“Let me make this clearer if I can. Mary may partition
the Probate and Divorce Court if she is able to prove by
witness testimony recognised cruelty on your part, or if you
have not resided with her in your recognised home, or been
with her as man and wife, for any period of more than two
years... and adultery is proven. If all that cannot be proven,
Mary will not receive legal severance of marriage from you
John. She can leave you John, leave the recognised home,
but she cannot divorce you.”
John wipes his neck as the Squire finishes speaking. “Well, I never beat Mary if that’s what you are saying,
not once Magistrate. And Tom, lad, would back me. Tom
“Yes, I’m sure...”
“As to leav’n Magistrate.” John breaths quickly as he
wipes his face. “Mary’s ai ‘ard woman. And man wants
cumv’t when t’get it. T’aint noh’t do but Mary and Mange
and me, but zays I do vlee, Magistrate. Zays I do zaparate wit Mange ver time. Due to lad Tom ‘aving property,
an Mary cain’d ‘ave n’mair childrain doctor sazs, and ‘m
thinkin ‘m no gett’n younger, Magistrate. What’s zituation
t’me then if Mary and ‘m do zaparate?”
The Squire looks at the shrewdly staring farmer. “You
will have to be gone missing for two years, John – live away
from Mary for two years – and you will have to be found
guilty of adultery.” The Squire repeats: “Divorce can be
granted to the wife on cause of desertion. Desertion must
be two years or longer. Mary must have additional proof
that you have committed adultery.”
“Mary can leave farm herself, Magistrate?”
“Yes! No longer is it possible to force Mary to stay with
you, as many still believe. A husband no longer has the
right to imprison his wife... for conjugal rights or other
John has a sour smile. “You know Mary, Squire. ‘Er’s
not a bad girl. We ‘ave reared lad together. Don’t know
what ai’d do times weren’t she ait zide t’ere.”
The Squire stands up. “Something to consider John.”
“If Mary t’wer t’leave varm. How’d ’at stand wit lad?
Propertyship and all ‘m mean?”
The Squire smiles. “The property would remain in trust
for Tom. He might partition for an earlier release of full
rights. I am sure a consultation with a solicitor would be
appropriate on that matter, John.”
“Yes, Magistrate. Thank you for knowledge.” John gets
out of the chair. “How’s t‘lad. ‘Er doing work right?”
The Squire rises. “Everything asked, and a lot more,
Fred tells me.” Accompanying the farmer towards the door,
he asks, “You come around on your horse, John?”
“Walked ‘t vields. Dinna wan a'Mary ‘t bai questioning.”
“Tom is a fine boy.”
“T’lads growing up, that ‘er is. Be marry’n soon. Mary
and ‘m wed not t’year older.
The Squire as he walks with the farmer to the north
door says, “Hope to see you at the picnic.”
“Picnic on Saturday! Yes, Magistrate. Mary and me,
we’ll be there.”
The Squire is thankful Mary will be coming. That
means they must still be talking. Relieved this is over,
he grins as the farmer opens the door into the courtyard. “See you at the picnic, then.”
John stepping down the stone slabs walks briskly to the
gate that separates the privy courtyard from the laundry
drying and servant’s outhouse area. Watching him step
through the gate, the Squire in his heart hopes that Mary
and John will sort this out. The farmer does not look as
the gate closes. Sombrely the Squire steps back into the
manor, closes the courtyard door.
. . .
To Edward, train stations have always meant roaring
boilers, steam and smoke par excellence!
Biddiford station no exception, Edward leans out of the
horse carriage, searches for the black and green painted
engine, for the soot rising. Again being ten years young
makes him jump out of the carriage before it stops.
He stares. No train! Not even one person wandering to
make it seem as if the station has life. Certainly no Laurie!
“Mr. Morton doesn’t appear to be here,” Edward looks
up forlornly at Henri the coachman. “Perhaps we have the
Neither Henri nor Seth, the young footman riding beside
him, has any comment. “I’ll go check inside. Ask if there
has been a delay.”
“Très bon, Monsieur.” The coachman touches his hat,
tugs at the reigns to move the horses towards the water
Edward gazes perplexed at the empty ticket hall. Out
on the platform a station porter pops out from a door. “Has
the Exeter train arrived, my good man?”
“Past fifteen minutes more, sir” the youth doesn’t even
glance at him, proceeding in haste towards stacked boxes.
