Short, scary ghost stories

short, scary Ghost Stories home | Classic Ghost Stories

WANTED short, scary ghost stories - fiction or factual - for publication on this site.If published, we will be happy to list author's biographical details and a link back to your Web site.Copyright will remain with authors. Send submissions/outlines to abracad.

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 4

Maelzel's Chess-Player

page 10 of 10 | page 1 | Table of Contents

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

14. Although M. Maelzel, in disclosing the interior of the machine, sometimes slightly deviates from the _routine _which we have pointed out, yet _reeler in _any instance does he _so _deviate from it as to interfere with our solution. For example, he has been known to open, first of all, the drawer--but he never opens the main compartment without first closing the back door of cupboard No. 1--he never opens the main compartment without first pulling out the drawer--he never shuts the drawer without first shutting the main compartment--he never opens the back door of cupboard No. 1 while the main compartment is open--and the game of chess is never commenced until the whole machine is closed. Now if it were observed that _never, in any single instance, _did M. Maelzel differ from the routine we have pointed out as necessary to our solution, it would be one of the strongest possible arguments in corroboration of it--but the argument becomes infinitely strengthened if we duly consider the circumstance that he _does occasionally _deviate from the routine but never does _so _deviate as to falsify the solution.

15. There are six candles on the board of the Automaton during exhibition. The question naturally arises--"Why are so many employed, when a single candle, or, at farthest, two, would have been amply sufficient to afford the spectators a clear view of the board, in a room otherwise so well lit up as the exhibition room always is--when, moreover, if we suppose the machine a _pure machine, _there can be no necessity for so much light, or indeed any light at all, to enable _it _to perform its operations--and when, especially, only a single candle is placed upon the table of the antagonist?" The first and most obvious inference is, that so strong a light is requisite to enable the man within to see through the transparent material (probably fine gauze) of which the breast of the Turk is composed. But when we consider the arrangement of the candles, another reason immediately presents itself. There are six lights (as we have said before) in all. Three of these are on each side of the figure. Those most remote from the spectators are the longest--those in the middle are about two inches shorter--and those nearest the company about two inches shorter still--and the candles on one side differ in height from the candles respectively opposite on the other, by a ratio different from two inches--that is to say, the longest candle on one side is about three inches shorter than the longest candle on the other, and so on. Thus it will be seen that no two of the candles are of the same height, and thus also the difficulty of ascertaining the _material _of the breast of the figure (against which the light is especially directed) is greatly augmented by the dazzling effect of the complicated crossings of the rays--crossings which are brought about by placing the centres of radiation all upon different levels.

16. While the Chess-Player was in possession of Baron Kempelen, it was more than once observed, first, that an Italian in the suite of the Baron was never visible during the playing of a game at chess by the Turk, and, secondly, that the Italian being taken seriously ill, the exhibition was suspended until his recovery. This Italian professed a _total _ignorance of the game of chess, although all others of the suite played well. Similar observations have been made since the Automaton has been purchased by Maelzel. There is a man, _Schlumber0er, _who attends him wherever he goes, but who has no ostensible occupation other than that of assisting in the packing and unpacking of the automata. This man is about the medium size, and has a remarkable stoop in the shoulders. Whether he professes to play chess or not, we are not informed. It is quite certain, however, that he is never to be seen during the exhibition of the Chess-Player, although frequently visible just before and just after the exhibition. Moreover, some years ago Maelzel visited Richmond with his automata, and exhibited them, we believe, in the house now occupied by M. Bossieux as a Dancing Academy. _Schlumberg_er was suddenly taken ill, and during his illness there was no exhibition of the Chess-Player. These facts are well known to many of our citizens. The reason assigned for the suspension of the Chess-Player's performances, was _not _the illness of _Schlumberger. _The inferences from all this we leave, without farther comment, to the reader.

17. The Turk plays with his _left_ arm. A circumstance so remarkable cannot be accidental. Brewster takes no notice of it whatever beyond a mere statement, we believe, that such is the fact. The early writers of treatises on the Automaton, seem not to have observed the matter at all, and have no reference to it. The author of the pamphlet alluded to by Brewster, mentions it, but acknowledges his inability to account for it. Yet it is obviously from such prominent discrepancies or incongruities as this that deductions are to be made (if made at all) which shall lead us to the truth.

The circumstance of the Automaton's playing with his left hand cannot have connexion with the operations of the machine, considered merely as such. Any mechanical arrangement which would cause the figure to move, in any given manner, the left arm--could, if reversed, cause it to move, in the same manner, the right. But these principles cannot be extended to the human organization, wherein there is a marked and radical difference in the construction, and, at all events, in the powers, of the right and left arms. Reflecting upon this latter fact, we naturally refer the incongruity noticeable in the Chess-Player to this peculiarity in the human organization. If so, we must imagine some _reversion--_for the Chess-Player plays precisely as a man _would not. _These ideas, once entertained, are sufficient of themselves, to suggest the notion of a man in the interior. A few more imperceptible steps lead us, finally, to the result. The Automaton plays with his left arm, because under no other circumstances could the man within play with his right--a _desideratum _of course. Let us, for example, imagine the Automaton to play with his right arm. To reach the machinery which moves the arm, and which we have before explained to lie just beneath the shoulder, it would be necessary for the man within either to use his right arm in an exceedingly painful and awkward position, (viz. brought up close to his body and tightly compressed between his body and the side of the Automaton,) or else to use his left arm brought across his breast. In neither case could he act with the requisite ease or precision. On the contrary, the Automaton playing, as it actually does, with the left arm, all difficulties vanish. The right arm of the man within is brought across his breast, and his right fingers act, without any constraint, upon tile machinery in the shoulder of the figure.

We do not believe that any reasonable objections can be urged against this solution of the Automaton Chess-Player.