Jan 27, 2022
Adapted by Julie Hoverson from a story by H.P. Lovecraft.
Richard - Philemon Vanderbeck
Edward - Bryan Hendrickson
Charles - Michael Coleman (Tales of the Extraordinary)
Warren - Glen Hallstrom
Herbert - Carl Cubbedge
Auguste - Reynaud LeBoeuf
"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's an artist's loft, can't you tell?"
The View from Within
OLIVIA What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's an artist's loft, can't you tell?
SOUND FOOTSTEPS RECEDE, ECHOES
RICHARD [calling out] Thanks - ever so!
SOUND DOOR SHUTS
RICHARD You have to love a restaurant that will send orders out.
EDWARD Smells delicious. I suppose we should... wait?
RICHARD Take a breadstick. No one needs to know.
EDWARD [chewing] From one starving artist to another, my stomach thanks you.
SOUND KNOCK ON DOOR
SOUND FEET, DOOR OPENS
WARREN Oh! This is-- ah! It is the right place, then?
RICHARD Either that, or we're all lost together.
WARREN [dubious] Oh?
EDWARD [off] Don't confuse the poor academic! Invite him in!
RICHARD Come in, then.
WARREN Ah. This is the first time--
RICHARD Welcome to my studio. I don't usually have much company. Through here.
WARREN It is a bit out of the way.
RICHARD Just be happy we're not meeting in the basement.
EDWARD Oh, why?
RICHARD [chuckles slightly] Mildew. Though the atmosphere is most ... stimulating.
WARREN I'm rather surprised the building is still standing.
RICHARD It's an antique.
WARREN More like a relic.
SOUND KNOCK AT DOOR
RICHARD Any bets on who's next?
EDWARD Heads or tails?
HERBERT [off] Open the door!
RICHARD [snickers] [up, trying not to laugh] I'm coming.
SOUND FEET RETREAT
WARREN Good thing Richard knows how to give directions - I'd hate to be lost in such a decrepit and forbidding part of town.
EDWARD Don't tell anyone, but I wrote them. His were needlessly labyrinthine. No one would have found this place in time.
WARREN Dinner would have gone cold?
EDWARD Weather would have gone cold.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS ENTER
HERBERT You wouldn't believe the types of fungi that can grow in the plaster and wood in buildings this ancient. I suggest a thorough going over with Listerine, possibly followed by razing it to the ground.
RICHARD [laughs] You modern-minded scientists. Can't see the value of anything lacking in hygiene unless it's in a Petri dish.
WARREN Culture isn't born in a day.
HERBERT It might be - in a Petri dish.
RICHARD Sit. Relax. I suppose we could commence eating if Charles isn't--
SOUND KNOCK ON DOOR
RICHARD But... he is. Back in a moment.
SOUND FEET RECEDE
HERBERT [sigh] Fire trap.
HERBERT These old gambrel-roofed buildings. The attic framing is particularly susceptible to the flow of air.
WARREN Well, I doubt that it will go up tonight.
EDWARD And I doubt that a going over with lister's formula will make it any less flammable.
HERBERT Did Richard say anything about this story of his?
WARREN Only that he felt it an impenetrable mystery.
HERBERT It had better be something a bit more engaging than a plebian crime drama. That's no entertainment for a thinking man.
EDWARD You didn't come just for the food? [bites a breadstick] I certainly did.
CHARLES [coming in] Did I hear someone mention a thinking man?
WARREN That would be Herbert.
EDWARD Neither of us is inclined to think at all - if there isn't an immediate need.
WARREN Of course I think - I'm always--
CHARLES Buried in the college library. Absorbing.
EDWARD Rather like a sponge.
HERBERT [snort of laughter] So there's only one thinking man present.
CHARLES I beg to differ. May I introduce a friend?
EDWARD What? I thought this was a secret society!
WARREN Is it? I thought it was dinner.
CHARLES Don't matter. As he's in town for just the fortnight, Richard said I might bring him along. Particularly with a mystery in hand.
EDWARD Aren't mysteries "afoot"?
RICHARD [agreeing] Plenty of food, though it looks like the breadsticks are going fast.
CHARLES So. These are my cronies - Warren there in the tweed; Edward with the glasses; Herbert - well, he's Herbert. And you met Richard at the door.
CHARLES And this, to all you rabble, is monsieur Auguste, an old friend of the family.
