It Blyssfully Romantic
collection of original short stories based on the 1962 film Night Creatures.
Written by Vaar Aragon and Miss Weasel
One sunny afternoon during a PCA chat, Vaar and I once again tried
unsuccessfully to discuss Peter Cushing in a more sensual light. As a result,
the gentleman members attending the chat were sufficiently non-plussed, so this
subject was dropped. Vaar and I devised a sinister plan to spare the female fans
of Peter Cushing this unnecessary embarrassment, and to somehow free his fairer
sexed fans from this too long endured creative oppression. Our vision was to
make our own little slice of heaven, a place to freely discuss or write about
Peter Cushing in a romantic and/or unconventional standpoint. The result was a
web page called Cushing Ladies.
Thus far, the majority of the stories
revolve around Peter’s portrayal of the pirate-turned-clergyman Dr. Blyss from
the film Night Creatures, or a rose by it’s other name, Captain Clegg. These
stories have now found their way home to PCA for any member who appreciates fan
fiction to enjoy. It may be a small audience, but as one appreciative member of
Cushing Ladies surmises, and having written several very adult themed stories
about Peter Cushing characters herself, tells her bewildered friends, “See, I
am not the only one”.
This is how our stories began, with an innocent question…
In a post, Vaar Aragon writes:
Well, since Ms. Weasel and I are in agreement as to the utter dateability of Dr. Blyss (protagonist of Night Creatures) the question remains: what kind of date does one take him on?
Author: Vaar Aragon
Lady X stopped in front of the next cell, peered through the window. The man within paced up and down, up and down restlessly but slowly, his leg irons clanking heavily as he moved.
"Who's that?" She asked her guide.
“ Captain Clegg, a notorious pirate. Scheduled for execution tomorrow morning."
She looked at the prisoner with renewed interest. His black pointed beard, and black curled hair did give him a rascally look, but the refined face and lean, smooth-moving body suggested anything but a pirate. He stopped, and looked at her.
"Do you want something?" He asked with obvious irritation.
"I'd like to speak to you, if they'll permit it." She glanced at the jailers. They nodded. And unlocked the door...
"You must find my behavior…confusing," she said, once she was inside the cell.
“ Milady, I am positively devoured by curiosity as to your motives." Clegg responded.
“ Well, my stepfather's will states that I must marry to claim my inheritance. And I am not of a temperament to be dominated by any man."
“ So, you plan to wed a gallows’s bird, and be free on the morn of his execution. Very pretty, Milady." The pirate saluted her. "But I think I shall decline the honor."
“ Please?" She begged.
“ Come, come, Milady. There are other candidates, surely." A thin, oddly alluring mouth quirked in the depths of his beard.
“ Yes, but I've-" Pause. "I've taken a fancy to you."
“ I am indeed honored but-" He shook his head.
She strode up to him, close enough to hear him breathing, and kissed him. His mouth was warm, surprisingly pleasant even. His beard tickled delightfully.
He pulled away abruptly, but without disgust. "Since you insist”, he said, the irony even stronger in his voice. "I will accept your offer." They were, accordingly, married
Something odd happened the next day at the execution of Captain Clegg. The rope was placed around his neck, and the trap sprung...but the rope broke, and the body fell awkwardly, partly down the trap, partly sprawled across the gallows. The hangman, a short round-faced man, bent over the body, then looked up and shook his head. Lady X could not suppress a shudder. He was dead and she was free... but what a horrible way to die! She left soon after.
That evening, the hangman dragged the corpse out of town on his cart.
“ Cap'n? You awright?" He asked.
“ Fine, Mipps”, Clegg responded weakly, feeling the marks on his throat. "Well mostly."
Don't worry, Milady, he thought, I shan't importune you...
Miss Weasel replied in a post:
Well, considering the era, the 1700's, the fact that he is a minister, is really not who he says, is a booze smuggler, and lives in a small seaside village, could mean this could be a tough date to get. It could also mean that if you really want something, you go after it.
But the fact remains that in the 1700's, a lady did not pursue a man unless she wanted payment afterwards. It may sound corny, but feeling truly loved by him would’ve been payment enough for me.
I imagine in my wildest dreams, a man like Dr. Blyss could walk into my life and we would become soul mates. So starts my story...
Dr. Blyss and the Fine Art of 18th century Dating
Author: Miss Weasel
'I'm not really the religious type', I tell myself.
But this little seaside town tells me
that it may be in my best interests to attend church on a frequent basis. If not
only for the gossip, that non-attendance might lead to, but to finally fill the
void in my heart.
I moved to this area from London a few years ago because of my occupation. I was the tutor to a little girl of a very rich man. A man who wanted me only to bear him more heirs after his wife had died.
My answer was no, but he grabbed me by the arm and snarled. "I am not accustom to hearing the word no".
"Sir, since I am a tutor, I could teach you what no means along with some manners."
A bad habit of mine, not thinking before I speak, I was rewarded with the immediate termination of my job. I was given a very substantial last check, quickly loaded up on a buckboard by the gardener, and given a ticket out of town.
Here I am. I love this town. I never thought I'd love living so close to the water but the sea is what keeps this town so fresh and pristine. I bought a small house just at the edge of town with the money I saved, while earning a living as a seamstress.
'I never thought this small town had so many clothes in it' I laughed to myself. Business was very good and the quality of life seemed to improve each day I lived in the town.
One day I was approached by a small man named Mipps.
"I hear you are the town seamstress”, he smiled. "I'm the choirmaster down at the church. We are getting so many new members trying out for a spot, that we have run out of robes for them to wear. I brought along a robe so you can use it as a template to make us more."
"It's called a pattern, Mr. Mipps”, I smile.
" Oh, a pattern. I'm also the local carpenter." Leaning closer, he closes one eye and whispers, " Pine boxes is what I make, Miss. I take a fine bit of grain and make it fit for a King's burial."
