slight as to have been quite overlooked by the sagacity even of Newton.

We know that the resistance of bodies is, chiefly, in proportion to their density. Absolute coalescence is absolute density. Where there are no interspaces, there can be no yielding. An ether, absolutely dense, would put an infinitely more effectual stop to the progress of a star than would an ether of adamant or of iron. Your objection is answered with an ease which is nearly in the ratio of its apparent unanswerability. There is no astronomical error more unaccountable than that which reconciles the known retardation of the comets with the idea of their passage through an ether: for, however rare this ether be supposed, it would put a stop to all sidereal revolution in a very far briefer period than has been admitted by those astronomers who have endeavored to slur over a point which they found it impossible to comprehend.

The retardation actually experienced is, on the other hand, about that which might be expected from the friction of the ether in the instantaneous passage through the orb. In the one case, the retarding force is momentary and complete within itself—in the other it is endlessly accumulative. But in all this—in this identification of mere matter with God—is there nothing of irreverence? I was forced to repeat this question before the sleep-waker fully comprehended my meaning. Can you say why matter should be less reverenced than mind? But you forget that the matter of which I speak is, in all respects, the very "mind" or "spirit" of the schools, so far as Page 53 regards its high capacities, and is, moreover, the "matter" of these schools at the same time.

God, with all the powers attributed to spirit, is but the perfection of matter. You assert, then, that the unparticled matter, in motion, is thought? In general, this motion is the universal thought of the universal mind. This thought creates. All created things are but the thoughts of God. The universal mind is God. For new individualities, matter is necessary. But you now speak of "mind" and "matter" as do the metaphysicians.

Yes—to avoid confusion. When I say "mind," I mean the unparticled or ultimate matter; by "matter," I intend all else. You were saying that "for new individualities matter is necessary. Yes; for mind, existing unincorporate, is merely God. To create individual, thinking beings, it was necessary to incarnate portions of the divine mind. Thus man is individualized. Divested of corporate investiture, he were God. Now, the particular motion of the incarnated portions of the unparticled matter is the thought of man; as the motion of the whole is that of God.

You say that divested of the body man will be God? After much hesitation. Referring to my notes. And this is true. Man thus divested would be God—would be unindividualized. But he can never be thus divested—at least never will be —else we must imagine an action of God returning upon itself—a purposeless and futile action.

Man is a creature. Creatures are thought of God. It is the nature of thought to be irrevocable.

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The Tale of Edgar Trunk: Book 1 Hardcover – February 14, The Tale of Edgar Trunk: Book 1 is a mystery adventure about Edgar, who has been orphaned since age 1 and spent most of his ten years in a horrible sludge factory. JASON O. SILVA is lives in his very own sludge factory. The Tale of Edgar Trunk: Book 1 is a mystery adventure about Edgar, who has been orphaned since age 1 and spent most of his ten years in a horrible sludge.

I do not comprehend. You say that man will never put off the body? There are two bodies—the rudimental and the complete; corresponding with the two conditions of the worm and the butterfly. What we call "death," is but the painful metamorphosis. Our present incarnation is progressive, preparatory, temporary. Our future is perfected, ultimate, immortal. The ultimate life is the full design. But of the worm's metamorphosis we are palpably cognizant. We , certainly—but not the worm.

The matter of which our rudimental body is composed, is within the ken of the organs of that body; or, more distinctly, our rudimental organs are adapted to the matter of which is formed the rudimental body; but not to that of which the ultimate is composed. The ultimate body thus escapes our rudimental senses, and we perceive only the shell which falls, in decaying, from the inner form; not that inner form itself; but this inner form, as well as the shell, is appreciable by those who have already acquired the ultimate life.

You have often said that the mesmeric state very nearly resembles death. How is this? When I say that it resembles death, I mean that it resembles the ultimate life; for when I am entranced the senses of my rudimental life are in abeyance, and I perceive external things directly, without organs, through a medium which I shall employ in the ultimate, unorganized life.

