Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Preface to the Erotic Chess Story

Dear Readers,

As some of you are well aware, I am among other things, the singular inventor of the erotic chess story, a creation utterly unique in its combination of intellectual rigor and lascivious puissance. Yet, as I have saved this delicacy for my intimate circle, the greater world of letters and players remain ignorant of my contribution, a fact I was made poignantly aware of the other evening.

I was at my club, as usual, sitting through a rather workmanlike rendition of the “Giuoco Piano” when my opponent, his game and tongue over loosened with my selection of Amontillado, began to relate of how this game reminded him of a rather prurient anecdote from his younger days. He then began to relate, in the coarsest terms imaginable, some sophomoric venereal adventure that involved chess, hard cider, aqua vie, a furry rug, impressionable youth, upperclassmen and all of the secretions that a body is capable of. It was difficult of feign interest in either the profligate acrobatics and janitorial details of his anecdote or the pointless fencing of his bishops, and I maintained my polite poise with the old bird, as I always do, by picking out the least attractive feature on his person and constructing an erotic rhyme based on it: in this case a series of polyps that hung on a particular flap of neck like baggy dark medallions. Thus entertained, I finished the game and the peers’ erotic reverie with aplomb, before excusing myself, as Bacchus and Saturn finally got the better hand of Venus and the poor fellow drifted off like a moody prurient rowboat.

However, it occurred to me over the next morning’s speed matches that the old peer had been at pains for some time to publish his memoirs and had only been dissuaded from doing so by the active intervention of his family, who knew its thematic contents only too well. Only recently, however, its author had escaped all editorial oversight by simple attrition. Though his rude anecdote was alike to my creation as toilet humor to our immortal Swift, it suddenly occurred to me that his immanent publication might actually obscure the originality of my creation in the greater world.

Though I care nothing for the mere fugitive approbation of this world, I have been pressured by my circle of intimates not to delay a public edition and immediately release my creation to the world of readership at large: and so, with much modest protest, I do so here.


TURN #82: WEEK 68; WORDS: 77,900

The Manifesto of the Erotic Chess Story

My Dear Friend,

I am happy to present to you the first in a wholly new genre of literature of which I am the originator, the Erotic Chess Story. No mere pornographic or instructional novelty, the Erotic Chess Story presents the reader with the refined and Apollonian abstraction of chess with the lively Dionysian seductions of the prurient narrative, to create a Supreme Fiction which engages both the Powers of Reason and Vital Force as A Total Art for Human Beings.

Copernician as this innovation is, I have prepared for this cover as to prepare the reading public for its reception as I might hope to at length in some future work, The Manifesto of the Erotic Chess Story.

First Principle: The Erotic Chess Story must convey, with absolute accuracy the moves of an actual, playable chess game, much like a chess problem, in such a manner as the experienced player can follow. This is one of the singular aspects of the Erotic Chess Story, along with its eroticism. The intellectual narrative suspense is created through these intriguing presentations and much salutary lessons are learned.

Second Principle: The Erotic Chess Story must never, however tempting, resort to the use of sexual metaphors for chess or chess metaphors for sex. The strain on both enterprises is only too apparent. Dialogue such as “I see now that I am en prise” or “We enjoyed each other en passant” are strictly to be avoided. Indeed, it would be best that all metaphors imported from the Persian game be generally proscribed from all human communication.

Third Principle: The Erotic Chess Story should likewise avoid sedulously, the temptation to simply write itself as some sort of erotic contest in which chess is played for sexual favours. The liaison of Chess and Eroticism must be more subtle, more organic and less of a stretch.

Fourth Principle: The Erotic Chess Story must not resort to the atmospheres of the Gothic and the Decadent, much less the psychologistic language of thrills and depravity so often obscuring more often than illuminating the malodorous dungeons of such narratives, populated as much with italics as ill described perils and tortures. The suspense of the Erotic Chess Story comes from its chess. The thrills from the puissant titillations of its language. No more. Likewise, its language should be simple, unaffected and unbelabored like moves in chess as opposed to a endless jumping morass of semicolons linking panicked fragments, like checkers.

Fifth Principle: The Erotic Chess Story must be wholly original, and not some literary dandy so done up as to become wholly transvestite, some familiar tale done up as a chess story as a sailor in too much make-up. Likewise, the particulars of its plots must be wholly unique and original to the genre, and not simply “strapped on” to the end.

