Thursday, August 18, 2011

Foretold (Unknown Assailant)

Ivy Barton, a Chelsea barmaid, was on Sundays able to stay in bed an hour later than on weekdays.  This she relished very much.

        She did not, however, use the extra hour for extra sleep.  Her mother brought her a cup of tea and a newspaper -- the News of the World -- and she read.

        One Sunday morning, early in the year 1933, she came across an item dealing with a matter of robbery and violence.

        A working girl, it seemed, had been tied to a tractor in the country (somewhere in Norfolk not very far from King's Lynn) and had been robbed of about twenty pounds.  She had, after some time and with difficulty, released herself from the tractor; but by this time her 'unknown assailant', as the News of the World described him, had escaped. The police were searching for him.

        Ivy Barton was not particularly interested in this piece of news, which was not given much space by the famous newspaper, and at which she only glanced rapidly.  She merely vaguely wondered how and why a working-class girl had as much as twenty pounds upon her at the time.

        But she would have been a good deal more than interested had she known two facts -- the fact that she had met and conversed with the 'unknown assailant' only last night, and the fact that she was going to meet him again within the next twelve hours.


From Patrick Hamilton:  Unknown Assailant (1955)
Photography: Strange Phase Studios

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