Thorpe, Northern Mythology, vol. ii, pp 214-15.
In this story, Morris tells his own version of “The Sunken
Mansion,” a Danish legend from
Thorpe’s Northern Mythology (1851). In the story as Thorpe tells it, the
servants of a mansion trick a priest into giving the last rites to a pig by
telling him it is their master, and covering it with bedclothes. As he is
about to administer the sacrament, the pig snatches the bread from his hand.
The priest flees the mansion, and when he turns to look back it has sunk
into the lake.
In Morris’s story, the narrator imagines himself transformed into
the thirteenth century priest, summoned to the mansion to deliver the last
rites. The ghastly, sexless appearance of the servants, and the violence in
the escape from the mansion, are Morris’s inventions.
The narrative structure here is unique among the tales in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, even besides this story being the only one based explicitly on a
specific legend. The narrator is always conscious that he belongs in the
nineteenth century, and distinguishes between “I, the
priest” and “I, the author.”
First printed in
The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine
, September, 1856.