Lawrence’s first three stories were written for a local Christmas competition (p. 16). Unlike the other two, the winning story, ‘A Prelude’, was left unrevised. It is simple, rounded, and prettily sentimental, with snowflakes and berried holly, the traditional mummers’ play, a carol followed by Giordani’s ‘Turn once again, heal thou my pain,/Parted from thee my heart is sore’, and a happy ending, after the young man whose farming family had been down on its luck had begun to think he had lost his young lady at the mill. The background is clearly sketched with Haggs Farm and Felley Mill in mind. More strange, vivid, and elaborately constructed is ‘A Fragment of Stained Glass’. Told by a vicar with archaeological interests, in explanation of a passage in imaginary fifteenth-century records* which described the Devil’s face ‘flaming red like fire in a basket’ and glowering down on the choir, the story is centred in Beauvale Priory, the main character being a mad serf who in his rage has killed a horse, and set fire to the stables in revenge for his punishment. He flees with Martha from the mill (Felley Mill) in a snowstorm, and the love-story reaches its full-blooded climax. Although Lawrence regarded it as ‘a bit of a tour de force’, he is wonderfully successful in generating a psychological atmosphere of magic from madness and superstition.
KeywordsShort Story Young Lady Football Match Married Life Happy Ending
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