AUGUSTE Oui. Do not discompose yourself. My English is quite fair.
CHARLES My father met Auguste when he was overseas. They always figured on meeting up again and trading some yarns.
AUGUSTE Ah. Oui. I am a great one for the recounting of the stories.
WARREN But - but it's Richard's turn tonight!
EDWARD I see why you let him in! Cheater.
HERBERT You're not getting out of it that easily!
RICHARD I'm not getting out of anything, but there's no reason we can't allow such an "august" visitor a morsel of our time. My story can wait until we're onto the cigars.
EDWARD If they're half the size of your breadsticks, we might be here all night.
RICHARD So, monsieur Auguste. You don't mind our informality?
AUGUSTE I have lived a rather - bohemian - life, myself. If I was to be precise in the naming of names, you should all address me as "sir".
WARREN You aren’t that much older than--
AUGUSTE No, no! Pardon. It is the title, yes? I have the honorific of Chevalier - a knight, I think, en Anglais.
EDWARD A knight? Really? Do you have a sword and a horse and everything?
WARREN [disgusted sigh] Pardon Edward. He's the product of our public school system, and thus is oblivious of the niceties of history.
RICHARD And you were a bohemian in Paris? [wistful sigh] there's no better place for it.
AUGUSTE C'est vrai. True.
EDWARD Aren't you some sort of consulting detective?
AUGUSTE Mais non. At best, I would call myself a dilettante. My friend and I simply found ourselves in the path of a crime or two in our day. I analyse. I correlate. I also am willing to accept things that others might assume are impossible.
WARREN Impossible? Nonsense. Things must be either possible or impossible.
HERBERT Not really. The bounds of the possible are enlarged every year by my fellow scientists.
CHARLES [teasing] I thought you of all people would be defending the "bounds of the possible".
HERBERT Every impossibility is like a lock. Once you find the right key, the door opens, and the boundary enlarges.
AUGUSTE Though I comprehend you are speaking of science, I am of the same mind. Trying key after key, any door will eventually open, even if there is a century of keys.
SOUND MATCH STRIKES
RICHARD [puffing] So. Replete?
WARREN That was quite delicious. How did you get anything like that delivered here?
RICHARD Generous tipping. [chuckles]
EDWARD Is anyone else chilly? [1 shivers] I feel a bit of a draft.
RICHARD High ceilings and large windows. Good for painting, terrible for heating. Have some more brandy, that should warm you up.
CHARLES You call this brandy?
RICHARD The rum-runner I bought it from assures me--
CHARLES Hmm. It's almost the right color, but the resemblance is less than skin deep.
RICHARD Let's agree I buy for effect, not refinement.
HERBERT Seeing your house, I can understand that.
RICHARD And we come full circle. [sigh] My story begins at the house of a friend. I'll call her Mavis--
EDWARD Mavis? A romance?
RICHARD [dismissive] A patron. She'd just come into an inheritance, including a large manor out in the country. It hadn't been lived in for a while, and needed tending, but money can go a long way toward fixing any neglect.
CHARLES My father would agree.
RICHARD So, in the clearing out of the picturesque dilapidation, several outbuildings were uncovered.
HERBERT This is your story? They trimmed the lawn and found a shed?
EDWARD How... bucolic.
RICHARD I'm simply trying to include any details you might need later to arrive at the conclusion to this mystery.
AUGUSTE Perhaps, if I may, you could recount us the mystery first, and the details to follow.
WARREN That wouldn't be precisely methodical, would it?
HERBERT Under normal circumstances, I would abhor one who settles on a hypothesis first and then aims all his tests to achieving that end and only that end. But for the purposes of entertainment--
RICHARD Right. Mystery first. Bare bones. The house was beautifully restored, mansard to masonry, and Mavis was hosting her first house party. She had invited some three dozen of her closest friends, secured a small orchestra, and was inaugurating the newly sprung ballroom floor.
EDWARD [humming a waltz]
CHARLES Leave off.
EDWARD Just trying to help with atmosphere!
RICHARD I had stepped out to look over some portraits unearthed in the attic. Mavis was most anxious for my opinion as to their provenance--
HERBERT [bored] Ah? Stolen paintings? Is that it?
AUGUSTE [superior] Do not judge your eggs before they are cracked.
EDWARD Yeah, don't crack so early, Herbert.
