The Pale Blue Eye (2022) | Transcript

A world-weary detective is hired to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet. Stymied by the cadets' code of silence, he enlists one of their own to help unravel the case - a young man the world would come to know as Edgar Allan Poe.
The Pale Blue Eye (2022)

At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope just off the parade grounds. An apparent suicide is not unheard of in a harsh regimen like West Point’s, but the next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has stolen into the room where the body lay and removed the heart.

* * *

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”

— E. A. Poe

[distant animal calls]

[eerie music playing]

[faint creaking]

[bugle fanfare playing]

[Landor] Morning, gentlemen.

[horses whinnying]

You Augustus Landor?

[Landor] I am. And you?

Captain Hitchcock at your service. Second-in-command at the Academy. I’m here to inform you Superintendent Thayer requests an immediate audience.

[Landor] And the nature of this audience?

I’ll leave that to the colonel.

[Landor] When might this take place?

At your earliest convenience.

[Landor] [chuckles] And if I should decide not to come?

That would be your own concern. You’re a private citizen.

[Landor] [exhales deeply] Well, it’s a fine day for a ride.

Hudson Valley, New York
1830

[intriguing music playing]

[Thayer] The governor suggests that you were a legend among New York City constables. And when he recommended your services, he noted your impressive accomplishments, including apprehending the leaders of the Daybreak Boys, breaking up the dreaded Shirt Tails gang, and solving a particularly grisly murder of a young prostitute in Elysian Fields. Your talents include code breaking, riot control, and gloveless interrogation. You’re a minister’s son from Gloucester who came to New York while still in your teens. And you are a widower, Mr. Landor. Three years now.

[Hitchcock] Shall I send for coffee?

[Landor] Beer will do nicely.

[bell tolling]

[Landor] [exhales] You, uh… You keep these notes in a pigeonhole back there somewhere, do you? What else do they say? Do they say that I haven’t darkened the door of a church in a long time? Does it mention that my daughter ran off a while back?

We are aware of your daughter’s disappearance. And we offer our sympathy. With all due respect, I hope I have not offended.

[Landor] No. No, no, no. No, sorry. I ought to apologize. And I do. Please carry on.

Mr. Landor, we are obliged to proceed with extreme discretion. We’re looking for someone. A private citizen of well-documented industry and tact who might carry out inquiries on the Academy’s behalf.

[Landor] Huh.

They’re of a highly complex and delicate nature and concern one of our cadets. Second-year man from Kentucky by the name of Fry. Leroy Fry.

There’s no point in dancing around it. Fry hanged himself… last night.

[Landor] Oh. Well, I’m sorry to hear that.

A dreadful business, this. But you must understand our position. We have been specifically charged with the care of these young men, to make them gentlemen and soldiers, and to that end, we drive them. But we’d like to think we know when to… stop driving them.

[Landor] A boy hangs himself… uh, that’s a matter for the coroner.

[Hitchcock] I’m afraid that’s not the end of it. Cadet Fry’s body was violated last night in the hospital ward.

[Landor] Violated? By whom?

Well, if we knew that, we would have had no need to summon you.

[Landor] I’m sure the Academy has its share of pranksters.

This was no prank, Mr. Landor.

Leroy Fry’s heart was carved from his chest.

[somber music playing]

[Landor] Dr. Marquis, how does a person go about doing this?

[Dr. Marquis] Scalpel. Or any good, sharp knife would do. But getting to the heart, that’s the tricky part. Those gashes on the lungs and liver came from angling the blade to save the heart.

[Landor] And how would one preserve the heart?

A container of some sort. Wrapped in muslin, maybe, or newspaper. Very likely surrounded by ice.

[Landor] What type of fella could do this?

A strong one.

[Landor] Not a woman, then?

No woman as I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, no.

[Landor] What about his medical pedigree? Would he need to be as well-educated and well-trained as yourself?

Not necessarily. He’d need a lot of light, and know where to cut, but it wouldn’t have to be a doctor or a surgeon. It’d have to be…

A madman! And still out there.

[drill sergeant] Port arms!

[Thayer] You’ll have to forgive me, Mr. Landor. You’ve found us in a very delicate position.

[drill sergeant] Left, face!

There are certain powerful senators in Washington who would like nothing more than to see us fail utterly, to shut us down. I’m asking you to help save the honor of the United States Military Academy.

[Landor] And save it, I’ll try.

[pensive music playing]

[Landor] You were, uh, on guard duty last night, Mr. Huntoon.

Yes, sir. Post at 9:30. Relieved at midnight and made my way back to the guardroom.

[Landor] Where is that?

Number four, sir. By Fort Clinton.

[Landor] I… I admit, I’m not very familiar with the grounds, but it seems that the part we’re standing on right now is not on the way from Fort Clinton to North Barracks.

No, sir.

[Landor] Oh. What took you off course?

Well, sir, on my way, I heard something. I reckoned it was an animal. It sounded like it was dying or caught in a trap, so I came to help. I’m terribly partial to animals. Uh… I was running this way until I brushed Cadet Fry, sir.

[Landor] How’d he look?

Not well, sir. He wasn’t hanging straight. It was almost as if he was seated in a chair.

[Landor] I’m not following you.

Well, his feet were touching the ground, sir.

[Landor] His feet were touching the ground?

Yes, sir.

[Landor] All right. What did you do next?

I ran. Ran straight back to North Barracks.

[Landor] Hmm. Uh, one last question and I’ll trouble you no more. Did you see anyone else about?

No, sir.

Mr. Huntoon.

[pensive music continues]

[Landor] The neck… That’s what first struck me. See? Not a clean cinch at all. The rope grabbed at him and ran up and down the neck looking for purchase.

As though…

[Landor] As though he was… fighting. Hmm? Look, if you would, at his fingers. Blistered fresh from clutching at the rope…

[door opens]

…trying to peel the thing off him.

[door closes]

May I ask what’s going on here? This is, uh, quite irregular.

[Landor] I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind feeling around the back of Mr. Fry’s head. You did examine Mr. Fry?

Of course I examined him, as is my job.

[Landor] Hmm.

[Dr. Marquis softly] Haven’t we already been through this?

Uh…

[Landor] Hmm.

There is a contusion of sort. Parietal region. Approximately three inches.

[breathes deeply] I must have missed that.

[Landor] Mmm.

[Hitchcock] Someone murdered Mr. Fry. Is this what you’re telling us, Mr. Landor?

[Landor] You might be onto something there, Captain Hitchcock.

[bones crack]

[cracking]

[Landor] Well, anyone could have missed that, doctor.

Mr. Landor.

[soldiers marching nearby]

[door closes]

So now you’re on board, I think it’s important we set some ground rules. You will report to me on a daily basis and I to the colonel. And you mustn’t breathe a word of this to anyone, inside or outside the Academy.

[Landor] Is that all?

One final condition. There will be no drinking throughout the course of this investigation. Your reputation precedes you.

