|Steinfeld Abbey glass|
We only catch a small glimpse of the treasure's guardian. That's quite enough, too. It's an amazing description, don't you think? Horrifyingly close and intimate.
At the very end of the story, Gregory comments, "One thing I did notice in the carving on the well-head, which I think must have escaped you. It was a horrid, grotesque shape perhaps more like a toad than anything else, and there was a label by it inscribed with the two words, "Depositum custodi." My question is, what does that look like? A well-head is apparently the part that sticks up out of the ground, so it would be the stone surrounding the well itself--but this is clearly quite a large well and earlier the 'curb' is described as being stone carved with reliefs of suitably scriptural scenes. So in this case it would seem that the well-head is some part of the surround, not the whole thing. Does it stick up? Is it where you draw the water? Does anyone know what it would look like?
This painted stained glass is a piece that really is from the Steinfeld Abbey mentioned in the story; MRJ saw it and other pieces in 1904 while cataloging one Lord Brownlow's collection (these days you can see it at the V&A). So, you can imagine the stained glass in the story as looking similar to this, and now we know where James got the idea.
The BBC did adaptations of MRJ's stories back in the 1970s. I haven't watched any of them yet, but I might. "The Treasure of Abbott Thomas" is supposed to be fairly good, so if you'd like to watch it, the whole thing can be found on youtube at this link.
I've been doing a good deal of rather frantic sewing on a dress for my niece, so yesterday I listened to some of the "Podcast for the Curious" while I was sewing. I quite enjoyed it; it's two British guys who just talk about every detail of whatever story they're doing that week. Bits get read aloud, but not the whole story. It has made me realize that I read too fast and miss some of the detail; listening to the stories read aloud (as, after all, they originally were meant to be) would be really great. As a rule I don't like audiobooks, but I would like to listen to these!