- Short story (3,220 words); written in collaboration with C.M.Eddy, Jr., probably in the fall of 1923. First published in WT(March 1924); first collected in HM (rev. ed. 1989 only).A scientist, Arthur Van Allister, has discovered a chemical compound that will reduce any substance to fine white ashes. He hires an assistant, Malcolm Bruce, who quickly falls in love with Van Allister’s secretary, Marjorie Purdy. Sometime later Bruce is alarmed that Marjorie seems to have disappeared. He enters Van Allister’s laboratory and sees a glass jar filled with white ashes. Horrified at the thought that the scientist has tried out his experiment on his secretary, Bruce tussles with Van Allister, in the course of which he lowers the scientist into the vat containing his formula. Later it is discovered that Marjorie had merely been locked in a closet; but since Van Allister had been planning to destroy Marjorie with his formula, his death is presumably justified.No one would know that HPL had had any hand in this story (which, aside from the general triteness of the plot, features a conventional romance element very foreign to his own manner) if HPL had not said so (see SL1.257). It is the first of HPL’s revisions of tales by C.M.Eddy; he presumably touched up a draft by Eddy rather than writing from notes or a synopsis.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.