A long avenue of black pine-woods September 20, 2009Posted by Jenny in literature.
Tags: Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton, The Strange Crime of John Boulnois, Walter Scott
The story that got me hooked on G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown detective works is called “The Strange Crime of John Boulnois.” Here are some of the reasons I like this story: the hero is a professional philosopher; it features a murder committed with a rapier with big red jewels in the hilt; and it has a seductive sense of landscape.
The picture at left is from a book referred to in the Chesterton story, The Bride of Lammermoor. One of the characters in the Scott book is Edgar, Master of Ravenswood. I mention this only because it gives a tiny bit of background to aid in reading the following passage. The scene takes place in the evening at the estate of Pendragon Park just as the murder is about to occur. A character named Calhoun Kidd is walking into the estate.
And turning the corner by the the open lodge-gates, he set off, stumping up the long avenue of black pine-woods that pointed in abrupt perspective towards the inner gardens of Pendragon Park. The trees were as black and orderly as plumes upon a hearse; there were still a few stars. He was a man with more literary than direct natural associations; the word “Ravenswood” came into his head repeatedly. It was partly the raven colour of the pine-woods; but partly also an indescribable atmosphere almost described in Scott’s great tragedy: the smell of something that died in the eighteenth century; the smell of dank gardens and broken urns, of wrongs that will never now be righted; of something that is none the less incurably sad because it is strangely unreal.
Aw, I love this stuff.