“…the hold ones was the worst:”
This disarming M.R. James work seems in mutual synergy with R.H. Malden’s ‘The Sundial’ (reviewed HERE) — the latter’s ‘If you’ll pull, I’ll push’ versus the former’s “Pull, pull. I’ll push, you pull.” A married couple in my county of Essex (aptly near the town of Maldon!) — Mr Anstruther (“Mr. Anstruther’s face, which had shown symptoms of lengthening, shortened itself again”) and Mrs Anstruther, and she, a bit officious as some Essex ladies still are, demands that a certain section of land within the community estate for which they have power over should be cleared of objects such as a firmly fixed post, to allow for a rose garden. He goes off to golf, and she to her drawing en plein air, while ordering their old local gardener to do all the work, also much against his sense of disquiet at what was requested! (I say old as he acted ‘hold’.)
To cut a relatively short story a bit shorter, there is much accruing of the dreams dreamt by various people (“I should really like to know how I came to put my dream together—as I suppose one does put one’s dreams together from a lot of little things…”), including the stories told by a lady visitor to Mrs A, stories about when she and her brother were children with dreams in the head when living here — all this being triangulated toward a gestalt of some historical trial and the subsequent burial under that post of something that did not want to be buried. And other additions such as Roothings, the initials A.C., and owls being not what they seem.
“…and hearing a sound of a lot of people. I really don’t think I could bear now to go into a crowd of people and hear the noise they make talking.”
My other reviews of M.R. James: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/my-ongoing-reviews-of-m-r-james-stories/
(Above image by Tony Lovell for ‘Busy Blood’j