What follows are genuine entries from the Journal of Peregrine, 22nd Duke of Earl:
Alas, it is with a heavy heart that I make this entry. Prey God that her soul rests in peace!
The firemen and 'paramedics' have just left; they were begrimed and tearful, but still cheerful - what manner of men are these ! To see such suffering, and yet preserve the outer coating of manly dignity !
In the main, to lose a scullery maid is no great loss. They come and go. To have one caught in the portcullis...
Words fail me.
RIP my sweet.
FEAR OF HEIGHTS
To my very great shame, I have not yet conquered my fear of heights.
Gwyneth might still be alive had I had the courage to climb the ladder to the Murder Hole, and stay the portcullis.
I dread the inevitable inquiry... and the inquest. I have had word that Inspector Digglesworth will call tomorrow; I have never found him to be a particularly affable creature, and I suspect him very strongly of having tipped off the RSPCA to our latest mole shoot. His brother, the Rev Digglesworth, has held a very low opinion of me for some time. I forsee a difficult day ahead.
Gwyneth will be buried with quiet dignity, whether her family like it or not. A sealed casket was prepared some weeks ago, on the off-chance of a calamity such as this. It is heart-breaking indeed to think that two people will be laid to rest, but, I ask you, what life would her child have lived ? It was always inconceivable that the fleeting friendship which formed between us over these past years could have blossomed into anything more than vile unpleasantness.
(I must be going mad to think that an unborn child deserves the title of 'person'. It is only when I am awake that thoughts such as these consume me !!)
So, I shall consider Gwyneth's burial to be a burial of one person, rather than two. I shall have an heir one day; I am convinced now that it is not beyond me.
I tried to climb the West Tower again tonight. My legs refused to carry me beyond the windows of the Hindu Room. The portcullis block and tackle creaked above, the ropes slack for the first time in a century.
People will say that it was I who loosed those ropes last night. That it was I who let fall the dreadful gate upon her head.
Let the present decry me as a murderer ! I shall not falter. The future and past blood of the Karstein-Schmidts runs deep below this land, and shall run deep for many years to come.
Of that you may be assured !!
BLOODY BUT UNBOWED!!!
Our family have been stout defenders of the guardians of law and order in this land for centuries past. My ancestors have a proud record of service on the Bench, and in the House. We have never blanched at the thought of administering stout punishment to the unworthy, the unfortunate, and the unlucky.
The 4th Duke, Alfred (commonly known as 'The Scourge of Persia'), while at that time generally lauded across the Western World for his cruelty, receives now little recognition for the great advances which he wrought in the fields of science, especially in the advancement of medical knowledge.
It was Alfred, at the 7th Council of York (circa 1278), who proposed the abolition of the torture of prisoners at the hands of the State. Unfortunately, it was felt among the other representatives that Alfred merely wished to secure for himself a monopoly upon the practice, and his proposal was rejected. Never one to be brushed aside, Alfred arranged that the 8th Council of York be convened here at Gedditon Hall; although some considerable distance from York, it was felt by the delegates that the hospitality for which our family has always been renowned could not lightly be gainsaid and, besides, they all felt rather bad about having to vote him down as they had. And so, they agreed to his proposal.
That any returned alive from the 8th Council is a matter to be wondered at, even today. It is said that Alfred considered his excommunication a small price to pay for the medical knowledge which he acquired during that brief period. His notes on the entire affair are preserved here, and his observations upon the transplant of organs from living subjects are vivid, and detailed. Needless to say, the Council of York did not sit again for some time.
I must confess that as I sat before Inspector Digglesworth today, Alfred's endeavours were to the fore in my mind.
What has become of the Policeman in England today ? Not content with their former role as servant of the public, they appear to have begun to think of themselves as MASTER !
Thank God that I had by my side such an able man as Ringstead, LLB and Notary Public. My 'no comments' shattered Digglesworth's pompous demeanour. No charges today !
As I slouch here this night, unable to sleep, I curse the beast which gave birth to a man such as D. I retain my passport yet, but shall not flee. Is not our motto 'Always Right, Seldom Mounted'?
I raise a toast to you, Alfred, and wish you luck, wherever you might be.
[memo to self: join Masons]
Next Week: The Horror!!!