1.3.3 "The Golden Tup"

A dreadful tale of a young couple's paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.

“But whom sent I to judge them?” John Milton; Paradise Lost.

Can evil be in a place?

 

The tale opens with Verity, a farmer's wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart - how, with references to Milton's Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost.

 

Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

 

An adult fantasy story for those who like to think about what they are reading.

 

To purchase this story click here.

 

Background Information.

Having looked at evil in an individual in “The Little Dog” story, I wanted to look at the possibility of evil in a place. Once I got into it somehow this story just seemed to write itself and I managed great chunks of it which subsequently required little or no editing!

 

As it is a story about a couple loosing their paradise, referencing John Milton's “Paradise Lost” was one element that I couldn't resist and given that the Fall of Man is such a wonderful allegory of life, was not inappropriate either. I am sure I don't need to add that the Devil is often portrayed as a goat - Milton refers to him as "him of a sting, hoofs, and horns". The Biblical Tree of Life is rather eclipsed by the more famous Tree of Knowledge and it is Yggdrasil, or the World Tree in Norse mythology, that is probably better known as a Tree of Life linking metaphorical worlds and in so doing keeping all in balance - (though apparently there is an evil worm below the ground eating at one of its roots!). However, the Tree of Life is mentioned in both Genesis and Revelation.

 

For my lead characters to end up in this tragic adventure - the story starts out with them killing their new baby - required both that their planning was not as thorough as it should have been, coupled with a certain naivety and bad luck. No, life isn't fair and bad luck - evil? - can so easily be visited on those who least deserve it. A tragic story, but one which I hope concludes with a glimmer of salvation.

 

 

Sample Chapter

Chapter 1.

Is this the end of this new glorious world?”

John Milton; Paradise Lost, Book 10

“I suppose it has been a good ten years,” commenced Verity, meaning that it had been a good ten years since the police had arrived that morning, arrested Constance and Matthew and had driven them away without anyone in the valley knowing anything about it. So it was with complete disbelief that some first learned of what had happened when watching the news on TV that evening, and then of course the story was round like wildfire. They had killed their own baby!

The press and TV crews had arrived en-masse trying to get people to say that “they'd had their suspicions all along,” “there was always something strange about them” and so on and so forth, but no-one had said anything against them, quite simply because no-one had had any suspicions and there hadn't been anything strange about them. She was not some mad Medea, nor he a deranged Tantalus. Everyone knew them as a nice young couple. Indeed, many thought that the police were barking up the wrong tree and had arrested the wrong people. It was a complete mystery to us all how such a lovely young couple had done such a dreadful thing.

Verity, who I would guess was in her sixties, had an air about her of being solid and dependable, someone you could rely on, which is perhaps why she had got on so well with Constance, who was in many ways a younger version of her. Indeed, their relationship had been an almost mother and daughter one. Verity's parents had been farmers and she, in her turn, was a farmer's wife. She was a quiet serious woman, though when I say serious, I don't mean serious in the sense of lacking in fun. She was light hearted and liked a good joke as well as any, but she was serious as in not inclined to idle talk and rumour, though this did not stop her, like so many in the valley, from wanting to know what everyone else was up to!

One in the group had asked about Constance and Matthew - what had become of them, had anyone heard from them, or similar? - and because Verity had known them better than anyone else, and probably because sufficient time had elapsed so that she didn't feel that she was betraying their confidence, she decided to yield to pressure and tell us what she knew of their story.

“Oh, where do I begin?” she said, a tad flustered. “Perhaps when Constance and Matthew had that dreadful row in the pub at Christmas time?

Actually it wasn't Christmas time, was it? No, it was November, but all the decorations were already up and we were all in a Christmas mood.

Yes, it was the evening when we all went down to the new tearoom to see a film. It was a cold frosty one - the evening that is, because as you'll remember, we never got to see the film! - and was already minus 4 as we arrived. The sky was completely clear and the stars of the Milky Way were sparkling right across it, from horizon to horizon, millions and millions of stars, like twinkling diamonds strewn on black velvet. It was an absolutely wonderful sight and made you feel quite small standing there looking up at the vastness of it all.

Oh! But that tearoom!”

We all knew what she meant, but for the benefit of Susan and Peter who had only recently moved to the village, she went on to explain that the village shop and Post Office had closed the previous year and that we villagers had been trying to find an alternative - another place to have both a shop and a Post Office - and how as a result of this, though not as a solution to it, the old tearoom had been modernised by a QANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) which knew next to nothing about doing this sort of thing, didn't give us either a shop or a Post Office which had been the aim of the exercise, and disgracefully wasted a small fortune in public money in the process. My words I hasten to add, not Verity's, although they could have been hers as Verity was not shy of giving her opinion and calling a spade a spade!

Verity then went on to explain that the evening in question was meant to be a sort of inauguration of this new tearoom. Whereas the modernisation had run to affording a few square metres of expensive bespoke solar panel, which was probably just about capable of producing enough power to heat a kettle, a wood pellet burning stove which, although we have the largest forest in the country sitting on our doorstep, relied on foreign imported wood pellets to fire it, and a system which used rain water to flush the toilets when we also have the largest lake in the country also sitting on our doorstep, no-one had thought of insulating or double glazing the building properly!

“Talk of odd priorities,” continued Verity, “but it was public money they were spending, not their own! So that evening, because of the lack of insulation and double glazing and because the brand new wood pellet burning stove which had only been running a week or two had already broken down, the place was like an ice box! Indeed, we probably would have been warmer had we been sitting in a refrigerator.

So still in our outdoor clothing - hats, gloves and scarves - and gradually loosing feeling in our hands and feet, we waited while this young slip of a lass from the aforementioned Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation tried to get the projector, or whatever you call it - it was a new digital thing - to work. Why she hadn't learnt how to operate it before coming out to see us, I have no idea. But then why anyone would modernise a building and install a new heating system in it without insulating and double glazing it first, I also have no idea! Perhaps both are products of the same mindset?

Eventually this girl had to give up, so we didn't see our film, which had been billed as the highlight of the evening, and instead had to listen to that fellow from the council telling us all about all the wonderful arts projects that were planned for the area, even though no-one had asked for them, wanted them, or had any interest in them!

Oh dear!” she sighed, “A stove which didn't work, in a building which hadn't been insulated, a projector which didn't work, and the promise of artwork which no-one wanted! Goodness me! How public money was wasted in those days.

But I must get back to Constance and Matthew, mustn't I?

Finally, thank goodness, as the cold was getting to everyone, the evening was brought to a close. Some went home to warm up, but many of us crossed over the road to the pub, The Woodcock, which had a lovely, good old fashioned blazing log fire going and a bar room which was lovely and warm!”

Verity smiled and, as if to emphasise her point, sent that wonderful warm smile round the table before continuing,

“As you'll all remember we had all warmed up nicely and were then having a very pleasant evening - all-be-it that most of the conversation was on the ludicrous short-comings of that tearoom! - until suddenly Matthew put his hands on the table and leaned across, and in a voice cracking with emotion almost shouted at Constance,

“You slut! After all we have been through. How could you?”

And this, only just after she'd had their baby!

I didn't know what to make of it, and nor I expect did anyone else present. All right, you never know what goes on in other people's marriages, but I just couldn't believe ill of Constance, or of Matthew for that matter. He was obviously desperately trying to control himself. His whole body was shaking and anyone else would have probably started throwing things about, or banging on the table or worse, but he was such a nice gentle man, so this outburst was just so unlike him.

He stood up, taking his hands off the table, his face red and contorted with the effort of trying to hold back his rage and his tears, looked at Constance in a manner which suggested that his heart was going to break, and then turned and walked out of the pub gently slamming the door behind him.

Just a few minutes earlier the bar had been buzzing with conversation, but after this the room was absolutely silent. None present could really believe what they had just heard and seen. Constance had not even attempted to answer Matthew and had just sat there stunned and white, before she broke the silence by quietly bursting into tears. I held her in my arms as she sobbed her heart out. Others came over to offer help, but what could anyone do? It was pretty obvious from the outburst what Matthew had thought had happened. However, women don't usually go off and have affairs immediately after having a baby, and as already said, I couldn't believe this of Constance either. Poor Constance, she seemed to be at a total loss to comprehend the unfairness of Matthew's outburst or to know what to do. To me she appeared as hurt and guiltless as Matthew, which made the incident both extremely sad, but also troubling, as one could not help but be mystified with just what had gone wrong.”

Here Verity paused; partly I suspect at her recollection of the sadness of the whole situation and also at the sense of uselessness and impotence that she and all of us had felt, as none present knew anything more than what had just been said, so how could any of us have offered any form of assistance to Constance, well, to both of them actually, though Matthew had already left?

When Verity recommenced her tale it was in a somewhat cool and emotionless manner of someone stating what has to be stated,

“Although conversations started up again and the dart players finished off their game, the atmosphere was spoilt and soon people started drifting home. Constance dried her eyes and did her best to put on a brave face. She was a strong young woman, both physically and mentally, and so for her to break down in floods of tears was as unexpected as it was for Matthew to loose his temper. She thanked me and when I asked if she was going to be all right, nodded a “yes” and we got up and went out to the car park together. There we found her car, which Matthew had not taken, so I did wonder how he was going to get home that night. She got in, gave me another brave-face smile and then drove off.”

