Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson

Three friends are sharing a drink when a well-off doctor named Macfarlane enters. One of the friends, Fettes, is apparently an old acquaintance of Macfarlane and accosts him angrily.

The friends find that the pair attended medical school together years earlier and part of their duties included collecting bodies for dissection and paying the suspicious men who supply them.

Fettes recalls receiving the body of a woman whom he knew, convinced she was murdered. Macfarlane talks Fettes out of reporting the incident.

On a later occasion, Fettes recalls Macfarlane receiving very rude treatment from a man named Gray. On the following night, Macfarlane brings Gray's body for dissection. Again, Macfarlane talks Fettes out of reporting the incident. The two men intricately dissect the body and send it to various institutes for study.

Fettes and Macfarlane are never implicated of the crime and continue their work. With a shortage of bodies, they are asked to extract a recently buried woman from the grave. As they head back from the cemetery, the body between them, they get anxious and nervous. They decide to take a better look at the body and to their horror, it is the body of Gray, which they thought they had destroyed.

Great little macabre tale from Stevenson. Interesting supernatural-esque ending that totally twists the naturalist presentation of the story.

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