Welcome to the 14th issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!
There is a gap in my Black Cat reckoning. I did read issue 13, but I never blogged about it. The stories were not good and, after a year of working on the project, I needed a break. But I’ve missed it too! So, I’m jumping back in with No. 14. This issue features five stories with five authors new to the magazine.
“Silas F. Quigley – To Arrive” by Lewis Hopkins Rogers
Silas F. Quigley, from Oxford, Ohio, arrives at a hotel in New York City to find a letter already waiting for him. The problem is, until midway through his trip he hadn’t even decided which hotel to stay in! Was this letter and the offer of work inside meant for some other Silas F. Quigley? Things get even stranger when Silas decides to take the work offered: writing short stories for a magazine. How hard could it be? This was a decent little mystery of a story, though I found the ultimate resolution to be a bit ornate. It was my favorite of the issue.
Google turns up a Lewis Hopkins Rogers who was a “statesman” and one the author of a patent for an apparatus for the production of gaseous ozonides. Not sure if either penned this tale.
“The Polar Magnet” by Philip Verrill Mighels
Mesmerism weighed heavy in the minds of 1896 readers. In this story, we learn the secret behind an incredibly life-like sculpture. Don’t worry, we’re a few decades away from something like Dorothy L Sayer’s “The Man with the Copper Fingers” showing up in an entertainment magazine.
Philip Verrill Mighels was a prominent in the establishment of the “Sagebrush” school of American literature, encompassing writers of the west and southwest. “The Polar Magnet” is from fairly early in his career.
“Fitzhugh” by W. Macpherson Wiltbank
Lots of clowning in this story, both textual and meta-textual. When Fitzhugh is assigned to be a clown during a community circus, he decides to make sure he’s the best clown there. Or at least someone is the best clown there.
I didn’t find any biographical information on W. Macpherson Wiltbank, but he’ll appear again in later issues of The Black Cat.
“The Passion Snake” by Ella Higginson
The story is written from the POV of a female snake. She falls in love with a human and he’s in love with her, so she thinks, until a human woman he loves shows up and says, “Eeek! A snake!” Allegory, sure, but not my thing,
Ella Higginson was a fairly well-known author of the Pacific Northwest in her time. She was also the campaign manager for Frances C. Axtell, the first female state legislator in Washington.
“Professor Whirlwind” by Allan Quinan
“Professor Whirlwind” is set up to be funny. The titular character is a strange looking man whose two prized possessions are a locket of a with the picture of a lovely young woman and the portrait of a living, feather-less chicken. We’re given an adventure set up: he and the young woman were in a balloon trip gone wrong. There are trills! But then the story ends abruptly, seemly only in utter tragedy.
Boo, Mr. Quinan, boo.
Lots of advertisements in this issue, which makes me wonder if someone had just (gasp) not been scanning them! Along side ads for Prudential Insurance and Funk & Wagnalls Dictionaries was this piece for The Black Cat‘s short story contest.