The Height of Absurdity: Penzance 3.9

3 May, 2016 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1

‘I’m afraid we should be going.’ Tansy looked at her sterling pocket watch, that had been draped over the belt of ensemble. It looked very different from how she wore it with a waistcoat, but appeared to be just as practical. ‘We will be heading north in the morning and I am certain that you have much work to do here.’

‘Indeed,’ said the Captain. ‘But could we not persuade you to stay longer? I’m sure you would enjoy a more protracted visit.’

‘I would be delighted to converse with you at greater length,’ Kelyn said, ‘but I understand you to have some duty that calls you.’

‘We have a quest and we must seek its solution.’ Tansy looked determined in the old way. For myself I had nearly forgotten what had brought us to this peculiar location.

‘Ah, so you do not find it here.’ The Captain’s disappointment was plain on his kindly features, but he quickly rallied. ‘Nonetheless you really ought to measure my lady Kelyn here for she is certainly unique and posterity deserves to know of her accomplishments.’

‘Pish tosh,’ Kelyn said, waving a hand as if she would fend off such compliments.

‘If you wouldn’t mind, I should be glad to oblige,’ Tansy said with quick curtsey. She took out the measuring tape and showed it to the lady who took a great interest in its beauty.

‘Such a cunning design! I am quite taken with the artistry. That’s a fine craft hand there.’

‘Silver was my father’s passion,’ Tansy said in a quiet voice. I was most surprised for I had not heard him—I mean her, at the moment—remark that the artist in question had been his father. Or hers.

‘I take it from your words that he is no longer living with us. I am sorry for that. The world is poorer without his skill,’ Kelyn said with all proper gravity. I’d wager there was no duchess who could be quite so proper and with a beard, too. I could well understand the Captain’s devotion to the tiny woman.

‘He had many qualities to recommend him. The skill of his hands was one, his curious mind another and his all-encompassing compassion for all living things might be the greatest.’

Funny the things you learn about a chap when they’re talking to strangers. I couldn’t recall the matter ever coming up before. I should have to learn more about Tansy’s parentage.

‘He sounds quite wonderful. You were fortunate to share his life. And now you must measure me for I am quite certain that it will be a thing to tell my own children and grandchildren about one day.’ The lady stood ready and Tansy let the weight of the tape fall to the floor of the odd chamber with strangely hollow clunking.

‘Three feet, seven and one half inches,’ Tansy said then wrote the number carefully in her memorandum book. The Captain offered us a large piece of the green crystal which I put carefully into the hogskin bag. We all shook hands solemnly: we two, the Captain, Kelyn and her green folk, then they went back to work and the seafaring man ushered us to the top of the chamber and explained the method of exodus.

‘Mind you, be careful when you step out. The light may be bright if we have stayed only a little while, or it may be night and you could be disoriented. Look for the north star and turn yourself accordingly. The carriage will take you back to your inn and you will be most comfortable.’

‘We are most grateful, Captain. You have shown us great wonders.’ Tansy kissed him on either cheek in the French style and rather than be scandalised he was overwhelmingly delighted.

‘Do send me word when you have achieved your goal,’ he called as we made our way up the mound. ‘I have every confidence that you will do so and in the time allotted, too!’

I had concentrated on counting my steps very carefully and was somewhat nonplussed to be propelling myself out of the round stone and onto the damp grass. Tansy managed to exit the underground burrow with aplomb and with considerable more dignity than I. She stared out at the setting sun that was just meeting the waves then. There were already stars out, sprinkled like bits of dust across the velvety blue sky.

‘It’s all quite magical, isn’t it?’ Tansy asked in a soft voice.

I brushed the detritus off my knees and noticed the faint green glow remained on my hands in the twilight. ‘It is certainly a relief to be above ground once more.’

Tansy smiled at me. Despite the arduous movements of the day, I noticed her voluminous skirts did not seem to be the least bit mussed and rather envied her ability to be as dainty as a cat in such a wretched sort of location. But I tried to tamp down my irritation and appreciate the coming evening as I ought to do. I breathed in the fresh sea air and for a moment I could think of wonder. ‘Do you suppose the Chirks are what we might call faeries?’

‘I suppose it is what we might call them if we did not ask their names.’

‘It’s a bit disappointing to meet them and find them so normal, surely.’

‘Normal?’ Tansy turned to look at me. ‘Were they so?’

‘Well, they spoke like people usually do though I must say if she is royalty she doesn’t much look like royalty, as I have never seen a royal to actually work, but certainly the lady Kelyn has all the grace and courtliness one could wish for in the nobility.’

‘And that itself is not a wonder?’

I sighed. ‘Well, it’s not magical.’

Tansy laughed. ‘Be cautious that you do not tame wonder when you find it, my friend.’

I did not know what to think of her words, but later that night turned them over in my head and could not come to any conclusion as to whether she was laughing at me or trying to let me see something grander than I had understood. These thoughts left me with a distinct feeling of dissatisfaction.

Next: Orkney!

 

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