Mr Collins the vicar of Toieland parish church has taken H.G.Wells (and a lady who is certainly not Mrs Wells !) to inspect the church roof hoping he can help with the 'Roof Repair Fund' .
"That's quite a climb - 39 steps" says H.G. , "Well I counted 42 !" says the Lady (who is not Mrs Wells) , "it's a strange thing" says Mr Collins "I have not yet had anybody count the same number of steps twice!" - "most odd" comments H.G.
Along comes Gabriel Oaks (stalwart of the parish) and they ask him about the number of steps in the church tower . "Aarr ! you are talking about the 'Doom of Toieland' he says !", "It's said if anybody counts the same number of steps twice ! a great misfortune will befall Toieland !".
Just as they are leaving (still puzzled by the number of steps) along comes the author Mr J. Buchan - he is interested in the conundrum - "well the guide book says 39 steps " says Mr Collins - "39 eh ! " say Mr Buchan "that's interesting !" and scribbles it down in a notebook and strides off with great purpose .