[distant animal calls]

[Landor sighs]

[footsteps approaching]

[Landor grunts]

Oh. Pardon. Are you Augustus Landor?

[Landor] [coughs] I am.

Unless I mistake, you’ve been tasked with solving the mystery surrounding Leroy Fry.

[Landor] That’s so. What might I do for you?

It is incumbent upon me and the honor of this institution to divulge some of the conclusions which I have reached.

[Landor] Conclusions?

Regarding the late Mr. Fry.

[Landor] I’d be most interested.

The man you’re looking for is a poet.

[marching band playing]

[Landor] Private Cochrane. When Leroy Fry’s body was brought back to the hospital, you were detailed to guard it?

I was, sir.

[Landor] Did anything happen while on watch?

Not till around 2:30. That’s when I was relieved of my duty.

[Landor] Who relieved you? Private, who relieved you?

I can’t tell you, sir. Only that it was an officer.

[Landor] He never identified himself?

No, sir. But I wouldn’t expect it of an officer.

[Landor] Hmm. What did this officer say to you?

He said, “Thank you, private. That will be all. I’m relieving you.”

[Landor] An odd request, no?

Yes, sir. Very.

[Landor] Did you see this officer’s face?

No, sir. I had only a candle. It was terribly dark.

[Landor] Right, tell me then, how did you know it was an officer?

The bar on his shoulder, sir. But I must admit, it was so very strange.

[Landor] How so?

The bars. The bars on his left shoulder were missing.

[intriguing music playing]

[violin playing softly]

[door opens]

[door closes]

[Benny] Ah, there’s the man himself. Benny knows a man who’s in need of a drink when he sees one.

[Landor] The very sight of it warms my blood.

[Landor] Benny!

Sir.

[Landor] Here’s… to rules.

Fuck ’em.

Patsy. Patsy! What’s grieving you?

Did you hear about that poor cadet? They say it took him hours to die.

[Landor] “They”?

Him.

[Landor] Aren’t you meant to be in recital?

Uh… Good evening. Recital? No, I won’t be missed. They hardly know I’m at the Academy. And besides, I’ve learned more in rooms like this than any classroom.

[Landor] I don’t doubt it.

Sit, please. Please, sit. Have a… Have a…

[Landor] Seat?

Seat. Thank you. Uh… Fourth Classman Poe. E. A. Poe. Edgar A. Poe.

[Landor] Worked up quite a thirst, I see.

Helps take the bite off the gloom.

[Landor] Um… So tell me, how did you learn about Leroy Fry?

Uh, well, from Huntoon, of course. He has been spouting the news like the town crier. [chuckles softly] Perhaps someone might hang him before too long.

[Landor] You don’t mean to imply that someone hanged Mr. Fry?

I don’t mean to imply anything.

[Landor] Why do you think that the man who cut Leroy Fry’s heart out was a poet?

Well… The heart is a symbol or it is nothing. Now take away the symbol and what do you have? It’s a fistful of muscle of no more aesthetic interest than a bladder. Now, to remove a man’s heart is to traffic in symbol. And who better equipped for such labor than a poet?

[Landor] Awfully literal-minded poet, it would seem…

Oh, you cannot pretend that this act of savagery did not startle the literary resonances from the very crevices of your mind. Lord Suckling’s charming song, “I prithee send me back my heart Since I cannot have thine” Or… Or the Bible even, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. A broken and a contrite heart thou wilt not despise.”

[Landor] Then we might just as easily be seeking a religious maniac.

No, you see, I neglected to tell you that I am a poet myself, hence inclined to think as one.

[Landor] [exhales heavily] I don’t get around to poetry much.

Why should you? You’re an American.

[Landor] And you?

An artist. That is to say, without country.

[Landor] Oh… [laughing]

What, Mr. Landor?

[Landor] You’ve been a great help.

You want a second look at a cadet named Loughborough. In former days, Leroy Fry’s roommate, until they had a falling out. The nature of which remains uncertain.

[unsettling music playing]

[Hitchcock] Mr. Loughborough. Tell Mr. Landor how you were acquainted with Mr. Fry.

Yes, sir. We were roommates.

[Landor] Hmm. You ever have a falling out?

I wouldn’t call it a falling out. Just… a matter of diverging paths, sir.

[Landor] What made you diverge?

Well… Nothing so… A matter of course.

[sternly] If you know of anything pertaining to Mr. Fry, you’re bound to disclose it at once.

Well, it’s like this, sir. I’d say he’d fallen in with a bad bunch. At least that’s what he called them.

[Landor] Now then, tell me, by “bad bunch,” did he mean other cadets?

[Loughborough] He never said, but I assumed so.

And why didn’t you come forward earlier?

I didn’t quite see that it had any bearing, happening so long ago, sir.

Dismissed.

Mr. Stoddard. You were the last one to see Mr. Fry alive.

Yes, sir.

Speak up.

I’m just a bit ill, sir. [clears throat] I did see Leroy late on the night in question. Passed him on the way to barracks as I was coming in.

[Landor] You spoke to him?

He stopped me, asking if any officers were about.

[Landor] How did Mr. Fry look?

It was so very dark. I… I wouldn’t trust my memory.

[Landor] Did you see anything on his person, a length of rope, maybe?

None that I could see.

[Landor] Hmm.

There was something. Uh… As Fry was leaving, I did ask where he was off to at such an hour.

[Landor] And?

He said, “Necessary business.”

[Landor] What did you take that to mean?

I don’t know.

[Landor clears throat]

Dismissed.

[cadet] Pardon me, captain.

Yes.

Christ almighty. “A cow and sheep have been murdered and mutilated in Cold Spring. Their chests most cruelly carved open and their hearts removed.” Are any of God’s creatures immune from this man?

[Landor] We don’t know that this is the same man.

What? Coincidence, is it?

Effective 0600 tomorrow morning, all men will only attend class, meals, prayer services. Nothing more!

[Landor] If any of your classmates ask, we did nothing more than discuss your acquaintance with Leroy Fry.

[Poe] There was no acquaintance. I never knew him.

[Landor] What?

I never knew the fellow.

[Landor] Then I misunderstood you.

Huh. You’re not the first. So, if this is not a discussion, what is it?

[Landor] An offer of employment. There’s no pay. None of your classmates may know what you’re doing until long after you’re done with it. If they do find out, they’ll likely curse your name.

Oh! An irresistible offer. [chuckles dryly] No, um, please, tell me more.

[Landor] Excellent. I need you to decipher this… This segment of a larger note. You’ll have to work secretly and as precisely as you can.

[melancholy music playing]

[melancholy music continues]

[knocking at door]

I am pleased to report I have successfully decoded your message. Hmm. Handwritten, it is of a personal nature. Fry had it with him at the time of his death. From that, we may presume it was sufficient to draw him from his barracks on the night in question. As the rest of the message was torn from his hand, we may presume that the note, in some way, identified its sender. Now the use of rather primitive black capitals would also indicate that the sender wished to disguise his identity. An invitation of sorts, or might we more accurately call it a trap. [claps]

[Landor] A trap? Hmm.

