A hypothetical tale dedicated to "The Ghost of Morgan Jeremiah Collins"

by Lorraine. I originally broadcasted it on the alt.tv.dark_shadows NG, under the by-line "V.o.S.R."
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PART ONE--- COLLINSPORT NATIVITY

On Christmas Day, 1841, was born to Bramwell and Catherine
Harridge Collins their first child, a son they named Thaddeus Harridge
Collins. His birth, occurring on such a holy day**, relieved great fears of both parents that their child may have been possessed by the spirit of Brutus Collins. What they did NOT know was that their Thad was already inhabited by the soul of Stuart Forbes, who, strong in his desire for a new life and happier future, was able to resist Brutus's efforts to invade the unborn.

Young Thad grew into a child of love and light, to the joy of his parents. He became a great favorite even among the other surviving Collinses, and was the innocent, ingenuous agent of reconcilation between both family branches, which had been decimated by the fallout from Brutus's curse. This was largely due to the fact that, until his younger siblings began arriving several years later, Thad was the ONLY Collins child on the estate. (His Aunt Melanie and Uncle Kendrick lived in Boston with their three children, and could only visit a couple of times a year.)

In addition to his adored and adoring grandmother Josette, Thad warmed the heart of grief-stricken Flora, and even her starchy spinster sister-in-law Julia. All these gracious ladies shaped a love of art and beauty in the sensitive boy, who resembled his mother's late sister (and father's first wife) Daphne, with his soft dark hair, warm dark eyes, tawny skin, and heart-shaped face. Though to Flora, the boy resembled her deceased eldest son, his late uncle (and mother's first husband) Morgan, as well.

Thad's greatest male influence, perhaps more than his own father, was Bramwell's bitter ex-convict cousin Quentin. It was said that Quentin had cherished a secret love for the late Daphne, and had left town after her sudden marriage to Bramwell. Returning a year after her death, he never spoke to her "treacherous" widower or "traitorous" sister, whom he held primarily responsible for both Daphne's and his brother Morgan's deaths.

But the innocent, fond persistence of Thad, who resembled both his lost love and lost brother, brought closure even to Quentin, who treated the boy as a son. Oddly, this didn't seem to bother Thad's parents, who both, to their own surprise, as much as the other Collinses' , still felt some guilt over the debacle and wanted to make amends. Plus, Quentin had, before and after his incarceration, been a protective "brother" to his and Bramwell's half-sister Melanie, when she was being raised as an orphan adopted by her real father Justin and his kind-hearted but deceived wife, Flora. Quentin himself didn't marry for years, and then to his father's old nurse, Samantha Drew, with whom he had one daughter, Roxanne. She married Thad's younger brother, and their descendants married back into the Drew family, such being the
custom in many small towns of the era.

Thad grew to be lovable, intelligent, and talented, but alas, as improvident as the grandfather he never knew, Barnabas Collins, who'd enjoyed spoiling his own wife and son, but ultimately left them with debts that were barely settled by his cousin Justin. Bramwell and Catherine, who still cherished their romantic ideals but became more practical as the husband advanced the family business, and Josette, who still had bitter memories of privation and dependence, all tried to get Thad interested in serious affairs, the better to set a good example for his younger siblings.

They also fretted over his lack of seriousness in love affairs as well. Thad was chased by all the girls in town, while hanging out with a group of young dilettantes who were as interested in art, music, and the creative as he was. Thad's parents despised the custom of primogeniture, which had led to misery and destruction for the late Morgan, but were anxious that the young man be steered towards more conventional attachments and goals.

Finally, Quentin stepped in, and declared that HE would finance Thad's artistic studies in Paris**, partly as a tweak to Bramwell and Catherine. Thad justified his uncle's faith, displaying great talent for sculpture in all media, including woodcarving, which developed from the whittling hobby Quentin had taught him. Thad sold many of his works, and lived a happily, prosperous, bohemian life on the continent. Yet, though he was sincerely beloved of his friends, and had a number of love affairs, mainly with his male and some female models, to the dismay of both his friends and family, he seemed unable to settle down with ANYONE.

