This short story dropped on me like a bombshell.
I’m waiting for a mailed book to make it here, so to pass the time and flip some pages, I pulled up my old favorite site, Project Gutenberg (if you read and you STILL haven’t visited this place, what do I have to do, give you a boot in the ass?) and pulled down International Short Stories: French. While I’m unable to tell just when they were written, I’m thinking that they mostly come from the 1880s or so – there are trains and country scenes and horse drawn carriages, the Franco-Prussian War shows up in one, but that’s about it. But outside of one story (about Babylonians – how could they muck up the history one?), all the stories are amazing. I’m just savoring each of them like an endless meal that goes on and on.
This is writing. This is how masters write. The stories have great twists, including this one, the first I read: A Fight with a Cannon by Victor Hugo. So imagine a ship in a rough sea, and how a gun captain and his men are laboring over a 24 pounder (a big mass of iron mounted on a rolling truck, that because of that gun captain’s momentary mistake, it gets loose). Now it’s smeared four men into jelly and is thundering up and down the darkened gun deck like a beast (there are a lot of analogies of this, but that’s fine because they work). This massive thing is plowing through lessor guns, smashing the base of the mast, and generally wrecking the ship. Finally the gun captain himself, the person responsible for the disaster, goes down into this gloomy, bloodstained arena to bring do the monster ripping at the ship’s guts.
So, assuming he does stop it, is he a hero? Or should he be punished? After all, the ship is all but wrecked, cracking towards a lee shore, perhaps doomed, its crew in peril. What do you do to the guy, provided he survives. A medal? A firing squad
Go HERE and pull it down yourself. And lose yourself in some of the other stories. Trust me, I’ve got material for twenty reviews in this fine collection. You won’t be disappointed.