Clasics in Ñspel: NUMBER 13, by M R James

NUMBR 13

M R JEMZ

Amñ ɖ tǎnz v Jutḷnd, Vîborg justli holdz a hî ples. It z ɖ sīt v a biṣ́pric; it hz a hansm bt olmst intîrli ny cʈīdṛl, a ćarmñ gardn, a lec v gret byti, n mni storcs. Nir it z Hald, acǎntd wn v ɖ pritiist ʈñz in Denmarc; n hard bî z Finderup, ẃr Marsk Stig mrdrd Cñ Eric Glipñ on St Ssīła’z De, in ɖ yir 1286. Fifti-six bloz v sqer-hedd ayn mesz wr trest on Eric’s scul ẃn hiz tūm wz opnd in ɖ sevntīnʈ snćri. Bt I am nt raitñ a gîd-bc.

Ɖr r gd hotelz in Vîborg—Preisler’z n ɖ Fīnix r ol ɖt cn b dzîrd. Bt mî cuzn, huz xpirịnsz I hv t tel y nǎ, wnt t ɖ Goldn Layn ɖ frst tîm ɖt h viẓtd Vîborg. H hz nt bn ɖr sins, n ɖ folowñ pejz wl, phps, xplen ɖ rīzn v hiz abstnśn.

Ɖ Goldn Layn z wn v ɖ vri fy hǎzz in ɖ tǎn ɖt wr nt dstroid in ɖ gret fîr v 1726, ẃć practicli dmoliśt ɖ cʈīdṛl, ɖ Sognekirke, ɖ Raadhuus, n so mć els ɖt wz old n inṭrestñ. It z a gret red-bric hǎs—ɖt z, ɖ frunt z v bric, wɖ corbisteps on ɖ geblz n a txt ovr ɖ dor; bt ɖ cortyard intu ẃć ɖ omnibus drîvz z v blac n ẃît wŭd n plastr.

Ɖ sún wz dclînñ in ɖ hevnz ẃn mî cuzn wōct p t ɖ dor, n ɖ lît smout fl upn ɖ impozñ fsād v ɖ hǎs. H wz dlîtd wɖ ɖ old-faśnd aspect v ɖ ples, n promist himslf a ʈuṛli saṭsfactri n aḿzñ ste in an ín so tipicl v old Jutḷnd.

It wz nt biznis in ɖ ordnri sns v ɖ wrd ɖt hd bròt Mr Anḍsn t Vîborg. H wz ingejd upn sm rsrćz intu ɖ Ćrć hisṭri v Denmarc, n it hd cm t hiz nolij ɖt in ɖ Rigsarkiv v Vîborg ɖr wr peprz, sevd fṛm ɖ fîr, rletñ t ɖ last dez v Romn Cʈoḷsizm in ɖ cuntri. H pṛpozd, ɖrfr, t spend a cnsidṛbl tîm—phps az mć az a fortnît or ʈri wīcs—in xaṃnñ n copiyñ ɖz, n h hopt ɖt ɖ Goldn Layn wd b ebl t gv him a rūm v sfiśnt sîz t srv alîc az a bedrūm n a studi. Hiz wśz wr xplend t ɖ landlord, n, aftr a srtn amǎnt v ʈt, ɖ latr sjstd ɖt phps it mt b ɖ bst we fr ɖ jntlmn t lc at wn or tū v ɖ larjr rūmz n pic wn fr himslf. It sīmd a gd îdīa.

Ɖ top flor wz sn rjctd az inteilñ tù mć gtñ upsterz aftr ɖ de’z wrc; ɖ secnd flor cntend no rūm v xacli ɖ dmnśnz rqîrd; bt on ɖ frst flor ɖr wz a ćôs v tū or ʈri rūmz ẃć wd, so far az sîz wnt, sūt admṛbli.

Ɖ landlord wz stroñli in fevr v Numbr 17, bt Mr Anḍsn pôntd ǎt ɖt its windoz cmandd onli ɖ blanc wōl v ɖ nxt hǎs, n ɖt it wd b vri darc in ɖ afṭnun. Îɖr Numbr 12 or Numbr 14 wd b betr, fr bʈ v ɖm lct on ɖ strīt, n ɖ brît īvnñ lît n ɖ priti vy wd mor ɖn compnset him fr ɖ adiśnl amǎnt v nôz.

Ivnć̣li Numbr 12 wz s’lectd. Lîc its nebrz, it hd ʈri windoz, ol on wn sîd v ɖ rūm; it wz ferli hî n unyẓ́li loñ. Ɖr wz, v cors, no fîrples, bt ɖ stov wz hansm n rɖr old—a cást-ayn irex́n, on ɖ sîd v ẃć wz a repriznteśn v Ebṛham sacṛfîsñ Îzac, n ɖ inscripśn, ‘I Bog Mose, Cap. 22,’ abv. Nʈñ els in ɖ rūm wz rmarcbl; ɖ onli inṭrestñ picćr wz an old culrd print v ɖ tǎn, det abt 1820.

