Tales of Terror
2. The Leather Funnel (continued)
"Ah!" said he, "it is the very question which I have had
occasion to ask myself. I would give a good deal to know. Take it
in your hands and examine it."
I did so, and found that what I had imagined to be wood was in
reality leather, though age had dried it into an extreme hardness.
It was a large funnel, and might hold a quart when full. The brass
rim encircled the wide end, but the narrow was also tipped with
"What do you make of it?" asked Dacre.
"I should imagine that it belonged to some vintner or maltster
in the Middle Ages," said I. "I have seen in England leathern
drinking flagons of the seventeenth century--'black jacks' as
they were called--which were of the same colour and hardness as
"I dare say the date would be about the same," said Dacre,
"and, no doubt, also, it was used for filling a vessel with liquid.
If my suspicions are correct, however, it was a queer vintner who
used it, and a very singular cask which was filled. Do you observe
nothing strange at the spout end of the funnel."
As I held it to the light I observed that at a spot some five
inches above the brass tip the narrow neck of the leather funnel
was all haggled and scored, as if someone had notched it round with
a blunt knife. Only at that point was there any roughening of the
dead black surface.
"Someone has tried to cut off the neck."
"Would you call it a cut?"
"It is torn and lacerated. It must have taken some strength to
leave these marks on such tough material, whatever the instrument
may have been. But what do you think of it? I can tell that you
know more than you say."
Dacre smiled, and his little eyes twinkled with knowledge.
"Have you included the psychology of dreams among your learned
studies?" he asked.