The Gargoyle by Greye La Spina
A Novel of Devil Worship
The Gargoyle – A Novel of Devil Worship
Luke Porter, a young painter, joins Herbert Binney, alias Cagliostro Moderno, in a visit to Fanewold Castle, where live Guy Fane and his mother and a beautiful girl called Sybil. Cagliostro is an occultist and pseudo-magician, and has come in response to Guy Fane’s request for his aid in an important experiment in magic.
Guy Fane proves to be a monstrosity so hideous that he appears to no one in the light, and wears a thick black veil at all times, so that even his own mother will be spared the sight of his frightful countenance.
The Gargoyle A Novel of Devil Worship
Chapter 1 Alias Cagliostro.
Chapter 2 An Appeal For Help.
Chapter 3 Behind The Arras
Chapter 4 The Master
Chapter 5 Sybil
Part Two The Story So Far
Chapter 6 Mephistopheles
Chapter 7 Alden’s Secret
Chapter 8 Lucifer’s Chapel
Chapter 9 The Master Consults An Oracle
Chapter 10 Shut Out
Part Three The Story So Far
Chapter 11 The Master Prepares
Chapter 12 Cagliostro To The Rescue
Chapter 13 Lucifer Takes Toll
Fanny Greye Bragg La Spina, writing as Greye La Spina (1880-1969) was one of the founding female authors of the modern horror story.
The Gargoyle has 3 illustrations.
Excerpt: The Gargoyle
LUKE PORTER had just ordered supper. His waitress, a chatty and pert young country woman, hesitated before departing for the kitchen; it was obvious that she had something on her mind. Luke’s light gray eyes twinkled at her half confusion; he was enjoying the play of expression over her face and had no intention of helping her out. At his open amusement she took heart.
“There’s a party outside who wants to know if he can have his supper with you,” she told him finally. “He says you don’t know him, but he thinks he has something interesting to tell you.”
“He does, eh?” Luke laughed softly. “Why does he think I will be interested in his information?”
“The young woman put her hand into her gingham apron pocket and drew out a newspaper clipping which she held toward him. She waited in silence until the young man had read it, and when he looked up, his face alight with interest, she had her turn at laughter.
“Huh! Changed your mind, didn’t you, mister? Shall he come in?”
“Tell him if he doesn’t come. I’ll go out and pull him in,” exclaimed Luke, and once more bent his gaze upon the clipping.
It was a rather astonishing advertisement :
OCCULTIST.—I want an initiate occultist of mature years, with an assistant youth of fine physique and handsome, to aid in the completion of important occult experiment. For particulars, address Occult Book Concern, 40 Park Row, New York City.
As Luke stared incredulously, something happened to the print; it went blurry, and then cleared up to a few words in an expanse of white. For a moment he could not understand what had happened; then he read the visiting card that had been laid upon the clipping, and lifted his eyes to see the owner of that formidable and mysterious Cagliostro Moderno, Initiate Occultist.
Imagination had conjured up almost instantaneously a tall and slender figure of fearsome dignity, with flashing black eyes. What confronted him as he rose instinctively to his feet was a black-cloaked form of hardly middle height but of heavy build. The individual enveloped in the cloak was so holding it that his face was almost hidden; all that showed was a small, buttonlike nose, above which peered pale blue eyes squinting involuntarily as if in distaste at the light which flooded the room in true country hostelry fashion. Carrot-colored hair stood in a stiff pompadour above a sallow face.
“Mr. Moderno?” queried Luke uncertainly.
The mysterious stranger bowed with tremendous dignity.
“Will you be seated, sir? And will you mercifully explain this?” Luke lifted the newspaper clipping and his gray eyes searched the sallow countenance of the stranger, who seated himself opposite and at once became a figure of far more impressiveness, owing to the fact that his body was long, making him seem much taller, when seated, than he really was. He threw back the black mantle, displaying a flame-colored lining covered with symbolic figures embroidered in various shades. But in tossing back the mantle, he also uncovered his face, so that the combination of button nose, cupid’s bow mouth and squinting pale blue eyes made up an ensemble oddly at variance with his air of mystery and importance.
“Call me Cagliostro,” he commanded severely. “Young man, are you married?”
“Well—what if I am?” he asked. “How can it matter to you?”
“It may matter much to me—and to you as well. Do not be flippant. Give me a direct answer. Upon your single status much depends.”