Suprtîm wz aproćñ, bt ẃn Anḍsn, rfreśt bî ɖ ordnri ablūśnz, dsndd ɖ sterces, ɖr wr stl a fy minits bfr ɖ bel rañ. H dvotd ɖm t xaṃnñ ɖ list v hiz felolojrz. Az z yźl in Denmarc, ɖer nemz wr dspleid on a larj blacbōrd, dvîdd intu coḷmz n lînz, ɖ numbrz v ɖ rūmz biyñ pentd in at ɖ bginñ v ć lîn. Ɖ list wz nt xîtñ. Ɖr wz an advc̣t, or Sagförer, a Jrmn, n sm bagmen fṛm Copnhagn. Ɖ wn n onli pônt ẃć sjstd eni fūd fr ʈt wz ɖ absns v eni Numbr 13 fṛm ɖ têl v ɖ rūmz, n īvn ɖs wz a ʈñ ẃć Anḍsn hd olrdi notist haf a duzn tîmz in hiz xpirịns v Deniś hotelz. H cd nt hlp wunḍrñ ẃɖr ɖ objx́n t ɖt ptiklr numbr, comn az it z, wz so wîdspred n so stroñ az t mc it dificlt t let a rūm so tic̣td, n h rzolvd t asc ɖ landlord f h n hiz colīgz in ɖ pṛfeśn hd acć̣li met wɖ mni claynts hu rfyzd t b acoṃdetd in ɖ ʈrtīnʈ rūm.

H hd nʈñ t tel m (I am gvñ ɖ stori az I hŕd it fṛm him) abt ẃt pást at supr, n ɖ īvnñ, ẃć wz spent in unpacñ n arenjñ hiz cloɖz, bcs, n peprz, wz nt mor ivntfl. Twdz ilevn o’cloc h rzolvd t g t bed, bt wɖ him, az wɖ a gd mni uɖr ppl nawdez, an olmst nesṣri priliminri t bed, f h mnt t slīp, wz ɖ rīdñ v a fy pejz v print, n h nǎ rmembrd ɖt ɖ ptiklr bc ẃć h hd bn rīdñ in ɖ tren, n ẃć alon wd saṭsfî him at ɖt preznt momnt, wz in ɖ pocit v hiz gretcot, ɖen haññ on a peg ǎtsd ɖ dînñrūm.

T run dǎn n s’kr it wz ɖ wrc v a momnt, n, az ɖ paṣjz wr bî no mīnz darc, it wz nt dificlt fr him t fînd hiz we bac t hiz ǒn dor. So, at līst, h ʈt; bt ẃn h arîvd ɖr, n trnd ɖ handl, ɖ dor intîrli rfyzd t opn, n h còt ɖ sǎnd v a hesti muvmnt twdz it fṛm wɖn. H hd traid ɖ roñ dor, v cors. Wz hiz ǒn rūm t ɖ rît or t ɖ left? H glanst at ɖ numbr: it wz 13. Hiz rūm wd b on ɖ left; n so it wz. N nt bfr h hd bn in bed fr sm minits, hd réd hiz wóntd ʈri or for pejz v hiz bc, bloun ǎt hiz lît, n trnd ovr t g t slīp, dd it ocŕ t him ɖt, ẃr-az on ɖ blacbōrd v ɖ hotel ɖr hd bn no Numbr 13, ɖr wz undǎtidli a rūm numbrd 13 in ɖ hotel. H flt rɖr sori h hd nt ćozn it fr hiz ǒn. Phps h mt hv dn ɖ landlord a litl srvis bî okpayñ it, n gvn him ɖ ćans v seyñ ɖt a wel-born Ñgliś jntlmn hd livd in it fr ʈri wīcs n lîct it vri mć. Bt probbli it wz yzd az a srvnt’s rūm or smʈñ v ɖ cnd. Aftr ol, it wz most lîcli nt so larj or gd a rūm az hiz ǒn. N h lct drǎẓli abt ɖ rūm, ẃć wz ferli psptbl in ɖ haf-lît fṛm ɖ strīt-lamp. It wz a krịs ifct, h ʈt. Rūmz yẓ́li lc larjr in a dim lît ɖn a fl wn, bt ɖs sīmd t hv cntractd in leñʈ n groun pṛporśṇtli hayr. Wel, wel! slīp wz mor importnt ɖn ɖz veg rūṃneśnz—n t slīp h wnt.

On ɖ de aftr hiz arîvl Anḍsn atact ɖ Rigsarkiv v Vîborg. H wz, az wn mt xpct in Denmarc, cîndli rsivd, n axes t ol ɖt h wśt t si wz md az īzi fr him az poṣbl. Ɖ dokmnts leid bfr him wr far mor ńmṛs n inṭrestñ ɖn h hd at ol antiṣpetd. Bsdz ofiśl peprz, ɖr wz a larj bundl v corispondns rletñ t Biṣ́p Jörgen Friis, ɖ last Romn Caʈ̇lic hu hld ɖ si, n in ɖz ɖr cropt p mni aḿzñ n ẃt r cōld ‘intiṃt’ dītelz v prîṿt lîf n indivijl caṛctr. Ɖr wz mć tōc v a hǎs ǒnd bî ɖ Biṣ́p, bt nt inhaḅtd bî him, in ɖ tǎn. Its tennt wz apaṛntli smẃt v a scandl n a stumḅlñbloc t ɖ rformñparti. H wz a dsgres, ɖe rout, t ɖ siti; h practist sīcrit n wicid arts, n hd sold hiz soul t ɖ eṇmi. It wz v a pìs wɖ ɖ gros c’rupśn n sūṗstiśn v ɖ Baḅloniś Ćrć ɖt sć a vîpr n blud-sucñ Troldmand śd b patṛnîzd n harbrd bî ɖ Biṣ́p. Ɖ Biṣ́p met ɖz rproćz boldli; h pṛtstd hiz ǒn abhoṛns v ol sć ʈñz az sīcrit arts, n rqîrd hiz antaġnists t brñ ɖ matr bfr ɖ propr cort—v cors, ɖ spirićl cort—n sift it t ɖ botm. Nwn cd b mor redi n wilñ ɖn himslf t cndem Mag. Nicolas Francken f ɖ evidns śoud him t hv bn gilti v eni v ɖ crîmz inforṃli alejd agnst him.

