Haunted Poveglia

In the spirit of the season, a sample from Island of the Mad, when Russell & Holmes set out for a haunted island of the Venice lagoon, Poveglia.

Before leaving the hotel, Holmes and I had studied the general maps and my slightly more detailed sketch of this tripartite island. The boat-house, on the southern of the two dividing canals, faced the abandoned military hexagon, but was close to the area where I had seen signs of work—just the area where we now saw lights from behind a shuttered window.

But I kept us moving, as slowly as the big motor would permit, until we had circled around to the northern end again. “The eastern side?” I suggested, and felt more than saw his assenting nod. We doused our running lights, and by the thin glow of the moon steered towards the opening of the upper canal. I shut off the motor and reached for a paddle. When we were close enough, Holmes scrambled to shore with the tie-rope, fastening us to a convenient tree.

We led the way down the narrow stone path along the edge of the island, which was light enough to show in the night, but a dozen steps down it I slowed, then stopped altogether.

“Holmes, I smell something very dead. Do we want to risk walking through it?”

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