The Box of Delights – Episode Four – The Spider in the Web

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Maria’s back – and she has a strange story to tell.  She was scrobbled by Abner and his gang and offered the chance to join them.  But Maria had a pretty low opinion of them and refused.  Abner then asked her if she knew anything about the Box.

Although Maria denied any knowledge, Abner wasn’t convinced.  Sylvia then had a suggestion. “You can soon find out if she’s telling the truth! Put her in the scrounger! You know what the scrounger is, my dear. We put you in it, and it has a thing in it that goes round and round. That is the scrounger. And presently you come out as dog biscuit”.

Maria’s interrogation is shot very nicely.  The cell is quite small, with two barred windows (one either side) high up  Sylvia appears first, on the one side and after a few minutes of fruitless questioning Abner appears at the other window (“Ladies, ladies! Do let us have unity”).

The list of Abner’s captives is growing – Cole Hawlings, Caroline Louisa, the Bishop and other assorted clergymen – so it’s somewhat strange that he then allows Maria to go free.  In story terms it makes sense, since she has to return to the others to tell them what she knows, but it does somewhat dent Abner’s reputation as a criminal mastermind.  Still, Peter gets scrobbled later on – so it’s a fair swop, I guess.

As this is the fourth episode of a six part serial, the story can’t really advance too far – therefore this installment has to mark time somewhat.  But the last few minutes do fill in some of the back-story of Arnold of Todi (the original owner of the Box) and Cole Hawlings.  Abner explains this to Joe, who is an odd choice since he’s always appeared pretty much clueless, but we can assume the information is more for our benefit than his.

Have you ever heard of Arnold of Todi? Arnold was a philosopher in the Middle Ages.   Now … did you ever hear of a certain Ramon Lully? He also was a philosopher in the Middle Ages. They show his tomb at Palma.  But in those days, a philosopher studied many things in his endless search for knowledge.  Ramon Lully travelled all through Spain and France and over the Alps into Italy, just to meet this Arnold of Todi, and to offer him his Elixir of Eternal Life in exchange for Arnold’s magic powers, which were contained in the Box of Delights.

Arnold disappeared and he appears to be lost somewhere in the past – as the Box will allow you to travel back in time but you can’t take it with you (you need to find your own way back).  Legend has it that Ramon Lully then took possession of the Box – and the image of Ramon Lully in Abner’s book is clearly that of Cole Hawlings.

So Ramon Lully is Cole Hawlings, a man who’s lived at least 700 years, knows the secret of eternal life and is also is the custodian of the Box of Delights.  This revelation closes the episode and leads us into episode five

Next Up – Episode Five – Beware of Yesterday

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