EDWARD [mock scream]
RICHARD [ignoring him] Screams erupted from the ballroom. From the sound of it, there was nothing less than a wildfire or militia attack in the offing.
RICHARD I left my hostess in the portrait room.
EDWARD [suggestively] Aaah.
RICHARD Ahem. I made my way to the ballroom, much hampered by the press of people running the other direction--
EDWARD Towards the "portrait room"?
RICHARD --in a mad panic. By the time I reached the ballroom, it was an empty shell. Chairs were tipped, glass on the floor from shattered tumblers, and some very strange tracks.
HERBERT [after a pause] And?
RICHARD That is the mystery. You didn't want any piddling extraneous details.
HERBERT You expect us to reach some sort of conclusion from this?
RICHARD What would you do if this was one of your experiments?
HERBERT I would run a series of tests. But that hardly applies here--
AUGUSTE If I may beg to differ?
RICHARD Hmm? How?
AUGUSTE [small chuckle] In the case of ratiocination, the tests that would be run are the interview of the witnesses, and examination of the scene--
WARREN That's a bit far to go for a story.
AUGUSTE Bien. So we must settle for the interview of the singular witness, notre vieux Richard here. You, sir, are our window on the tale.
CHARLES But - but how would that work?
AUGUSTE Why not make of it a game? Each takes it in his turn to ask a question, to be answered to the best of Monsieur Richard's knowledge. Bien?
CHARLES Sounds rather entertaining, really.
AUGUSTE You can learn a great deal about any man from the way he plays even the simplest of games.
EDWARD I might have an edge for once, what with my newspaper experience.
RICHARD Obituaries? Hmm. You might at that.
HERBERT It's hardly scientific method.
WARREN I'm game, who begins?
RICHARD I think widdershins would be appropriate. That means Edward starts it off.
EDWARD Well. One question. I'm caught rather flat-footed.
CHARLES Treat him like one of the characters in your stories.
EDWARD I generally try to avoid talking to them. People find it unnerving. Very well. My question, to start this all off - do you have an answer to your own puzzle?
RICHARD [laughs] I have an answer that satisfies me.
WARREN Would it hold up in a court of law?
RICHARD No. Next question.
WARREN That wasn't my--
RICHARD You should speak more carefully, then. Next?
HERBERT Describe the tracks you found.
RICHARD Is that a question?
HERBERT [sigh] What did the tracks look like? Detail please.
RICHARD Of course. They were muddy footprints with a rather recognizable configuration to the shape of the heel.
HERBERT So definitely a person?
RICHARD While I could say "ask that one next time round", instead I'll merely point out that I know very few animals that wear man made boots.
EDWARD [laughs] I should write that one down. Charles?
CHARLES Yessss. [Hmm, thinking] Was the culprit a member of the party?
RICHARD No. Completely uninvited.
CHARLES Ah well. Monsieur?
AUGUSTE [satisfied with himself] Did the tracks merely enter the room and then come to a halt, or did they appear to have a specific terminus?
WARREN Ah! You think someone at the party was the object, rather than the instigator, of the ... intrusion?
RICHARD Shush Warren. You've had your turn. The prints meandered through the room, though they showed no sign of purpose.
AUGUSTE And a terminus? Or must that be a separate question?
RICHARD [consternation] Oh. A second question, I'm afraid.
AUGUSTE It is nothing, I will wait.
EDWARD Back to me, then... Hmm... Could I ask his question?
RICHARD I suppose you could ask him.
EDWARD [to Auguste] Could I? Oh, no! Wait - wait I have one. Where did the footsteps come from - I mean outside, obviously, but did you or anyone happen to follow them back to their source?
HERBERT That's two questions.
EDWARD No! Is it?
RICHARD I'm making a ruling - if a question is a compound, I'll answer whichever parts suits me. In this case, yes. Come morning, we followed the footsteps.
EDWARD B-but I asked where they came from?
RICHARD But you also asked if we followed them. And I answered yes.
WARREN Hold on! I'll ask where they originated from.
RICHARD Very well. We followed them back to the family burial plot behind the house.
CHARLES [laughing] Watch out! He'll take that as your next question.
HERBERT Where did the tracks go?
EDWARD Into the cemetery! Don't waste a perfectly good question!
HERBERT No. Richard said they came from the cemetery. Where did they go upon leaving the house again?
