A Concealed Hand: A Short Story
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Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. This Kindle e-book was only a 28 Kb download and was free from Amazon. Bernard and Priscilla have been playing cards for 40 odd years But tonight Bernard realizes something is different And therein lies the problem Without a doubt, this is my absolute favorite of all Dickson's short urban horror tales.
The pacing and timing are applied with perfection to provide the reader with the consummate eerie atmosphere; an atmosphere that will, by the end of the story, have you looking over your shoulder and jumping at every creaking sound heard in the house. But then again don't bother I've found it very easy to identify with nearly all of Dickson's main protagonist both male and female , and that certainly applies to the case here. And the reason for this identity link is that I find myself as a reader often thinking, observing and reacting the same way her characters do to the situations in which they've become embroiled If you like 'Takes from the Crypt' or 'Takes from the Darkside' then you will certainly like this short story.
I especially love that this author often comments on the story afterwards which is rare and is a treat IMHO. I like the author's style and I have a dark sense of humor which matches the story. I would have given one more star except the ending is not great. I read one horror novel recently in which the ending completely shocked me, but even then I realized the author had set the story up for it the whole time, I just hadn't been willing to think that it might happen. I am already downloading more from this author. One person found this helpful.
What do you do when you suspect someone has been cheating at a game you are playing? What do you do when you begin to suspect they have been cheating at a game for 40 years? A husband suspects his wife may not just incredibly lucky at cards after all and does not handle it well.
Dickson writes great short stories. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. A Concealed Hand by Allison M. A Concealed Hand 3. Bernie has about had it with his wife, and about forty years of her berating insults and over-seasoned cooking are about to come to a head during their regular Sunday canasta game, when he discovers that the only reason she's winning is because she's cheating.
Loaded with absurdly dark humor and capped off with an ending that chills to the bone, A CONCEALED HAND shows how q Bernie has about had it with his wife, and about forty years of her berating insults and over-seasoned cooking are about to come to a head during their regular Sunday canasta game, when he discovers that the only reason she's winning is because she's cheating.
Kindle Edition , 16 pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Concealed Hand , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Jul 22, Vix rated it it was amazing. Poor Bernard he is beer soaked and trying to play Canasta with Priscilla, his wife. Even her shuffle style is getting on his nerves, and he thinks she is cheating, why else would he have to stir the dog food looking stew during a shuffle! As murderous thoughts dance across his brain you can feel the tension in the room, almost like you are at the table with them, as AMD does her marvelous writing trick of putting you at the table with her brilliant descriptions!
You get a real flavour of the rest Poor Bernard he is beer soaked and trying to play Canasta with Priscilla, his wife. You get a real flavour of the rest of their lives as even the decor is explained, but dont take this as boring, oh no, it leaves you smirking and wiggling with discomfort as you feel yourself watching this most uncomfy situation unfold.
The ongoing card games becomes more tense and the thorn digging elements of their marriage are reveled; then Bernard snaps. Im not sure I will ever eat beef stew again: This has to be my favourite story of AMD so far!! Dec 03, Kim rated it it was amazing.http://immobilien-florida.net/tmp/is-barbara-dunkelman-dating-garrett-hunter.php
Short Stories: The House Of The Dead Hand by Edith Wharton
I'll admit I know nothing about Canasta, other than it's how my parents passed the time. But, just like any other couple in a long-term relationship, I do understand competing with your partner. As I was reading this story, I kept thinking it would make a wonderful episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". In addition to the subject matter, the words chosen by the author again remind me that the sharper the word choice, the more vivid the image in the reader's head. This is an art that I'll admit I know nothing about Canasta, other than it's how my parents passed the time.
This is an art that can be lost in other genres, but it's one that Allison has mastered. It also reminds me why I often prefer short stories to novels - and I fervently hope the medium never dies out. As long as authors like Allison continue writing them this well, it won't. Dickson's way with building up the story, showing all the little things that can wear on a person's nerves after 40 years of marriage, was exquisite. I would suggest this to anyone in the mood for a quick read with a lot of bang. Definitely an author I'll read again.
