They were silent for a while and sipped the tea, looking in silence at each other, not quite without affection. It was Susan who resumed the conversation:
"If fairy mounds are demonic, how come we are in a fairy mound unless we are demonic?"
"Say a Hail Mary."
Susan did, and added a Gloria Patri with a Sign of the Cross. Audoin joined in with the sign and the Amen.
"So, if you could do that," he said, "how can we be demonic? Besides, if you mean possessed it is called demoniac and not demonic. They cannot pray when the devil tightens the grip on them."
"So fairy mounds aren't demonic?"
"Some may be. But demons are just fallen angels, not fallen gods. And angels are creatures, and creatures cannot perfectly dominate the totality of being of any other creature, freewilled or not. If demons can work hypnotism, it must be that hypnotic states of mind can exist according to the decree of the Creator. Not that a demonically worked hypnotism would be according to the law of God, but in conclusion then some hypnotic states are not demonically worked. And as with the states of mind, so with time: if time had no possibility of flowing faster at one place as such, demons could not make it do so in a fairy mound either."
"They can deceive, so they might seem to make it do so?"
"If Oisín had lived as an old man seeing his son Oscar die a century or two before St Patrick arrived, and then got into a fairy mound, and then went out and met St Patrick, the time passing in the mound must have been shorter and not just seemed shorter to him in the fairy mound. Unless he was sharing a life making him longer lived. And that cannot have been a demonic illusion either."
"He could by demonic illusion have been thinking he was an Oisín living centuries earlier when he was not?"
"That is right, but in that case he would have been baptised under a wrong identity - and it was not just any man, not even just any saint, but Saint Patrick who baptised him."
"So Saint Patrick would have detected his true identity if he hadn't been Ossian son of Finn Mac Cool?"
"If he hadn't been Oisín, Mac Finn, Ua Cumhal, Saint Patrick would have restored his true identity before baptising him. So was it the demons who slowed down time - related to the time passing around - or something else?"
"The demons ... or not. They have no perfect domination over time, or none at all, only God has that. As with the lifespan of Oisín."
"Precisely. So if St Patrick had gone to the fairy mound where Oisín had been, and exrocised it, there might still have been a fairy mound with another time - just no demons deluding or perverting the people in it."
"So 'fairies' could be simply 'people living in fairy land' - or having lived there. In that case - is it Usheen you say it?"
"Usheen, MacFing, Oouh Cooull."*
"In that case Oisín was a fairy as well as a bard for whatever remained of his life, even as a Christian."
"And that," said Audoin, "might be why Christian people may have fairy blood in them."
"Like the Duchess who renounced the house of Lords ..." said Susan.
"Or a charwoman," said Audoin.
"Or Mrs Lefay" said both with one mouth. As Susan was talkative, she added: "I bet she was a bad fairy."
"That is what Mr. Kirke told his uncle."
"Yes, I know."
"For my own part I am not so sure. She did give her godson Andrew a very sound and good order. If he had followed it, he might have avoided some unsound Blavatskaya stuff, to mention only the least bad in it."
"Blavatskaya - you mean Blavatsky?"
"Her husband of father would have been Blavatsky. But in Russian the family names are adjectives, and Blavatskaya is the feminine form."
"But aren't all Christians agreed it is all rot? I mean, not just reincarnation and consulting mediums for spirits of the dead, but fairies too?"
"So, was Malory a Pagan? Or Chrétien de Troyes? Or whoever wrote that Ogier the Dane will return after living in some fairy mound? Do you mean they were Pagans?"
"No, but they lived, like Malory in the fifteenth century. He is not a Christian of Our Period."
"Good Lord help you, dear!"
Audoin looked flabberghasted as he said it. It was not too bad. She was not hit in the face or something. He did not pick up an axe or tie her to a stake. He did not even spill any of his tea or drop a cucumber sandwich. But it was not quite comfy either. Susan sipped a mouthful of her tea. She looked up with innocent, nearly catlike, eyes. he was listening.
"You have been to Narnia. You have seen a Centaur in Egypt. You are right now in a fairy mound. And you of all people tell me that Malory and the other Medievals do not count, because they are not contemporary."
She waited to see if he would see she had been teasing him with that last remark.
"What does 'not contemporary' mean anyway? Emerson was not contemporary with the grammophone or radio, so we do not go to him for opinions on the best time span for a three minute hit. But that is no reason to discount what he has an opinion on. If I discount some of his opinions, it is because he was a Transcendental, poor soul, and I am a Christian and know better. Including better than Emerson's disciples today, if they are no Christians."*
"But hasn't the Malory and Chrétien de Troyes stuff been disproven since?"
"Well, no, actually! Discarded, yes, disproven, no."
*Slight nasal twinge on oo in Coo-ull.