The Glass Key: a modern folktale

by Benjamin Parsons

Copyright 2012 Benjamin Parsons

Smashwords edition, license notes

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What is the strangest story you ever heard? I was told a very curious one once, by a man who had it himself from the source— so he claimed— though whether the tale was actually his own invention, I never found out. It certainly concerned him through and through. His name was Samuel Hastings (Sam to everyone), and when I knew him, he was a quietish, retiring sort of fellow; hardly old, but nevertheless imbued with an air of settled disappointment, as if the lights of his mind and heart had dimmed, and barely had the strength to illuminate his eyes anymore. This was because the brighter days of his youth had suffered an eclipse, from which he had never completely recovered.

In his early twenties he was engaged to be married to a beautiful and charming woman called Araminta, who was funny without being satirical, lively without being frenetic, and wise without being too clever— all of which suited him so perfectly that he adored her, delighted in her company, and maintained that he would happily spend his whole life with her. And for her part, she confessed to similar sentiments about him: he wasn’t especially funny, but always ripe to laugh; not lively, but keen and able; and certainly not wise, but endearingly dopey— Sam was a doing person instead, and was handy in every practical matter. In short, they made a handsome couple.

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