The Hand (Maupassant)

From Wikisum
Disclaimer: This summary was generated by AI, so it may contain errors.
The Hand
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An Englishman living in Corsica displayed a severed hand chained to his wall, claiming it was his enemy's. After his mysterious murder, the hand disappeared, leaving only questions.

A circle of people had gathered around Monsieur Bermutier, an examining magistrate, who was discussing the mysterious Saint Cloud affair. During the conversation, Bermutier mentioned a case he had dealt with in the past that seemed to involve an element of the supernatural. Intrigued, the listeners urged him to share the story.

Bermutier recounted his time as an examining magistrate in Ajaccio, Corsica, where he had encountered an Englishman named Sir John Rowell.

Monsieur Bermutier — narrator; examining magistrate; analytical, curious.
Sir John Rowell — Englishman living in Corsica; tall, stout, red-haired and bearded; polite, skilled in weapons.

Rowell lived alone and was rumored to have committed a terrible crime. Bermutier eventually befriended Rowell and discovered that he had a strange, dried human hand chained to the wall of his drawing room. Rowell claimed it was his "best enemy" and that the chain was necessary to keep it from escaping.

That's my best enemy. It came from America. It was cut off with a sabre and the skin torn off with a sharp stone and dried in the sun for eight days.

A year later, Rowell was found murdered in his home, strangled with five puncture wounds on his neck.

It's just as if he had been strangled by a skeleton.

The dried hand was missing, and the case remained unsolved. Three months after the murder, Bermutier had a nightmare in which the hand crawled around his room like a spider. The next day, the hand was found in the cemetery on Rowell's tomb, with one finger missing.

Bermutier concluded his story by suggesting that the owner of the hand was not dead and had come to retrieve it as a form of vendetta. The listeners were left unsatisfied with this explanation, but Bermutier insisted that he did not know any more about the case.