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Tales of Terror and Mystery

The Horror of the Heights
The idea that the extraordinary narrative which has been called the Joyce-Armstrong
Fragment is an elaborate practical joke evolved by some unknown person, cursed by a
perverted and sinister sense of humour, has now been abandoned by all who have
examined the matter. The most macabre and imaginative of plotters would hesitate before
linking his morbid fancies with the unquestioned and tragic facts which reinforce the
statement. Though the assertions contained in it are amazing and even monstrous, it is
none the less forcing itself upon the general intelligence that they are true, and that we
must readjust our ideas to the new situation. This world of ours appears to be separated
by a slight and precarious margin of safety from a most singular and unexpected danger. I
will endeavour in this narrative, which reproduces the original document in its
necessarily somewhat fragmentary form, to lay before the reader the whole of the facts up
to date, prefacing my statement by saying that, if there be any who doubt the narrative of
Joyce-Armstrong, there can be no question at all as to the facts concerning Lieutenant
Myrtle, R. N., and Mr. Hay Connor, who undoubtedly met their end in the manner
described.
The Joyce-Armstrong Fragment was found in the field which is called Lower Haycock,
lying one mile to the westward of the village of Withyham, upon the Kent and Sussex
border. It was on the 15th September last that an agricultural labourer, James Flynn, in
the employment of Mathew Dodd, farmer, of the Chauntry Farm, Withyham, perceived a
briar pipe lying near the footpath which skirts the hedge in Lower Haycock. A few paces
farther on he picked up a pair of broken binocular glasses. Finally, among some nettles in
the ditch, he caught sight of a flat, canvas-backed book, which proved to be a note-book
with detachable leaves, some of which had come loose and were fluttering along the base
of the hedge. These he collected, but some, including the first, were never recovered, and
leave a deplorable hiatus in this all-important statement. The note-book was taken by the
labourer to his master, who in turn showed it to Dr. J. H. Atherton, of Hartfield. This
gentleman at once recognized the need for an expert examination, and the manuscript was
forwarded to the Aero Club in London, where it now lies.
The first two pages of the manuscript are missing. There is also one torn away at the end
of the narrative, though none of these affect the general coherence of the story. It is
conjectured that the missing opening is concerned with the record of Mr. Joyce-
Armstrong's qualifications as an aeronaut, which can be gathered from other sources and
are admitted to be unsurpassed among the air-pilots of England. For many years he has
been looked upon as among the most daring and the most intellectual of flying men, a
combination which has enabled him to both invent and test several new devices,
including the common gyroscopic attachment which is known by his name. The main
body of the manuscript is written neatly in ink, but the last few lines are in pencil and are
so ragged as to be hardly legible--exactly, in fact, as they might be expected to appear if
they were scribbled off hurriedly from the seat of a moving aeroplane. There are, it may
be added, several stains, both on the last page and on the outside cover which have been
 
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