“Don’t you think a man always recognizes a woman he has loved?”
-Judge Pursuivant, “Chastel”
A man of great height and greater girth, Judge Keith Hilary Pursuivant, after retiring from the bench, devoted his golden years to investigating the occult in the works of North Carolina author, Manly Wade Wellman. Pursuivant, with his broad bulbous nose and protruding, warm eyes, was one of a half-dozen occult investigators created by Wellman over the course of his career, though the Judge has the distinction of being the first, and, in many ways, the most important of the lot.
Pursuivant made his first appearance in Weird Tales in 1938, in the story, “The Hairy Ones Shall Dance”, wherein the Judge faced off against a werewolf. He appeared in Weird Tales three more times from 1938 to 1941, in “The Black Drama”, “The Dreadful Rabbits”, and “The Half-Haunted”, respectively facing off with a vampiric Lord Byron, demon-rabbits and ghosts. All of these stories have been anthologized on a number of occasions, and have all been collected in the 2001 Nightshade Books collection Fearful Rock and Other Precarious Locales.
Besides the aforementioned four tales, Pursuivant appeared as a supporting character in a number of Wellman’s other stories, including his Silver John novel, The Hanging Stones, where he aids John the Balladeer, another of Wellman’s occult investigators, in combating a tribe of inbred, druidic werewolves. And, even if he doesn’t appear, Pursuivant is likely mentioned…indeed, the Judge looms over Wellman’s other occult investigators like a guardian angel, wielding knowledge, wit and wisdom in support of humanity’s more active defenders.
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