This week’s subject of future discussion at the Deep Ones group over at LibraryThing.
Review: “The Waters of Death” aka “The Crab Spider”, Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian.
This story strikes me as being from an era where speculations derived from science and exploration was common grist for rationalized weird menaces, a period I would say extended from 1880 to 1905.
It’s a chatty and discursive story because it is a tale told by one of the principals, the young boy (at the time of the story) Frantz.
The year is 1801, and the place is Spinbronn, a place renowned in Germany for its mineral waters. The ill, especially those with gout, like to go there. But, in 1801, the spring rains are heavy, and, out of the cavern from which the mineral waters flow, they disgorged a human skeleton. That drives most of the crowd away.
But the discharge continues with slime and rubbish and the bones of many different kinds of animals. The human skeleton is thought to be a girl who disappeared and was murdered a hundred years ago. The local doctor even issues a pamphlet stating the skeleton was so dry that it was probably centuries old. He even puts forth the theory that the bones date back to the biblical flood.
One guest doesn’t go away, the gouty and overweight Englishman Sir Thomas Hawerburch, a commodore.Continue reading ““The Waters of Death””