“In a town. The village, tho it can scarce be called one, of X” – meaning

Reading a story by A.C. Smith, I am unsure of the meaning of the following:

Three days later found me at the railway station of my cousin’s native
town. The village, tho it can scarce be called one, of X.

At first, I thought that Smith just expresses that it is rather a village than a town, but the wording (to me) conveys the following meaning to me: "The village, although it can be rarely called one, of X".

So what is the meaning? Also I assume the "X" is simply a placeholder – some of his works were not finished or were transcribed from manuscripts.

Answer

Scarce doesn’t mean rare in this sense, it’s more like hardly, or barely (you can only just call it that). "The village, although it can scarce be called one" would mean it’s only just big enough to be considered a village.

"X" is a placeholder, but not because he didn’t finish the story. It’s dying out now, but in the past it was common for authors writing a story set in ‘real life’ to obscure the date and location of a story. Stories will say something like

In the year of our Lord 18—, I travelled to the small Cotswold village of —, at that time the summer residence of Lord R—.

It’s a way of setting your story in the real world (so you don’t make up a town) but nobody can contradict it by saying "But there’s no church with a square tower in [name of town]!" or "I was there on 15th July 1974 and no murders happened!".

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : John V , Answer Author : BeginTheBeguine

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