Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thirteen Characters Created by Charles Dickens

Claye is a real Charles Dickens fan. She owns most of his books and has a few favorites. I asked her to do a Thursday Thirteen for me, so she compiled descriptions of all her favorite characters, from her "least favorite" to the "most favorite". I tried to find a picture on the internet to fit that description and I linked each picture to its original site.

13. Michael ("The Poor Relation") I am a solitary man, and seldom walk with anybody, not that I am avoided because I am shabby, for I am not at all shabby, having always a very good suit of black on (or rather Oxford mixture, which has the appearance of black and wears much better) but I have got into a habit of speaking lower and being rather silent and my spirits are not high, and I am sensible that I am not an attractive companion. The only exception to this general rule is the child of my first cousin. Little Frank. I have a particular affection for that child, and he takes very kindly to me. He is a diffident boy by nature and in a crowd he is soon run over, as I may say, and forgotten. He and I, however get on exceedingly well. I have a fancy that the poor child will in time succeed to my peculiar position in the family. We talk but little; still, we understand each other. We walk about hand in hand; and without much speaking he knows what I mean and I know what he means. When he was very little indeed I used to take him to the windows of the toy shops and show him the toys inside. It is surprising how soon he found out that I would have made him a great many presents if I had been in circumstances to do it.

12. Mr. Grimwig (Oliver Twist) At this moment, there walked into the room: supporting himself by a thick stick, a stout old gentleman, rather lame in one leg, who was dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen breeches and gaiters, and a broad-brimmed white hat, with the sides turned up with green. A very small-plaited shirt frill stuck out from his waistcoat; and a very long steel watch-chain, with nothing but a key at the end, dangled loosely below it. The ends of his white neckerchief were twisted into a ball about the size of an orange; the variety of shapes into which his countenance was twisted, defy description. He had a manner of screwing his head on one side when he spoke, and of looking out of the corners of his eyes at the same time; which irresistibly reminded the beholder of a parrot. In this attitude, he fixed himself, the moment he made his appearance, and, holding out a small piece of orange-peel at arm's length, exclaimed in a growling, discontented voice.
'Look here! Do you see this! Isn't it a most wonderful and extraordinary thing that I can't call at a man's house but I find a piece of this poor surgeon's friend on the staircase? I've been lamed with orange-peel once, and I know orange-peel will be my death, or I'll be content to eat my own head, sir!' ...I feel strongly on this subject, sir...there's always more or less orange-peel on the pavement in our street; and I KNOW it's put there by the surgeon's boy at the corner. A young woman stumbled over a bit last night, and fell against my garden railings; directly she got up. I saw her look toward his infernal red lamp with the pantomime light. Don't go to him,' I called out of the window, "he's an assassin! A man-trap!' "

11. Mr. Tulkinghorn (Bleak House) Mr Tulkinghorn, sitting in the twilight by the open window, enjoys his wine. As if it whispered to him of its fifty years of silence and seclusion, it shuts him up the closer. More impenetrable than ever, he sits, and drinks, and mellow as it were, in secrecy; pondering at that twilight hour, on all the mysteries he knows, associated with darkening woods in the country, and vast blank shut-up houses in town: and perhaps sparing a thought or two for himself, and his family history, and his money, and his will—all a mystery to everyone—and that one bachelor friend of his, a man of the same mould and a lawyer too, who lived the same kind of life until he was seventy-five years old, and then, suddenly conceiving (as it is supposed) an impression that it was too monotonous, gave his gold watch to his hair-dresser one summer, and walked leisurely home to the Temple, and hanged himself.

10. Rosa
(Bleak House) A dark-eyed, dark-haired, shy,
village beauty comes in—so fresh in her rosy and her delicate bloom that the drops of rain, which have been beaten on her hair, look like the dew upon a flower fresh gathered.

9. Estella (Great Expectations) It happened on the occasion of this visit that some sharp words arose between Estella and Miss Havisham. It was the first time I had ever seen them opposed. We were seated by the fire, as just now described, and Miss Havisham still had Estell’s arm drawn through her own, and still clutched Estella’s hand in hers. When Estella gradually began to detach herself. She had rather endured that fierce affection than accepted or returned it.

