English Literature

If Winter Don’t by Barry Pain

If Winter Don't by Barry Pain.jpg


Luke Sharper. Age, thirty-four. Married, but not much. Private residence, Jawbones, Halfpenny Hole, Surrey. Favorite recreation, suffering. Favorite flower——

Oh, drop it! Let us rather listen to Mr. Alfred Jingle, solicitor, talking to his artist friend.

“Met Sharper yesterday. Remember him at the old school? Flap Sharper we called him. Not that they really did flap. His ears, I mean. They just crept up and bent over when he was thinking hard. People came to see it. Came from miles around.

“Rum chap. Rum ways. Never agreed with anybody present, including himself. Always inventing circumstantial evidence to convict himself of crimes he had never committed. Remember the window? Half-brick came flying through it. Old Borkins looked out. Below stood Flap Sharper with the other half-brick in his hand. Arm drawn back. No other boy in sight. The two halves fitted exactly. It certainly looked like it. [Pg 2]Poor old Flap found that it felt like it, too. But he had never chucked that half-brick. Ogilvie did it. Remember him? The one we called Pink-eye. Have a drink?

“I offered Sharper my sympathy. Wouldn’t have it. Said ‘Why?’ Maintained that we had all got to suffer in this life, and it was better to begin early. Excellent practice. Then his ears crept up and bent over. Got it again later in the day for drawing a caricature of old Borkins. Never did it, of course. Couldn’t draw. Can’t remember who did it. Oh, you did, did you? Like you. Have another?

“Yes, we have a certain amount of business in Dilborough. I’m generally down there once or twice a year. I walk over to Halfpenny Hole and lunch with Sharper. It’s a seven mile walk. But lunch at the hotel is seven-and-six. Doing uncommonly well, is Sharper. He’s in Pentlove, Postlethwaite and Sharper. You know. The only jams that really matter. Pickles, too. Chutney. Very hot stuff. Oh, yes, Sharper’s all right.

“You ought to run down and see Halfpenny Hole. What is it the agents say? Old-world. It’s very old-world. Only three houses in it, and all different. Whether the garden settlement will spoil it or not is another matter. You go and paint it before it gets spoilt.

“Strictly between ourselves, I am not quite sure that Sharper and his wife hit it off. Oh, nothing much. It’s just that when he speaks to her she never answers, and when she speaks to him he never answers. In fact, [Pg 3]if she speaks at all he groans and moves his ears. Charming woman, very. Quite pretty. There may be nothing in it. I saw no actual violence. Sharper may merely have been suffering. He wouldn’t be happy if he wasn’t. Have a drink. No?”


Categories: English Literature

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