15. Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle George W.M. Reynolds, Live With R.E. Prindle

November 16, 2020

15.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

14.  Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

A Conference With Lady Saxondale

A play in one act and one scene.

Characters:

R.E. Prindle, narrator.

Dr. Anton Polarion, noted psychologist.

Dug Warbaby, assistant to Dr. Polarion.

George W. M. Reynolds, Chronicler of the Crimes of Lady Saxondale.

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale

Ralph Faerfiled, Lady Saxondale’s putative son.

Chiffin the Cannibal, criminal

Dr. Ferney   famed London Physician of the 1850s.

Various crew and technical support.

All are on stage all the time.

Scene:  Located on the entrance and apron of the Wormhole in the basement floor of the Magic Shop in Portland, Oregon.  A rectangle has been marked in front of the Wormhole.  A white line has been drawn across the rectangle a few feet from the entrance to the Wormhole.

Lady Saxondale has been called from the pages of the immortal novel of its author George W.M. Reynolds, (1814-79) sometimes going by G.W.M. Reynolds.  Lady Saxondale has the appearance of a hologram as she has never had physical existence.  George Reynolds  who has been released from the beyond for this occasion, has an ephemeral appearance.  R.E. Prindle as a living person appears live.  Dr. Polarion and Mr. Warbaby are psychological projections, or alter egos, of Mr. Prindle.  They are dependent on him.

Dr.    the famed physician of London is also a fictional character of George Reynolds and should be treated as Lady Saxondale is.  Both he and Lady Saxondale are not permitted on the reality side of the white line as they have emerged from the Worm hole and will return to it.  George Reynolds as a historical once living person but now dead has the ability to move back and forth of white line with no peril as he can ascend to heaven from either place.

Mr. Prindle and his alter egos cannot cross the line without becoming lost down the Wormhole nor can any of the filming crew and technical support and they too are living entities.

George W.M. Reynolds is the author of The Crimes Of Lady Saxondale.  He has been released as a spectre from Heaven or Hell, it isn’t clear.  Lady Saxondale is a fictional emission from his mind and her image can be found in the pages of the novel.

The scene  is a ‘dreamscape’ from Mr. Prindle’s mind.

Lady Saxondale Harriet Faerfield is a gorgeous woman, 5’10-6’0.

She is magnificently built, sylph like, wonderful ample bust, slender for a large woman and proud and haughty as though from humble beginnings.

George W.M. Reynolds if 5’6” stout but not fat, dandyish in the 1850s style, he wears a short beard one inch wide encircling the face from sideburns to under the chin.  The rest of the face and chin are shaved.  He and the Lady dress in costume of the 1850s.  George is a self-made man, the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century and owner of his own publishing company, confident an jaunty.  A man of the world, he’s jaunty having a humorous countenance having experienced the world but is now more amused by it than not.

Dr. Anton Polarion can be any height, more slender than heavy, dresses sedately but with a sense of style, disgustingly wear brown shoes with a dark suit, quiet tie.

Dug Warbaby is a bouncy guy, sees everything as a joke,  he can be young or middle aged.

Dr.  Ferney will be young at first appearance then will reappear at 60 yrs of age.  He dresses as any Doctor would. He has had a secret love and devotion for Lady Saxondale from 30 to 60.

Ralph Faerfield is a Libertine looking very dissipated.  Rather homely and unpleasant looking but wealthy though his mother.

Chiffin the Cannibal is as ugly and degraded as a character can be.

As the scene opens from above, the tech gear and cameras and all are scattered across the area.  The dark entrance to the Wormhole looms behind the far side of the rectangle.  Lady Saxondale will be positioned against that backdrop, she is not yet present.  Stage left George Reynolds is present. R.E. Prindle stands a few feet from George to the right of Prindle Dr. Anton is sitting with a clipboard and pen.  Dug Warbaby hovers behind him.  Chiffen, Ralph Faerfield and Dr.     as holograms are behind the front line.

Head Tech:  We’re ready, is everyone here?

R.E.:  Lady Saxondale hasn’t’ appeared yet but keep the film rolling Bob while we introduce ourselves but focused on her entrance.  Make it as dramatic as possible.  This all has to filmed on the first take.  We won’t get another shot.  Do not interrupt, just keep filming.

George, or should I call you Mr. Reynolds?

George:  You can call me George, we’re all friends here.  (chuckles) At least I hope Lady Saxondale will agree.

R.E.:  Yes, well, I’m R.E. Prindle your reader and organizer of the conference.  Next to me is Dr. Anton Polarion, an alternate persona of mine and an eminent psycho-analyst.

George:  Psycho-analyst?

R.E.:  Yes, George, since your time psychology has come a long way.  I know you were a pretty good psychologist for your time but I’ve always wanted to know, did you ever visit Dr. Charcot at the Salpetriere in your later years?

George:  Yes I did. I met him once in, I don’t know, maybe 1873 I went over to Paris to see him in action.  Observed one of his seances where he hypnotized those poor hysteric female subjects.  Seemed like too much of a showman for me.  What ever became of him?