She did not look like a person capable of a disinterested passion for the arts; and there had been moments when it struck Wyant that she hated the picture. The sky at the end of the street was flooded with turbulent yellow light, and the young man turned his steps toward the church of San Domenico, in the hope of catching the lingering brightness on Sodoma's St. The great bare aisles were almost dark when he entered, and he had to grope his way to the chapel steps. Under the momentary evocation of the sunset, the saint's figure emerged pale and swooning from the dusk, and the warm light gave a sensual tinge to her ecstasy.
The flesh seemed to glow and heave, the eyelids to tremble; Wyant stood fascinated by the accidental collaboration of light and color. Suddenly he noticed that something white had fluttered to the ground at his feet. He stooped and picked up a small thin sheet of note-paper, folded and sealed like an old-fashioned letter, and bearing the superscription: Wyant stared at this mysterious document. Where had it come from? He was distinctly conscious of having seen it fall through the air, close to his feet. He glanced up at the dark ceiling of the chapel; then he turned and looked about the church.
There was only one figure in it, that of a man who knelt near the high altar. Suddenly Wyant recalled the question of Doctor Lombard's maidservant. Was this the letter she had asked for? Had he been unconsciously carrying it about with him all the afternoon? Who was Count Ottaviano Celsi, and how came Wyant to have been chosen to act as that nobleman's ambulant letter-box? Wyant laid his hat and stick on the chapel steps and began to explore his pockets, in the irrational hope of finding there some clue to the mystery; but they held nothing which he had not himself put there, and he was reduced to wondering how the letter, supposing some unknown hand to have bestowed it on him, had happened to fall out while he stood motionless before the picture.
At this point he was disturbed by a step on the floor of the aisle, and turning, he saw his lustrous-eyed neighbor of the table d'hote. Without waiting for a reply, he mounted the steps of the chapel, glancing about him with the affable air of an afternoon caller. Catherine, but letting his glance slip rapidly about the chapel as he spoke.
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And you, my dear sir -- do you not feel the dampness? You are an artist, are you not? And to artists it is permitted to cover the head when they are engaged in the study of the paintings. My own is Wyant. The stranger, surprised, but not disconcerted, drew forth a coroneted card, which he offered with a low bow. On the card was engraved: He drew it out and handed it to its owner, who had grown very pale.
There was no mistaking the effect produced on Count Ottaviano by this request. His lips moved, but he achieved only an ineffectual smile. I don't yet understand what part I have been made to play, but it's evident that you have made use of me to serve some purpose of your own, and I propose to know the reason why.
He walked across the church, and Count Ottaviano followed him out into the deserted square. The Count, who had regained some measure of self-possession, began to speak in a high key, with an accompaniment of conciliatory gesture. Wyant -- you find me in an abominable position -- that, as a man of honor, I immediately confess.
I have taken advantage of you -- yes! I have counted on your amiability, your chivalry -- too far, perhaps? But what could I do? It was to oblige a lady" -- he laid a hand on his heart --"a lady whom I would die to serve! Count Ottaviano, according to his own statement, had come to Siena some months previously, on business connected with his mother's property; the paternal estate being near Orvieto, of which ancient city his father was syndic. Soon after his arrival in Siena the young Count had met the incomparable daughter of Doctor Lombard, and falling deeply in love with her, had prevailed on his parents to ask her hand in marriage.
Doctor Lombard had not opposed his suit, but when the question of settlements arose it became known that Miss Lombard, who was possessed of a small property in her own right, had a short time before invested the whole amount in the purchase of the Bergamo Leonardo. Thereupon Count Ottaviano's parents had politely suggested that she should sell the picture and thus recover her independence; and this proposal being met by a curt refusal from Doctor Lombard, they had withdrawn their consent to their son's marriage.
The young lady's attitude had hitherto been one of passive submission; she was horribly afraid of her father, and would never venture openly to oppose him; but she had made known to Ottaviano her intention of not giving him up, of waiting patiently till events should take a more favorable turn.
