The Cornish Curse: Chapter 3

Sir John and Marie stood shivering on the moor a quarter of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet north east of the Old Well and looked due south.

“Nothing,” said Sir John. “There’s nothing for miles.”

“Well, that’s the countryside, mon cher,” said Marie with a wry smile. “It’s not so easy to find things here.”

“We should have asked him how loud it was, or if it moved,” said Sir John. “Then maybe we could have estimated the distance.”

“I think we asked him enough,” said Marie. “He was quite cross-eyed at the end.”

“I’m not sure that was the questions,” said Sir John. “Well, let’s look at the map. I’ve marked the killings. This thing must sleep somewhere. Maybe we can draw a line south from here and see if there’s a pattern.”

He took the map out and tried to lay it on the ground, but the wind kept catching it. After a minute of fighting with the map he crumpled it up and put it back in his pocket.

“Perhaps we can do that later,” he said. “I hate to ask, Marie, is there some magical thing we, well you, can do? If we believe this is a magical creature, of course.”

“Which you don’t?” said Marie.

“Not entirely,” said Sir John. “The only spirits I’ve seen so far are the one’s in Old Jim’s glass.”

“Maybe I can try and look for a big dog,” said Marie. “I can use a pendulum.”

Sir John shrugged and Marie took off her necklace. She held it in her fingers and let it dangle.

Trouver,” said Maire and instantly the pendulum shot horizontal north toward the summit.

“My word!” said Sir John. “Good show!”

Just then a large dog appeared over the summit. It was nearly as tall as Marie and at the sight of them it bounded forward barking.

“Run!” shouted Sir John.

Marie just waved her hand and said, “calmer.” Instantly the dog sat down and Sir John stayed where he was.

“Was that for me or the dog,” asked Sir John.

“The dog,” said Marie, “mostly.”

du-bois-dog“Good Show”

A tall well-built and immaculately dressed man mounted the crest of the hill.

“Hoy, Arthur,” called the man. “Here, boy.”

The dog ran back to the man wagging his tail and the pair walked down to Sir John and Marie.

“Good morrow, good sir, good lady” said the man as he approached. “Please let me introduce myself, I am Lord Vulpine du Bois and this is my, rather enthusiastic Irish Wolfhound, Arthur. I hope he didn’t startle you.”

“Not at all,” said Sir John. “I’m Sir John Jennings, and this is my wife, Marie.”

“Oh, I’ve heard all about you two,” said Lord du Bois, “I get all the gossip. You’re staying with the Mallums, yes? Looking for the mystery beast.”

“For a moment we rather thought we found him,” said Sir John, looking at the dog. Lord du Bois roared with laughter.

“Oh, that’s a good one,” he said. “Old Arthur here is daft as a brush. The only danger is he’d lick you to death.”

As they talked the dog nudged his nose into Marie’s hand and made a whining noise. She stroked his head and he fell onto his back, sticking his legs into the air.

“Why don’t you come for tea one day?” said Lord du Bois. “I’ve not been long here myself, and I could use some news from the outside word. This little village is very pleasant but a little isolated.”

“We’d be delighted to,” said Marie. “Where do you live.”

“See that frightful old pile,” said du Bois, pointing to a mansion on the eastern edge of the village. “That’s Bennet House. Come see me anytime.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 4

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 2

“I were coming over the moor under the moonlight when I heard this unearthly sound…” started Old Jim, looking dramatically into middle distance.  He was a gentleman of advancing years with wild grey hair and bushy eyebrows. The wrinkled thick skin on his face came from a lifetime of work outdoors and the glassy look in his eyes from an afternoon spent drinking whisky.

“I see,” said Sir John. “Perhaps we can get a bit more specific.”

He produced a map of the area and laid it on the table of the public house, between Old Jim and himself and Marie.

“Could you indicate where you were exactly?” asked Sir John.

“I couldn’t be right sure,” said Jim. “It were dark and I had been … visiting friends.”

“Maybe you recall passing some landmark, or seeing one ahead?” asked Sir John.

Old Jim though for a minute.

“Reckon I’d just passed Devil’s Peak,” said Old Jim

“On the right? Left?” asked Sir John.