This disturbed Thad too, but he fended off concerns, saying, "You KNOW I'm a perfectionist", "I couldn't POSSIBLY be faithful to ANYONE in this milieu", "I'm not READY to join the ranks of the bourgeiosie just yet". But, in truth, there was a yearning inside for something or someone just beyond his reach. . . An image that haunted him, had plagued him since his earliest boyhood, but was pushed aside by his dedication to his art, and the almost frenzied exuberance of his many affairs.

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NOTE---**This is assuming that Christianity developed along pretty much the same lines in PT as in RT, as the Black Arts apparently did, and that certain cities had basically the same significance. (End of Part One.)

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In Part One, I related the early background of Bramwell and Catherine's oldest child Thad, who was saved from Brutus's possession while in the womb, due to his reincarnation as Stuart Forbes, Morgan's lost love. Thad was popular amongst all his relatives, especially his Uncle Quentin, who sent him to art school in Paris against his parents' wishes. Thad became a successful sculptor in all media, and was genuinely beloved of almost all whom he encountered, but had some mysterious impediment against settling down with any of his lovers of either sex. The story continues. . . . .

PART TWO--- PARIS AND BACK

Thad DID seem to have some consistent preferences concerning the most intense and/or longest-lasting of his affairs. The young men or women were, of course, physically attractive, as Thad was himself. They also generally were dark-haired, fair of skin, and tended to be on the tall side. The young people had to be intelligent; Thad was a marathon talker, well-versed in many subjects, and, though he was no joker himself, appreciated clever witticism.

Though this period was not marked by real tragedy, Thad, at one time, was embroiled in a personal crisis, torn between two lovers.

One, a young man from New England, Ned Fillmore by name, captured Thad's affections so entirely, he almost thought THIS love answered his deepest, unspoken, almost unconscious need. Yet, Ned was not his usual "type", being medium-tall, fair-haired, with a golden cast to his skin, and, in point of intellect, a simple sailor with a basic education, but with an uninhibited sense of humor and an infectious, boisterous laugh. They'd met in a curio shop in Paris where Thad had gone to inspect a display of some smaller statues he'd designed for large-scale production by a china manufactory. Ned was purchasing some of the cheaper souvenirs for family and friends back home, including a fiancee for whom he cherished lackluster feelings. (They were neighbors, expected to wed from the time they could walk.)

Neither could explain the attraction afterward, especially Ned, who'd been raised to believe such feelings anathema, but Thad's sincerely kind ways, including giving the young sailor a few of his own works to send home to his mother, helped turned his head around. After all, they were in Paris, far from strictures back home, and Ned knew he could always get on the next ship if things didn't work out. Thad, in his infatuation, had, of course, no idea of the conditional aspects of Ned's attachment; and the pair, who maintained discretion lest some mutual acquaintance should report on Ned back to his family, were happy for some months.

But during this period, Thad was also fascinated with the female form, and hired a new model, dashing, dark-haired, dark-eyed, tall, slender, brilliant and witty. . . all his usual favorites rolled into one. Her name was Jacqueline LaFontaine. She was terribly unprofessional for a nude model, flirting with her new employer almost immediately, and Thad just couldn't resist...

It's gone unrecorded whether Thad fathered any children with any of his other female lovers, but Jacqueline soon turned up pregnant, and, naturally, demanded marriage. This led to a dreadful confrontation with Ned, who'd always been uncertain of the rightness of his relationship with Thad from the beginning. Ultimately, Ned went back to New England, and married his unappealing erstwhile fiancee. Though Thad was despondent at first, it gradually came to him that the connection would never have been sundered in ANY way if it was REALLY the love he sought.

Jacqueline bore a son seven months later (1869), whom Thad, citing a boyhood promise to Flora Collins, insisted upon naming "Morgan". But the local parish priest refused to baptize the infant with just this pagan-sounding, non-French name, so Jacqueline added her own: Morgan Jacquelin LaFontaine. Thad refused to marry her, after all. The spurned mistress relented, and eventually married yet another artist.

