The Hurdy Gurdy Man

by Bob Griffin

Beautiful heiress, Polly Durcan, has returned to Oxstalls, her beloved family home, but she is dying of a broken heart. Each day she sits by her window waiting patiently for her lover, as one might wait for a dear, dear friend who is a little late for dinner. Then one evening as darkness falls, the sonorous notes of a hurdy-gurdy organ reach out across the meadow on the crisp night air. Her eyes brim with tears as she whispers the words of the haunting melody, for she knows they tell of forgiveness for her terrible crime. What secrets do they share – the beautiful heiress and the rat-faced Irish tinker who winds his music box beneath the wood’s shadowy edge? The answer will destroy four generations of the Durcan family and tell a tale of violence, hatred, greed and jealousy, that plumbs the depths of human depravity. Set in Wales and the West Country of the early twentieth century, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is a tale of enduring love and the scales of good and evil that judge all mankind. From the book: ~ “Selworthy huddled beneath the apron of trees like a bird with its head beneath its wing. Branches and boughs sighed with the weight of snow that bore them down and many cracked and fell amid a powdery shower; their wooden arms, frail and brittle like the bones of old men.” ~ ~ “The brave little Nicolette, climbed each crest, and plummeted to the bowels of each trough like a child astride a rocking horse. Spray and seawater deluged the deck as the bows dug deep into each successive wave. A foolish, more fearless man than Captain Pollard, would be exhilarated by this roller coaster ride from the very top of the world, to the howling vortex at the mouth of oblivion, but Pollard was not such a man. He saw its danger, and feared its fury from a lifetime spent at sea.” ~~~ “Then there was the notable case of premature burial from the records of Highgate Cemetery. It concerned a woman of some wealth and social position who died in childbirth and who was subsequently buried in the family vault with her stillborn infant in her arms. The vault, in common with the occasional fashion of the day, was notable for a glass skylight through which succeeding members of the family and the curious public, might espy the coffins interred within. Soon after the burial, it was noted that the coffin had moved upon its trestle, though the vault had been securely locked and sealed. When the vault was opened and the contents of the coffin exposed, the priest in attendance was heard to say before collapsing to the floor, “May God have mercy upon us all.” Within the coffin – her lips smeared with blood – was the corpse of the once beautiful woman. Her face was contorted in fear and madness, and still in her arms, the partly consumed body of her infant child; drained entirely of its blood. One might conclude that there are many things worse than a painful death.”