Monday, July 5, 2010

Mystery and Deception and Manuscripts: Part 2

When last we left off, INTERN had just stumbled into her late great-uncle's publishing office, located behind a trick bookshelf in a crumbling Cornwall castle. Will INTERN succeed at fulfilling her great-uncle's dying wish, and claim her rightful place as Baroness Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor?

INTERN heard the bookshelf grind into place behind her. Before her lay the wood-pannelled offices of Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor Editions. A lithe old man dressed entirely in tweed with a beard that reached down to his knees jumped up from his place behind an antique rolltop desk and came hurrying towards her.

"Oh Miss INTERN, I am so frightfully glad you've arrived. You're the spitting image of your great-uncle the Baron, God slather his soul with butter. I'm Buckley, the editorial assistant. At your service."

With those words, the old man took an elaborate bow. INTERN looked him over skeptically. Editorial assistant? The poor chap must be two hundred years old! INTERN's great-uncle must have been stingy with promotions.

"Your office is right this way, Miss. I've just put fresh candles in the candelabras. Do follow me."

INTERN followed Buckley to the back of the room, where a carved oak door opened onto a smaller, even more richly furnished office with a massive desk. Silver candelabras burned at either ends of the desk, dripping white wax onto the mahogany. Manuscripts written on parchment paper littered the floor. She turned to ask Buckley a question, but he was already retreating from the room.

"If you'll excuse me Miss, I'll go make you a pot of tea. The intern should be arriving from the village any day now, but it's a day's walk to the castle and I suppose this dreadful weather's held him up. Make yourself right at home. I'm sure you'll set the press' finances right as rain in no time—the late Baron always said you would."

With that, Buckley disappeared. INTERN sank into the Louis IV chair behind the desk, overwhelmed by the task ahead. Buckley was clearly counting on her to save the press. But where was the manuscript for The Gales of Thistledown Moor?

INTERN reached down and began to sift through the piles of manuscripts on the floor. There were dozens of seafaring how-to manuscripts written out in a shaky hand, a few Gothic romances and etiquette manuals, and what seemed to be a 2000-page family saga with long slashes of red pen through most of its paragraphs.

The Gales of Thistledown Moor was nowhere to be found.

Forbidding herself to succumb to despair, INTERN did what any reasonable newly-minted executive editor would do: she took out a fresh sheet of paper and a pen and started to draft a press release.

If Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor Editions was going to succeed, thought INTERN, things would have to change. The whole joint was clearly stuck in the MIddle Ages, and it didn't stand a chance in the digital age. First thing to go, thought INTERN, would have to be the name. Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor Editions was too wordy, too stale. How could she bring it into the modern world while acknowledging the press' history?

Sham2? ShamPoSpo? SPTS2010? House of Spoor Editions?


Suddenly, INTERN had a flash of inspiration.

Spür Haus.

It was short. It was modern. It looked vaguely like something you'd buy at Ikea.

INTERN took up the quill pen that was lying on the desk and wrote the press release announcing the relaunch of Spür Haus to the world.

When Buckley came back with the tea, INTERN thanked him and assigned him his first task: proofread the press release and send it out. Buckley seemed inordinately pleased to be given something to do.

"Right away, Miss INTERN. Oh, it's been years since we've sent out a press release, this is exciting."

Half an hour later, INTERN wandered out of her office to check on Buckley's progress. He was standing behind a mimeograph machine from the 1887 which looked strangely futuristic in the midst of the even older office furnishings. He handed her a copy of the press release eagerly.

When she saw it, INTERN blanched.


INTERN hardly had to read further than the first line to realize what Buckley had done. He had proofread it, yes—but proofread it according to his own antique standards.

"Buckley, you haven't already started sending these out, have you?"

"Why of course, Miss. Two hundred copies have gone out to all the London newspapers, a hundred to Constantinople, and hundreds more to the rest of the Empire and the New World. Is that a problem?"

Buckley looked so anxious and earnest that INTERN didn't have the heart to tell him what he'd done.

INTERN was now the executive editor of a failing publishing company called Fpur Hauf, and there was no taking it back.

Before she had the chance to decide what to do next, there was a loud knocking on the trick bookshelf. A low, rough voice called out, "Oi, I'm the nocturne and cistern!"

INTERN looked at Buckley in puzzlement. He bowed slightly. "It seems the new intern has finally arrived."


Will INTERN be able to steer Fpür Hauf into modern waters? Will Buckley ever be able to make the cut as a 21st century editorial assistant? Who is this rough new intern from the village? And where, oh where, is The Gales of Thistledown Moor? Find out next time INTERN has internet access from this rocky and desolate coast.


  1. Google Translate says Spur Haus means “Feel House,” which sounds like an EST center or brothel. Since you were coming from the English spoor, meaning animal droppings, it’s probably an improvement.

    Google Translate is still scratching its head over Fpur Hauf.

    However you spell it, I’m enjoying your adventure, and I'm looking forward to Moor.


  3. I'm in England now, but I can't see you anywhere. looks like you're having fun though.

  4. Stay on the coast, do your writing, save the publishing house and spend time in the sea with our gnarly Cornish surfers. Do stay away from the moors. The Hound of the Baskervilles haunts Dartmoor; the Beast of Bodmin Moor is regularly sighted by the locals. Ooh aar, Cornwall is a rum old place, that's for sure.

  5. Am I the only one here who's old enough to cringe not only at the use of lower-case "f" for the "long s" (ſ), but at using it at all in some of the places it's being used?

    Or was INTERN making a joke and my deficient sense of humor is adding to the joke?

  6. "God slather his soul with butter."

    Laughing into my bread pudding, I are.

  7. Oh yef, brilliant.

    One queftion. Did the new village intern fay he waf nocturnal? Pleafe tell me we aren't heading into the world of the living dead. I don't think I can handle another fpin-off of cold-flefhed creaturef.

    Now look what you've ftarted....

  8. Hilarious! I am definitely following this saga!