LOVE IN PERNICKETTY TOWN
This book published in 1911 is one of Crockett's later books and the plot takes place around that time, evidenced by one of the characters turning up in a car which turns out in the story ro be a Mercedes. I took quite a shine to this book.
The story takes place in a town called Longtown portrayed in the book as being in Scotland (Longtown is actually in England). Crockett has in the past been good at adjusting the geography of Scotland, in the book, Longtown is the principal town of 'Cheviotshire', the Cheviot hills run from north Northumberland into the south east of Scotland. In chapter 4 “Cheviotshire is bounded on the north by the River Drum. On the east it extends to the spumy tides of the Glaswegian Firth, a jutting estuary of which cuts it nearly in two. To the south a spur of the green Cheviots bars the horizon, and the county is named after them”. This would appear to turn Scotland upside down. For the first five chapters the reader considers Longtown to be in mid country near the Cheviot hills.
Chapter 6 sudenly makes the mid country location a nonsense “We were making for Dutchmans point a promentory which looked right out to the tiny spark of the Solway Reef Lighthouse” - “The smooth waters of the Dutchmans Lake spread away to the south
– salt waters edge”. Chapter 10 reference to “the Isle wood”. Chapter 20 reference to Dutchmans Lake being tidal – Isle peninsula – harbour. Chapter 22 reference to harbour – fishing boats and nets. This now points to Longtown being Kirkcudbright which has St Mary's Isle (a promentory), Manxmans Lake (shallow tidal lake), harbour, fishing boats and nets. The big difference is that Kirkcudbright does not have “a population of twenty thousand” and is many miles from the Cheviots.
Now to the story – the principal character is Adrian Ross the classics master at Longtown High School young and recently qualified, as to background there is reference to him playing as a boy in Cotton Street, Cairn Edward (Castle Douglas), he lodges with a Sheba Saunders, a mine of local information and gossip. The headmaster of the school is Dr Erasmus Cassells a head in the air academic with three teenage daughters June, January (known as Jan) and May, there is no mother, June becomes the love interest of Adrian. The cook/servant of the Headmasters house is Persilla Potter quite a fan of the young men in the town. There is going to be a visit from an evangelist, the forerunner, Saul Adam, comes to setup and prepare for the arrival of Reston Rigg the mesmeric evangelist preacher who tours the country and is financed by “Lady Benthorn of Bournmouth the banker's rich widow” Rigg's object is to rescue the souls of sinners. Reston Rigg duly arrives complete with chaufeured blue and gold car, caravan, huge tent and a choir led by principal singer and soloist Hester Vane. The forerunner marches at the head of the procession blowing a silver gilt horn. The procession ended up at a piece of land owned by wealthy auctioneer Tim Jimson and his wife Sarah, it was Sarah who had given permission much to her husband's disgust.
Adrian Ross had become a member of the clerical club, the members of which were all the local churches ministers, they indulged in discussion and arguments, unfortunately they give rise to some rather tedious parts of the book.
The first meeting of Reston Rigg's group takes place and as usual with such meetings of mesmeric evangelists, those who have been suitably moved by his words are invited to a “semicircular altar-rail, with a broad step in front of it – a glorified 'penitents
bench' – and both the rail and the raised step were covered with red cloth”. Reston Rigg said that anyone who came forward and knelt before him at the 'penitents bench' would have come forward because “my eyes shall meet theirs, and they shall read the command 'Obey or perish!' They will obey”. First forward is Saul Adam the forerunner who explains how much of a sinner he had been and how he had been saved by Reston Rigg. Several other people came forward and knelt down including Sarah Jimson, as he was about to close, Jan Cassels ran forward and knelt down. Adrian Ross, who was accompanying the three girls and had a suspicion that Reston Rigg had been looking at the girls, also ran forward, not to participate but to rescue and pull away Jan Cassels who said that she would forever hate him for taking her away; she had been totally mesmerised by Reston Rigg and only wished to be with him and join his entourage, she does not shake off this obsession and this causes future troubles.
The book continues with some very exciting plots which I am not going to comment on as it would spoil it for another reader suffice it to say that the book ends with death, sorrow and joy. This book by Crockett has a title which is its worst possible advertisement for the book.
Reviewed by Kailyard
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