Francis Marion Crawford was born on August 2, 1854 at Bagni di Lucca, Italy. An only son but also nephew to Julia Ward Howe, the American poet and writer of The Star Spangled Banner. His education was at St Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire; Cambridge University; University of Heidelberg; and the University of Rome. In 1879 he went to India, to study Sanskrit and edited The Indian Herald. In 1881 he returned to America to continue his Sanskrit studies at Harvard University. At his time he lived mostly in Boston at his Aunt Julia Ward Howe's house and in the company of his Uncle, Sam Ward. His family was concerned about his employment prospects after a singing career as a baritone was ruled out he was encouraged to write. In December 1882 his first novel, Mr Isaacs, was an immediate hit which was amplified by Dr Claudius in 1883. That year he returned to Italy, to make a permanent home principally in Sant' Agnello, where he bought the Villa Renzi that became Villa Crawford. In October 1884 he married Elizabeth Berdan. They had two sons and two daughters. Late in the 1890s, he began to write his historical works. These are: Ave Roma Immortalis (1898), Rulers of the South (1900) and Gleanings from Venetian History (1905). The Saracinesca series is perhaps his best work. Saracinesca was followed by Sant’ Ilario in 1889, Don Orsino in 1892 and Corleone in 1897,that being first major treatment of the Mafia in literature. Crawford died at Sorrento on Good Friday 1909 at Villa Crawford of a heart attack. Here we are publish several of his short stories which are classics of their kind. Most were written in the latter part of his career and all have the ability to unsettle and make you feel decidedly uncomfortable. Here, in Volume 1, we include The Dead Smile, The Screaming Skull, Man Overboard!