Sixth and Final Principle: The Erotic Chess Story must, above all, be Erotic.

With these donnés well established, I find that I have touched upon my piece and must therefore proceed with our game, as, I anticipate, to our mutual delight and edification.


for The Master of Games

THE TICKING OF THE CLOCK WAS TERRIFIC THAT EVENING, thrilling my nerves like a piano tuned by an electric eel. Within a few short, swift moves, I had already begun to write my inevitable victory on the sixty-four squares of the chessboard and despair upon the face of he who sat before his shortening white army. Men in chess die silently and there was no sound in that dark paneled room, save the sweet motions of the clock that marked the march of my victory, though he who commanded them must be writhing in intellectual agony at hopes and gambits cut short, paths of freedom and escape predestined and doomed.

I chuckled with my eyes. My opponent was but poor sport, trapped in a wasting maze of mistaken feints and failed exchanges. I had left him but small choice to enact his end -he could either die quickly but terrifically in the pit of a Queen for Bishop exchange, or with agonizing slowness under the pendulum of my Rooks sweeping advance, or, most egregiously, continue his futile offensive campaign to the cost of all his significant pieces and only to end up simply with his King running up and down the back of the board, mad, naked and alone, like Lear, until a simple pawn trap ends his miserable limping flight.

Free to entertain myself, my eyes roamed the familiar and agreeable den of the game room, alighting on this game and that, as always, alert and on the lookout for action. Game after game had given me not only the prescience of a Chess Master, but an equal acuity of the senses, like a hunter, and it was not long before I realized I was being watched by no less than a pair of female eyes. To some of the fair sex, there is nothing more masculine, more exciting than to see a mind of uncommon ability disport itself accordingly, to see one man crush another on the dichromatic field of contest and I was well used to this. These eyes, however, penetrated the apparent and read the board with no small discernment. Her grey eyes shines as those of Pallas Athena from beneath the cowl of mortal disguise, her visage opaque in concentration. Then she lit upon my face, unperturbed by her discovery by me, and smiled without humour. Her lips wordlessly spoke: mate in five moves. Oh ho! cried my eyes, and intrigued at last by something of interest, decided to make for the shorter game and mated my ashen faced opponent in three moves. Il y a des noués, mais voila la dénoument. There are solutions and then there are solutions

I smiled "good game" at my poor discomfited adversary and rose swiftly to meet my interested Olympian, only to find that she had gone. I left the quiet of the game room for the salon: she had vanished. I had withdrawn myself to the consolation of my tabac when a page approached me with a card on a tray. It read: No. 4 Double Fork Ln. Noon. Whatever is profound loves masks, I thought, turning the card over.

It was a villa in a more than comfortable part of town, regal, but sedate, the trees and shrubbery at the gate well-kept, but overgrown in the English Style, seeming wild and careless even, as though the master of the place had lost interest in the world outside. Coming in through the walk, one might think the place an uninhabited winter home, an impression which remained undispelled upon my reception by a servant and seating in a sitting room that was remarkable only in its disaffectedness. The servant returned promptly and said she was to take me immediately to her mistress. We passed through an empty courtyard with neglected French doors on either side, and then through a narrow, remodeled, and seemingly improvised passage to another pair of courtyard doors -only glassless with a medieval sliding barricade for a lock. The servant showed me in, and then departed, closing the doors behind me.

What greeted me was a courtyard much like the first, only it had been roofed over to create an enormous room. Small skylights admitted thin, slanting beams. Facing me, to the north, were seven doors, each with the likeness of the major chess pieces painted on it with the exception of the queen. As in play, the north belonged to Black. It followed that there were seven similar such doors behind me, for White. In the middle of the room was that very familiar pattern of sixty-four squares, laid out in massive, exquisite tiles of fine porphyry- upon which was seemingly materialized the likeness of the missing Black Queen. It was my Olympian. It was wholly innocuous to me, in such a setting, that she wore such stately and ornamented regalia, though its effect was nothing less than dazzling. She seemed less a person in costume than in her real costume.

I was no novice in the way of the unusual, the outré and bizarre, nor too surprised and alarmed to find myself in such circumstances alluding so darkly to the Gothic. It was not for nothing that I had become a Chess Master. No doubt, this dark purposed mistress of the squares had some phantastic and depraved contest in mind, possibly with erotic overtones, and soon the respective doors would burst open to reveal her licentious and burly associates, certainly in some unlikely leather-themed livery. Ce n'etait pas de premier fois. I presumed that the bar had already been secured on the door I entered. Years of miniature conflict and study, however, had given me the will of an Alexander, and I strode towards my hostess with no affect but my best military bearing.

