The Outlandish Ladies

Location

The Vale of St. Mawgan or Lanherne in mid-Cornwall. Loose Heals (or Lucille’s) in the story is Glovian. The fishing village referred to is Mawgan Porth. The Carne is possibly Tolcarne.

Summary

Two sisters, M. Henriette and M. Lucille (a leper), rent a cottage from Parson Morth. Farmer Anthony of Carne suspects them of witchcraft. When Morth is away he leads a posse to the cottage, breaks in and discovers one of the sisters to be a leper. Parson Morth later confronts the posse at the inn and reminds them of how their forebears had constructed a lepers’ window in the south transept so that the lepers could see the ‘Host’ lifted. He drives them back to the cottage to apologise, only to find Henriette dead in a chair and the grave of Lucille in the back garden.

Historical background

The two sisters of French extraction from the West Indies were probably saved from a native revolt in 1796 by the expedition under Major-General Ralph Abercromby to Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia. In Q’s novel Harry Revel, George Leicester took part in the expedition and had an affair with a planter’s wife. In the novella The Westcotes, the story of M. Benest also throws light on ‘The Outlandish Ladies’.