Sketches from the artist for German edition of The Monstrumologist.
From the New York Times, December 31, 1900. Found in Folio X. Is Warthrop the mysterious man mentioned here? No note or explanation about this strange case found within Will Henry’s writings. Further research needed.
|—||The First Folio|
Discovered in the 12th Folio, from the New York Times, April 30, 1905. Paper-clipped to the clipping was a note, in handwriting that is not Will Henry’s: “Thought you might be interested. The Metropolitan Police are satisfied with our little ruse.” - ed.
(This fragment was discovered in the First Folio, or notebook, of Will Henry’s remembrances. It was not included in THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST because I felt, as Will Henry’s unofficial - and accidental - editor, it did not “fit” with the rest of the material. It struck me as somewhat of an aside, but I am posting it here because it does offer some insight into his relationship with Warthrop and the extent of his loyalty to him. Clearly, Mrs. Burlsap offered Will Henry a way out, and he chose not to take it. - ed.)
Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the judge in my case assigned a guardian ad litem to monitor my progress, a dour old woman by the name of Madeline Burlsap, whom the doctor loathed and who, cheerfully, returned the sentiment. ‘Meddling, officious, insufferable old battleaxe!’ he would say upon her knock at the door, only to open it with a wide smile and a solicitous greeting: ‘Why, Mrs. Burlsap, what a pleasant surprise! And how have you been, Miss Burlsap, and how do the joints fare this fine day?’ She faithfully complained of her hips at every visit.
They would sit in the front parlor, I would serve them tea and crackers, he would sit with frozen smile in one corner and she with sour face in the other, and the interview followed the same tired pattern as every one that preceded it. Was I receiving the proper nutrition and exercise? Did I sleep at least eight hours out of the twenty-four? And how were my marks in school?
‘He has no marks,’ the doctor replied. ‘I am schooling him.’
‘Still?’ she asked. ‘I thought we agreed you would enroll him this term, Dr. Warthrop.’
‘I remember discussing the matter with you, Mrs. Burlsap. I do not recall agreeing to anything. I daresay the boy is receiving a better education than he might find at the finest preparatory academy.’
‘You flatter yourself, Dr. Warthrop.’
‘To the contrary, Miss Burlsap, I am a scientist and wedded to facts. Flattery and hyperbole are for courtiers and sycophants. He reads Virgil —- in Latin —- and Plato —- in Greek. Can you?’
‘There are some things more important than Plato, Dr. Warthrop.’
‘Really? I am honestly hard-pressed to think of more than two.’
‘His spiritual growth, for one.’
‘That wasn’t one of them.’
‘What of his spiritual growth?’
‘What of it?’ By this point the muscles of his jaw would be clinched tight as a baby’s fist.
‘Where do you attend services?’
‘The Warthrop’s have had a pew at St. John’s for five generations, Mrs. Burlsap, as you are well aware.’
‘I am more than aware of that, Dr. Warthrop —-‘
‘Indeed!’ he exclaimed. ‘How does one become more than aware?’
‘My question was not where your pew is located, but if you and William ever locate yourselves within it. ’
‘You needn’t concern yourself with Will Henry’s spiritual development, Mrs. Burlsap.’
‘To the contrary, Dr. Warthrop, that is my charge.’
Their verbal sparring would last for an hour or more, and then my turn would come. Sitting in the doctor’s vacated chair, dressed in my best clothes, back straight, feet planted firmly on the floor, I was subjected to her withering cross-examination while the doctor hovered out of sight (though I always doubted out of earshot). Did I ever go hungry? Did the doctor ever raise a hand to me? What sort of subjects did he teach, besides Latin and Greek? Did he allow me to play with other children? Whose children? When? Where? What chores did I have and how many hours in the day was I at them?
Her questions always struck me as perfunctory. She seemed to barely listen and rarely was I allowed to finish my answer before she whipped out the next question, until the interview neared its end, at which point she would scoot her prodigious behind forward on the cushion, dip her double-chin toward her titanic bosom, and lower her voice, forcing me to slide forward to hear her.
‘Now you do trust me, don’t you, William?’ she asked.
‘You understand I have only your best interest at heart.’
‘And the chief reason I am asking you these questions is we must be absolutely sure you are being properly cared for.’
‘No one is trying to get you in trouble.’
‘Or the doctor. The doctor won’t be in trouble, no matter what you tell me. Do you understand, William?’
‘We have heard, through highly reliable sources, that there have been some very curious goings-on in this house. Of unsavory characters coming and going at all hours, of mysterious packages and midnight excursions to places decent people dare not venture in broad daylight … do you know what I’m talking about, William? Does any of these disturbing reports sound familiar to you?’
And of course I would feign ignorance with a baffled shake of my head. No, I had seen no unsavory characters at the house, at any hour. Never had I been present when a ‘mysterious package’ arrived. And so on, my face growing red with the mental strain, right hand clutching my left, digging my nails into my flesh until the skin burned. All the while her pale green eyes bored into mine, willing me to come clean, to speak the truth, to betray him.
‘But what does he do?’ she would demand, dropping all pretense of sympathy.
‘He is a scientist, ma’am.’
‘Yes, but what is his science? What precisely is he a doctor of?’
I swallowed hard. ‘Philosophy, ma’am.’
Her eyes narrowed. ‘Philosophy!’ she hissed. ‘Then tell me, child, what precisely is the doctor’s philosophy.’
‘I don’t really . . . he does not discuss his work with me.’
‘That is not what I have heard,’ she said with all the righteousness of her court-appointed omnipotence. ‘I have heard, through quite reliable sources, William, quite reliable sources, that you are intimately acquainted with his “philosophy.” That you are, in fact, his indispensable companion and helpmate, and that you assist him in every aspect of his “science.” Is this not true? Are all these reports merely the scurrilous gossip of slandering knaves? In other words, William Henry, is all the world a sea of lies and Doctor Warthrop the sole island of truth?’
‘I don’t know how to answer that, ma’am.’
She had reached the end of her patience. ‘What is in the basement?’ she barked. A bit of spittle flew from her mouth:
‘I have heard terrible things go on down there. Unspeakable things. Things that no God-fearing adult should witness or play party to, much less a child. Now tell me, William Henry, with no evasion or obfuscation, what lies in your master’s basement?’
‘Nothing,’ I said.
And again, ‘No, nothing. Nothing at all.’
She pushed; I stood firm. I went so far as to say I could not recall ever going into the basement, that it was dark and cold down there and I was afraid to go and, to my knowledge, I had never seen the doctor go there either. If she really wanted to know what was in the basement, she should ask the doctor. She did not believe me, of course, but without an order signed by the judge she had no right to see it. And unless I said something incriminating to use as evidence of these unspeakable things, she would never have that right.
‘There is something altogether unsettling about this,’ she would huff at the doctor as he, with utmost solicitude, escorted her to the door. ‘Unsettling to the extreme, and one day I shall get to the bottom of it, Dr. Warthrop.’
‘No doubt one day we shall all of us reach the bottoms we seek,’ he said a bit ominously.