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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>
Subject: (urth) The lady in pink
Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 16:14:34 

It's time I finished my long-running genealogical investigation of Sainte
Croix's House of Wolfe, as depicted in GW's masterwork THE FIFTH HEAD OF

Having in previous posts attempted to link Phaedria to the House of Wolfe
as Number Five's long lost sister (a contention I now have much additional
evidence for), I'd like to expand now on David, Number Five's known
half-brother. Specifically, I hope to determine who his mother might be.

As Aunt Jeannine surmises to Number Five in regards to David's maternity,
Maitre "must have used one of my girls." She must then be or have been a

We also have David's eye color: blue. Because Maitre's eyes are brown, his
mother must therefore have blue eyes. I've written on this at length in an
earlier post (v.9), but again would like to emphasize this point: in FIFTH
HEAD eye color is of signal importance. In fact, if you look at only the
characters whose eye color is listed in the entire novel, you will glean
that except for two women each listee is _explicitly_ related to another
major character. Other characters are given other identifying
characteristics, but never eye color, and several of these play substantial
roles in the narrative. The maid Nerissa is chief among these, appearing in
a number of scenes, but I also include Urania, Marydol and Mme. Duclose. 

Another potent clue, I believe, is relayed to us by Number Five, who
discusses a mysterious "lady in pink," who is mentioned not once, but
thricely, if always in the same context. She is the pretty woman he meets
in his father's library at a very young age, and who tells him Maitre has
written many of the books present. Later, we learn the presence of any
woman in his father's library is extremely unusual.  As Number Five notes
on re-encountering Dr. Marsch in the library, "I was surprised to see him,
and even more surprised to see one of the girl's in my father's library."
Clearly, this indicates the lady in pink is someone special.

There is also another telling clue, I believe, when in a single earlier
paragraph, Number Five not only brings up the lady in pink again, but also
himself, David, Mr. Million and a spiraling walkway he denotes as a
"helix." Barry Scheck notwithstanding, I warrant this links all four
figures genetically.

These then provided me with the clues I hoped to use in determining David's
maternity. His mother would have to be a blue-eyed prostitute dressed in

I found her in VRT, the third novella in FHofC.

She lives in the same boarding house as Marsch/VRT and she is the woman
identified as Celestine Etienne.

How do we know she is or was a prostitute? Wolfe describes her exactly as
he describes the demimondaines of the Maison du Chien. I.e., she is
"exceedingly tall, her legs stiltlike in their elongation." Compare this
with Number Five's description of the whores who come to see his play, with
"their elongate shadows" or the prostitute he sees leaving the library,
whose legs are "grotesquely long." 

We also have an image of vulgarity associated with her. Marsch/VRT, coming
home late from an evening at the Maison du Chien, imagines her masturbating
with a candle (Marsch, of course, being the son of a prostitute, and having
killed at least one girlfriend, is anything but a simple misogynist).

It's also later revealed by the junior officer assigned to decide Marsch's
fate that CE is spying for the government and that Maitre himself is a
"GSPB Class AA Correspondent Espion." (Shades of Crane-Hyacinth!) Surely,
it would not be unusal for a spymaster to recruit fellow spys from among
the whores he employs, and maybe it is even a step up from simple
prositution, something he might have wanted to do for Celestine, especially
if he had any affection, latent or otherwise, for her.

As for Celestine Etienne's eye color, it is blue-purple.

Not only is this consistent with her being the mother of David, but also
the mother of Phaedria, whose eyes are violet. (Remember my stating only
two characters with listed eye colors did not seem to be explicitly related
to major figures? They are Celestine and Phaedria). Moreover, I believe it
would be entirely consonant with the novel's themes for us to suppose that
David and Phaedria may even have been twins. (Lest one think this is an
example of geminus-ex-machina, keep in mind that FHofC is replete with
twins/doubles, from real {Sandwalker/Eastwind} to clonal {Maitre/#5} to
virtual {Marsch/VRT} to nomenclatural {2 Robert Culots} to planetary
{Ste.Croix/Ste.Anne} to animal {2 crippled monkeys}). Perhaps having an
outcrossed son to work with, Maitre was perfectly comfortable selling
Phaedria, or feared she may become like the earlier outcrossed daughter,
his "sister" Jeannine (both Phaedria and Jeannine share the same avarice).

Other possible links are etymological. If Etienne=Stephen='a crown,' and
Aubrey (Jeannine's alter-ego)='elf +ruler,' this might be one indication.
Celestine, I believe, refers to her eye color, but for all I know there may
be a passage in Samuel where David is called "the anointed son of Heaven"
or something similar.

The final, if not conclusive, clue?

When Celestine Etienne first comes to visit Marsch/VRT in prison, she's
wearing a pink dress.

Robert Borski (who has now begun to distill all of his thoughts and
theories about FHofC--and I have plenty--into a monograph tentatively
entitled Cave Canum--watch for future announcements)


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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