UPDATED A Warning to the Curious by M.R. James download book pdf

UPDATED A Warning to the Curious by M.R. James download book pdf

UPDATED A Warning to the Curious by M.R. James download book pdf

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The short story, A Warning to the Curious was first published in 1925. Written just a few years after the end of the First World War it is a tale redolent with implied threat and deadly caution. M.R. James uses a favourite device of his; a story within a story.It begins with a cheerful section about a seaside resort, Seaburgh which is a thinly disguised description of Aldeburgh, in Suffolk. M.R. James often used to visit his grandmother, who lived there, so the town was familiar to him. In this story we have a strong sense that the narrator is the author. We are lulled by a sense of cosiness; the narrator might be sitting by your side telling you a story. He says that he likes to hear stories about the area, because of his happy memories of the area from childhood, and recounts one such.This is the cue for the second narrator, who has offered to tell the author a true story. The second narrator reminisces about the last time he met an old friend, Henry Long, at the pub in Seaburgh where he was staying. The author also knows Henry Long slightly. From now on the commonplace tale loses its familiar reassuring holiday feel, and takes on an edgier tone.The second narrator and his friend Long are approached by rather a rabbity anaemic subject…but not unpleasing. This young man, Paxton, seems to be looking for company, so the two invite him to join them. After a while they notice how fidgety and nervous he seems to be, and when he asks their advice they agree as a polite matter of course. Paxton, who it turns out is interested in history and archaeology, then begins his own tale. By now the layers of story have begun to unfurl, and the reader has been prepared to settle down for something intriguing and dramatic.Paxton recounts that he visited the nearby village of Froston (in actuality, Friston) which had a medieval church he was interested in. There in the churchyard, he was told a tale by an old man about the lost crowns of Anglia which legendarily protected the country from invasion. The tale is confirmed by the rector, who tells him that two crowns had already been discovered, one in 1687, but that there was thought to be a third Anglo-Saxon crown still buried somewhere on the coast. The last crown was reputed to have been guarded for centuries by a family called Ager, the last representative of whom, a strange character named William, died recently.(view spoiler)[After visiting the church, Paxton found an inscription in an old book from the 1740s, which appeared to be by an ancestor of William Ager. Following that entry were others by the descendants of the Ager family, up until recent times. From the antiquarian, Paxton learned of the cottage the Agers had all lived in for generations. Visiting the cottage he learned that William used to go walking in a particular spot at night, a hillock with trees on it. Paxton put two and two together. He decided to go prospecting in the barrow, and shortly after unearthed the crown.The actual discovery is told very quickly to the two visitors. There is no tension in this part of the story, because to their consternation the young man Paxton immediately says that he wants to return the crown, declaring the worst of it is I dont know how to put it back. His friends try to argue him out of it. Paxton offers to show them the crown, although his frame of mind seems to be deteriorating all the time. He has the calm of despair and is is in a worse state of shivers than before. He shows them the crown as closely as they would like to examine it, but to their bafflement will not let them touch it. They all become increasingly uneasy, nerves are infectious the narrator explains, and take pains to hide the crown and move about the hotel secretly. Paxton is becoming distraught, saying, Ive never been alone since Ive touched it and goes on to explain, There was always somebody - a man - standing by one of the firs. This was in daylight you know. He was never in front of me. I always saw him with the tail of my eye on the left or the right, and he was never there when I looked straight for him. He describes how he had been continually haunted and stalked by this presence, who moved his belongings, made strange whisperings and scratching noises. Sometimes, you know, you see him, and sometimes you dont, just as he pleases, I think: hes there, but he has some power over your eyes. Other people also seemed to gain an impression of a supernatural presence. A station porter, for one, seemed to briefly think he was not alone.The two men feel they must have the compassion to help Paxton return the crown, which they do, in secret, at dead of night. They too gain the impression of a dark presence - the guardian of the crown - watching, thinking at first that it is the coat of an ordinary man. When they return to the hotel, the servant is also mystified, having thought he saw someone following them. Paxton is certain that he has done the right thing, but is convinced that he is still in mortal peril. Nothing seems to assuage his sense of doom. They all agree to go for a walk the following morning, the two others still trying to help Paxton dispel his terrors.The next morning the servant tells them that Paxton had already been called for by someone, and is very puzzled by this, as he thought it was the two men who had collected him. Both they and the reader are filled with forboding at this. (hide spoiler)]
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