Green _and _Pleasant_Land
15th August, 2005. 10:07 pm. Panda Duncan's diary; transcripts of Raoul Gibenchy's notes(smokingboot)
...So the boys got to go and explore the country looking for strange cults and secret passages and old forts, and I end up stuck here, with Raoul Gibenchy's notes! Thankfully, between Raoul and Lady Margaret, I'm in interesting if incomprehensible company. Thank heavens Lady M's Latin is a lot more sound than mine! It is taking me forever to get anything translated, and why Clare stayed behind I don't know. All she does is drink tea and stare vacantly into the distance, thinking of Charles or Wagner or something. I know she's trying to be helpful, but really, all she does is butter crumpets, and badly too. Mine is positively dripping. No-one could eat it in this state!
Now, about Raoul, whom I am rather inclined to like. So far, all we know is that he was a moor who came from Granada and converted to Christianity. Next it's all this black man of the covens stuff, children disapearing, an evil old man, a wizard and next, boom! Witchhunters come and blow musketballs straight through him, and here we are with rooms full of signs on the walls and floors, pendants, strange ritual knives and these notes...oh, and that horrid vampire jellyfish.
And between Latin, which I sort of know, and arabic, which I don't know at all,and then the bizarre way his writing gets erratic when he's upset, and the sheer age and damage of the paper, I'm having a rough time of it with these notes. Still, here's what we've managed so far.( Notes of Raoul GibenchyCollapse )
5th August, 2005. 6:37 pm. Excerpt from Panda Duncan's Diary(smokingboot)
...those signs, you see, I am sure it kept that thing inside the tower; Oh dear, oh dear, we let it out! I know we let it out!
I must translate that book, oh and I must take some of this stone, this burnt stone from the tower and carve into it, something around Raoul Gibenchy's skull, I will somehow bring it to life. Raoul, I do think you knew; poor foreign man, no-one liked you and they said you took children, they called you the Black Man of the Covens, and one night they killed you, when all you did was protect them from it.
How did it get here?
The darkness never pressed like this before, against the windows and under the doors. I daren't tell the boys, so cross for being such a sissy and I let them down really badly back at the hide, but I'm afraid of the dark, I'm so afraid, but I will carve all those signs, oh, I want to sculpt more, I keep thinking, you know, I could go find that Mr Huntingdon and I could give him that stupid angel he liked so much and ask him for help. But that's silly and it would make William cross, and anyway, they shot it and it screamed.
They don't want to believe it's the vampire, but it is. It is. And when I'm not in the dark, I am seeing Edwin's sketch of the man being chased through the wood towards the keep, and the scribbled blob in the corner of the trees, didn't have a shape, didn't make sense.
Now I know, you see, how good an artist he is.
It's a perfect likeness.
4th August, 2005. 5:42 pm. More of Saturday and Sunday(larians)
Before recounting Sunday I must report errors in what I have just written. Best to come straight out with it when one cocks up, trying to hide your mistakes is a terribly French attribute. Besides, after the night we have just had I will chide myself no more on such an error, and I think that when I have finished recounting my tale you will agree with me diary that such a lapse is forgivable under the circumstances.
You see diary we actually discovered the tower at first on the Friday night, for dinner wasn't until 21:00 and we had to escape the poets. So on the Saturday we took some tools and dug out the door in its entirety to discover a secret passage! Well this was the stuff of Boy's Own and before you know it we had all rushed inside to investigate. Well all of us except poor Edwin who seems to have problems with enclosed spaces, no doubt picked up from the trenches. It did come across as a bit wet, but given the background we all let it pass.
Anyway the important details are that we found several strange artefacts, including a great five pointed symbol laid into the floor. More disturbing was a horrible gutting knife, serrated and curved with some sort of raghead writing on it, and a moldy book written in some very bastardised latin which I couldn't make head nor tale of, but Panda managed to translate as being some sort of diary of a man who was seeking knowledge. Finally there was a piece of stone, carved in the same manner as the floor symbol, nothing much to look at under normal consideration but given the circumstancing it treated with all due respect!
Time caught up with us and we were forced to return to the house to prepare for the big dinner and Panda's exhibition.
Slept terribly, felt worse after waking up. Had some sort of nightmare but to be honest the details allude me. After some discussion with Charles and Edwin we agreed that the most likely culprit for our collectively poor conditions was the cheese and port with which we rounded the previous night off. Still it seemed to inspire Edwin, for he produced a truly unsettling picture as a result of this stimulation. Probably best to ensure that he isn't stimulated too often, though even as I write this I realise that after tonight such wishes are but an exercise in futility.
Hearty breakfasts restored out spirits and dampened if not entirely disposed of our hangovers and once we had been joined by Panda we prepared to retire to the library to examine our finds from the night before. We halted in our tracks by the realisation that Claire hadn't joined us. With growing horror we realised that she had taken flight first thing, back to her parents house in order to escape the terrible ordeal that now faced us.
