Saturday, March 05, 2005

Mystery quotes again

I recognized a quote from Winesburg, Ohio, last weekend and put the following up in the Mystery Quotes thread at Readerville:

"My grandfather again, not to fall too far short of the standard set by Great-grandfather Luke, was a hypnotist who did his act in small circuses, and the whole town saw in his hypnotism nothing more nor less than an ambitious bid to stroll his way through life as idly as possible. But when the Germans crossed our frontier in March to occupy the whole country, and were advancing in the direction of Prague, our grandfather was the only one who went out to meet them, nobody else but our grandfather, and he set out to defy those Germans by means of his hypnotic powers, to hold back the advancing tanks by the force of suggestion. He went striding along the highroad with his eyes fixed on the leading tank, the spearhead of that entire motorized army. In this tank, waist-deep in the cabin, stood an officer of the Reich, with a black beret with the death's head badge and the crossed bones on his head, and my grandfather kept on going steadily forward, straight toward this tank, with his hands stretched out, and his eyes spraying towards the Germans the thought: 'Turn round and go back!'

"And really, that first tank halted. The whole army stood still. Grandfather touched the leading tank with his outstretched fingers, and kept pouring out towards it the same suggestion: 'Turn round and go back, turn round and . . .' And then the lieutenant gave a signal with his pennant, and the tank changed its mind and moved forward, but Grandfather never budged, and the tank ran over him and crushed his head, and after that there was nothing standing in the way of the German army."

No one's guessed Closely Observed Trains, so this morning I added the following, since it tells about a character I'm sure was used in the Academy Award-winning movie based on the book:

"But aside from his preoccupation of his, our station-master took delight in a quite ordinary plebeian hobby, and that was breeding pigeons. Before the war he used to keep Nurembergs, the kind with the aggressive black and white arrowheads on their wings and he himself used to clean out their loft, and change their water and scatter their feed-corn every other day. But when the Germans made such a savage attack on the Poles, and crushed them in such a barbarous way, our station-master left the flight-hatch of the loft closed one day, and went away to Hradec, but before he left he gave his assistant orders to wring the necks of all those Nurembergs. And after a week he came back from Hradec with some Polish silver-points, those birds with the lovely blue crop and the beautiful wings, oramented with grey and white triangles bonded into each other like floor-tiles in a bathroom. "

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