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[Note: The following incomplete manuscript, unsigned and undated, was recently found lacquered to the bottom of a desk in Room 44 (Left) of the Inn. A scholarly review and handwriting analysis of the work indicates that it is the work of a particular author of curious and macabre literature. However, the Estate of said author denies the work is his, or, indeed, that he was anywhere near the Inn at the approximate time frame speculated (1964, based on circumstantial evidence in the work, e.g., the existence at the time of Room 94); thus, his name cannot be used here until pending litigation has been resolved. – The Editor]
[On the first page of the manuscript are several titles, including:
Only the last of these is not lined out. – Ed.]
Prologue: Write something here about the Inn. The context is everything. Need to find more history that’s official, not just comments from the staff and the visitors and odd dreams. Wish I had not lost that letter from M. regarding this place. Place is much nicer than I thought, which will not do.
[A small ink sketch in the left margin shows the front of the inn, but prior to the erection of the bell tower. – Ed.]
A is for the Aarons. This trio of ladies in their long, powder-blue dresses, may invite you to a glass of claret with them. The management requests you decline, though doubtless it would be better for the whole world, if, invited, you attend. The ladies in question may become even more furious if you do not.
B is for Blue. Blue smoke rises from applewood fires. Blue eyes pierce the opaque fog on early September mornings. Blue carpets line some halls. Blue birds are sometimes mistaken for something else, and vice-versa. Blue moods burden the brain with strange fevers. Blue blood means very little once spillt. Five of these were confirmed by the famous librettist, Maria Squaim, from personal observation.
[The preceding paragraph was lined out, and this one fitted into the margin. –Ed.]
C is for Confessional. This is a locale said to be good for the soul, much like the Inn. Within both, truths may be revealed, penance imposed, safety sought, and dark secrets danced about in the manner of small, flightless birds. The food at the Inn is much better than that in a confessional, however; the murals better limned; and the rooms are certainly far less cramped, except in the East Wing and in the front dormers, which ought to be avoided.
D is for Divan. An elegant divan of black and golden fabric can be found in a room on the third floor which the management keeps locked. There is a large oil painting in the room of a woman sitting in the same divan. Though there have been repeated efforts to move the divan from the room in question, it continues to be found there the following morning, the curious stains upon it still damp.
E is for Edward. There have been three Edwards of note who stayed at the Inn since 1893. One was a beastly killer who enjoyed pomegranates and Mozart. One was a great humanitarian who stopped briefly on his travels during one summer and ended up working in the kitchen for several years, inventing a new flavor of sherbet. Nobody may yet speak of the third Edward.
F is for Fritters. The Lunar Lounge, so named for the large skylight and its evening hours, fries up several excellent versions of these. It is said they are from recipes brought straight from New Orleans by refugees of a certain parlor. The addictive qualities of these confections cannot be underestimated.
[The preceding paragraph was begun in the manuscript, then lined out, replaced by the following. – Ed.]
G is for Gifts. Gift horses ought to be ridden far and quickly, avoiding gopher holes and swamps. Gift boxes ought to be refused unless in the form of jewelry cases, in which case one takes one’s chances of life or death. Gift certificates for a weekend’s stay at the Inn are available at the front desk, but the price may be greater than one imagines.
[The preceding entries were lined out in the manuscript, replaced by the following. – Ed.]
H is for the Horror Hour. This is usually considered, in educated circles, the hour between three and four in the morning. There is far less agreement as to what precisely makes it horrible. Some say it is the terrors of a night not yet over. Others say anticipated fear of the day yet to come. Still others opine that there is something intrinsically dreadful in what scuttles about in the darkness during that time, as in the case of Mister Lloyd Egnarts, of Poughkeepsie, who left his bed and wife at 3:47 a.m. to obtain a glass of water from the lavatory down the hall, and was never heard from again.
I is for Indian. A wooden Indian stands in a large hallway of red carpet and golden wallpaper. It was once part of a matched set, but accounts differ as to how the second Indian departed this place.
J is for Juice. Apple juice and cider are plentiful at the Inn, though care should be taken before excessive imbibing of the latter. James Ouzley ate and drank while in Faerie, the story goes, and never was able to escape again.
K is for Kudu. A large stuffed head of a kudu, an ungulate from the African veldt, shot in 1913 by Theodore Roosevelt and presented to the staff of the hotel following the President’s visit, can be found on the opposite wall of a four-poster bed in Room A404. On nights when the moon is full and the month’s name is devoid of the letter “R,” it is said that the kudu will answer any three questions, but only in Swahili and and only in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet. It is unclear whether this refers to the questions, the answers, or both.
[The preceding paragraph trails off and is struck out in several places and in whole. The following is then written. –Ed.]
