I love wandering around used bookstores. I search the shelves for that glint of gold that is the earmark of vintage books. Lovely Ladner village has a charming used bookstores. It has a wonderful smell of books. New book stores simply don’t have that required perfume. A little musty, a bit inky and completely captivating. I came away with a treasure, and a story.
The book THE ORTHOEPIST.
The dictionary defines ORTHOEPIST as the study of the pronunciation of words and their relationship between pronunciation and spelling.
Alfred Ayers, the author called it a” pronouncing manual, containing about three thousand five hundred words including a considerable number of the names of foreign authors, artists, etc, that are often mispronounced”. It must have been very popular for the book I found was the seventeenth edition, revised. It had first been printed in l880.
My copy was printed in l886. The story begins with a signature.
Henry J. Pugh Morden May 30th ’87
I looked at the beautiful script. Who was Henry J. Pugh? Had he lived in Morden, Dorset in England? In the eighteen hundreds there were many who immigrated from Britain to Canada.
I began my research in the records of St. Mary’s church in Morden, Dorset. I scanned the baptism, marriage and death records from l800 to l880. Not one Pugh. Then I went to the census records for the same period. No evidence of any family by that name. If he had lived in Morden I would have uncovered records of his family. I realized then the Morden on the fly leaf of the book referred to Morden, Manitoba.
This was Manitoba in l887. I researched archives and discovered that Morden had an important reputation for promotion of history and the natural sciences. It was a village where one might find a large group of educated people. I was looking for an intellectual. Such a man would own a copy of THE ORTHOEPIST.
I will tell you about Henry J. Pugh. He is tall and well built. He has searching eyes and wears a mustache. He dresses in casual country clothes. Not a dandy Henry prefers comfortable, practical garments.
He is a teacher with an abiding passion for the windswept, big sky prairies and its wildlife. Gentle by nature he has a great deal of respect for the local Indians. He is recording their history.
He is often called upon to recite poetry at social gatherings. He is known for his perfect diction, and commanding presence. In 1887 Henry has yet to meet the love of his life.
This was Henry J. Pugh’s book. I hold it in my hand.
The story of Henry is my story from my imagination.