R.E.:  He and his disciple Pierre Janet pretty much laid the foundation for modern psychology.  A man named Sigmund Freud visited Charcot in the eighties and was able to sort out the nineteenth century development and impose his vision of psychology on the world.  It was he who devised the word psycho-analysis, he was a real disturber.

George:  Dr. Polarion.  (tips his head-

Dr. Anton,  All my pleasure, Mr. Reynolds, George.  R.E. and I have read your books with great pleasure.  R.E.’s more historical while I’m psychological although as must be obvious we share our knowledge as well as our brain.  I hope you don’t mind if I speak of you familiarly but after all what’s a few million words between friends?

Given your place in time and space I’m very impressed with the soundness of your intelligence.  You remind me somewhat of Edgar Rice Burroughs, of whom I’ve done an extended study, in that your personalities were accreted in a similar manner.

George:  Excuse me, accreted personality.

Anton:  Yes. One’s life is merely a stack of years while development from inception to death follows universally similar patterns, that is the individual matures at the same periods of life.  The sequence of events forming your life are quite distinct.

You were born in 1814, propitious year, in Kent, then removed to the island Guernsey at the age of two, 1816, where you lived until you were moved back to Kent six years later in 1822 when you were eight.  An interesting six years in your development.  You mention that time a few times in your writing.

Then in 1822 your father died leaving you an orphan with only your mother to care for you. Then in 1826, 4 years later at the age of 12 you were entered to the Sandhurst Military College by your Guardian, Duncan McArthur from whom you obtained your third name.  You can see how the periods of your life are stacking up.  Sandhurst was a very painful four years which went a long way towards forming your underlyng personality.

Now, Duncan McArthur was your father’s best friend, a naval surgeon with whom your father, a Captain may have served.  Being military they were probably stern disciplinarians while in your novel, The Steam Packet, your hero mentions his guardian who he hated and who as the executor of your mother’s will absolutely refused to tell you how much was your inheritance and of what it consisted.  My conclusion then is that he probably cheated you out of a fair amount of money.

George:  That is exactly my opinion.

Anton: Your time at Sandhurst was very unpleasant.  Military life did not agree with you. Entering at twelve you were at the mercy of the older students and we’ve all read Tom Brown’s School Days. Horrifying movie too.

George:  Movie?

Anton:  Yes, photography was developing in your day so that it was soon found how to take rapid photographs in seqence, put them on film strips and project them onto a screen so that live action was captured and preserved.  In time sound and color was added and, in my opinion the human mind was corrupted, lifted from its anchorings.  And then things got really exciting.

George:  You mean this meeting could be recorded and preserved.

Anton:  Such is the case George and such is what is happening.  That is a Wormhole where your characters are standing who we have abstracted from your pages with the appearance of being living people, we have brought you back from the dead for this occasion, I am merely a projection of a facet of R.E.’s brain, as well as Dug behind me, so that R.E. and the tech people doing the filming are the only living people here.  Amazing isn’t it?

George:  I -I- you can’t…

Anton:  It’s true George. Wonders of modern science, no magic involved.  You can’t believe how overwhelmed I am to actually be talking to that great writer George W.M. Reynolds.  But to continue.  While you were at Sandhurst you saw a soldier brutally whipped for a very slight reason and that changed your life becoming a major fixation.

George:  Fixation?

Anton:  Yes. Psychological term, Idee Fixe in Pierre Janet’s term.  An idea you can’t get out of your mind that affects your future life. You were terrified out of your mind.  Then in March of 1830 when you were fifteen, your mother died leaving you a complete orphan.  Your whole psyche must have sunk into your breast leaving you in a depression.  You were now depending on the martinet, Duncan Reynolds your guardian while your majority was five long years away.  You had to get out of Sandhurst.  You couldn’t stay with the possible refuge of your mother removed.  But you didn’t know how.  Then, one night in the Fall of 1830 as you were returning from liberty in London you were held up by highwaymen.  The leader of the highwaymen, who you designate as Arnold in your novel written, first draft, only two years later in 1832 while you were in France.  You rewrote the novel in 1835, published it, but withheld publication in England for, perhaps, obvious reasons. After all, you were describing your crime.  However in 1836 it was published in the United States.

I’m convinced that the novel was based on a true story as the say of the movies.  Is that true.

George:  As you say Anton, based on a true story.  But, yes, something like happened to me on the Hounslow road.  As you say, I was stopped by a couple bravoes that he, who I designate as Arnold, was training.  As I wrote, he had plans into which I fell perfectly.  There I was, between the hell of Sandhurst that was driving me out of my mind, and a life of crime that Arnold made sound really attractive.  Duncan broke off with me at that point but I didn’t care.  I hated him, I hated the Army and he was military to the bone.  And so I with Arnold worked the swindle.  We were found out and as you have probably divined I took the English solution and fled across the channel to France.  I don’t know what you think Anton, and I don’t care.  I was between the devil and the deep blue sea and I chose the deep blue sea from which I emerged whole and entire a few years later.  It was a good choice.  Painful but at least I was a free man.

