Tuesday, September 11, 2007

attica-ruth magazine 17

Journal Jottings



Deccan Herald: Nagesh Polali


When 45-year-old Debbie Parkhurst choked on a piece of apple, she began to thump her chest to dislodge the piece. Observing her throughout, and seeing her fail, was Toby, her two-year-old golden retriever. Toby knocked her to the floor on to her back, and proceeded to jump up and down on her chest until she had coughed up the piece of apple.
The natural reaction to such stress is a fainting spell, but Toby kept his mistress from losing consciousness until she could summon help by vigorously licking her face. The proof of her account was to be seen in the roughly paw-print-shaped bruises on her chest.
How much is that doggie.......?

scribendi cacoethes

from the series, Clamavi:

A family is a fearsome thing, God wot.
Its exterior conceals
The complex of wheels
That turn within,
And relentlessly grind
Each one’s mind.
©2007 by Ruth Heredia

The life dutiful
Is not beautiful.
It’s a cruel waste
Not at all to my taste;
So make haste to relieve me,
Oh make haste!

©2007 by Ruth Heredia

(or wise sayings revised)

“Familyarity breeds contempt.”
The family closely bonded
Includes some who have absconded;
But stuck lifelong in the bond
Will be the one who was conned.
“Nothing more than kin
And very much less than kind.”

©2007 by Ruth Heredia

Do you voice inside your head
The words best left unsaid?
Is that your safety valve –
The only one you have –
Lest anger speed you early to a grave?

Must the devious answer serve
A working modus to preserve,
Is't the only way to buy a brief reprieve?

When dreams of creating to ash have turned,
And into smoke the fires that burned,
Is muffling of your screams the prize you've earned?

When to value truth is learnt,
Youthful follies slain and burnt,
Are you unsurprised to find your heroes – weren't?

Don't you feel it most frustrating –
Suffocating – aggravating –
To confine the liberating
Insights you have gained,
To an audience inside your head?

©2007 by Ruth Heredia

G – R – R – RHYME
"And what is it you do?" the occasional visitor asks.
"Housework", she says, distracted from one of her endless tasks.
"But you have so many talents, don't you think it is a waste?"
"Do I have a choice?" she counters, in her mouth the familiar taste
Of bitterish-salt saliva rising swiftly in a tide.
"Excuse me", she mumbles with mouth full, and quickly goes inside.
"Can't you find someone to help you?" – th'inquisitor is not quitting.
"How silly of me not to think of it!" but her tone is forbidding.
"There's no need to be so touchy"; the visitor is offended.
In her mind's eye she makes an image, of this creature – upended.

©2007 by Ruth Heredia

"You are a caged bird", they told her,
when she was a girl yet,
not woman grown in her mind.

"This is my cage", she thought, ironical,
but spoke no word.
Such thoughts she never voiced,
not then, nor after;
it was the pattern, largely,
of her life.

She couldn't have said why it was –
not then, not till much after –
what consideration
had trammelled her tongue.
But once, a long time after,
her pent-up indignation
had burst out into speech.
The lightning bolts that flew then,
the cannonade they preceded,
had seared into her memory
the reason for her reticence.

Yet she learned to fly, with a difference.
The fledging was long and painful,
but the freedom she found, within her cage,
would suffice until all bars were broken.

