Reapers’ Portraits: December 1876



Thomas Aldrich had only been in possession of his father’s studio for three months, and he didn’t believe the letter which his father had written to him describing the reapers. His father had told Thomas to seek me out to verify the truth of what was written, and finally, the son did that.

I arrived at the studio on December 5th, 1876. While he and I were sitting together, having coffee – Thomas was a teetotaler, having seen the wreck his father had become from drinking whiskey – and I was explaining to him the veracity of Victor’s statements when a gentleman arrived at the studio.

The stranger was tall and stately, every inch the proper gentleman with gentile manners and a calm, sedate mien. He requested a portrait, and I remained while Thomas went about the process of posing and photographing. When he finished, Thomas asked when the gentleman might like to pick up his portrait, and what name should be placed on the back of it. The gentleman smiled.

“My siblings and I have no use for names, and I have no wish to have the portrait anywhere than upon your wall. Hang it with my siblings for the next to see. As for myself, I must catch the train to New York. There is an event at the Brooklyn Theatre, and I must not be late for it.” The reaper smiled at us both. “Look for news of me on the morrow. It shall be interesting, though I doubt entertaining.”

He took his leave of us, and Thomas was silent as he processed the information. After a short period, the younger man asked if I would be so kind as to stop by the studio in the morning. I assured him I would be there.

On the morning of the 6th, we learned of a horrific fire at the Brooklyn Theatre. A conflagration that claimed the lives of 278 people.

With the paper in front of us, Thomas took a whiskey bottle out from beneath the table, opened it, and took the first of many drinks.

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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