With my usual smile pasted to my face, I tell Mr. Mipps I hope I don't see him in that capacity for a long time to come. He laughs handing me the robe.
" How many robes do you need, Mr. Mipps?"
" Oh, I'd say three would do us for now, Miss. Could you have them ready by next week?"
For once, I think before telling Mipps no. I give the robe a quick examination and discover I have a large bolt of this fabric in my cellar.
" Next week will be fine, Mr. Mipps."
" Beggin' your pardon, Miss, but I couldn't help but notice your absence from our church. I'm not the pushy sort, but I must say we have a very fine congregation and one of the best ministers. We'd be honored if you'd visit one Sunday."
" May I bring the robes with me to the next Sunday service? They should be done by then."
" Thank you, Miss. We will look forward to seeing you."
After Mipps leaves, I busy myself making the "template" for the robes, strangely feeling anxious for Sunday to arrive.
With the robes pressed, neatly folded, and packed into a box, I carry them to my little buggy, tucking them behind me under a rug. Sunday has arrived.
I make my way to the church, with the expectant number of onlookers to greet me. Paying them no mind, I hop down from my buggy, leaving the box until after the service.
Although I had heard whispers about the Marsh shadows and demons, surprisingly, the villagers were quite friendly. Settling myself onto a pew, I can feel the eyes of the townsfolk upon me. I look around, politely smiling. I look over to see Mr. Mipps in his white rope. He raises his eyebrow in a mock look of shock, nodding his head, he smiles. I notice a hush has fallen over the congregation as an organ begins to play. ' A precursor to the minister?' I wonder. Seeing the look of anticipation on the faces of the others, I conclude he must be someone very special. Soon I will know the true meaning of the word special.
The organ suddenly stops playing. Without moving my head, my eyes travel around the church, now so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Then I see him. A tall thin man with an odd white streak in the middle of his ear length hair. Dressed in black from head to toe, he seems to glide across the floor stepping up to the pulpit in one beautiful fluid motion.
I am sitting just a few rows back, but in the direct line of this most intriguing man. Placing his good book on the easel of the pulpit, he removes a pair of round wire-framed glasses from his breast pocket, wrapping them around his aquiline face. He is very tan, no doubt from the sunny coastal living. He lifts his head, quickly assessing the room, when his eyes stop on me. I suppress a gasp and an unexpected shiver. He smiles slightly at me and I barely manage to smile back. His eyes leave me as he quickly looks down, opening his good book.
' What happened to me just now?' thinking to myself. 'I feel nearly drowned, exhausted, but full of life and energy at the same time.' I dared another glance at the minister. He adjust his glasses, takes a deep breath, and begins his sermon.
“ Today my good friends, we give thanks that another has traveled down the lighted path to join us. We welcome you to our church with open arms, minds...and hearts."
Even from a few rows back, I can see his eyes are intensely blue, piercing through whatever defenses I thought I had. His voice, by no means is the usual sloppy diction I was accustom to hearing. A voice smooth as silk, mesmerizing, an ocean of comfort washing my troubles away. I forget the past and present, only to live for this moment. Blues eyes, russet colored skin, a voice flooding through me, overtaking my senses. I daydreamed for a moment the minister as being mythological, rising up from the depths of the sea like Neptune.
He speaks again, releasing me for the time being from this romantic fog.
Dr. Blyss and the Fine Art…
Author: Miss Weasel
" We are but a small village surrounded by salt water," the minister continues, " we have so far been fortunate not to have been visited by the king's soldiers." The intelligible sound of scattered mumbles breaks my attention for a moment. The minister slightly raises both hands, palm side towards the flock, gently persuading silence. " I understand your concerns, but there is no cause for alarm. We are doing nothing illegal, and the king's men have many other hamlets and villages to check." Taking off his glasses, he rubs his eyes. 'He looks so tired, as if there is a very heavy burden or secret he is carrying,’ thinking to myself. The minister looks up and with a tired smile, produces a darker book from underneath his pulpit. " We shall drowned out the despotism by raising our voices in song. Please turn to page 13 in your hymn books." Flipping to the page, the congregation stands with book in hand. I stand and share my book with a very elderly gentleman, as we sing in an off key unison. I take one look at the choir and understand immediately what Mipps met by wanting a few more robes. Three of it's members are dressed in modified farm clothes.
Singing the hymn, I suddenly hear a glorious voice soaring above all the rest. I look up and realize it is the minister singing. He waves his hands about in an attempt to give the off-key congregation and the surprisingly resonance of my elderly singing partner some direction. Listening to the minister sing, my own voice falls silent, wanting only to listen to his voice. A voice I want to hear for the remainder of my days and beyond.
As the service comes to a close, I snap myself back to the true reason of why I am here, to deliver the robes as promised. We all rise from our seats, fellow churchgoers now smiling and saying good day to me. The congregation makes its way through the narrow path of pews to the small oak door. A brightness of the mid-morning sunshine monetarily grabs my attention as Mr. Mipps walks towards me.
"Good day, Miss. Very nice to have you with us. How did you enjoy the sermon and our small church?"
" It was very nice and the minister's sermon of the king's men tells me he cares a great deal for this village."
" Oh indeed he does, Miss. Dr. Blyss is a man with a strong will," he leans closer and confides”, but he is also a very kind and decent man, too"
I smile and think, 'what a serene name, Blyss.'
" Why do you whisper Mr. Mipps? These are fine qualities in a man, I mean minister."
" Dr. Blyss is also a very humble minister...and man”, Mipps smiles almost slyly.
" Oh Mr. Mipps, I brought along three finished robes for you that are still in my buggy."
" You made fast work of it, Miss. He then laughs and says, " and I can tell by your reaction to our three newest members, we are in dire need of choir robes”.
