The Silence of Moonlit Gravestones

The Silence of Moonlit Gravestones

A Story by Christopher Kelly

An allegorical romance.


The Hot Air Balloon

By Christopher Kelly (Meister Shemus de la Plume)

A crescent moon was hung,

silver-greyed, against the china-sblue ky of near-nightfall. A white-spotted owl swooped solemnly among the strange trees known as Ligolalia: multi-colored leaves whose hues fast-flickered among all shades of the spectrum so that the face of the foliage wore different colors from one minute to another, from one perspective to another; walking a circle round one of the towering trunks one beheld an ever-changing display of Nature’s prismatic kaleidoscope.

Corrinado and his partner Morris Mulberry spoke to each other in low whispery tones as they made their way along a winding path of rain-strewn crenellated cobblestones along which rows upon rows of fragrant flowers were lined, surreptitiously swaying and nodding their proud-petaled heads: chrysanthemums and orange orchids; hyacinths, and crimson roses; laburnums and laughing lilacs, and pale-pink primroses"all quivering with valiant perseverance in the chilled breeze blowing through the ambient airways of the night.

Presently Mulberry and Corrinado came to a sudden halt before the formidable face of a towering grey-stoned castle.

“Look"look up there!” said Morris Mulberry, excitedly elbowing Corrinado as he spoke.

“Up"where?” asked the latter.

“Hark! Behold!” went on Mulberry, continuing to point poignantly up towards the castle’s top-right tower where wide-open wooden shutters opened on an illumined window-sill whither lingered the shadow-sheathed outline of a dark-gowned female form.

“It must be she…” said Mulberry in a vague voice of whimsical wonderment.

Corrinado, beginning to become a bit irritated now, said:"

“Who"it must be who, Morris?”

Morris Mulberry replied:"

“Leora…Leora of the Sequoias…”

“Manilla Trane’s wife?” asked Corrinado. “Is that who you mean?”

In reply Morris Mulberry nodded in somber silence and began thus walking forward along the path; Corrinado stood for a moment alone and thence quickly trotted ahead to keep up.

The estate of Manilla Trane was situated atop a large hill round which circled a lush forest of the Ligolalia in bold brilliant bloom. It was a sublime scene worthy to be painted by the masters; Sir Trane had indeed commissioned such personages many times; the paintings were thus held in auctions at which many respected art collectors showed up to bid, only to find their amounts of money to be wondrously unsatisfactory; for Sir Trane himself was present at all off these events: steadily smoking cigars and petulantly puffing pipes as he nonchalantly made moot the bids of all possible customers. Why should anyone else partake of this luxury? He owned the property; he owned the surrounding forestry; therefore he should make any and all efforts to acquire any and all of the paintings attributed thereto. Was this reasonable? Manilla Trane thought so.

Manilla Trane was indeed a lucky man"lucky; yes"but gracious, nay, not a whit. For why should one be gracious towards such an abstracted, happenchance thing as luck?

But he was not ungracious in all matters. Indeed, it may well be believed (if by no others than at least by himself) that he could be virtuous. Every evening Sir Trane, as was his custom, stood outside as the fading twilight seeped duskily into the darkness of the coming night; then, standing upon his petal-paved emerald-green marble stairs with dignified countenance and most thoughtful mien, he tilted his head skywards and thanked the very moon (whither he imagined God resided) for money and his life, and for his very good health.

If it be true that the requirements for happiness are good health, considerable selfishness, and comfortable ignorance, then Manilla Trane was a very happy man indeed. He was filled with an everlasting mirthful pride which glowed illusively upon his rose-red tinted face, graced likewise by a radiantly red flowing beard which he seemed to touch with remarkable frequency: for should he be pleased with something in particular, oftentimes with himself, he would joyfully stroke the hairs flowing down from his chin; and, when wrought upon by some indecorous displeasure, he would stomp about tugging fiercely on his long-lengthed moustachio; for the nonce he adopted the former gesture, sliding his fingers thereanent the long wipsy red hairs of his chinny chin chin. Didexquisitely this signify that Sir Trane was pleased with something? It certainly did indeed: for before him in the Hunter’s Hallway"

