Sunday, March 21, 2010
My Favorite Stories of The Kilns
Maureen & Children’s Room (My Room Too!): Maureen was the sisters of Paddy Moore, C. S. Lewis’ friend in World War I. He and Paddy had made a packed together that if either of them were killed in battle, the other would take care of his family. Paddy had a mother and teenage sister who were estranged from their cruel father and didn’t have much to live on, and Jack, as C. S. Lewis liked to be called, had his father and dear brother. Sadly, Paddy did die in the war, and so, true to Jack’s word, he took Mrs. Moore and her daughter Maureen into his keeping and they in time became like the mother Jack lost as a child and the sister he never had.
Maureen lived at The Kilns with Jack, his brother Warnie, her mother Mrs. Moore, and a small host of help until she married. She had been incredibly fond of music and often annoyed Jack with her violin and piano practicing. She loved music so much that she married a music teacher.
However, through a strange serious of events and with just the right people dieing, and at just the right times, Maureen inherited a castle on the very northern shores of Scotland and the title of Lady Dunbar, Baronet. This happened just before Jack’s death.
When Jack was toward the end of his life, in the hospital, Maureen came to visit him. Walter Hooper, Jack’s secretary and friend, met her at the door and warned her that he hadn’t been recognizing anyone and to not be upset if he couldn’t remember who she was.
Maureen walked into his hospital room and put her hand into his. “Jack?” she said. “It’s Maureen.” Jack looked at her and said, “No it isn’t. It’s Lady Dunbar.” Maureen was astonished. “Jack! How could you remember that!” And Jack replied “On the contrary. How could I forget a fairy tale?”
Music Room: Toward the end of C. S. Lewis’ life, when he was dying from renal failure, they had a live in male nurse to take care of him at The Kilns during the nights. During the day, the nurse would sleep in the Music Room, where Jack actually eventually died. Now this nurse was quite the curmudgeon. He was constantly in a critical mood about the smallness of the house, the dirtiness, the filthiness, and the clutter of all the books. He had been used to tending wealthy patrons, but Jack was just famous.
One day, Jack decided to play a joke on his cranky nurse. He had sent Walter Hooper, his youngest stepson Douglas Gresham, and a few others to gather all of his books from his rooms at Cambridge University, as he had retired from teaching. They ended up bringing about fifteen hundred books back with them and Jack directed them to stack the books around his nurse’s bed, where he lay sleeping. They stacked the books several rows thick all around the nurse’s bed and all the way up to the ceiling and managed to do it all without waking up the nurse! Then they waited.
As soon as the nurse awoke, everyone in the house heard shouts of expletives and then a loud crash. Jack was in tears of mirth, and when the nurse finally cooled down from his shock of being quite literally buried alive in the books he had made such a fuss over, he found the humor of the joke and from then on was a dear and loved Jack just as much as everyone else.
The “Bathroom:” One day shortly after Walter Hooper had come from America to meet C. S. Lewis in person, him and Jack had been sitting in the Common Room at The Kilns drinking cup of tea after cup of tea, draining at least four kettles. Soon Walter started feeling the pressure of the massive amounts of liquid he had ingested and asked Jack if he could use his “bathroom.” Jack, with a serious air, took Walter into the room that contained a bathtub and a sink, gave him several towels, a bar of soap, and then asked with Walter thought he had everything he needed. Walter was so taken aback that he gave a non-committal “I suppose,” to which Jack left him and closed the door.
Walter stood dazed in the “bathroom” he had requested for a time, but the building pressure inside of him forced him into action. He came out of the “bathroom,” found Jack back in the Common Room and said, “Jack, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to take a bath. I need the lavatory!” Jack looked at him with a prankish gleam in his eye and told him, “Then let that be a lesson to you to stop using silly American euphemisms! Now, let’s start over.”