The Duggleby Splash

O Father Duggleby, did you hear about your horse? It went a-clopping all alone upon the awful cliffs. It is a dreadful thing indeed when a priest’s horse plummets into the sea. You ought to have tied it to a post. See, there is a post there, outside the church repository, a stout post, and it even has a rope attached. You neglected the safety of your horse and your status as a priest will not protect you from the wrath of the Equine Welfare Board. I am told a deputation is already on its way, galloping across the heath.

And come they did, four members of the Board, like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, terrible in their fury. Father Duggleby hid in the confessional box, but they smoked him out, with incendiary devices. He was tied to the post to which his own poor perished horse should have been tied. And judgment was passed on him.

Father Duggleby prayed that night. Still tied to the post, under a gibbous moon, he begged the Lord his soul to save. But when morning came, they untied him from the post and bundled him into a sack and they carried him on a cart up to the awful cliffs. Banners were flying. The sun burned, brilliant and golden.

When the sack hit the sea, its impact made a splash the like of which none had seen nor heard before. Nor did any of these simple coastal folk have the words to describe what was so anomalous, so eerie, about the splash. They called it the Duggleby Splash, and ever since, on the anniversary, they have tried to recreate it, by tossing the latest priest into the sea in a sack, without success. And every year, on the eve of the anniversary, it is said that a phantom horse is heard a-clopping along the cliffs, each clop sounding like the clack of rosary beads.

And the day after, they send for a new priest, and lo! he comes galloping across the heath.

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