Thursday, May 03, 2012

Documents Relating to a Lady's Mirror

Documents Relating to a Lady's Mirror.
Number 6, The Albany
12th June 1867

It has come to my attention that you have offered for sale an object, of which I have certain information that I can only conclude you must not be aware. I refer to your advertisement in the classified section of the Times newspaper, Friday last. The object was described as ‘A vintage looking glass, framed in the rococo style, present at the shocking murder of Maria DuBois, and haunted by her unquiet spirit since that event’.
I do not know how the object came into your possession, but I feel I must inform you that the DuBois family is still extant and as the nephew and heir of Maria DuBois I have an interest in the property in question. I also must object in the strongest possible terms that you have attempted to use the tragic death of my aunt for pecuniary gain. If, as you claim, the object is possessed of an immortal soul then it should be treated with respect and discretion and a gentleman would return it to the DuBois family. I pass over the possibility that it is not, as that would not be the realm of a gentleman, but instead that of a common charlatan.
Yours faithfully,
Jonathan DuBois

12 Chandlers Court
13th June 1867

I have received your letter of the 12th with some surprise. The looking glass of which you enquired was purchased by auction from a house clearance after the dispersal of Mme DuBois worldly goods in accordance with the directions of the probate court. As the disposal of the court is final, our purchase of the item gave us full and clear title to the object in question. The interest of any heirs had already been dealt with.
As for the supernatural aspects of the case I can assure you that they are very much present. It would be unprofessional to offer for sale such an item without giving fair warning to any potential purchaser. As to the rights of a relative in such a case, I am informed that both English law and good manners are silent as to a nephew’s position in dealing with the spectre of his aunt. Nevertheless I am more than willing to discuss the matter with you and will not sell the item until we have done so. I am available at my business address every day for the next week between the hours of nine o’clock and twelve o’clock.
Yours Faithfully
P N Snidesworthy

Advertisement from the Hounslow Telegraph dated 16th  September 1867
The DUBOIS Looking Glass of Doom, present at the shocking and grisly murder of MME MARIA DUBOIS and haunted by her unearthly presence since; and recently employed with villainous intent by Jonathan DuBois, the KILLER of CHANDLER COURT in his gruesome crime resulting in the UNPLEASANT DEATH of Pericles Nathanial Snidesworthy, as reported in the press throughout the English Speaking World.
Visitors can also see the HORRIFIC trousers of Doctor Crippenstein; the very hand of cards that lead to the DREADFUL MASSACRE OF BALLS POND ROAD; and the terribly malformed skeleton of the notoriously dissolute COUNTESS OF WEST GENEVA; as well as many other cautionary and educational exhibits. 
Open Monday to Saturday, 10 til 6. 3d per visitor, 1½d for children under 6.

Notes: This is the free choice work I did between terms of my creative writing class, 569 words of well polished possibly supernatural crime/suspense. Other than a few grammar queries (put right here) no one in the class had any improvements to suggest. What the hell am I paying for?

Still, good to see I have the faux-Victorian prose down pretty well. Epistolary novels and stories were popular at the time, and Dickens and Collins are one of the roots of the English detective novel. In addition they, like many Victorian writers, fed the contemporary hunger for the bizarre and grotesque. It's almost as though I think about this stuff!

I don't know if 3d is the right amount for a museum of the curious and macabre, but nor do most other people. When I get around to writing more of this kind of thing I'll do some research.

My favourite line was also a favourite of the group: "As to the rights of a relative in such a case, I am informed that both English law and good manners are silent as to a nephew's position in dealing with the spectre of his aunt."

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