Now, with that in mind… Oh, may I?

[Landor] Mmm-hmm.

Let’s concentrate our labors on the third line which we know, for a fact, is complete. “Be.” But be what? Something that begins with “L.” “Little”? “Lucky”? No. Neither gibes with the invitation. “Be lost”? No. No. Too ungainly a construction. If in fact Leroy Fry’s attendance was desired at a particular time and place, there is but one word, “late.” “Be late.” And as we scan the third line, the first word becomes almost insultingly simple to deduce, “don’t.” So, “Don’t be late.” Now, look closely, Mr. Landor. We need not journey far for a suitable candidate. If Fry is going to a predetermined location, he was, from the perspective of the writer, coming. So, “Come, Mr. Fry.” Now, with that in place, it is the height of simplicity to deduce the next word. Can it be any other than “soon”? We insert the word, et voilà! “Don’t be late. Come soon.” And there you have it, the solution to our petite énigme respectfully submitted.

[Landor] Mmm-hmm. First-rate work. I thank you. Just one thing.

Yes?

[Landor] Did you have any luck with the first two lines?

Well, I was forced to declare them a loss.

[Landor] Are you a good speller?

Oh, flawless. Judged so by no less an authority than the Reverend John Bransby of Stoke Newington.

[Landor] So I take it that you’ve never done what so many of… us do. Misspell similar sounding words. For example, “they’re,” “their,” and “there.”

A common solecism.

[Landor] An invitation indeed. “Meet me there.” Of course, we still don’t know where to meet, do we? Something with “N-G” trailing behind.

The landing! And might I add, the cove by the landing.

[Landor] Excellent choice. So, “I’ll be at the cove by the landing. Meet me there at say, 11:00 p.m. or so. So, “Don’t be late. Come see me.” Might be closer to the mark.

[Poe] Yeah.

[Landor] Ah… Does this suggest anything to you?

Why would he meet a fellow cadet at the landing when you can meet him anywhere?

[Landor] Hmm.

Because it’s not a cadet, but a woman.

[Landor] Hmm.

You knew the solution all along, Mr. Landor.

[Landor] I had an idea.

Well, if this is indeed a woman we seek, I believe I may be credited with a sighting of her. The morning after Leroy Fry’s death, before I knew anything of what had passed, I awoke, and began speaking the opening lines of a poem, lines that speak of a mysterious woman in profound distress. Then, just outside the mess, appears the most beautiful creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.

[Landor] Who was she?

I haven’t the faintest.

[Landor] But why do you believe that this poem or young woman are connected with Mr. Fry?

The air of concealed violence. Unspeakable duress. An unknown woman.

[Landor] You could have woken any morning and written this.

But I didn’t write it. It was dictated.

[Landor] Dictated?

Mmm-hmm.

[Landor] By whom?

My mother. She’s dead. Dead nearly, uh, 20 years.

[Landor] Tell me about this Poe fella.

Oh, Poe, he… A lovely boy. Beautiful manners. Um… Talks a lot.

[Landor] Definitely. And definitely something peculiar about him.

[chuckling] Because he talks a lot?

[Landor] No, because he’s filled with senseless fantasies. Tells me about a poem, claims it has something to do with Leroy Fry’s death. Claims it was dictated to him in his sleep by his dead mother.

You of all people know that the people we lost… are always with us. Man will do most anything to cheat death, won’t he?

[pensive music playing]

[creaking]

[Dr. Marquis] A container of some sort. Wrapped in muslin, maybe, or newspaper. Very likely surrounded by ice.

[pensive music continues]

[music swells]

[lock clicks]

[creaking]

[music fades]

[water trickling]

[floorboard creaking]

[pigeons cooing]

[wings fluttering]

[hollow thump]

[hollow thudding]

[unsettling music building]

[foot scraping]

[unsettling music continues]

[footsteps approaching]

[Landor] Good. My note reached you. Were you followed?

Followed? How unprofessional. Certainly not. What is this?

[Landor] The scene of the crime. The second… crime. Where Fry’s heart was brought. You mentioned the taking of Fry’s heart drew you to the Bible. I must admit. I was already moving in that direction. Not to the Bible. But to religion.

This… This does appear to render a ceremony of some sort.

[Landor] Blood and candles placed in an intentional manner.

A circle.

[Landor] Mmm. And a triangle. And Fry’s heart very likely placed inside. I have an old friend who might be of some use.

[pensive music playing]

[Landor] Professor Jean Pépé is an expert in symbols…

[Landor] Pépé!

…Rituals…

[knocking at door]

the occult.

[Landor] Professor!

[Landor] Pépé might be the most peculiar man…

[Pépé] Come in. I’m back here.

[Landor] Sorry to intrude.

…I‘ve had the pleasure of coming across.

[Landor] I, uh, bring something curious I would like you to observe.

[Pépé] Uh… This can only be a magic circle. I remember seeing it in Le Véritable Dragon Rouge. And if I recall all right, the magician would stand there in the triangle.

[Landor] Alone?

Well, he might have a group of assistants. And candles and torches on either side, light everywhere, a festival of light, in fact. Now, Gus, if you go to the third shelf… On the second to the top. That volume on the top. Yes. Yes. Pierre de Lancre, redoubtable witch hunter. You read French, Mr. Poe?

Well, yes.

Please read in silence. It’s in the center page. De Lancre executed 600 Basque witches and left behind the remarkable volume you now peruse. But the book I wish to give you, Discours du Diable by Henri Le Clerc, who executed 700 witches before he was done, is reputed to have been destroyed. Now, rumor has it that he left behind two or three other volumes identical to the one destroyed. Now, finding one has become the idée fixe of many an occult collector.

[Landor] Why?

Why? Ooh… [chuckles] Le Clerc left behind instructions for securing… immortality.

[Poe] Oh, my Lord. “It is commonly known among the fraternity of evil angels that the contents of a witch’s sabbath feast are confined to the following sundries. Unclean animals such as are never eaten by Christian peoples, the hearts of unbaptized children, and the hearts of hanged men.”

[drum roll]

[Landor] I need you to discretely infiltrate the cadets, see if you can ferret out which of them may have a connection to the occult.

[Lee] Explain yourself.

Well, um, certain overtures have been made to me, rather dark, and shall I say, unchristian overtures.

Unchristian?

Yes. I’ve been spurred to question the very grounds of my faith. And to dabble in mysterious and arcane practices of an ancient provenance.

Arcane practices?

He means black magic. Who was it? [clears throat] I demand to know.

[Poe] I’m honor bound not to reveal his name.

[Lee] Who was it?

You can’t drag it from me, not if God himself threatened to smite me with a lightning bolt.

If you want to join our prayers…

No, I gave my word.