“On … the right I imagine,” said Old Jim. “I were heading back to the village.”

“So you were around here,” said Sir John, looking at the map. “There looks to be a well here, was that in front or behind of you.”

“That would be the Old Well, it were … in front,” said Jim, eyes screwed tight in remembrance.

“Was it far?” asked Sir John.

“Mebbe … fifty feet?” said Old Jim.

“So, that puts you quarter of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet north-east of the Old Well.”

“Yes,” said Old Jim, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, under the moonlight.”

“Where was the moon?” asked Marie.

“In the sky?” said Old Jim, confused.

“Where in the sky I mean?” asked Marie.

“It were … over the village, I suppose,” said Old Jim.

“So south-west?” said Sir John. He got out an almanac. “And this was a week ago, yes, so it must have been pretty full?”

“Yes,” said Old Jim, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, lit by the nearly full moon from the south-west when…”

cc-ch-2“Unearthly Sound”

“You heard a sound, yes, could you describe it?” said SIr John.

“It were unlike nothing I heard before. It went ‘oow-ooo’,” said Old Jim, with some theatre.

Sir John produced a small set of panpipes from his bag.

“Could you do that again please?” he asked. Old Jim repeated the sound and Sir John blew in the pipes.

“A little higher, mon cher,” said Marie, and SIr John blew again. Marie nodded at the note produced.

“F sharp,” said Sir John. “Sorry Jim, would you mind doing that again?”

Looking sheepish, Old Jim made the sound again. Sir John tried a couple of notes until Marie nodded and wrote them down.

“So thats two notes, a quaver of F sharp and a dotted minim of A sharp,” said Sir John. He played them again.

“Which direction did it come from?” asked Marie.

Old Jim looked exasperated. He pointed to the left of him.

“Due south.” said Sir John, making notes. He showed Old Jim the paper. “Is this correct?”

Old Jim pulled himself up and looked into middle distance again.

“Yes,” he said, “I were walking over the moor a quart’ of a mile south of Devil’s Peak and fifty feet nor’east of the Old Well, lit by the nearly full moon from the south west when I heard a quaver of F sharp with a dotted minim of A sharp coming from the due south.”

“Thank you” said Marie, smiling. “‘Ave we missed anything?”

Old Jim leaned in at the pair, looking a little crestfallen.

“It were … unearthly,” he said.

“How interesting,” said Sir John.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 3

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 1

The room was bright and decorated pleasantly, if a little old fashioned. Four girls and an older couple sat in the room, evidently the parents by virtue of appearance. The eldest was staring out of the window in a listless manner. Next to her, the second eldest girl was reading a book on the Temperance movement. Her sister sat next to her playing solitaire, and the final, youngest sat at a piano playing a light air. The father read a newspaper and the mother knitted. Apart from the fidgeting of the elder girl, the room seemed in calm repose.

card-game“Sisters, Please!”

Suddenly the eldest gasped, “They’re coming!” There was a sound of horse and cart and the man stood up and went to the door.

“Do you have to make such a fuss, Patience?” said the girl with the book.

“Just because you’d rather die of boredom, Joy,” pouted the eldest, “doesn’t mean we all should.”

“Sisters, please,” said the girl at the piano, “let’s not fight when we have guests.”

“Well said, Prudence,” said the girl with the cards as the other two sisters glared at each other.

The father came back in the room and everyone stood up.

“May I present, Sir John and, er, Mrs Jennings,” he said beaming. “Sir Jennings, Mrs Jennings, may I present Mrs Mallum.”

“Delighted,” said Sir John and Mrs Mallum made a small curtsey.

“My eldest, Patience,” continued Mr Mallum. Patience made a dramatic curtsey and then giggled.

“My daughter, Joy,” said Mr Mallum, and Joy nodded briefly.

“And the youngest two, Constance and Prudence,” finished Mr Mallum. The two girls smiled warmly.

“Delighted to meet you all,” said Sir John.

“So you’re going to save us from the dreaded ghost hound?” said Patience.

“Are you really French?” said Prudence to Marie.

