S02E26 Music Hath Charms by L T C Rolt
Music Hath Charms by LTC RoltLionel Thomas Caswall Rolt, was an English writer born in 1910 and who died in 1974, therefore for us, he's a recent writer! He was a prolific writer who had an interest in engineering and that shows in this story in his description of the tunnels and the knowledge of ventilation shafts which are integral to the plot of the story. In keeping with this love of engineering, he wrote biographies of major engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford. He had a major enthusiasm for vintage cars, heritage railways and was a pioneer of the canal cruising industry. From 1936, Rolt decided he wanted a life afloat and he converted his uncle's old boat Cressy into a boat he could live in and spent his time mooching up and down the canals of England.During the Second World War, he went to work for Rolls Royce and made Spitfire engines, the Royal Airforce's legendary fighter plan. After the war, Rolt teamed up with Robert Aickman, another major ghost story writer to form the Inland Waterways Association to promote the use of the canals and restore them. L T C or Tom Rolt was an accomplished author and an inland waterway enthusiast, and together with the another famous ghost story writer, Robert Aickman, and their wives, formed the Canal Restoration Trust which was responsible for bringing back the industrial waterway network of England and Wales back into service for leisure travel.When we know Rolt's love of machinery we understand the detailed description of how the musical box works in Music Hath Charms. I now know all about them. He also gives more detail than many would to about bus timetables.The story is set in wild Cornwall, which because of its remoteness and its Celtic past is a suitably remote setting for a ghost story. Cornwall has a history of smugglers and wreckers and this is the background to this story. We also see that another author who set her work in Cornwall, Daphne Du Maurier often used smugglers and indeed Frenchmen in her stories. La Pucelle means a maiden or a girl. This is of course a Faustian story. The smuggler, the Count Pierre Henneze de Hou. There is a French name Hennezel, and a De Hou, but no Henneze that I could find, so Tom Rolt may have miscopied the name. I suspect the title 'count' is a self-styling. I have often fancied called myself Count Tony Walker, but don't have the brass neck to get away with it.Carn Zawn doesn't exist, though the name is good Cornish. Carn is a heap of stones and Cornish 'sawan' means 'throat' and is used for a narrow inlet of the sea. Trevarthan is a real Cornish surname as well, arising from two separate places in West Cornwall. The only mistake Tom Rolt makes with his Celtic nomenclature is to have his housekeeper called Penrice. It sounds Cornish, but is in fact a Cumbrian surname arising from the place-name Penrith. Of course Cumbric and Cornish were closely related languages, so we can excuse him. Of course, it's also possible that the Penrices were Cumbrian immigrants to Cornwall. In fact, there were many Cornish who came to Cumbria to work in the mines, but not so-much the other way. This is proved by the fact there are two Cornish pasty shops in Keswick alone, but not a single Cumberland sausage shop in Truro, or Penzance.But back to the Devil. We presume that the shadowy creature in the engraving is Old Nick, gamboling and pranking. The Music Box conjures him. Count Pierre is presumed to have traded something, likely his soul as the De'il is found of those, for a life of opulence and the lusty company of La Pucelle, our Jeanne. She has a husky voice after all, surely a euphemism, or at least a sign.Then when the box is found again, James Heneage seems to be possessed by the spirit of Henneze — Heneage/Henneze, a similar name, but is this a coincidence or meant?Is it suggested that James is a descendent Support this podcast
Classic Ghost Stories
A weekly podcast which reads out ghost stories, horror stories and weird tales every week. Classic stories from the pens of the masters. Occasionally we feature living authors, but the majority, are dead. Some perhaps are undead.