The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid by H.G. Wells, 1905
The magic trick:
Creating a comedic character for an otherwise horror-based story
This story isn’t exactly loaded with surprises. When Winter-Wedderburn says early on that he has a feeling something is going to happen to him today, it’s not a red herring. Something does in fact happen to him this day. Nothing particularly suspenseful there; certainly not original.
It’s just that his name is Winter-Wedderburn. The entire story has a playful, occasionally downright hilarious, tone. You would never expect such comedy from a tale about man-eating plants. And that’s quite a trick on Wells’s part.
“Yes,” he said, and became meditative over a piece of toast.
“Nothing ever does happen to me,” he remarked presently, beginning to think aloud. “I wonder why? Things enough happen to other people. There is Harvey. Only the other week, on Monday he picked up sixpence, on Wednesday his chicks all had the staggers, on Friday his cousin came home from Australia, and on Saturday he broke his ankle. What a whirl of excitement – compared to me.”
“I think I would rather be without so much excitement,” said his housekeeper. “It can’t be good for you.”
“I suppose it’s troublesome. Still…you see, nothing ever happens to me. When I was a little boy I never had accidents. I never fell in love as I grew up. Never married…I wonder how it feels to have something happen to you, something really remarkable.”
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