Tales of the Five Towns eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 193 pages of information about Tales of the Five Towns.
either up and down or straight along, but always circles.  And it is as though inventors had sat up at nights puzzling their brains how best to make revellers seasick while keeping them equidistant from a steam-orchestra....  Then the crowd solidly lurches, and you find yourself up against a dentist, or a firm of wrestlers, or a roundabout, or an ice-cream refectory, and you take what comes.  You have begun to ‘do’ the Wakes.  The splendid insanity seizes you.  The lights, the colours, the explosions, the shrieks, the feathered hats, the pretty faces as they fly past, the gilding, the statuary, the August night, and the mingling of a thousand melodies in a counterpoint beyond the dreams of Wagner—­these things have stirred the sap of life in you, have shown you how fine it is to be alive, and, careless and free, have caught up your spirit into a heaven from which you scornfully survey the year of daily toil between one Wakes and another as the eagle scornfully surveys the potato-field.  Your nostrils dilate—­nay, matters reach such a pass that, even if you are genteel, you forget to condescend.


After Ellis had had the correct drink in the private bar up the passage at the Turk’s Head, and after he had plunged into the crowd and got lost in it, and submitted good-humouredly to the frequent ordeal of the penny squirt as administered by adorable creatures in bright skirts, he found himself cast up by the human ocean on the macadam shore near a shooting-gallery.  This was no ordinary shooting-gallery.  It was one of Jenkins’s affairs (Jenkins of Manchester), and on either side of it Jenkins’s Venetian gondalas and Jenkins’s Mexican mustangs were whizzing round two of Jenkins’s orchestras at twopence a time, and taking thirty-two pounds an hour.  This gallery was very different from the old galleries, in which you leaned against a brass bar and shot up a kind of a drain.  This gallery was a large and brilliant room, with the front-wall taken out.  It was hung with mirrors and cretonnes, it was richly carpeted, and, of course, it was lighted by electricity.  Carved and gilded tables bore a whole armoury of weapons.  You shot at tobacco-pipes, twisting and stationary, at balls poised on jets of water, and at proper targets.  In the corners of the saloon, near the open, were large crimson plush lounges, on which you lounged after the fatigue of shooting.

A pink-clad girl, young and radiant, had the concern in charge.

She was speeding a party of bankrupt shooters, when she caught sight of Ellis.  Ellis answered her smile, and strolled up to the booth with a countenance that might have meant anything.  You can never tell what a dog is thinking.

‘’Ello!’ said the girl prettily (or, rather, she shouted prettily, having to compete with the two orchestras).  ‘You here again?’

The truth was that Ellis had been there on the previous night, when the Wakes was only half opened, and he had come again to-night expressly in order to see her; but he would not have admitted, even to himself, that he had come expressly in order to see her; in his mind it was just a chance that he might see her.  She was a jolly girl. (We are gradually approaching the scandalous part.)

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Tales of the Five Towns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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