We both laugh and this seem to break a bit of tension.
" If you'll permit me, Miss, I'll walk you our to the line so you can meet our Dr. Blyss."
" Yes, that would be very nice, thank you."
A sudden weakness takes over my body at the very thought of meeting Dr. Blyss. I scold myself for the thoughts I am having about a minister.
Mr. Mipps and I go out the door in
the now diminishing line. The open church door gave only a taste of how
beautiful the day had become. It is a perfect day. The sun is shining brightly
while a gentle breeze fills the air with the light scent of flowering fruit tree
blossoms. Several robin red breasts seem to serenade this utopian-like picture.
" Miss, uh, Miss. I'm sorry Miss, in all our conversations, I never learned your name."
" My name is Miss Avril Danseuse'." He takes my hand to gently shake. I feel a tremor of electricity go through me from his touch and now, my hand is not the only part of me shaking.
" Ah, Miss Danseuse', I hope our little church meets with your approval."
" Yes, the sermon was very nice." I suddenly fall short for words to say. Dr. Blyss, standing close to me my hand still in his. I look up at his sweet expression, his face framed by this utopia. ' I have to break this before I make a complete fool of myself,' I think.
" Miss Danseuse is the young lady who made more robes for the choir, sir." Mipps says cutting through this daydream.
" Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I have the robes with me. They are in my buggy and will get them at once."
" Do you mind if I walk with you, Miss Danseuse? I can settle the bill and bring the robes back to the church myself."
Quickly looking around, I notice in my semi-fogged state, on the church steps remain only Mipps, Dr. Blyss, and me.
" I'll round up the rest of 'em, Dr. Blyss.” Mipps says walking away, " Heaven knows they need the guidance”.
Dr. Blyss and I walk together to my lone buggy sitting in the grass under a large elm tree. I hop up, pulling back the rug to retrieve the boxed robes. Stepping back down, I turn to Dr. Blyss who despite his dark tan and calm appearance, suddenly looks a bit flustered. I chose not to comment not wanting to be rude.
" Here are the three robes Mr. Mipps requested. They have been pressed and folded, but should be taken out of the box before next Sunday's service."
" Will you be attending next Sunday's service Miss Danseuse'?"
" Nothing could keep me away."
What did I just say? I sound like a desperate harlot. Dr. Blyss smiled, his blue eyes putting the cloudless skies to shame.
" Well then we will see you next Sunday."
He takes my hand once more, " It was very nice to meet you Miss Danseuse' and my humble thanks to you for your compliment."
He helps me up to my buggy. I look down at this beautiful soul.
" Good day Dr. Blyss. I will see you next Sunday."
" Good day, Miss Danseuse. Our choir has obtained a exceptional seamstress, our congregation stronger prayers, and to it's humble minister, a new beating heart."
I know my mouth is open as I look at this beauty before me. Part man, part man of God. I am now aware of the heartbeat he speaks of, which is pounding fiercely in my chest. My mind is screaming for me to leave and not look upon him until next Sunday in church. I look down at Dr. Blyss wanting to say something but I hear only the voice inside me, coming from my beating heart saying over and over, ' I love you’...
The moment is broken by Dr. Blyss releasing my hand. I say nothing and snap my trusty
horse forward, my eyes and head looking forward until I get home. I have one week to decipher the events that just occurred and a lifetime to cherish their memory.
The Return of Lady X
Author: Vaar Aragon
This is some years after my previous installment…
"Why do you want me for this task?"
“ Milady is a gambler," the King's agent replied. "She is prepared to take risks."
“ Which is why I'm in your power, I suppose," she replied. This strange little man had offered to see to it that her debts were paid if she were prepared to do the government a signal service. If not, her fiancé, the wealthy Lord Y, would very quickly discover that she was no longer rich enough to be his equal.
“ You are also a woman of great charm and beauty”, the agent went on. "And boldness in affairs of the heart."
“ What has that to do with it?"
“ It has a great deal of bearing on your task."
“ Which is?"
The agent smirked. "To seduce a village parson."
"Let me explain: he's a harmless enough sort, but his parish is one of the great smuggling strongholds of England, and it's probable that he knows more than he's willing to tell."
"And you want me to gain his confidence, spy on him, possibly blackmail him?"
“ I'm afraid so. Don't act so repulsed, he's not a bad-looking man, I'm told, and still fairly young."
Milady sighed. "If I must, I suppose I must."
A day or two later, she alighted in Dymchurch and made her way to the parsonage. The maid showed her into the parlour, and soon enough the master of house appeared.
“ Good afternoon," he said, flashing a smile that made her heart stop. As her superior had said, not a bad-looking man. Elegant, perhaps rather than handsome, but with a strange hypnotic quality. And somehow familiar too...
She remembered her manners. "Good afternoon”, she said and introduced herself. "I was hoping to stay awhile in Dymchurch, for my health, and I was told that you would know where to stay. "
“ Well, there's a gentleman occupying the only room at the inn." She knew. He was the King's agent and no gentleman.
Blyss-for that was the parson's name- rattled off a few more possibilities, all of which she managed to seem less than optimistic about.
“ Do you let any rooms here at the parsonage?" She asked. "It seems quite a large place."
Blyss looked grave. "Usually not," he said. "At least try the other places, but if they do not come to anything, you are welcome to stay here."
"Thank you," she said. "I'll bear that in mind."
They exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, but Milady soon said her farewells and left again. How embarrassing-the man made her feel as dizzy as a schoolgirl! And those eyes! Where had she seen them before...?
Return of Lady X
Author: Vaar Aragon
Lady X did go through the formality
of examining and rejecting all the lodging possibilities in Dymchurch before
returning to the parsonage.
