Lot No. 249
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"Lot No. 249" (published in 1892) is a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story tells of an Oxford college student who, through the use of Egyptian magic, reanimates an ancient Egyptian mummy (called "Lot 249" for its number in an auction sale), which he then sends to attack all the people against whom he holds a grudge. Written in the wake of the late-19th-century fascination with Egyptology, "Lot No. 249" was the first story to depict a reanimated mummy as a sinister, predatory figure and had a profound influence on the horror movie genre throughout the 20th century.
Abercrombie Smith, a medical student at Old College, is called to the rooms of his neighbour and fellow student Edward Bellingham. Bellingham, a fanatical Egyptology student, has fainted from a severe shock. As Smith uses his medical skills to revive Bellingham, Bellingham's friend William Monkhouse Lee (to whose sister Bellingham is engaged) explains that Bellingham has a curious obsession with an Egyptian mummy that he purchased from an auction sale. Bellingham keeps the mummy in his room.
Over the next few weeks Smith is frequently disturbed by the sound of mumbling and muttering from Bellingham's room. The building's caretaker, Thomas Styles, confides in Smith that he has heard something walking around Bellingham's room while Bellingham is out. Shortly afterwards, a student called Long Norton, against whom Bellingham bears a long-standing grudge, is violently attacked by a mysterious and seemingly inhuman figure. Suspecting Bellingham is connected with the assault, Smith vows to avoid his neighbour entirely.
Not long afterwards, Monkhouse Lee issues a warning to Smith against Bellingham. He explains that he has called off his sister's engagement to Bellingham, after Bellingham confided in him a terrible secret about which he has sworn to keep silent. Later, when passing Bellingham's room, Smith witnesses the mummy seemingly vanish and inexplicably reappear in its sarcophagus.
After discovering that Lee has been attacked in a similar manner to Norton, Smith concludes that Bellingham has brought the mummy to life and is sending it to attack the people whom he dislikes. Smith confronts Bellingham angrily about the attack on Lee, but Bellingham denies any involvement. The following evening, Smith is pursued by the mummy while strolling along a dark country path. Fleeing in terror, he narrowly escapes the creature. He realizes that his own life is now in danger and he must take action to stop Bellingham's evil.
The next day Smith enters Bellingham's room and forces him at gunpoint to burn the mummy and all items associated with its animation. Once everything has been destroyed, Smith vows to return if Bellingham attempts any such activity again. Bellingham quits the university immediately and flees to the Sudan.
In other media
- The story is a possible influence for the lost short film Robbing Cleopatra's Tomb (1899).
- The story was adapted for television in 1967 by the BBC as part of The Short Stories of Conan Doyle series by John Hawkesworth, with Sonny Caldinez as The Mummy.
- The first segment of the 1990 anthology film Tales from the Darkside: The Movie was adapted from "Lot No. 249" by Michael McDowell, with Steve Buscemi as Bellingham and Michael Deak as the mummy.