Mr. Vandusen settles into a seat in the darkness of the library at the St. Dunstan Club, ready to converse with a small group of men whom he is acquainted with. He drops in while Maury is mid-tirade, speaking of his fears that man has advanced to the point where he believes he is beyond fate and God. Maury asserts so many horrors have emerged over the past several years that something must be wrong in the universe (or the beings controlling it)—something that would cause horror to emerge in the mind of the “maimed man”, who resides over battlefields and human conflict. Suddenly, a voice cuts through the darkness, and although the men cannot make out the figure sitting in the chair that it seems to be projecting from, they listen to the voice as it begins setting the scene for its stories. The voice describes a forest in November. The Maimed Man has come to this forest with his party to rest, but when he realizes a servant at the hunting lodge in which he intends to stay has lost an arm in a war, he laments that even in such a familiar and calm forest, he will not be able to escape the consequences of human conflict.
The voice then starts his first story of The Maimed Man. The Maimed Man seems to flaunt his physicality in front of his party as he marches forth through the forest, leaving them behind in their slower pace. Only the owner of the voice and a huntsman keep pace with The Maimed Man. They come to a clearing, and although the huntsman stays on one side of the glade, The Maimed Man and the voice walk to the other. As they wait for the rest of the party to catch up, an unseen and unfelt force causes the fallen leaves on the ground to move through the clearing, as if they are dragging themselves. The voice’s second story occurs after this incident, after The Maimed Man has had supper with his party and is enjoying their company. He decides to retreat upstairs to his study to write a couple letters. First, he wants to finish his cigarette on the balcony. When he steps onto the balcony, the air is thick with a fog. The mist casts the world into oblivion, and The Maimed Man is thrown into confusion and terror, seeing wispy hands reach out for him. He almost falls over the balcony, but the fog slowly dissipates. Finished with his stories, the voice says that the dead have already met their ends, but there seems to be no end in sight for the living.
For a moment, the library is still suspended in the voice’s charismatic presence, but soon the atmosphere breaks. Mr. Vandusen asks if any of his fellows knows the man who has just left, but no one saw a man rise and leave. One man asks the doorman and a boy stationed outside the building if they saw a man leaving, but they both say they have not seen anyone enter or exit the building for half an hour. He then switches on the light, protesting at the group’s habit of sitting in the dark for these discussions.