“Girls, please!” said Mrs Mallum, “show some decorum. I am sorry Sir Jennings, Mrs Jennings, we get so few visitors, Especially … these days.”

“Please, think nothing of it,” said Sir John.

“And yes, I am French,” said Marie smiling, drawing gasps from three of the girls.

“Well, girls, perhaps you could entertain yourselves elsewhere, so I may talk with our guests,” said Mr Mallum. After some complaining from Patience, the quartet left.

“So, to business then,” said Sir John. “First, perhaps you can tell why you are so certain this is a supernatural phenomenon?”

“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Mr Mallum, graver now that the children had left, “and I have seen every form of wildlife that lives here. I’ve seen foxes and even the odd rabid dog in the countryside. But I’ve never seen anything make paw prints like that or cause such damage to livestock. I’m not alone in that assessment either, Sir John. I hear the gossip in the local village and the verdict is the same. Something ungodly is abroad.”

“You say ungodly,” started Sir John. “What makes you say that?”

“When a fox takes a chicken, he does so for food,” said Mr Mallum. “What this beast has done, it has done for sport. No creature leaves his prey behind, or leaves it rent apart, unconsumed.”

He looked at Marie then.

“I’m sorry, madam, if…” he started.

“Please don’t apologise,” said Marie. “We need the facts and we have seen … unpleasant things too.”

“Is there a witness we could perhaps talk to?” said Sir John. “Someone that has seen the beast?”

“Seen it, no,” said Mr Mallum. “But I can introduce to one that has heard it.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 2

The Cornish Curse: Prologue

Editor’s note: herewith and forsooth, as previously promised, the Cornish Curse in all its gory glory.

Dear Sir John,

I apologise for this unsolicited communication, but I am at my wit’s end. I hope you can forgive me and indeed find it in your heart to assist me in my most dire hour of need. I feel that only a gentlemen of your stature and talents can rescue me and my family from the pit of horror we find ourselves entangled in.

But I get ahead of myself; please, let me explain. My family is solvent with a modest sum in the bank and land sufficient to sustain us. My wife and I live on our estate with our four daughters, who are of, or are approaching, majority. Our land is in the fair county of Cornwall, so I daresay our way of life would seem old fashioned and rustic to you, but we are happy in our ways. Or at least, we have been until recently.

pawprint-copy“Giant Dogs”

You see, Sir John, a most terrible curse has descended upon my family. A fact so terrible I barely dare admit it, but I suspect I must to coax you to our aid. For it seems some manner of creature, some foul animal, some hound of hell, has taken residence on our farmlands. There are tales and rumours in the local village, such that none will venture to our house anymore. Tales of giant dogs, unearthly howls and the appalling scent of fantastic creatures. There have been killings, too; chickens at first, then sheep, now cattle. The farmhands have abandoned us for fear they are next. And I can do little to reassure them they are not.

All of this has had a devastating affect on our harvest, and our income this year has plummeted. But this is not my greatest fear. My four daughters are of marrying age. I want nothing more for them than to find suitable husbands, that they may wed and enjoy the many joys of matrimony, including the comfort and security that such a situation would supply for them. But, alas, with things as they are I feel they may be left unmatched. As our income plummets, the very land is seen as worthless and the family itself is seen as tainted and jinxed. For my own life, I care not one jot. I am an old man who has had his time. But the happiness of my daughters, and the contentment of my wife, is all that concerns me. I cannot sleep with fear for the future, for how they will live.

Sir John, I implore you to come to my estate and investigate this mysterious beast. I know you are an expert in the uncanny, and I can assure you, sir, from the reports I have seen and the animals slain, that the uncanny has come to rest in our house. I would be pleased to offer you a princely sum to come and send it back to its home.

I have enclosed our address and a photograph I had taken of a cast of the creature’s paw print. It will surprise you, sir, to learn that this was the size of man’s hand. Please send your response by telegram, and if, God willing, it is in the affirmative I will make space in our house for you to stay whilst you investigate this most disturbing and ungodly beast.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Mallum, Esq.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 1

The Cornish Curse: Epilogue

Sir John and Marie sat in the front room of their home in London with Phlebotomous Bosch. Marie was crocheting, Phlebotomous was tinkering with some mechanical device and Sir John was reading The Times when Miss Henderson came in. The room was quiet apart from the rhythmic snoring of Morag, lying by the fire.

