Warning: Contains Spoilers!
On the ground, just next to where he had been crouching, were the gutted remains of a cat.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Having spent Chapter 3 with Nelda and last chapter with Miss Wethers and Jennet, we now take a peep into how things are for Ben.
On reread I’ve been noticing the structure of this novel a lot more, and I like how each of our main characters is established as having their own small ‘world’ within the overarching story. Nelda has her internal struggles and the woes of her tribe. Jennet has the difficulties of being an orphan on the cusp of her teenage years, expected to both care for others and submit to cosseting by her guardians. Miss Boston has some mysterious business in London that we will get around to in due course, and Ben has the worry of school bullies and the reassuring presence of Mr Roper.
I absolutely love Mr Roper. He’s another fantastic Robin Jarvis tertiary character; the little details about his cosy, old-fashioned house, lost wife, and passion for collecting sketch him out as a whole person in a few short pages. It kind of warms my heart a bit to see that Ben has a grandfatherly figure in his life to balance out all the strife he has already been though since arriving in Whitby.
A segue involving the deeply unpleasant but also slightly cartoonish school bully, and then we’re straight into some visceral gore with that poor mauled cat. Honestly at the close of this chapter I find myself wishing right along with Ben that Miss Boston were there to sort things out. She may not be absolutely exemplary at all times, but she’d be more use than Miss Wethers, who just isn’t equipped to deal with the string of peculiar happenings that Ben and Jennet call their daily existence. Come back, Aunt Alice, all is forgiven!
Matt’s Thoughts: This is a very short chapter, and plotwise, mainly advances ‘The Mystery of the Missing Cats’, so I don’t have a lot to say on that front. (Though possibly because I’m not a cat person, I’m being too callous about how horrific this chapter is?)
However, I did love it for the character of Mr Roper. (Another one in possession of an old Bakelite radio, eh, Aufwader?)
And that sort of inspired me to start sharing ‘sea-themed’ English classical music. (The sort that I like to think of Mr Roper listening to on a foggy evening on the radio.) However, given that he went to sleep tonight dreaming of big bands and dancing with his wife, I will just have to share this one for today: