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Love LETTER XXV
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 8
My Own Beloved: And I never thanked you yesterday for your dear words
about the resurrection pie; that comes of quarreling! Well, you must prove
them and come quickly that I may see this restoration of health and
spirits that you assure me of. You avoid saying that they sent you to
sleep; but I suppose that is what you mean.

Fate meant me only to light upon gay things this morning: listen to this
and guess where it comes from:

    "When March with variant winds was past,
     And April had with her silver showers
     Ta'en leif at life with an orient blast;
     And lusty May, that mother of flowers,
     Had made the birds to begin their hours,
     Among the odours ruddy and white,
     Whose harmony was the ear's delight:

    "In bed at morrow I sleeping lay;
     Methought Aurora, with crystal een,
     In at the window looked by day,
     And gave me her visage pale and green;
     And on her hand sang a lark from the splene,
     'Awake ye lovers from slumbering!
     See how the lusty morrow doth spring!'"

Ah, but you are no scholar of the things in your own tongue! That is
Dunbar, a Scots poet contemporary of Henry VII., just a little bit
altered by me to make him soundable to your ears. If I had not had to
leave an archaic word here and there, would you ever have guessed he lay
outside this century? That shows the permanent element in all good
poetry, and in all good joy in things also. In the four centuries since
that was written we have only succeeded in worsening the meaning of
certain words, as for instance "spleen," which now means irritation and
vexation, but stood then for quite the opposite--what we should call, I
suppose, "a full heart." It is what I am always saying--a good digestion
is the root of nearly all the good living and high thinking we are
capable of: and the spleen was then the root of the happy emotions as it
is now of the miserable ones. Your pre-Reformation lark sang from "a
full stomach," and thanked God it had a constitution to carry it off
without affectation: and your nineteenth century lark applying the same
code of life, his plain-song is mere happy everyday prose, and not
poetry at all as we try to make it out to be.

I have no news for you at all of anyone: all inside the house is a
simmer of peace and quiet, with blinds drawn down against the heat the
whole day long. No callers; and as for me, I never call elsewhere. The
gossips about here eke out a precarious existence by washing each
other's dirty linen in public: and the process never seems to result in
any satisfactory cleansing.

I avoid saying what news I trust to-morrow's post-bag may contain for
me. Every wish I send you comes "from the spleen," which means I am very
healthy, and, conditionally, as happy as is good for me. Pray God bless
my dear Share of the world, and make him get well for his own and my
sake! Amen.

This catches the noon post, an event which always shows I am jubilant,
with a lot of the opposite to a "little death" feeling running over my
nerves. I feel the grass growing _under_ me: the reverse of poor Keats'
complaint. Good-by, Beloved, till I find my way into the provender of
to-morrow's post-bag.
Love LETTER XXIV
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
Dearest: How, when, and where is there any use wrangling as to
which of us loves the other the best ("the better," I believe, would be
the more grammatical phrase in incompetent Queen's English), and why in
that of all things should we pretend to be rivals? For this at least
seems certain to me, that, being created male and female, no two lovers
since the world began ever loved each other quite in the _same_ way: it
is not in nature for it to be so. They cannot compare: only to the best
that is in them they _do_ love each after their kind,--as do we for
certain!

Be sure, then, that I am utterly contented with what I get (and you,
Beloved, and you?): nay, I wonder forever at the love you have given me:
and if I will to lay mine at your feet, and feel yours crowning my
life,--why, so it is, you know; you cannot alter it! And if you insist
that your love is at _my_ feet, I have only to turn Irish and reply that
it is because I am heels over head in love with you:--and, mark you,
that is no pretty attitude for a lady that you have driven me into in
order that I may stick to my "crown"!

Go to, dearest! There is one thing in which I can beat you, and that is
in the bandying of words and all verbal conjurings: take this as the
last proof of it and rest quiet. I know you love me a great great deal
more than I have wit or power to love you: and that is just the little
reason why your love mounts till, as I tell you, it crowns me (head or
heels): while mine, insufficient and groveling, lies at your feet, and
will till they become amputated. And I can give you, but won't, sixty
other reasons why things are as I say, and are to be left as I say. And
oh, my world, my world, it is with you I go round sunwards, and you make
my evenings and mornings, and will, till Time shuts his wings over us!
And now it is doleful business I have to write to you....

I have dropped to sleep over all this writing of things, and my cheek down
on the page has made the paper unwilling to take the ink again:--what a
pretty compliment to me: and, if you prefer it, what an easy way of
writing to you! I can send you such any day and be as idle as I like. And
you will decide about all the above exactly as you and I think best (or
should it be "better" again, being only between us two?). When you get
this, blow your beloved self a kiss in the glass for me,--a great big
shattering blow that shall astonish Mercury behind his window-pane.
Good-night, my best--or "better," for that is what I most want you to be.
Love LETTER XXIII
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 8
Saving your presence, dearest, I would rather have Prince Otto, a very
lovable character for second affections to cling to. Richard Feverel would
never marry again, so I don't ask for him: as for the rest, they are all
too excellent for me. They give me the impression of having worn
copy-books under their coats, when they were boys, to cheat punishment:
and the copy-books got beaten into their systems.

You must find me somebody who was a "gallous young hound" in the days of
his youth--Crossjay, for instance:--there! I have found the very man for
me!

But really and truly, are you better? It will not hurt your foot to come
to me, since I am not to come to you? How I long to see you again,
dearest! it is an age! As a matter of fact, it is a fortnight: but I dread
lest you will find some change in me. I have kept a real white hair to
show you, I drew it out of my comb the other morning: wound up into a curl
it becomes quite visible, and it is ivory-white: you are not to think it
flaxen, and take away its one wee sentiment! And I make you an offer:--you
shall have it if, honestly, you can find in your own head a white one to
exchange.

Dearest, I am not _hurt_, nor do I take seriously to heart your mother's
present coldness. How much more I could forgive her when I put myself in
her place! She may well feel a struggle and some resentment at having to
give up in any degree her place with you. All my selfishness would come
to the front if that were demanded of me.

Do not think, because I leave her alone, that I am repaying her coldness
in the same coin. I know that for the present anything I do must offend.
Have I demanded your coming too soon? Then stay away another day--or
two: every day only piles up the joy it will be to have your arms round
me once more. I can keep for a little longer: and the gray hair will
keep, and many to-morrows will come bringing good things for us, when
perhaps your mother's "share of the world" will be over.

Don't say it, but when you next kiss her, kiss her for me also: I am
sorry for all old people: their love of things they are losing is so far
more to be reverenced and made room for than ours of the things which
will come to us in good time abundantly.

To-night I feel selfish at having too much of your love: and not a bit
of it can I let go! I hope, Beloved, we shall live to see each other's
gray hairs in earnest: gray hairs that we shall not laugh at, as at this
one I pulled. How dark your dear eyes will look with a white setting! My
heart's heart, every day you grow larger round me, and I so much
stronger depending upon you!

I won't say--come for certain, to-morrow: but come if, and as soon as,
you can. I seem to see a mile further when I am on the lookout for you:
and I shall be long-sighted every day until you come. It is only
_doubtful_ hope deferred which maketh the heart sick. I am as happy as
the day is long waiting for you: but the day _is_ long, dearest, none
the less when I don't see you.

All this space on the page below is love. I have no time left to put it
into words, or words into it. You bless my thoughts constantly.--Believe
me, never your thoughtless.
THE CASKET LETTERS.
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
A.

    my dear Prince Wonderful,[1]

Pray God bless ---- ---- and make him come true for my sake. Amen.

_R.S.V.P._

[Footnote 1: The MS. contained at first no name, but a blank; over it
this has been written afterwards in a small hand.]


B.

Dear Prince Wonderful: Now that I have met you I pray that you will be my
friend. I want just a little of your friendship, but that, so much, so
much! And even for that little I do not know how to ask.

Always to be _your_ friend: of that you shall be quite sure.


C.

Dear Prince Wonderful: Long ago when I was still a child I told myself
of you: but thought of you only as in a fairy tale. Now I am afraid of
trusting my eyes or ears, for fear I should think too much of you before
I know you really to be true. Do not make me wish so much to be your
friend, unless you are also going to be true!

Please come true now, for mine and for all the world's sake:--but for
mine especially, because I thought of you first! And if you are not able
to come true, don't make me see you any more. I shall always remember
you, and be glad that I have seen you just once.


D.

Dear Prince Wonderful: _Has_ God blessed you yet and made you come true? I
have not seen you again, so how am I to know? Not that it is necessary for
me to know even if you do come true. I believe already that you are true.

If I were never to see you again I should be glad to think of you as
living, and shall always be your friend. I pray that you may come to
know that.


E.

Dear Highness: I do not know what to write to you: I only know how much I
wish to write. I have always written the things I thought about: it has
been easy to find words for them. Now I think about you, but have no
words:--no words, dear Highness, for you! I could write at once if I knew
you were my friend. Come true for me: I will have so much to tell you
then!


F.

Dear Highness: If I believe in fairy tales coming true, it is because I am
superstitious. This is what I did to-day. I shut my eyes and took a book
from the shelf, opened it, and put my fingers down on a page. This is what
I came to:

    "All I believed is true!
       I am able yet
       All I want to get
     By a method as strange as new:
     Dare I trust the same to you?"

Fate says, then, you are to be my friend. Fate has said I am yours
already. That is very certain. Only in real life where things come true
would a book have opened as this has done.


G.

Dear Highness: I am sure now, then, that I please you, and that you like
me, perhaps only a little: for you turned out of your way to ride with me
though you were going somewhere so fast. How much I wished it when I saw
you coming, but dared not believe it would come true!

"Come true": it is the word I have always been writing, and everything
_has_:--you most of all! You are more true each time I see you. So true
that now I will write it down at last,--the truth for you who have come
so true.

Dear Highness and Great Heart, I love you dearly, though you don't know
it,--quite ever so much; and am going to love you ever so much more,
only--please like _me_ a little better first! You on your dear side must
do something: or, before I know, I may be wringing my hands all alone on
a desert island to a bare blue horizon, with nothing in it real or
fabulous.

If I am to love you, nothing but happiness is to be allowed to come of
it. So don't come true too fast without one little wee corresponding
wish for me to find that you are! I am quite happy thinking you out
slowly: it takes me all day long; the longer the better!

I wonder how often in my life I shall write down that I love you, having
once written it (I do:--I love you! there [it] is for you, with more to
follow after!); and send you my love as I do now into the great
emptiness of chance, hoping somehow, known or unknown, it may bless you
and bring good to you.

Oh, but 'tis a windy world, and I a mere feather in it: how can I get
blown the way I would?

Still I have a superstition that some star is over me which I have not
seen yet, but shall,--Heaven helping me.

And now good-night, and no more, no more at all! I send out an "I love
you" to be my celestial commercial traveler for me while I fold myself
up and become its sleeping partner.

Good-night: you are the best and truest that I ever dreamed yet.


H.

Dear Highness: I begin not to be able to name you anything, for there is
not a word for you that will do! "Highness" you are: but that leaves gaps
and coldnesses without end. "Royal," yet much more serene than royal:
though by that I don't mean any detraction from your royalty, for I never
saw a man carry his invisible crown with so level a head and no
haughtiness at all: and that is the finest royalty of look possible.

I look at you and wonder so how you have grown to this--to have become
king so quietly without any coronation ceremony. You have thought more
than you should for happiness at your age; making me, by that one line
in your forehead, think you were three years older than you really are.
I wish--if I dare wish you anything different--that you were! It makes
me uncomfortable to remember that I am--what? Almost half a year your
elder as time flies:--not really, for your brain was born long before
mine began to rattle in its shell. You say quite _old_ things, and
quietly, as if you had had them in your mind ten years already. When you
told me about your two old pensioners, the blind man and his wife, whom
you brought to so funny a reconciliation, I felt ("mir war, ich wuszte
nicht wie") that I would like very much to go blindfold led by you: it
struck me suddenly how happy would be a blindfoldness of perfect trust
such as one might have with your hands on one. I suppose that is what in
religion is called faith: I haven't it there, my dear; but I have it in
you now. I love you, beginning to understand why: at first I did not. I
am ashamed not to have discovered it earlier. The matter with you is
that you have goodness prevailing in you, an integrity of goodness, I
mean:--a different thing from there being a whereabouts for goodness in
you; _that_ we all have in some proportion or another. I was quite right
to love you: I know it now,--I did not when I first did.

Yesterday I was turning over a silly "confession book" in which a rose was
everybody's favorite flower, manliness the finest quality for a man, and
womanliness for a woman (which is as much as to say that pig is the best
quality for pork, and pork for pig): till I came upon one different from
the others, and found myself saying "Yes" all down the page.

I turned over for the signature, and found my own mother's. Was it not a
strange sweet meeting? And only then did the memory of her handwriting
from far back come to me. She died, dear Highness, before I was seven
years old. I love her as I do my early memory of flowers, as something
very sweet, hardly as a real person.

I noticed she loved best in men and women what they lack most often: in a
man, a fair mind; in a woman, courage. "Brave women and fair men," she
wrote. Byron might have turned in his grave at having his dissolute
stiff-neck so wrung for him by misquotation. And she--it must have been
before the eighties had started the popular craze for him--chose Meredith,
my own dear Meredith, for her favorite author. How our tastes would have
run together had she lived!

Well, I know you fair, and believe myself brave--constitutionally, so
that I can't help it: and this, therefore, is not self-praise. But
fairness in a man is a deadly hard acquirement, I begin now to discover.
You have it fixed fast in you.

You, I think, began to do just things consciously, as the burden of
manhood began in you. I love to think of you growing by degrees till you
could carry your head _so_--and no other way; so that, looking at you, I
can promise myself you never did a mean thing, and never consciously an
unjust thing except to yourself. I can just fancy that fault in you.
But, whatever--I love you for it more and more, and am proud knowing you
and finding that we are to become friends. For it is that, and no less
than that, now.

I love you; and me you like cordially: and that is enough. I need not
look behind it, for already I have no way to repay you for the happiness
this brings me.


I.

Oh, I think greatly of you, my dear; and it takes long thinking. Not
merely such a quantity of thought, but such a quality, makes so hard a
day's work that by the end of it I am quite drowsy. Bless me, dearest; all
to-day has belonged to you; and to-morrow, I know, waits to become yours
without the asking: just as without the asking I too am yours. I wish it
were more possible for us to give service to those we love. I am most glad
because I see you so often: but I come and go in your life empty-handed,
though I have so much to give away. Thoughts, the best I have, I give you:
I cannot empty my brain of them. Some day you shall think well of me.--That
is a vow, dear friend,--you whom I love so much!


J.

I have not had to alter any thought ever formed about you, Beloved; I have
only had to deepen it--that is all. You grow, but you remain. I have heard
people talk about you, generally kindly; but what they think of you is
often wrong. I do not say anything, but I am glad, and so sure that I know
you better. If my mind is so clear about you, it shows that you are good
for me. Now for nearly three months I may not see you again; but all that
time you will be growing in my heart; and at the end without another word
from you I shall find that I know you better than before. Is that strange?
It is because I love you: love is knowledge--blind knowledge, not wanting
eyes. I only hope that I shall keep in your memory the kind place you have
given me. You are almost my friend now, and I know it. You do not know
that I love you.


K.

Beloved: You love me! I know it now, and bless the sun and the moon and
the stars for the dear certainty of it. And I ask you now, O heart that
has opened to me, have I once been unhappy or impatient while this good
thing has been withheld from me? Indeed my love for you has occupied me
too completely: I have been so glad to find how much there is to learn in
a good heart deeply unconscious of its own goodness. You have employed me
as I wish I may be employed all the days of my life: and now my beloved
employer has given me the wages I did not ask.

You love me! Is it a question of little or much? Is it not rather an
entire new thought of me that has entered your life, as the thought of you
entered mine months that seem years ago? It was the seed then, and seemed
small; but the whole life was there; and it has grown and grown till now
it is I who have become small, and have hardly room in me for the roots:
and it seems to have gone so far up over my head that I wonder if the
stars know of my happiness.

