Is card reading just a harmless parlour game? Part 2 Easter Weekend
But time moved on and suddenly it became Saturday afternoon.
The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday in Perth was a very quiet time. Anybody who was anybody, and a lot of hangers on beside, if they were old enough to leave the confines of their family homes, or if they were old enough to be part of the set of young, trendy late teens and early twenties, would make for the country town of Bunbury
Bunbury was the place to be over the Easter Weekend. It was always considered to be the Last Official Day of Summer, and the youth of Perth, of both sexes, would find themselves in Bunbury. It was almost a sexual migration, a rite of passage, a mating ritual, but unlike the fabled mass suicidal journeys of the lemmings over equally fabled cliffs, the youth of Perth gravitated to the beaches of that CountryTown.
The house in Churchill Avenue was very quiet. There was just Jenny and me remaining. Help, however, was on its way to alleviate the boredom.
My mother had invited us for a meal at her flat in Adelaide Terrace. Jenny and my mother were very close, and my mother was always good company, and so we went.
Excellent food and company
It was a lovely evening, as it always was with my mother playing the hostess. I can remember she had decided to grill sirloin steak, and while we were having a sherry beforehand, she said that she fancied trying her hand at a sauce Béarnaise.
So she rang the Adelphi Hotel in Perth and asked to speak to the Chef de Cuisine. For some reason I never quite understood, my mother seemed to know everybody useful and had a wonderful rapport with so many people. The Chef, whose name slips my memory right now, was “charmed to help Madame”, and spent some time chatting to her over the telephone, giving her his recipe for sauce Béarnaise. and his little secret tricks.
Eventually, she said “Goodbye”, promising to come and dine at the Adelphi within as soon a time as possible, and announced that she had all the ingredients except tarragon, which she promptly sent me to buy from a local delicatessen.
When I returned, she prepared the steak, which melted in our mouths; new potatoes and of course the sauce béarnaise was a success.
Bunbury and Mrs Moss
While we were having liqueurs and coffee after the meal, my mother said,
“It’s very quiet tonight. In fact it has been all day. I went to Luigi’s this afternoon and the place was empty. Where is everybody?”
We reminded her that it was the Easter Weekend and that Perth was always quiet at that time.
“Everybody's gone to Bunbury,” said Jenny. “Have you ever been, Ann?”
“We went down for a week when we first came to Australia,” said my mother, “Can you remember, Ian? You were about eleven”.
And so we talked about the time my mother and I had gone in the school holidays, and how pleasant and relaxed it had been.
“Can you remember that Dreadful Woman in the Hotel?” she asked.
I remembered a very domineering woman who had talked and talked about everything and everyone.
“She wasn’t very nice, as I remember,”
“She certainly wasn’t” said my mother, “and I can still remember her name, I think. Mrs Moss… That’s right, Mrs Moss”.
And then I remembered. Mrs Moss had been rather large, very dominant and overbearing; interfering and gossiping about everybody. My mother had tried, successfully, to avoid her for most of the week that we were there.
However, on the last evening in Bunbury, there had been a little entertainment in the main dining room of the Hotel and we had been persuaded to stay and watch the show.
There had been a large elderly lady who had sung, ‘Bless this House’ and a couple of other songs, a Juggler, a Comedian and a Magician. I had really enjoyed it but it all seemed to be over too quickly.
There was a little seating arrangement on the first landing of the front staircase, with some cane furniture; a sofa and a couple of little tables. As we were on the way to our rooms to go to bed, we had passed this area and had almost managed to avoid her, when Mrs Moss had called out to my mother in a strident voice: “Come and have your cards read. Come along. Come along”.
My mother had stopped momentarily, and I thought that she would have politely made her excuses, but she had moved instead to one of the tables and had sat quietly before the woman.
A mousy little woman was having her cards read. Mrs Moss had done the usual, “Take the pack. Shuffle them. Pick a card. Make a wish,” and all the rest of it, and then proceeded, not to tell the woman’s fortune, but to reel off a lot of real or fabricated gossip about the poor little woman, who sat timidly before the domineering Mrs Moss, looking from side to side for escape, her face scarlet with embarrassment. When Mrs Moss had finished, the small woman, looking even smaller, had just sat there, her head bent over her little chest, with tears in her eyes,
Mrs Moss had then turned towards my mother, and with the most obsequious smile, had said, “Now you, dear”.
The rigmarole of shuffling and choosing over, she had proceeded to say the most silly or blatantly obvious things, maintaining that she was reading my mother’s past, present and future. But not having been able to spend any time with her or to find out any personal details to embroider on, she had found my mother a bit of a blank wall.
Turning to the assembled women, she had smirked, saying, “Anyone else?”
Most of the assembled ladies drew away; fearing her vindictive tongue. Whereupon, my mother had reached out her hand for the pack of cards, and said:
“Now I’ll read yours”.
Mrs Moss had given them over a little grudgingly, but still with the smug, overbearing look on her face.
A harmless parlour game?
While we relayed this story to Jenny, she sat quietly, but enthralled.
“I didn’t know you could read cards, Ann. What did you see in the Dreadful Moss’s future?”
I could remember it so clearly, although it had been about fifteen years earlier.
My mother had taken the cards from Mrs Moss’s hands with a “No need to shuffle them. You’ve held then long enough,” and then she had told some things to the awful Mrs Moss, in no uncertain terms. Things about her past, and her present, that were decidedly unpleasant. But whereas Mrs Moss had based her “card reading” on gossip, innuendo and an unpleasant mind, my mother’s had come from somewhere which neither my mother, nor anyone else in that area could have known or understood or explained.
To finish the “reading” my mother stood up gently, and leaning forward, spoke in the well modulated voice that she always used:
“Would you like to know what the cards say about your future?” Everyone there, including the Dreadful Mrs Moss, knew that my mother wasn’t talking about some silly card reading game.
There was an absolute silence, as my mother leant forward and whispered something into the ear of the, by now, horrified Mrs Moss. No one apart from Mrs Moss and my mother heard or comprehended what was said, but the reaction was instant and disquieting. The large woman drew herself to her feet, and turning, first chalky white, and then a most unattractive shade of puce, she took a deep breath and opened her mouth as if to shout or scream, but then exhaled, and walked away from the group of people with as much dignity as she could muster, but very much deflated.
“Bed time,” said my mother, giving me her hand, and we continued up to our rooms. Obviously my mother had said something or intimated at something that had upset the woman, or perhaps it was something much deeper. Yet, although I asked, she never told me what it had been.
A tall, dark stranger... very rich.
Jenny had been fascinated by the story of Mrs Moss, and now asked my mother if she would do another reading.
“See if you can see something exciting in my future. Perhaps a change of job. I’m tired of working in a solicitors’ firm,”
My mother seemed a little reticent.
“I’m not sure. I don’t really like to meddle… It’s not something I really understand. I’ve only played around like this a couple of times before and…”
But Jenny begged, and eventually my mother took out a double pack of Canasta cards and started to shuffle one of them quietly, looking into Jenny’s eyes.
“Now you shuffle them,” she said, “and hope for something nice”.
I poured some more Benedictine into the liqueur glasses and then reached for the coffee pot. However, my mother waved my hand away as I attempted to fill her glass, and the reading started.
Jenny asked her if there would be any change in her circumstances, and my mother jokingly told her that she would soon meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger, and that he would be inordinately rich. We all laughed, and it soon became quite clear, that if there were any supernatural phenomena that evening, they weren’t manifesting themselves in my mother’s flat. This reading was just a harmless parlour game. After some time, we decided to play Canasta, as the cards were out, and the evening drew towards a pleasant conclusion.
As we were tidying up, and Jenny and I were about to go home, she turned to my mother and said:
“Just one more try. See if you can find the name for my tall, dark handsome stranger. I hope he really is rich”.
She handed my mother the packs of cards. My mother, sitting in the armchair, accepted them and taking one of the packs, fanned the cards out and placed them face down on the coffee table before her. She gazed at the backs of the cards and then, turning one up so that only she could see its face, settled back. She turned it face downwards again.
Suddenly the room was completely silent. Something had changed.
She bent forward, hesitated over the downward facing cards and was about to pick up one when she changed her mind. Then returning to that card, she turned it. As before, she gazed at it intently, then replaced it in the fanned out cards.
“Is everything all right?” it was Jenny’s voice, and she sounded concerned.
“One minute,” said my mother, and I couldn’t see her face, as it was bent over the fanned out cards. She moved her fingers ever so slowly over the card backs and then jabbed at one with her index finger. Turning it over, she placed it face upwards. To this day, I cannot remember what suit it represented, apart from the fact that it was one of the black cards. It wasn’t a court card, but a Spade or a Club. I can’t remember, but what I can remember, was the look on my mother’s lovely face.
She had a pale complexion, mid-brown softly waved hair, and stunningly beautiful blue eyes. But at that point in the evening, her face was ashen.
“This is silly!” she said. “Goodness, it’s late.”
She gathered the cards together, tapped them on the ends to even them up and returned them to their packet. There was a finality with which she did this.
And a lovely evening came to a close, but it wasn’t a particularly happy closure.
Please read the whole story. It comes in three parts. This is part 2.
This story, or narration of events, (Call it what you will) is in three parts.
Perhaps you would also like to read another Hub concerning Paranormal Phenomena: The title is: Paranormal Phenomena: Hysteria or Good Old Fashioned Mumbo Jumbo
- Paranormal Phenomena: Hysteria or Good Old Fashioned Mumbo Jumbo
Paranormal phenomena are not necessarily of a religious nature, although there are those who will insist that paranormal incidents encompass religious experience and many who consider that religious experience is provable. If so, where does “Faith”