Luke’s firm lips curled whimsically at the corners.
“Good friend Cagliostro, I am still heart-whole and fancy-free.”
The unknown drew what was obviously a deep sigh of relief.
“Then you can serve as my assistant,” he exclaimed, pointing at the clipping which Luke still held between thumb and forefinger of one well-formed hand.
“But, my good chap, I don’t know anything about magic of any kind,” the young man retorted, humoring what certainly appeared to be a harmless madman. “All my magic consists of splashing colors on canvas.” “But you are young—and good-looking—and unmarried,” the unknown insisted. “And my nephew disappointed me at the last moment,” he confided, leaning across the table and unbending sufficiently from his high pose to look pleadingly at the artist.
Luke Porter stared incredulously at his vis-à-vis, the impulse to shout with laughter seizing almost irresistibly upon him. The man was amusing in his gravity.
“Have some of this steak,” he offered. “Potatoes? As long as you are here, you’d better help me eat, good Cagliostro. And then, out with the whole story. You can’t expect me to be your assistant unless you tell me the situation, you know.”
Cagliostro Moderno hesitated, the squinting blue eyes searchingly upon Luke. Then he let himself relax comfortably in his chair, held out the plate the waitress had provided for the unexpected guest, and began to talk incoherently. Luke listened, and began to gather in details of an eery situation, the like of which he had never in his life believed possible.
SOMEWHERE in the Pennsylvania woods near Shakerville, about a mile up Woddy Ridge from the main road between Shakerville and Spinnerton, there was the replica of a medieval castle, called Fanewold by the owners. This castle had been built by the present Madam Fane in her girlhood, as a surprize for her young husband. Madam Fane had had all the money, but the young husband had not remained with her long after the birth of their child, a boy; he had deserted her, eloping with a country girl from a near-by farm. Since that time Madam Fane had shut herself up with her son in the castle, surrounded by faithful servants, rendered blind, deaf and dumb by the large wages they received.
It was the son, Guy Fane, who was a student of the occult, and who had advertised through the book concern for another occultist to aid him in his experiments. At this point in his recital, Cagliostro grew somewhat darker of color, and drew out a smaller business card than the important one he had first given the artist. On it was printed in unobtrusive lettering:
Herbert Binney. Rare books. Occult books a specialty.
“That is the name given me at birth,” explained he, the pale blue eyes watchfully on Luke’s face to detect the slightest tendency to amusement. “Cagliostro is the name I have —ah—earned, by my research along occult lines. You can readily understand, Mr.—Porter—thank you—that ‘Binney’ is hardly a name to command such respect as an adept magician merits.”
“Naturally, Mr. Binney,” agreed Luke, the mobile lips twitching.
“Cagliostro, please,”corrected the mage pointedly. “Well, by reason of my correspondence with the book concern, it believed me to be the proper person to attend Mr. Fane in his experiments.” He lifted his round little chin; his chest swelled perceptibly.
“I therefore selected my sister’s son, a young and handsome boy, to be my assistant, although what Mr. Fane wishes a green youth for is beyond my comprehension,” puzzled Cagliostro. “But Bobby got cold feet just before I left, because he was invited to a costume ball and didn’t want to miss it,” with cold disdain.
“So you are in need of a handsome young man who isn’t tied to a wife?” laughed Luke, pushing away his plate and leaning back in his chair easily. “How are you to know I’m not lying, when I say I’m single?”
Cagliostro stiffened. The squinty blue eyes narrowed.
“It would not be easy to deceive me, Mr. Porter,” he declared impressively. “I asked you, to be sure, but that was to give you a chance to declare yourself. I knew you weren’t married.”
“You did? May I ask how?”
“By your eagle look.”
“My—?” puzzled Luke.
“You look free—wild—ah—” and the mage, at a loss for appropriate words, waved his hands expressively, displaying on one pudgy finger an oddly carved ring with a heavy blood-red stone.
“I see,” murmured Luke, smiling. “You will go with me after dinner,” asserted Cagliostro, with the mien of one who has untold resources at his back to enforce his wishes, “to Fanewold. Whatever emolument I receive for my occult services shall he evenly divided with you. But go alone I dare not, after my correspondence with Mr. Fane. The handsome, unmarried assistant is absolutely obligatory,” he finished pleadingly.”
Excerpt From: Greye La Spina. “The Gargoyle.”
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