“What!” said Miss Havisham, flashing her eyes upon her, ‘Are you tired of me?’

‘Only a little tired of myself,’ replied Estella, disengaging her arm, and moving to the great chimney piece, where she stood looking down at the fire.’

‘Speak the truth, you ingrate!’ cried Miss Havisham passionately striking her stick upon the floor; you are tired of me;
Estella looked at her with perfect composure and again looked down at the fire. Her graceful figure and her beautiful face expressed a self-possessed indifference to the wild heat of the other that was almost cruel.

“You stock and stone!” exclaimed Miss Havisham. You cold, cold heart.’

‘What, said Estella , preserving her attitude of indifference as she leaned against the great chimney-piece, and only moving her eyes, ‘do you reproach me for being cold? You?

8. Ghost of Christmas Past (A Christmas Carol)
It was a strange figure—like a child yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and face most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest whites and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was that from the crown if its head there sprang a bright, clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm. Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness, being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body…And in the very wonder of this it would be itself again distinct and clear as ever.

“Are you the Spirit, Sir, whose coming was fortold to me?” asked Scrooge.
“I am.”

The voice was soft and gentle, singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

“Who and what are you?” Scrooge commanded.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas past.”
“Long past?” inquired Scrooge, observant of its dwarfish stature.
“No, your past.”

7. My Lady Dedlock (Bleak House)

She had given him her hand in an indifferent way that seemed habitual to her and spoke in a correspondingly indifferent manner, though in a very pleasant voice. She was as graceful as she was beautiful, perfectly self-possessed, and had the air, I thought, of being able to attract and interest any one if she had thought it
worth her while.

6. Jo (Bleak House)

"I'm a-being froze," returned the boy hoarsely, with his haggard gaze wandering about me, "and then burnt up, and then froze, and then burnt up, ever so many times in a hour. And my head's all sleepy, and all a-going mad-like--and I'm so dry--and my bones isn't half so much bones as pain.

"When did he come here?" I asked the woman.

"This morning, ma'am, I found him at the corner of the town. I had
known him up in London yonder. Hadn't I, Jo?"

"Tom-all-Alone's," the boy replied.

Whenever he fixed his attention or his eyes, it was only for a very little while. He soon began to droop his head again, and roll it heavily, and speak as if he were half awake.

"When did he come from London?" I asked.

"I come from London yes'day," said the boy himself, now flushed and
hot. "I'm a-going somewheres."

"Where is he going?" I asked.

"Somewheres," repeated the boy in a louder tone. "I have been moved on, and moved on, more nor ever I was afore, since the t'other one give me the sov'ring. Mrs. Snagsby, she's always a- watching, and a-driving of me--what have I done to her?--and they're all a-watching and a-driving of me. Every one of 'em's doing of it, from the time when I don't get up, to the time when I don't go to bed. And I'm a-going somewheres. That's where I'm a- going. She told me, down in Tom-all-Alone's, as she came from Stolbuns, and so I took the Stolbuns Road. It's as good as another."

5. Wemmick (Great Expectations)

"What do you think of my meaning to take a holiday on Monday, Mr. Pip?"

"Why, I suppose you have not done such a thing these twelve months."
"These twelve years, more likely," said Wemmick. "Yes. I'm going to take a holiday. More than that; I'm going to take a walk. More than that; I'm going to ask you to take a walk with me."
I was about to excuse myself, as being but a bad companion just then, when Wemmick anticipated me.

"I know your engagements," said he, "and I know you are out of sorts, Mr. Pip. But if you could oblige me, I should take it as a kindness. It ain't a long walk, and it's an early one. Say it might occupy you (including breakfast on the walk) from eight to twelve. Couldn't you stretch a point and manage it?"

He had done so much for me at various times, that this was very little to do for him. I said I could manage it - would manage it - and he was so very much pleased by my acquiescence, that I was pleased too. At his particular request, I appointed to call for him at the Castle at half-past eight on Monday morning, and so we
parted for the time.

Punctual to my appointment, I rang at the Castle gate on the Monday morning, and was received by Wemmick himself: who struck me as looking tighter than usual, and having a sleeker hat on. Within, there were two glasses of rum-and-milk prepared, and two biscuits.

