Coffins : Dr. Davis Bentwood, a follower of the transcendentalist teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, puts little stock in family curses and the supernatural. Upon the arrival of an urgent telegram from his good friend Jebediah Coffin, who is disabled by his dwarfism, he sees no reason not to leave his scholarly study of Emerson behind to see Jebediah. It seems that tragedy has struck in the deaths of two members of the Coffin family, sending the Captain, Jeb's father, into a maddening grief, making him dangerous to himself and the rest of the family. After his arrival at the Coffin estate in White Harbor, Maine, Bentwood is overwhelmed with the family's disturbing belief in their own doom, but he is frightened more by the gruesome deaths that occur during his stay. Seeing it as his duty to Jeb, Bentwood investigates and attempts to discover the source of the Coffin family curse. What he finds is almost as disturbing as the curse itself.