One asks you to question your faith…

It must stay private.

Was it Marquis?

Hamilton, watch yourself.

[Poe] Yes, I have a name, but I need a face to go with it.

[Dr. Marquis] Vertigo, hmm?

Mmm. Well, things are swirling about.

Your heart rate is rather quick. Very well, Mr. Poe, keep to the house today and take care of yourself. Present this to Lieutenant Locke and his cadet commandeer, Artemus, my son. He’ll make sure you’re relieved of your duties.

[Locke] You wish to be excused from class because you were feeling vertiginous?

And an even worse ailment not noted. A grand ennui seizure.

“Grand ennui”?

Of a most pronounced character.

Mind yourself, Poe.

You may ask the doctor yourself.

It’s true, Lieutenant. My father did tell me he’s never seen anything quite like it.

Very well. But I am charging you with unbecoming brazenness. Three demerits. Return at once to your quarters. And you would best be there when the officers come around for inspection.

[drill sergeant shouting commands]

Poe, is it?

Yes.

Artemus Marquis. I must say, your brazenness is admirable. Tonight, eleven o’clock. 18 North Barracks.

[Poe] Apologies for my tardiness. I hope I haven’t kept you too long. This is lovely. [gasps] Books! You have never interested me more. Where to begin? Oh… The lamentable Fenimore Cooper. I guess every library must have one. Ooh, what a collection. History of Egypt, and all sorts. You’ve been found out.

[Landor] Oh?

You gave me to understand you didn’t read poetry.

[Landor] I don’t.

Byron! A personal favorite, Mr. Landor…

[Landor] Please.

…and might I say, terribly well-thumbed.

[Landor] That’s my daughter’s. [clears throat]

And your daughter is no longer here?

[Landor] No. No, she ran off with someone.

Someone you knew?

[Landor] In passing.

And she’s never to return?

[Landor] Not likely.

Then we’re both alone in this world.

[Landor] But you have your mother. She still speaks to you. At any rate.

[chuckling] Yes. Yes, from time to time. And I might add, whatever’s good in me, in person, in spirit, comes from her. Your daughter. What’s her name? If you don’t object.

[Landor] Mathilde. Mattie.

You needn’t say anymore, Mr. Landor.

[Landor] So you say you found something.

Well, no. Better than that. Someone goes by the name Marquis.

[Landor] The doctor.

No. His son, Artemus. And I have tasked myself with maneuvering into his impenetrable peer group.

[door opens]

[Stoddard] Here’s another good creature of God. Courtesy of la divine Patsy.

[Ballinger] Are you going to report us for defying curfew, Poe? Do our wee transgressions offend thee?

Not only am I not offended, Mr. Ballinger, but, mmm… another round is in order.

[Artemus chuckles]

[Ballinger] Drink it. All of it, woman.

[Stoddard] Ballinger, you really are quite the bully tonight.

[Poe] Mmm. Another, s’il vous plaît. Oh, I thank you. Mmm. I can do this all night.

[Artemus] Uh-uh. Easy, Ballinger. I’ve gone to great trouble to secure that mash.

Poe. I understand you’re a published poet.

I am told I evidence a humble gift.

[chuckles] Well, then I demand a public reading. Pleasure us.

Oh. [chuckles]

I met a lewd nude in Bermuda

Who thought she was shrewd

I was shrewder

She thought it quite crude To be wooed in the nude

I pursued her Subdued her and screwed her

[laughing]

Well done, Poe.

Bravo.

Losing card… is a seven. Winning card… is a jack.

Oh!

[Artemus] Well, well, well. It’s your lucky day, Poe.

Thank you.

Is it true, Poe, that Detective Landor interrogated you about Fry?

He was mistakenly under the impression that I was an intimate of Fry’s.

Were you?

I was not.

Fitting that the only thing that Fry could do to gain attention was to hang himself.

[Stoddard] I think he hanged himself in despair over being jilted by a lady.

[Lee] And what lady might that be, Stoddard?

[Ballinger] What of your sister, Artemus? Didn’t she dazzle Fry?

[Artemus] Oh, come now, Randy. You were closer to Fry than anyone in this room.

I don’t believe I was so near to him… [inhales] …as you.

[chuckles] All right. Where were we?

[bell tolling in distance]

Halt! Curfew not apply to you, Mr. Poe? Explain yourself. Candles were to be extinguished three hours ago.

[clears throat] I’m sorry, sir.

Your apologies have always rung hollow with me. Leroy Fry met his maker when he too was out after curfew. Return to barracks at once. You’re lucky you’re not digging your own grave.

Thank you, sir.

Pick up the pace.

[soft scraping]

[Mathilde muttering indistinctly]

[muttering continues]

[sniffles]

[Landor] [whispers] Mattie? [exhales shakily]

[wardrobe opens]

[Landor] [sighs softly]

[melancholy music playing]

[Landor] [sobbing] [sniffling]

[melancholy music continues]

[imperceptible]

[Landor] [sniffles]

[music fades]

[priest] “Remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. For in death there is no remembrance of thee, in thy grave who shall give thee thanks? According to thy mercy, remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. Mine eye is consumed because of grief.”

You’re Mr. Landor. Aren’t you?

[Landor] I am.

[sniffles] I’m Leroy’s mother. I’d like you to have this. [sniffles] Leroy’s diary. It goes back at least three years.

[Landor] I don’t recall… I’m sorry. Terrible loss. I don’t recall any diary being found with his personal effects.

It was Mr. Ballinger who sent it to me.

[Landor] Mr. Ballinger?

Yes. As soon as he heard what had happened, he went straight to Leroy’s quarters to see what could be done. The dear boy mailed it to me. [sobs]

[Landor] I see.

And just now… as soon as he saw me, he said, “I thought you should have Leroy’s diary with you in Kentucky. And if you feel like burning it, go right ahead.”

[Landor] How considerate of him.

But I can make no sense of it. All the numbers and letters… But… seeing how the Army is depending on you, it seems only right that you should have it.

[pensive music playing]

[Julia] I’ll be back to meet you all the time. To manage her needs…

[Dr. Marquis] I understand.

…’cause all of us are in this together.

[Landor] Doctor!

[Dr. Marquis] Ah, Mr. Landor. What a pleasant surprise. Uh, please, let me introduce you to my wife, Julia.

I’ve heard so much about you.

[Landor] It’s a pleasure.

Aren’t you the gentleman inquiring after Mr. Fry’s death?

[Landor] I am.

Well, we were just discussing the matter. Indeed, my husband informs me that despite his own heroic efforts, the body of Mr. Fry had been judged too far along for public display. Hmm. His poor parents.

[Landor] Oh. Indeed.

Well, this whole matter has shaken us.

[Landor] Be assured, I won’t rest until we’ve apprehended him. Lovely to make your acquaintance.

My dear.

I understand you’re a widower, Mr. Landor.

[Landor] That is so.

Well, all due sympathy. Was it recent? Your wife going to her reward?