RICHARD Clever. But the answer is the same. They returned to the graveyard.
CHARLES [after a beat] Oh! Me. Well, someone must have seen the intruder. What did they say he looked like? I mean it was a man, wasn't it?
RICHARD [tiny chuckle] Everyone described the intruder as male.
CHARLES But what did it-- [getting it, then rueful] Ah. I posed two questions, didn't I?
RICHARD [gleeful] Oh, yes.
CHARLES [to self] Must be more careful.
AUGUSTE [to Charles] Do not fret yourself, mon ami. [up] How are the grounds laid out in relation to the house and the road?
RICHARD That’s-- [thinking] ... that's--
HERBERT But a single question.
RICHARD [laughing] You've got me. Here, I'll show you.
SOUND RUSTLE OF ITEMS IN TRAY, SOUND OF DRAWING
RICHARD This is the road, crossing the bottom, turning roughly... north I think. [pauses to draw] The house is here, with a gate, and a drive, thus.
AUGUSTE And the burial place?
RICHARD You specified the grounds. Not the structures.
WARREN I don't know that a cemetery constitutes a structure per se.
AUGUSTE No, no. It will wait.
EDWARD I would love to ask for that, but I already have a question in mind.
AUGUSTE It will wait.
EDWARD Good. All right.
SOUND PAPER FLIPS
RICHARD You're taking notes?
EDWARD I'm working out my question so I don't blunder again.
HERBERT How ...methodical.
EDWARD Yes, well, I can be as tiresome as you, if I try hard enough.
RICHARD The question?
EDWARD You say the footprints went into the graveyard -that's not my question, just the premise - here it is: Which way did they go beyond the graveyard?
RICHARD We found no footprints beyond the graveyard.
EDWARD So this fellow wanders off into the graves and flies off into space?
WARREN Shh. It's my question now.
WARREN Hmm. Hold on. Perhaps I should take my questions down too. It's hard to see the flaws when a question is only behind your eyes.
CHARLES Too true.
WARREN [determined sigh] Is the ground around and outside the cemetery the type of ground that would show marks of, say, a horse?
RICHARD Hmm. I'll have to equivocate and say - I saw no marks of a horse. All right?
HERBERT Is this supposed to be a mystery or a ghost story?
CHARLES That's hardly a fair question.
RICHARD It's at least a very difficult one. Hmm. I suppose the absolute truth would be neither, but I don't want to give the wrong impression. So I will say simply that no one claimed to have seen a ghost.
CHARLES [musing] But it's not really a mystery either - Don't answer! Just musing. Hmm... The plot thickens.
EDWARD Come on, Charles!
WARREN Don't pester.
CHARLES Did you ever see the ... culprit?
RICHARD I was in the portrait room.
CHARLES I didn’t ask if you saw the incident - but if you ever saw the culprit.
RICHARD Ahh. Hmm. Yes, at some point, I saw the one that I believe was the "culprit".
CHARLES Well, at least he didn't vanish off the face of the earth.
RICHARD [almost laughing] More or less.
AUGUSTE [chuckling] More or less.
RICHARD You sound like a man who knows something.
AUGUSTE I know many things. I do not yet know you well enough to know what you are thinking, but I can already see - yes - when you are thinking, or rather when you are forced to think. Some questions merely amuse you, while others - others force you to consider carefully the words to use.
EDWARD Oh I get it, instead of noting the answers, you're watching the speaker.
AUGUSTE As with any game. Chess, par example, is not won by the player who watches only the board. It is not the board that one is playing against.
RICHARD [offhanded] Amusing. But let's get on with your question - unless all this is just your way of buying time to think?
AUGUSTE [chuckle] No. I have had plenty of time to think. I do not wish to ask the obvious question.
EDWARD What is it? I'll ask it!
AUGUSTE [tsks] Think of what hasn't been answered fully. [up] Mon question then, apart from the footprints, was there any other disturbance of the ground anywhere that you looked?
EDWARD What? Even if you didn’t want to ask an obvious question, you didn’t need to throw one away on--
CHARLES Shh. Let him answer.
RICHARD [serious] Oh. Um...No.
AUGUSTE [as if this is very important] Aah.
WARREN It's almost as if they're speaking in ciphers. What are we missing?
EDWARD I don't know. [annoyed] How obvious IS this question? Ask what hasn't been fully answered, indeed.
