By Gordon Rugg
Some ideas are better than others. This one probably belongs in the “others” category…
Have you ever wondered what would have resulted if only Dame Barbara Cartland had shared her talents with H.P. Lovecraft in a collaborative work of literature?
If so, wonder no more. This is the first in a set of articles that interweave text from one of Dame Barbara’s works with a little-known tale from Lovecraft. It’s written as if the two authors had taken it in turns to add a new sentence to the unfolding story. Between those lines, you can see the dynamic tensions of two unique talents striving to deploy their distinctive visions to best effect.
The story is told by an anonymous narrator.
I hope that this work will bring a unique new sensation to readers.
The Shunned Lioness and the Lily House
Episode 1: The House
As the Earl of Rockbrook drove down the drive of the enormous Georgian mansion which had been in his family since the days of Charles II, he felt no pride of possession. The history of the house, opening amidst a maze of dates, revealed no trace of the sinister either about its construction or about the prosperous and honorable family who built it. In fact, he hardly saw it as deep in this thoughts he drove his horses between the ancient oak trees to draw up in front of the steps leading to the front door with its high Corinthian pillars. Yet from the first a taint of calamity, soon increased to boding significance, was apparent.
One look at their new master’s face told the servants wearing the Rockbrook crested buttons that he was in a dark mood. Later I heard that a similar notion entered into some of the wild ancient tales of the common folk–a notion likewise alluding to ghoulish, wolfish shapes taken by smoke from the great chimney, and queer contours assumed by certain of the sinuous tree-roots that thrust their way into the cellar through the loose foundation-stones.
They were all a little nervous of him as he was an unknown quantity. This much I knew before my insistent questioning led my uncle to show me the notes which finally embarked us both on our hideous investigation.
In next week’s episode: The Earl’s dark past…
In this series, I’ve used an even mix of sentences from Dame Barbara Cartland’s The Lioness and the Lily and H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shunned House. The sentences from The Lioness and the Lily are not consecutive, but they are in chronological order. The sentences from The Shunned House are not in chronological order. The plot, such as it is, is a mixture of both stories.
I’ve used the Project Gutenberg edition of The Shunned House.
I’m using both texts under fair-use terms, as limited quotations for humorous purposes.
The photo of The Lioness and the Lily is one that I took, of my own copy of the book. I’m using it under fair use policy (humour, and it’s an image of a time-worn cover).
The other photos come from the locations below. I’ve slightly cropped them to fit, and given a faint pink wash to the pictures of Lovecraft and Cthulhu to make them more in keeping with the Cartland ethos.