Friday, April 6, 2018

"Adventure May Be Anywhere" by Ruth Manning-Sanders

On this April 6, one of my #FridayReads is the children's novel Adventure May Be Anywhere by Ruth Manning-Sanders.1

The book was first published in 1938 in London, under the title Children by the Sea. The next year, it was published in the United States, by Frederick A. Stokes Company, with a different title: Adventure May Be Anywhere. Pictured here is that edition's dust jacket, from an eBay listing. (My copy has no dust jacket, but I wanted to show y'all what it looks like.)

Copies of both editions of the book are scarce, but when reading copies — without the dust jacket — pop up, they are generally priced reasonably — $10 to $20. Unless you want a collectible copy, you shouldn't need to pay more than that.

Here's an excerpt of the Kirkus review of Adventure May Be Anywhere: "Four cousins spend a gay, hilarious summer on the Cornish coast. One of the four tells their adventures. They are lively and exciting, dangerous, heroic. Some are old stand-bye but the author has succeeded in giving them a new twist."

The novel's protagonists are 12-year-old Rebecca (the narrator), Jimmy, Sally and Bang. Bang is short for Bartholomew Abel Nicholas Goddard.

Adventure May Be Anywhere is dedicated to a pair of real-life children: Manning-Sanders daughter Joan and son David.

I'm 30% of the way through the 262-page book. A couple notes so far:

I absolutely love this passage: "We were going along the edge of a very blue bay, with the sun sparkling on it. And St. Michael's Mount was standing out in the water, with a castle on its top.2 There was a flag flying from the castle, which meant, so they told us, that the lord who owned it was at home. They also told us that it was the identical castle where Jack killed the giant. And this interested us, but not so much, perhaps, as it would have done when we were younger, and believed in such things. Now we are what Father calls realists, which means that we don't believe in fairy stories. He says we shall believe in them again, when we are older, but in a different way. Father is very clever. But he isn't always right, I've discovered."

The Hooper: There is a harrowing early incident involving The Hooper, an occasional wall of white mist off the coast that is the subject of mariner folklore. Bang says: "THE Hooper is that mist. There's only one of it. It just floats above the face of the deep, and the fishermen say that, if you row out into it, it swallows you up, boat and all, and you're never seen again."

Bang's younger sister Sally adds: "I read about it in a book. There were three young men and they all set out to sea. They were sailing in their boat without a care, when they saw the Hooper. One wanted to turn back, but the other two were scoffers. They said it would take more than a Hooper to drown them, and they sailed right into it. ... They were never, never, never heard of more."

The four children then have their own encounter with The Hooper, sailing directly into it during an ill-advised and out-of-control boating expedition. They survive just fine, of course, though they are not divested of the notion that the mysterious entity has a kind of sentience.

Information about The Hooper is not easy to come across in 2018. It's kind of faded into the, ahem, mists of time. Or perhaps it goes by other names. Here are some tidbits I discovered:

  • From The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore, by Patricia Monaghan: "hooper (hooter) Cornish folkloric figure. A helpful but sometimes vindictive Cornish weather spirit like the Scottish GRAY MAN, the hooper was a dense fog that blocked out all vision, or a cloudy curtain from which a central light shone. Anyone who saw the hooper stayed ashore, for its appearance was invariably followed by fierce storms. One legend tells of a sailor who jeered at the hooper and took out his crew despite the warning; his boat passed into the gloom and was never seen again."
  • Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Volume 2, which was written by William Bottrell and published circa 1873, has a section titled "Mermaids and The Hooper." It states:
    "WITHIN easy memory many parts of the western coast were said to be frequented by mermaids, particularly Sennen Cove. This place was also resorted to by a remarkable spirit called the Hooper — from the hooting or pooping sounds which it was accustomed to make.3

    "In old time, according to tradition, a compact cloud of mist often came in from over sea — when the weather was by no means foggy — and rested on the rocks called Cowloe, thence it spread itself, like a curtain of cloud, quite across Sennen Cove. By night a dull light was mostly seen amidst the vapour, with sparks ascending as if a fire burned within it; at the same time hooping sounds, were heard proceeding therefrom. People believed the misty cloud shrouded a spirit, which came to forewarn them of approaching storms, and that those who attempted to put to sea found an invisible force — seemingly in the mist — to resist them. A reckless fisherman and his son, however, — disregarding the token — launched their boat and beat through the fog with a threshal (flail); they passed the cloud of mist which followed them, and neither the men, nor the Hooper, were evermore seen in Sennen Cove.

    "This is the only place in the west where any tradition of such a guardian spirit is preserved."
  • From Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology, by Theresa Bane: "In Sennen Cove, West Cornwall, England there is believe to live a NATURE SPIRIT called Hooper who warns the locals of approaching storms. Described as looked like a large sheet of cloud mist stretched across the bay with a dull light in the middle of it. Hooper will appear before a storm and make distinctive yet strange hooping sounds. The fog this fairy created was thick enough even if his calls were ignored a fisherman would have to intentionally make a very poor decision to sail out into it, those who did were inevitably lost at sea."

* * *

Related Twitter addendum

1. My other ongoing #FridayReads are non-fiction: Darger's Resources by Michael Moon and At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson.
2. Attribution for photo of St Michael's Mount: By Chensiyuan [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
3. I'm not sure if "pooping" is the word they wanted or meant there, but I'm leaving it.

No comments:

Post a Comment