Although the temperature was warm outside this morning and the winds as strong as they had been throughout the night, there was no rain until it bucketed down from about 11 a.m. onwards. I therefore accompanied Jackie as she delivered the elderly Modus to the dealer and collected her sprightly four year old Hyundai i10.

In the meantime Ronan and a colleague from Tom Sutton Heating fixed an oil leak by fitting a faulty valve, and I remained inside for the rest of the day while heavy rain continued into the night.

I submitted

to Denzil Nature for this week’s challenge. All but the first picture are from my archives.

Reminiscent of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” is “Markheim”, the next of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories in my Folio Society collection, which I read this afternoon.

As Michael Foreman’s illustration shows, we learn pretty quickly that Markheim is a murderer, trapped by his fears into remaining in the victim’s shop wrestling with the consequences of his guilt and the temptations of the personification of his conscience.

The building itself, empty but for the corpse, brings dread as the perpetrator, anticipating there may be someone else within, searches for further riches which he knows he would squander.

Haunted by his imagination and his need for redemption, Markheim struggles over how to respond as the moment of discovery draws nearer. I will leave the author to reveal this.

Later, I watched the second half of the rugby World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup and fresh crusty bread, with which I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône Villages and no-one else did.

The Treasure Of Franchard

Knowing we were to expect gale force winds today, Jackie laid down garden chairs and Flo furled the parasols yesterday, but, because they have such heavy bases did not lay them down.

The gusts did it for us. 75 mph winds came through The Needles, just about 5 miles from us as the crow flies. They will continue throughout the night and most of tomorrow.

It is a measure of some improvement in my cold that I did venture out, if only briefly, onto the patio for these photographs, but no further.

On another afternoon of reading I enjoyed “The Treasure of Franchard”, a moral tale of the potential problems of riches. This short narrative of 8 chapters in my Folio Society collection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories contains delightfully descriptive bucolic prose, and penetrative insights into humanity.

Through the developing relationship of a loquacious doctor and a taciturn, yet questioning, boy the work is more obviously philosophical than some of the other stories. Ultimately it is the boy who emerges as the tutor.

Michael Foreman’s illustration features the pivotal finding of the treasure which is the vehicle for the lessons for the various protagonists.

This evening we all dined on Subway sandwiches produced by Flo and Dillon with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages 2021

The Rajah’s Diamond

With my cold reaching its peak and today’s weather pattern repeating that of yesterday I spent the day seated indoors.

First I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between England and Japan, then read “The Rajah’s Diamond” story from the Folio selection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tales.

In a four part story, with humour and mystery the author traces the passage of an item of great wealth and its effect on the lives of a number of people with whom it comes into contact. We see that it is an object that tempts into crime and deception bringing no happiness.

Once again Michael Foreman’s illustrations capture the essence of Stevenson’s characters and events created in the author’s usual flowing prose.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s cottage pie and beef pie with boiled new potatoes; firm broccoli and cauliflower, crunchy carrots, and meaty gravy with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the GSM.

The Suicide Club

Early this morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between France and Uruguay, which was more of a contest than had been predicted.

Later Jackie drove me to and collected me afterwards from my friend Giles’s house so we could enjoy a conversation.

In the meantime, realising that our Modus is becoming too frail to carry us around any more, Mrs Knight visited the Hyundai garage at Everton where she chose a replacement younger model which we secured with a deposit this afternoon.

Afterwards I photographed a spider that I am holding back for Denzil’s upcoming Nature Challenge.

I then finished reading “The Suicide Club” by Robert Louis Stevenson, being the third in The Folio Society’s collection.

This is really the tale of a deviously scheming serial killer who inveigles victims into sham situations encouraging them to dice with death. We have intriguing mystery; fearful dread; fanciful locations, and gullible prey in what is a three part detective story. Stevenson uses light and shade to evoke the atmosphere of the developing murder mystery. He describes the settings in detail, using fairly lengthy yet flowing prose, with a keen ear for conversation and other sounds.

As usual, Michael Foreman’s watercolour illustrations picture the author’s work admirably.

I hope the prose samples alongside these examples do not give too much away.

This evening we all dined on more of Jackie’s chicken Jalfrezi meal with the addition of tandoori paneer; with which we each finished our respective beverages.

The Sire De Malétroit’s Door

This, the second story in The Folio Society’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s collection, again spans one night in mediaeval France.

Again turbulent weather plays a significant part, as does the darkness of the night. A “piping wind, laden with showers,…. and the dead leaves ran riot along the streets” and “the night was as black as the grave; not a star, nor a glimmer of moonshine, slipped through the canopy of cloud” are just a couple of examples of the author’s beautifully engaging prose descriptions, setting the scene for what becomes a horror story

in which the eponymous door functions as an enticing refuge quickly transformed into a firm trap.

There follows a threatening conversation; an enticing meeting; an impossible proposition. Questions of love and honour are in conflict, culminating in one of resolution at the break of day. The timing of dream sequences is measured by the ticking of a clock beating in sympathy with hiccoughing sobs

A Lodging For The Night

Because of the quality of the writing of arguably our greatest ever story writer as exemplified in this collection on which I embarked upon today I will feature each tale in a separate post as I work my way through the book.

Claire Harmon’s introduction is as insightful and poetically written as Stevenson’s own work, and Michael Foreman’s sensitive full colour illustrations a suitable match.

The front board features an image by the artist.

The post title story, opening, as it does with a lyrical description of falling snow reminiscent of François Villon’s famous line “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?” (“But where are the snows of yesteryear?”) reveals the depth of our author’s knowledge of this talented poet and criminal rogue of late Mediaeval Paris.

The snow itself as it falls to cover then ceases to to reveal the footprints of Villon as he finds himself fleeing his guilt over an action of which he is innocent, is in fact a character in itself.

Stevenson’s delightfully descriptive yet simple prose engages all our senses. We are transported in the snow and involved in the conversation Villon has as he debates with the man who gave him shelter. As will be seen he has been robbed and intended to do the same.

The 19th century author confronts poverty and exposure to the elements with lack of adequate protection.

As usual, I hope to convey the essence of the story without giving it away.