April 7th to 16th

Format: Triple

…’Arry come forth e’en a’most ‘imself again – na’un hurt outside ner in of him. I nigh fell on me knees in de wash-house when Bessie was up street. “I’ve got ye now, my man”, I says. “You’ll take your good from me ‘thout knowin’ it till my life’s end. O God send me long to live for ‘Arry’s sake” I says…’


This is from “The Wish House” in Debits and Credits. Mrs Ashcroft was deserted by her lover, Harry Mockler, but she loved him still, and when he was near to death with blood-poisoning she longed to save him. She had heard of a ‘Wish House’ where one’s wishes would be granted, and she had ‘wished’ to take on Harry’s hurt, and bear it in his stead. The price was an incurable cancer, but she did not grudge it.

‘…There wasn’t much I could do, except bury ’em. There’d been a bit of a thunderstorm in the teak, you see, and they were both stone dead and black as charcoal…’


This is from “Mrs Bathurst” in Traffics and Discoveries.

A group of navy men, in South Africa, are recalling an old ship-mate, Vickery. He had become obsessed with a Mrs Bathurst, a widow who kept a little hotel near Auckland. Something had happened between them. We never discover what it was, but it had become his governing passion. He deserts from a ship on the South African station, and is found dead on the railway line, miles up country, with a ‘mate’. It is an enigmatic story, which has intrigued and baffled generations of readers.

“Why, Bella!” ’e says. “Oh, Bella!” ’e says. “Thank Gawd!” ’e says. Just like that! An’ then I saw—I tell you I saw—Auntie Armine herself standin’ by the old dressin’station door where first I’d thought I’d seen her. He was lookin’ at ’er an’ she was lookin’ at him. I saw it, an’ me soul turned over inside me because—because it knocked out everything I’d believed in. I ’ad nothin’ to lay ’old of, d’ye see? An’ ’e was lookin’ at ’er as though he could ’ave et ’er, an’ she was lookin’ at ’im the same way, out of ’er eyes.


This is from “A Madonna of the Trenches” in Debits and Credits.

Clem Strangwick, a young ex-soldier and visitor to a Masonic Lodge, is describing the horrors he has known in the trenches, in particular the suicide of Sergeant Godsoe, a father figure in his childhood. Godsoe and Clem’s aunt had been deeply in love, though married to others. He had only found this out when the aunt died of breast cancer and her ghost appeared to Clem and “Uncle John” in a remote trench, by an empty dug-out. Godsoe had taken two charcoal braziers into the dug-out with the ghost, wedged up the door and stifled to death.