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Rottcodd & The Hall of the Bright Carvings

This hall that ran along the top story of the north wing was presided over by the curator, Rottcodd, who, as no one ever visited the room, slept during most of his life in the hammock he had erected at the far end. For all his dozing, he had never been known to relinquish the feather duster from his grasp; the duster with which he would perform one of the only two regular tasks that appeared to be necessary in that long and silent hall, namely to flick the dust from the Bright Carvings.

Entering at seven o'clock, winter and summer, year in and year out, Rottcodd would disengage himself of his jacket and draw over his head a long, grey overall which descended shapelessly to his ankles. Having flicked at the first carving on his right, Rottcodd would move mechanically down the long phalanx of colour, stopping for a moment before each carving, his eyes running up and down it and all over it, and his head wobbling knowingly on his neck, before he introduced his feather duster.

One humid afternoon, a visitor did arrive to disturb Rottcodd as he lay deeply hammocked, for his siesta was broken by a rattling of the door handle which was apparently performed in lieu of the more popular practice of knocking at the panels. The sound echoed down the long room and then settled in the fine dust on the boarded floor. The sunlight squeezed itself between the thin cracks in the blind. Even on a hot, stifling, unhealthy afternoon such as this, the blinds were down and the candlelight filled the room with an incongruous radiance. At the sound of the door handle being rattled Rottcodd sat up suddenly. The thin bands of moted light edging their way through the shutters barred his dark head with the brilliance of the other world. As he lowered himself over the hammock, it wobbled on his shoulders, and his eyes darted up and down the door returning again after their rapid and precipitous journey to the agitations of the door handle. Gripping his feather duster in his right hand, Rottcodd began to advance down the bright avenue, his feet giving rise at each step to little clouds of dust. When he at least reached the door the handle had cease to vibrate. Lowering himself suddenly to his knees he placed his head and the vagaries of his left eye (which was for ever trying to dash up and down the vertical surface of the door), he was able by dint of concentration to observe, within three inches of his keyholed eye, an eye which was not his, being not only of a different colour to his own iron marble, but being, which is more convincing, on the other side of the door. This third eye which was going through the same performance as the one belonging to Rottcodd, belonged to Flay, the taciturn servant of Sepulchrave, Earl of Gormenghast.

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