The Aged must have been stirring with the lark, for, glancing into the perspective of his bedroom, I observed that his bed was empty. When we had fortified ourselves with the rum-and-milk and biscuits, and were going out for the walk with that training preparation on us, I was considerably surprised to see Wemmick take up a fishing-rod, and put it over his shoulder. "Why, we are not going fishing!" said I.

"No,"returned Wemmick, "but I like to walk with one."

I thought this odd; however, I said nothing, and we set off. We went towards Camberwell Green, and when we were thereabouts,

Wemmick said suddenly: "Halloa! Here's a church!"

There was nothing very surprising in that; but a gain, I was rather surprised, when he said, as if he were animated by a brilliant idea:

"Let's go in!"

We went in, Wemmick leaving his fishing-rod in the porch, and looked all round. In the mean time, Wemmick was diving into his coat-pockets, and getting something out of paper there.

"Halloa!" said he. "Here's a couple of pair of gloves! Let's put 'em on!"

As the gloves were white kid gloves, and as the post-office was widened to its utmost extent, I now began to have my strong suspicions. They were strengthened into certainty when I beheld the Aged enter at a side door, escorting a lady.

"Halloa!" said Wemmick. "Here's Miss Skiffins! Let's have a wedding."

( Miss Skiffins was Wemmick's Girl and he had brought Pip to be his best man.)

4. Pip (Great Expectations)

But, when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart without a name, that needed counteraction.

My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be
exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.

I got rid of my injured feelings for the time, by kicking them into the brewery wall
and twisting them out of my hair, and then I smoothed my face with my sleeve, and came from behind the gate. The bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me.

3. Joe (Great Expectations)

You're a-listening and understanding, Pip?"
"Yes, Joe."
"'Consequence, my mother and me we ran away from my father, several times; and then my mother she'd go out to work, and she'd say, "Joe," she'd say, "now, please God, you shall have some schooling, child," and she'd put me to school. But my father were that good in his hart that he couldn't abear to be without us. So, he'd come with a most tremenjous crowd and make such a row at the doors of the houses where we was, that they used to be obligated to have no more to do with us and to give us up to him. And then he took us home and hammered us. Which, you see, Pip," said Joe,
pausing in his meditative raking of the fire, and looking at me,
"were a drawback on my learning."
"Certainly, poor Joe!"
"Though mind you, Pip," said Joe, with a judicial touch or two of the poker on the top bar, "rendering unto all their doo, and maintaining equal justice betwixt man and man, my father were that good in his hart, don't you see?"
I didn't see; but I didn't say so.
"Well!" Joe pursued, "somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won't bile, don't you know?"
I saw that, and said so.
"'Consequence, my father didn't make objections to my going to work; so I went to work to work at my present calling, which were his too, if he would have followed it, and I worked tolerable hard, I assure you, Pip. In time I were able to keep him, and I kept him till he went off in a purple leptic fit. And it were my intentions to have had put upon his tombstone that
Whatsume'er the failings on his part, Remember reader he were that good in his hart."

2.Neville and Helen Landless (The Mystery of Edwin Drood)

An unusually handsome lithe young fellow, and an unusually handsome lithe girl; much alike; both very dark, and very rich in colour; she of almost the gipsy type; something untamed about them both; a certain air upon them of hunter and huntress; yet withal a certain air of being the objects of the chase, rather than the followers.
Slender, supple, quick of eye and limb; half shy, half defiant; fierce of look; an indefinable kind of pause coming and going on their whole expression, both of face and form, which might be equally likened to the pause before a crouch or a bound.

1—My Favorite-- Ham (David Copperfield)

The agony on shore increased. Men groaned and women shrieked. I found myself frantically imploring a knot of sailors not to let those two lost creatures perish, and they were making out to me in an agonized way that the lifeboat had been bravely manned an hour ago and could do nothing, when I noticed that some new sensation moved the people on the beach and saw them part, and Ham come breaking through them to the front. I ran to him as well as I know to repeat my appeal for help, but the determination in his face and his look out to sea awoke me to a knowledge of his danger. I held him back with both arms and implored the men with whom I had been speaking not to listen to him not to let him stir from off that sand. Another cry arose on shore, and looking to the wreck we saw the sail, with blow on blow, beat off the lower of the two men and fly up in triumph round the active figure left alone upon the mast. Against such a sight I might as hopefully have entreated the wind. “Mas’r Davy.” Ham said cheerily, grasping me by both hands. “if my time is come, tis come. If ‘tain’t, I’ll bide it, Lord above bless you! Mates, make me ready! I’m a going!”

