(July 11th to 17th)

Format: Triple

We got out of the boat, my companion falling flat on his wicked face, and the sergeant asked us rude questions about the dinghy. My companion washed his hands of all responsibility. He was an old man; he had been lured into a stolen boat by a young man—probably a thief—he had saved the boat from wreck (this was absolutely true), and now he expected salvage in the shape of hot whisky and water.


This is from “Brugglesmith” in Many Inventions.

One night after dinner on board a merchant ship moored in the Pool of London on the Thames, the narrator is to be rowed up river to a landing stage close to his chambers. As he gets into the dinghy another guest, very drunk, pushes his way into the boat, seizes the oars, and in seconds they are adrift on the river, and on a current of farce and indignity that continues through the tale.

.I thought of the blowing-up of Hell Gate; of the geysers in the Yellowstone Park; of Jonah and his whale; but the lively original, as I watched it foreshortened from above, exceeded all these things. He staggered to the bench, the heavy wooden seat cramped with iron cramps into the enduring stone, and clung there with his left hand. It quivered and shook, as a breakwater-pile quivers to the rush of landward-racing seas; nor was there lacking when he caught his breath, the ‘scream of a maddened beach dragged down by the wave.’


This is from “My Sunday at Home” in The Day’s Work.

The Narrator is travelling to the West country by train. In his compartment is an American doctor, making his first visit to England. Somewhere on Salisbury Plain, the train makes an out-of-course halt at a country station, to receive a telegram concerning the loss of a bottle of poison. The guard’s delivery of the message is ambiguous, and the doctor gets the impression that there is someone on the train who has taken (swallowed) the poison by mistake. He leaps on to the platform, and before anyone can disabuse him of his error, has administered a powerful emetic to an innocent, but drink-taken, navvy, who has been travelling in one of the third-class carriages. Soon the emetic does its work …

The Foresters’ band no more knew what was coming than do troops under sudden fire. Indeed, there were the same extravagant gestures and contortions as attend wounds and deaths in war; the very same uncanny cessations of speech—for the trombone was cut off at midslide, even as a man drops with a syllable on his tongue. They clawed, they slapped, they fled, leaving behind them a trophy of banners and brasses crudely arranged round the big drum. Then that end of the street also shut its windows, and the village, stripped of life, lay round me like a reef at low tide.


This is from “The Vortex” in A Giversity of Creatures.

The narrator is out for a day;s drive with three companions, including yje deeply tiresome Mr Lingnam, an enthusiastic proponent of complicated schemes for future relationships within the British Empire. They approach a village, crowded with people, where on a hot summer’s day there are various festivities going on. With Mr Lingnam at the wheel, they cross a railway bridge, and knock a delivery boy off his bicycle. He had been carrying four boxes of bees, which swarm out into the village, stinging everyone in their path…