Anton: Bravo, George, wonderful.  Yes, you brought your bark to shore with honors.  Reminds of Caesar among the pirates. Joined in with them while captured  but when redeemed took his task force with him and wiped them out.

But, to continue… You arrived in France and a whole new developmental period in you life began.  Perhaps the most essential.  I’m guessing, but I believe among the first things you did was to read the works of the Marquis de Sade.

George: I was married in 1832.

Anton: At eighteen.

George:  Yes.  But M’sieu Donatien, yes, that was a lightning bolt.  The Libertine bible.  There was material to think about.  It took a while to digest.  I was repulsed by many of his conclusions and offended by his method but there was food for thought.

I think it’s obvious that I’m very well read.  In my reading I noticed this Libertine strain in the Hellfire Clubs that began appearing about 1720 becoming more entrenched with every passing year combined with that rowdy, lawless strain epitomized by Duke Wharton and his Mohocks.  My days Of Hogarth or The Mysteries of Old London deals with this in my own way.  And of course in my youth Pierce Egan introduced Tom and Jerryism with Corinthian Tom.

Anton:  Was it then that you wished to become a Man of the World?

George:  Yes, the attitude was necessary.  Greenwood of was of that strain in The Mysteries of London.  Advancing civilization toned down the rowdyism some so that it evolved more or less into the Man of the World or his lesser Man About Town.  Yes, I was something of a Dandy and aspired to that sophistication of the Man of The World.  It was either that or insanity.  So, I became what you are, Anton, a psychologist.  Obviously we were primitive in our day but I imagined that I shown amongst my peers.  Of course I learned a great deal during my short visit to Charcot’s Salpetriere but that was after my novelistic career had concluded.

Anton:  Why did you stop?

George:  I had nothing left to say.  The attic was bare.

Anton:  And so you set about learning Paris and France.  You made a remarkable job of it too.  I am astonished at the depth of your abilities in your Pickwick Abroad.  You must have put your time to good use.

George:  No grass grew under my feet Anton.  I was hungry for knowledge and neither shy nor backward.  And then in 1835 they caught up with me of course.

Anton:  They?

George:  Yes. The Jews, the money lender I thought I had so successfully defrauded tracked me down in Paris. Another Jewish money lender, his accomplice sought me out and got me to enter into a usury scheme, cleaned me out, bankrupted me with a wife in child I was responsible for.  Not very bright of me was it?  Well, live and learn.  Quite shattered I picked up wife and child and returned to England.  I read and speak French but I was totally ignorant of the grammar, so I couldn’t write it.  Back to England where I knew the language to begin my writing career there. My god, Anton, you don’t know the anxiety.  Nothing was working for me and there I was in 1844 writhing in desperation.  Then George Stiff sought me out and the rest, as they say, is history.

(Laughter on set, as a shimmering in front of the Wormhole announces the arrival of Lady Saxondale descending as though an angel from above.  Dr. Ferney quietly goes into ecstasies at the appearance of his secret love, moving closer to her.)

Harriet Faerfield, Lady Saxondale:  You called?  I make my entrance.  Wherefore was I disturbed?

Anton:  Lady Saxondale.  We’re very pleased that you could come.  We’re having a discussion today about your life.  I am Doctor Anton Polarion, a psychologist, and to your right there is your creator George Reynolds, the author of your biography, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes.

(Lady Saxondale shudders at the mention of her crimes.)

Harriette:  Oh, so that’s Mr. Reynolds is it?  Little do I have much to thank from his pen.

Anton:  Yes, and behind me here is my assistant Dug Warbaby.  R.E. Prindle to my left, the organizer and your summoner.  The rest you know, Ralph, Chiffin, and Dr. Ferney.

Harriette:  Good God, if I’d known Ralph and Chiffin were here I wouldn’t have come.  Good to see you again Dr. Ferney.

George:  I see you’re late us usual, Harriet.

Harriet:  Yes, I had to be materialized from the pages of your defamatory novel and that was technically very difficult.  And how did you get here?

George:  I’ve, um, been called from the great beyond.  Something Houdini never achieved, try as he  did.  Let’s leave it at that. (Coughs, others laugh.)

Harriet:  So, I suppose you’ve called me to laugh at me and mock me?  It won’t work.

Anton:  No Ma’am, we haven’t.  We’re interested in your side of the story.  Should we call you Harriet or Lady Saxondale, my Lady?

Harriet:  My Lady will suffice.

Anton:  Then, My Lady ,we are actually here to examine George’s presentation of you and whether you were quite as guilty as you were made to seem.  Let us remember that the story is George’s and he has it on paper.  Nevertheless, having composed his novel and thrown it on the waters of time to that extent he has lost control of the discussion and we may evaluate his intent and its execution, as it were, objectively.