They must know of yours too, then, my Beloved: they are no company for me
without you. Oh, to-day, to-day of all days! how in my heart I shall go on
kissing it till I die! You love me: that is wonderful! You love me: and
already it is not wonderful in the least! but belongs to Noah and the ark
and all the animals saved up for an earth washed clean and dried, and the
new beginnings of time which have ever since been twisting and turning
with us in safe keeping through all the history of the world.

"We came over at the Norman conquest," my dear, as people say trailing
their pedigree: but there was no ancestral pride about us--it was all for
the love of the thing we did it: how clear it seems now! In the hall hangs
a portrait in a big wig, but otherwise the image of my father, of a man
who flouted the authority of James II. merely because he was so like my
father in character that he could do nothing else. I shall look for you
now in the Bayeux tapestries with a prong from your helmet down the middle
of your face--of which that line on your forehead is the remainder. And
you love me! I wonder what the line has to do with that?

By such little things do great things seem to come about: not really. I
know it was not because I said just what I did say, and did what I did
yesterday, that your heart was bound to come for mine. But it was those
small things that brought you consciousness: and when we parted I knew
that I had all the world at my feet--or all heaven over my head!

Ah, at last I may let the spirit of a kiss go to you from me, and not be
ashamed or think myself forward since I have your love. All this time you
are thinking of me: a certainty lying far outside what I can see.

Beloved, if great happiness may be set to any words, it is here! If
silence goes better with it,--speak, silence, for me when I end now!

Good-night, and think greatly of me! I shall wake early.


L.

Dearest: Was my heart at all my own,--was it my own to give, till you came
and made me aware of how much it contains? Truly, dear, it contained
nothing before, since now it contains you and nothing else. So I have a
brand-new heart to give away: and you, you want it and can't see that
there it is staring you in the face like a rose with all its petals ready
to drop.

I am quite sure that if I had not met you, I could have loved nobody as I
love you. Yet it is very likely that I should have loved--sufficiently, as
the way of the world goes. It is not a romantic confession, but it is true
to life: I do so genuinely like most of my fellow-creatures, and am not
happy except where shoulders rub socially:--that is to say, have not until
now been happy, except dependently on the company and smiles of others.
Now, Beloved, I have none of your company, and have had but few of your
smiles (I could count them all); yet I have become more happy filling up
my solitude with the understanding of you which has made me wise, than
all the rest of fate or fortune could make me. Down comes autumn's sad
heart and finds me gay; and the asters, which used to chill me at their
appearing, have come out like crocuses this year because it is the
beginning of a new world.

And all the winter will carry more than a suspicion of summer with it,
just as the longest days carry round light from northwest to northeast,
because so near the horizon, but out of sight, lies their sun. So you,
Beloved, so near to me now at last, though out of sight.


M.

Beloved: Whether I have sorry or glad things to think about, they are
accompanied and changed by thoughts of you. You are my diary:--all goes to
you now. That you love me is the very light by which I see everything.
Also I learn so much through having you in my thoughts: I cannot say how
it is, for I have no more knowledge of life than I had before:--yet I am
wiser, I believe, knowing much more what lives at the root of things and
what men have meant and felt in all they have done:--because I love you,
dearest. Also I am quicker in my apprehensions, and have more joy and more
fear in me than I had before. And if this seems to be all about myself,
it is all about you really, Beloved!

Last week one of my dearest old friends, our Rector, died: a character you
too would have loved. He was a father to the whole village, rather stern
of speech, and no respecter of persons. Yet he made a very generous
allowance for those who did not go through the church door to find their
salvation. I often went only because I loved him: and he knew it.

I went for that reason alone last Sunday. The whole village was full of
closed blinds: and of all things over him Chopin's Funeral March was
played!--a thing utterly unchristian in its meaning: wild pagan grief,
desolate over lost beauty. "Balder the beautiful is dead, is dead!" it
cried: and I thought of you suddenly; you, who are not Balder at all.
Too many thorns have been in your life, but not the mistletoe stroke
dealt by a blind god ignorantly. Yet in all great joy there is the
Balder element: and I feared lest something might slay it for me, and my
life become a cry like Chopin's march over mown-down unripened grass,
and youth slain in its high places.

After service a sort of processional instinct drew people up to the house:
they waited about till permission was given, and went in to look at their
old man, lying in high state among his books. I did not go. Beloved, I
have never yet seen death: you have, I know. Do you, I wonder, remember
your father better than I mine:--or your brother? Are they more living
because you saw them once not living? I think death might open our eyes to
those we lived on ill terms with, but not to the familiar and dear. I do
not need you dead, to be certain that your heart has mine for its true
inmate and mine yours.

I love you, I love you: so let good-night bring you good-morning!


N.

At long intervals, dearest, I write to you a secret all about yourself for
my eyes to see: because, chiefly because, I have not you to look at. Thus
I bless myself with you.

Away over the world west of this and a little bit north is the city of
spires where you are now. Never having seen it I am the more free to
picture it as I like: and to me it is quite full of you:--quite greedily
full, Beloved, when elsewhere you are so much wanted! I send my thoughts
there to pick up crumbs for me.

It is a strange blend of notions--wisdom and ignorance combined: for
_you_ I seem to know perfectly; but of your life nothing at all. And
yet nobody there knows so much about you as I. What you _do_ matters so
much less than what you are. You, who are the clearest heart in all the
world, do what you will, you are so still to me, Beloved.

I take a happy armful of thoughts about you into all my dreams: and when
I wake they are there still, and have done nothing but remain true. What
better can I ask of them?

You do love me: you have not changed? Without change I remain yours so
long as I live.


O.

And you, Beloved, what are you thinking of me all this while? Think well
of me, I beg you: I deserve so much, loving you as truly as I do!

So often, dearest, I sit thinking my hands into yours again as when we
were saying good-by the last time. Then it was, under our laughter and
light words, that I saw suddenly how the thing too great to name had
become true, that from friends we were changed into lovers. It seemed the
most natural thing to be, and yet was wonderful--for it was I who loved
you first: a thing I could never be ashamed of, and am now proud to
own--for has it not proved me wise? My love for you is the best wisdom
that I have. Good-night, dearest! Sleep as well as I love you, and nobody
in the world will sleep so soundly.


P.

A few times in my life, Beloved, I have had the Blue-moon-hunger for
something which seemed too impossible and good ever to come true: prosaic
people call it being "in the blues"; I comfort myself with a prettier word
for it. To-day, not the Blue-moon itself, but the Man of it came down and
ate plum-porridge with me! Also, I do believe that it burnt his mouth, and
am quite reasonably happy thinking so, since it makes me know that you
love me as much as ever.

If I have had doubts, dearest, they have been of myself, lest I might be
unworthy of your friendship or love. Suspicions of you I never had.

Who wrote that suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds, flying
only by twilight?

But even my doubts have been thoughts, Beloved,--sure of you if not always
of myself. And if I have looked for you only with doubtful vision, yet I
have always seen you in as strong a light as my eyes could bear:--
blue-moonlight. Beloved, is not twilight: and blue-moonlight has been the
light I saw you by: it is you alone who can make sunlight of it.

This I read yesterday has lain on my mind since as true and altogether
beautiful, with the beauty of major, not of minor poetry, though it was
a minor poet who wrote it. It is of a wood where Apollo has gone in
quest of his Beloved, and she is not yet to be found:

      "Here each branch
    Sway'd with a glitter all its crowded leaves,
    And brushed the soft divine hair touching them
    In ruffled clusters....

      Suddenly the moon
    Smoothed herself out of vapor-drift and made
    The deep night full of pleasure in the eye
    Of her sweet motion. Not alone she came
    Leading the starlight with her like a song:
    And not a bud of all that undergrowth
    But crisped and tingled out an ardent edge
    As the light steeped it: over whose massed leaves
    The portals of illimitable sleep
    Faded in heaven."

That is love in its moonrise, not its sunrise stage: yet you see.
Beloved, how it takes possession of its dark world, quite as fully as
the brighter sunlight could do. And if I speak of doubts, I mean no
twilight and no suspicions: nor by darkness do I mean any unhappiness.

My blue-moon has come, leading the starlight with her like a song. Am I
not happy enough to be patiently yours before you know it? Good things
which are to be, before they happen are already true. Nothing is so true
as you are, except my love for you and yours for me. Good-night,
good-night.

Sleep well, Beloved, and wake.


Q.

Beloved: I heard somebody yesterday speak of you as "charming"; and I
began wondering to myself was that the word which could ever have covered
my thoughts of you? I do not know whether you ever charmed me, except in
the sense of charming which means magic and spell-binding. _That_ you did
from the beginning, dearest. But I think I held you at first in too much
awe to discover charm in you: and at last knew you too much to the depths
to name you by a word so lightly used for the surface of things. Yet now a
charm in you, which is not _all_ you, but just a part of you, comes to
light, when I see you wondering whether you are really loved, or whether,
Beloved, I only _like_ you rather well!

Well, if you will be so "charming," I am helpless: and can do nothing,
nothing, but pray for the blue-moon to rise, and love you a little better
because you have some of that divine foolishness which strikes the very
wise ones of earth, and makes them kin to weaker mortals who otherwise
might miss their "charm" altogether.

Truly, Beloved, if I am happy, it is because I am also your most patiently
loving.


R.

Beloved: The certainty which I have now that you love me so fills all my
thoughts, I cannot understand you being in any doubt on your side. What
must I do that I do not do, to show gladness when we meet and sorrow when
we have to part? I am sure that I make no pretense or disguise, except
that I do not stand and wring my hands before all the world, and cry
"Don't go!"--which has sometimes been in my mind, to be kept _not_ said!

Indeed, I think so much of you, my dear, that I believe some day, if you
do your part, you will only have to look up from your books to find me
standing. If you did, would you still be in doubt whether I loved you?

Oh, if any apparition of me ever goes to you, all my thoughts will surely
look truthfully out of its eyes; and even you will read what is there at
last!

Beloved, I kiss your blind eyes, and love them the better for all their
unreadiness to see that I am already their slave. Not a day now but I
think I may see you again: I am in a golden uncertainty from hour to hour.

I love you: you love me: a mist of blessing swims over my eyes as I write
the words, till they become one and the same thing: I can no longer divide
their meaning in my mind. Amen: there is no need that I should.


S.

Beloved: I have not written to you for quite a long time: ah, I could not.
I have nothing now to say! I think I could very easily die of this great
happiness, so certainly do you love me! Just a breath more of it and I
should be gone.

Good-by, dearest, and good-by, and good-by! If you want letters from me
now, you must ask for them! That the earth contains us both, and that we
love each other, is about all that I have mind enough to take in. I do not
think I can love you more than I do: you are no longer my dream but my
great waking thought. I am waiting for no blue-moonrise now: my heart has
not a wish which you do not fulfill. I owe you my whole life, and for any
good to you must pay it out to the last farthing, and still feel myself
your debtor.

Oh, Beloved, I am most poor and most rich when I think of your love.
Good-night; I can never let thought of you go!

       *       *       *       *       *

Beloved: These are almost all of them, but not quite; a few here and there
have cried to be taken out, saying they were still too shy to be looked
at. I can't argue with them: they know their own minds best; and you know
mine.

See what a dignified historic name I have given this letter-box, or
chatterbox, or whatever you like to call it. But "Resurrection Pie" is
_my_ name for it. Don't eat too much of it, prays your loving.


Love LETTER XXII
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
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Why, my Beloved: Since you put it to me as a point of conscience (it is
only lying on your back with one active leg doing nothing, and the other
dying to have done aching, which has made you take this new start of
inquiring within upon everything), since you call on me for a
conscientious answer, I say that it stands to reason that I love you more
than you love me, because there is so much more of you to love, let alone
fit for loving.

Do you imagine that you are going to be a cripple for life, and therefore
an indifferent dancer in the dances I shall always be leading you, that
you have started this fit of self-depreciation? Or is it because I have
thrown Meredith at your sick head that you doubt my tact and my affection,
and my power patiently to bear for your sake a good deal of cold shoulder?
Dearest, remember I am doctoring you from a distance: and am not yet
allowed to come and see my patient, so can only judge from your letters
how ill you are. That you have been concealing from me almost
treacherously: and only by a piece of abject waylaying did I receive word
to-day of your sleepless nights, and so get the key to your symptoms. Lay
by Meredith, then, for a while: I am sending you a cargo of Stevenson
instead. You have been truly unkind, trying to read what required effort,
when you were fit for nothing of the sort.

And lest even Stevenson should be too much for you, and wanting very much,
and perhaps a little bit jealously, to be your most successful nurse, I am
letting my last large bit of shyness of you go; and with a pleasant sort
of pain, because I know I have hit on a thing that will please you, I open
my hands and let you have these, and with them goes my last blush:
henceforth I am a woman without a secret, and all your interest in me may
evaporate. Yet I know well it will not.

As for this resurrection pie from love's dead-letter office, you will
find from it at least one thing--how much I depended upon response from
you before I could become at all articulate. It is you, dearest, from
the beginning who have set my head and heart free and made me a woman. I
am something quite different from the sort of child I was less than a
year ago when I wrote that small prayer which stands sponsor for all
that follows. How abundantly it has been answered, dearest Beloved,
only I know: you do not!

Now my prayer is not that you should "come true," but that you should
get well. Do this one little thing for me, dearest! For you I will do
anything: my happiness waits for that. As yet I seem to have done
nothing. Oh, but, Beloved, I will! From a reading of the Fioretti, I
sign myself as I feel.--Your glorious poor little one.


Love LETTER XXI
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Dearest: I am in a simple mood to-day, and give you the benefit of it:
I shall become complicated again presently, and you will hear from me
directly that happens.

The house only emptied itself this morning; I may say emptied, for the
remainder fits like a saint into her niche, and is far too comfortable
to count. This is C----, whom you only once met, when she sat so much in
the background that you will not remember her. She has one weakness, a
thirst between meals--the blameless thirst of a rabid teetotaler. She
hides cups of cold tea about the place, as a dog its bones: now and then
one gets spilled or sat on, and when she hears of the accident, she
looks thirsty, with a thirst which only _that_ particular cup of tea
could have quenched. In no other way is she any trouble: indeed, she is
a great dear, and has the face of a Madonna, as beautiful as an
apocryphal gospel to look at and "make believe" in.

Arthur, too, like the rest of them, when he came over to give me his
brotherly blessing, wished to know what you were like. I didn't pretend
to remember your outward appearance too well,--told him you looked like
a common or garden Englishman, and roused his suspicions by so careless
a championship of my choice. He accused me of being in reality highly
sentimental about you, and with having at that moment your portrait
concealed and strung around my neck in a locket. Mother-Aunt stood up
for me against him, declaring I was "too sensible a girl for nonsense of
that sort." (It is a little weakness of hers, you know, to resent
extremes of endearment towards anyone but herself in those she has
"brooded," and she has thought us hitherto most restrained and
proper--as, indeed, have we not been?) Arthur and I exchanged tokens of
truce: in a little while off went my aunt to bed, leaving us alone.
Then, for he is the one of us that I am most frank with: "Arthur," cried
I, and up came your little locket like a bucket from a well, for him to
have his first sight of you, my Beloved. He objected that he could not
see faces in a nutshell; and I suppose others cannot: only I.

He, too, is gone. If you had been coming he would have spared another
day--for to-day _was_ planned and dated, you will remember--and we would
have ridden halfway to meet you. But, as fate has tripped you, and made
all comings on your part indefinite, he sends you his hopes for a later
meeting.

How is your poor foot? I suppose, as it is ill, I may send it a kiss by
post and wish it well? I do. Truly, you are to let me know if it gives
you much pain, and I will lie awake thinking of you. This is not
sentimental, for if one knows that a friend is occupied over one's
sleeplessness one feels the comfort.

I am perplexed how else to give you my company: your mother, I know,
could not yet truly welcome me; and I wish to be as patient as possible,
and not push for favors that are not offered. So I cannot come and ask
to take you out in _her_ carriage, nor come and carry you away in mine.
We must try how fast we can hold hands at a distance.

