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The reader may believe that this chronicle has appeared before; in this, he would be correct. But an explanation is in order concerning the complete version of this tale, and how it came to be revealed.
In my youth, I was set upon by a most terrible vice: curiosity. And, despite warnings concerning mice, dust and â€œhaunts,â€Ě one of my favorite places for exploration was the cavernous attic of the great house my family occupied. Among the many boxes and trunks of our ancestors' belongings were a great quantity of antique clothing, great collections of old china and cast-off silver, the remains of many a military uniform, and towering stacks of books of all sorts. I spent many afternoons seated in some shaft of sunlight paging through moth-eaten copies of Godey's Lady's Book, or scandalous issues of the Police Gazette. And among all the historical horrors which I found so interesting was a yellowed manuscript, written in a bold hand which I found oddly familiar. At first, I was interested because I was a youth and it seemed to be about the adventures of another youth. But my fascination grew with every turned page.
It was nothing less than a tale of my own grandfatherâ€”my father's papaâ€”and his harrowing experiences at the hands of the most depraved women and men of his age. And it was indeed a most terrible tale; I did nothing with it for many years.
When it seemed that I was the last remaining son of this family and my own resources had been running lean, I went again to my old attic and began to draw old treasures out to sell. Once again, I found the manuscript and, as I held it, I knew that I held gold. Could I but change the name of the gentleman who wrote it, I could sell this most incredible take to some publisher which would undertake to spread it about as a cautionary novel, and mention my family not at all. Eagerly, I took it to a great agent, who took it from my care and promised to look into the matter for me.
To my surprise, he returned it to me with a note, reading thus:
â€œWe have read the enclosed manuscript and regret to inform you that it is already in print.â€Ě
And they supplied me with the name and address of the publisher! I ran out at once to a bookstore, ordered a copy, and waited for it to arrive. When it did, I was surprised once again by what I read. For it was the story I held; but it was greatly â€œedited.â€Ě Many of the most startling and shocking elements of my grandfather's story had been utterly taken away.
Over time, I was able to prove that the story belonged to me; to my family, to be precise. And now that this has been established by a court of law, I have undertaken to release the complete tale, from start to finish, as my grandfather wrote it. I am myself an old man now, and have changed my family name and the names of many of the figures within for the sake of my own ease.
It is my hope that readers who are shocked by the contents within shall be warned and made wise by this book. For it is a cautionary missive even for these modern times.