George:  Who told you that?

R.E. (with a smirk)  That’s the way it is and I am in control of this situation.

George:  Humph!

Anton: Enough boys, we’re working.  Certainly your first crime, My Lady, can be excused as foisted on you by uncontrollable circumstances and of course one crime leads to the another not so much as you willed any of it in my opinion, but as your very fate forced it upon you.  Not really culpable in my opinion.

George:  She had options, she made decisions.

Anton: Not in my opinion.

Harriet:  That is a little more understanding than I could hope Dr. Polarion.  Mr. Reynold apparently had some vendetta to excise.

Anton:  As I read the novel, your first crime was completely unavoidable.  I believe Mr. Reynolds did you an injustice there.

George:  Stop a moment!  What she did was a willful act and a crime of deception solely for her own benefit.

Harriet:  I dare say, Mr. Reynolds, and was not it a crime on the part of Ralph Faerfield here, to abduct my baby with the intent to murder it for his own selfish purposes?  Wherefore should I endure that without rescuing my interests?  And, as a result he introduced the despicable Chiffin the Cannibal into my life and home causing indescribable pain and worse, humiliation. Do you realize how he destroyed my peace of mind?

R.E.:  Hold on, hold on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  Why don’t we start at the beginning to keep things in order.

George: I…

Harriet:  Hold! I will tell the story; he’s already had his chance and botched it.  The instigator of the whole matter was my husband’s son by his first wife, Ralph Faerfield.

Ralph:  I had my rights being violated.

Harriet:   Your rights being violated?  You forfeited those rights by your Libertine life style and wastrel habits.  Your father did not want you to inherit his title and besmirch it.

Ralph I have my side…

Harriet:  Shut up, you vile boy.  Ralph was a wastrel.  His father, my husband, was alarmed by his reckless ways, his mortgaging his future to those Jewish money lenders, the only people reckless enough to take a chance on him and then at a ruinous compound interest of thirty percent.  Excessive interest that would eat up the resources of the estate and make a long lineage disappear.

My husband took alarm and decided to balk Ralph by creating a new heir.  I was selected to marry him and bear that heir.  Even though my husband was much older than myself I had always been a good girl so when I was requested to marry him I made no objections.  Thus, I was elevated into the nobility, which I considered no small thing.  I wanted to be Lady Saxondale and I make no apologies for that.

Ralph: You only married him for the position, money, there was no love involved.  You were just a high class prostitute.  And besides the estate was entailed.

R.E.  Enough of that Ralph, once more and away you go.

Harriet:  I therefore did marry and quickly became pregnant, having submitted to the old man’s embraces.  Unfortunately my child was a daughter.  Ralph breathed more easily hoping my husband would die soon.  I became as desperate as my husband for a son knowing that Ralph would turn me out if he became Lord Saxondale and I would be reduced to penury after enjoying a most luxurious life.  At some risk to my health I became immediately pregnant once again.  Mr. Reynolds makes no mention of that sacrifice. I provided another daughter unfortunately.  Both my husband and I were now consumed by anxiety, he because his age and health indicated a short extension of life.  Hoping that the third time would be a charm I became pregnant again and thank God it was my beautiful baby boy.  My husband rejoiced believing that he had thwarted Ralph as I did too.

George Reynolds, knew what a fine lad I had made as the sequel will show.  Ralph was enraged and embittered.  His creditors now refused loans and pestered him for repayment.

Ralph:  Oh yes, they did.  And you would have been enraged too being cheated out of your rightful inheritance.

Harriet:  It was my own rightful inheritance then.  I had produced an heir as I was supposed to do and I had twenty-one years as the mistress of Saxondale Castle and then a son who would not turn me out with a meager pension.

I too was relieved because I knew that my husband must die soon, and Ralph killed him by depriving him of his heir, he could not bear the loss.  As my boy’s guardian I should enjoy all the emoluments of the estate as sole executrix.  I had earned it.  I had been a good and dutiful wife.  But that wicked Ralph couldn’t bear accepting his earned fate that he could have avoided by being a dutiful son.  That evil Ralph then hired Chiffin the Cannibal , the most disgusting criminal in London to abduct and murder my beautiful boy.  And then Chiffin did abduct my boy and would have murdered my son had not circumstances intervened.  My child lived and I knew he lived.  I could feel it.  The problem was, what had become of him?

I set off to London where I thought he’d been taken.  I believed I would find someone who could tell me where my boy was.  You can’t imagine the despicable, most degraded men and women I had to actually come into contact with.  I was informed that my child had been murdered.  It wasn’t true as somehow my beautiful boy had been taken in by a group of strolling players and brought up them according to Mr. Thompson who was their manager as were to learn under tragic circumstances twenty-one years later.  Nevertheless I believed him dead and I was desperate to balk that evil man there. (Pointing to Ralph.)