©2007 by Ruth Heredia

The Old Pretender
~ an idiosyncratic reading of The Lion’s Skin and The Gates Of Doom, both by Rafael Sabatini
Once upon a time, we were encouraged to read Prefaces/Introductions in their proper place, which is before the work (novel/biography/study) begins. “Spoiler” was not a concept known to us, not even by some other name, and we actually hoped for some guidance from the writers of those prefaces.
To be sure, it would have been a decidedly unfriendly act to tell someone who had just begun to read a detective story how it was going to end. But those of us who enjoyed detective stories of quality were happy to own copies that could be re-read for other pleasures than the solving of a puzzle.
However, it is now de rigueur to attach the warning “Spoilers Ahead”, so be warned all finicky readers that spoilers, and mainly spoilers, lie ahead.
The theme that emerges from this miscellany appearing under the heading, TWO BITES AT THE CHERRY, will be formally presented at the end, but there will be plenty of clues along the way.
Many of the views expressed here are likely to provoke a dissenting response. My views may be singular, but they are sincerely held, not expressed for the mere love of provocation. Dissent is welcome so long as it is moderated by courtesy.
Part of what’s to come:
Chronologies of The Lion’s Skin and of The Gates Of Doom. The plot of the latter is so full of action and so intricately woven that a chronology as a reference base is preferable to leafing back and forth in search of a thread mislaid. The plot of the former is simple and straightforward, making an interesting contrast.
Chapter-wise notes and remarks, incorporating illustrations (images) and some speculations, for each novel in turn.
Comparisons between the two novels.
THE LION’S SKIN ~ a chronology
(as all the action is confined to 1721, only the month and the day/date will be given) [There's no reason to think that Sabatini bothered about Gregorian or Julian calendars and when exactly the reformed calendar became effective in this or that country. A simple ready reckoner would have supplied such needs as he had, I believe. Sabatini gives us only four indicators of the time: Chapter I is set in April; Chapter II is set in May; the day of the thwarted mock-marriage ends with a night of full moon; Sir Richard is buried on a Monday.]
April ~ Prelude in Paris gives the back story and sets up the plot machinery.
May (we are not told what part of the month) ~
Day 1 (of the action) ~ Justin Caryll, having landed at Dover the previous day, arrives in Maidstone; incident at the inn; Lord Ostermore, Hortensia and Justin reach Croydon by nightfall; encounter in the garden. [If the full moon is to be taken seriously, then this would be Sunday, May 11.]
Day 2 ~ Arrival in London; Justin seeks out his friends from college days and after
Day 5 ~ Incident in the park. [Wharton's line about Dulcinea is probably a quotation from a poem or a play not presently traceable; it cannot be taken literally as an indicator of the date because of the full moon that was specified for the end of Day 1.]
Day 8 or 9 ~ At White’s Rotherby challenges Justin to a duel; Sir Richard visits Justin and is followed back to his own lodging
Day 9 or 10 ~ The duel. [If we take the first day as May 11, this is May 19 or 20.]
(4 weeks later it is June, but when exactly we can only guess) [It might be June 15.]
June ~
Day 1 ~ Incident in the arbour at Stretton House
Day 2 ~ Justin leaves Stretton House
5 days later (evidently a Saturday) ~ Justin visits Sir Richard at dusk; Green’s man shoots Sir Richard, who dies. [If Day 1 is June 15, Day 7 is Saturday, June 21.]
Next day (Sunday) ~ Justin mourns
Monday (Sabatini specifies) ~ Sir Richard is buried; Hortensia reveals her feelings and wishes to Justin
Next 2 days ~ Justin struggles with himself
Following day (Thursday?) ~ Justin goes to Stretton House to ask Lord Ostermore’s permission to marry Hortensia: Lord Ostermore has suffered a stroke; he dies without recovering consciousness; climax of action; conclusion
The Jacobite Cause is a mere peg to hang the story on; one of two pegs, the other being the South Sea Bubble.
THE GATES OF DOOM ~ a chronology
(as all the action is confined to 1721, only the month and the day/date will be given)
June ~