“The afternoon post has arrived,” Miss Henderson announced and handed Sir John a letter. He took it and opened it.

“Ah, it’s from the Mallums!” he said. “They send their greetings to everyone, including you Miss Henderson, and thank us again for our help.”

“That’s generous of them,” said Miss Henderson.

“Well, we only uncovered their, er, problem,” said Sir John. “They go on to especially thank Morag for giving them the details of the tincture which reduces the symptoms of their daughters’ condition. Apparently they are now able to function normally during a full moon without, well, transforming.”

Morag lifter her head up from where she had been dozing by the fire.

“Ach, it’s nothing,” she said, “just a case of balancing the silver out with some extra gold.”

“Yes,” said Sir John, ”they mention how pleased they are that their farm labourers have returned to work for them as the gold is quite expensive. Apparently, the girls all asked to be remembered to Phlebotomous and reiterated their sorrow and embarrassment at the final night.”

Phlebotomous looked a little awkward.

“It was quite a scare,” said the vampire. “It’s made me think about possible future romantic attachments. I think it wise if I keep to the bachelor life. However attractive I may be to these girls, I think it’s for the best all round.”

Miss Henderson unfortunately had a small coughing fit at that point, which she covered with a handkerchief. Marie stared quite determinedly at her crochet as her shoulders gave a small shake.

“Sounds very sensible Mr Bosch,” said Sir John. “They also say that they fear news of the incident may have spread. Apparently Marsh left their employment shortly afterwards and started working for Lord du Bois. Now, Lord du Bois is rarely seen in their house. Mr Mallum is somewhat distressed by this and fears the worst.”

“I imagine Mr Marsh is more comfortable under Lord du Bois,” said Miss Henderson. Sir John looked at her quizzically.

“He seemed more like a man’s man,” she said, by way of explanation.

“Yes,” said Sir John,” I believe you are right. Anyway, they conclude by saying all is well and we are welcome to visit any time.”

Sir John folded the letter and put it down.

“Another satisfied customer,” he said. “Miss Henderson, perhaps we could have some tea and biscuits.”

“Yes, Sir Jennings,” she said and left.

“Oh. They have informed us that the payment will take a little time to arrange,” said Sir John sounding glum.

“Well, we have plenty of money after the alchemist, ne c’est pas?” said Marie.

“Indeed,” said Sir John, still looking at the letter and sounding glum.

“What is it?” said Marie.

“In lieu of the first payment they have sent us this drawing by Prudence,” said Sir John. “It’s of Mr Bosch.”

Marie and Phlebotomous looked at the drawing. They both frowned in unison

“I think it’s what you call the … modern style,” said Sir John.

CC Epilogue“Modern Style”

*With apologies to Pablo Picasso…

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 14

Marie and the adult Mallums were sitting in the parlour when Sir John came in. Marie looked up at him, concerned.

“How was Lord du Bois, mon cher?” she asked.

“I think I rather startled him at first, but after a brief conversation he recovered his composure,” said Sir John. Mr Mallum looked a little concerned.

“I trust you didn’t put him in an ill humour,” he said.

“Not at all,” said Sir John, “when I left he was distinctly gay.”

“So,” said Marie, ”there was nothing of concern?”

“Nothing at all,” said Sir John. “Where are Mr Bosch and the girls on this moonlit evening?”

“Mr Bosch is taking his walk and the girls have retired to bed early. I think they are tired from the ball,” said Mr Mallum.

“What’s that noise?” said Mrs Mallum. “It’s sounds like a kettle.”

They all listened as a high pitched sound got louder and louder. Finally there was the crash of the front door opening, and then the parlour door as Phlebotomous came in screeching.

CC Ch 14“Your Girls!”

“Wolves! They’re wolves!” he said, and presently four giant wolves came in after him. Instantly, everyone jumped on the furniture. The four wolves started circling around the chair Phlebotomous was standing on.