My boy had been born with a strawberry mark on his clavicle so while I could obtain a boy baby without that strawberry the imposture couldn’t succeed.  Mr. Reynolds thinks what I did next was despicable but I totally disagree with him.  A crime was thwarted by another supposed crime, that’s all.  Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to understand that.

It was fortunate then that I found Dr. Ferney, at that time a young but brilliant doctor.  I could tell that he had fallen deeply in love with me at first sight so I was sure he would do what I had to do.  Isn’t that so, Dr. Ferney?

Dr. Ferney:  (coughing, cringing, embarrassed…stutters.)

George:  Oh, come now, Doctor, no not  to speak.  It’s old hat, beyond repair.  I can speak for you if you want to put on this charade.

Dr. Ferney:  No, no, not that, I can speak for myself, you left so much unspoken. Yes, yes, it’s true. If…if…I may…Harriet? (Harriet nods assent)  Harriet came to me, she was recommended to me, by whom I won’t say;  she explained her situation for which I was sympathetic naturally and I was able to obtain this baby without the strawberry and she wanted…wanted me to create one which I could do using certain methods I developed.  I hadn’t been out of school for that long, but this was a period when all we medical men hoped we could create life, not clumsily like Mary Shelley’s monster created for her by Doctor Frankenstein.  That was fiction of course but I think we all half believed it could be true.

R.E.:  Doctor Ferney, you would be amazed by the advances made since your day.  You probably won’t be able to believe that we can transplant a heart out of one person and into another and that it is done routinely.

Dr. Ferney (breathless) That does seem impossible.

 R.E.:  Some have said that they have chemically created Petri dish life but in the year 1947 James Watson in the US and Crick in Britain discovered DNA, which is the code that directs life and by using DNA we were able to clone duplicate creatures, identical twins or even armies of identical creatures a la Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Mastermind of Mars.  The DNA in each would have been identical.  Other medical wonders that you wouldn’t believe.

Dr. Ferney:  I can’t quite believe anything you have just told me.  Only a hundred fifty years from my day.  Only visionaries would have thought it possible. Of course, I’ve never heard of this Burroughs fellow. As I say, I was head over heels in love with Har…Lady Saxondale, there was nothing I would not have done to be in the presence of this most beautiful lady so I put my fingers to my temples pressed three times and lo! The method began to flash itself out to me and within three weeks the baby was marked and she without a backward glance walked out of my life as I thought.  Is that sufficient?

Harrriet:  I had no idea how and what frightful means I would meet over time by this deed but it was absolutely necessary to thwart that evil Ralph Faerfield.  Paying Dr. Ferney liberally I took this baby, as a real mother I could never really accept it as my own so that possibly unconsciously I made the boy feel unwanted but I accept no responsibility as it would never have happened except for Ralph.  All my so-called crimes can be traced back to him.  He is guilty for whatever I may have done.

Ralph was furious when he learned that I had found the baby. He ran to Chiffin the Cannibal and demanded an explanation as Chiffin had told him that my baby was dead.  All Chiffin knew was that the baby may have been alive as the last he had seen of him he was so he could neither deny or affirm that the baby was the real baby.  Absolutely infuriate Ralph cursed out Chiffin, which was rather bold, and determined to do it himself.

I knew exactly what he had come back to Saxondale Castle to do.  He had to see and then kill the child.  I was fairly driven into a life of crime.  I had not the strength of mind then to outright murder Ralph by knife or poison but I devised a plan.  The castle had a chapel in the unused West Wing that extended along the Trent River, in that chapel was a pool below the chapel level that had been used to baptize young Saxondales by full immersion, rather unusual then. 

While at Dr. Ferney’s, the doctor was well ahead of his profession in experimentation, he had a vial of chloroform, that was quite a new discovery at the time. He told me its properties and demonstrated its use to me.  While his back was turned I slipped the phial between my bosoms.

Ralph I lured into the chapel, down to the pool.  I managed to distract him and as he turned his back I waved the chloroform under his nose.  He immediately collapsed into a stupor tumbling into the pool where without waiting I believed he had drowned.  I shut and bolted the door confident in the knowledge that no one ever went to the chapel and if they did they certainly would not open that door.

Thus the infant baby who would not assume his rights until he was twenty-one left me in possession of the magnificent Saxondale estate to do as I pleased.  In memory of and thanks for my deceased husband I remained chaste for nineteen years.  I had my daughters to rear.

The man child turned our worse than Ralph on top of which he was unhandsome, one might just as well say unredeemably ugly.  As we would learn he was the son of an ugly witch.

Anton:  Lady Saxondale:  Did no one ever notice that your new child looked nothing like you, let alone your husband?  That said, some nineteen years after the birth of your baby a young artist named William Deveril was given employment by you.  He was a handsome young man who captured your fancy, which fancy compromised your reputation but I am not concerned with that.  By an amazing coincidence this young man turned out to be your long lost boy.

Now this young man had both your and your husbands genes.  In other words the family resemblance must have been unmistakable.  Surely your daughters would have noticed, did you never suspect anything?  Trick him into showing his clavicle, talk about birth marks in a way to make him show his?