For More Thursday Thirteen, Check Here

Arkansas Mornings in May

Arkansas is a beautiful state--all green and flowered and moisty-morninged, and I'm on my way there to take care of my mother-in-law for a while. She is being released from the hospital, but, since that broken vertebra is still healing, she is in a cast and needs supervision. Probably, there will be no internet access, since she doesn't own a computer. I will be reading a lot and using this time to create a curriculum for our Vacation Bible School this summer. We are using our normal background--a Bible times village--but writing our own scripts.

Anyway, I have a couple of "Thursday Thirteens" scheduled to post, but other than that,
you will probably not hear from me until I return.

When I was a little girl we used to attend a church in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. They ended every service by singing "Una Manana Cristo Vendra". We all shook hands in parting, not in sadness, but in a shared, woven-into-the-soul, joyful hope.

Did I ever tell you how much I love mornings!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Storms at Harvest Time

This evening when I stepped outside to survey the lawn and try to overcome my enertia of rest long enough to run the weed eater, I was more impressed with the untidy sky than the lawn scraggles. Looking up at the underbelly of cloud cover was like looking at a box of cotton balls, each with its own swirly distinctness. Usually, that means hail, and we are three days from the beginning of harvest. All the land between these little towns is a waving, gorgeous, mix of white gold and bronze. I’m sure all the farmers, and the relatives of farmers, and those who care about farmers were praying that the high flying winds would carry those ominous clouds away. I know I was.

The lightening started at about eleven. Elijah had called to say that he was on his way home from friends, so I worried—as is the fashion of moms—until he walked through the door. Then I unplugged the computer and went to bed.

A phone call from a friend woke us at 1:30 AM. There was a tornado to the northwest of us. That’s not the one you fear because they travel from southwest to northeast (usually), but the sky was exploding with lighting bursts and whenever it lit, you could see dark clouds dipping low. The siren went off about the time we all found our robes. Turtle, Elijah, and I moved the pile of “ready for the garage sale” stuff in the garage so we could pull Elijah’s car alongside mine. Turtle was resplendently in command—shouting in the storm, while I kept telling him to come back inside and get to the basement, so he wouldn’t be struck by lightening. He was worried about the church.

In minutes, really, we were all sitting comfortably in the basement, watching the news as a great mass of meteorologists tracked the storm. They kept re-assuring us that the entire crew had been called to the newsroom to protect us in some mysterious way, because that’s how much they cared. Maybe they were all manning phones from spotters on the ground, energy levels sparking, each anxious to reveal the latest new threat, or maybe they sat wishing they were home, huddled with their families in the hallways as the radar scans kept sweeping over the screen, updating, updating, updating until they updated the storm right into the next county.

Babystepper called from her mother-in-law’s basement (which doesn’t have a television) to see if it was safe to emerge. It was. Cell phones are wonderful. The ground was wet, so I suppose it rained, but no trees were down; that's a good sign.

We all went back to bed.

This morning there is no news about it on the internet; in the scope of world interest we rate very small, and that's another good sign. A catastrophe would have merited a headline at least. Elijah has gone to work at the COOP. The "give us this day our daily bread" part of the Lord's Prayer takes on an extra shade of importance for the next few weeks.

It's a gorgeous morning--cool, damp, sun still dimmed by high clouds. Maybe I'll run the weed-eather.


Well, I just talked to one of the local farmers who lives a mile north of town. He actually saw a tornado on the ground just north of his house. He was outside, watching the sky--which is actually a more up-to-the-minute way of getting the weather news--when, in the middle of a dead calm, he saw the funnel. He said there was a blast of warm wind, then a terrible cold wind, and he could hear debris flying. He went into the house and helped his wife down to the basement where they waited until the storm passed. Optimistically speaking though, he reported that they had received an inch of rain, but very little hail. I guess this will be a farmer by farmer report, because there was that much variety.