Somebody’s Luggage is something of a mystery tale from Mr. Dickens.
Dickens is at his usual descriptive self, taking a long time to explain the difference between what most people think of as a waiter, and how the narrative character “Mr. Christopher” works as a waiter, which is a bit of a combination of a waiter, bellhop, porter, and other jobs around the hotel and restaurant world. In fact, the first eleven pages are exposition and scene-painting, and it’s not until page twelve that we get to the focal point of the story: somebody’s luggage.
Somebody else‘s luggage that is, discovered under the bed in Room 24 B, with no identifying marks anywhere on its exterior. Immediately the staff set to work trying to discover the owner of the luggage, and they discover an old unsettled tab for the room, dating back six years. Mr. Christopher requests a detailed copy of the items on the tab, and he gets it. …then Dickens lists the items in a style briefly reminiscent of the excruciatingly dull records of email conversations in the “50 Shades” books. Unlike James, however, there’s a reason for Dickens doing this, as these items will help identify the owner in due time.
Over the course of trying to discover the owner of the curious luggage, Christopher comes to own the bag and inside it finds some writings, apparently short stories themselves. These stories are a creative diversion in the middle of the larger story, making up chapters 2 and 3 of Dickens’ 4-chapter work. Seeing the quality – and profit – in these writings, Christopher manages to have these works published, which takes us to chapter 4, and the return of the mysterious individual who left the luggage.
Charles Dickens is, of course, known for many of the great classics of English literature, and this is one of his short stories. As short stories go, it’s quite meaty at almost 50 pages long, and in 4 chapters. Of course, being Dickens, and being published in 1862, it is written with a flourish of a different age, which can make it hard to follow.
His writing style is descriptive and heavy. You clearly see in this work that Dickens does not just use language as a means of communication. You will find yourself re-reading a good portion of this so be prepared to spend some time on this book. I’m not the fastest reader, and this took some time and several sessions for me to finish, so be prepared to spend some quality time with this work. Your results may vary.
There is not much available online for Somebody’s Luggage by the usual outlets:
- Download the epub from Feedbooks
- Download the story in multiple formats at Project Gutenberg
- If you have a Palm Pilot that still works, you can download a version for it at the Internet Archive
There are some “conversion artifacts” in this one. For example, the French surname Bouclet is misspelled in one spot, and there are some minor bits that I had to read over that I’m reasonably convinced are leftovers from a text conversion process and probably not errors in the original writing.