Friday, 9 October 2015

Pauses for a tincture

 “Oh, she is dead, dead!" cried Eugenie, looking down at the still face. "No; she can’t be. Brandy—bring some brandy!"

A servant entered with the brandy, and Eugenie, filling a glass, forced some of the liquid between Kitty’s clenched teeth. Naball also took a glass, as he was worn-out with the struggle, then, hastily putting on his hat, went out, leaving Kitty lying, to all appearances dead, in Eugenie’s arms.
Fergus Hume - Miss Mephistopheles (1890)

In prolific writer Fergus Hume I hoped for a supply of holiday reading but I’ve given up on him. In the above quote, Naball is the detective trying to solve a murder and a jewel theft. This dramatic scene is the final denouement.

Two villains and Naball are all fighting each other. The villains rush off through French windows, one chasing the other into the night. What does Naball do? He’s worn-out with the struggle so he pauses for a reviving tincture. When he finally pops his hat on to give chase, the villains have resumed fighting on nearby railway tracks where a handy train finishes them off.

No - it just doesn’t work. I don’t mind a touch of melodrama, but Naball the dapper and gimlet-eyed detective ought to be at least as fit as two middle-aged villains. Sherlock Holmes, knowing all about the approaching train, would have shouted “after them Watson” and plunged out into the night. 

Some of it isn't bad, but as with many second-rate writers he needed a better editor. No more Fergus Hume for me. Pity.


Demetrius said...

Conan Doyle knew how to use Bradshaw. A lost art in literature I fear.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - yet it added a certain flavour to the stories.