"I have watched you" she began "and you are indeed an excellent player of games."
In the emptiness of the courtyard, her voice seemed alienated from her body, as though it came not from her lips, but existed only as the original of the echoes of the chamber. "I do what I do" I replied "merely to keep my hands busy and my wits sharp." My charm did not slow her. "I too, am a student of the Persian game, and a player of some ability. So too, was the master of this house, an excellent chess player, without peer -perhaps as great as you and perhaps remains so today."

"My beloved and I were, in our time, peers only of each other and spent our lives in quest of our match, of comparable contest, in spirit, acuity and genius. Eventually, after much trial, our warlike natures found each other on opposite sides of the board and we knew we had at last found a worthy game. Our happiness was great to finally find another such creature as ourselves that could provide the necessary challenge and conflict for our minds. We installed ourselves in this villa, and, for a very great while, disported ourselves only to our mutual love of contest." The fond sentiment in her voice was touching, but melancholic. She paused not and continued: "But I am also a woman, as well as an intellect, and, after a awhile, felt only too keenly the weakness of my female physical needs, which seemingly could no longer be excited in my Beloved. Being gifted both with invention and resources, however, we proceeded to create a game whose stakes and risks would thrill both the intellect and senses, and endlessly whet the appetites of mind and body."

"This is the world of that game" said she portentously. Here it comes, I thought. What would it be? Pieces full of noxious poisons? Acid filled rooks? Little rabid animals in quattrocento costumes? Physical combat with her leather-clad army? It was then that she turned and I noticed for the first time that her Queenly costume had no back to it anywhere.

Clearly my opponent had something to offer. "I wish to play you, in chess, but know that I only play for stakes and forfeit”she offered. “Behind each of these doors is a room" she continued, with a turn to the doors ahead, with their mysterious emblazoned chessmen, "each furnished, attired, appointed and supplied for a different supreme sensual pleasure. Should you wish to play me in chess, should you succeed in taking one of my pieces, then I will go with you, behind the respective door, and surrender to you the prurient boon that awaits you there."

So, it was as I had suspected, an erotic contest. Mutato Nomine: I had once played my way through an elite amateur tournament of sorts, held in a remote Monastery run by depraved Cathars. They were indeed all of a decidedly medieval temperament, though their Abbot was a true master of the game, just as he was a blasphemous Gnostic heretic and an accomplished pervert without peer in several fields, some of which, I think, were wholly of his own devising. The devoutly profane monks of that place had come to some unthinkable understanding of the game as a Cabbala, some divining mode of revelation for their heretical sect. Convinced that the true path to Enlightenment and Holiness was through the violation of the Covenant and the ritual commission of all of the deadly sins ad infinitum they had come to associate seven of the major pieces each with a deadly sin. Thus:

Pride: The Queen
Lust: Queen's Knight
Envy: Queen's Bishop
Sloth: Queen's Rook
Avarice: King's Bishop
Wrath: King's Knight
Gluttony: King's Rook

The King, of course, was associated with Our Lord Christ, the successful checkmate of which was grace, "the true surrender to God of God", as their blasphemous creed had it. What ensued then, was every year they would have the most depraved, venereal and licentious chess tournament ever (and I have seen some things at chess tournaments), enacted on the very stones of the church itself. The players would direct their fellow apostates in life-size encounters, the successful capture of which would issue in an orgy of the appropriate vice. Thus, the capture of King's Knight would result in that piece being whipped, the taking of Queen's Bishop would subject the player to a theatrical entr'acte of which he could only be the voyeur, the capture of the Queen, acts of infamy in a room full of mirrors, the Queen's Rook, lazily being serviced, the King's Rook, a questionable epicurean feast, and the taking of King's Bishop would bring the player nothing less than a shower of gold.

