A fortunate discovery at an antique shop that reminded us of Inspired Planet's barn of artifacts, excerpted from Kevan Manwring's novel:
The couple stepped inside the dark, cool, musty interior, crammed with all manner of curiosities; stuffed birds, stags' heads, a gathering of grandfather clocks (all telling different times and defiantly sticking to their version), a collection of clay pipes, albums of cigarette cards, foothills of books, a stack of 78s, wax cylinders, a new gramophone, horse-brasses, fire pokers, knife sharpeners, cabinets with tiny drawers like Chinese boxes, massive trunks, an escritoire, swords, African spears, grotesque masks, huge gilt frames and miniatures, fish-eye mirrors and witch-ball reflecting everything back at them like an Escher drawing. The shop was so cluttered with the past that there was hardly any room for the present. They had to squeeze past the packed aisles, and felt like they were trespassing in history.
Isambard muttered something about it being a glorified junk shop, growing irritable as he waited for his wife to finish browsing. Then something caught his eye.
It was an old milk churn full of canes. Isambard admired them one by one - the elegant black and silver evening cane, the coarse cudgel, a tall hunting staff, riding crops and ships, stick with horn and handles. He weighed them one at a time. All were too fanciful, except for a simple unadorned longstaff with a Y-shaped prong that fitted his thumb perfectly. It was just the right height, coming to is shoulders - the canes felt too short for his frame.
'This would be perfect for walking with,' he commented. Then he caught the face looking at them through the tangle of antiques.
'Has sir found something to his liking?'
The odd voice startled them both. The man stepped from behind a bookcase and shook their hands.
'Foss at your service,' he said with a West Country twang. 'Bill Foss.'
He was an old man with a chancy gleam in his eye, dressed in a collarless shirt and the waistcoat and trousers of a Sunday suit. His hair was a white corona around the brown sun of his face.
'You look like a man who knows his sticks, sir,' said Foss, winking.
'Yes, replied Isambard, trying to gauge the honesty of the remark, or whether it was mere flattery. 'I just want a good honest walking stick.'
'Can't get more honest than that, sir - honest as the day is long.
It is what it is and nothing else, although - '
Isambard smiled at Maud, who joined him on his arm.
'Madame, if you would excuse the folly of the old, I would like to share a local superstition with your good husband.'
'Of course, I know he has a weakness for them.' She nudged Isambard in the ribs.
'Well sir. You have in your hand a stang. It man look like just another walking stick to you, but in the West Country these fellows mean something else entirely.'
'What are you getting at?' Isambard's curiosity was aroused. Maud looked on in amused detachment.
'Here in the West we cling to our old ways longer than most. 'In a whisper: 'It is said cunning folk hereabouts use them for divining.'
He had uttered the last word with respectful awe. It resonated around the room. All the artifacts seemed to sit up and listen. Dust motes swirled in the sunbeams, stirred and settled.
'Divining?' queried Isambard, finding it difficult to maintain the reserved manner of a buyer wanting to strike a bargain.
Maud scoffed at this - surely it was just some tourist bunk. But it excited her husband and he had inquired further. After ascertaining Sammy's genuine fascination and knowledge in those mysteries, the old man told him in hushed tones how to use it - by placing it on the ground you want to divine and resting the 'Y' against your temples. Then, somehow, you could feel if there were water there, or 'other currents,' he said with a strange inflection.
From Kevin Manwaring's "The Long Woman" Page 135 - 137