“Did you see a man my age, tall?”
“I do not think so, sir.”
“Very good, sir.”
Inside the ticket hall, perusing the arrival board, he’s
about to walk back to the horses when a sharp tap descends
upon his shoulder.
Edward turns. “Laurie!”
“Didn’t mean to startle you, old man.”
“I just asked about you. The boy on the bags said he
hadn’t seen anyone.”
“Observant.” Lawrence remarks in the snappy timbre
he uses with the ‘The Not-Quites.’
“I caught the earlier arrival. Couldn’t sleep after the
preparing so I told myself, if you’re going to go, go.” His
silver cigarette case taken out Lawrence opens it, offers it
to Edward. “I did get some sleep on the way.” Lighting
Edwards cigarette and then his, he takes a deep draw. “Last
time I was here you were refusing to smoke.” Lawrence
smiles with the intoxicating bright eyes he has.
Edward laughs. “Yes! This time I thought I would
be polite.” He glances across at Seth tending the horses.
“We’ll get your bags and be off.”
The two young men cross to where Henri is patting down
one of the horses with a cloth. “Ready?” asks Edward.
“It is hot afternoon Monsieur, and the horses I think
are a might bit steamy. They will cool soon. Before we go,
“Of course. We have to get the luggage.”
Returning from their request of the porter,
Lawrence strolls around the bulky carriage. “New as well,
a Double Brougham.” He opens one of the doors, peers
inside. “Not many equipped in this style, even in London.” His hand runs over the new glistening leather trim.
“Mother wanted something to give her an easier ride. The supplier praised this model. Nothing being smoother
riding than the triple spring version, he said. So she ordered
“‘Non shabai’ thing,” Henri remarks, hearing his pride
and joy spoken of. “Perfection her drive, merveilleux.” He
puts his hand to his mouth, kisses it, raises his hand in the
The young, scraggly railway guard emerges from the
ticket hall, brings the luggage over in the rail cart. “Here
are your bags as requested, sir.”
The rear hatch opened, the bags are loaded. Seth the
footman jumps up beside Henri and they are off.
Lawrence takes off his jacket in the warm carriage, lays
his head against the padded leather. Sprawling his long
legs out in the spacious interior, he exclaims, “Spacey!”
“Keeps them thinking we’re not at the poor house.” Dust swirling inside, Edward fiddles with the window to
bring the glass up. “Glad you decided to agree.”
“To stand at the wedding. I was surprised you did.”
Lawrence, closes his eyes.
The carriage rolls along. Edward lies back. They both
relax and begin to sleep.
For Lawrence, closing his eyes inside any carriage has
become precarious. Any journey without Bella, any closing
of his eyes and the shadows come.
One is over there, just at the side. Seeing it, he jerks
quickly. The shadow has darted with rapid speed, flinging
itself into his head.
“It is your fear that brings them,” the American Shaman
had told him. ‘From Michoacán,’ the sign on the fairground
caravan. Underneath the sign with its images of trees: ‘Ask
the Shaman!’ and beneath that: ‘Healing potents!’
He had stepped through the rickety door, staring at this
peculiar face in a half-sized chair. The shrivelled hand had
beckoned him forward and he had obeyed. Whatever the
creature was, he had thrown him two sovereigns.
“Rid yourself of it and they will not come.” The wizened
face bent over him, “They are from yourself, you need not
But he cannot rid himself.
“Take pilgrimage, it is the only way.” The accented
words he can hear now. “Cleanse the evil,” the creature
said. “If you do not, I see your death. I see your ghost.”
“Take pilgrimage! Where!”
All now is a dream. His lying on the ground. His
crushed head gushing with blood.
Closing that small wooden door, some pain had gone
“Weatherby village, Laurie.”
“Weatherby?” Thatched cottages begin, then the larger
Edward taps Lawrence’s knee: “St. Brannoc’s.”
“Where you’ll be giving me the rings.”
Uneven blocks of granite of the tower stare at Lawrence.
“There’s history to that church,” Edward rambles. “Old
Saxon part they built around.”
The carriage has stopped. Some geese in front of them.
“New construction began just before the Black Death
reached Devon. The Death took a lot from here.” Edward
rolls down the window. “Mother had the clear windows
replaced this year. Blue sapphire and blood red she chose. It’s another world when the sun shines through.”
“Blood red,” Lawrence’s response is almost inaudible.