Harriet:  Why don’t you put that question to Mr. Reynolds?  I have no more responsibility for not noticing than I did for my crimes.  Mr. Reynolds was in charge of that department.  Were you not Mr. Reynolds?

Anton:  George?

George:  Let us consider a couple things.  I was either working on a couple other novels working them up in my mind.  My usual method for the Mysteries of the Court series was to write the next installment from start to finish on Friday afternoon and evening.  That’s eight thousand words in about seven hours.  One draft.  First draft was the last draft.  I had to clear my mind of all other concerns and dwell of that segment, keep past and future segments in mind so that all meshed.  You tell me that I could have handled Harriet’s relationship with William better?  Maybe so.  All I can say in my defense is that the way I was looking at the problem my solution was the best solution.  Perhaps from another perspective it could have been better.  But that is how the matter lies Harriet.

Anyway each story was planned for two years, a hundred and four installments.  At the same time for each of those two year periods I was writing numerous other books concurrently.  I say, R.E., you’re planning on schematizing the various novels that reconciled with my writing of Court.  Is that right, Sir?

R.E.:  Please don’t call me Sir, George, if you can remember not to.  Yes I am George, in answer to your question.  I always marvel that you could keep the characters’ names straight and your story lines in order.  So, yes, I’ll get to that pretty soon.  I also have to but your partner’s relationship into perspective.  But what about the resemblance?

George:  Quite frankly I never thought about that till now.  Perhaps my vision for the whole story, and the general plan was worked out in my mind, I couldn’t leave too much to the chapter of accidents but I leaned pretty heavily on it.  If Harriet had suspected or recognized that, not to mention Juliette and her sister, yes they did resemble Justine and Juliette of de Sade, and yes, I did reverse their outcome to let Virtue prevail, that would have caused a reassessment of where the story was going and how it would get there. I mean, you know, my brain was reeling half the time if not more.

As you recall the family relationship was brought up later introducing the horror of incest and incest was a real gripper for my readers.  As an author I always had my readership in mind so to a fairly large extent that directed my tales.  I couldn’t lose my popularity or my whole magnificent edifice would come crumbling down.

I certainly agree that Lady Saxondale or the girls should have noticed but they didn’t.

Harriet:  I wish I had noticed as William certainly was the son of which I had dreamed.  I certainly would have written you a different story Mr. Reynolds.  With Edward,  my adopted son as Lord Saxondale, turned out to be a wastrel not much different than Ralph Faerfield and that grieved me deeply.

But, yes, William was the real beginning of my woes. If I had not injured my reputation by my lust things would have turned out much differently.  And Chiffin- Chiffin, you monster, damn you Ralph for bringing that monster into my life.  Curse you Chiffin, you evil man.

Chiffin:  ‘Curse me an evil man?’ Oh come now, Lady Saxondale, it seems to me that you got good use out of  me.  Cos’ why? I did some pretty dirty work for you that got you from certain complications.

Harriet: Complications that your crimes got me into.   You were paid well and if that pay wasn’t enough for you, you robbed my castle and plundered me very thoroughly.

Chiffin:  My need was great.  To each according to his need.

Harriet:  And then that horrible deed you committed with Dr. Ferney here.  What a horrible shock that was.

George:  What a fine piece of invention that was.  Never got due credit for that one.

Dr. Ferney:  That was so horrible.  I had no idea, dear Harriet, what or who I was buying.

Chiffin:  I had no idea that you and Doctor Ferney were acquainted Lady Saxondale, not that that would have mattered, the price was very, very good, the preservation of the body was so good.

Dr. Ferney:  The preservation was so good I should have questioned you further.

Chiffin:  Wouldn’t have done no good.  Cos’ why?  A resurrection man don’t give away precious information like that.  You doctors was always crying for fresh cadavers.  For those, you had to resurrect them the day of the burial and that was hazardous business what with family members tryin’ to catch ‘yer.  I had given up the business but that find was too good to bypass.

Anton:  Why don’t you tell us that story Chiffin.

Chiffen:  Don’t mind if I does, that find was so good.  It was so good that George there, didn’t even know that I did some work with Barney the Burker, can’t understand why he didn’t make that connection.  My book, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes should have been called The Crimes of Chiffin the Cannibal.  I was the star of the book.  I was the center of the action just like the Burker was in his Fortunes of the Ashtons. He was the star and a bang up job George did with it too. He owes me.  Imagine what a book with two stars like Chiffin The Cannibal and Barney the Burker could do.  Sure fire, no flash in the pan there.

Back to that little to do in the alley, me and my pal had to take it on the lam after my pal botched the job and almost got us lagged.  We was hotter than a pistol, in search of a hideaway I bethinked me of the Castle chapel waitin’ for Ralph Faerfield.  So we up and went to Lincolnshire and the Castle and settled in.  I’m not boring you am I, no?  Alright then.