I have kept up to where you have been reading in "Richard Feverel,"
though it has been a scramble: for I have less opportunity of reading, I
with my feet, than you without yours. In _your_ book I have just got to
the smuggling away of General Monk in the perforated coffin, and my
sense of history capitulates in an abandonment of laughter. I yield! The
Gaul's invasion of Britain always becomes broad farce when he attempts
it. This in clever ludicrousness beats the unintentional comedy of
Victor Hugo's "John-Jim-Jack" as a name typical of Anglo-Saxon
christenings. But Dumas, through a dozen absurdities, knows apparently
how to stalk his quarry: so large a genius may play the fool and remain
wise.

You see I have given your author a warm welcome at last: and what about
you and mine? Tell me you love his women and I will not be jealous.
Indeed, outside him I don't know where to find a written English woman
of modern times whom I would care to meet, or could feel honestly bound
to look up to:--nowhere will I have her shaking her ringlets at me in
Dickens or Thackeray. Scott is simply not modern; and Hardy's women, if
they have nobility in them, get so cruelly broken on the wheel that you
get but the wrecks of them at last. It is only his charming baggages who
come to a good ending.

I like an author who has the courage and self-restraint to leave his noble
creations alive: too many try to ennoble them by death. For my part, if I
have to go out of life before you, I would gladly trust you to the hands
of Clara, or Rose, or Janet, or most of all Vittoria; though, to be
accurate, I fear they have all grown too old for you by now.

And you? have you any men to offer me in turn out of your literary
admirations, supposing you should die of a snapped ankle? Would you give
me to d'Artagnan for instance? Hardly, I suspect! But either choose me
some proxy hero, or get well and come to me! You will be very welcome
when you do. Sleep is making sandy eyes at me: good-night, dearest.
Love LETTER XX
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Yes, Dearest, "Patience!" but it is a virtue I have little enough of
naturally, and used to be taught to pray for as a child. And I remember
once really hurting clear Mother-Aunt's feelings by trying to repay her
for that teaching by a little iniquitous laughter at her expense. It was
too funny for me to feel very contrite about, as I do sometimes over quite
small things, or I would not be telling it you now (for there are things
in me I would conceal even from you). I dare say you wouldn't guess it,
but the M.-A. is a most long person over her private devotions. Perhaps it
was her own habit, with the cares of a household sometimes conflicting,
which made her recite to me so often her pet legend of a saintly person
who, constantly interrupted over her prayers by mundane matters, became a
pattern in patience out of these snippings of her godly desires. So, one
day, angels in the disguise of cross people with selfish demands on her
time came seeking to know where in her composition or composure
exasperation began: and finding none, they let her return in peace to her
missal, where for a reward all the letters had been turned into gold. "And
that, my dear, comes of patience," my aunt would say, till I grew a little
tired of the saying. I don't know what experience my uncle had gathered of
her patience under like circumstances: but I notice that to this day he
treads delicately, like Agag, when he knows her to be on her knees; and
prefers then to send me on his errands instead of doing them himself.

So it happened one day that he wanted a particular coat which had been put
away in her clothes-closet--and she was on her knees between him and it,
with the time of her Amen quite indefinite. I was sent, said my errand
briefly, and was permitted to fumble out her keys from her pocket while
she continued to kneel over her morning psalms.

What I brought to him turned out to be the wrong coat: I went back and
knocked for readmittance. Long-sufferingly she bade me to come in. I
explained, and still she repressed herself, only saying in a tone of
affliction, "Do see this time that you take the right one!"

After I had made my second selection, and proved it right on my uncle's
person, the parallelism of things struck me, and I skipped back to my
aunt's door and tapped. I got a low wailing "Yes?" for answer--a
monosyllabic substitute for the "How long, O Lord?" of a saint in
difficulties. When I called through the keyhole, "Are your psalms
written in gold?" she became really angry:--I suppose because the
miracle so well earned had not come to pass.

Well, dearest, if you have been patient with me over so much about
nothing, I pray this letter may appear to you written in gold. Why I
write so is, partly, that, it is bad for us both to be down in the
mouth, or with hearts down at heel: and so, since you cannot, I have to
do the dancing;--and, partly, because I found I had a bad temper on me
which needed curing, and being brought to the sun-go-down point of owing
no man anything. Which, sooner said, has finally been done; and I am
very meek now and loving to you, and everything belonging to you--not to
come nearer the sore point.

And I hope some day, some day, as a reward to my present submission,
that you will sprain your ankle in my company (just a very little bit
for an excuse) and let me have the nursing of it! It hurts my heart to
have your poor bones crying out for comfort that I am not to bring to
them. I feel robbed of a part of my domestic training, and may never
pick up what I have just lost. And I fear greatly you must have been
truly in pain to have put off Meredith for a day. If I had been at hand
to read to you, I flatter myself you would have liked him well, and
been soothed. You must take the will, Beloved, for the deed. I kiss you
now, as much as even you can demand; and when you get this I will be
thinking of you all over again.--When do I ever leave off? Love, love,
love till our next meeting-, and then more love still, and more!--Ever
your own.
Love LETTER XIX
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Dearest, Dearest: How long has this happened? You don't tell me the day or
the hour. Is it ever since you last wrote? Then you have been in pain and
grief for four days: and I not knowing anything about it! And you have no
hand in the house kind enough to let you dictate by it one small word to
poor me? What heartless merrymakings may I not have sent you to worry you,
when soothing was the one thing wanted? Well, I will not worry now, then;
neither at not being told, nor at not being allowed to come: but I will
come thus and thus, O my dear heart, and take you in my arms. And you will
be comforted, will you not be? when I tell you that even if you had no
legs at all, I would love you just the same. Indeed, dearest, so much of
you is a superfluity: just your heart against mine, and the sound of your
voice, would carry me up to more heavens than I could otherwise have
dreamed of. I may say now, now that I know it was not your choice, what a
void these last few days the lack of letters has been to me. I wondered,
truly, if you had found it well to put off such visible signs for a while
in order to appease one who, in other things more essential, sees you
rebellious. But the wonder is over now; and I don't want you to write--not
till a consultation of doctors orders it for the good of your health. I
will be so happy talking to you: also I am sending you books:--those I
wish you to read; and which now you _must_, since you have the leisure!
And I for my part will make time and read yours. Whose do you most want me
to read, that my education in your likings may become complete? What I
send you will not deprive me of anything: for I have the beautiful
complete set--your gift--and shall read side by side with you to realize
in imagination what the happiness of reading them for the first time ought
to be.

Yesterday, by a most unsympathetic instinct, I went out for a long tramp
on my two feet; and no ache in them came and told me of you! Over
Sillingford I sat on a bank and looked downhill where went a carter. And
I looked uphill where lay something which might be nothing--or not his.
Now, shall I make a fool of myself by pursuing to tell him he may have
dropped something, or shall I go on and see? So I went on and saw a coat
with a fat pocket: and by then he was out of sight, and perhaps it
wasn't his; and it was very hot and the hill steep. So I minded my own
business, making Cain's motto mine; and now feel so had, being quite
sure that it was his. And I wonder how many miles he will have tramped
back looking for it, and whether his dinner was in the pocket.

These unintentional misdoings are the "sins" one repents of all one's
life long: I have others stored away, the bitterest of small things done
or undone in haste and repented of at so much leisure afterwards. And
always done to people or things I had no grudge against, sometimes even
a love for. They are my skeletons: I will tell you of them some day.

This, dearest, is our first enforced absence from each other; and I feel
it almost more hard on me than on you. Beloved, let us lay our hearts
together and get comforted. It is not real separation to know that
another part of the world contains the rest of me. Oh, the rest of me,
the rest of me that you are! So, thinking of you, I can never be tired.
I rest yours.
Love LETTER XVIII
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
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Dearest: Not having had a letter from you this morning, I have read over
some back ones, and find in one a bidding which I have never fulfilled, to
tell you what I _do_ all day. Was that to avoid the too great length of my
telling you what I _think_? Yet you get more of me this way than that.
What I do is every day so much the same: while what I think is always
different. However, since you want a woman of action rather than of brain,
here I start telling you.

I wake punctual and hungry at the sound of Nan-nan's drawing of the
blinds: wait till she is gone (the old darling potters and tattles: it
is her most possessive moment of me in the day, except when I sham
headaches, and let her put me to bed); then I have my hand under my
pillow and draw out your last for a reading that has lost count whether
it is the twenty-second or the fifty-second time;--discover new beauties
in it, and run to the glass to discover new beauties in myself,--find
them; Benjy comes up with the post's latest, and behold, my day is
begun!

Is that the sort of thing you want to know? My days are without an
action worth naming: I only think swelling thoughts, and write some of
them: if ever I do anything worth telling, be sure I run a pen-and-ink
race to tell you. No, it is man who _does_ things; a woman only diddles
(to adapt a word of diminutive sound for the occasion), unless, good,
fortunate, independent thing, she works for her own living: and that is
not me!

I feel sometimes as if a real bar were between me and a whole conception
of life; because I have carpets and curtains, and Nan-nan, and Benjy,
and last of all you--shutting me out from the realities of existence.

If you would all leave me just for one full moon, and come back to me
only when I am starving for you all--for my tea to be brought to me in
the morning, and all the paddings and cushionings which bolster me up
from morning till night--with what a sigh of wisdom I would drop back
into your arms, and would let you draw the rose-colored curtains round
me again!

Now I am afraid lest I have become too happy: I am leaning so far out of
window to welcome the dawn, I seem to be tempting a fall--heaven itself
to fall upon me.

What do I _know_ truly, who only know so much happiness?

Dearest, if there is anything else in love which I do not know, teach it
me quickly: I am utterly yours. If there is sorrow to give, give it me!
Only let me have with it the consciousness of your love.

Oh, my dear, I lose myself if I think of you so much. What would life
have without you in it? The sun would drop from my heavens. I see only
by you! you have kissed me on the eyes. You are more to me than my own
poor brain could ever have devised: had I started to invent Paradise, I
could not have invented _you_. But perhaps you have invented me: I am
something new to myself since I saw you first. God bless you for it!

Even if you were to shut your eyes at me now--though I might go blind,
you could not unmake me:--"The gods themselves cannot recall their
gifts." Also that I am yours is a gift of the gods, I will trust: and
so, not to be recalled!

Kiss me, dearest; here where I have written this! I am yours, Beloved. I
kiss you again and again.--Ever your own making.
Love LETTER XVII
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Dearest: Do I not write you long letters? It reveals my weakness. I have
thought (it had been coming on me, and now and then had broken out of me
before I met you) that, left to myself, I should have become a writer of
books--I scarcely can guess what sort--and gone contentedly into
middle-age with that instead of _this_ as my _raison d'être_.

How gladly I lay down that part of myself, and say--"But for you, I had
been this quite other person, whom I have no wish to be now"! Beloved,
your heart is the shelf where I put all my uncut volumes, wondering a
little what sort of a writer I should have made; and chiefly wondering,
would _you_ have liked me in that character?

There is one here in the family who considers me a writer of the darkest
dye, and does not approve of it. Benjy comes and sits most mournfully
facing me when I settle down on a sunny morning, such as this, to write:
and inquires, with all the dumbness a dog is capable of--"What has come
between us, that you fill up your time and mine with those cat's-claw
scratchings, when you should be in your woodland dress running [with] me
through damp places?"

Having written this sentimental meaning into his eyes, and Benjy still
sitting watching me, I was seized with ruth for my neglect of him, and
took him to see his mother's grave. At the bottom of the long walk is our
dog's cemetery:--no tombstones, but mounds; and a dog-rose grows there and
flourishes as nowhere else. It was my fancy as a child to have it planted:
and I declare to you, it has taken wonderfully to the notion, as if it
_knew_ that it had relations of a higher species under its keeping. Benjy,
too, has a profound air of knowing, and never scratches for bones there,
as he does in other places. What horror, were I to find him digging up his
mother's skeleton! Would my esteem for him survive?

When we got there to-day, he deprecated my choice of locality, asking
what I had brought him _there_ for. I pointed out to him the precise
mound which covered the object of his earliest affections, and gathered
you these buds. Are they not a deep color for wild ones?--if their blush
remains a fixed state till the post brings them to you.

Through what flower would you best like to be passed back, as regards
your material atoms, into the spiritualized side of nature, when we
have done with ourselves in this life? No single flower quite covers all
my wants and aspirations. You and I would put our heads together
underground and evolve a new flower--"carnation, lily, lily, rose"--and
send it up one fine morning for scientists to dispute over and give
diabolical learned names to. What an end to our cozy floral
collaboration that would be!

Here endeth the epistle: the elect salutes you. This week, if the
authorities permit, I shall be paying you a flying visit, with wings
full of eyes,--_and_, I hope, healing; for I believe you are seedy, and
that _that_ is what is behind it. You notice I have not complained.
Dearest, how could I! My happiness reaches to the clouds--that is, to
where things are not quite clear at present. I love you no more than I
ought: yet far more than I can name. Good-night and good-morning.--Your
star, since you call me so.
Love LETTER XVI
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
But, Dearest: When I think of you I never question whether what I think
would be true or false in the eyes of others. All that concerns you seems
to go on a different plane where evidence has no meaning or existence:
where nobody exists or means anything, but only we two alone, engaged in
bringing about for ourselves the still greater solitude of two into one.
Oh, Beloved, what a company that will be! Take me in your arms, fasten me
to your heart, breathe on me. Deny me either breath or the light of day: I
am yours equally, to live or die at your word. I shut my eyes to feel your
kisses falling on me like rain, or still more like sunshine,--yet most of
all like kisses, my own dearest and best beloved!

Oh, we two! how wonderful we seem! And to think that there have been
lovers like us since the world began: and the world not able to tell us
one little word of it:--not well, so as to be believed--or only along
with sadness where Fate has broken up the heavens which lay over some
pair of lovers. Oenone's cry, "Ah me, my mountain shepherd," tells us
of the joy when it has vanished, and most of all I get it in that song
of wife and husband which ends:--

    "Not a word for you,
       Not a lock or kiss,
         Good-by.
     We, one, must part in two;
       Verily death is this:
         I must die."

It was a woman wrote that: and we get love there! Is it only when joy is
past that we can give it its full expression? Even now, Beloved, I break
down in trying to say how I love you. I cannot put all my joy into my
words, nor all my love into my lips, nor all my life into your arms,
whatever way I try. Something remains that I cannot express. Believe,
dearest, that the half has not yet been spoken, neither of my love for
you, nor of my trust in you,--nor of a wish that seems sad, but comes in a
very tumult of happiness--the wish to die so that some unknown good may
come to you out of me.

Not till you die, dearest, shall I die truly! I love you now too much for
your heart not to carry me to its grave, though I should die now, and you
live to be a hundred. I pray you may! I cannot choose a day for you to
die. I am too grateful to life which has given me to you to say--if I
were dying--"Come with me, dearest!" Though, how the words tempt me as I
write them!--Come with me, dearest: yes, come! Ah, but you kiss me more, I
think, when we say good-by than when meeting; so you will kiss me most of
all when I have to die:--a thing in death to look forward to! And, till
then,--life, life, till I am out of my depth in happiness and drown in
your arms!

Beloved, that I can write so to you,--think what it means; what you have
made me come through in the way of love, that this, which I could not have
dreamed before, comes from me with the thought of you! You told me to be
still--to let you "worship": I was to write back acceptance of all your
dear words. Are you never to be at my feet, you ask. Indeed, dearest, I do
not know how, for I cannot move from where I am! Do you feel where my
thoughts kiss you? You would be vexed with me if I wrote it down, so I do
not. And after all, some day, under a bright star of Providence, I may
have gifts for you after my own mind which will allow me to grow proud.
Only now all the giving comes from you. It is I who am enriched by your
love, beyond knowledge of my former self. Are _you_ changed, dearest, by
anything I have done?

My heart goes to you like a tree in the wind, and all these thoughts are
loose leaves that fly after you when I have to remain behind. Dear lover,
what short visits yours seem! and the Mother-Aunt tells me they are most
unconscionably long.--You will not pay any attention to _that_, please:
forever let the heavens fall rather than that a hint to such foul effect
should grow operative through me!

This brings you me so far as it can:--such little words off so great a
body of--"liking" shall I call it? My paper stops me: it is my last sheet:
I should have to go down to the library to get more--else I think I could
not cease writing.

More love than I can name.--Ever, dearest, your own.
Love LETTER XV
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
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You told me, dearest, that I should find your mother formidable. It is
true; I did. She is a person very much in the grand pagan style: I admire
it, but I cannot flow in that sort of company, and I think she meant to
crush me. You were very wise to leave her to come alone.

I like her: I mean I believe that under that terribleness she has a
heart of gold, which once opened would never shut: but she has not
opened it to me. I believe she could have a great charity, that no
evil-doing would dismay her: "stanch" sums her up. But I have done
nothing wrong enough yet to bring me into her good graces. Loving her
son, even, though, I fear, a great offense, has done me no good turn.

Perhaps that is her inconsistency: women are sure to be inconsistent
somewhere: it is their birthright.

I began to study her at once, to find _you_: it did not take long. How I
could love her, if she would let me!

You know her far far better than I, and want no advice: otherwise I
would say--never praise me to her; quote my follies rather! To give
ground for her distaste to revel in will not deepen me in her bad books
so much as attempts to warp her judgment.

I need not go through it all: she will have told you all that is to the
purpose about our meeting. She bristled in, a brave old fighting figure,
announcing compulsion in every line, but with all her colors flying. She
waited for the door to close, then said, "My son has bidden me come, I
suppose it is my duty: he is his own master now."

We only shook hands. Our talk was very little of you. I showed her all the
horses, the dogs, and the poultry; she let the inspection appear to
conclude with myself: asked me my habits, and said I looked healthy. I
owned I felt it. "Looks and feelings are the most deceptive things in the
world," she told me; adding that "poor stock" got more than its share of
these. And when she said it I saw quite plainly that she meant me.

I wonder where she gets the notion: for we are a long-lived race, both
sides of the family. I guessed that she would like frankness, and was as
frank as I could be, pretending no deference to her objections. "You
think you suit each other?" she asked me. My answer, "He suits me!"
pleased her maternal palate, I think. "Any girl might say that!" she
admitted. (She might indeed!)

This is the part of our interview she will not have repeated to you.

I was due at Hillyn when she was preparing to go: Aunt N---- came in,
and I left her to do the honors while I slipped on my habit. I rode by
your mother's carriage as far as the Greenway, where we branched. I
suppose that is what her phrase means that you quote about my "making a
trophy of her," and marching her a prisoner across the borders before
all the world!

I do like her: she is worth winning.--Can one say warmer of a future
mother-in-law who stands hostile?

All the same it was an ordeal. I believe I have wept since: for Benjy
scratched my door often yesterday evening, and looked most wistful when
I came out. Merely paltry self-love, dearest:--I am so little accustomed
to not being--liked.

I think she will be more gracious in her own house. I have her formal
word that I am to come. Soon, not too soon, I will come over; and you
shall meet me and take me to see her. There is something in her
opposition that I can't fathom: I wondered twice was lunacy her notion:
she looked at me so hard.

My mother's seclusion and living apart from us was not on _that_
account. I often saw her: she was very dear and sweet to me, and had
quiet eyes the very reverse of a person mentally deranged. My father, I
know, went to visit her when she lay dying; and I remember we all wore
mourning. My uncle has told me they had a deep regard for each other:
but disagreed, and were independent enough to choose living apart.

I do not remember my father ever speaking of her to us as children: but
I am sure there was no state of health to be concealed.

Last night I was talking to Aunt N---- about her. "A very dear woman,"
she told me, "but your father was never so much alive to her worth as
the rest of us." Of him she said, "A dear, fine fellow: but not at all
easy to get on with." Him, of course, I have a continuous recollection
of, and "a fine fellow" we did think him. My mother comes to me more
rarely, at intervals.

Don't talk me down your mother's throat: but tell her as much as she cares
to know of this. I am very proud of my "stock" which she thinks "poor"!

Dear, how much I have written on things which can never concern us
finally, and so should not ruffle us while they last! Hold me in your
heart always, always; and the world may turn adamant to me for aught I
care! Be in my dreams to-night!
Love LETTER XIV
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Own Dearest: Come I did not think that you would, or mean that you should
seriously; for is it not a poor way of love to make the object of it cut
an absurd or partly absurd figure? I wrote only as a woman having a secret
on the tip of her tongue and the tips of her fingers, and full of a
longing to say it and send it.

Here it is at last: love me for it, I have worked so hard to get it done!
And you do not know why and what for? Beloved, it--_this_--is the
anniversary of the day we first met; and you have forgotten it already or
never remembered it:--and yet have been clamoring for "the letters"!

On the first anniversary of our marriage, _if you remember it_, you shall
have those same letters: and not otherwise. So there they lie safe till
doomsday!

The M.-A. has been very gracious and clear after her little outbreak of
yesterday: her repentances, after I have hurt her feelings, are so gentle
and sweet, they always fill me with compunction. Finding that I would go
on with the thing I was doing, she volunteered to come and read to me: a
requiem over the bone of contention which we had gnawed between us. Was
not that pretty and charitable? She read Tennyson's Life for a solid
hour, and continued it to-day. Isn't it funny that she should take up such
a book?--she who "can't abide" Tennyson or Browning or Shakespeare: only
likes Byron, I suppose because it was the right and fashionable liking
when she was young. Yet she is plodding through the Life religiously--only
skipping the verses. I have come across two little specimens of "Death and
the child" in it. His son, Lionel, was carried out in a blanket one night
in the great comet year, and waking up under the stars asked, "Am I dead?"
Number two is of a little girl at Wellington's funeral who saw his charger
carrying his _boots_, and asked, "Shall I be like that after I die?"

A queer old lady came to lunch yesterday, a great traveler, though lame
on two crutches. We carefully hid all guide-books and maps, and held our
peace about next month, lest she should insist on coming too: though I
think Nineveh was the place she was most anxious to go to, if the M.-A.
would consent to accompany her!

Good-by, dearest of one-year-old acquaintances! you, too, send your
blessing on the anniversary, now that my better memory has reminded you
of it! All that follow we will bless in company. I trust you are
one-half as happy as I am, my own, my own.
Love LETTER XIII
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
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The letters? No, Beloved, I could not! Not yet. There you have caught me
where I own I am still shy of you.

A long time hence, when we are a safely wedded pair, you shall turn them
over. It _may_ be a short time; but I will keep them however long. Indeed
I must ever keep them; they talk to me of the dawn of my existence,--the
early light before our sun rose, when my love of you was growing and had
not yet reached its full.

If I disappoint you I will try to make up for it with something I wrote
long before I ever saw you. To-day I was turning over old things my mother
had treasured for me of my childhood--of days spent with her: things of
laughter as well as of tears; such a dear selection, so quaint and sweet,
with moods of her as I dimly remember her to have been. And among them was
this absurdity, written, and I suppose placed in the mouth of my stocking,
the Christmas I stayed with her in France. I remember the time as a great
treat, but nothing of this. "Nilgoes" is "Nicholas," you must understand!
How he must have laughed over me asleep while he read this!

     "Cher père Nilgoes. S'il vous plait voulez vous me donné
     plus de jeux que des oranges des pommes et des pombons parc
     que nous allons faire l'arbre de noel cette anné et les
     jeaux ferait mieux pour l'arbre de Noel. Il ne faut pas dire
     à petite mere s'il vous plait parce que je ne veut pas
     quelle sache sil vous voulez venir ce soir du ceil pour que
     vous pouvez me donner ce que je vous demande Dites bon jour
     á la St. Viearge est à l'enfant Jeuses et à Ste Joseph.
     Adieu cher St. Nilgoes."

I haven't altered the spelling, I love it too well, prophetic of a fault
I still carry about me. How strange that little bit of invocation to the
dear folk above sounds to me now! My mother must have been teaching me
things after her own persuasion; most naturally, poor dear one--though
that too has gone like water off my mind. It was one of the troubles
between her and my father: the compact that I was to be brought up a
Catholic was dissolved after they separated; and I am sorry, thinking it
unjust to her; yet glad, content with being what I am.

I must have been less than five when I penned this: I was always a
letter-writer, it seems.

It is a reproach now from many that I have ceased to be: and to them I
fear it is true. That I have not truly ceased, "witness under my hand
these presents,"--or whatever may be the proper legal terms for an
affidavit.

What were _you_ like, Beloved, as a very small child? Should I have loved
you from the beginning had we toddled to the rencounter; and would my love
have passed safely through the "gallous young hound" period; and could I
love you more now in any case, had I _all_ your days treasured up in my
heart, instead of less than a year of them?

How strangely much have seven miles kept our fates apart! It seems
uncharacteristic for this small world,--where meetings come about so far
above the dreams of average--to have played us such a prank.

This must do for this once, Beloved; for behold me busy to-day: with
_what_, I shall not tell you. I would like to put you to a test, as
ladies did their knights of old, and hardly ever do now--fearing, I
suppose, lest the species should altogether fail them at the pinch. I
would like to see if you could come here and sit with me from beginning
to end, _with your eyes shut_: never once opening them. I am not saying
whether I think curiosity, or affection, would make the attempt too
difficult. But if you were sure you could, you might come here
to-morrow--a day otherwise interdicted. Only know, having come, that if
you open those dear cupboards of vision and set eyes on things not yet
intended to be looked at, there will be confusion of tongues in this
Tower we are building whose top is to reach heaven. Will you come? I
don't _say_ "come"; I only want to know--will you?

To-day my love flies low over the earth like a swallow before rain, and
touching the tops of the flowers has culled you these. Kiss them until
they open: they are full of my thoughts, as the world, to me, is full of
you.
Love LETTER XI
Posted by Bling King Jul 1st 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Oh, Dearest: I have danced and I have danced till I am tired! I
am dropping with sleep, but I must just touch you and say good-night.
This was our great day of publishing, dearest, _ours_: all the world
knows it; and all admire your choice! I was determined they should. I
have been collecting scalps for you to hang at your girdle. All thought
me beautiful: people who never did so before. I wanted to say to them,
"Am I not beautiful? I am, am I not?" And it was not for myself I was
asking this praise. Beloved, I was wearing the magic rose--what you gave
me when we parted: you saying, alas, that you were not to be there. But
you _were_! Its leaves have not dropped nor the scent of it faded. I
kiss you out of the heart of it. Good-night: come to me in my first
dream!
Love LETTER X.
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Dearest: Did you find your letter? The quicker I post, the quicker I need
to sit down and write again. The grass under love's feet never stops
growing: I must make hay of it while the sun shines.

You say my metaphors make you giddy.--My clear, you, without a metaphor
in your composition, do that to me! So it is not for you to complain;
your curses simply fly back to roost. Where do you pigeon-hole them? In
a pie? (I mean to write now until I have made you as giddy as a dancing
dervish!) _Your_ letters are much more like blackbirds: and I have a pie
of them here, twenty-four at least; and when I open it they sing
"Chewee, chewee, chewee!" in the most scared way!

Your last but three said most solemnly, just as if you meant it, "I hope
you don't keep these miserables! Though I fill up my hollow hours with
them, there is no reason why they should fill up yours." You added that
I was better occupied--and here I am "better occupied" even as you bid
me.

But one can jump best from a spring-board: and how could I jump as far
as your arms by letter, if I had not yours to jump from?

So you see they are kept, and my disobedience of you has begun: and I
find disobedience wonderfully sweet. But then, you gave me a law which
you knew I should disobey:--that is the way the world began. It is not
for nothing that I am a daughter of Eve.

And here is our world in our hands, yours and mine, now in the making.
Which day are the evening and the morning now? I think it must be the
birds'--and already, with the wings, disobedience has been reached! Make
much of it! the day will come when I shall wish to obey. There are
moments when I feel a wish taking hold of me stronger than I can
understand, that you should command me beyond myself--to things I have
not strength or courage for of my own accord. How close, dearest, when
that day comes, my heart will feel itself to yours! It feels close now:
but it is to your feet I am nearest, as yet. Lift me! There, there,
Beloved, I kiss you with all my will. Oh, dear heart, forgive me for
being no more than I am: your freehold to all eternity!
Love LETTER IX
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Beloved: Is the morning looking at you as it is looking at me? A little to
the right of the sun there lies a small cloud, filmy and faint, but enough
to cast a shadow somewhere. From this window, high up over the view, I
cannot see where the shadow of it falls,--further than my eye can reach:
perhaps just now over you, since you lie further west. But I cannot be
sure. We cannot be sure about the near things in this world; only about
what is far off and fixed.

You and I looking up see the same sun, if there are no clouds over us:
but we may not be looking at the same clouds even when both our hearts
are in shadow. That is so, even when hearts are as close together as
yours and mine: they respond to the same light: but each one has its own
roof of shadow, wearing its rue with a world of difference.

Why is it? why can no two of us have sorrows quite in common? What can
be nearer together than our wills to be one? In joy we are; and yet,
though I reach and reach, and sadden if you are sad, I cannot make your
sorrow my own.

I suppose sorrow is of the earth earthy: and all that is of earth makes
division. Every joy that belongs to the body casts shadows somewhere. I
wonder if there can enter into us a joy that has no shadow anywhere? The
joy of having you has behind it the shadow of parting; is there any way
of loving that would make parting no sorrow at all? To me, now, the idea
seems treason! I cling to my sorrow that you are not here: I send up my
cloud, as it were, to catch the sun's brightness: it is a kite that I
pull with my heart-strings.

To the sun of love the clouds that cover absence must look like white
flowers in the green fields of earth, or like doves hovering: and he
reaches down and strokes them with his warm beams, making all their
feathers like gold.

Some clouds let the gold come through; _mine_, now.--That cloud I saw
away to the right is coming this way toward me. I can see the shadow of
it now, moving along a far-off strip of road: and I wonder if it is
_your_ cloud, with you under it coming to see me again!

When you come, why am I any happier than when I know you are coming? It
is the same thing in love. I have you now all in my mind's eye; I have
you by heart; have I my arms a bit more round you then than now?

How it puzzles me that, when love is perfect, there should be
disappearances and reappearances: and faces now and then showing a
change!--You, actually, the last time you came, looking a day older than
the day before! What was it? Had old age blown you a kiss, or given you a
wrinkle in the art of dying? Or had you turned over some new leaf, and
found it withered on the other side?

I could not see how it was: I heard you coming--it was spring! The door
opened:--oh, it was autumnal! One day had fallen away like a leaf out of
my forest, and I had not been there to see it go!

At what hour of the twenty-four does a day shed itself out of our lives?
Not, I think, on the stroke of the clock, at midnight, or at cock-crow.
Some people, perhaps, would say--with the first sleep; and that the
"beauty-sleep" is the new day putting out its green wings. _I_ think it
must be not till something happens to make the new day a stronger
impression than the last. So it would please me to think that your
yesterday dropped off as you opened the door; and that, had I peeped and
seen you coming up the stairs, I should have seen you looking a day
younger.

_That_ means that you age at the sight of me! I think you do. I, I feel
a hundred on the road to immortality, directly your face dawns on me.

There's a foot gone over my grave! The angel of the resurrection with his
mouth pursed fast to his trumpet!--Nothing else than the gallop-a-gallop
of your horse:--it sounds like a kettle boiling over!

So this goes into hiding: listens to us all the while we talk; and comes
out afterwards with all its blushes stale, to be rouged up again and
sent off the moment your back is turned. No, better!--to be slipped into
your pocket and carried home to yourself _by_ yourself. How, when you
get to your destination and find it, you will curse yourself that you
were not a speedier postman!
Love LETTER VIII
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Now _why_, I want to know, Beloved, was I so specially "good" to you in my
last? I have been quite as good to you fifty times before,--if such a
thing can be from me to you. Or do you mean good _for_ you? Then, dear, I
must be sorry that the thing stands out so much as an exception!

