I am galloping through this book, now on page 150 which is about halfway through ‘Titus Groan’. The writing though is about 100 pages behind. In this chapter his mother names him. It also gives us another look at the Countess’s relationship with Slagg, Prunesquallor and her new-born son. Peake gives us a descriptive glimpse into Titus’s inheritance:-
Nannie Slagg entered, bearing in her arms the heir to the miles rambling stone and mortar; to the tower of flints and the stagnant moat; to the angular mountains and the lime-green river where twelve years later he would be angling for the hideous fishes of his inheritance.
The Countess, who cannot abide Dr Prunesquallor, shouts for him whilst he is in the act of drinking:-
“My lady,” he said, when he had reached her door and was showing the Countess and Mrs Slagg nothing except his head around the door post in a decapitated manner, before entering. “My lady, ha ha, he, he, I heard your voice downstairs as I er – was -“
“Tippling,” said Lady Groan.
‘Ha, ha – how very right you are, how very right you are, ha, ha, he, he, , as I was, as you so graphically put it, ha, ha, tippling. Down it came, ha, ha – down it came.”
“What came?” interrupted the Countess loudly.
“Your voice,” said Prunsquallor, raising his right hand and deliberately placing the tips of his thumb and little finger together, “your voice located me in the Coldroom. Oh yes it did.”
The Countess stared at him heavily and then dug her elbows into the pillow.
Being the Countess of course she informs the Doctor that she will be getting up the very next day. To argue with her is futile. She is a formidable woman, and a strange one. She doesn’t seem to have any maternal instincts whatsoever, for her husband nor her children. Any sentiment she has is reserved for her cats and birds. Indeed she misses greeting the morning with her cloud of white cats (what a surreal image that conjures up).
“Isn’t he sweet, oh isn’t he the sweetest drop of sugar that ever was?” said Mrs Slagg.
“Who?” shouted the Countess so loudly that a string of tallow wavered in the shifting light.
The baby awoke at the sound and moaned, and Nannie Slagg retreated.
“His little lordship,” she whimpered weakly, “his pretty little lordship.”
“Slagg,” said the Countess, “go away! I would like to see the boy when he is six. Find a wet-nurse from the Outer Dwellings. Make him green dresses from the velvet curtains. Take this gold ring of mine. Fix a chain to it. Let him wear it around his wry little neck. Call him Titus. Go away and leave the door six inches open.”
HERE is the wonderful website of Gormenghast
Lot’s of information about Peake and his work at Peake Studies