The Height of Absurdity: Red Leicester 13.1

22 January, 2019 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1

RED LEICESTER

We remained long enough in Hartlepool to attend the reburial service. A surprising number of the local townsfolk crowded up to see it all. I suppose the tragic history and treasure’s lure had a great deal to do with that. It was rather cheery in the end and I hope the ladies felt properly honoured as their story was retold and permanently memorialized. The abbess put the stone masons to work at once.

There was only one final duty to carry out, one that had been forgotten in the thrill of strange graves, mystic poems and ghostly apparitions. It was, of course, Tansy who recalled our task.

‘Have you not given her the missive yet?’ she asked Chambers, who appeared nonplussed by her question.

‘Missive?’ He stared blankly for a moment and then gasped. ‘Lady Judith’s letter!’ The Scotsman quickly flipped through his memorandum book until he found the missive and gingerly extracted it.

We carried at once to the abbess, who was in her little office or whatever it was called—I’m sure there must be an official Latin name for it—and who looked pleased and excited to have such a mysterious missive delivered to her.

‘From the fairylands, you say?’ Her eyes simply sparkled with delight. ‘Addressed to me? But how?’

‘Perhaps you can tell us once you open it,’ Tansy said with a chuckle, for we were all wondering at its contents.

With gentle fingers the abbess lifted the folds to open the fragile paper. She started upon glimpsing the contents. ‘My what curious language it contains. And it does say Abbess Hild, but I believe the lady means a distant predecessor of mine. Many of us have taken the name of the founder.’

‘Does it solve the mystery of who the Lady Judith…is?’ With practiced delicacy Tansy avoided suggesting that the lovely lady might not be considered amongst the living anymore, though live on she certainly did in the other lands.

The abbess shook her head. ‘She asks only for a mass to be said for her sake—and she says it probably ought to be the mass of the dead, poor thing. And she asks that word be given to her friend Francis Sutton-Grove, who apparently was composing a book at the time they lost touch.’

‘Perhaps we can carry that information to her friend,’ Chambers said with some eagerness. He was always ready to talk to another scholar.

‘He may be long in the grave,’ Tansy said in a low voice.

‘Dead?’ Chambers said, then remembered himself. ‘Dear me, I suppose you may well be right. All the same, his name rings a bell. I shall have to consult my library.’

‘What was the message for him?’ I for one wanted to have my curiosity sated. There was far too much fol-de-rol in our dealings with those fair folk. A direct answer would be a relief.

The abbess smiled sadly. ‘She only says to tell him he was far of the mark with his charts.’

‘Perhaps he was trying to find the borderlands between this world and the other,’ Tansy said quickly. She was always two thoughts ahead of me.

‘Poor lady, her friend ought to have ended up there in her place.’ I thought it unkind of him to let her wander where he knew there to be danger.

‘How do you know it was not her choice?’ Tansy asked with a cocked brow, which always meant scorn was coming my way.

‘It probably was,’ I said with haste. ‘She seems an intelligent creature to be sure. But as a friend he certainly ought to have cautioned her.’

Fortunately Tansy let it go and we said our goodbyes to the abbess. Chambers promised to look up the friend and see what state the man might be in. Our friend was eager to return to his homeland so we all parted friends at the hotel promising to write for news.

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