The Black Cat, No. 7, April 1896

Welcome to the 7th issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!

This issue felt a little light even though it contained six stories and was about the same overall length as other issues. Maybe it was because all the stories were roughly the same length without one longer story.

This was also the first issue without a good ghost story!

Stories

“The Mystery of the Thirty Millions” by T. F. Anderson and H. D. Umbstaetter

“The Mystery of the Thirty Millions” is set in 1903: this is near future science fiction! The main plot device of this story is the movement by the US government of $30 million dollars to Europe (England?) to right a trade imbalance. This is going to be done by literally loading up $30 million in gold on to a fast, unsinkable ship (that is also going to transport some dignitaries). The ship goes missing, but is later spotted adrift,  two weeks overdue. The crew and passengers tell of a strange moving lodestone that pulled the ship off-course. It’s never quite discovered what it is, but it seems that the Russians are behind it.

I don’t have any info on T. F. Anderson, but H. D. Umbstaetter, our intrepid Black Cat editor, is back here with co-writing credit. The zinger-ish ending has his fingerprints all over it.

“The Man at Solitaria” by Geik Turner

Solitaria is a “train station.” It’s a watering tank, a side-track, and a little hut with a telegraph line where a single man lives and takes care of the comings and goings of trains on this stretch of track. But he’s tired of his job. He wants someone to take a shift! He wants a life. So he takes matters into his own hands. I think this story is supposed to be humorous, but there isn’t anything funny about train wrecks.

This is Geik Turner’s first story for The Black Cat, but it won’t be his last.

“The Compass of Fortune” by   Eugene Shade Bisbee

Melville Barrett has recently come into a lot of money. How? wonders his old friend. Well, Barrett tells his tale. During a madcap adventure, he uncovers a skull with two sapphires for eyes. The eyes always look toward an ancient treasure it is tasked with protecting. This is a somewhat creepy story, but ultimately is a let down.

Eugene Shade Bisbee wrote a few other speculative fiction works and the novel The Treasure of the Ice.

“The Surgical Love-Cure” by James Buckham

James Buckham is back this month with a semi-followup to “The Telepathic Wooing.” In this case though, a handsome vicar wishes to be cured of the love he feels for a certain woman in order to better serve God. In this case, science doesn’t provide the solution.

“The Williamson Safe Mystery” by F. S. Hessletine

Mr. Williamson, a mysterious jeweler, has gone missing and after a period of time, his massive safe is being removed from his former place of business. Between the time of Williamson’s arrival in town and his disappearance, a series of burglaries and robberies have taken place, including Williamson himself being mugged. But after Williamson disappeared, the robberies stopped. What happened? And is the answer to be found in his safe? This is a solid mystery, and time is taken in the telling.

“How Small the World” by  E. H. Mayde

This love story is told in a series of letters and conversation snippets. While I more or less got the gist of what was going on, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was a bit confusing.

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Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 7, April 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project

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