Oh, dearest Beloved, for a little I think I must not love you so much,
or must not let you see it.

When does your mother return, and when am I to see her? I long to so
much. Has she still not written to you about our news?

I woke last night to the sound of a great flock of sheep going past. I
suppose they were going by forced marches to the fair over at Hylesbury:
It was in the small hours: and a few of them lifted up their voices and
complained of this robbery of night and sleep in the night. They were so
tired, so tired, they said: and so did the muffawully patter of their
poor feet. The lambs said most; and the sheep agreed with a husky
croak.

I said a prayer for them, and went to sleep again as the sound of the
lambs died away; but somehow they stick in my heart, those sad sheep
driven along through the night. It was in its degree like the woman
hurrying along, who said, "My God, my God!" that summer Sunday morning.
These notes from lives that appear and disappear remain endlessly; and I
do not think our hearts can have been made so sensitive to suffering we
can do nothing to relieve, without some good reason. So I tell you this,
as I would any sorrow of my own, because it has become a part of me, and
is underlying all that I think to-day.

I am to expect you the day after to-morrow, but "not for certain"? Thus
you give and you take away, equally blessed in either case. All the
same, I shall _certainly_ expect you, and be disappointed if on Thursday
at about this hour your way be not my way.

"How shall I my true love know" if he does not come often enough to see
me? Sunshine be on you all possible hours till we meet again.



Love LETTER VII
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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My Friend: Do you think this a cold way of beginning? I do not: is it not
the true send-off of love? I do not know how men fall in love: but I could
not have had that come-down in your direction without being your friend
first. Oh, my dear, and after, after; it is but a limitless friendship I
have grown into!

I have heard men run down the friendships of women as having little true
substance. Those who speak so, I think, have never come across a real
case of woman's friendship. I praise my own sex, dearest, for I know
some of their loneliness, which you do not: and until a certain date
their friendship was the deepest thing in life I had met with.

For must it not be true that a woman becomes more absorbed in friendship
than a man, since friendship may have to mean so much more to her, and
cover so far more of her life, than it does to the average man? However
big a man's capacity for friendship, the beauty of it does not fill his
whole horizon for the future: he still looks ahead of it for the mate
who will complete his life, giving his body and soul the complement
they require. Friendship alone does not satisfy him: he makes a bigger
claim on life, regarding certain possessions as his right.

But a woman:--oh, it is a fashion to say the best women are sure to find
husbands, and have, if they care for it, the certainty before them of a
full life. I know it is not so. There are women, wonderful ones, who
come to know quite early in life that no men will ever wish to make
wives of them: for them, then, love in friendship is all that remains,
and the strongest wish of all that can pass through their souls with
hope for its fulfillment is to be a friend to somebody.

It is man's arrogant certainty of his future which makes him impatient
of the word "friendship": it cools life to his lips, he so confident
that the headier nectar is his due!

I came upon a little phrase the other day that touched me so deeply: it
said so well what I have wanted to say since we have known each other.
Some peasant rhymer, an Irishman, is singing his love's praises, and
sinks his voice from the height of his passionate superlatives to call
her his "share of the world." Peasant and Irishman, he knew that his
fortune did not embrace the universe: but for him his love was just
that--his share of the world.

Surely when in anyone's friendship we seem to have gained our share of
the world, that is all that can be said. It means all that we can take
in, the whole armful the heart and senses are capable of, or that fate
can bestow. And for how many that must be friendship--especially for how
many women!

My dear, you are my share of the world, also my share of Heaven: but
there I begin to speak of what I do not know, as is the way with happy
humanity. All that my eyes could dream of waking or sleeping, all that
my ears could be most glad to hear, all that my heart could beat faster
to get hold of--your friendship gave me suddenly as a bolt from the
blue.

My friend, my friend, my friend! If you could change or go out of my
life now, the sun would drop out of my heavens: I should see the world
with a great piece gashed out of its side,--my share of it gone. No, I
should not see it, I don't think I should see anything ever again,--not
truly.

Is it not strange how often to test our happiness we harp on sorrow? I
do: don't let it weary you. I know I have read somewhere that great love
always entails pain. I have not found it yet: but, for me, it does mean
fear,--the sort of fear I had as a child going into big buildings. I
loved them: but I feared, because of their bigness, they were likely to
tumble on me.

But when I begin to think you may be too big for me, I remember you as
my "friend," and the fear goes for a time, or becomes that sort of fear
I would not part with if I might.

I have no news for you: only the old things to tell you, the wonder of
which ever remains new. How holy your face has become to me: as I saw it
last, with something more than the usual proofs of love for me upon
it--a look as if your love troubled you! I know the trouble: I feel it,
dearest, in my own woman's way. Have patience.--When I see you so, I
feel that prayer is the only way given me for saying what my love for
you wishes to be. And yet I hardly ever pray in words.

Dearest, be happy when you get this: and, when you can, come and give my
happiness its rest. Till then it is a watchman on the lookout.

"Night-night!" Your true sleepy one.


Love LETTER VI
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Beloved: I have been trusting to fate, while keeping silence, that
something from you was to come to-day and make me specially happy. And it
has: bless you abundantly! You have undone and got round all I said about
"jewelry," though this is nothing of the sort, but a shrine: so my word
remains. I have it with me now, safe hidden, only now and then it comes
out to have a look at me,--smiles and goes back again. Dearest, you must
_feel_ how I thank you, for I cannot say it: body and soul I grow too much
blessed with all that you have given me, both visibly and invisibly, and
always perfectly.

And as for the day: I have been thinking you the most uncurious of men,
because you had not asked: and supposed it was too early days yet for
you to remember that I had ever been born. To-day is my birthday! you
said nothing, so I said nothing; and yet this has come: I trusted my
star to show its sweet influences in its own way. Or, after all, did you
know, and had you asked anyone but me? Yet had you known, you would
have wished me the "happy returns" which among all your dear words to me
you do not. So I take it that the motion comes straight to you from
heaven; and, in the event, you will pardon me for having been still
secretive and shy in not telling what you did not inquire after.
_Yours_, I knew, dear, quite long ago, so had no need to ask you for it.
And it is six months before you will be in the same year with me again,
and give to twenty-two all the companionable sweetness that twenty-one
has been having.

Many happy returns of _my_ birthday to you, dearest! That is all that my
birthdays are for. Have you been happy to-day, I wonder? and am
wondering also whether this evening we shall see you walking quietly in
and making everything into perfection that has been trembling just on
the verge of it all day long.

One drawback of my feast is that I have to write short to you; for there
are other correspondents who on this occasion look for quick answers,
and not all of them to be answered in an offhand way. Except you, it is
the coziest whom I keep waiting; but elders have a way with them--even
kind ones: and when they condescend to write upon an anniversary, we
have to skip to attention or be in their bad books at once.

So with the sun still a long way out of bed, I have to tuck up these
sheets for you, as if the good of the day had already been sufficient
unto itself and its full tale had been told. Good-night. It is so hard
to take my hands off writing to you, and worry on at the same exercise
in another direction. I kiss you more times than I can count: it is
almost really you that I kiss now! My very dearest, my own sweetheart,
whom I so worship. Good-night! "Good-afternoon" sounds too funny: is
outside our vocabulary altogether. While I live, I must love you more
than I know!

Love LETTER VI
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Beloved: I have been trusting to fate, while keeping silence, that
something from you was to come to-day and make me specially happy. And it
has: bless you abundantly! You have undone and got round all I said about
"jewelry," though this is nothing of the sort, but a shrine: so my word
remains. I have it with me now, safe hidden, only now and then it comes
out to have a look at me,--smiles and goes back again. Dearest, you must
_feel_ how I thank you, for I cannot say it: body and soul I grow too much
blessed with all that you have given me, both visibly and invisibly, and
always perfectly.

And as for the day: I have been thinking you the most uncurious of men,
because you had not asked: and supposed it was too early days yet for
you to remember that I had ever been born. To-day is my birthday! you
said nothing, so I said nothing; and yet this has come: I trusted my
star to show its sweet influences in its own way. Or, after all, did you
know, and had you asked anyone but me? Yet had you known, you would
have wished me the "happy returns" which among all your dear words to me
you do not. So I take it that the motion comes straight to you from
heaven; and, in the event, you will pardon me for having been still
secretive and shy in not telling what you did not inquire after.
_Yours_, I knew, dear, quite long ago, so had no need to ask you for it.
And it is six months before you will be in the same year with me again,
and give to twenty-two all the companionable sweetness that twenty-one
has been having.

Many happy returns of _my_ birthday to you, dearest! That is all that my
birthdays are for. Have you been happy to-day, I wonder? and am
wondering also whether this evening we shall see you walking quietly in
and making everything into perfection that has been trembling just on
the verge of it all day long.

One drawback of my feast is that I have to write short to you; for there
are other correspondents who on this occasion look for quick answers,
and not all of them to be answered in an offhand way. Except you, it is
the coziest whom I keep waiting; but elders have a way with them--even
kind ones: and when they condescend to write upon an anniversary, we
have to skip to attention or be in their bad books at once.

So with the sun still a long way out of bed, I have to tuck up these
sheets for you, as if the good of the day had already been sufficient
unto itself and its full tale had been told. Good-night. It is so hard
to take my hands off writing to you, and worry on at the same exercise
in another direction. I kiss you more times than I can count: it is
almost really you that I kiss now! My very dearest, my own sweetheart,
whom I so worship. Good-night! "Good-afternoon" sounds too funny: is
outside our vocabulary altogether. While I live, I must love you more
than I know!
Love Letter V
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Most Beloved: I have been thinking, staring at this blank piece of paper,
and wondering how _there_ am I ever to say what I have in me here--not
wishing to say anything at all, but just to be! I feel that I am living
now only because you love me: and that my life will have run out, like
this penful of ink, when that use in me is past. Not yet, Beloved, oh, not
yet! Nothing is finished that we have to do and be:--hardly begun! I will
not call even this "midsummer," however much it seems so: it is still only
spring.

Every day your love binds me more deeply than I knew the day before: so
that no day is the same now, but each one a little happier than the last.
My own, you are my very own! And yet, true as that is, it is not so true
as that I am _your_ own. It is less absolute, I mean; and must be so,
because I cannot very well _take_ possession of anything when I am given
over heart and soul out of my own possession: there isn't enough identity
left in me, I am yours so much, so much! All this is useless to say, yet
what can I say else, if I have to begin saying anything?

Could I truly be your "star and goddess," as you call me, Beloved, I
would do you the service of Thetis at least (who did it for a greater
than herself)--

    "Bid Heaven and Earth combine their charms,
       And round you early, round you late,
     Briareus fold his hundred arms
      To guard you from your single fate."

But I haven't got power over an eight-armed octopus even: so am merely a
very helpless loving nonentity which merges itself most happily in you,
and begs to be lifted to no pedestal at all, at all.

If you love me in a manner that is at all possible, you will see that
"goddess" does not suit me. "Star" I would I were now, with a wide eye
to carry my looks to you over this horizon which keeps you invisible.
Choose one, if you will, dearest, and call it mine: and to me it shall
be yours: so that when we are apart and the stars come out, our eyes may
meet up at the same point in the heavens, and be "keeping company" for
us among the celestial bodies--with their permission: for I have too
lively a sense of their beauty not to be a little superstitious about
them. Have you not felt for yourself a sort of physiognomy in the
constellations,--most of them seeming benevolent and full of kind
regards:--but not all? I am always glad when the Great Bear goes away
from my window, fine beast though he is: he seems to growl at me! No
doubt it is largely a question of names; and what's in a name? In yours,
Beloved, when I speak it, more than I can compass!
Love LETTER IV
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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In all the world, dearest, what is more unequal than love between a man
and a woman? I have been spending an amorous morning and want to share it
with you: but lo, the task of bringing that bit of my life into your
vision is altogether beyond me.

What have I been doing? Dear man, I have been dressmaking! and dress,
when one is in the toils, is but a love-letter writ large. You will see
and admire the finished thing, but you will take no interest in the
composition. Therefore I say your love is unequal to mine.

For think how ravished I would be if you brought me a coat and told me
it was all your own making! One day you had thrown down a mere
tailor-made thing in the hall, and yet I kissed it as I went by. And
that was at a time when we were only at the handshaking stage, the
palsied beginnings of love:--_you_, I mean!

But oh, to get you interested in the dress I was making to you
to-day!--the beautiful flowing opening,--not too flowing: the elaborate
central composition where the heart of me has to come, and the wind-up
of the skirt, a long reluctant tailing-off, full of commas and colons of
ribbon to make it seem longer, and insertions everywhere. I dreamed
myself in it, retiring through the door after having bidden you
good-night, and you watching the long disappearing eloquence of that
tail, still saying to you as it vanished, "Good-by, good-by. I love you
so! see me, how slowly I am going!"

Well, that is a bit of my dress-making, a very corporate part of my
affection for you; and you are not a bit interested, for I have shown
you none of the seamy side; it is that which interests you male
creatures, Zolaites, every one of you.

And what have you to show similar, of the thought of me entering into
all your masculine pursuits? Do you go out rabbit-shooting for the love
of me? If so, I trust you make a miss of it every time! That you are a
sportsman is one of the very hardest things in life that I have to bear.

Last night Peterkins came up with me to keep guard against any further
intrusion of mice. I put her to sleep on the couch: but she discarded
the red shawl I had prepared for her at the bottom, and lay at the top
most uncomfortably in a parcel of millinery into which from one end I
had already made excavations, so that it formed a large bag. Into the
further end of this bag Turks crept and snuggled down: but every time
she turned in the night (and it seemed very often) the brown paper
crackled and woke me up. So at last I took it up and shook out its
contents; and Pippins slept soundly on red flannel till Nan-nan brought
the tea.

You will notice that in this small narrative Peterkins gets three names:
it is a fashion that runs through the household, beginning with the
Mother-Aunt, who on some days speaks of Nan-nan as "the old lady," and
sometimes as "that girl," all according to the two tempers she has about
Nan-nan's privileged position in regard to me.

You were only here yesterday, and already I want you again so much, so
much!

    Your never satisfied but always loving.


Love LETTER III
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Dearest and rightly Beloved: You cannot tell how your gift has pleased me;
or rather you _can_, for it shows you have a long memory back to our first
meeting: though at the time I was the one who thought most of it.

It is quite true; you have the most beautifully shaped memory in
Christendom: these are the very books in the very edition I have long
wanted, and have been too humble to afford myself. And now I cannot stop
to read one, for joy of looking at them all in a row. I will kiss you
for them all, and for more besides: indeed it is the "besides" which
brings you my kisses at all.

Now that you have chosen so perfectly to my mind, I may proffer a
request which, before, I was shy of making. It seems now beneficently
anticipated. It is that you will not ever let your gifts take the form
of jewelry, not after the ring which you are bringing me: _that_, you
know, I both welcome and wish for. But, as to the rest, the world has
supplied me with a feeling against jewelry as a love-symbol. Look
abroad and you will see: it is too possessive, too much like "chains of
office"--the fair one is to wear her radiant harness before the world,
that other women may be envious and the desire of her master's eye be
satisfied! Ah, no!

I am yours, dear, utterly; and nothing you give me would have that sense:
I know you too well to think it. But in the face of the present fashion
(and to flout it), which expects the lover to give in this sort, and the
beloved to show herself a dazzling captive, let me cherish my ritual of
opposition which would have no meaning if we were in a world of our own,
and no place in my thoughts, dearest;--as it has not now, so far as you
are concerned. But I am conscious I shall be looked at as your chosen; and
I would choose my own way of how to look back most proudly.

And so for the books more thanks and more,--that they are what I would
most wish, and not anything else: which, had they been, they would still
have given me pleasure, since from you they could come only with a good
meaning: and--diamonds even--I could have put up with them!

To-morrow you come for your ring, and bring me my own? Yours is here
waiting. I have it on my finger, very loose, with another standing
sentry over it to keep it from running away.

