Toll Call (Feghoot XII)

This feghoot was written by Reginald Bretnor under the pen name of Grendel Briarton.

Ferdinand Feghoot was a close friend of the Very Reverend William Ralph Inge. His time shuttle was installed in a back bedroom of St- Pauls Deanery, and the Gloomy Dean knew perfectly well that he came from the future. (Indeed, his tale of coming events was largely responsible for the nickname.)

“My boy,” the Dean said one day, “couldnÕt we take a jaunt in your time machine? I’d like to talk with John Donne, the great poet. He was Dean of St. Paul’s too, You know.”

Feghoot acceded. He rented Dean Inge an appropriate costume and took him back to 1624; where, after explaining the situation to Donne, who was vastly amused, he left them a alone for a full day of discussion. The effect on Donne became obvious only a week later.

“fferdinand ffeghoote,” demanded King James I “what’s awry? There’s not a merry word from John Donne. Last night he read a Deuotion full only of funerals and death. He said, Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Aye, as gloomy as that! What makes him take such a subject?”

“Your Majesty,” said Ferdinand Feghoot, “You know how these great poets are — give ’em an Inge and they take a knell.”

(Copyright © 1959 by Mercury Press. First published in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, March 1959.).

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