"He's at the church," said the maid. But Milady couldn't find him there. As she left Dymchurch's house of worship she saw Blyss and the proprietor stepping out of the Coffin Shoppe. Walking up to them, she secured an introduction to the coffin-maker, who proved to be Mr. Mipps, sexton. She explained her situation.
“ I'm afraid my other options did not please me over-well," she said to Blyss.
“ Indeed? I must confess, if you are so hard to please, that I am a little intimidated by the thought of offering my humble shelter to you." The vicar's eyes twinkled as he spoke.
“ But I've seen quite a bit of your residence," she said”, and it looks like a fine place for my purposes”.
“ And wot might they be, Ma'am?" Mipps spoke up sharply.
“ I am here to recover my health in a salubrious and genteel place. And I am perfectly willing to pay."
Mipps glowered. Blyss looked thoughtful. "Well, we have our charities and other little projects that require funding. I will accept your offer." His eyes focused abruptly on her, and she suddenly felt completely transparent.
"Let me collect my luggage”, she said.
Author: Miss Weasel
I start Monday morning by cleaning my
little cottage. 'What's the saying,’ I think,' Oh yes, cleanliness is next of
Godliness.' I think what really needs a good cleansing are my thoughts about Dr.
Blyss. I never dreamed a man like this could exist, but what chance do I have at
ingratiating myself further to him?
Trying to rid my mind of these seemingly unattainable ideals, I continue with my therapeutic cleaning of the house. I carry my bucket of luke warm soapy water and a sea sponge over to the double windows on the front side of my house. Looking at them, I feel very fortunate to have so much natural light in my home. I pull the curtains to the side, holding them back with a propped up chair on each side. Grabbing a fresh clean rag, I ring out my sponge and wash my windows. The day is slightly overcast as I begin washing, suddenly remembering what my mother told me about washing windows on sunny days," Avril my dear, the windows will streak in the hot sunshine, wait until the sun is not so bright." I smile to myself as I remembered my mother surprise when she caught me washing the windows in the dark that evening.
As I marveled at the streak-free window, I hear a horse approach my home. I can see immediately see it is Dr. Blyss. He rides up, hitching his horse beside mine, carrying a paper sack. Looking like the scrubwoman for a barn, I quickly dash towards my bedroom mirror, trying to make myself presentable. My heart is racing from my sudden bolt across my house and from seeing Dr. Blyss again so soon.
I hear him knock at my door. Walking over, I pause, "Who is it?", I ask.
" It's Dr. Blyss, Miss Danseuse. We met yesterday at the church."
' I can't believe he feels I need reminded'
Opening the door, Dr. Blyss smiles sheepishly." I'm very sorry to trouble you so soon, Miss Danseuse."
" You're not troubling me Dr. Blyss.” I lied.
" It's about the robes you made for the choir."
I look surprised”, they are not satisfactory?"
" Oh no, the robes are very nicely made and visit you for two reasons today. The robes you made were so nicely tailored that we shall be needing three more robes. The choir is growing leaps and bounds the year for some reason, so if you could possibly have the robes ready by next Sunday, the choir will be grateful. I hope this is not too short of notice for you.
" No, no. I will have the robes made for the choir next Sunday. But, what was the other reason for your visit, Dr. Blyss. You said you had two reasons."
" To give you this." Dr. Blyss smiles then opens the sack he was carrying and hands me one of the robes I made along with some money.
“ I don't understand, what is the money for?"
" Miss Danseuse", he smiles, "You we not paid for the robes you originally made”.
Feeling more than a little silly, I take the money and thank Dr. Blyss.
" I'm sorry, I suppose my mind has been elsewhere lately." ' Well, Avril, why don't you just confess all before him' I crosses myself.
" I hope it's nothing serious. I am also the village confidant. If you ever need guidance, please don't hesitate to ask for my help."
" Thanks you Dr. Blyss. That is very kind of you." 'Why yes, my problem is I think I'm falling in love with you Dr. Blyss. Can you help me?'
' Stop it', I tell my suddenly very talkative conscience.
" Also Miss Danseuse, I brought another robe not sure if you had a pattern from the other robes you made."
“ Yes, I do have a pattern from the robes Mr. Mipps brought last week."
Dr. Blyss, looking a bit uncomfortable now quickly replies”, Mr. Mipps is the choirmaster, but was unable to bring them by today. He has no doubt told you about his other profession of village coffin maker. Telling me of his dilemma, I reassured Mr. Mipps that I'd be happy to take the robe to you."
" That is quite all right Dr. Blyss, you are not intruding. It is very nice to see you again so soon. I hope the recent customer of Mr. Mipps was not a close acquaintance of yours."
His face fell slightly, " Unfortunately, I did know the man. Being a vicar, I get know all the villagers."
" Oh, I'm so sorry Dr. Blyss. I had no idea. Do you mind if I ask what his name was?"
" His name was Tom. He was a local sheepherder who had a small farm on the high ground just north of town."
" How did he die?", I ask before stopping the words.
Dr. Blyss has an intense look on his face but yet not betraying the emotion it represents.
" He was found dead out on the marshes.” Blyss says flatly.
I perk up at the mention of the marshes, "I've heard whispers about things happening on the marshes at night..."
He suddenly interrupts me”, I'm terribly sorry Miss Danseuse, and I must be going. A vicar's work is never done, even in such a small village." He then turns towards the door.
Taken aback, I wonder what I said wrong. But decide to end Dr. Blyss' discomfort of the situation.
" Thank you for stopping by with the robes Dr. Blyss and I truly am sorry to hear about the death of your friend. I will have the robes ready for you this Sunday, just as I did with the last robes."
Dr. Blyss, dressed in his signature all black attire, stops and turns towards me.
" Thanks you Miss Danseuse for you kindness and consideration." A small sad smile crosses his thin face as he takes my hand giving it a gentle squeeze goodbye.
I walk out my door and watch him mount his horse, giving me a nod as he rides off, watching until he rides out of my sight.