“Oh, my girls! We must warn them!” said Mr Mallum. “The beasts are in the house!”

“Mr Mallum, these are your girls,” said Phlebotomous.

“What!” he said.

“They’re werewolves,” said Phlebotomous. One of the quartet nudged the chair and it wobbled, provoking a strangulated noise from Phlebotomous.

“I really hate heights,” he said. Suddenly, Mrs Mallum burst into tears.

“This is all my fault!” she said.

“What?” said Mr Mallum.

“It skips a generation or two, my mother was … I hoped our daughters would be spared,” she said.

“You knew?” said Mr Mallum.

“I didn’t dare admit it, even to myself,” said Mrs Mallum.

“What are we going to do,” wailed Mr Mallum.

“Look, a coach has drawn up,” said Marie.

“Who is it?” said Mr Mallum, “I can’t see from this chaise-longue.”

“Someone tall, I think, with a dog,” said Marie.

“Lord du Bois!” said Mr Mallum. “He has come to save us!”

The figures approached the house and could be heard coming in the front door. A large dog came into the room. Instantly the dog barked and growled at the four werewolves. The four turned to face her and the largest wolf started to growl back, before the dog barked ferociously. At this, all four wolves lay down and made whimpering noises. The Jennings and the Mallums got down from the furniture. Phlebotomous stayed on the chair.

“Honestly!” said the dog. “What kind of a numpty halfwit goes looking for a magical dog and leaves the one they have sitting at home?”

Instead of Lord du Bois, a young lady came into the room.

“Have you managed to successfully intoxicate them?” she said to the dog.

“Morag! Miss Henderson!” said Sir John. “We are most delighted to receive your presence here this evening.”

“Aye, I imagine ye are!” said Morag.

The Cornish Curse: Epilogue

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 13

Phlebotomous walked into the garden and looked at the spot where the wolfsbane had been. He saw that it all been picked. He was wondering if there was enough to prevent du Bois turning into a werewolf, when Patience arrived.

CC Ch 13“Ow-oooh!”

“Hello Mr Bosch,” she said. “How are you this night?”

“Very well, er, Patience,” he said. “Isn’t a little late for you to be out?”

“Oh I’m a big girl,” said Patience. “Besides, it was you who wanted to meet by moonlight. Very romantic, B.”

“Excuse me?” said Phlebotomous.

“Excuse me, too,” said Joy, coming to join them. “What are you doing here, Patience? Are you trying to ruin my rendezvous like you ruin everything else?”

“Me!” said Patience. “What are you doing here? I was invited. I had a note.”

“Well I had one too!” said Joy.

“Really? Then show me,” said Patience. Joy’s face fell, further than usual.

“I … I can’t,” she said, “I lost the note.”

Patience looked triumphant when Prudence arrived.

“Why don’t you show us your note, Patience?” she said. “Or don’t you have it either.”

“Prudence, you too?” said Joy.

“The note was mine first, you stole it, I’m sure. It was on the seat when you all left,” said Prudence.

“Ladies,” said Phlebotomous, “I’m sure there’s been some simple mix up.”

“I don’t have it either!” shouted Patience. “It was stolen from me.”

“Do you mean this note?” said Constance, joining the quartet and brandishing a piece of paper.

“You stole it!” said Patience.

“I didn’t steal it, it was given to me,” said Constance.

“You stole it from me,” said Joy to Patience.

“No, you did from me,” said Prudence.

There was a quiet moment where the girls all glared at each other.

“Ladies…” started Phlebotomous.

“It’s obvious Mr Bosch would prefer me because I’m the most sophisticated,” said Patience. Constance made a snorting noise.

“If staring out of the window is sophistication then you may be right, but I think sophistication comes from knowledge, and that comes from reading,” she said.

“But what you read is immoral fantasy,” said Joy. “At least I read something about the ethics of proper conduct, as befitting to Mr Bosch.”

“Mr Bosch is a sensitive soul who needs an artistic companion,” said Prudence. “Besides you are all ugly hags.”

The other sisters gasped at Prudence.

“Ladies, please …” started Phlebotomous.

