Dickens /Minor /Captain Murderer

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Captain Murderer – 1850 – a short story

Dickens reproduced this story with which his nurse used to terrify him. He published it in his weekly magazine All the Year Round on 8 Sep 1860, and later under Nurse’s Stories in The Uncommercial Traveller.

He reported that his nurse had a ‘sort of introductory overture–by clawing the air with both hands, and uttering a long low hollow groan. So acutely did I suffer from this ceremony in combination with this infernal Captain, that I sometimes used to plead I thought I was hardly strong enough and old enough to hear the story again just yet. But, she never spared me one word of it.’

His own personal bogey-man was inspired by Perrault’s Blue Beard of 1697.
Assumed by the narrator to be from an off-shoot of the Blue Beard family, Captain Murderer is described as ‘admitted into the best society and possessed immense wealth’.

His goal was matrimony and then he had a cannibalistic appetite that could only be satisfied by tender brides. On the morning of a marriage he would dress the church with unusual plants that he described as garnish for house-lamb.

He made love in a coach and six, and married in a coach and twelve, drawn by milk-white horses. Though each had a red spot that was hidden by the harness. The red spot appeared after he purchased the horse, each was a young bride’s blood.

When the wedding feast was done and he was alone with his bride, he produced a golden rolling pin and a silver pie-board. His propsectivewives were asked if they could make a pie-crust and if not were trained before marriage was proposed.

She asked what sort of pie he desired and he answered a meat pie. She queried that she saw no meat, he said look in the glass. His demeanour had his bride roll out the crust in tears. When she asked again about the meat he told her to gaze upon the looking glass, She did just in time to see the Captain cut her head off with his sword. He chopped her into pieces, salted her and put her in the pie. He sent it to the baker and ate it all.

This carried on until he chose to marry a twin. First he had difficulty choosing which twin. He chose the fair one, because he felt the dark one depised him.

She watched him carefully as he went about his normal process. When the fair twin was dead she called at his house and said marry me, she said she had always loved him. The marriage was arranged. After she laid out the pie-crust, Captain Murderer followed his usual process. But she had poisoned the pie-crust so that itmade him turn blue and swell. He swelled until he filled the house and then burst.

The milk-white horses broke their halters and went mad, and they galloped over his household until all were dead, then ran off.

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