At that very moment diary, before any of us could take another step, Aunty M appeared to 'remind' us that we would be leaving for church in 10 minutes. Now as you konw diary, I am a god fearing man and believe you me I was afraid at that moment. The local Vicar, Father A. is a preacher of the old school, full of vigour and volume, with an organist as zealous as him and a set of bills cast to ring loud and true to be heard for many miles around.
In short, God was about to punish us most fearfully for our gluttony the night before and believe you me diary, punished we were.
That afternoon, after we had all taken a well needed snooze (and once Claire had returned from the private service held most sedately in the family chapel) we managed to get to the library to examine our hoard.
To be brief diary, it was quite dull and involved a lot of books which Panda and Claire managed to find as though by instinct, where as Edwin and I were as enept as a Frenchman on a cricket pitch. Femine intuition I suppose. Anyway for the sake of brevity I will merely note the results of our finds.
The tower was owned by a man named Raul Givenchy, who was killed by a witch hunter during the time of Cromwell.
The stone carving was made of a soap stone only found in North America, yet the destruction of the tower occured before America had been discoverd! Which only goes to show that either the ragheads travelled further than previously thought or the author of the book didn't know what he was talking about.
We couldn't work out what the writing on the knife was, but the blade almost certainly came from Damascus!
I think that there was some other stuff as well, but as ever diary my old foibles and failings came to the fore and I didn't pay enough attention.
Anyway the upshot was that we decided to go and explore the tower some more and to arrange for some workmen to clear the upper floor to see if anything else had arrived.
It was this during this latest visit to the tower that we realised that things were not as innocent as we might have thought, for when we went down into the bowels of the earth once more we discovered that someone else had been exploring.
In the centre of the floor symbol were a pile of dead rats, obviously killed in some brutally violent manner. Understandably the ladies were shocked and most upset, so Edwin gallantly accompanied them outside while Charles and I cleared up. Upon a quick examination it was quite clear that the unfortunate rodents had been killed elsewhere for there was not a drop of blood to be seen.
Once back outside I reassured Panda that there was little to worry about and that the culprit was most likely some Bolshevik poacher trying to put the wind up his betters. Edwin attempted to help with the story by stating that ferrets drink blood, which is patently ridiculous and he should obviously stick to painting rather than stories, but fortunately Panda knew no difference and took comfort from the explanations. I resolved to have a couple of the estates game keepers to keep watch that night, and to let any cad or bounder that they catch have both barrels. I will not have a campaign of class hatred waged against Aunty M by any oik, even one who strangles rats.
Sunday night was a little subdued due to general tiredness and a little upset with regards to the rats. I paid a couple of game keepers to keep an eye on the tower and we all retired to bed.
3rd August, 2005. 7:38 pm.(larians)
Good evening diary, although I suppose that it is more accurate to say good morning for we are well past the witching hour now.
I can’t sleep tonight, for reasons that I will outline in good time, and so as I sit here in the library with my companions waiting for dawn’s golden light I turn to you in order to while away the hours and give my mind some respite from tonight’s events.
Charles is sat facing the window, puffing negligently upon his cigar, remembering occasionally to take a snifter of his brandy while all the time keeping his eyes upon the window and his hand caressing his rifle, balanced gentle on the back of a chair and implacably staring at the same window as its master.
But I get ahead of myself for there are three days to recount before catching up with myself, so I will do as all good writers must and begin at the beginning….
Which was in Betsy on a lovely Friday afternoon making my way to Aunty M’s for one of her social soirees hosted on her considerable Sussex Estate. Such gatherings are a very hit and miss affair not least due to Auntie’s fascination with all things ‘spiritual’ and ‘occult’ which would be fine were it not for the terrible people that come with such subject matters. Charlatans and frauds every last one of them if you ask me and while some are pretty harmless others seem to have a most material grasp of taxing Auntie’s generosity when ever possible. I don’t just mean coming to her parties in order to consume as much free food and drink as possible, god knows there enough so called society peers who are expert at that, no it is their all too often successful attempts to wheedle grants and funds from Auntie that really gets my goat.
Still the sky was clear and the clouds light, and with the wind rushing past me as I made the journey without fear of being held up by any slow moving traffic my mood could not help but be lightened.
Naturally I timed my arrival to coincide with Pimms at Four, Auntie does so enjoy the spectacle and I am sure that as I approached over the lake and performed my signature barrel roll over the house that she will have smiled happily even as her guests oohd and ahhd. Certainly it was well received for there was quite a crowd that came out to meet me as I landed Betsy near the barn at the normal place.
Claire was there, of course, I swear that she was upon my arm before I had got it off the controls, sometimes I believe that my parents have offered a bounty upon my hand in marriage with Claire determined to collect! Still diary, I have great reason to feel that this is the last time that I must complain about this particular matter, for later that night I had some flowers delivered to Claire in Charles’ name, after all one look at him and I could see that he was quite smitten with the girl, and she turned her attentions upon him like a tigress upon a gazelle. And may I say never have such a couple looked so happy with the arrangement.
