August 5, ----
The Old House, Forehaven
My dear Mr. Hale,
I take up my pen in this august month in response to the query with which you presented me in letter form some two weeks ago. I recognize that the matter concerning which you originally addressed me was one of moderately high importance and even greater interest to you as a student of the things that happen when no one is looking, but I confess that, as a student of the things that have been seen when someone was looking, I must draw your attention to an affair which, although implausible, happened to a cousin of mine last November while he was in residence at the house which was the subject of your letter of July 19.
This cousin, Mr. Everlasting Jubilee Montgomery, known universally, or nearly so, as E. J., had realized in the months immediately preceding his stay at Stonewells, that he was in need of escape from the stressful world in which he had been for some time playing a leading part. He chose as his retreat our ancestral abbey, Stonewells, which is a late reconstruction of a Cistercian complex ravaged by Cromwell and his destroying angels in the aftermath of the English tumult which had as its motive, or at any rate its excuse, Henry VIII's marital situation, etc.
Now you may be muttering to yourself that this already smacks of the monotonous motifs of some authors one could mention, who are concerned purely with the deeply grotesque and – dare one say it? – cannibalistic reaches of the human psyche, and to some extent I am afraid you are right to do so. Dare I go further in my story? Yes, indeed I do. Such unnerving details as I am about to present to you – albeit in letter form – must not lie hidden in the yawning abysses of one man's mind, tortured, perfectly at ease, or otherwise.
I fear, however, that I must reserve the actual narration of the chilling events for a later date. Furthermore, I am not permitted at this time tell you for what reason I cannot immediately disclose the facts of the case, but I am sure you understand their validity without comprehending their nature to any degree whatsoever. Do not doubt that I shall duly submit them for your consideration at my earliest possible opportunity.
I am and remain,
Your obedient servant,
R. O. Fox