THE MESSENGER [Novelette]. Original handwritten manuscript, corrected throughout in Chambers' hand. 104 pages, written in pencil on the rectos of ruled paper measuring 32x20 cm. Not dated, but written circa 1896-1897. A tale by Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) about the Black Priest, branded on the forehead and executed for treason during the Third Crusade and again in 1760, whose skull is disinterred in a gravel pit, and who returns again to haunt the Breton countryside. The story was first published in THE MYSTERY OF CHOICE (1897), Chambers' third collection of short fiction. The published version largely follows the final text of the manuscript which has many deletions and revisions by Chambers. THE MYSTERY OF CHOICE "opens with a trilogy of tales sharing the same characters and set in the Breton countryside. They are reminiscent of 'The Demoiselle D'Ys' in mood and setting ... ['The Messenger'] is an effective treatment of a conventional theme" (Lee Weinstein, Bleiler, ed., SUPERNATURAL FICTION WRITERS II, 743). "By far and away the most powerful ... was 'The Messenger.' This is a long, sometimes rambling story that nevertheless guides the reader along to a most eerie conclusion. The setting -- coastal Brittany -- has seldom been used to such effect, and the historical tale behind the story's events has a grotesque ring of truth. This is one of Chambers' best stories, and its use of the traditional cowled figure has never been bettered" (Hugh Lamb, ed., Chambers, OUT OF THE DARK I, pp. xi-xii). "The Messenger" is "a material-horror story, possibly a little unsubtle, but it does have the characteristics of a nightmare with its disruptions of the time-dimension, interlocked identities, and repetitive fate, which are all novel touches for the period" (Bleiler, ed., Chambers, THE KING IN YELLOW AND OTHER HORROR STORIES, p. xi). The manuscript, preceded by a calligraphic title-page (presumably not by Chambers), is bound in three-quarter brown morocco and marbled paper boards with spine title lettered in gold. Of the six extant Chambers manuscripts recorded by American Book Prices Current, several of which are described as having similar bindings with calligraphic title-pages. The binding was very worn (covers detached, etc.) and has been professionally restored with front and rear covers reattached and new leather spine with original three-quarter marbled boards and marbled endpapers preserved and new leather spine label reproduced from original title label. The first leaf of the manuscript is tanned and has a long vertical closed tear that has an old mend on the verso with archival tape, but the manuscript is in excellent condition overall. (#157178).