Anḍsn hd nt tîm t d mor ɖn glans at ɖ nxt letr v ɖ Protistnt līdr, Rasmus Nielsen, bfr ɖ record ofis wz clozd fr ɖ de, bt h gaɖrd its jenṛl tenr, ẃć wz t ɖ ifct ɖt Crisćn men wr nǎ no longr baund bî ɖ dsiźnz v Biṣ́ps v Rom, n ɖt ɖ Biṣ́p’s Cort wz nt, n cd nt b, a fit or compitnt trîbynl t juj so grev n weiti a cōz.

On līvñ ɖ ofis, Mr Anḍsn wz acumṗnid bî ɖ old jntlmn hu prizîdd ovr it, n, az ɖe wōct, ɖ convseśn vri naćṛli trnd t ɖ peprz v ẃć I hv jst bn spīcñ.

Herr Scavenius, ɖ Arc̣vist v Vîborg, ɖo vri wel informd az t ɖ jenṛl run v ɖ dokmnts undr hiz ćarj, wz nt a speṣ́list in ɖoz v ɖ Ref̣meśn pirịd. H wz mć inṭrestd in ẃt Anḍsn hd t tel him abt ɖm. H lct fwd wɖ gret pleźr, h sd, t siyñ ɖ pubḷceśn in ẃć Mr Anḍsn spouc v imbodiyñ ɖer contents. ‘Ɖs hǎs v ɖ Biṣ́p Friis,’ h add, ‘it z a gret puzl t m ẃr it cn hv std. I hv studid cerf̣li ɖ tpogṛfi v old Vîborg, bt it z most unluci—v ɖ old térịr v ɖ Biṣ́p’s proṗti ẃć wz md in 1560, n v ẃć w hv ɖ gretr part in ɖ Arkiv—jst ɖ pìs ẃć hd ɖ list v ɖ tǎn proṗti z misñ. Nvr mînd. Phps I śl sm de s’xid t fînd him.’

Aftr tecñ sm x’sîz—I fget xacli hǎ or ẃr—Anḍsn wnt bac t ɖ Goldn Layn, hiz supr, hiz gem v peśns, n hiz bed. On ɖ we t hiz rūm it ocŕd t him ɖt h hd fgotn t tōc t ɖ landlord abt ɖ omiśn v Numbr 13 fṛm ɖ hotel bōrd, n olso ɖt h mt az wel mc śr ɖt Numbr 13 dd acć̣li xist bfr h md eni refṛns t ɖ matr.

Ɖ dsiźn wz nt dificlt t arîv at. Ɖr wz ɖ dor wɖ its numbr az plen az cd b, n wrc v sm cnd wz evidntli gwñ on insd it, fr az h nird ɖ dor h cd hír ftsteps n vôsz, or a vôs, wɖn. Jrñ ɖ fy secndz in ẃć h hōltd t mc śr v ɖ numbr, ɖ ftsteps sīst, sīmñli vri nir ɖ dor, n h wz a litl startld at hírñ a qc hisñ briɖñ az v a prsn in stroñ xîtmnt. H wnt on t hiz ǒn rūm, n agn h wz s’prîzd t fînd hǎ mć smōlr it sīmd nǎ ɖn it hd ẃn h s’lectd it. It wz a slît dis’pôntmnt, bt onli slît. F h faund it riyli nt larj inuf, h cd vri īẓli śift t anɖr. In ɖ mntm h wontd smʈñ—az far az I rmembr it wz a pocithanc̣ćīf—ǎt v hiz portmanto, ẃć hd bn plest bî ɖ portr on a vri inadiqt tresl or stūl agnst ɖ wōl at ɖ farɖist end v ɖ rūm fṛm hiz bed. Hir wz a vri krịs ʈñ: ɖ portmanto wz nt t b sìn. It hd bn muvd bî ofiśs srvnts; dǎtlis ɖ contents hd bn pt in ɖ wordrob. No, nn v ɖm wr ɖr. Ɖs wz vxeśs. Ɖ îdīa v a ʈeft h dsmist at wns. Sć ʈñz rerli hapn in Denmarc, bt sm pìs v stypidti hd srtnli bn pformd (ẃć z nt so uncomn), n ɖ stuepige mst b svirli spocn t. Ẃtvr it wz ɖt h wontd, it wz nt so nesṣri t hiz cumf̣t ɖt h cd nt wêt tl ɖ mornñ fr it, n h ɖrfr setld nt t rñ ɖ bel n dstrb ɖ srvnts. H wnt t ɖ windo—ɖ rît-hand windo it wz—n lct ǎt on ɖ qayt strīt. Ɖr wz a tōl bildñ oṗzit, wɖ larj spesz v ded wōl; no pasrz-bî; a darc nît; n vri litl t b sìn v eni cnd.

Ɖ lît wz bhnd him, n h cd si hiz ǒn śado clirli cast on ɖ wōl oṗzit. Olso ɖ śado v ɖ birdd man in Numbr 11 on ɖ left, hu pást t n fro in śrtslīvz wns or twîs, n wz sìn frst bruśñ hiz her, n lêtr on in a nîtgǎn. Olso ɖ śado v ɖ okpnt v Numbr 13 on ɖ rît. Ɖs mt b mor inṭrestñ. Numbr 13 wz, lîc himslf, līnñ on hiz elboz on ɖ windosil lcñ ǎt intu ɖ strīt. H sīmd t b a tōl ʈin man—or wz it bî eni ćans a wmn?—at līst, it wz smwn hu cuvrd hiz or hr hed wɖ sm cnd v dreṗri bfr gwñ t bed, n, h ʈt, mst b pzest v a red lampśêd—n ɖ lamp mst b flic̣rñ vri mć. Ɖr wz a dstñt pleyñ p n dǎn v a dul red lît on ɖ oṗzit wōl. H crend ǎt a litl t si f h cd mc eni mor v ɖ figr, bt bynd a fold v sm lît, phps ẃît, mtirịl on ɖ windosil h cd si nʈñ.

