Adam Maxwell -Farquhar (Tale 2- Work in Progress)
By mark p
The Year of Our Lord 1899, Aberdeen
I have been the priest in charge at St Peter’s for three
years now and it has been a joyful experience thus far.
The fisher folk of Torry are God fearing and serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song, especially those in our wonderful choir who raise the rafters of our splendid church every Sunday. They are all very receptive of my sermons and listen to me as my father’s flock did back in the days when he was based at Aberdeenshire prior to his mysterious demise.
However, on returning to my lodgings, a modestly furnished garret near my charge, I often feel my faith seeping from me in Time, as if I am taking off one mask and donning another.
I have often contemplated forsaking the service of the Lord for a very different calling, that of a writer. During my nightly perambulations through the city, incognito of course, I have encountered many vagabonds and miscreants who have asked for my help financially, I suppose they would ask for spiritual help were they aware that I am a priest. I was dumbfounded when I beheld a tattered individual crossing himself and whispering some prayerful incantation, under the influence of some intoxicant as I wound my way through the streets where many poets and writers had gone before. I am utterly amazed at the poverty in which people in this city are living, some are veritable characters, straight out of the pages of Dickens or Stevenson, Fagin and Hyde are just two which spring to my mind now! I feel inspired to create some characters of my own to populate my own literary endeavours.
I am still a relatively young man but feel jaded by the rigours of this earthly life, this mortal coil as Father would have said, quoting Shakespeare at every turn.
I am haunted by dreams, dreams of my father and namesake, the Reverend Adam Maxwell-Farquhar, revered preacher of hellfire and brimstone sermons, exorcist and ghost hunter, and the thing that intrigued me most as a boy, the mysterious weaver of supernatural tales. Those tales were kept secret in his lifetime, myself and our trusted housekeeper being the only people who were privy to their existence. I feel increasingly drawn towards the darker aspects of this life as we hurtle ever closer to the New Century where it is predicted that many changes will flood the Earth as the waters did in the time of Noah and his Ark. Father taught me about the Holy Scriptures and the nature of the Christian faith, but I feel irrevocably drawn to the realms of darkness, to that forbidden world of temptations and evil, the World, the Flesh and the Devil, something a man in my position should be avoiding like the proverbial plague. Perhaps it is time for me to continue his work where he left off, I have recently come upon a clutch of stories Father had secreted inside an ancient volume by Thomas Cranmer, one of them intrigued me acutely, a tale which I believe may have chronicled Father’s brief tenure as a curate down in London where he fell under the spell of the prose written by that master fabulist Arthur Machen.
I have drafted out an extract of this tale in my calligraphic script as follows:
Adam wandered the streets of the East End, observing the poverty at first hand, mentally sketching the inhabitants for future literary endeavours. As someone who saw the fabulous in the Everyday most of the time, he was somewhat moved to see two grey clad street urchins cowering in fear as a cloaked individual with pince-nez and neatly trimmed beard urged then to step forward to his ‘camera’. Adam looked on in horror as this person pointed his contraption at the children suggesting that they have their 'photograph' taken, a soul stealer, and thief of images if ever there was one. This was Dr Rontgen’s invention taken several steps further and a manifestation of the fin de siècle which seemed intent on changing the world irrevocably for the worst, the advent of the machines and devices would sound a death knell for the Faith and the populace would become a nation of heathens. The latter was the idealist curate’s utmost fear. That was before he discovered his talent for evoking the numinous in prose like Mr Arthur Machen.
I was surprised somewhat by Father’s liking for the work of Machen as his most revered writer of the macabre was undoubtedly the great Montague Rhodes James and it was commonly known that James was not an admirer of the Welshman’s work. I admired the work of Mr Machen and a profound attachment to James’ dark tales and often I sat in my garret reading from my father’s volume of ‘Ghost Stories of an Antiquary’, as the oil lamp (or candle) flickered in the draughty room and my imagination drew me to the world of academe and mysterious happenings. Most appositely for me were that Machen and James were both sons of the manse so to speak, as was I, so I had that connection with both in my mind.
Among the clutch of stories, I discovered a diary, which on closer inspection revealed his double life of parish priest and ghost hunter. Mrs McHardy, our faithful housekeeper certainly kept that one from me, I supposed it was really for my own good, as my path was set from an early age, that I should follow Father into the priesthood and preach the Gospel to the great unwashed of Aberdeen and its surrounding areas. I must admit I did have something of an inkling that he did more than a priest should and perhaps pursued a path which a priest should not, but what he had done as a ghost hunter was here in the spidery scrawl of a quill pen.
These diary entries, which I suppose are quite incredible and quite unseemly for a man of the cloth like my Father to be writing, but now at the turn of the century, perhaps there are people out there in the world who will listen to the stories, the diary entries of Adam Maxwell-Farquhar, Ghost Hunter and Priest. I have always harboured an ambition to write and have often thought of myself as a scriever as some of the Aberdeenshire parishioners might have said. My readers and perhaps The Good Lord himself will be the judge of that, time will tell
My first inkling that I was to become a ghost hunter was something that came very much out of the blue. I was advised against this sort of thing by the Bishop, not to go meddling in things that I didn’t understand, but as the only exorcist for many miles around the city of Aberdeen, I decided to rise to the challenge placed before me.
I had been asked to perform an exorcism on a tenement garret room in the Amberly Street area of Aberdeen, just off the bustling thoroughfare of George Street, which like the Gallowgate, was one of the main arterial leading to the heart of the fabled Granite City.