Wounded Knee

Wounded Knee lies low in a valley and because of its position it attracts mists all the year round.

During the winter months these mists can linger for days giving the village a mysterious feel and because of this the area has its fair share of tourists.

This has served the village well as its economy has always been healthy.

It has a celebrated Norman church which although much altered in the nineteenth century does retain many of its original features.

There are four chapels in the village one of which is unused and is now a tea room and arts centre.

The main street boasts of many sixteenth century houses that hide amongst the later eighteenth century ones.

The reason for this puzzle is that Wounded Knee lost a lot of its original dwellings to the great fire of 1711 when a carelessly discarded rock of glass left in some scrub grass started a fire which severely damaged two thirds of the village.

The oldest family in the village is thought to be the Cheltenham family who live at Sowerby Hall not far from the railway station.

Parish records indicate that that this family has lived in the village since at least 1513.

The present owner of Sowerby Hall is a Major Cheltenham. A widower of some ten years he lives there with his four daughters and one son.

I went swimming with Ursula under the Water late this afternoon in the River Hope. We dried ourselves by running through the poppygrasses which thrive in the damp conditions and give the fields of the area a reddish tinge that the area is famous for.

Ursula under the Water and I were dry within minutes and we spent the next hour counting the many eider ducks that populated the river nearby.


Two days later I went climbing on the Lucky White with Ursula above the Hill. We started off before dawn and read poetry to each other as the sun broke through the mists.

She told me that Wounded Knee was such an enchanted place that she wished never to leave it, but knew she would as all Cheltenham’s leave Wounded Knee


The following day although tired from my exertions I accompanied Ursula under the Hill into the local caves. We entered the largest of them and she told me lurid stories of the incidents that had taken place in the caves some one hundred years previously.

We found a few bottles and a gentleman’s pipe during our explorations which I brought back as souvenirs

That evening I dined at The Golden Heart with Ursula under the Hill who told me that she was writing a book about the history of the caves and had already found an interested publisher


Ursula in the Sky who was by far the most beautiful of the sisters totally ignored me during the early part of my visit.

She is considered mad by the villagers and often rages at the clouds on dull days.

I found her withdrawn


Due to its hidden position Wounded Knee has been on occasions been cut off from the outside world.

This happened frequently in the early part of the twentieth century but has become rarer in recent years.

The last time that the village was cut off was in February 1963.

Although the River Hope runs to the south of the village it has only ever flooded once in 1947.

It is a common belief that the village is protected by St Kell who is said to have lived in the area at the time of Christ and from whom the village gained its unusual name.

Legend relates that St Kell was a poor Cornishman who turned up in the village one day and was able to cure the ailing through the power of prayer.

That was until one day when he was badly injured when falling from a tree after collecting fruit.

It was said that he recovered from all his injuries with the exception of one which was his badly twisted knee.

He continued his good works until nearly six years later when another mysterious stranger arrived in the area and stayed for just over a week.

The healer did not emerge from his dwelling for a month but when he did his knee was totally mended and his pronounced limp had gone

St Kell stayed in the village for another sixty years until his own death but the mystery of the visitation was never fully explained.

In some quarters the visitor was supposed to be Christ.


August the sixth was a day of great celebration as Crispincuthcuthbert was returning from his studies in America. The whole family with the exception of Ursula in the Skies were there to greet him and his return was feted with a great dinner to which each of the villagers were invited.

I found Crispincuthcuthbert an agreeable young man much tanned from his exploration of The Andes.

He was taller than me standing some six feet and was as handsome as Ursula in the Skies was beautiful.

I visited the troubled young lady in her room but found her quiet and reading a book. I engaged in a one sided conversation and handed her my copy of Rimbaud’s poems before I left.

As I closed the door she smiled at me.

I was due to return to London during the first week of September but disaster struck just days before my departure when I damaged my knee playing tennis with Crispincuthcuthbert

The injury was not thought to be that serious at first but my condition worsened quickly and I was sent to the local hospital in a delirious state.

Although the illness remained undiagnosed my condition quickly improved and I was released to the care of Major Cheltenham after a couple of days.

A complete rest was advised and I was accompanied everywhere by a pair of ancient crutches as my knee was very very weak.

Nearly a week had passed when on one sunny afternoon I found myself alone with Ursula in the Skies who had been very calm for nearly a month and I knew that the family were holding out hopes for her.

We read poetry for a while until suddenly she suggested that we drive to the River Hope and look at the eider ducks.

Although I was not very keen on the idea I agreed as I did not want to hurt her feelings

The bend in the river where the poppygrasses grow was about two miles from the hall and was where I had swum with Ursula under the Water. As we came to the river’s edge Ursula in the Skies pushed me violently causing me to fall into the grass

She stood over me in triumphant pose

“They all consider me mad but I am not”  she said as she turned towards the river

“You are not going to throw yourself in ? ” I asked with alarm

Ursula in the Skies smiled at me and sat on the riverside grasses

“I should like you to hold my heart”  she said as she removed her beating heart

“ See it beats strongly, let me see yours”

I removed my heart and held it in my hand and passed it to Ursula in the Skies as she moved towards me

“I shall have your heart and you should have mine” she said placing my heart into her chest

I placed the heart of Ursula in the Skies into my heart cavity and we both lay back looking at the autumn clouds quite exhausted.

Nothing else of note happened that day but as the evening drew in I felt different, not only was my knee improving but I was beginning to see things in a totally different manner.

I was sketching the fauna without any of my previous inhibition and was using the most unusual colours.

I was writing with a new vigour and producing the most astonishing poetry.

But the most startling change was in Ursula in the Skies, she had become almost overnight the loveliest and the most calm of all the sisters.

Doctors from the city came and examined her but found no trace of her madness.

There was talk of the St Kell miracle in the village but only she and I knew the truth and we often exchanged hidden smiles when in company.


Harvest time is not celebrated in Wounded Knee as for centuries the village considered that the harvest occured all the year round, from the picking of the berries in the early autum to the milking of the buttercups in the late spring.

Personally I think it is something to do with the geography of the mists and the red tinges of the poppygrasses.

But then each person living in the village has their own ideas.