Marginalia, no.97

[A]nd while Mrs. Saunders declaimed over her onion bed such portions of the slang dictionary as are permitted by the Nonconformist conscience to be said or sung, the Vasco da Gama fowl was waking the echoes of Toad-Water with crescendo bursts of throat music which compelled attention to her griefs.

~ Saki (H.H. Munro), ‘The Blood Feud of Toad-Water’

Some pencil-brandishing would-be editor of a patron crossed out the above sentence (the best in the story) from my local library’s copy of Saki’s Complete Works.  He apparently thought it superfluous.  The villain further improved the original by substituting (in a childish scrawl) ‘tired,’ ‘poor’ and ‘birds’ for ‘wearied,’ ‘contemptible inadequacy of’ and ‘chaffinches,’ respectively.  The strange compulsion that must have seized him is probably explained by a too-strict adoption of that grim creed of high school composition teachers according to which one should always get to the point immediately, and use bland, general terms whenever more colorful ones suggest themselves.  It’s an abuse of the democratic spirit, really.  The best is always unnecessary.


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