The Return of Andrew Bentley by August W. Derleth and Mark Schorer (1933)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror June 18, 2013
May I invite you in … to listen. Can you hear the peet peet from the nighthawk? Can you recognize the gasping and gurgling cries from the river? What’s that movement in the shadowy distance of the trees? A caped, dark and hunched creature flattens itself against the vaulted doors of your uncle’s gravesite. Gleaming white fingers spread out.
You dash to your uncle’s vault. Who would dare tamper with the dead? Who!
Uncle Amos is a dabbler of the dark arts and a believer … of evil demons lured to earth by man’s ignorance, of souls isolated in space, and of an ever-present evil wrath. Uncle Amos lives in the rustic village of Sac Prairie, in an old homestead on the banks of the Wisconsin River, until his sudden death, at which time his nephew, Ellis, inherits house and properties—and must agree to the old man’s single demand.
Uncle Amos instructs Ellis, “Let no day go by during which you do not examine the vault behind the house. My body will lie there, and the vault will be sealed. If at any time you discover that someone has been tampering, you will find written instructions for your further procedure in my library desk.”
Written instructions. This is where it really gets good. The Return of Andrew Bentley is not just a ghost story as you might expect. This is quite a thrilling story with young Ellis struggling to protect his dead uncle’s body, maintain his own sanity and safety, and avoid dipping himself into the blackest of arts.
I wish I could provide you with a direct link to the actual short story, but I could not locate a single online read anywhere, which means the copyright is not in public domain.
I did locate a video from Boris Karloff’s Thriller Theater made in 1961, vintage black-and-white and with a bit of melodrama that is so charming of that time, complete with sinister organ music. The script is written by the talented and famous Richard Matheson. And you might enjoy some of the amazing outdoor photography with horse and carriage scenes.
If you want to read this short story (I found my copy in an old anthology from 1941), 25 Modern Stories of Mystery and Imagination, Editor Phil Stong, Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. The story is also in Famous Ghost Stories by Editor Christopher Cerf, published by Vintage NY. Both books are on AbeBooks.com or try your local library.
Watch the video here at Karloff’s Thriller Theater:
And I found this commentary by Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri that might be an interesting addition to your evening with The Return of Andrew Bentley.
A quick word about the author August Derleth who collaborated with Mark Schorer to write this shortie. Derleth, a prolific and versatile writer (over 3000 works published in 350 magazines) co-founded Arkham House, publisher of Lovecraft’s stories, Blackwood’s and others. Some of his literary influences were not only Lovecraft but also Thoreau, Emerson, A.C. Doyle, and Robert Frost. Derleth invented the term “Cthulhu Mythos” for Lovecraft’s fictional universe.
Art Credit: A Thriller A Day Blogspot.
NOTE: Just in case you missed this announcement, my supernatural novel, The Dazzling Darkness won Joel Friedlander’s Ebook Cover Award for Fiction, cover designer Gina Casey. Many thanks to Gina for an award-winning cover.