"(a long room through which ran a grand red-carpeted walkway betwixt mountings of all manner of mammals; elks and rams; tigers and jaguars; elephants and emus; mooses and gooses; chimps and imps; bears and mares; reindeers and unicorns; to sya nothing of the fesitive feathery plethora of birds the most remarkablest of which, was no doubt, a dumbly demeaored Dodo, which was rumored to have been the last of the species, or so Sir Trane sincerely maintained)"

"before this spectacular scene the footman, name of Loodwedgio Louigi-Lucuyiannaolosso, a small Italian Swedish fellow with a remarkably pointed head on top of which he wore, rather in bad taste, a three-cornered hat"this gentleman, with cordiality of the most gratuisious sort, was leading, sycophantsuckly ushering round two rather ruffianesque gentleman, Morris Mulberry and Corrinado; both of whom, bowed before Sir Trane; the latter rather awkwardly and the former bowing most graciously: very low and almost ironical. This pair, Manilla Trane well knew, were the owners of Hot Air Balloon Traveling: a rather whimsical business (as Manilla Trane saw it) created out of one’s, namely Corrinado’s, extravagant ideas and technical genius and marketed by Morris Mulberry’s streetish sensibilities. Charging people money to be shuttled around the sky in a flying machine! A hot air balloon! This was something which the envious Manilla Trane coveted very much; and, in fact, this was the exact reason wherefore he had sent for these two despicable peasant-folk, to be invited to the extravagantly royalnoblenotableworthiness of the elegant estate at which many other royalnoblenotabableworthies rubbed elbows and waxed super-sophisticated upon aristocratic matters.

Sir Trane well intended to appropriate this wondrous business forsooth; at any cost which it would entail. He felt that the matter could not be put to any amount of procrastination. He wanted it settled forthwith. He knew that men, like birds, would be able to fly the skies someday; and he was not about to let some miserable pitable peasant be the one credited with bringing such a wonderful thing forth into the world.

Manilla Trane felt so very proud of his affluence on this evening; always did he look eagerly forward with jejune joyousness to the accruement of some sort of property or luxuriance of business.

Presently Sir Trane strutted before his hosts; a shimmering jewel-encrusted golden goblet in one hand; in the other a preposterously long and curved pipe of a rather somewhat phallic nature on which he occasionally puffed in a rather somewhat sexual manner.

“Welly well well,” said he, addressing the two guests; and tilting a smileyfaced head whimsically-wonder sidewise‘d, he added:

“You must be those two fellows with the big flying balloon business, no?”

“The very same,” replied Mulberry with a prideful air.

“Splendid!” said Manilla Trane. He began gesturing extravagantly then and continued on in the following manner:

“But before we launch upon any business matters we shall feast.’ Twill be much reveling, much merriment, the better we can warm our finer sensibilities and our spirits.”

He said this with the superciliously contrived air of one politely offering magnanimous consideration of the concerns of persons of equitable stature"an equality, we need hardly say, which Manilla Trane in no wise perceived; and you may be sure these pre-festivities were an iniquitous charade the better to ensure success in his pursuit of acquiring with surety Hot Air Balloon Traveling.

At this moment a small group of people burst through a doorway: one woman dressed as a sailor after the manner of the Spanish Armada; then a fishwife in pink and black-netted stockings wearing a black cape and black musketeer-like mask over her eyes; also two men: one dressed as a knight of Arthur’s round-table and the other, evidently, as a bumble-bee with white wings that fluttered about his sloping shoulders"rather drunkenly did this pudgily proportioned little personage of much portliness prance boisterously about with such wealth of ridiculously absurd gesture that the knight was obliged to say to him:

“I tell ye, ye look much more like a little faery then ye’s look like a bumble-bee. O’, by my troth, ye do!”

Everyone in the room seemed to agree with this observation as they applauded, whereupon the bumble-bee-faery character, this preposterously paunchy little man, ceased momentarily in his spasmodic movements and hung his head"but no sooner had the crowd turned their glances away from him ere he began once more to prance and dance about. He seemed to find much pleasure in these antics.

“Hey,” said Corrinado to Mulberry as he tugged him by the arm"for Mulberry seemed loath to join the party just then.

“What is it? What?” said Mulberry, turning to Corrinado as though in annoyance.

“What’s all this talk of ‘business’ matters? I thought you understood that"”

“Oh, I understand"”

“Well,” said Corrinado, “let me repeat with quiet force: I am not, and never was, planning on selling the business"at least not to some tyrant as Manilla Trane!”

Corrinado was shaking his head back and forth in disappointment. I knew it, thought he, I knew he would sell the company if he chose, sell my dream, and at the drop of a coin!

But these thoughts came a-sudden to an abrupt halt as, passing before Corrinado’s eyes, moving between the growing party awkwardly, was Leora of the Sequoias herself, dressed in a white gown that was streaked with yellow and orange stains; and, as she moved, making her way through the sea of costumed bodies, she undid her hair from its bun and over her shoulders spilled her billowing pale-oak brown hued hair. She eventually reached the part of the room whence Manilla Trane was holding forth before a crowd gathered round him in a sycophantic circle. Sir Trane was saying, with one hand upon his hip whilst the other made to unsheathe his sword:

“And I saideth unto he: ‘Villain, unmuffle yeself, ye shalt pass no further!’”

But just as he had fully unsheathed the shining silver-sword, Leora, who had crept up behind the circle, said, in an apprehensive tone of voice as though addressing a strict parent:

“Dinner shall be served presently.”

Upon which Sir Trane, dropping his sword to his side and sighing deeply, and shutting his eyes closed and with his bearded chin stuck smugly up unto the air, said in a voice of immanent haughtiness:

“Weeellll, thank you, dear. But couldst you not have waited till I had finished the fine story I was telling? Werest you my daughter and not my beautiful wife I wouldst scold thee the harsher. But no matter.” And tilting his head sidewise, squint-eyed, he added:

“And do clean yeself and put on some proper clothing before you join us for feasting. Now, will you be needing anything further, my dear?”

Leora answered with an abashed flicker in her eyes:

“No, no. That is all.”

She bowed quickly and silently and began walking off down the hallway at a brisk pace; but when her eyes chanced to glance at Corrinado"who was observing this scene, standing stock-still in stupefied silence, and thinking, ‘Who could treat such a beautiful person in such a manner?’"she slowed her pace for a brief moment, fixing her mobile smoke-blue eyes upon him for a moment, and the next moment disappeared from the room.

I’ll take her away someday, thought Corrinado, I’ll fly her away, away, far away from here! And with thick inhalations of the faint-fragrance of sap-filled grass, his gaze wandered waywardly upon the bed of rainbow-flowers; verbenas; hazel-spinneys; and lilac-colored cuckoo flowers; all seeming to be in the slight stages of withering; and a melancholy-filled cloud floated across his mind’s sky; and all at once in a terrible torrential downpouring of sorrowlaced rain it fell upon him: life’s duality; for all this beauty of flora would soon dry-up and crumple in the ice-laden winds of woeful winter. These thoughts rendered Corrinado crestfallen and he brooded upon them rather gloomily for a time whilst he wandered around the preposterously dressed sea of people; and this maddening crowd and their crude cacophanies could have wellnigh drove him to his own madness. But as it happened Corrinado was not only a brilliant inventor, but also a poet who through his knowledge of Hermetical Mental Transmutation and by adhering to the alchemical Principles of Polarity knew that Heat and Cold are identical in nature, the differences being merely a matter of degrees; Light and Darkness are poles of the same thing, with many degrees between them; The scale of color is the same "higher and lower vibrations being the only difference between high violet and low red. Large and Small are relative. So are Noise and Quiet; Hard and Soft follow the rule. Likewise Sharp and Dull. Positive and Negative are two poles of the same thing, with countless degrees between them.Good and Bad are not absolute " we call one end of the scale Good and the other Bad, or one end Good and the other Evil, according to the use of the terms. A thing is "less good" than the thing higher in the scale; but that "less good" thing, in turn, is "more good" than the thing next below it " and so on, the "more or less" being regulated by the position on the scale. And so it is in the mind of man. "Love and Hate" are generally regarded as being things diametrically opposed to each other; entirely different; unreconcilable. But we apply the Principle of Polarity; we find that there is no such thing as Absolute Love or Absolute hate, as distinguished from each other. The two are merely terms applied to the two poles of the same thing. Beginning at any point of the scale we find "more love," or "less hate," as we ascend the scale; and "more hate" or "less love" as we descend " this being true no matter from what point, high or low, we may start. There are degrees of Love and hate, and there is a middle point where "Like and Dislike" become so faint that it is difficult to distinguish between them. Courage and Fear come under the same rule. The Pairs of Opposites exist everywhere. Where you find one thing you find its opposite " the two poles. And it is this fact that enables one to transmute one mental state into another, along the lines of Polarization. Things belonging to different classes cannot be transmuted into each other, but things of the same class may be changed, that is, may have their polarity changed. Thus Love never becomes East or West, or Red or Violet " but it may and often does turn into Hate and likewise Hate may be transformed into Love, by changing its polarity. Courage may be transmuted into Fear, and the reverse. Hard things may be rendered Soft. Dull things become Sharp. Hot things become Cold. And so on, the transmutation always being between things of the same kind of different degrees.

Corrinado now retreated to a corner of the room and sat down at a small wooden table on which he spread the contents of his shoulder-slung leather satchel: a ream of paper; a small tincture of black ink; and a quill-pen with which, in the dim flickering half-light of flickering a candelabra, his mind became as silent as moonlight upon a gravestone, and he began to write a poem.


Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;

There are four seasons in the mind of man:

He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear

Takes in all beauty with an easy span:

He has his Summer, when luxuriously

Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves

To ruminate, and by such dreaming high

Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings

He furleth close; contented so to look

On mists in idleness--to let fair things

Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature.


April 2010, New York





© 2010 Christopher Kelly

My Review

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Ah, so you're one of those I-am-holier-than-thou artsy people who considers simplicity a sin and unreadability a virtue.


Can you back up your arguments without resorting to quotations and in grammatically correct English? Or you don't have anything original to say?

"Writer's are not remembered for what they write about, but for the beautiful things they do with language."

Wrong. A fallacy of hasty generalization. Counterexample: Dostoevsky.

p.s. the correct title of Joyce's last book is called FINNEGANS WAKE, without the apostrophe.

Posted 10 Years Ago

I don't usually defend my writing but you don't seem to have much literary knowledge.
Flaubert: "Good Prose is filled with things."
Joyce: "“One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot. Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why."

Description is writing. When Joyce writes:
"The Heaventree of silent stars hung in humidnighblue fruit." Or:
"On his wise shoulders the solemn sun flung spangles, angles, dancing coins."
--there is a reason why. Think about it.
Read Sentimental Education (the novel of the 19th century) and Finnegan's Wake (the novel of the 20th and 21st--sofar) and then try write an essay comparing their style and language. Writer's are not remembered for what they write about, but for the beautiful things they do with language. If adjectives confuse you, read a newspaper.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Descriptive and evocative.

But you use too many adjectives and adverbs, e.g., "a CRESCENT moon was hung, SILVER-GREYED, against the CHINA-BLUE sky of NEAR-nightfall. A WHITE-SPOTTED owl swooped SOLEMNLY among the STRANGE trees..."

Why not, "A crescent moon hung against the twilight sky. An owl swooped among the trees..."?

Who cares what the multicolored leaves etc. are called? And who cares if the winding path is "rain-strewn" and "crenellated"?

I love descriptions and I make the same kind of mistake, but too much description only bogs down the story. I'd cut, cut, cut all the excess.

hope this helps.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on April 22, 2010
Last Updated on April 22, 2010


Christopher Kelly
Christopher Kelly

Long Island, NY

I spend most of my time (when not staring at the heaventree of stars hung in humid nightblue fruit!) writing my 800+ page novel which after seven years of research, revision, and writing, is now, alas.. more..