Lengthy Lines

Editorial Trivia

As you will know if you’ve been reading my recent posts, I started doing the weekly Six Sentence Story challenges. And it is indeed a challenge to get a tale stated tersely enough to fit into six sentences. However, I’ve just started reading a story published in 1907: The Red Thumb Mark. This is the first story in a collection called The Austen Freeman Mega-pack and it can be bought as a single story from Amazon Kindle.

Dr. Richard Austin Freeman, April 1862 – Sept 1943, was a British writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr. Thorndyke. In the story I’m reading, Dr Thorndyke is trying to prove how an innocent man’s bloody thumb-print turned up so conveniently at the scene of a theft.

I’ve run into some delightfully mega-layered sentences! If I’d adopt this writer’s style, I could easily get a story told in six sentences. I’ve also come across several words that, if I ever read them before, I’ve forgotten.

Exhibit A: Example of five multi-clause sentences:

“Why should you expect that?” I demanded, reddening somewhat, I suspect, as I met his twinkling eye. There was something rather disturbing in the dry, quizzical smile that I encountered and the reflection that I had been under observation, and I felt as much embarrassed as I should suppose a self-conscious water-flea might feel on finding itself on the illuminated stage of a binocular microscope.

“My dear fellow,” said Thorndyke, “you have not spoken a word for the last quarter of an hour; you have devoured your food with the relentless regularity of a sausage-machine, and you have, from time to time, made the most damnable faces at the coffee-pot — though there I’ll wager the coffee-pot was even with you, if I may judge by the presentment that it offers of my own countenance.

I roused myself from my reverie with a laugh at Thorndyke’s quaint conceit and a glance at the grotesquely distorted reflection of my face in the polished silver. “I am afraid I have been a rather dull companion this morning,” I admitted apologetically.

Intriguing words:
She said oracularly.
Oracularly means resembling an oracle. An oracle, definition 2, is a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions.
I wondered what he thought of this rodomontade? A bragging speech; vain bluster or boasting.

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