“The plague! They had to stop working on the church. Not enough workers to continue. Mother said she donated
the windows for the wedding.”
“You can do it,” the witch priest had said. “Go across
the water. To America lands.”
The coven had a library in Hartlepool. A book on the
Black Death, Lawrence had read. Images of spherical shape
said to be flying ships, in that book. Flying ships appearing
before the sickness. Many deaths the testimonies stated
came afterwards. Villages filled with death.
The coven having such a book in their library, they were
not fools. They were far from fools.
“Come out!” they scream in their ceremony. “Come
out!” And this thing inside him will become him.
Up his body it will come. Up through his stomach. Up
through his naked body so all could see. And he screams
when it does! Screams! Screams! Screams for the power
of it to stop.
They kneel then, prostrate their bodies before what he
“It is from your tree, your great tree,” his uncle has told
And now as the carriage races along he sees the shadow
From far, far away it rushes. Rushes towards him as his
The shadow is almost to him, almost catching him!
Lawrence screams now!
Screams for mercy!
Screams to stop the pain.
To stop them.
To stop it.
As into him it passes!
And moves beyond.
The horses have stopped.
Seth the footman holding the reins, Henri on the ground
is folding himself over the trembling horses, stroking them
with his face and hands and body.
“Why would they rear like that, Henri?” Edward has
jumped out of the carriage.
“Hush! Hush! Monsieur.”
For minutes they wait. At last the horses calm.
Now passing along the outer edge of the Estate property, Lawrence wakes from his fitful sleep.
“We’re home, Laurie. We’re home.” Edward grabs his
shoulder, shakes it.
Lawrence stares through the carriage window at the
high pine that towers over them. “Home!”
. . .
“I am not sure I can, your Ladyship,” McBride looks
beseechingly at the Squire.
“Constance my dear, I don’t think McBride can handle
the pie and the dog.” Constance, also now known as Lady Middleton, has arrived. Spectacularly!
Shapanzi, Lady Middleton’s China sleeve dog is being
presented. Unfortunately cooked kidney pie from the kitchen has
Yelping, as if Heaven itself is about to descend, the dog
has his front feet on Lady Middleton’s head. “If McBride
cannot take him, you take him Ronald,” his ladyship responds.
Struggling to get him out of her hair, her ladyship holds
the slight bundle of fir around the belly, raises it, and offers
him to the Squire seated next to her on the sofa.
The dog yelps and the Squire immediately declines the
“Horace, my dear, will you please take him? I will take
The sight of four small legs wriggling in the air, striving
most valiantly to get at the pie that McBride is holding
only feet away, is much too much for McBride. He backs
“Shapanzi! No, Shapanzi. No!”
McBride looks very grim.
The Squire, a peculiar expression matching his thoughts,
considers this not only the strangest animal he has ever
seen, but the noise it makes, a curious sound indeed, a
queer resonance between a rat squeak and a hen.
Shapanzi’s front legs back on Lady Middleton’s head
is disturbing the well-put togetherness of à la Conclerge
a style one might say slightly hiding the younger Gibson
effect – à la Conclerge
her ladyship having her hairdresser
take great care with this morning before travelling.
Fortunately before disaster completely takes it course,
Miss Hooper, Lady Middleton’s paid companion, rushes
across to intervene. Why she has waited for so long one
can only surmise, but Miss Hooper now acts.
“Shapanzi, you must not, you surely must not do that.” Miss Hooper plucks the barking ball from the top of her
ladyship’s hair. “No! It is not gentlemanly.”
Moved from the pie, pandemonium as it has never been
A ‘caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw’ utterance emerges from the
As they stare, not the least the Squire, at the tiny long-haired creature with its wrinkled short snout, croaking, as if
its last dying gasp of breath is about to befall, the anguished
croak begins not to cease, but to accelerate.
Miss Hooper running to the butler grabs the pie from
his outstretched hand. Now appearing to McBride as a
wandering spectre, Miss Hooper – not the most attractive
at the best of times, her prominent chin, most pointed nose,
flashing, glaring eyes – rises among them.
Calling out in contralto voice, “Oh dear one. Oh dear
one,” she might not have bothered. The small one has
managed by this time to reach across to the good lady’s
other hand, the hand holding the pie, and has grabbed a
The noise ceases.
Suddenly all is silent.
