Friday, May 13, 2016

"A Concentrated Silent Rage"

"Levison's Victim."
By Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915).
First appearance: (?).
Collected in Weavers and Weft, and Other Stories (1877).
Reprinted in Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection (1992).
Short story (15 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF) and HERE (go to page 228).
"Ah, Horace, I see there is a woman at the bottom of your trouble!"
A couple of college chums encounter an old acquaintance during their holiday in Germany—Horace Wynward, a young man who seems far different from how they remember him, now damaged with life's cares and so distracted that at first he doesn't even recognize them. He finally, if reluctantly, relates his tale of woe to his friends; and what a story it is, a sad account of unrequited love, violent jealousy verging on madness, blackmail leading to a forced marriage—and murder (in other words, Victorian sensation fiction at its best). Poor Horace has every right to just curl up into a ball and die, but he refuses to do that until he has tried a little "experiment" first . . .

Principal characters:
~ George Theobald:
   "I saw quite enough. His face has a worn haggard expression—he looks like a man who never sleeps; and there's a fierceness about the eyes—a contraction of the brows, a kind of restless searching look—as if he were on the watch for some one or some thing."
~ Horace Wynward:
   "I would shoot that man down with as little compunction as I would kill a mad dog."
~ Francis (Frank) Lorrimore:
   "I hope you may never meet him."
~ Emily Daventry:
   "The experiment which you proposed has succeeded only too well."
~ Laura Daventry:
   ". . . to my mind, the loveliest girl that ever the sun shone upon.  . . . She was the dearest, brightest of girls, with a happy disposition that won her friends in every direction; and a man must have had a dull unimpressionable nature who could have withstood her charm."
~ Mr. Daventry:
   "He was very ill, with the stamp of death upon his face, and had a craven look that convinced me it was to him I was indebted for my sorrow."
~ Michael Levison:
   "He told me that he had never seen anything so appalling as Levison's jealousy; not an open fury, but a concentrated silent rage, which gave an almost devilish expression to the man's parchment face."

- Several articles that discuss Mary Elizabeth Braddon are HERE (Wikipedia), HERE (Dr. Pete Orford), HERE (Victorian Web), and HERE (Curtis Evans); for her supernatural tales she rates a mention on the ISFDb HERE.
- ManyBooks, for one, has quite a few of Braddon's productions HERE.

The bottom line:
   "You seem to have quite a taste for discussing these horrible subjects," she said, rather scornfully; "you ought to have been a detective police officer."
   "I sometimes think I should have been a good one."
   "Because I am patient."
   Lady Audley's Secret

No comments:

Post a Comment