“I will tell you a fairy tale,” said the Devil, “on one condition: you must not ask me the moral. You may draw any conclusion you like, but please do not question me. As it is, far too many follies are laid at our door, yet we, strictly speaking, do not even exist. It is you who create us.” My story takes place in New York some twenty-five years ago. There lived then a young man by the name of Hugh B.; I will not tell you his full name, but you will soon guess it for yourself. His name is known now to people in all five parts of the globe. But then he was completely unknown. I will start at a tragic moment in the life of this young man, when he was travelling from one of the suburbs of New York to Manhattan, with the intention of buying a revolver and then shooting himself on a lonely shore on Long Island; in a spot which had remained in his memory from the times of boyhood excursions, when he and his playmates, pretending to be explorers, had discovered unknown countries around New York. His intention was very definite and the decision final. All in all, it was a very common occurrence in the life of a big city, something encountered repeatedly; in fact, to be frank, I have had to arrange similar events thousands and tens of thousands of times. However, this time such a common beginning had a quite uncommon sequel and a most uncommon result.
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