Thursday, July 20, 2017

"The Fatal Fourth Paragraph"

"How It Ended."
By C. Randolph-Lichfield (?-?).
First appearance: Macmillan's Magazine, January 1906.
Reprinted in The Living Age, February 17, 1906.
Short story (10 pages).

Online at (HERE).
(Note: Some text slightly mangled but decipherable.)

"But in all the State there was only one heart that failed to rejoice, and that heart nurses its sorrow yet in crabbed old age."
Bob Hill is more than willing to defer to "Slim" Essex, his older and more experienced partner in crime. Neither is moved to retrospective tears when they escape from gaol:

   "Law loses some of its terrors for those who indulge in years of lawlessness; and the warder whose neck they had broken was not the only man they had killed in unfair fight."

Both reluctantly accept the grim prospect of being on the run, with all that entails:

   "Every now and then a twig cracked sharply or a creature of the bush, alarmed at human presence, caused a sudden noise, which set the men's tense nerves jumping and sent their right hands quickly to the revolvers they had stolen from prison."

Essex's lover can be counted on to help where she can:

   "Then they passed into the shadows of the thick bush, leaving the woman standing at the window praying for a villain to the only god she understood, the god of hope."

But even that glimmering of hope flickers dimly when they come across a wanted poster bearing a fateful message for them all:

   "Essex read the proclamation aloud in a tone of hearty derision, until he came to the fourth paragraph, when his voice dropped to a whisper. . . ."

- "How It Ended" is the author's only story so far listed on FictionMags.
- The only other piece by C. Randolph-Lichfield that we could locate was "A Terrible Adventure with Hyenas" (dated January 1, 1912), online (HERE) and (HERE).

No comments:

Post a Comment