Fourth Folly Arc

 

The guest is invited by urgent telegram to return to the Folly, as Miss Keltenham, celebrated author, specifically had wanted ghosts for her latest inspiration, and Roscoe refuses to cooperate. Simon seems absent (more to that story); further, having met him in life, Virginia can’t imagine he’s got the stuff, in death. She demands the guest give her the Legend of the Pale Knight, the famous haunting associated with St. Crispin’s. The chapel is long gone, while the guest’s research indicates there had been another, older St. Crispin’s, at not quite the same spot. 

 


The Legend of the Pale Knight

Virginia Keltenham

 

‘Those deadly people. They’d like me a bit Elinor Glyn-ish

But then they want sentiment. But then, of course,

they don’t. They want some dismal comeuppance

for bad behaviour, a heroine like one of Lawrence’s

stultifying Magdalene figures. I suppose you can guess what

must lead up to all that.

Trout is with me. I’d ordered him to stay behind.

Sort of help you get these days.’

Pointed, this remark. Aimed at one standing nearby,

Heard to emit a priggish laugh

‘Roscoe…’ the guest clears his throat, and as at once she says,

‘I can’t hear a thing! Speak up!’

answers, ‘Virginia! Are you hearing me now?’

Footballers are chorusing, and the Ram’s Arms’ faulty service

Bloops and stutters

A voice breaks through to them, burbling like a dying man’s

Ventilator hose

Ask me anything

‘Leave,’ the guest tries.

Call that asking, do you? I may. I might.

 

‘Does it shock you a little, that I satirize my own

poor œuvre? But I mean to travesty yours—fair warning

That is, I’ve got to have it, your story of the pale knight.

Not to actively poach, my dear…but you’d said to me it is truly frightening.

I suppose,’ Virginia cups the receiver, ‘it’s all right if I insult Roscoe? Because

he’s not been a very public-spirited spectre.

As a matter of fact—dare I say?—silent as the you-know-what.

Trout, who rather inspires mischief, I’m afraid…even my darling Trout

has felt quite at peace, turning one of the cellars into a darkroom.’

‘Have a go,’ the guest shrugs, but feels given a nudge

The words a whisper echoed in his ear

 


Continued from An Ordinary Signal Drop

 

An Ordinary Signal Drop

 

It impressed me, acquainted me, the unspeakable

more normality than horror at a glance

shivering loose, like flakes of plated gilding

painted over with a garden scene

Shoes, parasol, a hand suspended

holding still its cup of tea

A man, crawling at the last, hurricane winds

Driving him onto knees, and stretching fingertips

at terrifying risk, bowed low and groping to the lopped edge

needing this spray of water in his face

the moon’s emerging, laying of its light

masked by clouds, then startlingly uncurtained

To believe it, that he saw it

 

Mr. Dunlow, my father’s ancient valet

was servant to a surgeon of Dundee

going out in any case, to lance a boil, or some such

thing, Dunlow not needed, but the gale’d come up strong again

that evening, that was how he told it, that he’d

just gone out to see his master off

and eye the weather for himself

 

It was Mr. Roberts’s story Dunlow told

But had it at second-hand first-hand if you understand me

The feather-tip descends to shelter hope

For a moment the signal lingers in mid-air

Allez

The train has gone at seven-fourteen

 


Continued from Godfrey

 

Godfrey

Godfrey

 

‘I don’t like to be a bore…’

That, she says, is the wrong way to begin a tale

You’ll have me fearing the worst

Not either in the proper sense

‘Well…because people have tended, quite literally, to wander off.’

You get invited to dinners, my dear, and you have no dinner conversation.

You plunge in with your Subject.

And, you know, rumour has got out. ‘Never in his presence

breathe the name of bloody St. Crispin’s.’

 

Have a glance at the sporting news, next time

Memorize one or two results

‘Noticed Madame’s Nightshirt came tenth’

Pigeons or horses, makes no odds

Answer every gambit, ‘Is that right?’

 

Roscoe, who has climbed down to participate

Is silenced nonetheless

In fact, Virginia says, no one in our circle has heard you tell it.

So what do they know? I shall be the first.

I pledge myself rooted to the spot.

 

Godfrey the Hermit…though probably he was not a hermit,

that was a bit of mediæval yarn-spinning, of which they did a

great deal, the early missionaries being wily in their way…

understood well that a mystique, a pretense the teachings

were not for everyone, a touch of the nobleman’s high-handedness

to which the peasantry were quite used—

Please

Forgive me. Godfrey, I mean to say,

writing in his poor Latin, that he seemed partly

to have invented ad hoc

I’m not laughing

No…ahem…he had an excellent ear for gossip. His anecdotes,

always to encourage the belief in miracles, are difficult to place

historically

 


 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: