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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

“And then, too,” said the Sodomite, reflectively, “we have lots of natteral remedies that the doctors don’t know nothin’ about. Fer instance, when you are touched with rheumatiz, and feel kinda meager like, they say there ain’t nothin’ better than to bite angel-worms till all the juice is out, and then mix it with some hog’s lard or mutton taller and rub it on to the jints. Unless I conceit it”—an expression, by the way, which the writer has not heard outside the vampire belt, and which means “unless I’m mistaken”—“there do be a good many real cures of rheumatiz with angle-worm juice.”

Slowly but surely the conversation drifted to vampires. The smoldering interest in the subject has been revived by the recent publication of a newspaper syndicate article over the signature of a rather well-known writer, who borrowed the article almost word for word from an essay by George R. Stetson in the Anthropologist.

Since Mr. Stetson made his investigation, some years ago, there has been no case of the resurrection of a body for the sake of burning the heart and liver, the last instance being in March, 1892. A firm belief in the existence of vampires still exists, however, and the main reason why the belief is not practiced is that no one has recently died of consumption who had surviving relatives afflicted with the disease.

For in Rhode Island no one becomes a vampire after death unless he has died of consumption. And not even then unless he has next of kin, or heirs and assigns who are consumptive. Thus, for the present, the vampire industry is stagnant.

It was not always so, and these pleasant hills and valleys are full of legends and traditions. This once busy and populous region is now but sparsely inhabited, and you can travel for miles through the “south county” without seeing a house.

There are plenty of ruins of mills and factories and homesteads, but they are about the only remnants of a former active industrial life. For a few hundred dollars you can buy a great deal more land here than you can attend to. The farms are not abandoned, they are only neglected.

But sportsmen are acquainted with the game in the woods, and fishermen say that there are more trout in the “south county” than anywhere else in New England. Hence in the spring and fall this is by no means a deserted country, even without the vampires.

The Sodomite was quite unable to give the writer any connected history of the theory and practice of vampirism in southern Rhode Island, but he was well stocked with authentic traditions on the subject, and here are a few of them:

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