[Landor] Two years ago now. Only a few months after we moved to the Highlands.

A sudden illness, was it?

[Landor] Not sudden… enough.

Well, your sacrifices aren’t lost on me. Condolences.

[Landor] Thank you.

[Julia] Hmm.

[piano playing]

[wind whistling]

Brava. Edgar, did I not tell you my sister is a prodigy?

Marvelous, my dear. Brought a tear to my eye.

[Poe] Yeah. A lovely run, Miss Marquis.

Truly.

Yes.

Your immortality is assured.

I can’t think of any woman who wishes to be immortal, Randy.

I am at once reminded of Sir Thomas Grey’s, “Full many a flower Is born to blush unseen”

“And waste its sweetness On the desert air”

A favorite, Mr. Poe.

And what do you think of my little protégé?

I think Mr. Poe is far beyond being anyone’s protégé. He’s certainly not to be corrupted by the likes of you.

[cadets chuckle]

[Julia] All right, Lea. That’s enough now. You need to rest before dinner.

[coughs] If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen.

[Ballinger] Thank you, Lea.

[Artemus] Randy, chairs. Stoddard, come on, man. Chess board.

All right. I’m bored now.

[Julia] I don’t care! She’s ill. In her condition, she shouldn’t be entertaining at all.

[Poe] Miss Marquis. Oh, um… Pardon me. Nothing would afford me greater pleasure than an audience with you on Saturday.

I’m sure that’s true, Mr. Poe, but… I’m afraid I’m engaged Saturday.

Ah, I see.

[in French] Your coat and your hat, sir.

Thank you, Eugenia. You needn’t have. I could have fetched my coat myself.

Good evening.

Good evening.

You speak French, Mr. Poe. With an accent that is rather charming.

[in English] So you propose this Saturday?

Or Sunday, if that’s preferable. Or Monday, even.

And where do you propose this audience? Let me guess. Gee’s Point? Flirtation Walk?

Oh, no, no, no. Neither, I’m afraid, no. I had in mind the cemetery.

The cemetery?

Mmm.

How interesting.

Yes, I certainly think so. Well, I wish you good evening.

[intriguing music playing]

[door closes]

[Lea] It’s all so bare now.

But to enjoy the Highlands in the full extent of their glory, it must be seen immediately after the fall of the leaf.

Why is that?

Vegetation does not improve, but rather obstructs God’s originating design.

A romantic. You do enjoy talking about God and death, don’t you?

I do consider death to be poetry’s most exalted theme.

[coughing]

Shall we?

A lovely spot.

[sighs] Yes, it’s my favorite.

How well it sits on you, morbidity. Suits you better than your uniform. The only one to match you is Artemus.

I’ve never seen him dwell in the realms of melancholy.

He does consent to visit our world for long intervals.

[Lea] You know I believe it’s possible to dance on broken glass for some length of time. Not forever. Yes, I can see you two hold much in common. [coughing]

I hope you aren’t cold.

[unsettling music playing]

The frigid climate has clearly settled in for good.

Please, let us not. Do not suppose I came here to talk about the weather. How prosaic.

I’m sorry. My sole concern was for your welfare.

Proceed then, by all means. Declare your undying love, so we may both return home and be none the worse.

I was just saying…

I’m sorry. Sorry, I’m being a horror, and I have no idea why.

You are cold. Miss Marquis, would you like to borrow my cloak?

Quite all right.

It’s really no, um…

I… [gulps]

What?

Miss Marquis. Lea! Lea!

[whimpering]

[music crescendoes]

[choking]

Lea! Lea? What’s happening? Lea! Lea.

[choking stops]

[breathing deeply]

My God, Lea. Are you all right? Lea?

I’m rather fine.

[Poe] Are you sure you’re all right? I was quite terrified.

[Lea] It happens. It’s nothing to worry about.

Your, um… Your spirit so emboldens me that I feel free to confess… my mother has a kind of presence in my life. My sleepings and my awakenings. Yes. Yes. At times, I believe the dead haunt us because we love them too little. We forget them, you see. We don’t mean to, but we do. I believe they feel most cruelly deserted, and so they clamor for us. Perhaps it best we don’t give that too much thought.

I want you to know how grateful I was… to open my eyes and find you there. To look deep within you and find something I would never have expected. Not in a thousand years.

Thank you.

[animals howling]

[rustling]

[howling continues]

[rustling]

[Poe grunts]

[man grunting]

[Poe groaning]

[coughing]

[choking]

[groans] Stop!

[grunts]

[gasping, panting]

[groaning]

Bastards ought to know their fucking place.

[Poe groaning]

[Ballinger] Stay away from Lea.

[Landor grunts]

[Landor] Leave off!

[Ballinger grunts]

[Poe groaning]

[Landor grunts]

[Landor] Leave off, Ballinger! Or you will be court-martialed!

[Poe groans]

[Ballinger] Ugly fuck.

[Landor] You all right?

Clearly that savage knows that Lea prefers me to him. And if he seeks to frighten me away…

[Landor] Frighten? He looked set on killing you.

Killing me? Oh! Oh, no. Before I let him come between me and my heart’s desire, I will kill him.

It’s always been this way. People underestimating me. Friends, classmates, my very own benefactor.

[Landor] Thank you, Patsy.

Everyone. Everyone… but my dear mother. And thank you for assisting earlier. It’s unlike me to be caught by surprise. And you surprise too. Don’t you, Landor? I have no desire to offend, but you’re much more sophisticated than you present. [chuckles] Now, tell me, is it true you once solicited a confession with nothing more than a piercing look?

[Landor] [chuckles] With enough patience, the suspect will often interrogate himself.

Well, you are most delightful company, Landor. I shall write a poem someday. Something that shall send your name down through the ages.

[Patsy] Even after this attack, you don’t suspect Randy Ballinger? So where does this leave you? Your investigation.

[Landor] I’m interested in Artemus Marquis. I take it you know him?

Well, who doesn’t? Glorious look to him. He’d almost have to die young, wouldn’t he? But I wouldn’t have picked him for the violent sort. Always, um, very cool.

[Landor] Perhaps he’s not our man. There’s a quality to him. To his entire family. They act like people who are guilty of something.

Aren’t all families guilty of something?

[knocking at door]

[Landor] Captain.

It’s Mr. Ballinger. I’m afraid he’s gone missing.

[dramatic music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[cadet 1] Next to those rocks.

[cadet 2] Here on this side too.

[cadet 3] Up the hill.

[cadet 4] Cadet, right side. Behind those trees.

[cadet 5] Nothing here.

[indistinct chatter continues]

[Lee] Captain! Up here!

[Hitchcock] My Lord.

[Dr. Marquis] Mr. Ballinger’s dissection wasn’t as clean as Fry’s. Suggesting it was performed by different hands. As for the castration… [hesitates] Well, I’m…

[Thayer] Castration? My God, Landor. We’re no closer to finding who’s responsible for this than we were a month ago!

