Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Dead Man's Combe." Charles Nodier.

Review: A kind of ghost story. The story of a story. A saintly man had come to the Combe to become a hermit. Rumored to be a wealthy man who felt that being a part of the court would keep him from saving his soul. He built up the location, including a monastery and soon had the reputation of being a saint.

But there were evil personages and one night the saint was murdered because of a rumor about the existence of his treasure. In dying the saint had torn a thick tuft of black hair from the murderer’s head.

And now a wealthy personage is listening to the story of how the Combe got its name, with comments from a little man, a red-haired dwarf. The wealthy man became increasingly uncomfortable. No one has ever learned the identity of the saint’s murderer. The wealthy man wants to leave as the story is being told, but is prevented from doing so by the dwarf who holds his arm firmly in his grasp. When he is finally able to leave, his hat blows off in the wind, revealing a bald patch where thick black hair should have been.

The next day, the mangled body of a lifeless man is found. So that is how the place became known as Dead Man’s Combe.

Great French Short Stories. Ed. Germaine Brée. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1969.

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