Nǎ cem a distnt step in ɖ strīt, n its aproć sīmd t rcōl Numbr 13 t a sns v hiz xpozd pziśn, fr vri swiftli n sudnli h swept asd fṛm ɖ windo, n hiz red lît wnt ǎt. Anḍsn, hu hd bn smocñ a siġrét, leid ɖ end v it on ɖ windosil n wnt t bed.

Nxt mornñ h wz wocn bî ɖ stuepige wɖ hot wōtr, ets. H rǎzd himslf, n aftr ʈncñ ǎt ɖ c’rect Deniś wrdz, sd az dstñtli az h cd:

‘Y mst nt muv mî portmanto. Ẃr z it?’

Az z nt uncomn, ɖ meid laft, n wnt awe wɖt mcñ eni dstñt ansr.

Anḍsn, rɖr iṛtetd, sat p in bed, intndñ t cōl hr bac, bt h rmend sitñ p, stẹrñ stret in frunt v him. Ɖr wz hiz portmanto on its tresl, xacli ẃr h hd sìn ɖ portr pt it ẃn h frst arîvd. Ɖs wz a rūd śoc fr a man hu prîdd himslf on hiz akṛsi v obẓveśn. Hǎ it cd poṣbli hv iscept him ɖ nît bfr h dd nt pritnd t unḍstand; at eni ret, ɖr it wz nǎ.

Ɖ dêlît śoud mor ɖn ɖ portmanto; it let ɖ tru pṛporśnz v ɖ rūm wɖ its ʈri windoz apir, n saṭsfaid its tennt ɖt hiz ćôs aftr ol hd nt bn a bad wn. Ẃn h wz olmst drest h wōct t ɖ midl wn v ɖ ʈri windoz t lc ǎt at ɖ weɖr. Anɖr śoc awêtd him. Strenjli un’bzrvnt h mst hv bn last nît. H cd hv sworn ten tîmz ovr ɖt h hd bn smocñ at ɖ rît-hand windo ɖ last ʈñ bfr h wnt t bed, n hir wz hiz siġrét-end on ɖ sil v ɖ midl windo.

H startd t g dǎn t brecfst. Rɖr lêt, bt Numbr 13 wz lêtr: hir wr hiz būts stl ǎtsd hiz dor—a jntlmn’z būts. So ɖen Numbr 13 wz a man, nt a wmn. Jst ɖen h còt sît v ɖ numbr on ɖ dor. It wz 14. H ʈt h mst hv pást Numbr 13 wɖt noṭsñ it. Ʈri stypid mstecs in twelv aurz wr tù mć fr a mʈodicl, akṛt-mîndd man, so h trnd bac t mc śr. Ɖ nxt numbr t 14 wz numbr 12, hiz ǒn rūm. Ɖr wz no Numbr 13 at ol.

Aftr sm minits dvotd t a cerfl cnsiḍreśn v evrʈñ h hd hd t īt n drinc jrñ ɖ last twenti-for aurz, Anḍsn dsîdd t gv ɖ qsćn p. F hiz îz or hiz bren wr gvñ we h wd hv plenti v oṗtyṇtiz fr aṣtenñ ɖt fact; f nt, ɖen h wz evidntli biyñ trītd t a vri inṭrestñ xpirịns. In îɖr ces ɖ dveḷpmnt v ivnts wd srtnli b wrʈ woćñ.

Jrñ ɖ de h cntinyd hiz xaṃneśn v ɖ ipisc̣pl corispondns ẃć I hv olrdi súṃrîzd. T hiz dis’pôntmnt, it wz incmplit. Onli wn uɖr letr cd b faund ẃć rfŕd t ɖ afer v Mag. Nicolas Francken. It wz fṛm ɖ Biṣ́p Jörgen Friis t Rasmus Nielsen. H sd:

‘Olɖo w r nt in ɖ līst dgri inclînd t asnt t yr jujmnt cnsrnñ ǎr cort, n śl b priperd f nīd b t wɖstand y t ɖ utrmost in ɖt bhaf, yt fr-az-mć az ǎr trusti n wel-ḅluvid Mag. Nicolas Francken, agnst hūm y hv derd t alej srtn fōls n mliśs ćarjz, hʈ bn sudnli rmuvd fṛm amñ s, it z apaṛnt ɖt ɖ qsćn fr ɖs tîm fōlz. Bt fr-az-mć az y frɖr alej ɖt ɖ Aposl n Ivanjlist St Jon in hiz hevnli Apoc̣lips dscrîbz ɖ Holi Romn Ćrć undr ɖ gîz n simbl v ɖ Scarlit Wmn, b it noun t y,’ ets.

Srć az h mt, Anḍsn cd fînd no sīql t ɖs letr nr eni clu t ɖ cōz or manr v ɖ ‘rmuvl’ v ɖ casus belli. H cd onli s’poz ɖt Francken hd daid sudnli; n az ɖr wr onli tū dez btwn ɖ det v Nielsen’z last letr—ẃn Francken wz evidntli stl in biyñ—n ɖt v ɖ Biṣ́p’s letr, ɖ deʈ mst hv bn cmplitli unixpctd.

