The Best British Short Stories of 1922

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Best British Short Stories of 1922,
by Various

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Title: The Best British Short Stories of 1922 Where Was Wych Street?,
By Stacy Aumonier; The Olive, By Algernon Blackwood; Once A
Hero, By Harold Brighouse; The Pensioner, By William Caine;
Broadsheet Ballad, By A. E. Coppard; The Christmas Present, By
Richmal Crompton; "Genius", By Elinor Mordaunt; The Devil To Pay,
By Max Pemberton; Empty Arms, By Roland Pertwee; Lena Wrace,
By May Sinclair; The Woman Who Sat Still, By Parry Truscott; Major
Wilbraham, By Hugh Walpole
Author: Various
Editor: Edward J. O'Brien and John Cournos
Release Date: August 14, 2007 [EBook #22319]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger

Edited By Edward J. O'Brien And John Cournos,
Small, Maynard & Company, Boston.
Copyright, 1922, by The Boston Transcript Company. Copyright, 1922,
by Small, Maynard & Company, Inc.

Where Was Wych Street?, By Stacy Aumonier
The Olive, By Algernon Blackwood
Once A Hero, By Harold Brighouse
The Pensioner, By William Caine
Broadsheet Ballad, By A. E. Coppard
The Christmas Present, By Richmal Crompton
"Genius", By Elinor Mordaunt
The Devil To Pay, By Max Pemberton
Empty Arms, By Roland Pertwee
Lena Wrace, By May Sinclair
The Woman Who Sat Still, By Parry Truscott

Major Wilbraham, By Hugh Walpole

WHERE WAS WYCH STREET?, by Stacy Aumonier
(From The Strand Magasine and The Saturday Evening Post)
Copyright, 1921, by The Curtis Publishing Company. Copyright, 1922,
by Stacy Aumônier. Reprinted by permission of the author and of
Curtis Brown, Ltd. people were Mr. and Mrs. Dawes. Mr. Dawes was
an entirely negative person, but Mrs. Dawes shone by virtue of a high,
whining, insistent voice, keyed to within half a note of hysteria.
In the public bar of the Wagtail, in Wapping, four men and a woman
were drinking beer and discussing diseases. It was not a pretty subject,
and the company was certainly not a handsome one. It was a dark
November evening, and the dingy lighting of the bar seemed but to
emphasize the bleak exterior. Drifts of fog and damp from without
mingled with the smoke of shag. The sanded floor was kicked into a
muddy morass not unlike the surface of the pavement. An old lady
down the street had died from pneumonia the previous evening, and the
event supplied a fruitful topic of conversation. The things that one
could get! Everywhere were germs eager to destroy one. At any minute
the symptoms might break out. And so--one foregathered in a cheerful
spot amidst friends, and drank forgetfulness.
Prominent in this little group was Baldwin Meadows, a sallow-faced
villain with battered features and prominent cheek-bones, his face cut
and scarred by a hundred fights. Ex-seaman, ex-boxer,
ex-fish-porter--indeed, to every one's knowledge, ex-everything. No
one knew how he lived. By his side lurched an enormous coloured man
who went by the name of Harry Jones. Grinning above a tankard sat a
pimply-faced young man who was known as The Agent. Silver rings
adorned his fingers. He had no other name, and most emphatically no
address, but he "arranged things" for people, and appeared to thrive
upon it in a scrambling, fugitive manner.

Then, at one point, the conversation suddenly took a peculiar turn. It
came about through Mrs. Dawes mentioning that her aunt, who died
from eating tinned lobster, used to work in a corset shop in Wych Street.
When she said that, The Agent, whose right eye appeared to survey the
ceiling, whilst his left eye looked over the other side of his tankard,
"Where was Wych Street, ma?"
"Lord!" exclaimed Mrs. Dawes. "Don't you know, dearie? You must be
a young 'un, you must. Why, when I was a gal every one knew Wych
Street. It was just down there where they built the Kingsway, like."
Baldwin Meadows cleared his throat, and said:
"Wych Street used to be a turnin' runnin' from Long Acre into
Wellington Street."
"Oh, no, old boy," chipped in Mr. Dawes, who always treated the
ex-man with great deference. "If you'll excuse me, Wych Street was a
narrow lane at the back of the old Globe Theatre, that used to pass by
the church."
"I know what I'm talkin' about," growled Meadows.
Mrs. Dawes's high nasal whine broke in:
"Hi, Mr. Booth, you used ter know yer wye abaht. Where was Wych
Mr. Booth, the proprietor, was
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