By Gordon Rugg
For reasons that seemed good at the time, I’m writing a serial inspired by the concept of Dame Barbara Cartland collaborating in writing with H.P. Lovecraft. In the previous episodes, we have seen the two inimitable talents working in harmony, with the underlying dark mysteries in Cartland’s classic plot being masterfully elaborated by Lovecraft’s unique style. In this episode, we see this harmony continue, as the story swells to thrilling new heights…
The story so far…
The Earl of Rockbrook has succumbed to the blighted charms of Lady Louise Welwyn, and faces the prospect of having to marry her, even though he does not particularly like her as a person. Now, as he ponders the consequences, his mind turns to the gulf between the pure true love he craves and the barren, gnarled and terrrible fate which lurks before him.
The Shunned Lioness and the Lily House
Episode 3: A purer love
Thinking it over, he knew exactly what he required of the woman who would bear his name. No sane person had ever seen it, and few had ever felt it definitely.
She would be tall, dignified and capable of doing justice to the Rockbrook diamonds. Such a thing was surely not a physical or biochemical impossibility in the light of a newer science which includes the theories of relativity and intra-atomic action.
Secondly, the Earl on considering the hypothetical woman to whom he was not yet prepared to give a name, was certain he would not wish to marry anyone who aroused in him the sort of emotions which he considered rather embarrassing. The anthropomorphic patch of mold on the floor, the form of the yellowish vapor, and the curvature of the tree-roots in some of the old tales, all argued at least a remote and reminiscent connection with the human shape; but how representative or permanent that similarity might be, none could say with any kind of certainty.
He went upstairs to change into his riding-clothes and he knew that his Army batman for some years, was aware that he was in a black mood, and had no wish to add to it. The young soldier’s return was not a thing of unmitigated happiness.
He gave the horse its head after they were clear of the trees in the Park and galloped across country at a speed which made it impossible to think of anything but the demands on his horsemanship. There was a suggestion of queerly disordered pictures superimposed one upon another; an arrangement in which the essentials of time as well as of space seemed dissolved and mixed in the most illogical fashion.
The unexpectedly when he was still in full gallop the horse stumbled and the Earl knew he had caught his hoof in a rabbit-hole. It was of this world, and yet not of it–a shadowy geometrical confusion in which could be seen elements of familiar things in most unfamiliar and perturbing combinations.
Then almost quicker than thought he found himself falling, felt the impact as he hit the ground and the crack of his collar-bone breaking. The rest is shadowy and monstrous.
In next week’s stirring episode: A room, but in which house…?
In this series, I’ve alternated between 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.