WHH Short Fiction: “How the Honourable Billy Darrell Raised the Wind”

Review: “How the Honorouble Billy Darrell Raised the Wind”, William Hope Hodgson, 1913.

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Cover by Jason Van Hollander

This is an interesting and well-done boxing story from Hodgson.

The Darrells are impoverished down to the point where they are thinking of cutting back on food. Mary Darrell is glad she married Billy. She was a “mill-girl”, and Billy sort of comes from the upper class. His Uncle John promised him a thousand pounds the day he married, but the check hasn’t come. Billy won’t hear of Mary going back to work. The couple is being hounded by creditors repossessing goods they bought on credit.

Billy’s former rival for Mary – they actually came to blows – is now his friend, and suggests Billy enter a local boxing match. A group of local bettors are looking for a fighter to back. After being in a scuffle with a local grocer come to repo some household goods, Billy came to their attention. He does get their backing to fight local champion Blacksmith Dankley.

Billy goes to size Dankley up, and there’s a nice scene where the two talk. They compete in lifting weights, and the two regard themselves as worthy and honorable though Billy knows that, even though his technique is better than Dankley’s, the latter’s sheer size and strength will make him the winner. Bodybuilder Hodgson’s appreciation for male physique and strength comes through clearly.

All this time Billy hasn’t told Mary of his boxing plans. There are lots of female fans about.

The fight is going on, the conclusion in doubt, when Mary shows up, demands the fight stop, and enters the ring.

Both men plead with her not to interfere, and she’s led away.

But, in a very female-like reaction, she cheers Billy when, after taking some of Dankley’s blows, he starts hammering Dankley and knocks him out.

She confesses that, seeing him pummeled, she wanted Billy to kill Dankley. I think this says something true about many women not understanding common male combativeness and that it can often take place and not be pursued to lethal conclusion or with lasting hard feelings.

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