Walking back into my house, I shut the door picking up the robe. I give the robe a good shake and notice something dropping out of the robe. I pick up a piece of paper that read, 'North side, tonight at twelve'.
Remembering what Dr. Blyss said about his friend dying on the north side of the village, I wonder if this note is referring to twelve o' clock tonight?
'Wait a minute’, I tell myself, ‘this is a note that fell out of a robe Dr. Blyss carried from the church, so he may know something about it.'
'Perhaps you should just give this note back to Dr. Blyss and go on with my robe making,' so says my conscience.
But, I have thought of no one else but Dr. Blyss since meeting him. I need, yes- I need to find out more about Dr. Blyss and this could be my only chance. I will go to the north side tonight at midnight. Feeling too excited to work on robes, I fold it up and place it on my long wooden sewing table. My thoughts consumed of what the note means and what may be waiting for me in the marshes tonight.
Return of Lady X
Milady found herself established in
the parsonage's spare room with great dispatch. That night, after everyone else
had retired, she slipped out of her room and began testing doors. It seemed Dr.
Blyss kept both his study and his bedroom locked at night. She heard a strange
noise, and headed down to the front door. She opened it and looked out. A dark
shape loomed out of the shadows, slowly resolving into a black-draped hearse. On
it rode a few black-clad figures. One of them cracked a whip at the horses. The
whip-crack, the hoof beats, the wheel-creaks were real enough sounds, yet the
figures themselves made no sound, and the effect was strangely eerie.
Milady banged the door shut, and dashed back to her room, hid under the covers, and slept not a wink until daybreak.
Dr. Blyss: Adventure on the Marshes
Dusk falls as I sit in my tiny
cottage living room, listening to the clock tick. I try to eat dinner knowing I
will need the energy for tonight's escapade, but have very little appetite. My
thirst is now for knowledge, my hunger for Dr. Blyss.
' My aren't we brazen. What would my Dr. Blyss say of my less than pure thoughts' saying to myself. Yes indeed, what would Dr. Blyss say? I question my sanity knowing I just referred to Dr. Blyss as 'mine.'
The chime of the clock quickly brings me back to reality and what I must do tonight possibly for my sanity. It is now a quarter past eleven. Living on the outskirts of town has it's advantages. Not only will I go unobserved by the villagers, I smile realizing my little cottage is a prime location to explore the marshes.
While growing up in France, my uncle owned a stable where my love of horses was nurtured and my riding skills honed. Not wanting to risk my beloved horse in the swamps, but needing the best mobility, I decide to wear my riding outfit. Slipping out of my cumbersome dress, I pull on a pair of slim fitting pants, followed by a white shirt tucked in my pants, and a pair of black knee high riding boots. I pin back my hair and tuck it under my hat. Slipping on a black jacket, I gaze in the mirror and chuckle, " I'll look like a man in the dark."
Gathering a small lantern, I pause,
wondering if I should take one of my kitchen knives for protection. Thinking if
these are actual marsh phantoms, then how can a ghost hurt me? I grab my old
stable coat to wear against the cold night air, along with my father's pocket
watch and Dr. Blyss' lost note I stuff into my pocket. Taking a deep breath, I
head into the moonlit night.
Hearing the expected owls and small animals scurrying through the leaves, I swiftly make my way along a small path that runs along side the marshes. Not knowing any other information but the time, I hold the pocket watch close to the lantern and see it is nearly 12 o' clock. Not knowing which way to go, my choice is made for me by the familiar sound of approaching horses. Needing immediate cover, I crouch down and quickly move behind the nearest clump of bushes. My heart, now pounding in time to the thunderous beat hearing the horses cry as they stop directly in front of where I am hiding.
In the moonlight, I can see the
outline of several figures dressing in odd, skeleton costumes and black flowing
cloaks. Staying on their horses, they seem to be waiting on another.
" Where is he, he's never late," barks one of the skulls.
" Pipe down, he a busy man. He'll be here. He always is." retorts the other.
Everyone's attention is now focused on the sound of another horse swiftly approaching. The others move aside making room.
" You're late. Is anything the matter?" barks the first skull.
" Watch you mouth.” snarls the second.
" Gentleman please, I apologize for my tardiness, but a parson's work is never done you know," the all too familiar, gentle voice reassures.
My hand slaps over my mouth to suppress a gasp. Despite the skull costume and mask, I know to whom this soft voice belongs. I have heard it speak to me softly in my dreams. I long to hear this voice sooth my troubles away, knowing it is the very thing solely responsible for my internal torment since I came to this village. This beautiful, distinctive voice belongs to no other but Dr. Blyss.
As the others mumble, Dr. Blyss raises his hands commanding silence. I clasp my hands tighter to my mouth, my heartbeat pounding in my ears. I wonder for a moment if he can hear this as well. The night suddenly seems very quiet as I watch his head turn slowly looking from side to side searching for something, or someone.
" What is it?" asked one skull.
" I thought I heard something- that way.” Dr. Blyss points. " Why don't the two of you go have a look."
Following the order, both skeletons ride off up the dirt road.
I watch as Dr. Blyss dismounts his horse and walks slowly over to the bushes where I am hiding. He takes his cane and unexpectedly pokes me. Completely surprised, I jump up and start to run. Dr. Blyss, not taking the time to get back on his horse, runs after me. I have lived here long enough to heed all the warnings of where to walk on the marshes and luckily have taken daytime walks to familiarize myself with their murky waters. Not wanting to lead him to my home, I jump over a small clump of bushes and suddenly find myself rolling down a hill. I look up for a fraction of a second to see Dr. Blyss stop abruptly at the top of the hill, watching me descend. After a feeling of eternity, I finally come to rest. Dazed, I am lying on my stomach as I struggle to raise my head to see where I have stopped. Not faraway, I can see the dim light of the village in the moonlight. Knowing I am not far from my home, I manage to get to my feet. Taking a few stumbling steps, I am thankful that nothing is broken or sprained. Dusting off my stable coat, I make my way home as fast as my unsteady legs will take me.
