Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Dust-cloud

My grandfather and his sisters, circa 1906
Fiction ~ short story
First published in Pall Mall magazine, January 1906
Collected in The Room in the Tower and Other Stories (1912)
5,350 words
(First read 27/06/2012) 

Now it has to be said that the spook element of this story is a bit negligible ~ it's there but it's not important, and it's not very good anyway.
No, what we have here is a hymn in praise of motoring.  It takes place "in the early days of motors, when there was still the sense of romance and adventure round them" ~ reminder: this was written in 1906!  In those days cars still had what EFB calls a 'syren' as well as a separate 'hooter', could expect to have four or five punctures on journeys of over 50 miles, and broke down with monotonous regularity. 
The same, all grown up and with a car of his own, ca. 1925

Still, to give him his due, Fred does make the trip described, from Dunwich¹ in Suffolk to Kings Lynn in Norfolk² sound great fun, though obviously having a chauffeur helps.  To do this he employs two very extended metaphors: in the first the car is a horse, in the second (after switching steeds in the blink of an eye) it's a foot-soldier.

There's a certain amount of tedious and garbled 'ghost theory', and a sizeable dollop of what can only be called 'padding', but ignore all that and just enjoy the motor ride.
It's available online here.

¹ See also The Face (1924). 
² Or is it Lincolnshire?  [Looks it up.]  No, I was right: it's Norfolk.  Hunstanton (Norfolk) also gets a few mentions in this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment