DEATH, THE KNIGHT, AND THE LADY: A GHOST STORY. London & New York: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1897. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi [vii] viii [1] 2-163 [164] + 12-page publisher's catalogue dated 1897 inserted at rear, original tan cloth, front, spine and rear panels stamped in brown, all edges untrimmed. First edition. Appears to be the author's third work of fiction, preceded by THE INTENDED: A NOVEL (1894) and PIERROT! A STORY (1896). "Excellent supernatural novella concerning gender, curses, reincarnation and fate. A curse hangs over the Wilder family, springing from a crime of passion committed centuries earlier when Gerald Wilder murdered his beloved Beatrice Sinclair, then himself. The fulfillment of the curse, the accidental killing of every male Wilder heir by a Sinclair, is always presaged by the sound of a spectral trumpet. Now, behind the walled-in massive Yorkshire estate, current family head James is determined to break the curse by uniting in marriage his eldest son, Gerald, with the last remaining Sinclair female, Beatrice. He finds her, down on her luck and walking the streets, rescues her and sends her up to the estate. Ancestral memories stir in her as she approaches it, but they are the memories of a man. Another wrinkle in the fabric of prospective matrimonial bliss is that, in another effort to break the curse, James has dressed, named and raised his son Gerald, 16, as a girl. Only he and the old butler know the truth about his identity. The other staff know him as Geraldine. Geraldine has never been outside the walls of the estate and, in fact, is quite hazy on the whole concept of 'male' and 'female.' Into this world Beatrice arrives and promptly falls in love with Geraldine. It becomes evident that 'Geraldine' is the reincarnation of the original Beatrice Sinclair, while the current Beatrice is the reincarnation of the original Gerald Wilder. In these reversed roles, they fall in love again. Beatrice, falling increasingly under the spell of the original Gerald Wilder, comes to see that she should leave immediately, breaking her and Geraldine's heart, in order to expiate the crime. Then she decides that the only way to end the curse is to re-enact (or, technically, reverse) the original crime. Wandering in the attic one day, she finds the original Gerald's costume, with sword and trumpet. Seized by a kind of battle lust, she puts these on and sounds the trumpet. Going downstairs, she finds Geraldine, weak with passion for her. She goes to get some wine to revive her but mistakenly brings back the opium drink to which Geraldine has become addicted. He drinks this and dies, and, a few months later, the broken-hearted, tubercular Beatrice dies. The curse has triumphed again. Stacpoole gets across the feeling of youthful passion. By pairing the idea of reincarnation with that of the ancestral curse, he makes the former more believable for a Western reader, and offsets the danger of predictability by means of the double gender reversal. A first-rate tale." - Robert T. Eldridge. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 204. Bleiler (1978), p. 184. Reginald 13531. Wolff 6502. No copy in the Norman Colbeck collection which had 32 of Stacpoole's books. Private owner's bookplate affixed to front paste-down. Spine panel a bit tanned, hairline cracks along inner hinges repaired, a very good copy. A very scarce book. Enclosed in a custom quarter leather clamshell box. (#154549).

Price: $850.00

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