This tale was written during the extremely productive winter of 1899–1900, working up notes made at three different times over the preceding three years. Perhaps because of the surfeit of new work and perhaps because of the obscure nature of the subject, The story in it didn’t find a publisher at the time of writing. It first appeared about two years later, in January 1902, in the inaugural issue of a short-lived periodical founded by an acquaintance of James. What was substantially the same text was reprinted in The better sort (1903). James made minor revisions to the tale for its inclusion in vol. 18 of the New York edition (1909). Full details of all later publications known to me containing the tale can be found through the first section of the bibliography.

The text for the edition on this website is taken from the first book edition, in The better sort (1903), subject to the editor’s standard editorial method. Apart from these, no corrections or alterations have been found necessary.

The script used in preparing the downloadable ASCII version of this text counted 6,117 words in it.

Because of the production process the text has been proof-read twice, but only by this editor, so it is possible that an error has slipped through both times – offers of proofing assistance will be gratefully received by Adrian Dover.