Alexander W. Drake was born in New Jersey in 1843. He was a successful wood engraver, art collector and director of the art department for Scribner’s and Century Magazine. Here we’ll be focusing on the three weird tales he wrote. These were collected by friends to memorialize him following his death in 1916. The collection was titled THREE MIDNIGHT STORIES (1916). Some of his poems and pictures of his engravings were also included in the collection. His love of art is apparent in all three tales.
1. “The Yellow Globe” (1893) – A man notices another gentleman examining a phosphorous yellow globe in a druggist’s window on numerous occasions. Curious why he’s so fascinated by the globe, he decides to ask him. It turns out the obsessive watcher is a painter who makes intense study of light and shadow. The painter invites the stranger to visit his shop to show him why that globe is so important. His inventive project grants this story its unique twist on the haunted house tale.
2. “The Curious Vehicle” (1893) – A man, curious about a strange carriage on the street, is invited inside by the mysterious owner one snowy Christmas Eve. The owner tells him his sad love story and of his mission to discover and recreate the perfect halo in his art.
3. “The Loosened Chord” (1894) – An elaborate dinner party includes an unusual decoration, a small bird in a gilded cage attached to a balloon by a chord. The chord comes loose, and the cage is swept away with its captive bird. The bird’s improbable return is peculiar in both timing and manner.
To me, “The Yellow Globe” is the standout piece. The other two, while not bad, weren’t particularly memorable.
Article by Matt Cowan