She seemed hardly aware, the Count said with a sigh, that the means of escape lay in her own hands; that she was of age, and had a right to sell the picture, and to marry without asking her father's consent. Meanwhile her suitor spared no pains to keep himself before her, to remind her that he, too, was waiting and would never give her up. Doctor Lombard, who suspected the young man of trying to persuade Sybilla to sell the picture, had forbidden the lovers to meet or to correspond; they were thus driven to clandestine communication, and had several times, the Count ingenuously avowed, made use of the doctor's visitors as a means of exchanging letters.
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The young man extended his hands in a deprecating gesture. He was young, he was ardent, he was enamored! The young lady had done him the supreme honor of avowing her attachment, of pledging her unalterable fidelity; should he suffer his devotion to be outdone? But his purpose in writing to her, he admitted, was not merely to reiterate his fidelity; he was trying by every means in his power to induce her to sell the picture. He had organized a plan of action; every detail was complete; if she would but have the courage to carry out his instructions he would answer for the result.
His idea was that she should secretly retire to a convent of which his aunt was the Mother Superior, and from that stronghold should transact the sale of the Leonardo. He had a purchaser ready, who was willing to pay a large sum; a sum, Count Ottaviano whispered, considerably in excess of the young lady's original inheritance; once the picture sold, it could, if necessary, be removed by force from Doctor Lombard's house, and his daughter, being safely in the convent, would be spared the painful scenes incidental to the removal.
Finally, if Doctor Lombard were vindictive enough to refuse his consent to her marriage, she had only to make a sommation respectueuse, and at the end of the prescribed delay no power on earth could prevent her becoming the wife of Count Ottaviano. Wyant's anger had fallen at the recital of this simple romance. It was absurd to be angry with a young man who confided his secrets to the first stranger he met in the streets, and placed his hand on his heart whenever he mentioned the name of his betrothed.
The easiest way out of the business was to take it as a joke. Wyant had played the wall to this new Pyramus and Thisbe, and was philosophic enough to laugh at the part he had unwittingly performed. And when you return to the casa Lombard, you will take a message from me -- the letter she expected this afternoon? I thought you understood that where I come from we don't do that kind of thing -- knowingly. The Count clasped his hands. If you would but say it to her in that tone -- you, her countryman!
She has no one to advise her; the mother is an idiot; the father is terrible; she is in his power; it is my belief that he would kill her if she resisted him. Wyant, I tremble for her life while she remains in that house! But in any case, you must see that I can't interfere -- at least you would if you were an Englishman," he added with an escape of contempt. Wyant's affiliations in Siena being restricted to an acquaintance with his land-lady, he was forced to apply to her for the verification of Count Ottaviano's story.
The young nobleman had, it appeared, given a perfectly correct account of his situation. His father, Count Celsi-Mongirone, was a man of distinguished family and some wealth. He was syndic of Orvieto, and lived either in that town or on his neighboring estate of Mongirone. His wife owned a large property near Siena, and Count Ottaviano, who was the second son, came there from time to time to look into its management. The eldest son was in the army, the youngest in the Church; and an aunt of Count Ottaviano's was Mother Superior of the Visitandine convent in Siena.
At one time it had been said that Count Ottaviano, who was a most amiable and accomplished young man, was to marry the daughter of the strange Englishman, Doctor Lombard, but difficulties having arisen as to the adjustment of the young lady's dower, Count Celsi-Mongirone had very properly broken off the match. It was sad for the young man, however, who was said to be deeply in love, and to find frequent excuses for coming to Siena to inspect his mother's estate. Viewed in the light of Count Ottaviano's personality the story had a tinge of opera bouffe; but the next morning, as Wyant mounted the stairs of the House of the Dead Hand, the situation insensibly assumed another aspect.
It was impossible to take Doctor Lombard lightly; and there was a suggestion of fatality in the appearance of his gaunt dwelling. Who could tell amid what tragic records of domestic tyranny and fluttering broken purposes the little drama of Miss Lombard's fate was being played out? Might not the accumulated influences of such a house modify the lives within it in a manner unguessed by the inmates of a suburban villa with sanitary plumbing and a telephone?