Quickly shutting my cottage door, I go into my bedroom and take off the dirty stable coat. With a moan, I remove the rest of my disguise burying these clothes underneath the dress I wore this evening. Shutting the armoire, I pick up my stable coat, which is looking worse for wear. I reach into the pockets pulling out the various twigs and leaves that had become my unwilling passengers on the way down. Sifting through the debris on the floor, I turn my coat upside down shaking it vigorously. Horrified, I realize my father's pocket watch is missing.
" Oh no, what if Dr. Blyss finds it," I whisper. He will surely recognize the surname engraved in the watch." I cannot search anymore tonight, but must go back there at dawn to find it. I must find the watch.
Dr. Blyss: A New
I slept fitfully that night. Little
wonder, as skeletons danced through my dreams, fleshless fingers reaching out
pushing me downwards into the darkness. I am now falling swiftly, hearing the
wind whistle in my ears, helplessly descending farther into the darkness.
Despite not knowing what is at the bottom or if there is a bottom, I brace
myself for an impact. An impact that never arrives. Realizing I am falling for
eternity, I open my mouth and scream...
The jolting sound of my own screams awakens me. I open my eyes and see Dr. Blyss standing in my bedroom looking very worried. Not sure if I am still dreaming, I reach out my hand to touch his cloak. Dr. Blyss reaches down lightly touching my hand, my own hand pulling away as if burned by fire.
" Miss Danseuse, please forgive
this intrusion, but I was passing by and heard you screaming”, a very real Dr.
Blyss says to me.
Sitting up in my bed, I am unable to answer Dr. Blyss for a moment still feeling the effects of my nightmare.
Moving a bit closer to me, a look of concern crosses his face. “ Miss Danseuse, can you hear me? It's Dr. Blyss."
Shaking my head slightly, I finally realize where I am and who is standing before me in my bedroom. Wanting to jump up and run from my bed like a prudish old maid, I decide better and stay put for the moment.
Clearing my throat, I croak out a response. “ Dr. Blyss, what are you doing here? You said I was screaming, I must of had a nightmare...I'm sorry to cause any trouble."
" My dear, it's no trouble at all. As I was saying, I was walking past and heard you screaming.” His blue eyes cast downwards to the floor.
' Oh no, I'm sitting here in front of him in my nightgown. He must be embarrassed.' Suddenly, an almost devilish urge takes over my senses, desperately wanting to tease Dr. Blyss, liking the idea very much of him in my bedroom. But, the better half of my conscience tamps down this forbidden fantasy.
" Now that I am here and you are feeling better, you are feeling better aren't you, Miss Danseuse?"
" Oh yes, Dr. Blyss much better
He gives me a Mona Lisa smile, moving towards my bedroom door. He pauses and slowly turns back again.
" Miss Danseuse, I am glad you are feeling better. There is however, another matter I wish to discuss with you, but will call another time...."
" No please, don't leave Dr. Blyss”, with just a shade of panic in my voice. "If you could be so kind as to wait in the next room, I will be with you very shortly."
He smiles," Alright Miss Danseuse, I will wait for you”.
His voice flows through me, my imagination takes over for a second hearing those words, so full of hope and promise. Silently and briefly, we gaze at each other. I give him a small smile, my heart whispering endearments to Dr. Blyss only I can hear.
He shuts the door behind me. My
romantic haze now broken, as I understand the true nature of his last remark.
' He wants to discuss something with me. No! He knows it was me on the marshes last night!'
' Do not let yourself panic' as I jump from my bed, ripping the nightgown over my head.
I dash to my mirror and thankfully, I feel much worse than I look. 'I wonder what he looks like in the morning.' I ponder. Crossing myself, I continue dressing, not wanting to keep Dr. Blyss waiting.
I open my bedroom door and see Dr. Blyss sitting in my rocking chair. He rises and smiles.
" Well that was very quick”, A funny look crosses his face as if to say he didn't mean to say this. I suppress a smile.
" Dr. Blyss, you said you wanted to discuss a matter with me."
" Ah, yes." tossing back his cloak, he pulls out a handkerchief, handing it to me.
" As I said, I was out taking my morning walk when I came upon this lying beside a tree."
I unwrap the cloth and see it is my father's watch. I take a discreet deep breath; not knowing what Dr. Blyss will do next.
" It's quite a fine piece of craftsmanship. French I believe."
" Yes, it is.” Knowing this cat and mouse game is pointless, I sit in my rocking chair, feeling the warmth Dr. Blyss still there, I begin.
" Dr. Blyss, you know doubt
looked in the watch and saw the last name of Danseuse, which is why you are
here, to return the watch. I lost it recently and was very worried I'd never see
" The marshes can be very dangerous, especially at night," Dr. Blyss says in a quiet, low voice. Peering over his round wire glasses, he moves closer to me.
With all of my inner voices, this time I do not know what Dr. Blyss is going to do. Nevertheless, I can not bring myself to look up at him.
" Miss Danseuse, please look at me”, his voice is soft as silk.
Barely getting the nerve, I slowly raise my head to look at his face, his beautiful face...I'm lost.
" I realize you have only lived in this village for a short time, but what I am about to say is for your own safety."
He kneels down beside me, removing his hat.
" You have I'm sure heard the tales of the marsh phantoms" I wordlessly nod my head yes.
" Do you feel there are such creatures that roam the night looking for fresh victims?"
I know look directly at Dr. Blyss, " I truly love living in this village, but since my arrival, I am finding it increasingly difficult to believe what I am feeling."