In ɖ afṭnun h peid a śort vizit t Hald, n tc hiz ti at Baekkelund; nr cd h notis, ɖo h wz in a smẃt nrṿs frem v mînd, ɖt ɖr wz eni indceśn v sć a fełr v î or bren az hiz xpirịnsz v ɖ mornñ hd léd him t fir.

At supr h faund himslf nxt t ɖ landlord.

‘Ẃt,’ h asct him, aftr sm indifṛnt convseśn, ‘z ɖ rīzn ẃ in most v ɖ hotelz wn vizits in ɖs cuntri ɖ numbr ʈrtīn z left ǎt v ɖ list v rūmz? I si y hv nn hir.’

Ɖ landlord sīmd aḿzd.

‘T ʈnc ɖt y śd hv notist a ʈñ lîc ɖt! I’v ʈt abt it wns or twîs mslf, t tel ɖ truʈ. An edycetd man, I’v sd, hz no biznis wɖ ɖz sūṗstiśs nośnz. I wz bròt p mslf hir in ɖ hî scūl v Vîborg, n ǎr old mastr wz olwz a man t set hiz fes agnst enʈñ v ɖt cnd. H’z bn ded nǎ ɖs mni yirz—a fîn upstandñ man h wz, n redi wɖ hiz handz az wel az hiz hed. I rec̣lect s bôz, wn snǒi de—’

Hir h plunjd intu reṃnisns.

‘Ɖen y d’nt ʈnc ɖr z eni ptiklr objx́n t hvñ a Numbr 13?’ sd Anḍsn.

‘Ā! t b śr. Wel, y unḍstand, I wz bròt p t ɖ biznis bî mî pur old faɖr. H cept a hotel in Aarhuus frst, n ɖen, ẃn w wr born, h muvd t Vîborg hir, ẃć wz hiz netiv ples, n hd ɖ Fīnix hir untl h daid. Ɖt wz in 1876. Ɖen I startd biznis in Silkeborg, n onli ɖ yir bfr last I muvd intu ɖs hǎs.’

Ɖen foloud mor dītelz az t ɖ stet v ɖ hǎs n biznis ẃn frst tecn ovr.

‘N ẃn y cem hir, wz ɖr a Numbr 13?’

‘No, no. I wz gwñ t tel y abt ɖt. Y si, in a ples lîc ɖs, ɖ cmrśl clas—ɖ travlrz—r ẃt w hv t pṛvîd fr in jenṛl. N pt ɖm in Numbr 13? Ẃ, ɖ’d az sn slīp in ɖ strīt, or snr. Az far az I’m cnsrnd mslf, it wd’nt mc a peni difṛns t m ẃt ɖ numbr v mî rūm wz, n so I’v ofn sd t ɖm; bt ɖe stic t it ɖt it brñz ɖm bad luc. Qonttiz v storiz ɖe hv amñ ɖm v men ɖt hv slept in a Numbr 13 n nvr bn ɖ sem agn, or lost ɖer bst custmrz, or—wn ʈñ n anɖr,’ sd ɖ landlord, aftr srćñ fr a mor grafic frêz.

‘Ɖen ẃt d y yz yr Numbr 13 fr?’ sd Anḍsn, conśs az h sd ɖ wrdz v a krịs añzayti qt dispṛporśṇt t ɖ importns v ɖ qsćn.

‘Mî Numbr 13? Ẃ, d’nt I tel y ɖt ɖr z’nt sć a ʈñ in ɖ hǎs? I ʈt y mt hv notist ɖt. F ɖr wz it wd b nxt dor t yr ǒn rūm.’

‘Wel, yes; onli I hapnd t ʈnc—ɖt z, I fansid last nît ɖt I hd sìn a dor numbrd ʈrtīn in ɖt pasij; n, riyli, I am olmst srtn I mst hv bn rît, fr I sw it ɖ nît bfr az wel.’

V cors, Herr Kristensen laft ɖs nośn t scorn, az Anḍsn hd xpctd, n emf̣sîzd wɖ mć iṭreśn ɖ fact ɖt no Numbr 13 xistd or hd xistd bfr him in ɖt hotel.

Anḍsn wz in sm wez rlivd bî hiz srtnti, bt stl puzld, n h bgan t ʈnc ɖt ɖ bst we t mc śr ẃɖr h hd indd bn subjict t an iluźn or nt wz t invît ɖ landlord t hiz rūm t smoc a sgar lêtr on in ɖ īvnñ. Sm foṭgrafs v Ñgliś tǎnz ẃć h hd wɖ him formd a sfiśntli gd xks.

Herr Kristensen wz flatrd bî ɖ invteśn, n most wilñli axptd it. At abt ten o’cloc h wz t mc hiz apiṛns, bt bfr ɖt Anḍsn hd sm letrz t rait, n rtîrd fr ɖ prṗs v raitñ ɖm. H olmst bluśt t himslf at cnfesñ it, bt h cd nt dnî ɖt it wz ɖ fact ɖt h wz bcmñ qt nrṿs abt ɖ qsćn v ɖ xistns v Numbr 13; so mć so ɖt h aproćt hiz rūm bî we v Numbr 11, in ordr ɖt h mt nt b oblîjd t pas ɖ dor, or ɖ ples ẃr ɖ dor òt t b. H lct qcli n sspiśsli abt ɖ rūm ẃn h entrd it, bt ɖr wz nʈñ, bynd ɖt indfîṇbl er v biyñ smōlr ɖn yźl, t woṛnt eni msgvñz. Ɖr wz no qsćn v ɖ prezns or absns v hiz portmanto tnît. H hd himslf emtid it v its contents n lojd it undr hiz bed. Wɖ a srtn ef̣t h dsmist ɖ ʈt v Numbr 13 fṛm hiz mînd, n sat dǎn t hiz raitñ.