Aunty was good enough to introduce me to a new filly, a London lass by the name of Panda Duncan and I may I state for the record diary that she is most definitely totty. She has plenty of pluck to, she likes to go fast and absolutely adored being taken for a ride in Betsy on the Sunday night, but again I get ahead of myself. Miss Duncan is a sculptor of some rare talent (or so I am told being some what ignorant of much crafted after De Vinci ) and it turned out that she was giving an exhibition of her work on the Saturday night. I must say diary that I approve of this example of Auntie’s patronage a great deal more than her normal charity cases.
Anyway the Friday night was quite pleasant, despite the company. As it turned out the assorted collection of witches, wizards, alchemists, mages, Catholics and other practioners of the finger waggling rubbish were not actually as bad as I was expecting, which is of course to say that they weren’t the worst of the company that was available. No diary, that award went to a new cabal of poets that Auntie appears to have adopted, each and every blasted damn one of them convinced that they are Byron reborn, white pasty faces, languid of disposition and pretending to be smoking opium and drinking absinthe. Yet despite such difficulties they were always first to the table when the gong announced dinner! At least the god (s?) botherers have the excuse of being eccentric to the point of being a bit peculiar, these so called poets (and I assure you diary we heard no poetry all weekend) are simply scoundrels and wastrels. If I had my way I would throw them all in the army for a couple of years, that would give them something to be miserable about and may even inspire them to open their mouths to offer something insightful rather than to simply stuff it full of food as seems to be their want.
However I did not want for affable company for in addition to the delectable Panda there was also the afore mentioned Charles, a man who would seem to be much more at hoping stalking some great beast in wilds of Canda than attending a social soiree, but I couldn’t help but take an immediate liking to him when he volunteered that a good whipping would help the poets find their creativity.
The other new arrival was a fellow called Edwin. To be honest diary he struck me as being a bit wet at first, all fidgety with an apparent habit of agreeing with whatever the last speaker was saying. Worse still he announced himself as a painter and I was well on the way to lumping him in with the poets when I found out that he served on the line back in war. Well I have time for any man that has done his duty and to be fair to Edwin events since have proven that he is a good chap, still very nervous mind you but he can and does actually paint and believe you me diary, an artist that produces art is a rarity around here!
Friday night lasted well in to the night and it was a very pleasant affair, leaving a number of us with quite sore heads on the Saturday morning.
At some point on the Friday night Charlie boy told us about a ruined tower that was situated on the edge of my Auntie’s estate and the story associated with it about it being haunted or some such malarkey.
Well this was too good a thing to be missed and with our heads still a little delicate from the night before, we all agreed that we would leave the planned shoot after an hour or so and go and have an explore of the tower.
To be fair diary, there really isn’t much of a tower there, just a ruin little more than 10foot high fallen into such a state of disrepair that it is little more than a pile of rocks. Exploring it took all of about 10 minutes, but the peace of the place and the fresh air was great for clearing my head. Seeing Panda scamper around all enthusiastically was very easy on the eye as well, I must confess.
As I sat watching my companions I noticed that a section of the brick works, just above the ground, was most definitely of a different shade of colour and as my eye traced the bricks outline I realised that it could conceivably be a door. I pointed this out to the others and before long we had levered a couple of bricks free and exposed the top part of an obvious passage. Unfortunately most of the entrance was covered by earth that had piled up over the years so we resoled to return on the morrow with the proper tools for the job.
Saturday evening was the big exhibition, so we returned to our rooms, spruced up properly and then made our way to the folly which provided the backdrop to Panda’s display.
And what a display it was, sculptures of all shapes and sizes, from the old family fido as a life sized model, to great big edifices that were stars, apparently. I quite liked some of the stuff but must confess parts of it were beyond me. Still it all went down very well and Panda was the centre of a barrage of compliments.
Of course there is always one oath to spoil a good show and Saturday’s oath was Huntingdon, High Priest of the Morning glories or some such band of ‘believers’. Of course he didn’t state such a thing when he began to bully Panda, oh know the lying cad said that he was going to buy the Angel sculpture for his temple, implying that he was a good pious man looking to improve a church. Church my arse diary, I am pretty sure that man isn’t even a Christian, not even Methodist!
Anyway Panda seemed a little flustered and intimidated, and promised under some duress that if her hostess (who had first refusal) didn’t want it then she would sell it to Huntingdon. Well diary, worse than a Methodist is a bully and I wasn’t having any of this, so I had a quick word with Aunty and before five minutes had past I was happy to announce the first couple of sales of the evening, the Angel purchased by Aunty and my purchasing a second sculpture – a leopard with an old woman’s head – as a gift for Aunty.
Huntingdon was furious, best money I have spent in quite some time I assure you. Panda of course was wonderfully happy as others began to follow my lead and much of her work was sold within the hour. Champagne did flow that night I assure you diary.
6th July, 2005. 11:40 pm. Whos Who entry 1922(lauremer)
Back A Page
De Coursey, Edwin; Painter, b 15 September 1894; s of late James De Coursey and Mary De Coursey; Educ: Eton Windsor; Kings College Cambridge; military career 1915-1918 awarded DSO 1916 for part in battle of Messines Ridge; growing reputation as a painting including “A Flower between Darkness” and “A little death” both presently on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery, Clubs: Farandon Gentleman’s Club,