is an online magazine of the literary arts.

12 May 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 1

The Adventure of the Mason

"There was once upon a time a poor mason, or brick-layer, in Granada, who kept all the saints' days and holidays, and yet, with all his devotion, he grew poorer and poorer, and could scarcely earn bread for his numerous family. One night he was roused from his first sleep by a knocking at his door. He opened it, and beheld before him a tall, meagre, cadaverous-looking person.

"'Hark ye, honest friend!' said the stranger; 'I have observed that you are a good Christian, and one to be trusted; will you undertake a job this very night?'

"'With all my heart, Señor, on condition that I am paid accordingly.'

"'That you shall be; but you must suffer yourself to be blindfolded.'

"To this the mason made no objection. So, being hood-winked, he was led by the stranger through various rough lanes and winding passages, until they stopped before the portal of a house. The stranger then applied a key, turned a creaking lock, and opened what sounded like a ponderous door. They entered, the door was closed and bolted, and the mason was conducted through an echoing corridor and a spacious hall to an interior part of the building. Here the bandage was removed from his eyes, and he found himself in a court, dimly lighted by a single lamp. In the centre was the dry basin of an old Moorish fountain, under which the stranger requested him to form a small vault, bricks and mortar being at hand for the purpose. He accordingly worked all night, but without finishing the job. Just before daybreak the stranger put a piece of gold into his hand, and having again blindfolded him, conducted him back to his dwelling.

"'Are you willing,' said he, 'to return and complete your work?'

"'Gladly, Señor, provided I am so well paid.'

"'Well, then, to-morrow at midnight I will call again.'" He did so, and the vault was completed.

"'Now,' said the stranger, 'you must help me to bring forth the bodies that are to be buried in this vault.'

"The poor mason's hair rose on his head at these words: he followed the stranger, with trembling steps, into a retired chamber of the mansion, expecting to behold some ghastly spectacle of death, but was relieved on perceiving three or four portly jars standing in one corner. They were evidently full of money, and it was with great labor that he and the stranger carried them forth and consigned them to their tomb. The vault was then closed, the pavement replaced, and all traces of the work were obliterated. The mason was again hoodwinked and led forth by a route