Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Vampire Maid by Hume Nisbet

The Vampire Maid
by Hume Nisbet

Hume Nisbet was first and foremost a painter in his own eyes, but when he failed to make a profession out of it, he turned instead to the written word.  Even then, he often wrote about the art world, but his tone turned bitter and cynical whenever speaking of the chances of becoming a successful painter.  As a counterbalance to his artsy tirades, he also composed fiction, including this very brief vampire tale first published in the yesteryear of 1900.

It should perhaps be stated that in art, it is generally important that a painting be instantly recognizable for what it is.  In literature, that isn't necesarily true.

A city boy who has grown tired of the hustle and bustle takes up residence as a lodger in a remote country abode.  He has done so in search of solitude, hoping to get some work accomplished, but his ambitions change the moment he meets his landlady's daughter.

It may not be love at first sight, but it is fascination at first sight, and that gives way to love soon enough.  He forsakes solitude and career goals for his growing obsession with her, and is quite happy with the result.

Now if he could only figure out his decreased level of energy, and these strange nightmares he's been having.

Okay, the secret is out.  The girl is an undead bloodsucker.  Before you cry spoiler, just keep this in mind:  The story is called "The Vampire Maid", for Pete's sake!  If you didn't figure this out by page two, you were probably just browsing for pretty pictures anyway.  The ONLY surprise this story held was that the vampire in question wasn't a maid at all--at least not in the Amelia Bedelia sense.

And that lack of surprise is the dooming factor here.  You know the "twist" ending before you even start reading the story.  Still, the manner in which our healthy narrator becomes sicklier and sicklier while his sickly lover becomes healthier and healthier (thanks to her secret nocturnal feedings) was pretty inspired.

It's a moody, brooding, slightly-gothic romance that will probably be of interest to fans of this particular melodrama--Dark Shadows fans, I'm looking at you!  For the rest of us, the good news is this: the story is so short, it's over before we even know we're bored.

Too bad the same couldn't be said of Dark Shadows.

That's right.  I said it.

The Vampire Maid has slipped willingly into the public domain.  Click here to download it or read it online, courtesy of ManyBooks.net.

--J/Metro

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