It was a dark and stormy night: Dark humour for a Monday morning

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton, with Gordon Rugg

Just in case there isn’t enough eldritch horror in your life, I’m blogging a short series inspired by legends of literature that are usually only known by reputation, not by first hand experience.

There’s usually a good reason for those legends being known only by reputation, so to spare sensitive sensibilities, I’ve put the text in question below the fold.

Today’s text is the first paragraph of the novel that opens with the legendary “dark and stormy night”.

If you feel ready to face it, then an indescribable new experience awaits you…

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated, and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent. At length, at one house, the landlord, a sturdy butcher, after rendering the same reply the inquirer had hitherto received, added, “But if this vill do as vell, Dummie, it is quite at your sarvice!” Pausing reflectively for a moment, Dummie responded that he thought the thing proffered might do as well; and thrusting it into his ample pocket, he strode away with as rapid a motion as the wind and the rain would allow. He soon came to a nest of low and dingy buildings, at the entrance to which, in half-effaced characters, was written “Thames Court.” Halting at the most conspicuous of these buildings, an inn or alehouse, through the half-closed windows of which blazed out in ruddy comfort the beams of the hospitable hearth, he knocked hastily at the door. He was admitted by a lady of a certain age, and endowed with a comely rotundity of face and person.

In case you’re wondering, the rest of the book, all several hundred pages of it, is equal in quality to the opening…

Notes

This extract is from the Project Gutenberg edition:

Title: Paul Clifford, Complete

Author: Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Release Date: March 16, 2009 [EBook #7735]

 

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