Thus forearmed, I followed behind her, with interest, as we inspected the apartments, each the ransom of a Black King’s Man. The first room, behind the sign of the Black King's Rook, held a curious reclining chair, with stirrups, a cushioned stool, and a length of pole, suspended horizontally at its ends from the ceiling, at about eye level with the reclining chair. I noted this with interest, but not surprise. The next room, the King's Knight, featured a massive oaken cross with leather bindings; from the dark impressions that stained it, I gathered the tenant was fastened to the cross facing it and lashed, mercilessly. The King's Bishop room disclosed a simple and agreeable interior, done in superior taste, fitted with some easy low sofas and chairs, and a prominently displayed glass of water and an elegant empty dish or spittoon on a small octagonal table. The door to the Black King's room was disproportionate in size to the other doors, and we passed over it instead to enter the Queen's Bishop room which simply featured a simple pretty soft blue blanket spread the ground. The Queen's Knight's apartment was surprisingly finished, and most elaborate, it's walls covered in soft dark leather. In the center of the room was a fine bridle and saddle and many pairs of expensive shoes littered the corners. Finally, we came to the Queen's Rook's Room, which, upon its opening, I mistook for a conventional room in the villa: it was done up as a capably fitted Big Game Room, complete with a variety of ferocious frozen trophies and kills. At first glance, the trophy room seemed to be queerly carpeted, in some dark, uneven material, which only upon closer regard revealed itself to be the floor of the chamber, nothing less than a quagmire of dark mud of unknown depth. Yet soon, over the scent of hides and fur came the unmistakable strong scent that disclosed to one that it was not mud at all. A club sat on the mantlepiece next to a jar of ointment, and a noose dangled seemingly arbitrarily in one corner.

This seemed a full enough menu, I thought; my Olympian clearly had different, more subtle and more rarified tastes than the orgiastic Cathars. I was excited by the prospect of a good game and the exquisite prizes spread before me. "And what door should I enter should I take your Queen?" I inquired, with such humour as to indicate my spirts. "As the Queen moves as the Rook and the Bishop and without limit you may choose of those your pleasure and enjoy it to your satisfaction." I tried to gauge her feelings on these offerings and the spirit in which the game (and so much more) was offered, but her musical voice held no tone, whatsoever, and remained as distant as ever. "And if I mate you?" I asked. "Then you shall have everything, the ultimate pleasure" she replied promptly.

Her absolute sincerity in all this was apparent and yet I knew my winnings were only half the game. What was her interest in this exchange? "And what boons do I forfeit to you?" I asked turning toward the White Chessmen doors. "My pleasures" she replied, and for the first time, discerned in the neutral music of her voices a cruel rasp of intense joy, masked by her short answer. "And should you mate me?" I asked. "Then you will pass with me, through your King's door, and I shall have everything." she replied. Her cruelty befitted the moniker I had given her. Her desire was magnetic. And if her intellect matched her desires! I smiled, perhaps too broadly and with too much confidence, for she brushed me back with this warning: "Be forewarned. As the boons you might win are supreme, so" she said harshly "are the exigencies of my pleasures." "You might find in them" she said, her excitement clear "so demanding as to constitute punishments and losses more horrible than anything you might receive in return."

"So then, do you accept these terms, do wish to play? I will hold you to your word as a gentleman and a Chess Master, inviolable, so consider well your choices." I had calculated my situation and my opponent almost to my satisfaction and had phrased my ready answer. There remained only a small uncertainty that needed assurance, the form of two unsubstantiated surmises I had made. Knowing well that a contest may be decided before the first move, I begged her a moment alone to consider the offer she had presented me. She assented and turned to make her exit through the Black King's Door.

I smiled in triumph at the departure of her naked backside, which seemed to beam broadly back at me, as I enjoyed her locomotion. Her exit confirmed the first of my surmises: the Black King's Door was the original northern exit to the courtyard, hence it's size and shape was like the door I had passed through on the way in and not like the others, which only led to simple rooms that faced the courtyard, no doubt remodeled and partitioned for their rôle in their perverse domestic conflicts. It led, in all probability, into the third and final courtyard of the villa, whose existence was implied by the villa's general shape. Where, no doubt, some well appointed bed, or other such connubial pleasures awaited me and my vanquished opponent upon my triumph.

There remained only one more surmise to confirm and then my solution would be complete. I quickly and stealthy stole over to the White King's Bishop's door. I knew that in chess, as in all matters of strategy, it was a matter of understanding the true, as opposed to apparent value of one's risks. What greeted my curious eyes was nothing other than the exact duplicate of the boon promised me behind the Black King's Bishop's door: the well appointed room with it's glass of water and tasteful dish on the same octagonal table. I smiled at the triumph of symmetry: the punishments were to be nothing more than the prizes with the rôles reversed. Despite her sinister theatrics and mise en scéne the whole affair was to be nothing more than simple erotic play, a casual game spiced up a bit with the odd bit of noodle, no more terrifying than a girl's game of strip poker, and as such, being both a man and a Chess Master, I was not at all averse to.

