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My father described a short story he read years ago, in an anthology published circa 1978 (or before) and I would like to track it down. He doesn't know the title or author. What he remembers is that it is:

  • A 19th century or early 20th century setting/publication date

  • Written in the first person

  • Genre is Gothic horror/pulp/weird tale/ pseudo Poe- Conan Doyle

  • Plot (as it was recounted to me):

A man whose friend was an explorer recently returned from the Amazon, or Barbados or some exotic tropical South American/Island locale. The explorer invites the man to his home for dinner and to meet his new bride. When he arrives, he notices the explorer's wife is peculiarly exotic... her facial features are striking, with large staring eyes, she has fine hair on her face, her arms are never exposed, her fingers are long, and she has a pet monkey.

The man feels an intense and unaccountable attraction toward the explorer's wife, as if there is an invisible aura tugging at him. He had only drunk a small glass of wine, so he knows it cannot be the effects of inebriation. He also notices the hem of the woman's dress twitch and fly up for no apparent reason.

Finally there is a dog present that becomes extremely agitated at the woman's presence. It barks ferociously at the woman, and the woman too loathes the dog. The dog attacks the woman's pet monkey and soon the woman and the dog are fighting. The woman leaps upward and begins crawling on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. She has a tail. The dog is perhaps killed, torn apart.

The man realizes that the explorer's new bride is actually a gigantic species of monkey/ape or lemur that had been carefully shaved and dressed so as to appear human. His intense attraction toward her was due to her scent. The twitching dress was due to her tail.

Some time passes before the man meets his explorer friend again. He learns that the ape/lemur-woman has died. The explorer, in his attempt to further humanize his bride, chopped off her tail. Suffering from extreme sadness at the loss of her tail she died. The End.

I would be most delighted if you could identify this story. My own searches have turned up nothing....though according to my father it is NOT the Lovecraft story "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" in spite of certain elements appearing similar. Thank you...!

  • 2
    Maybe "His Monkey Wife, or Married to a Chimp" by John Collier? – user14111 Jan 4 '17 at 3:32
  • I guess not, His Monkey Wife is a novel, and you're looking for a short story in an anthology. – user14111 Jan 4 '17 at 3:40
  • I read the story years ago or a similar one but I no longer have the book. The beginning is exactly the same but she dies while the narrator is there. I think she might have killed her husband but the upshot is that they find her hanging by her tail from a beam in the attic. They wrote it more like she was half woman and half lemur and at the end her humanity gone she is now only the animal. – Lorelei Mar 9 '17 at 22:01
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    Monkey Wife Story — a great question, an even better college band. – Paul D. Waite Nov 14 '19 at 21:46
6

Your description sounds vaguely similar to a story in an Alfred Hitchcock anthology from the early 60s: Stories for Late at Night. The short story itself is called "Told for the Truth" and was written by Cyril Hume. It was also included in subsequent reprints of that anthology, such as your father's copy from the 70s.

A plot summary can be found here:

The narrator meets a doctor from Philadelphia in Florence and the two become reasonable acquaintances. However, the narrator informs the reader that the man is a liar. He then relates the story that the man told him.

The doctor discusses a childhood friend by the name of Hunter who obsessed over animals. He continued to study them for years from childhood onward and would collect a wide range of them, eventually including a lemur named Cheeki. The two friends go off to college and eventually, the doctor finds out that Hunter is engaged. He goes to reunite with Hunter and meet his wife. Before meeting her, there are already rumors about her family (from Georgia) and the curious things that occur on her estate. When he does meet her, he is strangely hypnotized by her presence both intrigued and confused by the nature of her. Slowly, he becomes obsessed with her and continues to visit the two well after they are married. His obsession is not witnessed by Hunter who is too possessed by his passion, animals. However, the wife begins to drift away and this raises concern for Hunter who asks the doctor to keep an eye on her. Upon visiting the couple one day, he comes to the house but no one responds to his ringing. He enters the house and goes upstairs to find Hunter has drank acid. He continues to look for the wife and finds her in the attic, hanging. From this, he realizes that the wife killed Hunter for lack of attention and care and followed up with killing herself. So obsessed with the wife is he, that the doctor cuts her down and bashes in her skull with a club and makes it look like Hunter killed her and then took his own life. Just as it becomes clear that this is what he did, he abruptly leaves. It's at this point the narrator declares him a liar.

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