“Please, Mr Bosch, let me defend you from these slurs on your character,” said Constance.

“Slurs! I’ll show you slurs,” growled Joy.

“Are you threatening me?” snarled Constance.

“You are both, tedious bookworms,” barked Patience.

“Shut up!” snapped Prudence.

“Ow-oooh!” said Patience. Phlebotomous looked at her. Her nose had started to extend and hair was growing over her face. She fell to her hands and knees and her arms shortened and thickened. A long tail came from her back. Her mutation complete, she stood nearly to Phlebotomous’ chest. Her breathing was low and heavy.

“Girls!” said Phlebotomous to the other three. “I think you sister’s a werewolf.”

He heard no reply, so he turned to look at them. Three more wolves looked back at him. At his feet he saw the patch where the wolfsbane had been, now removed.

“Who’s a good girl?” he said hesitantly to the quartet of werewolves.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 14

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 12

Lord du Bois was dressed in fine clothes and with a rose in his top button. He was just leaving the front door of Bennet House when Sir John arrived. The evening was deepening into night and the full moon was just showing

CC Ch 12“I Know”

“Good evening Sir John,” said du Bois.

“Good evening Vulpine,” said Sir John, “are you going out?”

“Yes … I rather fancied an evening constitutional,” said du Bois.

“Without Arthur?” said Sir John.

“Ah … yes … he is a little overtired. At the ball, he was rather popular with the children and has needed to rest. If you’ll excuse me,” said du Bois.

“Perhaps I could accompany you,” said Sir John.

“Ah … perhaps it would be best if you didn’t,” said du Bois. “The ground is rather muddy  and I’d hate you to spoil your clothes.”

“But you seem dressed rather well for such a walk?” said Sir John.

“Is everything all right?” said du Bois. “Your manner seems a little off, have I offended you? Is this because of that flower your wife had?”

“In a manner of speaking,” said Sir John. “Lord du Bois, Vulpine … I know.”

Lord du Bois’ face fell. “How, when?” he said quietly, his usual enthusiasm gone.

“At the ball, I wondered before, but the ball confirmed it.” said Sir John.

“I knew it,” said du Bois, “I went too far, it was too obvious. Talking to Marsh as I did.”

“Yes that was a large clue, letting on like that,” said Sir John.

“Will you tell anyone?” said du Bois.

“Something must be done Vulpine,” said Sir John. “For the sake of the Mallums’ reputation.”

“Oh Lord, do they know!” said du Bois.

“No,” said Sir John, “I haven’t told them.”

“But, surely you can find it in your heart to turn a blind eye. No one is being hurt,” said du Bois.

“But Lord du Bois, it’s … it’s immoral,” said Sir John.

Lord du Bois turned away to look at the moor. A tear ran down his face in the moonlight.

“So people say, but how can it be. It’s natural, it’s what I am, who I am,” said Lord du Bois.

Sir John sighed.

“You seem a decent man, I’d hoped to reason with you, to get you to stop,” said Sir John.

“I don’t want to stop … I … don’t think I should. It feels right, not wrong.” said du Bois.

“But, my god, to tear apart that livestock in that way,” said Sir John. “That can’t be natural.”

“I … what?” said du Bois.

“The savagery on the animals and the impact on the Mallums. It isn’t without consequence,” said Sir John.

“What are you talking about?” said du Bois.

“Lycanthropy,” said Sir John. “You’re a werewolf.”

“I’m a what?” said du Bois. “I thought you were here because I’m a … a confirmed bachelor.”

“A confirmed bachelor?” said Sir John.

“You know … the love that dare not speak its name. But I can speak my love’s name. It’s Marsh, the Mallums’ butler. I passed him a note that night, and I’m going to see him now. We’ve been lovers nearly since I got here.”

“Oh,” said Sir John.

“That’s … not what you meant?” said du Bois.

“No, I thought you were the beast. I think it’s a werewolf,” said Sir John.

“Why … what … why would you think that?” said du Bois.

“I, never mind,” said Sir John. “Back to square one again!”

There was a silence.

