Once in a summer at haying time, / My uncle Dave and the neighbour— / A coarse fellow in bib overalls / Who shat in the barnyard among his beeves / Whenever the urge took him— / Gave me a pitchfork and said to come along.
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Nothing is spared and nothing is explained. No motive, no reason. Eventually we will get there but not now, and anyway these are not really very important. What is important is that we are pitched headlong into the story. Propelled by pity and terror.
There was no time when one might not freely solicit custom, while the sounds of the healing business somewhere in the brightly lit centre wafted out inconsequentially. “Heal!” would come. A hush. Groans and cries. Applause. A refrain struck up. More quiet. “Heal!”
The street runs parallel to a sort of harbour, an estuary formed by the confluence of three rivers, the Esk, the Mite and the Irt. Esk is cognate with many other river names in Britain, including the Axe and the Usk, and means a good place to fish.
The women were saved to a place of emotional gratification not otherwise on offer in their lives. The men were saved from the filthiness of their natural desires. It was all about sex, really. Their disappointments they kept to themselves. Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Trusting in the Promises of God.
I stumble on a fine sea yarn, a memoir called “The Luck of the John Lockett” by Shalimar, the pen name of F.C.Hendry. The story is in his From the Log-Book of Memory (Blackwood, 1950), one of many volumes of reminiscence and fiction Hendry published from the 1930s until his death in 1955. They are […]