Happily assured by this intelligence, I was ready and confident and unhesitating upon her prompt return through the White King's Door. I accepted, on my word, with all the terms and forfeits specified. She produced an exquisite set of finely featured chessmen, fitted, like herself, in period costume. We disported ourselves to a small gaming table and chairs in the center of the room, our chessboard a miniature placed upon the enormous board of the room itself.

Our game began simply enough, with a cautious opening played together adroitly. My Olympian was certainly an competent player, but her moves were oddly stiff and defensive for one playing at a love sport, as though she dreaded the loss of a piece and the forfeiture entailed. I noted this supreme vulnerability on her part with some incredulity. A player who dared not risk her pieces was at an astounding disadvantage. I continued to threaten and probe her play, only to find the same shyness of first blood. What was the meaning of this? Finally, after some harrying, an opening appeared; her King's Bishop lay open to capture without reprisal or disadvantage. I noted it and tried to plumb its significance. In terms of the game, it seemed a pure mistake, for, though try as I might, I could see no gambit behind it, no consequential gain on her part or loss to me. La visage du jeu, la visage de la boudoir... Was this a deliberate opening to me? Was she offering herself? Her visage was impartial as ever, expressionless as that of her jeopardized vizier. I had to know. Besides, I was anxious to try out our new arrangement and taste of its prizes. I gave one last look before touching my piece. I was certain. If there was a trap, it was not on the board. I took her King’s Bishop. She acknowledged the loss of her piece and her forfeiture with a nod. Regally, ritualistically she slowly rose and we retired to what awaited us behind the White King's Bishop's door.

I returned to the game quite refreshed and relaxed, buoyant and satisfied and much looking forward to the future conduct of this campaign. My Olympian had promised much, but delivered beyond the limits of my desires and brought me much pleasure and the promise of so much more. That she did it sedulously, with considerable skill, but with a distant ardour, effected me only a little, as the natural sentiment following on the commission of such duties sponsors attachment, even fondness. I would have to remember that we were still opponents on the field of battle. Perhaps this was her plan. Or perhaps, I wondered, was this simply her philosophie dans la boudoir and her ethos, her delight, even, to present a equivocal face and a professional mien en face des plasirs. Or perhaps something else still, for I could not shake the sensation that she was performing during these forfeitures, as though for the benefit of some unseen viewer. The layout of each room would allow for concealed peep holes, easily accessed through the empty courtyard to the south and the unseen third courtyard to the north, I reasoned. Whether or not this was so, it changed my plans not at all, for I was certain of my victory and in my promised spoils of "everything" surely there would be understanding, and much delight in coming to it.

On the resumption of the game, my Olympian, if anything seemed incensed and determined on retaliation. Her manner, as always, disclosed little, but her moves were altogether shrill. At length I tired of simply evading her. I considered whether or not we were playing a real contest, or a ritual. Would it be gracious of me to forfeit a piece to her? Would that make our game more agreeable? It felt unsporting to outmatch her so, especially for the stakes I had enjoyed. Also, by now, I felt myself quite recovered and was somewhat eager for more exchanges. I allowed then, with only convivial thoughts of kindness, generosity and sportsmanship, a series of advances that invited her in and, by withdrawing the pin that had held her Queen’s Knight, offered my King's Bishop, with obvious symmetry, thinking that I knew full well what awaited me behind the door. She pounced on the opportunity and I saw a sardonic pleasure play on her features as we rose to the appropriate door to the chamber which I had already seen, to an assignation whose purpose I thought I well understood.

I must spare the reader the particulars of the unspeakable moral horrors that befell me in that simple apartment as they are too much to represent to myself in memory, much less in print. Needless to say, the punishment awaiting me was not the mere reversal of the boon had already enjoyed, but an activity, a torture and rôle so heinous and criminal in its mere conception as to outstrip in all damnation the most gluttonous orgiastic crimes of the insane Abbot of the Catharai. Once I understood, it was horrible enough, to merely comprehend her awful purpose, but I still could not believe it. I refused, of course, as a Christian, as a man, -as a human being. It was unthinkable and I surely would not have submitted save that she gave me to understand that she had -concealed about her person! -the means to insure my compliance and, further, hinted to the effect that I was in correct in my suspicions, that we were, indeed, well surveilled and the disposition of forces was not in my favour.