In spite of this, she tolerated Thad's genuine love and interest in their son. Father and son were very close, and when young Morgan displayed that he had as much, if not more talent than Thad, the proud father arranged for his further studies. Eventually, Thad and Morgan opened their own scuplture school and studio, the LaFontaine Academy, which, nearly 80 years later, would be attended by a talented American girl, Alexis Stokes.

Ultimately, Thad tired of the European art scene. While his life was untroubled by the supernatural influences that had so distressed his family (and would someday come back to bring them further misery), he felt the lack of a spiritual influence. Plus, as he got older, he missed his old home, which he'd barely visited once a year during his busiest times. So, having renounced further love affairs, and leaving Morgan in charge of the Academy, Thad returned to Collinsport for good in 1911. Yet, he didn't settle for long at Collinwood, even in the Old House; most of the relatives he'd loved and remembered best were long since departed.

To his surviving family's consternation, Thad joined a nearby monastery, built upon a serene island, whose brethren were dedicated to Saint Eustace. There, the formerly flamboyant sculptor humbly did chores, prayed constantly, and had as his sole artistic outlet, the maintenance of the many beautiful wooden carvings in the chapel. His favorite was a statue of the hunter Saint falling to his knees before a giant stag with a gold Cross glowing between its antlers.

Even in the shining, simple virtue of the monastery, Thad was haunted by the yearning which had undermined his mostly happy life. Finally, when he fell into his last illness in 1924, his son, grandchildren, and other Collinses of the younger generation visited him in his cell.

"Papa," his beloved son asked, can you tell us why your life took such a tumultuous course, and why, even now, you still believe you will not be at peace?"

Thad opened his bedside drawer, and pulled out a small picture inside a lidded silver frame. "My cousin Flora, rest her soul, gave me this many years ago, before I left for France," the old man said. "This is the passion that has followed me all my life, and even in this holy place, I couldn't give it up. But God and I have come to an understanding about it, finally." He opened the embossed lid to reveal an exquisitely-detailed miniature portrait of a young man with wavy dark hair, sharply-chiseled features, dark snapping eyes in painful contrast to his pale complexion, and wearing a melancholy expression.

"This is he whom I loved without knowing him, as he died some months before my birth, and yet I knew him in my heart," Thad sighed. "This is he whose image I have sought in the faces of those whom I loved. This is he, who died in such torment that he was trapped within the ether, and with whom, when his soul is freed, I will one day be reunited. This is he whom I loved so dear, I named YOU, my son, for him. My late cousin, Morgan Collins."

"But, Papa," the younger Morgan remonstrated, "how could such a thing be?"

"Because it was revealed to me in a vision, as I prayed before the image of Saint Eustace's vision... When I begged the Saint to intercede for me, when it seemed God would not answer my last desperate question.... My soul, my very being, were once the essence of a young man named Stuart Forbes...."

Lorraine, aka V.O.S.R.

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Note: Some sharp readers may have caught what could have been an error, that PT 1841 Quentin did NOT leave town the instant Daphne eloped with Bramwell, but hung out long enough to join in the Lottery for a couple more tires, helped "unearth" the evidence about James Forsythe, and forced his brother Gabriel to stay in Brutus's suite.

But, if you recall, David Selby was forced by appendicitis from appearing on the show for the final 3 weeks, and had been on only sporadically for a couple of weeks prior, perhaps because he was already feeling punky. I worked from the fact that he absence of such a gung-ho Lottery participant was never really alluded to, never mind explained.

Mr. Selby's last appearance occurred just after Daphne's aborted suicide attempt, so the only explanation that would fit was that Quentin had somehow heard about it, perhaps from his always "helpful" Aunt Julia. Having shown a budding fondness for Daphne at the outset of the PT 1841 storyline, and after all he'd been through, it didn't take much to conjecture that Quentin, like Gabriel before him, got fed up with things he couldn't control, and checked out for while.

Events moved pretty swiftly after that (just a matter of days) so that his absence wasn't all that crucial to the denouement of the curse story.