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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: Persistent Miss
By Gerald Dean


If you were to be in business before the advent of the computer or word processor, you would in all probability have heard of ‘Hare’s Mechanical Writing Machines’. Of course this was just a fancy way of describing the common typewriter, which in England at the time was as ubiquitous as ‘tea and crumpets’ or ‘marmalade on toast’.

The makers were of the opinion that it was possible to improve their sales and profit margin by blinding the public with science at the start, before they really knew what they had on their hands. It is doubtful if this approach met with success though, because in later years they began to advertise the product by the slogan – ‘Home of the best type’ which although a little corny, did at least give potential buyers a good clue as to what they were dealing with.

Miss Felicity Fortesque had just bought a spanking, brand new machine from Hares. True to her squirrel-like nature, she had already cut away the glossy paper covering, being careful to keep it intact, and stored it away for future use. She then took the gleaming machine from its temporary box home and set it on the table.
She sat back with her best friend Jane and admired her most recent acquisition.

“It’s for my Christian book and wool business, you know Jane”. She said excitedly.
“I’ll help you take it down to the shop in the morning” replied Jane, as usual
empathizing fully with Felicity in her happiness.

The typewriter was installed and used the very next day. But alas, it was found to behave very temperamentally. It intermittently refused to reproduce vowels or the letter ‘r’ when the appropriate keys were depressed. Felicity looked very downcast.

“I’ll have to contact the makers’ she said gloomily.

That afternoon she telephoned Hare’s repair center and the machine was returned to the maintenance workshop. She prayed that night for the fault to be found.

A week later the machine arrived back. But much to Felicity’s disappointment it soon started mistyping in exactly the same way that it had before. This time she telephoned the chief executive of the company, Mr Dodgeson.

“Yes Miss Fortesque, leave it with me. I’ll see to it personally” said Mr
Dodgeson with the utmost sincerity.

That evening Jane joined Felicity and together they earnestly pleaded with the Lord for a fully restored machine, worthy of serving her business.

Had Mr Dodgeson been a shade more sincere, or the ladies a little more earnest, then perhaps the machine would have been restored to full working order. But as it was, neither had been able to exert sufficient influence.: sadly her machine reverted to its wayward ways.

By now Miss Fortesque was beside herself with grief. Even the Lord himself had not thought it fit to intervene – she recalled the ‘Parable of the persistent widow’ and pulled herself together.

The next day she made a telephone call to the owner of the typewriter company- a certain Miss Sarah Harriet Hare. Miss Hare was known to treat her employees with respect and consideration, but in business she had a reputation for being as hard as an overcooked rock cake.

The telephone ringtone sounded. An unfeminine yet educated voice answered.

“Miss Hare speaking”. Felicity explained the problem.

“Yes Miss Fortesque I’m aware of the facts. I’ve had my staff work on the machine but they say there’s nothing wrong with it. So I’m afraid that you can’t get a replacement or your money back. If you can prove conclusively that it is malfunctioning, I’ll consider the matter again. I’ll be dropping you confirmation of our conversation in the post. Goodbye Miss Fortesque”.

Again that night Felicity dropped to her knees.

“Please, please Lord I cannot run my business without a working typewriter”.

As promised two days later the letter from Hares arrived at Felicity’s house. Jane was visiting at the time. Together they opened it and read out loud.

Dear Miss Fortesque,
I am having this letter typed by my secretary on the same model typewriter that you bought from our company. It’s a new machine straight out of the factory. Please note that I cannot entertain the notion of giving you a replacement typewriter or refunding your money, unless you can give me irrefutable proof of its inadequacy.

Your Sincerely S h H H

Felicity and Jane looked sideways at each other.

“Thank you Lord”, they laughed, “your ways are so beyond our understanding”.

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This article has been read 389 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/25/10
It was a cute story although I must admit I was puzzled by the signature. I get that it acted up but not quite sure why she signed her name with a Sh. The first part was very enjoyable and I felt like I knew the characters well.
Virgil Youngblood 02/25/10
Well written and fun to read. The ending was just right.
Dana McReynolds02/26/10
Well written and original!
Philippa Geaney 02/27/10
Loved it! It reminded me a little of the Agatha Christie type voice. Excellent. Did the signiture of S H H prove the typewriter was sporadically playing up? Sorry if I am obtuse.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/27/10
Call me a dunderhead! When I first read the story I saw the name as Harriett, I even checked several times when I got to the signature to make sure I didn't miss anything, like perhaps the name Sarah! I saw it as plain as day when I reread the article at a later date. I was reading the comments and everyone else got it, so I reread the whole story and now am embarrassed and offer my most humble apology. I enjoyed your story even more the second time through.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/27/10
I hadn't seen Phillipa's note when I left my second comment, that made me feel a little better, perhaps if you ever rewrite it for something else, you could put spaces in so people like me who didn't catch the name will get it like:

S h H. H

But I still stand by my original statement that it was an enjoyable fun story, even more so now that the joke didn't go over my head!
Karen Pourbabaee 03/02/10
Clever and creative. Great job!