Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clouds of Witness

“I knew it,” growled Mr. Grimethorpe. “—— the slut, and all these dommed women wi' their dirty ways. Look here, mester. The tyke were a friend o' thine? Well, I wor at Stapley Wednesday and Thursday—tha knew that, didn't tha? And so did thi friend, didn't 'un? An' if I hadn't, it'd 'a' bin the worse for 'un. He'd 'a' been in Peter's Pot if I'd 'a' cot 'un, an' that's where tha'll be thesen in a minute, blast tha! And if I find 'un sneakin' here again, I'll blast every boon in a's body and send 'un to look for thee there.”
Obviously some kind of slang for a cooking pot that belongs to Peter (Bad Peter of Father Christmas fame?)
                And with these surprising words he made for Peter's throat like a bull-dog.

                “That won't do,” said Peter, disengaging himself with an ease which astonished his opponent, and catching his wrist in a grip of mysterious and excruciating agony. “'Tisn't wise, y'know—might murder a fellow like that. Nasty business, murder. Coroner's inquest and all that sort of thing. Counsel for the Prosecution askin' all sorts of inquisitive questions, and a feller puttin' a string round your neck. Besides, your method's a bit primitive. Stand still, you fool, or you'll break your arm. Feelin' better? That's right. Sit down. You'll get into trouble one of these days, behavin' like that when you're asked a civil question.”
                “Get out o' t'house,” said Mr. Grimethorpe sullenly.

                “Certainly,” said Peter. “I have to thank you for a very entertainin' evenin', Mr. Grimethorpe. I'm sorry you can give me no news of my friend——”

                Mr. Grimethorpe sprang up with a blasphemous ejaculation, and made for the door, shouting “Jabez!” Lord Peter stared after him for a moment, and then stared round the room.
[The name of a dog, but apropos.] Jabez is a Biblical male given name from the Old Testament. It is of Hebrew Origin. In 1 Chronicles, Jabez is a well-respected man (ancestor in the lineage of the kings' tribe of Judah) whose prayer to God for blessing was answered (see 1 Chronicles 4:9-11). Moreover, the author paused in this long list to give Jabez a place of honour in the long list of Kings and lineage. It is also signifies that whatever Jabez asked, God answered his every prayer.

The name Jabez is Hebrew (yabetz = ‏יַעְבֵּץ) for "he makes sorrowful"; his mother stated "I gave birth to him in pain". Jabez was labelled with "sorrow" at birth, but his prayer against contracting sorrow nullified the label. His life contradicted his name.
                “Something fishy here,” he said. “Fellow knows somethin'. Murderous sort of brute. I wonder——”

                He peered round the settle, and came face to face with a woman—a dim patch of whiteness in the thick shadow.

                “You?” she said, in a low, hoarse gasp. “You? You are mad to come here. Quick, quick! He has gone for the dogs.”

                She placed her two hands on his breast, thrusting him urgently back. Then, as the firelight fell upon his face, she uttered a stifled shriek and stood petrified—a Medusa-head of terror.
In Greek mythology Medusa was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, (Fabulae, 151) interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents.Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.
                Medusa was beautiful, says the tale, and so was this woman; a broad white forehead under massed, dusky hair, black eyes glowing under straight brows, a wide, passionate mouth—a shape so wonderful that even in that strenuous moment sixteen generations of feudal privilege stirred in Lord Peter's blood. His hands closed over hers instinctively, but she pulled herself hurriedly away and shrank back.

                “Madam,” said Wimsey, recovering himself, “I don't quite——”

                A thousand questions surged up in his mind, but before he could frame them a long yell, and another, and then another came from the back of the house.

                “Run, run!” she said. “The dogs! My God, my God, what will become of me? Go, if you don't want to see me killed. Go, go! Have pity!”

                “Look here,” said Peter, “can't I stay and protect——”

                “You can stay and murder me,” said the woman. “Go!”

                Peter cast Public School tradition to the winds, caught up his stick, and went.

1 comment:

  1. Re "Peter's Pot": Surely Grimethorpe is referring to the bog-hole out on the moors which plays an important part shortly in the story?