-from an old advertisement for Adriadne Galleries, New York.
While I was not Miss Bustlewhistle's star pupil at her Academy for Young Ladies -- certain hoydenish proclivities (spitballs et al, not to mention a few other unsavoury incidents) precluded that -- she was always reasonably satisfied with my grasp of grammar and its sometimes obscure elegancies of form.
Including consistency with tense.
However, I may have violated rules governing appropriate use of tense in the excerpt posted Friday.
You may have observed that, while the rest of her narration is in proper and unexceptional past tense, Lillie comments on the kinds of bodies one encounters in present: "Bodies are very bad when..."
Of course, such insertions and observations are sometimes inevitable and, in fact, natural in first person narration. Particularly if one wishes to avoid where possible any unnecessary use of "I thought" in the interests of immediacy, and also to emphasize a conclusion or an opinion by the narrator that no future event is likely to alter.
After scouring Miss Bustlewhistle's bible, Ye Olde Grammar Booke, I'm still unsure if I've committed a solecism, for the only defense I find is an ambiguous rule : The present tense may be used for the past in vivid narration. -- which I don't think applies to this case, and is meant to allow and excuse the telling of an entire story in present tense.
So, tell me, in your opinion, have I earned detention and extra homework?
Or is a tense change acceptable in some circumstances and I'm fussing over nothing?