Roof over us heads, vittles from the pantry hefted in the middle of the night when the help was sleepin’…who could ask for anythin’ more?

So we was sittin’ around complainin’ about this and that when I noticed the door.  You can imagine our surprise when I opened the door and there was a dead Ralph Faerfield layin’ at out feet lookin’ alive as you and me.  I immediately saw clearly that Ralph would set us back up on our feet again.

Later it come out that Lady Saxondale had pulled the hanky trap on Ralph and he fell into the pool there where he drowned and  that embalmed him tighter than one of the Gypsy mummies.  Hmm?  Hanky trap?  I mean that stuff Lady Saxondale put on the hankies and wave under your nose and knock you out for a while.  What ‘dye call it.

George:  Chloroform?

Chiffen:  Sure enough.  So, as an old resurrection man I seed my opportunity.  We scooped Ralph up and hied on back to Lunnuntown, to knock on Dr. Ferney’s door.  He’d bought stiffs from me before.

Anton:  Was Dr. Ferney startled to find you there with a perfectly preserved corpse?

Chiffin:  Maybe the quality of the body, a real good stiff ‘un but not surprised I brought it.  Dr. Ferney had kept the resurrection men busy you can bet.

Dr. Ferney:  If I may interrupt Chiffin, you see I’m a physician seeking the ultimate knowledge of life.  I am a scientist.  People have a very crude idea of what scientists do.  We pursue truth wherever so that we may reveal all the secrets of nature.  The laws stood in the way of our pursuit of knowledge so we had to play fast and loose with the laws and work in the dead of nigh, sorry, no pun intended, but the bodies were dead, uh, dead anyway.

I had a collection of all kinds of medical anomalies and aberrations as those to whom I allowed into my museum can attest.  I had a magnificent collection of heads with all kinds of deformities.  I was quite proud of my collection.

George:  If I may interject here to elucidate the medical situation.  The work these physicians did advanced our medical knowledge beyond anything that had been known before.  The progress was by leaps and bounds.  Our medical knowledge was the wonder of the world.  I imagine you fellows today have progressed much further.

Anton:  I through R.E. here admired your open receptivity to the advanced psychology of your time.  You had a very good mind, excellent mind.  You pushed the boundaries of knowledge while avoiding the truly erroneous or ridiculous forays into medical mysteries.  I really admired your notion of physiognomy. You obviously were familiar with the work of the famous Dr. Franz Gall.  He, of course, popped the envelope with his ideas of depressions and prominences of the skull as indicating areas of mental activity, such as, for instance, an amorous bump. Of course he was much misunderstood and the vulgar distorted his investigations into a cause of hilarity that R.S. Surtees exploited so ably in his novels.  However, George, you may be interested to know that in the science of the twenty-first century in which we can expose the brain or use electronic measurements certain areas of the brain do perform different functions.  Not quite like Franz Gall may have imagined but he had the right idea.

George:  How interesting.  I could really do something with the knowledge you fellows must have.  I guess I was out of time, too early.

Harriet:  Enough of this digression; what about me?  I was supposed to be the attraction here.  Chiffin and the Burker and Dr. Ferney’s chamber of horrors are peripheral to myself.  I wouldn’t have come if I had known I was going to be ignored.  Chiffin and the Burker stars indeed!

Anton:  Oh yes, of course, dear Lady Saxondale.  How rude of us to abstract you from the pages of your book and then nearly ignore you.

R.E (nudging Anton)  Move along Anton.  Time is precious here, we’re metered.

Anton:  Thank you for the subtle hint.  I don’t know whether we’ve been properly introduced Lady Saxondale but I’m Franz Anton Polarion, known by my middle name Anton, just so you know who you’re talking to.  I’m a psychological projection of the mind of R.E. here so I’m no more substantial than you but since I’m a part of a real live living person I have to stay on this side of the Wormhole line.  Even though I have no substance myself, I still am a man of qualities.  If I were to cross the Wormhole line all three of us, me, R.E. and warbaby would all disappear down the Wormhole.  Even though we would never age in the Wormhole, being a part of Eternity, it is highly unlikely that we would ever be able to find out way back to this entrance, or, indeed, exit.  Thus we would be lost in the Wormholes for Eternity making us coeval with God.  (chuckles)   Therefore we are one step from godhood.

Harriet:  Anton…Anton, I knew you without asking.  All the time R.E. was reading my book, with each turn of the page I was analyzing him.  As George can tell you both he and I are dead level physiognomists. I have your number Anton.

Anton:  I suppose you do, but know this, yours and George’s knowledge is limited by what is known in 1856,  I have nearly two hundred years on you.  You probably have never heard of Jean Martin Charcot.

