The Ghost Moth
The sky was ominously dark and it was beginning to rain as I pushed through large thorn bushes until I saw some dark arches and beyond them a huge gothic house
fronted by a row of columns, each decorated with an annulet and separated by more beautiful arches with a scallop shell and true lover's knot design.
Now quite wet and keen to get out of the storm, I banged on the door and was admitted to the house by a red–necked footman who took me into a sitting room
where there was an old lady, in old fashioned clothes, who looked just like Mother Shipton with a pebble prominent, hooked nose and jutting chin.
The room was as strange as the old lady, with a large wainscot in oak and two striking frosted green fire screens decorated with a phoenix,
surrounded by a repeated Hebrew character and bizarrely interspersed by a Chinese character. On either side of the fire were burnished brass fire irons
in the shape of moths. There was a blue–bordered carpet and at the windows were heavy dark brocade curtains which the red necked footman drew to
shut out the lightening that was now illuminating the sky.
"Well traveller, you look a bit uncertain" said the old lady, "Why are you here?" "I got lost on a country walk and then the storm started,
and your forester directed me to this house where he said I could get shelter." As I spoke the door opened and a young woman, I can only describe as looking
like a vestal virgin, came in. Dressed all in white with a blouse of Brussels lace, a long white skirt with a lace border, and a white ermine stole draped loosely
over her shapely shoulders and held at her breast by a cameo. On her finger was a gem, I think it was a large emerald and it contrasted strongly with her white clothes.
At her side was an odd–looking dog. "This is my niece Fern Moth" cackled the old lady, "why don't you sit with her next to the fire and get warm."
I felt rather uncomfortable and suspected something was not right but did as I was bid, noticing as I sat, the scorched carpet in front of me and a smell of burning.
Struggling for something to say to this strange young woman I remarked on her unusual dog which she described to me as a Channel Islands Pug;
"He came from Jersey but is obviously not a pure pug as you can see he has one feathered ear and one smooth ear and a large lappet hanging from his jowls.
His name is Flame." She smiled as she spoke and put her hand on mine and it was like being hit by a northern dart: cold striking through my whole body.
Suddenly I knew I had to get away, this was a place of evil and I leapt to my feet, running towards the door. The old lady turned her long snout towards me
saying "I wouldn't go out there if I were you, its dangerous. My husband, Hugo Moth, the nonconformist preacher, keeps many wild animals that roam free
in our grounds. We have the biggest reed leopard in England and our garden tiger is ferocious." Unheeding I pushed past the footman and fled outside,
falling over a pale tussock covered in knot grass. Staggering to my feet I fled past a sycamore tree and wormwood bushes that took on strange, eerie shapes,
and then a tree covered in peach blossom and, quite out of season, a clump of butterbur. Suddenly I was on the road and in front of me I saw the Saxon pub,
the lights and streamer outside making it very welcoming. I crashed in and was engulfed with the soothing smell of beer and nutmeg. There was only one drinker,
a man with a white shirt and a black collar and he raised an eyebrow when I told him of my encounter with the two women in the Gothic house.
"You've been at the beer already" he said, "the Gothic house used to be owned by the Moth family but burnt down 150 years ago."
Quiz designed by Marion Trew March 2020