In the biography, the writer tells of his deep-seated resentment towards his mother for the feminisation of his childhood, with all its racial implications. This notwithstanding, by defining himself as the Dark One and by attempting to justify the father's behaviour Mittelholzer proves to have internalised negative stereotypes about his African origins. The German text did not dismay me. I soon mastered it [ The pastor must have been careless! Or he must have wanted to make a concession to his British nationality — hence the non-appearance of the Umlaut in our name.

Very well, I would put the matter right. I would restore the Umlaut. So, the Umlaut, which is the visual indicator of Mittelholzer's predilection for his Swiss ancestry, represents for young Edgar a sort of escape from — if not a denial of — his 'other' heritage and, consequently, of his swarthiness. Another very clear and vivid memory [ I'm sure this happened more than once, and I'm equally sure that on one occasion my father passed us [ She was the cook — a negress with cross eyes.

She would appear suddenly just before I was taken upstairs to see my grandfather [ I would recoil and whimper, shuddering and wriggling in fright. Ever since those days, the name Elvira has lurked in my imagination, a symbol of evil.

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Indeed, the young boy's fear is enhanced by the transfiguration of the nurse as well who, when necessary, proves to be a secret ally of the evil cook. As we have also seen in the description of the slave rebellion, by identifying blackness with savagery, backwardness, darkness and evilness, Mittelholzer is necessarily speaking against his own black part. This sense of repugnance turns thus into self-abjection, a feeling that, not by coincidence, in Mittelholzer's novels identifies mixed blood characters in particular. For Kristeva, the abject precisely embodies all that is in-between, ambiguous, composite KRISTEVA and that prevents the psyche, or a culture, from recognising a coherent identity.

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Mittelholzer's sense of unease in front of blackness, however, does not only stem from his inability to find a stable identity, but also from his fear of regressing to a beastly and primitive state, which is, in his view, the possible implication of his swarthiness. It is especially in coloureds, those that are the result of the Caribbean melting pot, that we find the painful rejection of blackness and the burning desire to whiten.

As Mittelholzer also describes in his novel A Morning at the Office 4 , in Guyana as in Trinidad, coloureds can be divided into infinite classes according to skin pigmentation and hair texture. Of course, people with light olive skin and straight hair find themselves in an upper position of the social ladder.

There are, of course, exceptions: for example Mr. Still, it is through marriage that Mr. Nonetheless, in Mittelholzer's words, racism in Guyana is not simply a matter of white vs.

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Discrimination, instead, often refers to the role these groups have held in colonial history and to their order of arrival:. It was my class who considered the Portuguese social inferiors because of their background of door-to-door peddling, rum-shops [ We, too, treated the Chinese sweet-sellers and shopkeepers with condescension because of their poor immigrant status.

Nonetheless, as Mittelholzer points out in the appendix, in the colonial Guyana of his childhood, racial discrimination, though pervasive, is not overtly manifested. In Mittelholzer's autobiography this is particularly evident in the relationships the family entertains with the neighbours: the Luckhoos, a middle-class family of East Indian origin, and the Eggs, of clear British ancestry. If, on the surface, the three families share time and friendship, all of them secretly nurture a sense of superiority towards those who could be considered, from an ethnic and social perspective, their inferiors.

The writer well describes this convolute net of social relations:.

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The East Indian family to the west of us had been accepted into middle-class circles, for Mr. Edward Luckhoo was a solicitor — a legal man [ So even though we were friendly with the Luckhoos [ My sister and I were made to feel that we could go over and play with the children, but that it must not be overdone Old Mother Egg and my grandmother, both blue-eyed and Caucasian, were unquestionably social equals. And Mr Tyer Egg, though of mixed blood, was fair-complexioned like my own parents. Despite the snobbism of Edgar's mother, the Luckhoos are quite well off and, unlike the Mittleholzers, they own a car.

The relationship with the Eggs is at the same time easier, as both families stand on the same level, both socially and racially, and more difficult, since the visibility of a streak of blackness, the discernibility of mixed-bloodedness in a member of one of the two families, as well as the suspicion of racism, can perturb and deteriorate this atmosphere of good neighbourhood.