The humiliation and sensations I endured cannot be described or known by any but the judged and damned. My Olympian delighted and seemed to take succour in my discomfit, warmly lapping my misery and immolation. I could scarcely survive another experience like that, let alone as a man, and find life at all worth living. I understood now, only too late, the perils and conundrum of the trap I had walked into: I had to play to win, then, but dared not lose any pieces!

I had scarcely recovered myself, if indeed I did recover, when I found myself back at the old familiar gaming board. Yet what a game transformed! Every piece seemed alive and vulnerable, precious and full of feeling, as though the corporate parts of my own body. And as the body survives in unanimity and cooperation, it suffers and dies upon rebellion. I sought to master my game and my feelings, but behind every threat dreamt the awful promise of some hitherto unimaginable violation, and within every opportunity, the expectation of some awful reward. I had to play, to win -and yet how our intellection and suffers when infused with moral dread!

Horrible fate! Such familiar supreme pleasures and entertainment to be so perversely made so dreadful and most terrible. All the gambits and campaigns I had imagined were useless to me now. I could only consider them to the point of some imagined capture or immolation when my calculations ended in terror. In terror, there were no solutions. My Olympian beamed a broad, open and cursed delight at our new engagement. Just so, her moves were now bold and inspired, so cavalier and delivered with such éclat, as to clearly betoken her understanding that I was now playing her game.

I barricaded myself and my pieces as best I could, pinning each to each for dear life’s sake. I knew only too well, however, that the logic of the game and the diabolism of my opponent, would inexorably draw blood. I could parry only so long. We headed to a nexus where there could be no more castling or innocuous pawn promotion. I had to act. Her attack could be -must be -repelled. I could simply skewer her King’s Knight -if not for the horrid promise of the pillory behind that door and the uncertainty of who would embrace it, or more cunningly, present a forked check that would neutralize the mobilized front of her Queen and Queen’s Bishop -at the cost of the isolated defense of my Queen’s Rook. At the mere thought of the dark and liquid appointments and ghastly unknown purposes of that room, my nerves, my intellect, my generalship lay prostrate in terror and I shook as though with a fit of the ague.

My choices were clear, yet I wept and wished another. My cruel Olympian received as much pleasure at the spectacle of my unmaking as anything behind those awful doors. I closed my eyes and touched the piece whose execution seemed the shortest path through hell. Only to receive in response a derisive laugh whose depravity and malice were outdone only by its sickening triumph, as heard over the pitiable cries of the Bear Garden or the submersement of helpless kittens in a muslin bag. I had mistaken -even now, the magnitude of her cruelty, her appetites and her genius! I was to lose my King’s Rook and worse, my Queen was to follow, to counter the discovered check.

Oh multiple miseries of miseries multiplied multiple! What was taken from me and worse -what was given! Would that I could have died at the first of her awful satisfactions. In all that followed, in everything that followed, as was led, as a child might be led, to a razor bladed playground of endless impalements, violations and defilements as such do not even exist in the accounts of the Pentateuch to be proscribed. It mattered not whether I gave or received, whether it was her pleasure or mine, behind white doors or black; it was indiscernible whether it was my snares or hers that were sprung upon the board. It was only certain that everything that happened, happened to her great pleasure and increase and that every move reduced me, as my forces, to less and lesser vitality. Repeatedly robbed of my essence, subject to abominable practices, I was soon totally reduced, exhausted and demoralized, barely able to sit at the board without trembling and weeping such dry sobs as can only be pitiably piped behind the sinuses of the truly forlorn.

If only I could defend myself to a stalemate and spare myself the awful fate of everything, whether as victor or vanquished. I sought to stultify her end game. I drew out the undrawable. My pawns crawled up the ranks. If enough pieces were captured, then she could not mate me -yet how much more would I have to endure! Perhaps a new Queen would save me and procure a perpetual check? Oh folly of follies! I was encircled, and she had her choice of endgames! There could be no doubt of the design of my tormentor -oh! Most unrelenting! Oh must diabolical of women! She was letting me choose the path to my destruction and it was only too clear that whatever the path I took, through whatever doors I opened, I would end in the same place: behind the same final door to surrender "everything"! There must be a way! Some uncontemplated move, some undiscovered check, some piece whose recall would force relief! I stared at each piece, drew through each move, each possible move -the addition was simple and yet how I counted and recounted! I sat and stared, well past the time for my move, for minutes, hours, days even -I knew nothing, nothing but that there must be a way!