A mouse came out of my wainscot last night, and plunged me in horrible
dilemma: for I am equally idiotic over the idea of the creature trapped
or free, and I saw sleepless nights ahead of me till I had secured a
change of locality for him.

To startle him back into hiding would have only deferred my getting
truly rid of him, so I was most tiptoe and diplomatic in my doings.
Finally, a paper bag, put into a likely nook with some sentimentally
preserved wedding-cake crumbled into it, crackled to me of his arrival.
In a brave moment I noosed the little beast, bag and all, and lowered
him from the window by string, till the shrubs took from me the burden
of responsibility.

I visited the bag this morning: he had eaten his way out, crumbs and
all: and has, I suppose, become a fieldmouse, for the hay smells
invitingly, and it is only a short run over the lawn and a jump over the
ha-ha to be in it. Poor morsels, I prefer them so much undomesticated!

Now this mouse is no allegory, and the paper bag is _not_ a diamond
necklace, in spite of the wedding-cake sprinkled over it! So don't say
that this letter is too hard for your understanding, or you will
frighten me from telling you anything foolish again. Brains are like
jewels in this, difference of surface has nothing to do with the size
and value of them. Yours is a beautiful smooth round, like a pearl, and
mine all facets and flashes like cut glass. And yours so much the
bigger, and I love it so much the best! The trap which caught me was
baited with one great pearl. So the mouse comes in with a meaning tied
to its tail after all!
Love LETTER II
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
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Dearest: Your name woke me this morning: I found my lips piping their song
before I was well back into my body out of dreams. I wonder if the rogues
babble when my spirit is nesting? Last night you were a high tree and I
was in it, the wind blowing us both; but I forget the rest,--whatever, it
was enough to make me wake happy.

There are dreams that go out like candle-light directly one opens the
shutters: they illumine the walls no longer; the daylight is too strong
for them. So, now, I can hardly remember anything of my dreams:
daylight, with you in it, floods them out.

Oh, how are you? Awake? Up? Have you breakfasted? I ask you a thousand
things. You are thinking of me, I know: but what are you thinking? I am
devoured by curiosity about myself--none at all about you, whom I have all
by heart! If I might only know how happy I make you, and just _which_
thing I said yesterday is making you laugh to-day--I could cry with joy
over being the person I am.

It is you who make me think so much about myself, trying to find myself
out. I used to be most self-possessed, and regarded it as the crowning
virtue: and now--your possession of me sweeps it away, and I stand crying
to be let into a secret that is no longer mine. Shall I ever know _why_
you love me? It is my religious difficulty; but it never rises into a
doubt. You _do_ love me, I know. _Why_, I don't think I ever can know.

You ask me the same question about yourself, and it becomes absurd,
because I altogether belong to you. If I hold my breath for a moment
wickedly (for I can't do it breathing), and try to look at the world
with you out of it, I seem to have fallen over a precipice; or rather,
the solid earth has slipped from under my feet, and I am off into
vacuum. Then, as I take breath again for fear, my star swims up and
clasps me, and shows me your face. O happy star this that I was born
under, that moved with me and winked quiet prophecies at me all through
my childhood, I not knowing what it meant:--the dear radiant thing
naming to me my lover!

As a child, now and then, and for no reason, I used to be sublimely
happy: real wings took hold of me. Sometimes a field became fairyland
as I walked through it; or a tree poured out a scent that its blossoms
never had before or after. I think now that those must have been moments
when you too were in like contact with earth,--had your feet in grass
which felt a faint ripple of wind, or stood under a lilac in a drench of
fragrance that had grown double after rain.

When I asked you about the places of your youth, I had some fear of
finding that we might once have met, and that I had not remembered it as
the summing up of my happiness in being young. Far off I see something
undiscovered waiting us, something I could not have guessed at
before--the happiness of being old. Will it not be something like the
evening before last when we were sitting together, your hand in mine,
and one by one, as the twilight drew about us, the stars came and took
up their stations overhead? They seemed to me then to be following out
some quiet train of thought in the universal mind: the heavens were
remembering the stars back into their places:--the Ancient of Days
drawing upon the infinite treasures of memory in his great lifetime.
Will not Love's old age be the same to us both--a starry place of
memories?

Your dear letter is with me while I write: how shortly you are able to
say everything! To-morrow you will come. What more do I want--except
to-morrow itself, with more promises of the same thing?

You are at my heart, dearest: nothing in the world can be nearer to me
than you!
LOVE-LETTER
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Beloved: This is your first letter from me: yet it is not the first I have
written to you. There are letters to you lying at love's dead-letter
office in this same writing--so many, my memory has lost count of them!

This is my confession: I told you I had one to make, and you laughed:--you
did not know how serious it was--for to be in love with you long before
you were in love with me--nothing can be more serious than that!

You deny that I was: yet I know when you first really loved me. All at
once, one day something about me came upon you as a surprise: and how,
except on the road to love, can there be surprises? And in the surprise
came love. You did not _know_ me before. Before then, it was only the
other nine entanglements which take hold of the male heart and occupy it
till the tenth is ready to make one knot of them all.

In the letter written that day, I said, "You love me." I could never
have said it before; though I had written twelve letters to my love for
you, I had not once been able to write of your love for me. Was not
_that_ serious?

Now I have confessed! I thought to discover myself all blushes, but my
face is cool: you have kissed all my blushes away! Can I ever be ashamed
in your eyes now, or grow rosy because of anything _you_ or _I_ think?
So!--you have robbed me of one of my charms: I am brazen. Can you love
me still?

You love me, you love me; you are wonderful! we are both wonderful, you
and I.

Well, it is good for you to know I have waited and wished, long before
the thing came true. But to see _you_ waiting and wishing, when the
thing _was_ true all the time:--oh! that was the trial! How not suddenly
to throw my arms round you and cry, "Look, see! O blind mouth, why are
you famished?"

And you never knew? Dearest, I love you for it, you never knew! I believe
a man, when he finds he has won, thinks he has taken the city by assault:
he does not guess how to the insiders it has been a weary siege, with
flags of surrender fluttering themselves to rags from every wall and
window! No: in love it is the women who are the strategists: and they have
at last to fall into the ambush they know of with a good grace.

You must let me praise myself a little for the past, since I can never
praise myself again. You must do that for me now! There is not a battle
left for me to win. You and peace hold me so much a prisoner, have so
caught me from my own way of living, that I seem to hear a pin drop
twenty years ahead of me: it seems an event! Dearest, a thousand times,
I would not have it be otherwise: I am only too willing to drop out of
existence altogether and find myself in your arms instead. Giving you my
love, I can so easily give you my life. Ah, my dear, I am yours so
utterly, so gladly! Will you ever find it out, you who took so long to
discover anything?
WE CELEBRATE
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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"In the tropics" ("Hop-along" Bibb, the bird fancier, was saying to
me) "the seasons, months, fortnights, week-ends, holidays, dog-days,
Sundays, and yesterdays get so jumbled together in the shuffle that
you never know when a year has gone by until you're in the middle of
the next one."

"Hop-along" Bibb kept his bird store on lower Fourth Avenue. He was an
ex-seaman and beachcomber who made regular voyages to southern ports
and imported personally conducted invoices of talking parrots and
dialectic paroquets. He had a stiff knee, neck, and nerve. I had gone
to him to buy a parrot to present, at Christmas, to my Aunt Joanna.

"This one," said I, disregarding his homily on the subdivisions of
time--"this one that seems all red, white, and blue--to what genus of
beasts does he belong? He appeals at once to my patriotism and to my
love of discord in colour schemes."

"That's a cockatoo from Ecuador," said Bibb. "All he has been taught
to say is 'Merry Christmas.' A seasonable bird. He's only seven
dollars; and I'll bet many a human has stuck you for more money by
making the same speech to you."

And then Bibb laughed suddenly and loudly.

"That bird," he explained, "reminds me. He's got his dates mixed.
He ought to be saying '_E pluribus unum_,' to match his feathers,
instead of trying to work the Santa Claus graft. It reminds me of the
time me and Liverpool Sam got our ideas of things tangled up on the
coast of Costa Rica on account of the weather and other phenomena to
be met with in the tropics.

"We were, as it were, stranded on that section of the Spanish main
with no money to speak of and no friends that should be talked about
either. We had stoked and second-cooked ourselves down there on a
fruit steamer from New Orleans to try our luck, which was discharged,
after we got there, for lack of evidence. There was no work suitable
to our instincts; so me and Liverpool began to subsist on the red rum
of the country and such fruit as we could reap where we had not sown.
It was an alluvial town, called Soledad, where there was no harbour
or future or recourse. Between steamers the town slept and drank rum.
It only woke up when there were bananas to ship. It was like a man
sleeping through dinner until the dessert.

"When me and Liverpool got so low down that the American consul
wouldn't speak to us we knew we'd struck bed rock.

"We boarded with a snuff-brown lady named Chica, who kept a rum-shop
and a ladies' and gents' restaurant in a street called the _calle
de los_ Forty-seven Inconsolable Saints. When our credit played
out there, Liverpool, whose stomach overshadowed his sensations of
_noblesse oblige_, married Chica. This kept us in rice and fried
plantain for a month; and then Chica pounded Liverpool one morning
sadly and earnestly for fifteen minutes with a casserole handed down
from the stone age, and we knew that we had out-welcomed our liver.
That night we signed an engagement with Don Jaime McSpinosa, a hybrid
banana fancier of the place, to work on his fruit preserves nine miles
out of town. We had to do it or be reduced to sea water and broken
doses of feed and slumber.

"Now, speaking of Liverpool Sam, I don't malign or inexculpate him
to you any more than I would to his face. But in my opinion, when an
Englishman gets as low as he can he's got to dodge so that the dregs
of other nations don't drop ballast on him out of their balloons. And
if he's a Liverpool Englishman, why, fire-damp is what he's got to
look out for. Being a natural American, that's my personal view. But
Liverpool and me had much in common. We were without decorous clothes
or ways and means of existence; and, as the saying goes, misery
certainly does enjoy the society of accomplices.

"Our job on old McSpinosa's plantation was chopping down banana stalks
and loading the bunches of fruit on the backs of horses. Then a native
dressed up in an alligator hide belt, a machete, and a pair of AA
sheeting pajamas, drives 'em over to the coast and piles 'em up on the
beach.

"You ever been in a banana grove? It's as solemn as a rathskeller at
seven A. M. It's like being lost behind the scenes at one of these
mushroom musical shows. You can't see the sky for the foliage above
you; and the ground is knee deep in rotten leaves; and it's so still
that you can hear the stalks growing again after you chop 'em down.

"At night me and Liverpool herded in a lot of grass huts on the edge
of a lagoon with the red, yellow, and black employés of Don Jaime.
There we lay fighting mosquitoes and listening to the monkeys
squalling and the alligators grunting and splashing in the lagoon
until daylight with only snatches of sleep between times.

"We soon lost all idea of what time of the year it was. It's just
about eighty degrees there in December and June and on Fridays and at
midnight and election day and any other old time. Sometimes it rains
more than at others, and that's all the difference you notice. A
man is liable to live along there without noticing any fugiting of
tempus until some day the undertaker calls in for him just when he's
beginning to think about cutting out the gang and saving up a little
to invest in real estate.

"I don't know how long we worked for Don Jaime; but it was through two
or three rainy spells, eight or ten hair cuts, and the life of three
pairs of sail-cloth trousers. All the money we earned went for rum and
tobacco; but we ate, and that was something.

"All of a sudden one day me and Liverpool find the trade of committing
surgical operations on banana stalks turning to aloes and quinine in
our mouths. It's a seizure that often comes upon white men in Latin
and geographical countries. We wanted to be addressed again in
language and see the smoke of a steamer and read the real estate
transfers and gents' outfitting ads in an old newspaper. Even Soledad
seemed like a centre of civilization to us, so that evening we put
our thumbs on our nose at Don Jaime's fruit stand and shook his grass
burrs off our feet.

"It was only twelve miles to Soledad, but it took me and Liverpool two
days to get there. It was banana grove nearly all the way; and we got
twisted time and again. It was like paging the palm room of a New York
hotel for a man named Smith.

"When we saw the houses of Soledad between the trees all my
disinclination toward this Liverpool Sam rose up in me. I stood him
while we were two white men against the banana brindles; but now, when
there were prospects of my exchanging even cuss words with an American
citizen, I put him back in his proper place. And he was a sight, too,
with his rum-painted nose and his red whiskers and elephant feet with
leather sandals strapped to them. I suppose I looked about the same.

"'It looks to me,' says I, 'like Great Britain ought to be made to
keep such gin-swilling, scurvy, unbecoming mud larks as you at home
instead of sending 'em over here to degrade and taint foreign lands.
We kicked you out of America once and we ought to put on rubber boots
and do it again.'

"'Oh, you go to 'ell,' says Liverpool, which was about all the
repartee he ever had.

"Well, Soledad, looked fine to me after Don Jaime 's plantation.
Liverpool and me walked into it side by side, from force of habit,
past the calabosa and the Hotel Grande, down across the plaza toward
Chica's hut, where we hoped that Liverpool, being a husband of hers,
might work his luck for a meal.

"As we passed the two-story little frame house occupied by the
American Club, we noticed that the balcony had been decorated all
around with wreaths of evergreens and flowers, and the flag was
flying from the pole on the roof. Stanzey, the consul, and Arkright,
a gold-mine owner, were smoking on the balcony. Me and Liverpool
waved our dirty hands toward 'em and smiled real society smiles; but
they turned their backs to us and went on talking. And we had played
whist once with the two of 'em up to the time when Liverpool held all
thirteen trumps for four hands in succession. It was some holiday, we
knew; but we didn't know the day nor the year.

"A little further along we saw a reverend man named Pendergast, who
had come to Soledad to build a church, standing under a cocoanut palm
with his little black alpaca coat and green umbrella.

"'Boys, boys!' says he, through his blue spectacles, 'is it as bad as
this? Are you so far reduced?'

"'We're reduced,' says I, 'to very vulgar fractions.'

"'It is indeed sad,' says Pendergast, 'to see my countrymen in such
circumstances.'

"'Cut 'arf of that out, old party,' says Liverpool. 'Cawn't you tell
a member of the British upper classes when you see one?'

"'Shut up,' I told Liverpool. 'You're on foreign soil now, or that
portion of it that's not on you.'

"'And on this day, too!' goes on Pendergast, grievous--'on this most
glorious day of the year when we should all be celebrating the dawn of
Christian civilization and the downfall of the wicked.'

"'I did notice bunting and bouquets decorating the town, reverend,'
says I, 'but I didn't know what it was for. We've been so long out of
touch with calendars that we didn't know whether it was summer time or
Saturday afternoon.'

"'Here is two dollars,' says Pendergast digging up two Chili silver
wheels and handing 'em to me. 'Go, my men, and observe the rest of the
day in a befitting manner.'

"Me and Liverpool thanked him kindly, and walked away.

"'Shall we eat?' I asks.

"'Oh, 'ell!' says Liverpool. 'What's money for?'

"'Very well, then,' I says, 'since you insist upon it, we'll drink.'

"So we pull up in a rum shop and get a quart of it and go down on the
beach under a cocoanut tree and celebrate.

"Not having eaten anything but oranges in two days, the rum has
immediate effect; and once more I conjure up great repugnance toward
the British nation.

"'Stand up here,' I says to Liverpool, 'you scum of a despot limited
monarchy, and have another dose of Bunker Hill. That good man, Mr.
Pendergast,' says I, 'said we were to observe the day in a befitting
manner, and I'm not going to see his money misapplied.'

"'Oh, you go to 'ell!' says Liverpool, and I started in with a fine
left-hander on his right eye.

"Liverpool had been a fighter once, but dissipation and bad company
had taken the nerve out of him. In ten minutes I had him lying on the
sand waving the white flag.

"'Get up,' says I, kicking him in the ribs, 'and come along with me.'

