For my cupboard in The Dabbler this week I have exhumed, dusted down, and spruced up a short piece that appeared on Hooting Yard long long ago. It occurs to me that it serves as a first variation on a theme by Gerard Manley Hopkins, the “theme” in this case being the tall nun from The Wreck Of The Deutschland. Her name, incidentally, was Henrica Fassbender, her last words were reported as “Oh Christ, Christ, come quickly!”, and her body was never found. But she is commemorated on the headstone in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Leytonstone, where the other four drowned Franciscan nuns were buried. Go here for a photograph of the headstone and an amusing anecdote.
Sister Hortense, the even taller nun in my little tale, is not actually based on Henrica Fassbender. All they have in common is nundom, tallness, and of course a predilection for ships, in Hortense’s case a barquentine, in Henrica’s a German steamship.