I was stirred out of my most miserable reverie only the venomous tittering laughter of she who had so cornered me. She laughed! She laughed like a little summer frocked girl who had done something unutterably awful to two other little summer frocked girls and a bunny who were now all impaled together and rotating slowly to her demoniacal contemplation. The terrible confidence of her laughter cast all terror into despair. She need not speak it: mate in five moves, if not three. I stared! I shook! I rebelled! I would not choose my path among abominations! I rejected this foul and iniquitous game! I started from my seat, from the spectacle of checkmate and ran! Her mocking laughter ran after me. Then, she ran after me.

I knew not where to go, only to increase the distance between my self and this most dangerous Queen, tripping across the checkered porphyry only to -merciless fate! Be confronted still with the choice of my immolation. Then suddenly I recollected: the Black King’s Door must lead to a third courtyard, which must yet be connected to the first -and therefore -to escape! I plunged straight ahead, hearing the sharp flutter of the skirts of my pursuer and threw myself through the door to the chamber I had so thoroughly believed myself the inevitable master of.

The chamber was a vast cold darkness. I had been exactly correct, this was indeed the third courtyard. It remained, at least partially, open to the air; it was night. The twisted shapes of dead branches and other debris tangled and crowded everywhere; leaves drifted on the floor. There, in the center of the room, illuminated only dimly by a furtive moon, was the statue of an old and weary King, seeming the exact negative of the decorative chess piece I had so failed to defend. Likewise, it sat hunched on its throne, bent over, its head bowed to its hands clasped in its lap. Or so it seemed for no sooner than had I approached this despondent figure that it moved and sprang to life, lifting its unhappy head to regard me. I felt that I was surely mad, surely terror, abominations and the shock of losing at chess had unseated my reason completely. This could not be! And yet the phantom rose and regarded me! It descended the mount of its throne and started toward me! My screams died smothered in the heavy wooly terror of my bosom! I stood, as immobile as a rook blockaded by the pawn of my own terror and the knight of unreal revelation, to the spectre’s awful advance. And when I trembling beheld the awful intent in its hollow eyes I then realized the spectre’s identity!

It was the still living master of the house! This was their awful game! It was by this awful license they had sustained themselves! It was he who watched us! And from behind me came his fearsome mate! I was pinned by the fork of their gaze. I froze in the most profound terror, en prise, as they closed in, until, in that lurid and terrible light, I beheld with ultimate horror what the infernal Black King held in his hands! Yet for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of what I saw. At length it forced -it wrestled it’s way into my soul -it burned itself on my shuddering reason. Oh! for a voice to speak! -oh! horror! -oh! any horror but this! With a shriek I rushed from the sight and dashed out of the third courtyard back into the second.

With my pursuers behind! Where could I flee? What hope could I have in this chamber of twice seven humiliations! I ran blindly on towards the fatal white doors and plunged behind one at random, only to be confronted with an empty room with the familiar soft blue blanket stretched on the floor, which I crossed -only to have the blanket give way with a tear into the plummet of a vast circular pit, disguised by the glued carpeting of the blanket on to whose ripping fringes I now desperately clung. The pit was of stone, its walls covered with an unmentionable slime upon which I could gain no purchase of footing, and from its cold and clammy depths arose a unmistakable odor as of mushrooms and the sea.

It was only too obvious what this nefarious cistern was used for and what fate awaited me at the bottom. I screamed in agony, in desperation, I instinctively cried for help, only to hear the answering steps of that dark and horrible royalty! They would be upon the door in a minute and surely to suffer the fate at the bottom of the pit was preferable to the abomination of abominations they both intended. And yet I could not lighten my grip the least on the stretching, ripping threads of the blanket’s remainder. My hands were bent, frozen iron. My terror was extreme. The door opened. I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair. I felt the cloth ripping -I closed my eyes-

There was a discordant hum of human voices! There was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! An outstretched hand caught my own as I fell, fainting into the abyss. It was that of General Lasalle. The French army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies.