Rosemary Sutcliff’s mother had Second Sight, a “thing which one expects of a Celt more than a Saxon”


I have tracked down a long-out-of-print, brief story by Rosemary Sutcliff which is new to me. In a 1967 Bodley Head collection The House of the Nightmare and Other Eerie Tales, chosen by Kathleen Lines, The Man Who Died at Sea is a story about Rosemary Sutcliff’s mother (my great-aunt) and her Second Sight.  I am going to re-produce it here on the blog over several posts. It starts:

My mother was not quite like most people’s mothers. She came, as far as anybody knew, of good hard-headed North Country Saxon on both sides, but should by rights have been Irish or Highland Scots. She had what people called the ‘Celtic temperament’, up one instant and down the next, and making sure that my father and I were up and down with her. When she was down, it was as though a brown fog hung over the whole house, and when she started going up again, it was as though the sun had come out and the birds started singing. Living with her had never a dull moment, but it could be rather unnerving, for she had, unquestionably, a touch of the Second Sight, another thing one expects of a Celt more than a Saxon.

She saw our beloved old dog lying in his accustomed lace before the hall fire, six or so weeks after he died; and she heard things—the same old dog padding around  the house, even years later; footsteps and voices that weren’t there for other people; and occasionally she knew that certain things were going to happen, but they happened often enough for my father and I not to like it very much when she predicted something bad. (It generally seems to be future trouble and not rejoicings, that shows itself to the person with Second Sight.)

To be continued…..

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