Virginia Keltenham: First Pale Knight
‘Those deadly people. They’d like me a bit Elinor Glyn-ish
But then they want sentiment. But then, of course,
they don’t. They want some dismal comeuppance
for bad behaviour, a heroine like one of Lawrence’s
stultifying Magdalene figures. I suppose you can guess what
must lead up to all that.
Trout is with me. I’d ordered him to stay behind.
Sort of help you get these days.’
Pointed, this remark. Aimed at one standing nearby,
Heard to emit a priggish laugh
‘Roscoe…’ the guest clears his throat, and as at once she says,
‘I can’t hear a thing! Speak up!’
answers, ‘Virginia! Are you hearing me now?’
Footballers are chorusing, and the Ram’s Arms’ faulty service
Bloops and stutters
A voice breaks through to them, burbling like a dying man’s
Ask me anything
‘Leave,’ the guest tries.
Call that asking, do you? I may. I might.
‘Does it shock you a little, that I satirize my own
poor œuvre? But I mean to travesty yours—fair warning
That is, I’ve got to have it, your story of the pale knight.
Not to actively poach, my dear…but you’d said to me it is truly frightening.
I suppose,’ Virginia cups the receiver, ‘it’s all right if I insult Roscoe? Because
he’s not been a very public-spirited spectre.
As a matter of fact—dare I say?—silent as the you-know-what.
Trout, who rather inspires mischief, I’m afraid…even my darling Trout
has felt quite at peace, turning one of the cellars into a darkroom.’
‘Have a go,’ the guest shrugs, but feels given a nudge
The words a whisper echoed in his ear
(2017, Stephanie Foster)