“Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family.” Short story (3,720 words); probably written in the fall of 1920. First published in the Wolverine (March and June 1921); rpt. WT (April 1924) and WT (May 1935); first collected in O; corrected text in D; annotated version in CC.
Sir Arthur Jermyn was of a venerable but eccentric family. In the eighteenth century, Sir Wade Jermyn “was one of the earliest explorers of the Congo region,” but was placed in a madhouse after speaking wildly of “a prehistoric white Congolese civilisation.” He had brought back from the Congo a wife—reportedly the daughter of a Portuguese trader—who was never seen. The offspring of the union were very peculiar in both physiognomy and mentality. In the middle of the nineteenth century, a Sir Robert Jermyn killed nearly his entire family as well as a fellow African explorer who had brought back strange tales (and perhaps other things) from the area of Sir Wade’s explorations. Arthur Jermyn seeks to redeem the family name by continuing Sir Wade’s researches and perhaps vindicating him. Pursuing reports of a white ape who became a goddess in the prehistoric African civilization, he comes upon the remains of the site in 1912 but finds little confirmation of the story of the white ape. This confirmation is supplied by a Belgian explorer who ships the object to Jermyn House. The hideous rotting thing is found to be wearing a locket containing the Jermyn coat of arms; what remains of its face bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Arthur Jermyn. When he sees this object, Jermyn douses himself in oil and sets himself aflame.
The story is somewhat more complex than it appears on the surface. We are apparently to believe that there is more going on than merely a single case of miscegenation. The narrator’s opening comment (“Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species—if separate species we be—for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world”), in particular the clause “if separate species we be,” is a generalized statement that does not