Hiz nebrz wr qayt inuf. Oceźṇli a dor opnd in ɖ pasij n a per v būts wz ʈroun ǎt, or a bagman wōct past humñ t himslf, n ǎtsd, fṛm tîm t tîm, a cart ʈundrd ovr ɖ atrośs coblstonz, or a qc step hurid alñ ɖ flagz.

Anḍsn finiśt hiz letrz, ordrd in ẃisci n soda, n ɖen wnt t ɖ windo n studid ɖ ded wōl oṗzit n ɖ śadoz upn it.

Az far az h cd rmembr, Numbr 14 hd bn okpaid bî ɖ loyr, a stêd man, hu sd litl at mīlz, biyñ jenṛli ingejd in studiyñ a smōl bundl v peprz bsd hiz plet. Apaṛntli, hvr, h wz in ɖ habit v gvñ vnt t hiz animl spirits ẃn alon. Ẃ els śd h b dansñ? Ɖ śado fṛm ɖ nxt rūm evidntli śoud ɖt h wz. Agn n agn hiz ʈin form crost ɖ windo, hiz armz wevd, n a gōnt leg wz cict p wɖ s’prîzñ ajiḷti. H sīmd t b bér-fŭtd, n ɖ flor mst b wel leid, fr no sǎnd btreid hiz muvmnts. Sagförer Herr Anders Jensen, dansñ at ten o’cloc at nît in a hotel bedrūm, sīmd a fitñ subjict fr a historicl pentñ in ɖ grand stîl; n Anḍsn’z ʈts, lîc ɖoz v Eṃli in ɖ ‘Misṭriz v Ūdolfo’, bgan t ‘arenj ɖmslvz in ɖ folowñ lînz’:

Ẃn I rtrn t mî hotel,

At ten o’cloc p.m.,

Ɖ wêtrz ʈnc I am unwel;

I d nt cer fr ɖm.

Bt ẃn I’v loct mî ćembr dor,

N pt mî būts ǎtsd,

I dans ol nît upn ɖ flor.

N īvn f mî nebrz swòr,

I’d g on dansñ ol ɖ mor,

Fr I’m aqentd wɖ ɖ lw,

N in dspt v ol ɖer jw,

Ɖer protests I d’rîd.

Hd nt ɖ landlord at ɖs momnt noct at ɖ dor, it z probbl ɖt qt a loñ powm mt hv bn leid bfr ɖ rīdr. T juj fṛm hiz lc v s’prîz ẃn h faund himslf in ɖ rūm, Herr Kristensen wz struc, az Anḍsn hd bn, bî smʈñ unyźl in its aspect. Bt h md no rmarc. Anḍsn’z foṭgrafs inṭrestd him mîṭli, n formd ɖ txt v mni ōṭbạgraficl dscorsz. Nr z it qt clir hǎ ɖ convseśn cd hv bn dvrtd intu ɖ dzîrd ćanl v Numbr 13, hd nt ɖ loyr at ɖs momnt bgun t sñ, n t sñ in a manr ẃć cd līv no dǎt in enwn’z mînd ɖt h wz îɖr xidñli drunc or revñ mad. It wz a hî, ʈin vôs ɖt ɖe hŕd, n it sīmd drî, az f fṛm loñ dsys. V wrdz or tyn ɖr wz no qsćn. It wnt sêlñ p t a s’prîzñ hît, n wz carid dǎn wɖ a dsperñ mon az v a wintrwind in a holo ćimni, or an orgn huz wind felz sudnli. It wz a riyli hoṛbl sǎnd, n Anḍsn flt ɖt f h hd bn alon h mst hv fled fr refyj n ssayti t sm nebr bagman’z rūm.

Ɖ landlord sat opn-mǎɖd.

‘I d’nt unḍstand it,’ h sd at last, wîpñ hiz fōrhed. ‘It z dredfl. I hv hŕd it wns bfr, bt I md śr it wz a cat.’

‘Z h mad?’ sd Anḍsn.

‘H mst b; n ẃt a sad ʈñ! Sć a gd custmr, tù, n so s’xesfl in hiz biznis, bî ẃt I hír, n a yuñ faṃli t brñ p.’

Jst ɖen cem an impeśnt noc at ɖ dor, n ɖ nocr entrd, wɖt wêtñ t b asct. It wz ɖ loyr, in déshabillé n vri ruf-herd; n vri angri h lct.

‘I beg pardn, sr,’ h sd, ‘bt I śd b mć oblîjd f y wd cîndli dzist—’

Hir h stopt, fr it wz evidnt ɖt nɖr v ɖ prsnz bfr him wz rsponsbl fr ɖ dstrbns; n aftr a momnt’s lul it sweld fʈ agn mor wîldli ɖn bfr.

‘Bt ẃt in ɖ nem v Hevn dz it mīn?’ brouc ǎt ɖ loyr. ‘Ẃr z it? Hu z it? Am I gwñ ǎt v mî mînd?’

‘Śrli, Herr Jensen, it cmz fṛm yr rūm nxt dor? Z’nt ɖr a cat or smʈñ stuc in ɖ ćimni?’