Harriet:  George…

George:  I’m going to have to disappoint you Anton.  I lived to 1879 and in 1872 I took a trip expressly to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere.  I was present at one of his seances and learned a great deal about hysteria from the experience.  I had already closed my novelistic career so I couldn’t include my hysterical thoughts, pardon me, my thoughts concerning hysteria in my writing.  I can tell you that had I had that knowledge there would have been some fireworks, especially concerning Lady Saxondale.  I can probably extrapolate from what I learned from Charcot and that fellow Janet, Claude or whatever, into whatever developments you are aware of.  In fact, I would really enjoy picking some twenty-first century knowledge from your brain.  Remember I am a ghost of a once living person and not a projection from any brain.  Lady Saxondale as I am her creator knows a lot of what I know.

Anton:  R.E.?

R.E.:  What?  You know as a psychological projection what I know Anton.   Barrel ahead.

Anton:  Yes.  Well, Harriet.  You were always a dutiful girl.  You fulfilled the vision of womanhood of your time.  It was your duty to follow your father’s wishes and after you reflected on the advantages of marrying a wealthy, noble old duffer who would die soon your father’s wishes became your own.  A little sacrifice then for unlimited benefits for the whole of your life.  A wise choice.

Your husband wanted an heir and on the third try you gave it to him.  Everything was perfect.   You were fulfilled and content.  And then the fixative calamity of your life occurred, a calamity that destroyed the results of your sacrifices and obedience; Ralph Faerfield caused your beautiful holy boy to be abducted and as far as you knew, murdered.  You had never had a criminal thought to that time; then an entire life of criminality was forced on you.  A laughing cosmos mocked your dutiful life, justice was perverted.  Ralph was a rake and a coxcomb, a man about town and a wastrel and then your putative son, Edmund was no better ruining the next nineteen years of your life.  You believed your own son would have been handsome and virtuous and not ugly and vicious as your putative son who you knew was no blood of yours.  Yet the cosmos gave you the burden of carrying on the charade.  The crowning indignity was when you learned that you own son was everything you wished him to be.

I am sure that your mind reeled when you became aware of this terrible truth.

Harriet:  Wait! Stop a moment Anton!  You’ve overwhelmed me.  It’s all true but give me a moment to recover.

Anton:  R.E?

R.E.:  Take as long as you wish we are outside what is known as time and space here although if we go much longer we may have to open a slot for us to resume our lives in real time.  That is a difficulty.  Time which is Eternity in this case has no meaning in the Wormholes.  While a Wormhole burrows through Time and Space we are at the moment outside Time and Space.  We are in the Eternal NOW.

Anton:  As I understand you R.E. we are nowhere in Space and Time.

R.E. Don’t worry about setting your watch Anton, it stopped ticking a little while back.

George:  I think we were talking about hysteria.  Wonderful.  I tentatively described it in 1853 but didn’t grasp the principle.  Strangely I didn’t relate Charcot’s Salpetriere to it afterwards.  Damme.

Anton. (laughing)  Now you know, George, now you know.

Harriet:  I’m learning. The abduction of my boy was like a bolt of lightning blasting my soul forever, dividing myself from myself.  A part of me dead, a part of me, cursed the day I was born.  Never speak to me of justice, there is none in the cosmos.

R.E.:  No, there is only necessity.  What is, is and cannot not be.  I know your feeling Lady Saxondale.  The same thing happened to me when I was seven.  However, while I do not condemn you for many of your decisions some were unwisely made considering the consequences or at least preparing for them.  However you had no choice but to replace your son while Ralph volunteered to die by resenting it.

Harriet:  Very good, R.E., but in the heat of circumstances it is not always clear what is happening nor what the correct response might be.  Let me remind that I was only a puppet with Mr. Reynolds pulling the strings.  He doesn’t seem to like women very much.

George:  Harriet, I had a story to tell, I had to make it interesting.  I resent your assertion that I don’t like women.  I repeatedly appealed to the innate goodness  of woman, truly describing them as angels.  Still they are human being subject to human frailties. 

Perhaps you were perverted by circumstances beyond your control.  I didn’t mean to portray you as innately bad but driven by circumstances completely beyond your control.  Still, women despite their angelic nature, as you certainly were before Ralph’s crime, are only human.  I’m sorry it had to be you but I certainly did not use your example as a representation of the female sex.

Harriet:  Oh, you are an impossible man.  I don’t have to put up with this and I am not going to.  I am going back to the pages of the book named after me.  I’ll be safe there.  Nobody reads your crap anymore anyway.

(Lady Saxondale crackles, sparkles and fades away as well as the other fictional characters.)

R.E.:  That was enlightening George.  I hope you enjoyed it as well as we did, perhaps, we can meet this way again?

George:  Oh, to be sure.  Arrange a situation so you can tell me of developments of the future to my time.  I don’t say that Darwin’s Descent Of Man affected my decision to stop writing but it is true that my past became somewhat irrelevant when that shell exploded in our midst.  The world moved on and so must I now.  Later, perhaps.

(George whirls away.)

R.E:  Well, boys, pack it up it’s all over for this time.  Me and mine wish you well.

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and exits through the door.)

(Anton and Warbaby amalgamate with R.E.  who climbs the stairs to the Magic Shop, salutes the clerk, and

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