[Landor] We are closer. It’s only a matter of time.

Tell me! Have you found more evidence of satanic practices? What of the so-called officer who persuaded Private Cochrane to abandon Leroy Fry’s body? Or Fry’s diary? Have you found a single clue that might be of use? A maniac is freely roaming these hills, disemboweling my men. Men who barely carry out their duties, hardly leave their barracks or sleep. And if they can sleep, do so with their muskets! [scoffs]

[Landor] I’m beginning to believe you no longer think I’m competent to undertake this investigation.

Thank you, doctor.

It’s not your competence we question, it’s your allegiance. Is there any possibility that this could have been the work of Mr. Poe?

[Landor] Poe?

Just yesterday, he was regaling his table mates with an heroic account of his epic tussle with Mr. Ballinger, declaring that he fully intended to kill him should they ever cross swords again.

[Landor] You’ve seen Poe. Can you honestly tell me he subdued Ballinger?

No, there would have been no need. Firearm would have turned the trick.

[Landor] Whatever his relations with Ballinger, there’s no sign of any link between Poe and Leroy Fry. They didn’t even know each other.

[Thayer] Oh, but they did. They had a tussle of their own last summer. I don’t suppose he ever volunteered that bit of information, did he?

[pensive music building]

[Landor] Then arrest him. Arrest him if you are so persuaded.

All we have is motive. We’re looking to you to supply evidence!

Mr. Landor, do you harbor a latent hostility toward this Academy? Is that it?

[Landor] I am risking my life on behalf of your precious institution. But yes. I do believe that the Academy takes away a young man’s will. It fences him with regulations and rules. Deprives him of reason. It makes him less human.

Are you implying the Academy is to blame for these deaths?

[Landor] Someone connected to the Academy, yes. Hence, the Academy itself.

[Hitchcock] Well, that’s absurd. By your standard, every crime committed by a Christian will be a stain on Christ.

[Landor] And so it is.

[pensive music continues]

[music fades]

[Landor] When I first asked you… to take this job, you told me you never had dealings with Leroy Fry, so, uh… Let’s start there. Well?

Well, that’s not entirely true…

[Landor] Well… Well… Well… Why is nothing simple with you, Poe? Where are the facts? Where are the simple facts? Yes! Or no! The truth! Did you know Leroy Fry?

Yes.

[Landor] Did you have words with Leroy Fry?

Yes. Yes.

[Landor] Did you kill Leroy Fry? Did you kill Randolph Ballinger?

[softly] No.

[Landor] [exhales] Did you have anything to do with the desecrating of their bodies?

No, no, no. May I be struck dead if I…

[Landor] But you do not deny that you threatened both men?

Well, as it relates to Ballinger, that was… I never meant it.

[Landor] And Fry?

I never once threatened him. I merely…

[Landor] There is a very disturbing pattern here, Poe. Men who cross you end up on the wrong end of a noose with rather important organs carved from their chests.

Mr. Landor… [sighs deeply] If I were to kill every cadet who had abused me during my brief tenure here, I’m afraid you would find the Corp of Cadets reduced to less than a dozen. Now, if you must know, I’ve been a figure of fun from my very first day here. My manner, my age, my person… my aesthetics. If I had a thousand lifetimes, I could not begin to address all the injuries that have been done to me. Yes, I am guilty of a great, great many things, but never that. Never murder. Now do you believe me?

[Landor] I believe that you should take better care of what you say and do. For now, I can probably hold off Hitchcock. But if you ever lie to me again, they can clap you in irons and I won’t lift a finger to help you. Do you understand me? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m expected for dinner.

[exhales]

Thank you for joining us in mourning Randolph’s untimely passing. The dear boy was family.

Don’t you find my son exceptionally handsome, Mr. Landor?

[Landor] Um… I would judge both of your children to have been blessed in that regard.

[Julia] Yes, we are hereditarily blessed. But I must say, I do find you a rarity. A person of exceptional intelligence. The quality in such ridiculously short supply here.

[Artemus] And with that intelligence, Mr. Landor, I hope when you’re finished with your official business, you will assist me with a puzzle of my own.

[Landor] Oh, a puzzle?

The strangest affair. While in recital, Monday, it appears someone had rifled through my belongings.

[Landor] Oh.

[Dr. Marquis] Well, eh…

Terrible people are abroad.

Really, Father? I was inclining toward the theory that the fellow was simply rude, while, of course, having no idea who he was.

All the same, you must be careful, Artemus. You really must.

Oh, Mother. It was probably just some tiresome old fellow with nothing better to do and no life of his own to speak of. A rustic sort of cottager. Don’t you think, Mr. Landor? Oh. You have a cottage, don’t you?

Artemus.

You may even have some very near relations who fit the pattern. Perhaps a dear friend who likes a tipple and to drink in a tavern.

Stop it! Just, please! I hate it! I positively hate it when you take on like this.

I don’t follow your drift, Mother.

Oh, no, I’m sure you don’t. I might drift clear to the other side of the Hudson and no one would care. No one would follow! Would they, Daniel?

[Dr. Marquis] Son, please.

[sobbing]

[door slams]

You’ll… have to forgive my wife. Mr. Ballinger’s death has cast a pall over our happy little clan. I wonder if you’d care to join me in my study, Mr. Landor?

[Landor] I’d be delighted.

[Dr. Marquis] My apologies, constable. Living on pins and needles has taken its toll on all of us.

[Landor] No need to apologize.

[chuckles softly] Yeah. And the time of year, all this confinement…

[Landor] Mmm. It is all very understandable. I couldn’t help noticing, doctor. Is your daughter unwell?

Quite observant. Yes. Yes, she’s… She’s had a rough go of it, that one. Since she was a pup, really. A ghastly illness seizing her when no one is looking, stopping her brain and shaking her like a gourd. Beautiful child. One marked for marriage, status, children. And in the same stroke, illness.

[piano playing faintly outside]

‘Tis dreadful.

[door opens]

Gentlemen, Lea is in fine form if you’d join us.

Thank you, son.

Shall we?

[Landor] If you don’t mind, I’ll just step out for some fresh air.

Of course.

[piano continues playing]

[Artemus] Father, have a game with me.

[Dr. Marquis] Shall I try the scholars again or something more challenging this time?

[piano music continues]

[indistinct conversation]

[faint piano music continues]

[music ends]

Just remarkable.

Hardly. Passable, maybe.

You don’t realize the effect your playing has on me. On all of us, really, I…

Yes?

Well, I… I don’t quite know how else to put it, but, um… I’ve come to realize that I would do most anything for you.

Oh, Edgar.

[suspenseful music playing]

[Julia] May I help you find something, Mr. Landor?

[Landor] You’ve recovered. And so soon.

Well, do forgive me. I feared I was coming down with one of those horrid migraines, but it seems a moment’s rest was all I required. And I feel quite cured. Mmm. Let’s put that dreadful, old thing away, shall we? I’m quite sure it won’t fit you.

