Dark Shadows: How Quentin Died

A bottle of poison Barnabas Collins has been playing with an I Ching kit again in order to return to the 1960s and find out the circumstances of Quentin’s murder now that he knows the exact date of the event–September 10, 1897–but not who did it.

Unfortunately for Barnabas, Count Petofi has gotten on Edward Collins’s good side by promising to help him get Barnabas. In spite of the spells cast against him and his son, Edward still considers the family vampire to be his greatest enemy; I think he believes that Barnabas is responsible for that on top of everything else.

The Count even gives Edward a pistol loaded with silver bullets.

Edward finds Barnabas just as the latter has laid out the I Ching wands on a table in the basement of the old house and gone into a trance; his “astral projection” is about to make its way back to the future. Instead of shooting the vampire, however, Edward dashes the wands off the table.

In 1969, Barnabas’s body seated at what looks like the very same table, suddenly vanishes before the astonished eyes of Dr. Julia Hoffman and Professor Stokes. The two don’t know what’s happened, but Stokes is certain that Barnabas must be dead.

But Barnabas isn’t dead in 1897–not yet, anyway. Edward doesn’t have the guts to shoot him, but instead takes the more indirect approach of locking Barnabas up in that basement cell where Quentin was just a few episodes earlier, to await the sunrise.

Barnabas writes a letterI’ve never thought very highly of Barnabas’s intelligence, but what he does next is brilliant.

While he waits for his destruction at dawn, Barnabas notices an old-fashioned writing desk in the room with him. He recalls that he made Willie Loomis move this same piece of furniture upstairs to the parlor when they renovated the old house in 1967, and it’s there in 1969.

So he writes a letter to Julia Hoffman explaining precisely when and where he is, how his mission failed, and all he has learned about Quentin’s death. He then put this in a secret drawer of the desk.

Willie doesn’t find the letter in 1967, nor does a far-future Collins or bewildered antique dealer stumble upon it in the 2000s. By remarkable coincidence, young Amy Jennings is playing in the parlor that same afternoon when 1969 Barnabas disappeared, accidentally discovers the letter in the secret drawer, and gives it to Julia.

Professor Stokes also reads the letter, but doesn’t understand why Barnabas expects to die at sunrise nor the allusion to his secret. I’d forgotten that he didn’t know Barnabas was ever a vampire. Dr. Hoffman dodges his questions, so he doesn’t learn the truth here.

The doctor goes over to Collinwood to see if she can get Quentin’s ghost to speak to her. Amy goes with her, but chickens out and runs away as soon as they’re in the front hall. Julia heads alone up into the tower room. There, she encounters a ghost–not Quentin’s, but Beth’s.

Dr. Hoffman chats with Beth's ghostBeth first tells Julia to go away, that Quentin is angry, but the doctor is persistent. Eventually, Beth explains that Quentin sees David as a re- incarnation of Jameson and wants his forgiveness.

Forgiveness for what?

This leads to a full confession, accompanied by wavy-screen flashback scenes…

On the evening of September 10, Angelique in sweet and sympathetic tones informed Beth that she was engaged to marry Quentin. Beth took it badly and went up to her room to swallow some poison, but Jameson came in and stopped her.

The boy then went downstairs to ask Uncle Quentin if it was really true that he was going to marry that awful woman, and found Quentin and Angelique kissing in the drawing room. Jameson reproached his uncle for his treatment of Beth and shouted “I hate you!”

Quentin’s more upset about Jameson’s reaction to his wedding plans than Beth’s. It seems that it was Jameson turning away from him that the dream-prophecy referred to, and the loss of his nephew’s love that Quentin carried with him into the afterlife until it became an obsession.

All the same, Quentin should’ve paid more attention to Beth’s desperate emotional state and taken warning.

Beth's got a gun After she decided against taking the poison, Beth came down to the drawing room and shot Quentin, who was still there after his scene with Jameson. Then she chased him back up the stairs shouting “I’ll get you!” when he tried to flee, trailing blood all the way to the tower room; there, she plugged him a couple more times to be sure and, unable to live without him, killed herself.

I note that this story implies that Angelique has always been part of the timeline, since her actions set off the disastrous chain of events that brought Barnabas back into the past in the first place.

After hearing the sensational tale of Quentin’s murder, Dr. Hoffman’s first question is How did Quentin’s body get sealed up in his room after he was killed in the tower?

Beth doesn’t know. She was dead by then.

When Julia returns downstairs to leave the house, she sees that David is in the drawing room… and Quentin’s ghost is with him.

Quentin's ghost holds DavidThe ghost disappears, but David falls down in a faint. Dr. Hoffman tries to revive him, then announces that he’s dead! We hear the sound of Ghost-Quentin’s evil, triumphant laughter.

This doesn’t look like obtaining the boy’s forgiveness to me.

Julia decides that the only way she can convey the information she now has about Quentin’s death to Barnabas and to save David is to go back into the past herself. With Barnabas’s letter in her coat pocket, she sits down at the table and lays out the I Ching wands. She goes into a trance and her astral form moves through a series of symbolic doors.

She collapses on the doorstep of Collinwood in the early hours of the morning of September 10, 1897.

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Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.