Tuesday, October 23, 2012

James-A-Day: A View From a Hill

I ought to make a list of haunted items in James stories; it's would be so varied and funny.

Curtains
Lots of books
Mezzotint
Dollhouse
Bedclothes (twice)
Prayer-book
Whistle
Binoculars!

Yes, today's possessed item is a pair of binoculars.
They have lain undisturbed for years, so the current owner doesn't realize, but lends them to a friend, who promptly activates them by giving an accidental blood offering.  (I love how Mr. Fanshawe reacts by calling it a "disgusting Borgia box" --but then he makes a mistake in saying "I don't begrudge a drop of blood in a good cause."  He'll be taken seriously.)  The binoculars have an amazing property for the person who can use them, and Mr. Fanshawe is bewildered by what he sees.

It seems that one Mr. Baxter made the binoculars and filled them with...I suppose, the boiled-down essence of a man hanged long ago. (My book's notes say that it's the actual eyes that were used, but that seems unlikely to me if Mr. Baxter was grubbing around for centuries-old remains.)  Looking through the glasses lets the viewer see the landscape as the dead man would have seen it. But Mr. Baxter has been meddling too much in what he ought not, and so he is taken away, presumably by the ghost of the hanged man.

I gather that there are many beliefs about dark supernatural powers present in the remains of a hanged man.  Most people have probably heard of a Hand of Glory, for example.

There's another hint about the blood offering in Mr. Baxter's story, when he gleefully hints that "you'll have to pay for peepin', so I tell you."

How are you doing with your James-a-day story?

No comments: