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Dust upon God's Fair Earth

Editors Note : An unusual exercise in imaginative writing, this short story demonstrates a powerful command of language and represents perhaps the blossoming of a remarkable literary talent. Written by fifth year pupil J Taylor, it is transcribed here from the summer 1960 edition of the Thomas Linacre School (Wigan) magazine.

Dust upon God's Fair Earth
Basingstoke CanalThat portion of earth was still and quiet, appearing never to have uttered a sound or moved since creation. The earth wore a heavy garment of mist which hid its lively form, and pressed so hard upon it that it was bent and twisted under the strain into many unusual and strange shapes. It was cold, so cold, so that a small stream clearing its way through the ground had given up its will to run and now lay lifeless and mute.

Pale light filtered through the trees and cast itself on a figure which seemed not in keeping with the natural surroundings. The figure was wreathed in mist which clung to it and enveloped it in white swirling wisps like so many long fingers. The figure was that of a man – if such a dejected and misplaced being could be called one. Necessity had attired him in a dress no less useful than bizarre, and thus he appeared before the world.

Two large boots offered shelter to his feet, originally one brown and the other black but now so covered in dust and dirt from their constant use as to appear of a singularly grimy hue. The latter boot with half the sole off and no laces clung as best itBasingstoke Canal could to the unfortunate foot. No socks were to be found upon his person nor had been for many a day. His trousers bore evidence of the work of some careful and patient hand, not his own, for nearly all the original cloth was replaced by patches of various shades of grey, all neatly stitched and the whole in an advanced stage of wear. His trousers bordered in a wide black belt of great strength with a polished brass buckle in the front for good taste. The belt stooped a little round his waist and appeared to be rather in favour of supporting a large stomach than a fragile pair of trousers. His shirt was of the blue and white striped variety, showing a similar lack of cleanliness as its owner but having the advantage of being the most wholesome article upon him. Around this he wore a waistcoat, complete with chain and medals and a small coat with several tears, held upon by such a small allowance of buttons that it was a wonder it remained on him. A grey, once white, silk scarf around his neck completed his dress.

The little of his face not covered by hair had a ruddy tinge about it, caused by the constant touch of nature and helped in better times by a little alcohol. Dark whiskers almost covered the lower half of his face. He had a rubicund nose which lightened his countenance considerably. His eyes were blue and deep set beneath bushy eyebrows. His eyes gave the whole character to his person. They were weary eyes and their clear blueness was sad. Hope, joy could not be found there; true life had departed from them. They were a mockery to him, a mirror reflecting his true self.

He arose slowly; his breath fused into white wisps in the coldness and disappeared. He was misplaced among nature as well as his fellow men. His contribution to life was an apology. The time yet lacked several hours to mid-day, but for him time was not. His body shambled on its way; his mind moved not.

Nothing he was, nothing he would be, until as the dust upon God's fair earth, he would roam free.

J Taylor 5B

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