One person, at least, remained unperturbed by such fanciful problems; and that was Mrs. Lombard, who, at Wyant's entrance, raised a placidly wrinkled brow from her knitting. The morning was mild, and her chair had been wheeled into a bar of sunshine near the window, so that she made a cheerful spot of prose in the poetic gloom of her surroundings. Her dull blue glance wandered across the narrow street with its threatening house fronts, and fluttered back baffled, like a bird with clipped wings. It was evident, poor lady, that she had never seen beyond the opposite houses. Wyant was not sorry to find her alone.
Seeing that she was surprised at his reappearance he said at once: Lombard's face expressed a gentle disappointment, which might have been boredom in a person of acuter sensibilities. She seems to have inherited her father's love for art. Lombard counted her stitches, and he went on: Such tastes generally develop later. Lombard looked up eagerly. I was quite different at her age, you know.
I liked dancing, and doing a pretty bit of fancy-work. Not that I couldn't sketch, too; I had a master down from London. My aunts have some of my crayons hung up in their drawing-room now -- I did a view of Kenilworth which was thought pleasing.
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But I liked a picnic, too, or a pretty walk through the woods with young people of my own age. I say it's more natural, Mr. Wyant; one may have a feeling for art, and do crayons that are worth framing, and yet not give up everything else. I was taught that there were other things. Wyant, half-ashamed of provoking these innocent confidences, could not resist another question. You know how self-confident young people are!
My husband never said that of me, now -- he knows I had an excellent education. My aunts were very particular; I was brought up to have opinions, and my husband has always respected them. He says himself that he wouldn't for the world miss hearing my opinion on any subject; you may have noticed that he often refers to my tastes. He has always respected my preference for living in England; he likes to hear me give my reasons for it.
He is so much interested in my ideas that he often says he knows just what I am going to say before I speak. But Sybilla does not care for what I think --". At this point Doctor Lombard entered. He glanced sharply at Wyant. About the aunts at Bonchurch, I'll be bound! Lombard looked triumphantly at Wyant, and her husband rubbed his hooked fingers, with a smile. Lombard's aunts are very superior women. They subscribe to the circulating library, and borrow Good Words and the Monthly Packet from the curate's wife across the way.
They have the rector to tea twice a year, and keep a page-boy, and are visited by two baronets' wives. They devoted themselves to the education of their orphan niece, and I think I may say without boasting that Mrs. Lombard's conversation shows marked traces of the advantages she enjoyed. Both those facts are interesting to the student of human nature. Wyant rose, and the doctor led him through the tapestried door and down the passageway. The light was, in fact, perfect, and the picture shone with an inner radiancy, as though a lamp burned behind the soft screen of the lady's flesh.
Every detail of the foreground detached itself with jewel-like precision. Wyant noticed a dozen accessories which had escaped him on the previous day. He drew out his note-book, and the doctor, who had dropped his sardonic grin for a look of devout contemplation, pushed a chair forward, and seated himself on a carved settle against the wall. He sank down, his hands hanging on the arm of the settle like the claws of a dead bird, his eyes fixed on Wyant's notebook with the obvious intention of detecting any attempt at a surreptitious sketch.
Wyant, nettled at this surveillance, and disturbed by the speculations which Doctor Lombard's strange household excited, sat motionless for a few minutes, staring first at the picture and then at the blank pages of the note-book. The thought that Doctor Lombard was enjoying his discomfiture at length roused him, and he began to write.
He was interrupted by a knock on the iron door. Doctor Lombard rose to unlock it, and his daughter entered. He is here now; he says he can't wait. If you want to see him you must come now. Wyant had looked up, wondering if Miss Lombard would show any surprise at being locked in with him; but it was his turn to be surprised, for hardly had they heard the key withdrawn when she moved close to him, her small face pale and tumultuous.
A Concealed Hand
Wyant had a sense of stepping among explosives. He glanced about him at the dusky vaulted room, at the haunting smile of the strange picture overhead, and at the pink-and-white girl whispering of conspiracies in a voice meant to exchange platitudes with a curate. I never have a chance to speak to any one; it's so difficult -- he watches me -- he'll be back immediately.