The Squire, her Ladyship, the butler, they all open-mouthed stare as the good lady, who, mortally afraid her
charge is about to expire from such a large chunk, proceeds
to rush to the door.
Pie in one hand, dog in the other, the large parlour door
is unopenable. Fortunately McBride, coming to his senses,
does rush across to assist.
The last thing they see, as Lady, Middleton’s companion
glides away, is the small thing’s flat, over-hanging-ears. Or
is it the most peculiar angle of the head, now raised, as the
remaining pie wafts itself above it.
“Get some sleep, Gladys,” Constance calls as the aura of her paid companion drifts away. “You know how your constitution is.”
“Will there be anything more, Sir, your Ladyship?” McBride manages to produce his best, long-suffering tone.
The Squire shoots him a long look of sympathy before
glancing at Constance who shakes her head. The Squire
waves his hand.
“Very good, sir,” the butler bows, and then he himself
“I know! I know!” utters Constance.
The Squire, with some intensity of passion, knows she
will accept a modified defeat when her eyes flutter at him
“Before you say it, I admit it is all my fault.”
The burnt sienna, the little dashes of flame that seem
to dart about his eyes, even in her childhood he had come
to love her fierceness. When just a boy and he had asked
her to marry him, when she said, ‘Yes!’ those flashes had
“I saw China,” her ladyship quips with her coquettish,
less than sad smile. “How can you refuse China?”
Edging closer on the sofa, her escort begins to stammer.
The years, the agony, all so long past, and now they’re back
together. “Do you think we should go to China!”
“They call them the ‘lion dogs,’” Constance smiles. “Do
you wish us to go to China?” Realizing she is free of being
chastised, she turns fully towards the man seated next to
her. “Now I have to accept I am at your mercy.”
He kisses her ear. “Indeed you are my dear. At my
“Nobs,” she strokes him gently on his arm as his tongue
begins to move from her ear across to her cheek. “It has
been some time.”
“Not for the lack of wanting.”
Even after fleeing the manor, fleeing from him, from
the dreadful arrogance that she felt he held, his dreadful
decision with the fire and the Tempest woman that she
knew in her heart was wrong, even then she considered him
only a lost boy, as her lost boy.
She had married a knight to rid herself of the memory
He had never expected her to disappear. She always
surprised him. He had never expected her to return after
Percy died. She is always an enigma to him.
The sound between a rat squeak and a hen distracts
their kissing. Through the outside open parlour door, the door that
leads into the solarium hall, along the outside glass of the
solarium hall windows, Miss Hooper and the unseen animal
make a fleeting pass.
Ronald gets up, walks to the drinks table. “Is that a
croak, a squeak, or a bird’s bark?” He roars with laughter.
Constance following at his arm picks up the special
orange-touched nectar that Ronald Major, Ronald’s father
had purchased a crate of so many years past. “I’m glad you
“I never thought you would return, but I always hoped.” He pours her a copious amount of the brandy into a snifter,
hands the balloon-glass to her.
“Sleeve dogs are an aristocratic species, you know,”
Constance takes a sip of the liqueur, breathing the orange
fumes into his nose. “Shapanzi is a sleeve prince from Peking. The
trader told me so himself.” She begins to fondle his hair. “The trader informed me that the Empress Dowager always
carried Shapanzi’s mother in her elongated sleeve.”
The Squire, a filled glass of whisky in his hand, moves
his face towards hers. “A warrior inside him then!” Gently
he touches her lips. “Do you think this sleeve will turn out
to be a Boxer and attack us?”
“I would say so.” Constance places her glass onto the
table allows him to reach his arm and his glass around her
most ample bosom. “They have a lion’s ferocious courage
“Do you think this little one will fit into your sleeve?” He uses a delightful scent of fern and wood. He has
always used the same scent since she has known him. She
has never asked him where he obtains it. “I don’t have any sleeves big enough!”
“No ‘Peking’ out when we make love, then.”
She laughs. “No!”
“Mmmmmmm!” He had only hoped, he had never expected her and she
had returned. As her head tilts upwards, his tongue slides
along her throat’s delicate skin.
Excitement creeping, Her Ladyship begins to feverously
stroke the back of his neck.
The bouquet she has, maddeningly quickening.
“How was the road!’
“Indeed, yes,” the Squire’s smothered voice responds. “Lots of potholes. Shall we go to my rooms!”
. . .