Ɖs wz ɖ bst ɖt ocŕd t Anḍsn t se n h riylîzd its fytiḷti az h spouc; bt enʈñ wz betr ɖn t stand n lisn t ɖt hoṛbl vôs, n lc at ɖ brōd, ẃît fes v ɖ landlord, ol pspîrñ n qiṿrñ az h clućt ɖ armz v hiz ćer.

‘Imposbl,’ sd ɖ loyr, ‘imposbl. Ɖr z no ćimni. I cem hir bcz I wz cnvinst ɖ nôz wz gwñ on hir. It wz srtnli in ɖ nxt rūm t mîn.’

‘Wz ɖr no dor btwn yrz n mîn?’ sd Anḍsn īgrli.

‘No, sr,’ sd Herr Jensen, rɖr śarpli. ‘At līst, nt ɖs mornñ.’

‘Ā!’ sd Anḍsn. ‘Nr tnît?’

‘I am nt śr,’ sd ɖ loyr wɖ sm hezteśn.

Sudnli ɖ crayñ or sññ vôs in ɖ nxt rūm daid awe, n ɖ sñr wz hŕd sīmñli t laf t himslf in a crūnñ manr. Ɖ ʈri men acć̣li śivrd at ɖ sǎnd. Ɖen ɖr wz a sîḷns.

‘Cm,’ sd ɖ loyr, ‘ẃt hv y t se, Herr Kristensen? Ẃt dz ɖs mīn?’

‘Gd Hevn!’ sd Kristensen. ‘Hǎ śd I tel! I nǒ no mor ɖn y, jntlṃn. I pre I me nvr hír sć a nôz agn.’

‘So d I,’ sd Herr Jensen, n h add smʈñ undr hiz breʈ. Anḍsn ʈt it sǎndd lîc ɖ last wrdz v ɖ Sōltr, ‘omnis spiritus laudet Dominum,’ bt h cd nt b śr.

‘Bt w mst d smʈñ,’ sd Anḍsn—‘ɖ ʈri v s. Śl w g n invstget in ɖ nxt rūm?’

‘Bt ɖt z Herr Jensen’z rūm,’ weild ɖ landlord. ‘It z no ys; h hz cm fṛm ɖr himslf.’

‘I am nt so śr,’ sd Jensen. ‘I ʈnc ɖs jntlmn z rît: w mst g n si.’

Ɖ onli wepnz v dfns ɖt cd b mustrd on ɖ spot wr a stic n umbrela. Ɖ xpdiśn wnt ǎt intu ɖ pasij, nt wɖt qecñz. Ɖr wz a dedli qayt ǎtsd, bt a lît śon fṛm undr ɖ nxt dor. Anḍsn n Jensen aproćt it. Ɖ latr trnd ɖ handl, n gev a sudn vigṛs pś. No ys. Ɖ dor std fast.

‘Herr Kristensen,’ sd Jensen, ‘wl y g n feć ɖ strongist srvnt y hv in ɖ ples? W mst si ɖs ʈru.’

Ɖ landlord nodd, n hurid of, glad t b awe fṛm ɖ sīn v ax́n. Jensen n Anḍsn rmend ǎtsd lcñ at ɖ dor.

‘It z Numbr 13, y si,’ sd ɖ latr.

‘Yes; ɖr z yr dor, n ɖr z mîn,’ sd Jensen.

‘Mî rūm hz ʈri windoz in ɖ dêtîm,’ sd Anḍsn wɖ dificlti, s’presñ a nrṿs laf.

‘Bî Jorj, so hz mîn!’ sd ɖ loyr, trnñ n lcñ at Anḍsn. Hiz bac wz nǎ t ɖ dor. In ɖt momnt ɖ dor opnd, n an arm cem ǎt n clwd at hiz śoldr. It wz clad in ragid, yelǒiś linn, n ɖ bér scin, ẃr it cd b sìn, hd loñ gre her upn it.

Anḍsn wz jst in tîm t pl Jensen ǎt v its rīć wɖ a crî v dsgust n frît, ẃn ɖ dor śut agn, n a lo laf wz hŕd.

Jensen hd sìn nʈñ, bt ẃn Anḍsn huridli tld him ẃt a risc h hd run, h fél intu a gret stet v ajteśn, n sjstd ɖt ɖe śd rtîr fṛm ɖ enṭprîz n loc ɖmslvz p in wn or uɖr v ɖer rūmz.

Hvr, ẃl h wz dveḷpñ ɖs plan, ɖ landlord n tū ebl-bodid men arîvd on ɖ sīn, ol lcñ rɖr sirịs n alarmd. Jensen met ɖm wɖ a toṛnt v dscripśn n xpḷneśn, ẃć dd nt at ol tnd t incurij ɖm fr ɖ fre.

Ɖ men dropt ɖ crobarz ɖe hd bròt, n sd flatli ɖt ɖe wr nt gwñ t risc ɖer ʈrots in ɖt devl’z den. Ɖ landlord wz mizṛbli nrṿs n undisîdd, conśs ɖt f ɖ denjr wr nt fest hiz hotel wz ruind, n vri loʈ t fes it himslf. Luc̣li Anḍsn hit upn a we v raliyñ ɖ dmoṛlîzd fors.

‘Z ɖs,’ h sd, ‘ɖ Deniś curij I hv hŕd so mć v? It z’nt a Jrmn in ɖr, n f it wz, w r fîv t wn.’

Ɖ tū srvnts n Jensen wr stuñ intu ax́n bî ɖs, n md a daś at ɖ dor.

‘Stop!’ sd Anḍsn. ‘D’nt lūz yr hedz. Y ste ǎt hir wɖ ɖ lît, landlord, n wn v y tū men brec in ɖ dor, n d’nt g in ẃn it gvz we.’

