Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Cabman's Story The Mysteries of a London 'Growler'  -  1884
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8 pages
genre  -  Short Story
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

This is a very short story about a father taking his family out of London for a vacation. They hire a cab to take them to the train station.  Here's the first sentence of the story:  "We had to take a 'growler', for the day looked rather threatening and we agreed that it would be a very bad way of beginning our holiday by getting wet, especially when Fanny was only just coming round from the whooping cough."

A London 'Growler' is a four-wheeled carriage, usually drawn by a single horse.  It was nicknamed 'Growler' because the noise the wheels  made running over stone roads.

Anyway, it's so crowded inside the cab that the father decides to sit up with the driver. The cabbie proceeds to tell tales about his long 47 year vocation. I really like how Doyle describes the cabbie:  He is a "knowing-looking old veteran, with a weather beaten face and white side whiskers".  The cabman's stories are fascinating. I wish there had been more events, or at least more details to stretch out this wonderful tale. I heartily recommend reading this.  Just the right size to read while waiting at the doctor's office.

About the Author  -

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born May 22 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh.  While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories. His first significant piece was A Study in Scarlet.

Sherlock Holmes was partially modeled after a real person, a former university teacher Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes...Round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man."  Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes...Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?"

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