“Coming old man!”
Lawrence unmoving stalls by the carriage door. “Yes! Yes, of course!” Lawrence has become so paralysed he can no longer move. The shock of feeling him has immobilised his body.
‘Why would you have interest here?’ he asks.
But ‘The Other’ chooses not to answer.
From in his loins, upwards from his member into the
stomach, that is how he takes Lawrence’s body makes it
“Laurie?” Edward grabs him by the arm.
The thing retreats, listens as it does by his groin.
“I want to show you something, Laurie.” Edward laughs.
“Why I told Henri to drop us here. I wanted you to see what
has been done to the serpentine way.”
Standing at the bottom of the angular stone stairway
leading towards a well-trimmed growth of yew, an array of
classic fluted columns, Mandalmane towers above them.
“We have to take the maze.”
Lawrence murmurs fitfully, yet his feet make the steps
that take them up towards the yew.
Edward’s hand on his shoulder, they pass under the low
curved entrance and are inside the first grove.
‘He could do you here!’ the voice, a woman’s, speaks
her soft but vulgar words. ‘Don’t you know.’
He does know. But it wouldn’t be from her that he
would get the warning. It would be from him.
Edward removes his hand from Lawrence’s shoulder,
runs off, turns a corner into the greenery, disappears from
Deep inside the thicket, alone, Lawrence stares up at
the large stately home of Mandalmane. He cannot help
but be impressed. The pilaster mouldings, above the ionic
entablature built and maintained with exact care. A newer
addition of French-style volutes adorning the central face. The whole place reeks of money.
“It’s all right, Laurie” Edward’s voice wafts back to him. “I know you refused to come inside here. I ride Celandic
through it. It’s quite harmless. I want to show you something.”
‘He’s brought you to do you in! Don’t you know.’ Her
voice is louder now.
A waft of strange perfume slips into his nostrils. Ahead
of him is a curtain of bamboo where he has to turn.
Why would Edward want to kill him!
The silly club, ‘The Not-Quites,’ Lawrence had formed
in a boring, juvenile moment when someone inebriated had
given the name.
“Not-quite for the aristocracy. Not-quite for the rich.
Not-quite for the Empire and its pervading control,” he
had told his aunt in a moment of levity that they would
share together sometimes.
She had laughed.
Everyone had money at the varied colleges of Oxford,
except the few on scholarship, the poor who most of the rich
ignored. His uncle kept him supplied, but none of them in
the ‘The Not-Quites’ had the money that Edward Coulter
had at his disposal. He hadn’t seen Mandalmane then.
‘Edward-in-the-library,’ was their name for him. He
seemed to like the appellation, beaming as if amused. Those
who had had dealings with him said before the ‘The Not-Quites’
he spent his time taken by farming manuals in the library.
Turning by the bamboo, eight-foot hedgerows alongside
him, he would turn back if he could. If he thought he could
find the way back.
“Look for where the hedge divides, Laurie” Edward’s
voice comes from somewhere deep in the labyrinth. Down
the path then a corner is turned and then another and
another. The hedge divides. Edward-in-the-library stands
by an archway, an archway out.
‘The Not-Quites’ never hid their delight in Edward’s
purse. “What better qualification could a fellow have for ‘The Not-Quites,” they’d tell Edward when drinks became
sparse. “A flowing purse. A mother who loves a fellow. The
best qualifications!” And they would all laugh, including
Edward as the singing resumed.
Lawrence climbs the steps that lead out of the darkness,
Edward placing his arm once again upon his shoulder. “The
labyrinth was the quickest way to get here.”
A Zen bell clangs. Lawrence looks up.
“What do you think?” They have stopped on a small Japanese footbridge.“Koi! We opened up the spring this summer so it would flow this way.” Edward nods towards the ornamented pool sparkling
below. “My grandfather had it diverted to the back of the
house for the greenhouses. All it took to divert it back was
clever engineering. Now it comes here first.”
Lawrence peers at the golden scales shining through the
water. At the side of the pool, dragons spurt water from
capacious mouths onto the fish.
“I said to mother, ‘We need some Kin-Gin-Rin.’ She was
so perplexed.” Edward laughs. “‘Kin-Gin-Rin?’ She had no
idea what I was talking about.”
“‘Carp, Mother!”’ Edward leans across the wooden barricade of the bridge. “Look, I designed this. It’s a Kusari
doi, a rain chain.”
