Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tales from Patricia Wentworth

I finished The Ivory Dagger by Patricia Wentworth (1953) yesterday. I love how Wentworth adds interesting short tales and urban myths here and there in her novels. There were two worth mentioning in The Ivory Dagger, one of which concerns a woman who preferred to be arrested for a murder she didn't commit than let her younger husband discover that she wore a wig (apparently he'd always told her what pretty hair she had).

Wentworth's Through the Wall (1952) has a few tales that would make great stories on their own, including this:

There was a story which she had heard Eliza tell when she was a child... it was about a woman who had called a dead man up out of the sea. There was a lot about charms and a full moon that went by her, but some of it she never forgot. Sarah Bethel was the woman's name... she waited on the turn of the tide like the wise woman told her - "He went with the tide and he'll come with the tide, if he comes at all, and no good counting on it." But he did. The tide was far out and the moon rising, and with the turn of the tide he came. First she knew of it something splashed in the shallow water, and then she saw him, black against the moon. It was one of those big full moons... She saw the shape of him against it, and the splashing came on up to the edge of the water and stopped there. Sarah Bethel... stood where she was, and the splashing stopped, and there was a darkness between her and the moon. And when she could move again she came away, running and falling and catching her breath, and beating on the first door she came to to be taken in. That was the story - a full moon, and the turn of the tide, and a dead man coming up from the sea. And Sarah Bethel who called him and turned coward when he came.

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