Moving ever so slightly towards me, he places his hand on my arm, " Please tell me Miss Danseuse, what do you feel?" His voice, now in a soft whisper, " Tell only me, what you feel”.
I have read about this very feeling in poetry; time standing still when confronted with a heart-stopping event. I may be a woman who appears very competent of business and independence, but sadly, I am not this confident concerning affairs of the heart. My knowledge limited further of how to react to a gentleman in such a situation. I didn't think it was possible, but I notice my heart is pounding harder than it was last night out on the marshes.
" What do you want me to tell you, Dr. Blyss? How I feel about the marsh phantoms or how I feel about...something else." My voice sounds so small.
" I want you to tell me everything, leaving nothing out." His features are very intense.
" I have heard that confession is good for the soul. Do you feel I have done something wrong to warrant a confession?"
" No Miss Danseuse, naturally you would be curious after hearing stories of the marsh phantoms. I am asking you to please take heed on the marshes at night. Moving even closer to me, I can almost feel his breath on my cheek. "I am only concerned for your safety as I am only concerned for...." he abruptly stops. Taking me by surprise, he rises putting on his hat.
" I- I'm sorry Miss Danseuse, I have taken up enough of your time this morning."
“ You haven't taken up my time, Dr. Blyss. I enjoy seeing and speaking with you." ' Why don't you just throw yourself at his boots, Avril'
" Such kind words, thank you.” He smiles and moves to the door, "and thank you for seeing me this morning. I sincerely apologize for bursting into your bedroom in such a manner." I watch in fascination as a deep crimson blush creeps up his neck overtaking his gentle face. Oh, so sweet is this darling man, I wish I could reach up and tenderly kiss his cheek, telling him he is the only man I would ever want in my bedroom.
" There is no need to apologize, Dr. Blyss. You will always be welcome in my home, always."
With this being said, he treats me to another Mona Lisa smile, his cloak gently brushing my arm as he leaves.
As the door shuts, I release a breath I didn't realize I was holding. My head is swimming in a turbulent mixture of bewilderment, utter confusion, and an unyielding love for this man. I take another deep breath, the pleasant scent of dew on grass and soft breezes, a gift he has left me on this morning. Maybe I should take my own advice and confess. I need to understand what happened this morning. This is more than a new morning. It is a new beginning.
of Lady X
She scarcely slept at all that night,
and came down to breakfast feeling exhausted.
"Did you sleep well?" Blyss inquired, his voice honey like.
"I'm afraid not-Doctor."
“ I think I saw a ghost, last night."
“ Ah yes, the funeral procession of Captain Clegg."
“ Captain Clegg?"
of Lady X
Moving towards the breakfast table,
Blyss pull a chair out for me to sit. I do so, glancing back at his perfect
hands on the chair back.
" Yes, Captain Clegg.” Blyss says pouring me a cup of tea. " Remember, he was hanged today for his crimes on the high seas."
Did I detect the sound of defiance in Dr. Blyss’ voice just now, a glint in his blue eyes? Perhaps it is only the effect from my lack of sleep.
Sitting across from me, he takes a sip of his tea," But please, tell me about this dream that has you so upset”.
The Problem of
"I dreamed that I was walking
through this house; everything was dark. I heard a sound outside, went to the
front door, and opened it." She paused. The good Doctor watched her
attentively, but said nothing.
“ A hearse was traveling down the road. Nothing extraordinary about it, save that this was the middle of the night. And yet...it frightened me badly."
Blyss nodded. "How extraordinary. Yes, that's the funeral procession of Captain Clegg, as the legends describe it."
“ Why would it appear here?"
“ Two years ago to the day, he was buried here. There's a story that the old rascal didn't care to buried in hallowed ground so he arises and searches for another resting-place."
Milady shuddered. "Has anyone ever seen him?"
“Oh yes," said the Doctor. Milady's head began to swim. "People catch sight of him in mirrors, or approaching ‘round corners." He leaned over and patted her hand gently. "I do hope you never see him. They say his face appears as it looked at his death-horribly convulsed by pain."
Milady jumped to her feet out of nervousness. A wave of dizziness overcame her, and she just had cunning enough left to collapse in Blyss’ general direction, before darkness overtook her.
He caught her before she hit the floor. If anyone had been there, he would've seen a flicker of genuine compassion cross the Doctor's bland face, then fade as he checked her pulse and found it steady.
“ Well, dear wife”, he whispered. "A most interesting turn..."
The Problem with
Nearly calling for a servant, Blyss
stopped his voice and gazes down at Milady. He wants only to savor this moment
with his wife, vulnerable in his arms. Dr. Blyss feels a twinge of guilt;
obviously, his lurid, detailed account of Captain Clegg's death proved too much
for this delicate creature. Blyss managing quite well on his own gently lowers
Milady in his comfortable wing back chair, placing a quilt over her.
Dr. Blyss stares down at this woman, who had wished to marry a condemned man. A man who now finds himself falling in love with her. With a trembling hand, Blyss very lightly touched Milady’s hair, letting his fingers barely graze her cheek. Slowly lowering his head to within inches of her face, Blyss desperately needing to taste her lips, feel the warmth of her breath mingle with his own.
'You have driven me to distraction, my love. Your quick kiss through prison bars has left me wanting more, so much more.' Blyss thought to himself.
Suddenly Blyss froze. ‘ My Lord, what am I doing? I am a man of God, a vicar to whom many trust, including the beauty I am about to take advantage of for my own pleasure.'
Stepping back from the chair, Blyss staggers to a nearby dining room chair. Sitting down with a thud, he begins to ponder his dilemma. It all seemed so carefree in the beginning.
' My life has changed. I am no longer Captain Nathaniel Clegg a ruthless pirate, but Dr. Christopher Blyss, gentle vicar and man of God. A man who would never take advantage of a lady. I never did this when I was a pirate.'