Across the tiers, tile drips onto carved pots, pots onto
tile. Water pots drip into more water pots.
The underbutler hurriedly walks towards them. “The
mistress is in the drawing room sir. She has asked me to
“Tell mother I am showing Mr. Morton the work done
on the garden, Hæmma. We will be with her shortly.”
“Yes sir.” The man quickly steps away.
Edward chatters: “I did want to have the place in order
for Annabell. There was no water here on the front. That
always seemed odd to me for an old painting in the library
shows a fountain in this part of the garden.”
As they walk though the pathways and mountainous
steps edged with flowers, Edward continues in his plaintive,
seeking-guidance fashion: “I told Annabell that everything in our apartment must
be new. All new furniture. Everything to be completely
redone. She must choose the style. Now it is all finished I think she is happy with it. I hope
“I told Mother that Annabell must feel she is part of
the house. What better way than to have her see to the
They have reached the large open front door. Archibald,
the head butler, is waiting.
“Annabell and I, we have a cottage on the estate. She
has redone the inside. I have to say her appraisal of what
it needed is most pleasing.” Edward leading him into the drawing room, Edward’s
mother has her eyes closed. Her mouth is slightly open. Edward reaches down, kisses her cheek.
“Edward.” The elderly woman grabs her son’s hand.
“Laurie’s here, Mama.”
Glancing at Lawrence who appears to stand somewhat
uncomfortably, she asks, “I hope you had a journey that
was tolerable, Mr. Morton.”
“I did enjoy the ride in your Brougham, Mrs. Coulter. Very comfortable!” Lawrence extends his hand, which she
“Ah! So you did.” The lady motions for him to take a
“Bitter Campari, Laurie?” Edward walks across to the
decanters. “All the ‘The Not-Quites’ drink at least one ‘Corpse Reviver’ a day. Club rules!”
“Yes, dear.” Enid stares at Lawrence now seated across
from her. “You have told me. Lime and orange. I’m in
the mood for something fruity. A touch of soda.”
The grey-haired lady studying him makes Lawrence at
least appear jolly. Enid Coulter is not young. Past forty
she must have been when Edward was born. Edward did
have a sister, Nicola. He was little more than a year and a
half old when she died. There are no other children.
“Mother says Annabell and I are to have one of the new horseless vehicles for a wedding gift, Laurie.” Edward
hands his mother the lime and orange.
“Light locomotive, Edward.”
“Light locomotive, Mother.”
Edward hands Lawrence the Aragon drink. “With the
push in Parliament to rescind the twelve mile-an-hour limit,
I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more on the road. Think how
quick it will be to get to bathing on the beach. London,
Wales, the north, Scotland. We can go climbing at Snowdon
and be back the same day if we pushed it. I wonder how
long it would take to get to Ben Nevis.”
Edward’s mother smiles teasingly at Lawrence. “You
must be waiting for them to change the law, Mr. Morton. I
understand you often travel with your uncle to his business
in the north. Hartlepool. Is that correct?”
Lawrence gets up, walks towards the window. He might
have mentioned Hartlepool to Edward, or while playing
cards with her, but he cannot remember it.
Any mention of Hartlepool makes him uncomfortable.
“They say the town has an American air about it,” Enid
“An American air, Mrs. Coulter?” Lawrence flushes.
Enid Coulter advances cautiously. The detective she
had employed said he couldn’t point to anything, but his
instincts told him there was more to Angulse Sherod than
his business of importing and exporting. “I have a friend
from Exeter who tells me you like to wager only on horses
imported from America,” her voice rises slightly. “I know
your fondness of wager, Mr. Morton.”
Edward frowns at his mother. “Laurie enjoys wagering
for sport, Mother. I myself like an occasional gamble at
“Of course, dear.” Enid turns innocently to Edward. “I
expect we will be playing cards later.”
Lawrence remains at the window. Manicured flowerbeds
far into the distance, a sea throbbing with colour, blues,
reds, yellows. Below, two gardeners work on a climbing
hedge. He returns his gaze towards them. What else does
“Your uncle helping,” Edward’s mother is enjoying this,
“I am sure your wagering is profitable. You assist in your
uncle’s business in Hartlepool, do you not, Mr. Morton. He
is a lucky to have such a young man to work for him.”
