Fifty-One Tales: Taking Up Picadilly

I happened upon a group of men with pickaxes taking up Picadilly street. And when I say taking it up, I mean taking it all the way up.

This story is from Lord Dunsany’s Fifty-One Tales, originally published in 1915, and is read aloud by Kay Mack.

You can read the story here, or online at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7838

Going down Picadilly one day and nearing Grosvenor Place I saw, if my memory is not at fault, some workmen with their coats off—or so they seemed. They had pickaxes in their hands and wore corduroy trousers and that little leather band below the knee that goes by the astonishing name of “York-to-London.”

They seemed to be working with peculiar vehemence, so that I stopped and asked one what they were doing.

“We are taking up Picadilly,” he said to me.

“But at this time of year?” I said. “Is it usual in June?”

“We are not what we seem,” said he.

“Oh, I see,” I said, “you are doing it for a joke.”

“Well, not exactly that,” he answered me.

“For a bet?” I said.

“Not precisely,” said he.

And then I looked at the bit that they had already picked, and though it was broad daylight over my head it was darkness down there, all full of the southern stars.

“It was noisy and bad and we grew aweary of it,” said he that wore corduroy trousers. “We are not what we appear.”

They were taking up Picadilly altogether.

Photo by Martin Dörsch on Unsplash

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