L is for Lawn Gnome. There are exactly 39 of these scatted around outside (and, in two cases, inside) the Inn. They are carved of rock by local artisans, not cast of concrete, with blue and brown china eyes. They are not, despite the rumors, alive, and nobody is willing to admit before any fellow of having actually seen them dancing a stirring rendition of “The Nutcracker” each year on the Second Sunday after Michaelmas.
M is for Monocle. A single lens for correcting or improving the vision of a single eye. What does its owner see through its convex clarity? And why does he so carefully avoid the far end of the corridor in the Ambergris Annex?
N is for Names. While there appear to be many ways to actually pronounce, punctuate, or even spell, the name “Land’s End,” this begs the issue of whether the establishment is even actually called that.
[Though neither is lined out, there are two entries for “N” –Ed.]
N is for Naphtha. A fractional distillate of petroleum, it is excellent as a solvent of various organic compounds, such as fats and rubber. It can be used to remove blood stains and other bodily fluids from paint, carpet, and linens, and it is reported that the owners of the Inn keep several large yellow drums of the liquid in a shed behind the motor pool.
O is for Orchard. There is a large apple orchard behind the Eastern Addition, which is all that remains of an extensive farm owned by Hamish and Lily Hamilton, venturesome early denizens of this area. The land was reclaimed from a marsh that the Indians considered excessively dreary and refused to settle. He went on to found a large hospital and coaling station along the coast. She did not.
P is for Passion. Whether in flowers, fruit, or life, in small portions it is lovely, in larger ones life-threatening.
Q is for Queen. The Queen of England is said to have visited the Inn a decade ago so as to confer, in utmost privacy, with a famed fortune teller regarding her family’s future. Rumor has it that she canceled a large state dinner immediately thereafter, appeared pale and shaken for months, sold all her stock holdings in a large bed-slat manufacturer operating out of Belgium, and took to drink.
R is for Room Numbers. These are evidently subject to change at the will of the management, though it is sometimes difficult to tell if it is the numbers which have changed, or the rooms behind them.
S is for Sarah. Lucky in education, unlucky in love, one must forgive her predilection for English toffee, one-eyed cats, and tales about the end of the world. Though not yet born, she eventually hopes to quickly finish paying off her student loans, so as to avoid a very unpleasant collection agency with a whiff of sulphur and lavender about them.
T is for the Test. At regular intervals, a test is of the utmost necessity. Depending on the outcome, it could decide a private wager, the excise tax rate for the Inn, the survival of a tribe, or the existence of this sphere as we know it. A pair of … most excellent examples of … large hail-stones … feline … apple butter.
[Much of the previous entry is obscured by large ink blots as the author’s pen evidently failed him. The word “feline” may actually be “beetles.” Subsequent entries are in a different shade of ink. – Ed.]
U is for Under the Rose. Derived from images sacred to the cult of Horus during the decadency of Rome, it means to speak in confidence. Many such discussions occur at the Inn, though few of them that take place in the Rose Room, beneath its glorious fresco of a “Mother Fiore” rose bloom, actually maintain any level of confidentiality. See “Writers.”
V is for the Vermilion Lounge. Though clearly set up to serve as a bar, it is said that construction was completed on the very day that the Volstead Act (also a "V") was passed. It currently serves as a library specializing in cookbooks, philosophy, western fiction, bell-pull knitting, and whatever else the proprietors choose to store there.
W is for Writers. An unhealthy and untrustworthy lot. They are possessed of lurid self-importance and an innate sense of the personal melodrama. Writers seek out-of-the way places such as the Inn as a haven (c.f.) during particularly difficult or tedious times of their lives. Suggestions are made in some circles that writers ought to be sealed up in their rooms and left to starve to death. This has, it is rumored, occurred on at least two occasions at the Inn, though no bodies were ever found, and perhaps await subsequent disinterment.
X is for X-ray. This penetrating energy reveals the truth about what lays hidden within human bodies. Life at the Inn provides similar perspective to the lives of those visitors who are in need of treatment and diagnosis. As a cautionary note, surfeit of either can, according to some, cause lead to disease and death.
Y is for Youth. It is said that youth sees all things clearly and afresh, and does not fear magic or the bizarre. For the young and young at heart, the Inn may very well be seen as a place of wonderful mystery and romance.
[The above paragraph may be unfinished. A small drawing in the margin resembles a beetle. – Ed.]
[The above is lined out. The following paragraph is clearly truncated, and written in far shakier hand. – Ed.]
Z is for the Baal of Zebub, called by some the Devil. On that subject, an intriguing gentleman can sometimes be found in this establishment. He is usually seen sipping either absinthe or Tab at one of the bars, reading a good book in any number of nooks and crannies, or sitting upon the end of a weary author’s bed, watching me write and smiling and nodding and coughing excessively as I do so. He may be distinguished by
[This is the end of the manuscript. The previous entry came to the bottom of a page. If completed on a subsequent page, that portion of the manuscript has been lost. – Ed.]
-- Dave Hill