"Liverpool got up and followed behind me because it was his habit,
wiping the red off his face and nose. I led him to Reverend
Pendergast's shack and called him out.

"'Look at this, sir,' says I--'look at this thing that was once a
proud Britisher. You gave us two dollars and told us to celebrate the
day. The star-spangled banner still waves. Hurrah for the stars and
eagles!'

"'Dear me,' says Pendergast, holding up his hands. 'Fighting on this
day of all days! On Christmas day, when peace on--'

"'Christmas, hell!' says I. 'I thought it was the Fourth of July.'"



"Merry Christmas!" said the red, white, and blue cockatoo.

"Take him for six dollars," said Hop-along Bibb. "He's got his dates
and colours mixed."
DIAMOND OF KALI
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 6
The original news item concerning the diamond of the goddess Kali was
handed in to the city editor. He smiled and held it for a moment above
the wastebasket. Then he laid it back on his desk and said: "Try the
Sunday people; they might work something out of it."

The Sunday editor glanced the item over and said: "H'm!" Afterward he
sent for a reporter and expanded his comment.

"You might see General Ludlow," he said, "and make a story out of this
if you can. Diamond stories are a drug; but this one is big enough
to be found by a scrubwoman wrapped up in a piece of newspaper and
tucked under the corner of the hall linoleum. Find out first if
the General has a daughter who intends to go on the stage. If not,
you can go ahead with the story. Run cuts of the Kohinoor and J. P.
Morgan's collection, and work in pictures of the Kimberley mines and
Barney Barnato. Fill in with a tabulated comparison of the values of
diamonds, radium, and veal cutlets since the meat strike; and let it
run to a half page."

On the following day the reporter turned in his story. The Sunday
editor let his eye sprint along its lines. "H'm!" he said again. This
time the copy went into the waste-basket with scarcely a flutter.

The reporter stiffened a little around the lips; but he was whistling
softly and contentedly between his teeth when I went over to talk with
him about it an hour later.

"I don't blame the 'old man'," said he, magnanimously, "for cutting it
out. It did sound like funny business; but it happened exactly as I
wrote it. Say, why don't you fish that story out of the w.-b. and use
it? Seems to me it's as good as the tommyrot you write."

I accepted the tip, and if you read further you will learn the facts
about the diamond of the goddess Kali as vouched for by one of the
most reliable reporters on the staff.

Gen. Marcellus B. Ludlow lives in one of those decaying but
venerated old red-brick mansions in the West Twenties. The General
is a member of an old New York family that does not advertise. He is
a globe-trotter by birth, a gentleman by predilection, a millionaire
by the mercy of Heaven, and a connoisseur of precious stones by
occupation.

The reporter was admitted promptly when he made himself known at the
General's residence at about eight thirty on the evening that he
received the assignment. In the magnificent library he was greeted by
the distinguished traveller and connoisseur, a tall, erect gentleman
in the early fifties, with a nearly white moustache, and a bearing so
soldierly that one perceived in him scarcely a trace of the National
Guardsman. His weather-beaten countenance lit up with a charming smile
of interest when the reporter made known his errand.

"Ah, you have heard of my latest find. I shall be glad to show you
what I conceive to be one of the six most valuable blue diamonds in
existence."

The General opened a small safe in a corner of the library and brought
forth a plush-covered box. Opening this, he exposed to the reporter's
bewildered gaze a huge and brilliant diamond--nearly as large as a
hailstone.

"This stone," said the General, "is something more than a mere jewel.
It once formed the central eye of the three-eyed goddess Kali, who is
worshipped by one of the fiercest and most fanatical tribes of India.
If you will arrange yourself comfortably I will give you a brief
history of it for your paper."

General Ludlow brought a decanter of whiskey and glasses from a
cabinet, and set a comfortable armchair for the lucky scribe.

"The Phansigars, or Thugs, of India," began the General, "are the
most dangerous and dreaded of the tribes of North India. They are
extremists in religion, and worship the horrid goddess Kali in the
form of images. Their rites are interesting and bloody. The robbing
and murdering of travellers are taught as a worthy and obligatory
deed by their strange religious code. Their worship of the three-eyed
goddess Kali is conducted so secretly that no traveller has ever
heretofore had the honour of witnessing the ceremonies. That
distinction was reserved for myself.

"While at Sakaranpur, between Delhi and Khelat, I used to explore the
jungle in every direction in the hope of learning something new about
these mysterious Phansigars.

"One evening at twilight I was making my way through a teakwood
forest, when I came upon a deep circular depression in an open space,
in the centre of which was a rude stone temple. I was sure that this
was one of the temples of the Thugs, so I concealed myself in the
undergrowth to watch.

"When the moon rose the depression in the clearing was suddenly filled
with hundreds of shadowy, swiftly gliding forms. Then a door opened in
the temple, exposing a brightly illuminated image of the goddess Kali,
before which a white-robed priest began a barbarous incantation, while
the tribe of worshippers prostrated themselves upon the earth.

"But what interested me most was the central eye of the huge wooden
idol. I could see by its flashing brilliancy that it was an immense
diamond of the purest water.

"After the rites were concluded the Thugs slipped away into the forest
as silently as they had come. The priest stood for a few minutes in
the door of the temple enjoying the cool of the night before closing
his rather warm quarters. Suddenly a dark, lithe shadow slipped down
into the hollow, leaped upon the priest; and struck him down with a
glittering knife. Then the murderer sprang at the image of the goddess
like a cat and pried out the glowing central eye of Kali with his
weapon. Straight toward me he ran with his royal prize. When he was
within two paces I rose to my feet and struck him with all my force
between the eyes. He rolled over senseless and the magnificent jewel
fell from his hand. That is the splendid blue diamond you have just
seen--a stone worthy of a monarch's crown."

"That's a corking story," said the reporter. "That decanter is exactly
like the one that John W. Gates always sets out during an interview."

"Pardon me," said General Ludlow, "for forgetting hospitality in the
excitement of my narrative. Help yourself."

"Here's looking at you," said the reporter.

"What I am afraid of now," said the General, lowering his voice, "is
that I may be robbed of the diamond. The jewel that formed an eye of
their goddess is their most sacred symbol. Somehow the tribe suspected
me of having it; and members of the band have followed me half around
the earth. They are the most cunning and cruel fanatics in the
world, and their religious vows would compel them to assassinate the
unbeliever who has desecrated their sacred treasure.

"Once in Lucknow three of their agents, disguised as servants in a
hotel, endeavoured to strangle me with a twisted cloth. Again, in
London, two Thugs, made up as street musicians, climbed into my window
at night and attacked me. They have even tracked me to this country.
My life is never safe. A month ago, while I was at a hotel in the
Berkshires, three of them sprang upon me from the roadside weeds. I
saved myself then by my knowledge of their customs."

"How was that, General?" asked the reporter.

"There was a cow grazing near by," said General Ludlow, "a gentle
Jersey cow. I ran to her side and stood. The three Thugs ceased their
attack, knelt and struck the ground thrice with their foreheads. Then,
after many respectful salaams, they departed."

"Afraid the cow would hook?" asked the reporter.

"No; the cow is a sacred animal to the Phansigars. Next to their
goddess they worship the cow. They have never been known to commit any
deed of violence in the presence of the animal they reverence."

"It's a mighty interesting story," said the reporter. "If you don't
mind I'll take another drink, and then a few notes."

"I will join you," said General Ludlow, with a courteous wave of his
hand.

"If I were you," advised the reporter, "I'd take that sparkler to
Texas. Get on a cow ranch there, and the Pharisees--"

"Phansigars," corrected the General.

"Oh, yes; the fancy guys would run up against a long horn every time
they made a break."

General Ludlow closed the diamond case and thrust it into his bosom.

"The spies of the tribe have found me out in New York," he said,
straightening his tall figure. "I'm familiar with the East Indian cast
of countenance, and I know that my every movement is watched. They
will undoubtedly attempt to rob and murder me here."

"Here?" exclaimed the reporter, seizing the decanter and pouring out a
liberal amount of its contents.

"At any moment," said the General. "But as a soldier and a connoisseur
I shall sell my life and my diamond as dearly as I can."

At this point of the reporter's story there is a certain vagueness,
but it can be gathered that there was a loud crashing noise at the
rear of the house they were in. General Ludlow buttoned his coat
closely and sprang for the door. But the reporter clutched him firmly
with one hand, while he held the decanter with the other.

"Tell me before we fly," he urged, in a voice thick with some inward
turmoil, "do any of your daughters contemplate going on the stage?"

"I have no daughters--fly for your life--the Phansigars are upon us!"
cried the General.

The two men dashed out of the front door of the house.

The hour was late. As their feet struck the side-walk strange men of
dark and forbidding appearance seemed to rise up out of the earth and
encompass them. One with Asiatic features pressed close to the General
and droned in a terrible voice:

"Buy cast clo'!"

Another, dark-whiskered and sinister, sped lithely to his side and
began in a whining voice:

"Say, mister, have yer got a dime fer a poor feller what--"

They hurried on, but only into the arms of a black-eyed, dusky-browed
being, who held out his hat under their noses, while a confederate of
Oriental hue turned the handle of a street organ near by.

Twenty steps farther on General Ludlow and the reporter found
themselves in the midst of half a dozen villainous-looking men with
high-turned coat collars and faces bristling with unshaven beards.

"Run for it!" hissed the General. "They have discovered the possessor
of the diamond of the goddess Kali."

The two men took to their heels. The avengers of the goddess pursued.

"Oh, Lordy!" groaned the reporter, "there isn't a cow this side of
Brooklyn. We're lost!"

When near the corner they both fell over an iron object that rose from
the sidewalk close to the gutter. Clinging to it desperately, they
awaited their fate.

"If I only had a cow!" moaned the reporter--"or another nip from that
decanter, General!"

As soon as the pursuers observed where their victims had found refuge
they suddenly fell back and retreated to a considerable distance.

"They are waiting for reinforcements in order to attack us," said
General Ludlow.

But the reporter emitted a ringing laugh, and hurled his hat
triumphantly into the air.

"Guess again," he shouted, and leaned heavily upon the iron object.
"Your old fancy guys or thugs, whatever you call 'em, are up to date.
Dear General, this is a pump we've stranded upon--same as a cow in New
York (hic!) see? Thas'h why the 'nfuriated smoked guys don't attack
us--see? Sacred an'mal, the pump in N' York, my dear General!"

But further down in the shadows of Twenty-eighth Street the marauders
were holding a parley.

"Come on, Reddy," said one. "Let's go frisk the old 'un. He's been
showin' a sparkler as big as a hen egg all around Eighth Avenue for
two weeks past."

"Not on your silhouette," decided Reddy. "You see 'em rallyin' round
The Pump? They're friends of Bill's. Bill won't stand for nothin' of
this kind in his district since he got that bid to Esopus."

This exhausts the facts concerning the Kali diamond. But it is deemed
not inconsequent to close with the following brief (paid) item that
appeared two days later in a morning paper.

"It is rumored that a niece of Gen. Marcellus B. Ludlow, of New York
City, will appear on the stage next season.

"Her diamonds are said to be extremely valuable and of much historic
interest."



CALIPH AND THE CAD
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10
Surely there is no pastime more diverting than that of mingling,
incognito, with persons of wealth and station. Where else but in those
circles can one see life in its primitive, crude state unhampered by
the conventions that bind the dwellers in a lower sphere?

There was a certain Caliph of Bagdad who was accustomed to go down
among the poor and lowly for the solace obtained from the relation
of their tales and histories. Is it not strange that the humble and
poverty-stricken have not availed themselves of the pleasure they
might glean by donning diamonds and silks and playing Caliph among
the haunts of the upper world?

There was one who saw the possibilities of thus turning the tables on
Haroun al Raschid. His name was Corny Brannigan, and he was a truck
driver for a Canal Street importing firm. And if you read further
you will learn how he turned upper Broadway into Bagdad and learned
something about himself that he did not know before.

Many people would have called Corny a snob--preferably by means of
a telephone. His chief interest in life, his chosen amusement, and
his sole diversion after working hours, was to place himself in
juxtaposition--since he could not hope to mingle--with people of
fashion and means.

Every evening after Corny had put up his team and dined at a
lunch-counter that made immediateness a specialty, he would clothe
himself in evening raiment as correct as any you will see in the palm
rooms. Then he would betake himself to that ravishing, radiant roadway
devoted to Thespis, Thais, and Bacchus.

For a time he would stroll about the lobbies of the best hotels, his
soul steeped in blissful content. Beautiful women, cooing like doves,
but feathered like birds of Paradise, flicked him with their robes as
they passed. Courtly gentlemen attended them, gallant and assiduous.
And Corny's heart within him swelled like Sir Lancelot's, for the
mirror spoke to him as he passed and said: "Corny, lad, there's not
a guy among 'em that looks a bit the sweller than yerself. And you
drivin' of a truck and them swearin' off their taxes and playin' the
red in art galleries with the best in the land!"

And the mirrors spake the truth. Mr. Corny Brannigan had acquired the
outward polish, if nothing more. Long and keen observation of polite
society had gained for him its manner, its genteel air, and--most
difficult of acquirement--its repose and ease.

Now and then in the hotels Corny had managed conversation and
temporary acquaintance with substantial, if not distinguished, guests.
With many of these he had exchanged cards, and the ones he received he
carefully treasured for his own use later. Leaving the hotel lobbies,
Corny would stroll leisurely about, lingering at the theatre entrance,
dropping into the fashionable restaurants as if seeking some friend.
He rarely patronized any of these places; he was no bee come to suck
honey, but a butterfly flashing his wings among the flowers whose
calyces held no sweets for him. His wages were not large enough to
furnish him with more than the outside garb of the gentleman. To have
been one of the beings he so cunningly imitated, Corny Brannigan would
have given his right hand.

One night Corny had an adventure. After absorbing the delights of an
hour's lounging in the principal hotels along Broadway, he passed up
into the stronghold of Thespis. Cab drivers hailed him as a likely
fare, to his prideful content. Languishing eyes were turned upon him
as a hopeful source of lobsters and the delectable, ascendant globules
of effervescence. These overtures and unconscious compliments Corny
swallowed as manna, and hoped Bill, the off horse, would be less lame
in the left forefoot in the morning.

Beneath a cluster of milky globes of electric light Corny paused to
admire the sheen of his low-cut patent leather shoes. The building
occupying the angle was a pretentious _café_. Out of this came a
couple, a lady in a white, cobwebby evening gown, with a lace wrap
like a wreath of mist thrown over it, and a man, tall, faultless,
assured--too assured. They moved to the edge of the sidewalk and
halted. Corny's eye, ever alert for "pointers" in "swell" behaviour,
took them in with a sidelong glance.

"The carriage is not here," said the lady. "You ordered it to wait?"

"I ordered it for nine-thirty," said the man. "It should be here now."

A familiar note in the lady's voice drew a more especial attention
from Corny. It was pitched in a key well known to him. The soft
electric shone upon her face. Sisters of sorrow have no quarters fixed
for them. In the index to the book of breaking hearts you will find
that Broadway follows very soon after the Bowery. This lady's face was
sad, and her voice was attuned with it. They waited, as if for the
carriage. Corny waited too, for it was out of doors, and he was never
tired of accumulating and profiting by knowledge of gentlemanly
conduct.

"Jack," said the lady, "don't be angry. I've done everything I could
to please you this evening. Why do you act so?"

"Oh, you're an angel," said the man. "Depend upon woman to throw the
blame upon a man."

"I'm not blaming you. I'm only trying to make you happy."

"You go about it in a very peculiar way."

"You have been cross with me all the evening without any cause."

"Oh, there isn't any cause except--you make me tired."

Corny took out his card case and looked over his collection. He
selected one that read: "Mr. R. Lionel Whyte-Melville, Bloomsbury
Square, London." This card he had inveigled from a tourist at the King
Edward Hotel. Corny stepped up to the man and presented it with a
correctly formal air.

"May I ask why I am selected for the honour?" asked the lady's escort.