“You won’t, say anything,” said du Bois. “I have money, I can…”

“No,” said Sir John. “I don’t want any money and don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”

“Thank you”, said du Bois. “They’d throw me in jail.”

“It’s nothing,” said Sir John. “Please, go to your lover. Have your time together.”

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 13

Phlebotomous’ Milk Drink

Phlebotomous' drink

We have been inundated today by an unbelievable number of readers asking us exactly what  was the milk drink that Mr Bosch, from our hit story The Cornish Curse, was drinking before his bedtime. A flurry of rumours floated around the internet, forcing us to remind folk that Phlebotomous might be a vampire, but he is a vegetarian. To quell further rumours and to allow people a taste of The Benthic Times, the recipe is produced below:

1 Cup Warm Milk

1 Star Anise

1 Stick Cinnamon

1 Grating of Nutmeg

Instructions

Combine ingredients in cup. Allow to settle so tastes infuse (but not too much so milk grows cold). Take to room and drink. Turn out light. Turn light back on again when you realise it is still a little dark and hence frightening. Sleep until evening.

 

 

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 11

“What a marvellous evening and what a marvellous host,” said Mr Mallum at the breakfast table with all the family and guests. “I had the time of my life. How did everyone else fare?”

“It was very pleasant indeed,” said Marie.

“When is it full moon?” said Patience.

“Why do ask?” said Mrs Mallum.

“No reason,” said Patience.

“Tonight,” said Constance, “I think.”

“Then I had better…” started Sir John. “I shall call on Lord du Bois to thank him for the ball.”

“Oh, what a wonderful idea!” said Mr Mallum. “I shall accompany you.”

“No!” said Sir John and Marie together.

“It will be better I go alone,” said Sir John. “Because … I have some matters to discuss.”

“I see,” said Mr Mallum uncertainly. “If you think that’s best.”

CC Ch 11“Special Place?”

“Mr Bosch, shall the maid prepare your bedtime milk drink?” said Mrs Mallum.

“That would be very nice,” said Phlebotomous,” I may take it up to my room, I’m a little overtired from the dancing.”

“Yes, it was nice of the girls to all dance with you during that waltz,” said Mr Mallum. “They practically ran across the room! Clara Monkfish was rather surprised, actually. I think she’ll recover, it was only a small fall from when Patience ran into her.”

“You room,” said Prudence, “would you say that was a special place?”

Her sisters all glared at her.

“It’s … a pleasant room,” said Phlebotomous warily.

“But not … special?” said Prudence.

“I’m sure Mr Bosch’s room is perfectly adequate,” said Mrs Mallum.

“Mrs Jennings, you may care to go for a walk this afternoon,” said Phlebotomous. “Before Sir Jennings goes out.”

“Oh!” said Marie. “Yes, thats a very good idea.”

“To the special place,” said Phlebotomous to Marie, and the four sisters all watched him attentively.

“Yes, I understand,” said Marie.

“Where the flowers are, in fact,” said Phlebotomous, “where I walked last night.”

“Yes,” said Marie, “it is perfectly clear.”

“So that…” continued Phlebotomous.

“Yes,” said Sir John, “we understand.”

“Well, I shall be off to sleep then,” said Phlebotomous.

“So Mr Bosch,” said Constance, “the special place is on your evening walk?”

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous. “Oh, wasn’t that clear, I can explain again.”

“No,” said Constance, “I understand.”

The maid brought Phlebotomous a cup of warm milk with a spice infusion, and he left the room.

“Mr Mallum, is this silverware real silver?” asked Sir John.

“Yes, Sir Jennings,” said Mr Mallum. “Unlike Lord du Bois we must make do with the basics. But it is of the highest quality for the material.”

“Could I borrow this knife?” said Sir John.

“Of course,” said Mr Mallum. “Er … any particular reason?”

“Not really,” said Sir John.

“Well I must say, everyone is being very cryptic this morning,” said Mr Mallum. “No doubt there is some jolly jape I’m not aware of. Maybe … did somebody have a special conversation with Lord du Bois?”

Mr Mallum looked meaningfully at his daughters who all groaned quietly.

The Cornish Curse: Chapter 12