The Magician’s Study

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“The Magician’s Study” can be found in the Carnacki: The New Adventures from Ulthar Press.

The British Fantasy Society states “‘The Magician’s Study’, by Buck Weiss is one of my favourites in the book. A magician’s wife calls in Carnacki when her recently deceased husband makes his presence once again known. There’s a nice twist in the tale here.”

An Excerpt from “The Magician’s Study.”

“You have no doubt read about the death of Garnald Renaldy in the local press?”  Carnacki stated plainly.

Jessop looked for the merest second as if he was to answer, but the question was rhetorical and our host moved forward without pause.

“He was a traveling magician and illusionist of some note who settled here in Chelsea after making a name for himself throughout the continent.

“His signature piece was Solomon’s Choice—a gruesome, but easily achieved trick of sawing his assistant in half while she was trapped inside a rigged box.”

Carnacki paused for a moment to contemplate the work and I thought back to the night that my wife and I had seen Garnald Renaldy do that very act.  He was known as Renaldy the Great.  His lovely assistant was also his wife and I remembered distinctly his tasteless statement about having two wives to nag him instead of one.  My own wife, holding tightly to my side, whispered in my ear at the ludicrous connection of the trick’s name.

“Of course,” Carnacki continued as if he had read my mind.  “The name Solomon’s Choice has very little to do with the trick itself, given that King Solomon was neither cutting a woman in half or actually making the choice in question.

“However, these performers all have a flair for conjuring up fanciful connections to things that haunt the psyche of their core audience.  Biblical allusion, no matter how fleeting can have its intended effect.”

Our host was rarely prone to digression and I began to wonder what had shaken him so much when he moved forward with the tale from where he entered the scene.

“I was called across town late last night by Renaldy’s widow and assistant, Anastasia Renaldy.

“She was a slip of a girl, who appeared not much older than twenty years.  Her long white dressing gown hung limply at her sides as she hastened me into the foyer.

“Her husband had been dead less than two days and she believed beyond reason that he had returned as a presence haunting the bowels of the home they shared.”

“‘Not only has he come back,’ said the frightened woman, ‘He has murdered our driver, Shonks, this very night.’

“Needless to say, I hastened the woman to take me to the scene of the crime and as she led me through the winding corridors of the illusionist’s mansion, I asked if the police had been called.  She paused our progress and turned to look into my eyes as she begged me to assess the situation first.

“‘I could only think of calling an expert,’ she said as she took my hand in hers and led me on.

“How had you heard of me?

“‘Renaldy spoke of you often,’ she replied.  ‘He had heard stories of your dealing with the supernatural and had always wanted to meet the Ghost-Finder, Thomas Carnacki.’

“For a moment I wanted to ask her for more information, but my mind was quickly distracted by the grisly scene at the end of our journey.

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