[Landor] The good doctor and I were in search of it. And I found it.

[Julia] Look what the constable found in our closet, darling. Remember Artemus wearing it as a young lad around the house? Remember, love?

I remember, Mother.

It’s my brother’s coat.

[Landor] Your brother’s?

That’s the only thing we have to remember him by.

[knocking on door]

Why do you have it?

[Landor] Perhaps Artemus can answer that.

[door opens and closes]

[Eugenia] Everyone is in the salon.

[Dr. Marquis] Ethan. What brings you here?

Another cadet is missing.

And I’ve formed a search party ready to go within the hour. No stone will be left unturned.

[Thayer] God help us. I shudder to think…

[Landor] Gentlemen! I’ve just been to Mr. Stoddard’s quarters. His trunk was empty. No civilian clothes were to be found anywhere. I believe he has run off.

Run off?

[Landor] Fry’s diary allows that both Stoddard and Ballinger were good mates with Leroy Fry. Fearing he might be next, I think he ran.

Well, that may well be, but what about Artemus and the officer’s coat? If he’s involved, how can we possibly delay arresting him?

[Landor] He is… too cool a customer for that. All he has to do is deny it. Now, there’s a last avenue of inquiry I’m exploring.

Two of his closest companions are dead, and imminently, I must report to the president that we have our man. We have our man, Landor. Do we not?

[dramatic music playing]

[Eugenia] Mademoiselle.

Edgar.

[Poe] I, uh…

[Landor] Professor? Pépé? Last time I was here, you mentioned a witch hunter and a book.

Yes. Discours du Diable. Henri Le Clerc.

[Landor] Was Le Clerc a priest?

One burned at the stake.

[Poe] It came to me while I slept

Down, down, down

Came the hot threshing flurry

Ill at heart, I beseeched her to hurry

“Lenore”

She forbore the reply

Endless night Caught her then in its slurry

Shrouding all, but her pale blue eye

Darkest night, black with hell

Charneled fury

Leaving only

That deathly blue eye

Do you see? Lenore. Lea. It speaks of your unspeakable distress. A conclusion to what’s… oppressing you. The poem… is speaking to us.

Remember when you said you’d do anything for me?

Your devil worshipper.

[Landor] Thank you, Pépé.

Yeah.

[footsteps approaching]

Mr. Landor.

[Landor] Your family. Your family… have been quite a puzzle. I could never get a fix of who was in command. One time or other I suspected each of you. It never occurred to me that it might be someone who wasn’t even alive.

[voice shaking] Pardon me?

[Landor] Father Henri Le Clerc. Finest of witch hunters, until he became the hunted.

What are you talking about?

[Landor] Your daughter, she suffers from a falling sickness, does she not? She copes because she is in contact with someone. Someone who instructs her. Him.

Do not make me question your sanity, Mr. Landor. Uh, what are you suggesting?

[Landor] Le Clerc’s incredibly rare Discours du Diable.

Well, communicating with the devil is not a pastime with which I am familiar, Mr. Landor. [hesitating] I have never read a page of this book.

[Landor] Does your daughter speak with the dead?!

[somber music playing]

Over the years, the seizures have gotten much, much worse. I… I have tried every medical regimen I could think of. She was given three months to live. Do you know what it feels like to go to sleep, not knowing if your daughter will make it through the night? But then, one day she came to me, and said that she’d met someone. Her great-great-grandfather.

[Landor] Le Clerc?

Henri Le Clerc wasn’t evil. He… He was misunderstood.

[whispering indistinctly]

[Lea breathing deeply]

[speaking Latin]

They swore to me Mr. Fry was already dead. They swore they could never kill anyone.

[Landor] You believed them.

I had no choice.

[Landor] You are a physician! A man of science! How dare you put your faith in such madness?

Because… Because I… I… I couldn’t save her myself. My own art had failed me. I sacrificed everything for my Lea. So how can I then object to her finding a cure elsewhere?

[Landor] Doctor. Communicating with the dead… that’s not normal. But murder… destroying innocent lives… that’s inhuman. Someone has to hang for this.

[coughing]

[hesitating] I only indulged her because… miraculously, she seemed to improve.

[Landor] Doctor, where is your family? Where are your children?

Mr. Poe was here earlier. He left with… With Artemus.

[Landor] Why is his cloak still in the hall? Doctor, where is Lea? Doctor, where is your family?

[dramatic musical flourish]

[Lea breathing deeply]

[Artemus] It’s starting to wear off.

[Julia] Lea. Continue.

[Julia speaking Latin]

[unsettling music playing]

[continues speaking Latin]

[Poe groans]

[Poe] What’s happening?

[Poe groans]

It won’t be much longer.

I don’t feel terribly well. I thought…

No. [shushing] Just a few minutes more and I’ll be free.

Free?

Yes.

Please, Lea. I’m…

This must happen. You do understand. Sacrifice is the ultimate expression of love. I knew from the moment I met you, you were the one.

Lea.

Yes?

I do love you.

[Lea and Julia speaking Latin]

Artemus…

[Landor] Enough!

[Lea whimpers]

[dramatic music playing]

Get out!

[Landor] You’ll hang for this!

[Artemus] You’ve no business here!

Lea, finish!

[Landor] Mrs. Marquis, do you wish to see your children hang?

Don’t listen. He’s bluffing!

Continue. Lea!

[Landor] That’s Fry’s heart, no?

Landor.

[Julia] Lea, continue!

[Landor] Ballinger, he’d do anything for you, even murder a man. And, Artemus, you killed him.

Please, just leave us alone. It’s almost done.

Lea, finish!

[Landor] Lea, it is done! It was you. It was you who lured Fry out with a note…

It wasn’t her idea! It was mine! I did it!

No! Artemus!

[Julia] No!

[Landor grunts]

[Lea screaming] Stop!

[both grunting]

[Lea] Stop!

[Julia] Lea!

[speaking Latin]

[grunting continues]

[shouting in Latin]

[wood creaking]

[Lea grunts]

Lea!

[Julia] Lea! Lea!

Lea!

[fire roaring]

[Julia] Artemus. Artemus, help her. Help her!

[Landor] [groaning and coughing]

[Artemus] Mother, stay back!

[Julia] Artemus.

Lea. Lea! Lea!

Artemus! Artemus!

[coughing]

I can’t leave her!

No!

Artemus, no. Artemus!

Artemus! No!

[Julia shrieks]

[Landor grunts]

[Julia] Let me go! No! No, Artemus!

[wood creaking]

[Julia wailing]

Artemus! No!

[Poe] Lea! Lea!

[Julia] No!

[wailing] No!

[Landor] Move!

[music fades]

[bell tolling in distance]

[footsteps approaching]

I’m told he’s lost no more blood than a physician would have drawn in the course of a normal bleeding. Might have been the best thing for him. More to life than meets the eye, Landor, I admit.