HERBERT [smug] I know what it is.
HERBERT Find your own question. It's all a matter of organized thinking. Having an eidetic memory helps.
RICHARD It is your turn, Edward.
EDWARD The ground wasn't disturbed? What kind of clue is that - and that's not my question!
RICHARD [almost laughing] Of course not!
EDWARD It's rhetorical. Oh, hell. I'm drawing a blank. Here - did the intruder break anything at the house?
RICHARD [thinking] Well... No one ever said the intruder broke anything, and there was no sign of it.
AUGUSTE And yet things were broken. Your initial description was very clear on that point.
RICHARD Yes, but that all happened during the general state of panic.
WARREN I don't believe it's your turn, sir!
AUGUSTE And I did not ask a question.
RICHARD [laughing] ohhh. You sly dog, you.
AUGUSTE [amused shrug] eh bien. My apologies for interrupting the proper order of things.
EDWARD Hit him with a good one, warren!
WARREN [still trying to figure it out] something that hasn't been fully answered... Oh! What about - Auguste, you asked something about where the footprints inside went - but it was two questions.
WARREN Ssh! My question then is where did the footprints go, once inside the house. Be specific.
AUGUSTE This may be of great interest.
RICHARD You have to picture the room like this--
RICHARD This entire wall was windows, including the one the intruder entered through. The orchestra was here, at the back. Hallways lead off here, and here. And there were a few tables.
SOUND A FEW MORE PENCIL SWOOPS
RICHARD There's no way to know who was where when the intrusion began, but the footprints started here and made a long loop this way--
HERBERT That's an arc. A loop requires closure.
RICHARD --probably to avoid tables. This area was all dancing. The intruder appears to have been drawn toward the music. There was a sort of fumble in the steps - a loss of purpose in the stride, which I assumed meant this was when the general panic broke out--
HERBERT It took people that long-- [catching himself] No, no. Go on.
RICHARD Panic broke out. From there, the footprints walked over to one of the alcoves, then, striding quickly again, back to, and out, the window.
RICHARD Yes, there are five. Next question.
CHARLES No, no - I really must draw the line here. you never described alcoves when you were describing the room. Besides, it's not even my turn.
EDWARD He's right!
WARREN I think you'll have to give him that one.
RICHARD I was only joking. Besides, Herbert has been looking smug for long enough. Out with it, foul fiend and ask the question you've been brimming over with!
HERBERT [feigned innocence] Oh, me? [chuckles] I'm sorry, Warren, but you missed Auguste's point entirely. The question that was never answered is "what did people say the intruder looked like?"
EDWARD Good golly! That's right!
CHARLES Well played, Herbert.
RICHARD [starts slowly, but working up to being as spooky as possible] The few people who could speak of the intrusion without descending into helpless gibbering, or simple fainting, described the intruder as unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and dissolution! It could not have been of this world - or certainly no longer of this world - yet a part of the horror was that in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines, it resembled nothing so much as an abhorrent travesty on the human shape! [moment of silence]
EDWARD So a walking corpse?
RICHARD [annoyed tch] If you, the self-professed wordsmith, wish to put it so bluntly, and blandly. Yes. Apparently so.
HERBERT I protest - you said it wasn't something supernatural.
RICHARD I said no one had seen a ghost. Ghosts are entirely ethereal, and this was apparently an entirely physical manifestation.
WARREN True. Dead that climb out of graves and walk have long been a separate myth cycle from the purely spiritual. The "zombie" of the caribbean tales, which of course are drawn from the mystical beliefs of the various tribes imported from Africa--
EDWARD Enslaved and dragged here.
WARREN Yes, but the beliefs are so fascinating - that a witch doctor could cause someone to not only die, but return--
CHARLES Is that the answer then? That a corpse simply woke up out in the graveyard and decided on a lark to join the party? Or are we expected to figure out how and what caused it to motivate?
HERBERT I have a few ideas on that subject.
EDWARD Ah, but it didn't come out of a grave - that WAS the point of your question about disturbed ground, wasn't it, Monsieur?
AUGUSTE [shrug] I had a little thought.
EDWARD That means you were onto the walking dead angle almost from first principles.
CHARLES Father was right on the money, you are a genius.
AUGUSTE Merely someone who is not afraid to embrace the impossible from time to time.