But Verity couldn't hide her emotions for long,

“Oh, what a horrible way to end an evening! What a dreadful mess!”

“And the next thing I knew about this business was when Constance rang me the following morning, again in tears.

“Matthew has left me.””

 

To purchase this story click here.

 

 

Reviews.

*****

Sometimes the best stories/books are the ones told in 100 pages or less, and that's most certainly the case with this storythere's no change in pace throughout the rest of the story until the quick ending. answering the main question but also leaving the reader with a bit of suspense and a creepy feeling going up your back. I'm interested in reading more material that comes from this guy's incisive mind.
 
(See full review by Sarah on Amazon and Goodreads)
 
 

*****

Have you ever been told a tale at the kitchen table that keeps you so in awe, you don't move until the story is over? That is how I felt as I read the Golden Tup. I didn't want to move. The story had me hooked from the first paragraphAs the story unfolds the dark secrets of the past emerge that explain why there is an evil presence on the farm. I really enjoyed The Golden Tup, it was suspenseful and well written and  I definitely recommend the book and look forward to reading more work from Leslie W P Garland.
 
(See full review by JG on Amazon and Goodreads)
 
 

*****

Here is a cold winter's tale to be read, or told, by the fire. By that I mean this is storytelling perfection. The kind of story you want to read on a night with the wind howling and rain or snow falling outside. For me, there are stories that chill me and leave me seeking light and warmth in the hours following the telling of them. Constance and Mark's story is this kind. It isn't a gory tale with blood and graphic scenes. No. This is old school horror. The kind of story that you quickly get wrapped up in and don't even realize the evil that lurks until it is too late. So when there is a chill wind blowing and gloomy is how you would describe the day, grab this book. Make a pot of tea, coffee or cocoa and get settled. If you can, I would even suggest reading by candle or fire. You are now ready to properly enjoy this book delicacy.
 
(See review by Frances on Amazon and Goodreads)
 

*****

A Chilling Tale. The story of The Golden Tup is told from the perspective of Verity, a farmer's wife who regards the couple in question as her own daughter and son-in-law. Verity's narration of the story reminded me of sitting down with my grand-mother, asking her a question about something and getting the whole back story to the answer. I read this story in a couple of hours and thoroughly enjoyed it, it's well written and may have you wondering if the the past and present really are connected sometimes and maybe, just maybe that vacant property's that you see every day, has been abandoned for so long for a reason, a very good reason.

(Review by Deborah Sampson on Amazon and Goodreads)

*****

I really enjoyed the narrator in this novel, Verity was someone that I could really envision, and hear in my head. I thought the author did a wonderful job giving this narrator a voice, and being able to give her a well-rounded personality in her narration of events.
This story was just wonderful, I fell in love with the mystical vibes that emanated from the story itself. It really felt like a ghost story being told, and as such it had the perfect amount of creep factor to give it that feeling. The best part to me, was the revelation that Verity was able to get out of Constance regarding the truth of the land on which they resided. (I can't spoil that though!)

Overall I love the works of Leslie W. P. Garland, I think that they are perfect for those looking for novellas with thought provoking meaning. In addition I think they are great for the questions in life of good versus evil, and also are realistic to human nature. My rating is a 5 out of 5 Stars!

(See full review by Mikaela Nadeau on Amazon and Goodreads)

 

*****

"Well written, interesting, concise and a great story."

(Review by George G on Amazon )

****

"This is one of the scariest stories I’ve read in ages. This is the kind of horror that slowly sneaks up on a reader, and that makes it so much fun to read. I actually found myself getting more frightened after I’d finished the last scene and started thinking about that strange farm where Matthew and Constance lived again. There were so many details of their lives there that became much more alarming once I knew how those things fit together and what they meant. Give The Golden Tup a try if you’re in the mood for something bone-chillingly creepy."

(See full review by LAS Reviewer on Amazon and Goodreads )

 

****

"The Golden Tup is another of this author's excellent unsettling 'round the fire' tales.  It tells the story of a young couple, buying and renovating a run down farm: all seems well at first, but clearly there are reasons why the farm has been untouched for so long.  You feel you really are listening to someone's spooky story in the pub. I loved the literary allusions as well and the sense that the couple were a victim of something larger than themselves. A really well written and thought-provoking story."

(See full review by Hector's Girl on Amazon and Goodreads )

 

****

" A fascinating, if chilly read! The story line unfolds at a pace and intensity that keeps you engaged. It's coherent throughout and there are even a few laughs. A cautionary tale that you may create a new life for yourself in the countryside but there are often forces at play that are beyond your control or understanding. Well worth investing time in. "

(See full review by Jim Keiran on Amazon )

 

To purchase this story click here.