Chance Meeting

Charli Mills from the Carrot Ranch prompts us thus this week
August 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a fossil or uses the word in its variant forms (fossilize, dino bones, petrification, gastroliths, ichnofossils, etc.). Dig into your imagination and go where the fossil record leads you. So here is another of my historical retellings.

“What have you there, child?” The tall lady smiled at the little girl.
“It’s a curtsy miss.” She replied. It was black and shiny, shaped like a coiled snail.
“She means a curiosity,” said her companion, “They are found in the cliffs, no one knows what they are.”
“What are you going to do with it?” asked Jane.
“Take it to father, he sells them.”
“Will you sell it to me?” The girl nodded, shyly.
“But she is Anning’s daughter, he overcharged us for that cupboard.”
“But she isn’t overcharging me.” The coin changed hands and a legend began.

In 1804 Jane Austen and her family visited Lyme Regis, in a letter to her sister she tells how they had been overcharged by a local carpenter, Robert Anning. As well as woodwork Robert also sold fossils that had been found in the local cliffs. His daughter, Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the age was his daughter, in 1804 she would have been five. Legend tells how she began her career as a little girl, selling a fossil she had found, to a lady she met on the beach. I have just brought Lyme Regis’s two most famous residents together.


Filed under Historical Reconstructions, Historical tales, Jane Austen, Regency

8 responses to “Chance Meeting

  1. Just the idea of the two meeting brings history to life! But you do such a masterful job of applying dialog to shape your stories and show history unfolding.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Old Bones Collection « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. jeanne229

    I tried to post this comment on Charli’s site but it may not “take” so posting it here.
    Fascinating history and beautifully wrought flash. It immediately evoked the period and locale for me–I believe John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman was set in Lyme Regis…a novel I devoured in my 20s and have returned to often… I am currently reading The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, a riveting history of the emergence of modern science in the early Romantic period. What a staggering change of “paradigm” came with the development of modern astronomy and chemistry and geology … I will definitely explore Mary Anning. And I look forward to “digging” around your site too, Gordon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your appreciative comment. The French Lieutenants Woman was indeed partly set in Lyme, I only met John Fowles the author on a couple of occasions, in his capacity of curator of the local museum. A fascinating man.
      I think that the period of the late eighteenth/ early nineteenth century is a fascinating one for science and art, as you will realise if you read some of my other entries in my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanne229

        Only met John Fowles on a couple of occasions? Oh my! You will have me regretting all over again leaving England twenty years or so….I lived in HIghgate and regularly took in readings at the HG Literary Society–Julian Barnes once questioned my use of “quite”! (I had said something inane, like “I quite liked your book….”) Is that “quite” as in “almost” or “quite” as in very much”…, he wondered. At any rate…you have piqued my curiosity. I will certainly browse around your site more now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Flight of Fancy – Another Chance Meeting | The Curious Archaeologist

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