HERBERT So this is the end of the tale. A body got up and wandered around, then walked away again. Where's the great mystery?
AUGUSTE Perhaps, if I may?
RICHARD Go ahead.
AUGUSTE I think the question of where it went to is one of mild amusement, as perhaps is the question of what moved it to leave?
EDWARD Yes, but is there an answer?
AUGUSTE I believe I have the answer to the first part. But I would like to ask my belated question first.
RICHARD Please do.
AUGUSTE Did you search the crypt?
CHARLES [amused] The what?
WARREN [annoyed] You never said there was a crypt!
AUGUSTE Perhaps I have not the right word. The building in the cemetery for the bodies, non?
EDWARD That's more of a mausoleum.
WARREN Crypts are generally below ground. And you never said there was a mausoleum!
RICHARD No one asked.
AUGUSTE But I have asked now. Did you search the mausoleum, and, if I may ask, did you find your visiteur hidden within?
RICHARD I should just give up now. There's nothing left to hide from you, Monsieur.
AUGUSTE But I do not know everything. I believe there is still the question of why it walked away. And I believe it is Charles' turn.
CHARLES Before I ask, is this something that can be answered?
RICHARD [a bit subdued] I believe so.
CHARLES Right, then. Do you think it was due to the fear and confusion that the creature decided to leave?
RICHARD I don't think so. Most of the crowd had fled before it apparently made its own exit. If you look at the drawing of the room, I am still quite certain that here is where it was the moment the panic broke out, and yet it continues onward for some time.
AUGUSTE I have solved my part of the puzzle. I shall leave your younger minds to uncover the motivations.
EDWARD [teasing] Cheater.
RICHARD This means we're back to you, Edward.
EDWARD From what you've drawn, it looks like the alcove is the epitome, or do I mean azimuth?
HERBERT I doubt it.
EDWARD The ultimate point, anyway. That seems to be where it turned back. Is that correct?
RICHARD Is that your question?
RICHARD To the best of my knowledge, yes.
WARREN What is in the alcove? Was -- [catches self] No. [firmly] What is in the alcove?
RICHARD The same as all the other alcoves. A large mirror. They're supposed to reflect the light and make the room look larger.
WARREN There are creatures of mythology who are terrified of mirrors. Vampires are said to have no reflection, possibly because the silver of the backing rejects their unclean nature and therefore refuses to reflect them. The gorgons--
HERBERT Was the mirror untouched?
HERBERT Did it do anything to damage the mirror?
RICHARD The mirror was ...undamaged.
CHARLES That sounds a little bit like a hint.
RICHARD [negative facetious shrug]
CHARLES Well, let's go on and get this over with. I think even I can read you this late in the evening. Did the thing touch the mirror?
RICHARD There was a disgusting mold-smeared handprint, and I use the term very loosely, on the glass.
EDWARD So it's afraid of a mirror. That's no thrill.
AUGUSTE Have you ever suddenly realized there is a large spot of ink -oh! - leaked on your pocket, or a bird perhaps has insulted the crown of your hat?
HERBERT Hasn't everyone? Nature is notoriously... insulting.
AUGUSTE And perhaps people are smiling and laughing, or even upset and disgusted, and you don't realize the cause of it?
CHARLES [laughs] Are you saying this thing needed to [gets serious] to see itself in a mirror to realize what it was?
HERBERT I doubt there would be much higher brain function in a rotten corpse. It might not occur to it.
RICHARD You know, that is rather the conclusion I arrived on. You're a bit of a marvel, Monsieur.
AUGUSTE [modest] Experience. And ratiocination.
CHARLES How did you come to the conclusion about where the - corpus delecti - would be found?
AUGUSTE Ah! That was very simple! Reminded me of something from my youth. It is rather like the old saying "cannot see the forest because of all the trees", vous comprenez?
HERBERT I know the saying.
EDWARD It's rather obvious once you see it.
AUGUSTE Bien. But what if the forest was hidden among a plethora of forests?
HERBERT That wouldn't be physically possible.
AUGUSTE conceptualize, mon ami. So, to extrapolate, where better to find a dead body, than in a room which is filled with them?
NOTE: "Auguste" is intended to resemble "C. Auguste Dupin", the detective character in Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" even though the timing would make him about 130 years old, if he's visiting Charles in the 1920s.
(story very loosely inspired by "The Outsider" by HPL)