Three Quotations

(May 31st to June 9th)


1. ...'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.


2. '...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...


3. ...The dog's throat twitched,his body stiffened and shook as though he were going to have a fit. Then he came back with a visible wrench to his unwinking watch.
'Always so?' she whispered.
'Always', I replied...
This is from "The Dog Hervey" in A Diversity of Creatures. 'Harvey' is a squinting, unhealthy, needy little dog, owned by Moira Sichcliffe, an ill favoured, lonely, rich woman. There is something supernatural about him, and, he expresses all the desperation of his mistress. When he is looked after by her bachelor friends, he haunts them, gazing constantly at them in a curiously human way. When a wealthy young drunkard who had loved Moira years before starts to remember her, he fancies that he sees a little squinting dog. Only when she finds love with him does Harvey return to normal doghood.