Unquiet Boundary (Fragment)

Clark Ashton Smith

The claim hangs high on a mombo-limb
With the quizzlequit and the quizzlequim.
—Faery Song

Sir John Longacre, formerly of the law-firm of Longacre, Windish and Windish, had started out a little before sunset for a pleasant, if not to say complacent, stroll through the noble park-like woods of his property. He was in the mood of one whose desires and ambitions had been gratified within the limits imposed by mortality. His career had made him one of the most eminent London barristers, and had been marked by services so distinguished and well-placed as to lead in the end to a baronetcy. After receiving the title, which had lain extinct for generations in his family, he had been able to purchase the ancestral manor from the impoverished cousins who still owned it, thus making the title a far from empty honor. Selling out his interest in the law-firm to his partners, he had retired at fifty-five to become the country squire he had always wished to be.

He had found the estate a little run-down, and the manor-house in need of repairs and modern plumbing. The cost of restoration, however, had not proved too exorbitant. He had been in possession for more than two years now, but his pride and pleasure were unstaled. As he turned his back to the tidy farms and the sunset laced with fiery clouds beyond them, and followed a well-trod forest path, he congratulated himself on the discretion that had prompted him to retire early from the problems and labors of law. There were, in all likelihood, many leisured years before him, free from the headaches peculiar to his late profession.

Musing on these matters, and admiring at the same time the stately oaks and beeches, Sir John finally neared, as he thought, the north-east boundary of his land. There the circuitous path would begin to meander back, after passing the biggest and oldest beech-tree in the whole forest.

The sun had now gone down, but the long level afterglow still gilded the tree trunks and the ground. The summer twilight would linger for hours, neither bringing nor needing a moon.

{NOTE: at this point the typescript of "Unquiet Boundary" breaks off. We continue with an earlier manuscript draft, at approximately the same point.}

Sir John failed to notice at first the deepening of oak and beech shadows into a gloom that was premature for that of summer twilight. He was startled from his revery by a great gust of wind that shook the tranquil sky and noiseless {?} branches like a storm, and then died suddenly as it had risen. Simultaneously, there came a rumbling of the ground beneath him, an earthquake shock without warning, and as it seemed, without recurrence. It was then that Sir John became aware of the failing light, in which the trees and the path were now indistinct.

^xxx^ xxx was added by Smith.
[xxx] xxx was deleted by Smith.

Printed from: www.eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/227
Printed on: November 22, 2017