The box arrived on November 27, 1908, and James P. Harden was, according to his wife, thrilled.
Annette Harden was not.
While James was a successful lawyer and worked in a number of towns and cities in Massachusetts, he was also a collector of the rare and unusual. He went through maniacal phases, purchasing whatever he could find on a given subject.
And, in November of 1908, his particular obsession was with the masks and costumes of Native Americans.
The box that arrived on November 27 contained the complete ensemble of a Koskimo ‘Hami,’ or dangerous spirit, and he was ecstatic as he examined the contents. Satisfied that all elements were there, he rushed out of the house with it, intent on showing it to several interested people at a private Explorer’s Club which met at the home of Antonius Warde.
When Annette awoke on the morning of the 28th, she was not surprised to find herself alone. James often traveled at strange hours to arrive on time for court appointments. She did become concerned when he didn’t arrive for dinner, and by breakfast the next morning, the police were looking for him.
Several other missing person reports were filed, and soon the police realized all were connected to the Explorer’s Club. The decision was made on December 1st to visit Mr. Warde and to see what, if anything, the man might know.
Mr. Warde knew nothing for he, like the other members of the club, was dead on the floor of his library. The men were desiccated and seemed to have been dead for years rather than days.
And while James’ clothes were present, he was not. Both he and the Hami costume were gone.
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