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Poddington-on-Slossip: Characters

Helen Gravenswood



Old and bent, and thin unto transparency, Helen Gravenswood still manages to sparkle. With her ready smile and her cloudy white-blue eyes, the semi-eccentric is a scandalous fixture in the male bastion that is the local public house, yet still manages to find time to be seen by one and all gardening in her small homestead on Sunrise Road.

She is dressed, as usual, (and, if truth be told, in a none-too-subtle attempt to shock the sensibilities of some of the staid matronly members of Honoria's Temperance League) in sensible, yet ignominious tweed trousers and jacket. Her long white braids are coiled neatly atop her head.


If you look closely at Helen Gravenswood, you might see two sapphire hairpins peeking out from amongst the tight coil of braids. Those, and a crumbling daguerreotype taken on her wedding day are all that remain of her memory of her husband, Frank Gravenswood, who married her on a sunny day in 1871 and then left the next morning, on a liner bound for the colonies, determined to make a fortune for his new bride. He was never heard from again, the ship presumed lost in the early days of the voyage.

Never one to dwell on her own misfortune, she threw herself into caring for family, first as nursemaid to Frank's ailing mother, then in turn, to her own parents. When her sister disappeared during the first full moon of 1885, some of the wagging tongues in town claimed an illicit liason gone bad, but Helen knew. It was the fae, coming to claim their own. Her warnings went unheeded in the town, and left people thinking that her widowhood was turning her brains to mush. Nevertheless, she took in her sister's child, Jane, a girl of fifteen, at that point her only living kin, and raised her to be a fine woman, who made a good marriage. Jane, and her husband, George Crabtree, soon left Poddington for the lure of the big city and the big opportunities, but when a terrible accident took their lives late last year, they were returned to lie with the rest of Helen's kin in the small family crypt under the town church.

To their daughter Celeste they entrusted Helen's care.

Helen still lives in the house she was born in, on the corner of Sunrise Road. She is a modest woman, hardworking, yet of few means. Having been shunned by one generation of townsfolk, she is wont to lend a hand, or an ear, to the downtrodden and picked upon. As a result, she is known as a friend to the gypsy travellers that are occasionally seen on the outskirts of town.

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