Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Mysterious R. H.

In Susan at School, Susan and Tessa come across an old map in the library. It is a map of St. Ronan's from long ago and on the map a cryptic message has been scrawled: R. H. Here. The girls decide that it is the hiding place of the legendary treasure known as Ronan's Heap, hidden from the messengers of King Henry who went about the country dissolving the monasteries and plundering their treasures. The hunt for the treasure culminates in a hilarious scene in which the girls dig up rusty old kettles and pap boats. However, a couple of questions are left unanswered. First of all, who wrote the mysterious message and why didn't he go and dig the "treasure" up himself? Susan and Tessa do indeed give some thought to this, with Susan reaching the conclusion that the unhappy treasure hunter of yesteryear died, possibly of old age, before he had a chance to get his hands on the gold and jewels. After feeling sorry for this person, the girls give him no further thought and concentrate on digging. But who wrote the message in the first place? I imagine a former pupil on a rainy afternoon puttering about in the library and doing it for a joke, maybe smiling at the idea of a future pupil taking it seriously. And did Ronan's Heap really exist to begin with? In Jane Shaw's world, it would be safe to imagine that it did, and that Susan was meant to find it in a later story. The author undertook to write four or five books set at St. Ronan's, although only two ever materialized, and I can imagine the treasure being found. In The Moochers, Fiona and Katherine found the famed Pendragon Hoard, so there would be a good chance of Susan uncovering Ronan's Heap in her blundering way.