Ɖ men nodd, n ɖ yungr stept fwd, rezd hiz crobar, n dlt a tṛmnḍs blo on ɖ upr panl. Ɖ rzult wz nt in ɖ līst ẃt eni v ɖm antiṣpetd. Ɖr wz no cracñ or rendñ v wŭd—onli a dul sǎnd, az f ɖ solid wōl hd bn struc. Ɖ man dropt hiz tūl wɖ a śǎt, n bgan rubñ hiz elbo. Hiz crî drù ɖer îz upn him fr a momnt; ɖen Anḍsn lct at ɖ dor agn. It wz gn; ɖ plastr wōl v ɖ pasij stérd him in ɖ fes, wɖ a cnsidṛbl gaś in it ẃr ɖ crobar hd struc it. Numbr 13 hd pást ǎt v xistns.

Fr a brīf spes ɖe std prf̣cli stl, gezñ at ɖ blanc wōl. An rli coc in ɖ yard bnʈ wz hŕd t cro; n az Anḍsn glanst in ɖ d’rex́n v ɖ sǎnd, h sw ʈru ɖ windo at ɖ end v ɖ loñ pasij ɖt ɖ īstn scî wz pelñ t ɖ dōn.

‘Phps,’ sd ɖ landlord, wɖ hezteśn, ‘y jntlṃn wd lîc anɖr rūm fr tnît—a dubl-bedd wn?’

Nɖr Jensen nr Anḍsn wz avrs t ɖ sjsćn. Ɖe flt inclînd t hunt in cuplz aftr ɖer lêt xpirịns. It wz faund cnvińnt, ẃn ć v ɖm wnt t hiz rūm t c’lect ɖ articlz h wontd fr ɖ nît, ɖt ɖ uɖr śd g wɖ him n hold ɖ candl. Ɖe notist ɖt bʈ Numbr 12 n Numbr 14 hd ʈri windoz.

* * * * *

Nxt mornñ ɖ sem parti ri’smbld in Numbr 12. Ɖ landlord wz naćṛli añśs t avôd ingejñ ǎtsd hlp, n yt it wz impeṛtiv ɖt ɖ misṭri ataćñ t ɖt part v ɖ hǎs śd b clird p. Acordñli ɖ tū srvnts hd bn indyst t tec upn ɖm ɖ fuñśn v carpntrz. Ɖ frnićr wz clird awe, n, at ɖ cost v a gd mni iritriṿbli damijd plancs, ɖt porśn v ɖ flor wz tecn p ẃć le nirist t Numbr 14.

Y wl naćṛli s’poz ɖt a scelitn—se ɖt v Mag. Nicolas Francken—wz dscuvrd. Ɖt wz nt so. Ẃt ɖe dd fînd layñ btwn ɖ bīmz ẃć s’portd ɖ florñ wz a smōl copr box. In it wz a nītli-foldd veḷm dokmnt, wɖ abt twenti lînz v raitñ. Bʈ Anḍsn n Jensen (hu pruvd t b smʈñ v a paliogṛfr) wr mć xîtd bî ɖs dscuṿri, ẃć promist t aford ɖ ci t ɖz xtrordnri fnomina.

* * * * *

I pzes a copi v an astṛlojicl wrc ẃć I hv nvr réd. It hz, bî we v frunṭspìs, a wŭdcut bî Hanz Sebald Beham, reprizntñ a numbr v sejz sītd rnd a tebl. Ɖs dītel me inebl coṇsŕz t îdnṭfî ɖ bc. I canot mslf rec̣lect its tîtl, n it z nt at ɖs momnt wɖn rīć; bt ɖ flîlīvz v it r cuvrd wɖ raitñ, n, jrñ ɖ ten yirz in ẃć I hv ǒnd ɖ volym, I hv nt bn ebl t dtrmin ẃć we p ɖs raitñ òt t b réd, mć les in ẃt lanḡj it z. Nt dsimilr wz ɖ pziśn v Anḍsn n Jensen aftr ɖ pṛtractd xaṃneśn t ẃć ɖe sbmitd ɖ dokmnt in ɖ copr box.

Aftr tū dez’ contmpleśn v it, Jensen, hu wz ɖ boldr spirit v ɖ tū, haẓdd ɖ cnjcćr ɖt ɖ lanḡj wz îɖr Latin or Old Deniś.

Anḍsn vnćrd upn no s’mîzz, n wz vri wilñ t srendr ɖ box n ɖ parćmnt t ɖ Historicl Ssayti v Vîborg t b plest in ɖer ḿziym.

I hd ɖ hol stori fṛm him a fy munʈs lêtr, az w sat in a wŭd nir Upsala, aftr a vizit t ɖ lîbrri ɖr, ẃr w—or, rɖr, I—hd laft ovr ɖ contract bî ẃć Daniel Salthenius (in lêtr lîf Pṛfesr v Hībru at Königsberg) sold himslf t Setn. Anḍsn wz nt riyli aḿzd.

‘Yuñ idịt!’ h sd, mīnñ Salthenius, hu wz onli an unḍgrajụt ẃn h cmitd ɖt indiscreśn, ‘hǎ dd h nǒ ẃt cumṗni h wz cortñ?’

N ẃn I sjstd ɖ yźl cnsiḍreśnz h onli gruntd. Ɖt sem afṭnun h tld m ẃt y hv réd; bt h rfyzd t drw eni infṛnsz fṛm it, n t asnt t eni ɖt I drù fr him.

CLASICS IN ÑSPEL

ÑSPEL

11/12/2020

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