[Landor] I couldn’t agree more. So what now of Mrs. Marquis?

Grieving as only a mother can. The magistrate felt she’d suffered enough. But you’ll be pleased to know our good doctor has submitted his resignation.

[Landor] None of this pleases me, I can assure you.

Landor. You and I could not be more dissimilar in manner, philosophy. But I wish to convey that if this business has ever rendered me… Which is to say, if ever out of impertinence, I have impugned… your competence… then I’m sorry.

[Landor] Thank you, captain.

How could I have dined and fraternized with the man all of these years? Known his family almost as well as my own and never fathomed the depths of their distress.

[Landor] By design, colonel.

Yes. Yes, I suppose shame on me. I can only assume Artemus murdered Mr. Ballinger to prevent him from alerting the authorities, and Mr. Stoddard ran rather than become the next victim.

[Landor] You can assume that, yes.

Well, Landor, I declare your contractual duties fulfilled to the letter. I hereby release you from your contract. I hope that won’t displease you. At the very least, I hope you won’t object to accepting our thanks.

[Landor] The jackals in Washington will soon be in retreat, I hope.

I believe we have won a stay of execution.

[Landor] No. Colonel.

[pensive music playing]

[Landor] Don’t you look fully recovered.

I know about your daughter.

[Landor] [sighs] Very well. What does Mattie have to do with anything?

Everything. As you know full well.

It came to me while I slept.

[somber music playing]

[gasps]

The note… found in Leroy Fry’s hand. The note left for him luring the poor bloke from his barracks. You were careless enough to leave that with me. This is the other note you left. Remember? I’m most struck by the shape of your characters. Uppercase, as you well know, are every bit as damning as lowercase. The A, the R, the G and the E, virtually identical to the ones found in Leroy Fry’s note. You can imagine my astonishment. Could the same man have written both notes? And why would Landor have any reason to correspond with Leroy Fry? As luck would have it, I ran into la divine Patsy.

His daughter Mattie…

[Poe] She told me the whole story. Returning home from the Academy Ball…

[man 1] Grab her!

[Mathilde screaming]

[man 2] Hold her.

No!

[Poe] …your Mattie was raped…

[Mathilde] No!

…and left for dead by three nameless ruffians.

[man 1] Quiet.

Please, no! No!

[man 1] Julius, grab her legs!

No! No, no, no!

Grab her!

Legs! Legs! Hold her down!

No!

Keep her still.

Please!

[Poe] A bad bunch, indeed.

[Landor] Mattie.

[Poe] Just as Leroy Fry had said.

[Landor] Mattie? Oh, God! Mattie. Oh, my God! Come here.

[crying]

[Landor] Mattie. [crying]

[Mathilde] I’m sorry.

[sobbing]

I’m sorry.

[Landor] It’s okay. Everything will be all right. It’ll all turn out.

[somber music playing]

[Mathilde whispering indistinctly]

[Landor] Mattie, he cannot help you. Please, my love. Let me help you.

[sniffles]

[panting]

[Poe] But she didn’t run away, did she?

[Landor] Mattie? Mattie. Mattie. Mattie, please. Come here. Please, my love. Come here. Please come here. Don’t. Everything will be all right.

[voice breaking] Please, Mattie. Come back. It’ll all turn out. Don’t.

I love you.

[music swells]

[music fades]

Why did you never tell me?

[Landor] It’s not a story I enjoy telling.

But I would have comforted you. Helped you as you helped me.

[Landor] [sniffles] I don’t think I can be comforted on that particular subject.

So what did I do next? Exactly what you would have done. Examined all assumptions, beginning with what were the chances that two parties would have had designs on the same cadet in the same evening? Small! Small indeed! Unless we see one party as being contingent upon the other, or what if one party say, Artemus and Lea, what if they were simply on the lookout for a dead body. And then the opportunity magically appears, and they don’t care who the body is, provided it had a heart. The one thing they won’t do for it is kill. No, it is the other party who is ready and willing to kill. And to kill this man in particular. Why? Why? Might it be revenge, Landor?

[distant animal calls]

Patsy? Patsy?

[Landor grunts]

[Fry struggling]

[screaming]

[Landor grunts]

[Fry] Help!

[Landor] Who was with you?

[struggling, choking]

[choking stops]

[rustling]

[Huntoon] Someone there? Hello?

[shudders]

[Poe] So… the second party is interrupted, though not before his successful resolution. Steals back to his cottage in Buttermilk Falls, where he has escaped unnoticed. But he’s shocked at being summoned back to West Point the very next day to learn that in the intervening hours, the dead man’s body has been most horribly mutilated. Thus providing his crimes with an extraordinary cover.

[Landor] Hmm.

He must think God himself was on his side. Being engaged to solve the very crimes that he himself committed. And as a result, Artemus and Lea will forever go down as murderers.

[Landor] Ah… There’s no forever about it. They will be forgotten just like the rest of us.

I shall not forget them! Especially my Lea. She was to be a wife, Landor, a mother. Nor shall I forget how you played the rest of us as fools. Fools. But I was your prize fool. Was I not?

[Landor] No. You were the one who I was to deliver myself to all along. I knew that from the moment I first met you, and here we are. [Landor sniffles] I, uh… [sighs] If you want me to say I’m sorry, I will.

I don’t want your apologies. No. I want answers. How did you know it was Fry who raped Mattie? The sheep and the cows, your doing?

[Landor] Of course.

And Ballinger?

[Landor] Mmm-hmm. [sighs deeply] Ballinger. I had to cut his heart out. Had to make it look like the work of satanists. That is no easy job for an old man.

How did you learn of Ballinger’s involvement?

[Landor] Fry’s diary.

Did Ballinger confess as well?

[Landor] Oh, yes, under duress.

[Ballinger] No, please!

[thunder rumbling]

[Ballinger grunts]

[Landor] Who else was with you?!

Julius Stoddard. Julius. Sorry.

[Ballinger grunting, coughing]

[Landor] They both… They both recalled her name, and I made certain that he recalled what she was wearing. Every detail of her dress.

Only Stoddard, it seems, has escaped your justice.

[Landor] I haven’t… the strength or the will to chase him down. I only hope… that he spends the rest of his… miserable life looking over his shoulder.

What they did was an appalling, savage thing. But you might have gone straight to Thayer, secured a confession.

[Landor] I didn’t want them to confess. I wanted them to die.

And so what now?

[Landor] What now? That depends on you.

I have a pair of notes… that will send you to the gallows.

[Landor] Very well.

[Poe sighs softly]

[Landor] You know, Edgar, I often wish that my Mattie had run into you that night… of the ball. Who knows? We might have become a family indeed.

[inhales sharply] I sure treasure… [breathes shakily] …what… What we, um… Goodbye, Landor.

[dramatic music playing]

[Landor] Rest, my love.

[dramatic music playing]

[melancholy music playing]

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