I love Alfred Hitchcock! One story he collected, "Curious Adventure of Mr. Bond" by Nugent Barker, portrays Mr. Bond, a lone traveller, who after a wearying journey up the slopes of a valley happens upon a vast tableland and an inn, far in the distance and on the edge of a forest. He is delighted when he is heartily greeted by the landlord, a Mr. Crispin Sasserach and his wife Myrtle, who is preparing "a lovely broth to-night".
After a wonderfully warm and cozy evening of delicious broth and good company, Mr. Bond departs the next morning with Mr. Sasserach who drives him over land bordered by forest on the left and rowan trees leading down to the valley on the right. Mr. Bond is duly deposited at the inn of Sasserach's brother (Martin), "The Headless Man", where he enjoys a meal of many succulent meat dishes and a game of chess with his host (with curious hand-carved chess pieces). Mr. Bond does start to feel a little "obliged" and frustrated by their "over-hospitality" when it is insisted that he visit the third brother's inn, "The Traveller's Head".
He learns on this journey that the three brothers own the entire land above the valley, divided into three equal portions. When prompted by Mr. Bond to discuss the names of the inns, which are seemingly quite common, but nonetheless "turned around"; the manservant, Stennet, who is driving the carriage, enlightens him thusly: the name "The Traveller's Rest" is self-explanatory and so is made poetical by changing it to "The Rest of the Traveller" focusing on the "rest" to be found at the inn. "The Headless Man" is simply grim for the sake of grimness and "The Traveller's Head" pays homage to the traveller himself, in the same manner that many inns are called "The King's Head". By now, however, you must have had some suspicions as to the eventual fate of our poor Mr. Bond.
I took these photos last month when we found ourselves, without benefit of a map, and on the dubious advice of modern GPS, lost and travelling down many of those narrow, winding roads so common in England. We finally pulled up short in front of this inn while my husband consulted his own sources to get us back on the right track. I sat in the car looking up at the sign above the doorway of this seemingly deserted (although correctly named!) inn and was relieved to read that a "Mr. P.R. Barnes" was the proprietor ... and not Mr. Crispin Sasserach himself!!
Cannibalism is common in folklore and fairytales. As the hour of All Hallow's Eve approaches and leads us into the dark of winter, I humbly felt it might be an appropriate time to include one of my favourite tales of this delightfully taboo subject!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
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