16, Monday ~ Pauncefort’s London house; gaming until early hours of Tuesday. Pauncefort and Gaynor play for the right to woo Damaris Hollinstone
17, Tuesday ~ Gaynor visits Second Secretary Edward Templeton in his office. Gaynor engages a valet either this day or the next
18, Wednesday ~ Gaynor dines with the Templetons en famille
19, Thursday ~ Gaynor warns Pauncefort that there is a traitor in their midst. He sets off for Priory Close, arriving in the late evening. Sir John Kynaston leaves Priory Close for Bath
26, Thursday ~ Gaynor and fellow Jacobites meet at The World's End, Chelsea. Evelyn writes to Pauncefort. Gaynor reveals all he knows about the traitor. Carteret sends a messenger to Priory Close, seeking Gaynor; and men who arrest all the Jacobites gathered in Chelsea but Gaynor. Gaynor contrives to spend the latter part of that night in custody, in the Gatehouse at Westminster
27, Friday ~ Gaynor, released, returns to Priory Close. Pauncefort insists with Carteret that Gaynor is Jenkyn, passing on what he has learned from Tresh. Evelyn's letter is delivered
28, Saturday ~ Gaynor gives notice to his valet; gives Damaris message for Sir John. Pauncefort interrupts their talk, fights Gaynor, flees. Gaynor returns to London, gets a room at modest hostelry, seeks Pauncefort, is arrested as Jenkyn
30, Monday ~ Gaynor is tried as Jenkyn, sentenced in the evening. (Sir John learns of the trial and sentence only just before the scheduled execution.)
2, Wednesday ~ Gaynor writes to Damaris
3, Thursday ~ Gaynor despatches the letter and prepares to die. At about 8 a.m. the ordinary arrives, about 11 a.m. the hangman. Around noon Gaynor is hanged as Jenkyn. After 20 minutes he is cut down and taken to Dr Blizzard, who sedates him on his revival. Witness only to the hanging, and failing to retrieve the body, Sir John goes home. Evelyn spends sleepless night
4, Friday ~ Sir John questions, Evelyn confesses. Gaynor wakes up, is fed, sleeps again until that evening or the next (Sabatini is unclear)
5, Saturday ~ (Sabatini unclear again – could be next day) Damaris confides in Sir John
7, Monday ~ Pauncefort comes to Priory Close, fails to beguile Sir John, threatens him, encounters Evelyn and sows seed of mischief in her mind
10, Thursday ~ Templeton writes to Tollemache
12, Saturday ~ or next day, Tollemache prepares to go to London in response to letter
14, Monday ~ Pauncefort comes again to Priory Close. Damaris agrees to marry Pauncefort in exchange for immunity for Sir John but the latter forbids her. Pauncefort returns to London bent on extreme measures. Dr Blizzard's message takes Sir John to Gaynor in London. On his return home, he is arrested
15, Tuesday ~ Gaynor awaits Sir John and Damaris in vain. Tollemache sets off for London. Damaris yields to Pauncefort's pressure
16, Wednesday ~ Pauncefort partly persuades Carteret to oblige him, then writes to Damaris about wedding. Gaynor continues to wait in vain
17, Thursday ~ Gaynor takes leave of Blizzard, stops at hostelry for fresh clothing, proceeds to Priory Close, returns seeking Templeton . Tollemache arrives at Templeton's just ahead of Gaynor. Pauncefort leaves for Woodlands, his country house in Surrey, to marry Damaris that evening, even as Templeton, Tollemache and Gaynor reach Carteret's house. Climax and conclusion.
The action begins and concludes at night. The span is just over a month, from 16 June to 17 July, during one week of which Gaynor does little more than get better acquainted with Damaris, and during another two weeks of which Gaynor is officially a dead man. This means (sometimes frenzied) activity during a very few days out of thirty-two.
No actual Jacobite plotting is done, in marked contrast to what occurs in the later Jacobite novel, The Stalking Horse, which describes a dizzying succession of such plots. The Jacobite Cause comes across as a rather pathetic and tiresome mix of fanaticism and ineptitude with treachery stirred in; an impression only partly relieved by the quick wits and courage of the hero.

Ruth Heredia is the originator and holds the copyright to all material on this blog unless credited to some source. Please do not use it or pass it off as your own work. That is theft. If you wish to link it, quote it, or reprint in whole or in part, please be courteous enough to seek my permission.