Blyss, surprised at his turmoil over the situation, begins to put his pirate training to good use, taking charge of his emotions. Rising from the chair turning back to the still unconscious Milady, he weakens again. Reaching out, Blyss tenderly strokes her cheek, his thumb tracing her lips. “Nevertheless, I am still a man.” He whispers.
A barely audible moan comes from Milady's lips as her eyes flickered open. Blyss pulls back his hand, his other hand grasping a hold of it. Turning her head, she breaths in the faint sent of black tea and sweet herbs. A combination of scents, which she finds strangely comforting, and very familiar. Letting her eyes focus, she sees Dr. Blyss patting her hand.
" My dear, are you alright?"
Struggling under the heavy quilt, Milady sits up in the chair, as Blyss carefully holds a glass of water to her lips to sip.
“ What happened? I remember listening to your story of Captain Clegg, but nothing else until his moment."
Blyss, with a distinct look of guilt on his face, explains. “ My sincere apologies, Milady. I'm afraid my wild, overzealous tales of Captain Clegg are a bit strong for some tastes."
" I fainted?" Milady said with surprise.
" Yes my dear, you did indeed faint."
" I don't believe it. I've never fainted in my life."
" I assure you Milady, you did faint," Blyss added “Right into my arms."
" Oh, Dr. Blyss, I'm most dreadfully embarrassed."
" Do not let it concern you. You are in no condition for thoughts of added worry."
Walking over, Blyss pulls down a worn piece tapestry, silently summoning a servant.
" You may be over tired, perhaps it is best for you to retire."
A female servant enters the dining room, standing with her hands clasp in front of her apron.
" Could you help Milady to her room? She isn't feeling well and would like to retire now."
Both the maid and Blyss help Milady from the chair. While the maid had her by the hand, Dr. Blyss had his arm around her waist for extra support. His tight grip did not go unnoticed by Milady, who found herself sinking into his arms again. Swaying slightly as Blyss removed his arm, she then felt it necessary to lean on the maid.
A look of concern crossed Dr. Blyss’ face.
" Don't worry sir, I have her. She'll be fine." the maid smiled.
" Goodnight Dr. Blyss”, was all Milady could manage to say.
" Goodnight Milady, sleep well." 'I dare say no more to you now, my love.' Blyss silently thinks.
The door shuts behind him. Normally, Dr. Blyss would help the maid with Milady her bedroom. But he does not trust himself at the moment to be alone with her, in his home, in her bedroom. With only Milady, himself, and his out of control emotions, it may get a bit crowded in the tiny room. Walking back to Milady's dinner plate, he picks up her glass of sherry, and drinks.
' I could check on her later. What is the harm in this, and it is expected of me.'
Dr. Blyss puts down the glass, his hands coming together for prayer. 'I need your strength now, more than ever before.'
To find herself in her own room. It
was evening, but lamps had been brought. The sound that had awakened her came
again: a soft tap on the door.
“ Come in”, she called.
Blyss opened the door and stepped slowly into the room.
“ Are you feeling better?" He asked. All polite solicitude, but with an odd, strained note in his voice.
“ Much better, thank you." She could not help but notice how the glow of the lamps gave a warm, alabaster glow to his pallor.
“ I wanted to apologize for horrifying you with those stories." He came and sat beside her.
“ You needn't be." She took his hand gently. "You couldn't have known...not many people do, that I married Captain Clegg." She tells him the whole sordid story.
He was very quiet for a moment. "I see. My tale must have brought back terrifying memories for you. But there is one thing you haven't told me-forgive me, none of my business, but-why did you choose Clegg?"
It was her turn to fall silent. "I think," she finally said. "I was drawn to him-he was the most attractive man I'd ever seen, until...recently. I almost think I loved him. Do you think I did wrong, in marrying a gallows’ bird?"
He looked at her strangely. "If so, were not falling in love with him punishment enough?"
'If falling in love wasn't punishment enough....' Those words continue to linger through my head interrupting my slumber. Milady is gone from my home, leaving on her own accord and the strong will she possesses to do so. As a man of God, I now for the first time in my life, question my own reasons for wanting her to stay. For my own sanity perhaps, but I think not. Losing one's mind over another is not a new subject, but this is a strange feeling none the less. There is however, no denying the very real feelings of loneliness of not having her near, irrationally thinking of any insane way to return to her side. Yet here I stand cloaked in black to conceal the secret life I've made, fooling myself into thinking I am a changed man. I think about my first wife, wondering if I ever truly loved her. The life I chose wasn't one for a woman as noble as herself. Trying in vain to convince her of this before we married, this dear woman said she loved me and couldn't be without me in her life. Being a cocky pirate, I felt flattered that a woman of her social stature wanted the likes of me. When she died delivering our only child, a daughter, I didn't feel grief stricken, but only regret not having given her the kind of life she deserved. Her punishment was falling in love with the wrong man. I fancy, it seems the old saying of what goes around comes around does has a grain of truth to it after all.I fall back onto my bed, knowing no rest will come tonight, my spirit defeated. Thoughts of Milady drift though my soul, imagining her asleep in her own bed tonight hoping she will be safe. I do have the power to protect her, if nothing else. I think of another saying: It's better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. I wonder if the author of this pearl of wisdom was ever in love. No pain compares to unrequited love, not even the hangman's noose choking the life from my body. This pain is all consuming, and if given the opportunity, it will destroy. I can't begin to count the many times I have talked one of my parishioners out of doing something rash for the sake of love. I can't help but laugh- Ha, Rash I have to keep my eye on that devil. He'll stop at nothing to take her away- I stop myself knowing this is one of those irrational feelings I have heard and preached about. I have to get some sleep; she will be here early tomorrow if she is to retrieve her gloves I happened to let her forget. Being a pirate did have its moments.