Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?—In fetters and pale. Ugh! All but gruesome. This expression was one I read on page 203 of Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James.
I love the cover, the tactile dust jacket, the exquisite type fonts, the intriguing carriage with the disembodied hand waving some cryptic, surely dire, message. But I didn’t care for the book. P.D. is fabulous, so I am sure it was just me. I am too into Downton Abbey, perhaps.
But I did love this phrase—in fetters and pale. Fetters are, as you know, a rather archaic term for restraints of some sort. I am sure we have all felt as if we were in fetters at some time, even if not actually physically restrained. We have all been pale. Being in fetters would make you pale.
In this story, it’s a main character in fetters and pale; he has reason to be both. But for some reason, to me, in fetters and pale just sounds like a feminine condition.
Next time my husband wants me to do something I do not wish to do (go to the supermarket in the pouring rain, for example), I will deny him, claiming, back of hand to brow, “Oh, I can’t dear, so sorry, but I am in fetters and pale.”
Wonder if that will work at work? With the IRS? Oh, well, maybe it only works in fairytalelike, long ago and far away, onceuponatime eras such as P.D. writes about. The land of Jane Eyre and such. Not in the 21st century.
Hmm…still…I think P.D. is on to something. The very next time…the VERY next time I get an unsolicited money collection fundraiser phone call, I absolutely plan to say: “Take me off your phone call list or you will be in fetters and pale!” Oops, I mean, “I am in fetters and pale—and don’t you forget it!”