Lawrence turns again towards the view. On the far side
of the coloured sea there is extensive wood growth. Beyond
that a moor takes hold. He will ride again to that moor
while he is here.
“I do assist at times. My uncle appreciates it. The
timber on your estate far outstrips my uncle’s wealth, Mrs.
Coulter.” Lawrence turns, a force rising inside gazing at
Enid catches the eyes. Something is there, mocking her.
Some hardness. She has not seen it before. Indeed there is
some strangeness about the boy and for a moment she has
a tinge of fear.
She removes her gaze as Lawrence Morton turns himself
back towards the view.
Edward gets up, walks to the window, stares also at
the distant oaks. “Did I tell you I bumped into Edgerton
when I was in Exeter last week. Good man, Edgerton. Passing through on the way to Cowes, he said. Yachting. Asked about you Laurie. Said he hadn’t seen you recently. Wondered why you hadn’t replied to his invitation he sent.”
Lawrence can feel the power recede. “Edgerton. One of
the best of my ‘Not-Quites.’ Besides you, old pal.” He uses
the word ‘Pal’ with its American tone, quite deliberately.
Now inside the colossal bedroom, his body stretched
fully taut on the bed, at the side of his eyes, the shadow. Soon it will dash across his vision.
“A creation made of you. Of your fear of them,” the old
man in his fairground caravan had said.
He had asked what he should do.
“To America? As far as Spirit takes you.”
He will get money from ‘Bexi.’ Bella and him will then
disappear, go somewhere far.
Lawrence drifts into a restive slumber.
The dreams come. A train, in a dining carriage where
he knows both entrances are locked. His uncle is here. They
stand around him. He knows he is naked.
Then all he sees is the young woman. Brought him to
her grime-filled room, she slips off her dress.
Hands reach to his face, fingers touching, playing.
These are not the hands of the woman.
The naked one makes her dance as she circles him.
She is pulling him to her by his penis.
“Fill me! Fill me, Great One!”
He is on the floor and she leans on top of him.
His face smothers itself into her breast.
Gasping at his hardness, she covers him.
Then she cries out but he holds her mouth, holds it
tight, for the dagger is in her.
Bathed in sweat, he begins to waken.
“Let me go for God’s sake,” he screams to the shadow. “Let me go!”
The woman and he dance at some night place and he
feels the power forcing its way through him.
“It is not your time, yet! Fill me! Fill me, lad,” his
uncle places his mouth on top of him.
Not receiving an answer to the knock on the bedroom
apartment, the door knob turns. A man’s voice breaks
through to him.
“I will come back if you wish, sir. I hope we have placed
your items satisfactorily.”
Lawrence moves his eyes towards the robing room door
where the butler points.
Grasping dancing minuettes carved on the bedpost, he
pulls himself from the bed.
“Would you like me to bring you a hot drink, sir?”
Standing against the towering bedroom window, his hand
caresses nervously white cambric. “Edward and I will be
riding shortly. I will take a bath when we return.”
“Yes, sir. Is there anything more, sir?”
Nothing is spoken.
“Very good, sir.”
The butler turns to leave.
Lawrence reaches inside his waistcoat pocket, holds up
his cigarette case. “A supply of American Old Gold.”
“Yes, sir. I am not sure we have them here, sir. We
will send someone to Biddiford.”
“If they don’t have them at Biddiford, then a quality
Gainsborough will do. Fifties!”
“Yes sir. I will give the man your instructions.”
“And have some Kalydor brought up. My hands chaff
“It will be here for your bath, sir. Anything more, sir?”
Lawrence pulls aside the lace cambric that hides the
view from the window. As the butler quietly closes the
door, he picks a cigarette from the case he still holds. His
lighter out, the cigarette lit, he takes a long draw.
The killing had been to settle his loyalty. So that he
would never speak against them. They said he would not know her.
The mind floats to when he was very young. His head
held inside water.
The ceremony is how they spoke of it.
When his mind had been pulled from its death, the eyes
that looked from him were not his.
A little animal had come out, a little mouse speaking. The mouse had squeaked and squeaked for a hole in the
wall where it could run.
They had laughed at that. “Here, little mousy,” they
had cried. “Here is where it goes.”
One hand behind its back, hobbled on its knees, the
body had been forced by the coven priest towards the bound
child on the crucifix.
Guided, the dagger had plunged into the heart of the
Lawrence turns away from the window, draws deeply
upon the cigarette.