Fiction ~ short story
Published in Six Common Things, 1893
(First read 22/07/2014)
If you thought the story before this one (Blue Stripe) was sad, have your hanky ready again for A Winter Morning.
On a morning of thaw after a long cold snap, our Unidentified Narrator travels back 20 years in memory to a particular evening, six years after his wife's death in childbirth, when he and his brother were playing billiards, while U.N.'s little boy tried to keep himself amused on the hearth rug ~ a piece of cue chalk took his particular fancy as a plaything. The following morning the child, Jack, goes out for a ride on his pony only to come back two hours later with a broken back and on the brink of death. The 'familiar object' on this occasion turns out to be a piece of that billiard-cue chalk, which the father finds in Jack's pocket after he has been laid out.
It's partly because the piece is so short, partly because the subject takes you somewhat by surprise, and partly because EFB, as in all the other episodes from Six Common Things, shows admirable ~ and very masculine ~ restraint in his writing, that he manages to pull the story off without crossing the line into mawkishness. So, a quintessentially Victorian subject ... but handled in a rather modern manner.
You can judge for yourself, though: the story's online here.