Once again we are in the roaring twenties, this time 100 years later. To celebrate this milestone we will be republish stories written by the students in the Vulcan in the 1920s. We will also try to include any events as well. Here’s our second story.
The Haunted Bookshop
Nancy Wilson, V.G2B
In a little street in the heart of London was a small shop, dirty, and old. Its contents, were books, were also dingy and battered. People seldom went there, both because it was so uninviting, and because they neither knew nor cared to know what kind of books were in it.
In the window was a sign on which was printed, “Boy Wanted for Apprentice.”
A boy walking along the street, saw the sign and went in. After talking with the bookseller, he was set to work to clean the shop and tidy up a little.
At half-past five, he stopped and glanced around. It was already dark outside. All the light he had to see by was a small candle and the street lamp. He had cleaned up so that the place looked much better than it did before.
He was a neat boy, not very tall nor muscular. He had a pair of trousers which were much too large for him, a small house-coat and when he entered, he also wore a thread-bare great-coat and a small cap. His poverty was very much evident, and tuppence a day seemed a great deal to him. When he carried home twelve-pence every week-end to his mother he was the proudest and happiest boy on earth. His bed under the counter and three meagre meal a day were provided for him.
After a last survey, he had his supper and went to bed. About twelve o’clock he was wakened by the sound of music and laughter. He sat up and looked around. Where was he? Not in the dirty old bookshop surely? Yes, sure enough, there was the table just where it was when he went to bed; only the books, which were tumbled one on top of the other before, were piled neatly in rows across it. Presently from the door at the far end of the room, came fair ladies holding the arms of gentlemen, all of whom were laughing and frolicking-young ladies, old ladies, fat ladies, thin ladies, tall ladies and short ladies, young men, old men, fat men, thin men, tall men, short men; in they all came somehow and every how. One fat old gentleman, who seemed to be a very important personage, came forward and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are here to-night for one of our enjoyable evenings. This young fellow, who is an apprentice to old Faggus, is George McFadden.
He then brought George forward, who had not quite recovered from his surprise of suddenly waking and finding the shop filled with people.
After bowing, George asked the gentleman if he might have them introduced to him.
He was led to the centre of the room and then the fat little gentleman introduced himself as being Fezziwig, from one of Dickens books, entitled “A Christmas Carol.” Then came Mrs. Fezziwig and daughters nurse Peggoty and David Copperfield, little Emily and Ham. There were old Scrooge and Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the little Cratchits, also many more of Dickens’ characters. Then came Charles Dickens himself, all bright and smiling.
Next were a few of Sir Walter Scott’s characters: first was Ellen Douglas of the “Lady of the Lake,” Roderick Dhu, Douglas-Ellen’s father, and Allan Bain, with others. Then Sir Walter Scott was discovered in a corner still writing Waverley Novels, trying to make up for lost time in paying the great debt and looking very thin and pale.
Then Fezziwig brought forward a very well-known character, Shylock from “The Merchant of Venice,” also Portia and Nerissa, Bassanio and Launcelot Gobbo, behind whom was Touchstone, the clown in “As You Like It,” and between the two of them they made the party roar with laughter at their silly antics. Following them and trying to look very much disgusted-although he did not succeed very well-was Duke Fredrick with Duke Senior his elder brother, Celia, Rossalind, and friends of the court. Last but not least, Shakespeare himself, who made them all laugh by bowing most pompously with a long sweep of his cloak, which was hung over one shoulder, and hitting Launcelot, made him trip over the foot of Shylock, bump into Touchstone and fall sprawling upon the floor with Touchstone on top. Besides these there were a great many other writers and characters.
After the introductions were finished, the man who played the fiddle at one of Fezziwig’s parties came with his pot of porter into which he plunged his head whenever he became too heated, and played for the merry, merry crowd who all joined in with those old-fashioned dances. At the stroke of one, they returned the way they came, and the room was dark and silent as before. George returned to the bed and wakened with a start when Mr. Faggus shook him vigorously, telling him that breakfast was ready.