Sunday, 30 September 2012

'And No Bird Sings ...'

Fiction ~ short story
Published in Woman, December 1926
Collected in Spook Stories (1928)
5,225 words
(First read 30/09/2012) 

Our roving Unnamed Narrator goes to visit his old pal Hugh Granger, his dogs and his wife (yes, in that order).  In a stroke of typically Bensonian good fortune, the cove Hughie has just inherited a delightful little Queen Anne manor-with-estate in Surrey¹.  Within the bounds of his demesne stands a (pardon the terminology) doughnut-shaped wood which, we soon discover, harbours something live, vile and evil which, so as to put his dogs' and wife's (in that order) minds at rest, Hugh resolves to destroy with the aid of the trusty if somewhat lily-livered U.N.  So they do.  The End.
Even the inclusion of Granger's theory² about what the beast actually is³ doesn't do much to dispel the story's essential humdrummery.
It's available online here.

¹ Current [2014] estimated market value £35bn.
² He does like his theories, does Hughie.  See also (e.g.) The Bus-Conductor.
³ As usual, H.G. is far more clued-up on this kind of twaddle than U.N.  It should really have been him writing the spook stories.

[Benson's ghost] stories are extremely varied in content, ranging from the horror of vampires, homicidal ghosts and monstrous spectral worms and slugs (in the classic Negotium Perambulans and 'And No Bird Sings') to the satire of humorous tales which poke fun at charlatan mediums and fake seances (Spinach and Mr Tilly's Seance). 
~Richard Dalby in introduction to The Collected Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson, 1992

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