La Satira News Service
The inquest into the unattended death of a young woman found in a boat at Camelot’s main quay adjourned this afternoon after giving a verdict of death by misadventure, but without reaching a conclusion about either her identity or the circumstances leading to her demise.
“Let’s face it,” said coroner Byron Shelley, “we’re pretty much clueless. She seems to have occupied the four gray walls and four gray towers that overlooked a space of flowers on the island of Shalott, but we don’t even know her name. It’s a classic case of hiding in plain sight. If round the prow we hadn’t read the name, the Lady of Shalott, we might never guessed where she came from.”
Positive identification–at least to the extent of identifying the deceased as the former resident of the Island of Shalott–was provided by Edward Weary, reaper, who testified, “‘Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott.” Mr. Weary reported often hearing a song that echoed cheerly from the river winding clearly while he was reaping early in among the bearded barley.
“Based on the results of the autopsy, the only thing we can conclude is she died of exposure,” said Mr. Shelley, the coroner. “Why she was in the boat in the first place is more than we could establish.”
Key evidence was provided by Trinny Cambridge, the deceased’s housekeeper. “No, I didn’t know her name either,” Ms. Cambridge said. “I called her ‘my lady,’ and she called me Cambridge. That’s the sort of place it was–formal, like.”
Police investigating the residence detected what might have been signs of a struggle: a knocked-over weaving loom and a large mirror, crack’d from side to side. “Those were her two main hobbies,” Ms. Cambridge explained. “Weaving and watching the mirror, which was pointed to reflect what was going on outside. Oh, and singing. But she’d got very peculiar lately, almost obsessive about her weaving and stuff. She wouldn’t even answer the latest letter from her Danish pen-pal, Ophelia Poloniusdottir.” It was Ms. Cambridge’s opinion that the loom and mirror might have been damaged, not by a struggle, but if the deceased had been startled by something and stood up suddenly: she might have bumped the loom, and the loom might have bumped into the mirror and broken it.
The deceased was also evidently under some mental strain. “She said she’d heard rumours that she was under a curse, though what that curse may be, she never said,” continued Ms. Cambridge. “Nor did she say who she’d heard it from, seeing as the only ones she spoke to were myself and her property manager.” Asked if the deceased could have overheard the rumor through the window, Ms. Cambridge agreed that it was a possibility. “It seems like there’s always someone going by–a troop of damsels glad, an abbott on an ambling pad, sometimes a curly shepherd lad, and even occasionally a long-hair’d page in crimson clad.”
“Certainly we thought she was under a curse,” said Mr. Weary, the reaper. “If she’s going to stay, weaving a web both night and day, and never come out, being under some sort of curse seemed like a reasonable explanation. But we were careful not to talk about it where she might hear. That would have been rude.”
The inquest was not able to hear from the property manager; Ms. Cambridge was not aware of his name or how to get in touch with him.
The star witness, albeit unintentionally, was Sir Lancelot of Camelot, whose business trips frequently took him past the Island of Shalott. Indeed, on the day of the incident he was seen riding between the barley sheaves a bowshot from her bower-eaves. Asked by the coroner for his opinion of the case, Lancelot said, after musing a little space, “She has a lovely face.”
“Well, the facts of the case seem to be that after rushing out of her home, finding a boat beneath a willow left afloat–the boat, not the willow–climbing on board during inclement weather, and spending the rest of the evening singing as she floated downstream, the deceased died of exposure during a period of mental imbalance brought on by worries over some curse,” the coroner concluded. “If sitting in a boat in the middle of a rain shower chanting loudly and chanting lowly till your blood is frozen slowly isn’t a sign of mental imbalance, I don’t know what is. But it would be worth investigating who started the rumours about this curse–and who’s going to inherit the island.”
Authorities are asking anyone who might have information on this case to contact the Camelotshire County Coroner at their earliest convenience.
Above: Do you know this woman’s identity?
Copyright 2013, except the picture, which apparently is now in the public domain.