Now, Mr. Corny Brannigan had a very wise habit of saying little
during his imitations of the Caliph of Bagdad. The advice of Lord
Chesterfield: "Wear a black coat and hold your tongue," he believed in
without having heard. But now speech was demanded and required of him.

"No gent," said Corny, "would talk to a lady like you done. Fie upon
you, Willie! Even if she happens to be your wife you ought to have
more respect for your clothes than to chin her back that way. Maybe it
ain't my butt-in, but it goes, anyhow--you strike me as bein' a whole
lot to the wrong."

The lady's escort indulged in more elegantly expressed but fetching
repartee. Corny, eschewing his truck driver's vocabulary, retorted as
nearly as he could in polite phrases. Then diplomatic relations were
severed; there was a brief but lively set-to with other than oral
weapons, from which Corny came forth easily victor.

A carriage dashed up, driven by a tardy and solicitous coachman.

"Will you kindly open the door for me?" asked the lady. Corny assisted
her to enter, and took off his hat. The escort was beginning to
scramble up from the sidewalk.

"I beg your pardon, ma'am," said Corny, "if he's your man."

"He's no man of mine," said the lady. "Perhaps he--but there's no
chance of his being now. Drive home, Michael. If you care to take
this--with my thanks."

Three red roses were thrust out through the carriage window into
Corny's hand. He took them, and the hand for an instant; and then the
carriage sped away.

Corny gathered his foe's hat and began to brush the dust from his
clothes.

"Come along," said Corny, taking the other man by the arm.

His late opponent was yet a little dazed by the hard knocks he had
received. Corny led him carefully into a saloon three doors away.

"The drinks for us," said Corny, "me and my friend."

"You're a queer feller," said the lady's late escort--"lick a man and
then want to set 'em up."

"You're my best friend," said Corny exultantly. "You don't understand?
Well, listen. You just put me wise to somethin'. I been playin' gent a
long time, thinkin' it was just the glad rags I had and nothin' else.
Say--you're a swell, ain't you? Well, you trot in that class, I guess.
I don't; but I found out one thing--I'm a gentleman, by--and I know it
now. What'll you have to drink?"



TRANSFORMATION
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
In behalf of Sir Walter's soothing plant let us look into the case of
Martin Burney.

They were constructing the Speedway along the west bank of the Harlem
River. The grub-boat of Dennis Corrigan, sub-contractor, was moored
to a tree on the bank. Twenty-two men belonging to the little green
island toiled there at the sinew-cracking labour. One among them, who
wrought in the kitchen of the grub-boat was of the race of the Goths.
Over them all stood the exorbitant Corrigan, harrying them like the
captain of a galley crew. He paid them so little that most of the
gang, work as they might, earned little more than food and tobacco;
many of them were in debt to him. Corrigan boarded them all in the
grub-boat, and gave them good grub, for he got it back in work.

Martin Burney was furthest behind of all. He was a little man, all
muscles and hands and feet, with a gray-red, stubbly beard. He was too
light for the work, which would have glutted the capacity of a steam
shovel.

The work was hard. Besides that, the banks of the river were humming
with mosquitoes. As a child in a dark room fixes his regard on the
pale light of a comforting window, these toilers watched the sun that
brought around the one hour of the day that tasted less bitter. After
the sundown supper they would huddle together on the river bank, and
send the mosquitoes whining and eddying back from the malignant puffs
of twenty-three reeking pipes. Thus socially banded against the foe,
they wrenched out of the hour a few well-smoked drops from the cup of
joy.

Each week Burney grew deeper in debt. Corrigan kept a small stock of
goods on the boat, which he sold to the men at prices that brought
him no loss. Burney was a good customer at the tobacco counter. One
sack when he went to work in the morning and one when he came in at
night, so much was his account swelled daily. Burney was something
of a smoker. Yet it was not true that he ate his meals with a pipe
in his mouth, which had been said of him. The little man was not
discontented. He had plenty to eat, plenty of tobacco, and a tyrant
to curse; so why should not he, an Irishman, be well satisfied?

One morning as he was starting with the others for work he stopped at
the pine counter for his usual sack of tobacco.

"There's no more for ye," said Corrigan. "Your account's closed. Ye
are a losing investment. No, not even tobaccy, my son. No more tobaccy
on account. If ye want to work on and eat, do so, but the smoke of ye
has all ascended. 'Tis my advice that ye hunt a new job."

"I have no tobaccy to smoke in my pipe this day, Mr. Corrigan," said
Burney, not quite understanding that such a thing could happen to him.

"Earn it," said Corrigan, "and then buy it."

Burney stayed on. He knew of no other job. At first he did not realize
that tobacco had got to be his father and mother, his confessor and
sweetheart, and wife and child.

For three days he managed to fill his pipe from the other men's sacks,
and then they shut him off, one and all. They told him, rough but
friendly, that of all things in the world tobacco must be quickest
forthcoming to a fellow-man desiring it, but that beyond the immediate
temporary need requisition upon the store of a comrade is pressed with
great danger to friendship.

Then the blackness of the pit arose and filled the heart of Burney.
Sucking the corpse of his deceased dudheen, he staggered through his
duties with his barrowful of stones and dirt, feeling for the first
time that the curse of Adam was upon him. Other men bereft of a
pleasure might have recourse to other delights, but Burney had only
two comforts in life. One was his pipe, the other was an ecstatic hope
that there would be no Speedways to build on the other side of Jordan.

At meal times he would let the other men go first into the grub-boat,
and then he would go down on his hands and knees, grovelling fiercely
upon the ground where they had been sitting, trying to find some stray
crumbs of tobacco. Once he sneaked down the river bank and filled his
pipe with dead willow leaves. At the first whiff of the smoke he spat
in the direction of the boat and put the finest curse he knew on
Corrigan--one that began with the first Corrigans born on earth and
ended with the Corrigans that shall hear the trumpet of Gabriel blow.
He began to hate Corrigan with all his shaking nerves and soul. Even
murder occurred to him in a vague sort of way. Five days he went
without the taste of tobacco--he who had smoked all day and thought
the night misspent in which he had not awakened for a pipeful or two
under the bedclothes.

One day a man stopped at the boat to say that there was work to be had
in the Bronx Park, where a large number of labourers were required in
making some improvements.

After dinner Burney walked thirty yards down the river bank away from
the maddening smell of the others' pipes. He sat down upon a stone. He
was thinking he would set out for the Bronx. At least he could earn
tobacco there. What if the books did say he owed Corrigan? Any man's
work was worth his keep. But then he hated to go without getting even
with the hard-hearted screw who had put his pipe out. Was there any
way to do it?

Softly stepping among the clods came Tony, he of the race of Goths,
who worked in the kitchen. He grinned at Burney's elbow, and that
unhappy man, full of race animosity and holding urbanity in contempt,
growled at him: "What d'ye want, ye--Dago?"

Tony also contained a grievance--and a plot. He, too, was a Corrigan
hater, and had been primed to see it in others.

"How you like-a Mr. Corrigan?" he asked. "You think-a him a nice-a
man?"

"To hell with 'm," he said. "May his liver turn to water, and the
bones of him crack in the cold of his heart. May dog fennel grow upon
his ancestors' graves, and the grandsons of his children be born
without eyes. May whiskey turn to clabber in his mouth, and every time
he sneezes may he blister the soles of his feet. And the smoke of his
pipe--may it make his eyes water, and the drops fall on the grass that
his cows eat and poison the butter that he spreads on his bread."

Though Tony remained a stranger to the beauties of this imagery, he
gathered from it the conviction that it was sufficiently anti-Corrigan
in its tendency. So, with the confidence of a fellow-conspirator, he
sat by Burney upon the stone and unfolded his plot.

It was very simple in design. Every day after dinner it was Corrigan's
habit to sleep for an hour in his bunk. At such times it was the duty
of the cook and his helper, Tony, to leave the boat so that no noise
might disturb the autocrat. The cook always spent this hour in walking
exercise. Tony's plan was this: After Corrigan should be asleep he
(Tony) and Burney would cut the mooring ropes that held the boat
to the shore. Tony lacked the nerve to do the deed alone. Then the
awkward boat would swing out into a swift current and surely overturn
against a rock there was below.

"Come on and do it," said Burney. "If the back of ye aches from the
lick he gave ye as the pit of me stomach does for the taste of a bit
of smoke, we can't cut the ropes too quick."

"All a-right," said Tony. "But better wait 'bout-a ten minute more.
Give-a Corrigan plenty time get good-a sleep."

They waited, sitting upon the stone. The rest of the men were at work
out of sight around a bend in the road. Everything would have gone
well--except, perhaps, with Corrigan, had not Tony been moved to
decorate the plot with its conventional accompaniment. He was of
dramatic blood, and perhaps he intuitively divined the appendage to
villainous machinations as prescribed by the stage. He pulled from his
shirt bosom a long, black, beautiful, venomous cigar, and handed it to
Burney.

"You like-a smoke while we wait?" he asked.

Burney clutched it and snapped off the end as a terrier bites at a
rat. He laid it to his lips like a long-lost sweetheart. When the
smoke began to draw he gave a long, deep sigh, and the bristles of his
gray-red moustache curled down over the cigar like the talons of an
eagle. Slowly the red faded from the whites of his eyes. He fixed his
gaze dreamily upon the hills across the river. The minutes came and
went.

"'Bout time to go now," said Tony. "That damn-a Corrigan he be in the
reever very quick."

Burney started out of his trance with a grunt. He turned his head and
gazed with a surprised and pained severity at his accomplice. He took
the cigar partly from his mouth, but sucked it back again immediately,
chewed it lovingly once or twice, and spoke, in virulent puffs, from
the corner of his mouth:

"What is it, ye yaller haythen? Would ye lay contrivances against the
enlightened races of the earth, ye instigator of illegal crimes? Would
ye seek to persuade Martin Burney into the dirty tricks of an indecent
Dago? Would ye be for murderin' your benefactor, the good man that
gives ye food and work? Take that, ye punkin-coloured assassin!"

The torrent of Burney's indignation carried with it bodily assault.
The toe of his shoe sent the would-be cutter of ropes tumbling from
his seat.

Tony arose and fled. His vendetta he again relegated to the files of
things that might have been. Beyond the boat he fled and away-away; he
was afraid to remain.

Burney, with expanded chest, watched his late co-plotter disappear.
Then he, too, departed, setting his face in the direction of the
Bronx.

In his wake was a rank and pernicious trail of noisome smoke that
brought peace to his heart and drove the birds from the roadside into
the deepest thickets.


GREATER CONEY
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
"Next Sunday," said Dennis Carnahan, "I'll be after going down to see
the new Coney Island that's risen like a phoenix bird from the ashes
of the old resort. I'm going with Norah Flynn, and we'll fall victims
to all the dry goods deceptions, from the red-flannel eruption of
Mount Vesuvius to the pink silk ribbons on the race-suicide problems
in the incubator kiosk.

"Was I there before? I was. I was there last Tuesday. Did I see the
sights? I did not.

"Last Monday I amalgamated myself with the Bricklayers' Union, and in
accordance with the rules I was ordered to quit work the same day on
account of a sympathy strike with the Lady Salmon Canners' Lodge No.2,
of Tacoma, Washington.

"'Twas disturbed I was in mind and proclivities by losing me job,
bein' already harassed in me soul on account of havin' quarrelled
with Norah Flynn a week before by reason of hard words spoken at the
Dairymen and Street-Sprinkler Drivers' semi-annual ball, caused by
jealousy and prickly heat and that divil, Andy Coghlin.

"So, I says, it will be Coney for Tuesday; and if the chutes and the
short change and the green-corn silk between the teeth don't create
diversions and get me feeling better, then I don't know at all.

"Ye will have heard that Coney has received moral reconstruction. The
old Bowery, where they used to take your tintype by force and give ye
knockout drops before having your palm read, is now called the Wall
Street of the island. The wienerwurst stands are required by law to
keep a news ticker in 'em; and the doughnuts are examined every four
years by a retired steamboat inspector. The nigger man's head that
was used by the old patrons to throw baseballs at is now illegal;
and, by order of the Police Commissioner the image of a man drivin'
an automobile has been substituted. I hear that the old immoral
amusements have been suppressed. People who used to go down from New
York to sit in the sand and dabble in the surf now give up their
quarters to squeeze through turnstiles and see imitations of city
fires and floods painted on canvas. The reprehensible and degradin'
resorts that disgraced old Coney are said to be wiped out. The
wipin'-out process consists of raisin' the price from 10 cents to 25
cents, and hirin' a blonde named Maudie to sell tickets instead of
Micky, the Bowery Bite. That's what they say--I don't know.

"But to Coney I goes a-Tuesday. I gets off the 'L' and starts for the
glitterin' show. 'Twas a fine sight. The Babylonian towers and the
Hindoo roof gardens was blazin' with thousands of electric lights, and
the streets was thick with people. 'Tis a true thing they say that
Coney levels all rank. I see millionaires eatin' popcorn and trampin'
along with the crowd; and I see eight-dollar-a-week clothin'-store
clerks in red automobiles fightin' one another for who'd squeeze the
horn when they come to a corner.

"'I made a mistake,' I says to myself. 'Twas not Coney I needed.
When a man's sad 'tis not scenes of hilarity he wants. 'Twould be
far better for him to meditate in a graveyard or to attend services
at the Paradise Roof Gardens. 'Tis no consolation when a man's lost
his sweetheart to order hot corn and have the waiter bring him the
powdered sugar cruet instead of salt and then conceal himself, or to
have Zozookum, the gipsy palmist, tell him that he has three children
and to look out for another serious calamity; price twenty-five cents.

"I walked far away down on the beach, to the ruins of an old pavilion
near one corner of this new private park, Dreamland. A year ago that
old pavilion was standin' up straight and the old-style waiters was
slammin' a week's supply of clam chowder down in front of you for a
nickel and callin' you 'cully' friendly, and vice was rampant, and you
got back to New York with enough change to take a car at the bridge.
Now they tell me that they serve Welsh rabbits on Surf Avenue, and you
get the right change back in the movin'-picture joints.

"I sat down at one side of the old pavilion and looked at the surf
spreadin' itself on the beach, and thought about the time me and Norah
Flynn sat on that spot last summer. 'Twas before reform struck the
island; and we was happy. We had tintypes and chowder in the ribald
dives, and the Egyptian Sorceress of the Nile told Norah out of her
hand, while I was waitin' in the door, that 'twould be the luck of
her to marry a red-headed gossoon with two crooked legs, and I was
overrunnin' with joy on account of the allusion. And 'twas there that
Norah Flynn put her two hands in mine a year before and we talked of
flats and the things she could cook and the love business that goes
with such episodes. And that was Coney as we loved it, and as the hand
of Satan was upon it, friendly and noisy and your money's worth, with
no fence around the ocean and not too many electric lights to show the
sleeve of a black serge coat against a white shirtwaist.

"I sat with my back to the parks where they had the moon and the
dreams and the steeples corralled, and longed for the old Coney. There
wasn't many people on the beach. Lots of them was feedin' pennies into
the slot machines to see the 'Interrupted Courtship' in the movin'
pictures; and a good many was takin' the sea air in the Canals of
Venice and some was breathin' the smoke of the sea battle by actual
warships in a tank filled with real water. A few was down on the sands
enjoyin' the moonlight and the water. And the heart of me was heavy
for the new morals of the old island, while the bands behind me played
and the sea pounded on the bass drum in front.

"And directly I got up and walked along the old pavilion, and there
on the other side of, half in the dark, was a slip of a girl sittin'
on the tumble-down timbers, and unless I'm a liar she was cryin' by
herself there, all alone.

"'Is it trouble you are in, now, Miss,' says I; 'and what's to be done
about it?'

"''Tis none of your business at all, Denny Carnahan,' says she,
sittin' up straight. And it was the voice of no other than Norah
Flynn.

"'Then it's not,' says I, 'and we're after having a pleasant evening,
Miss Flynn. Have ye seen the sights of this new Coney Island, then? I
presume ye have come here for that purpose,' says I.

"'I have,' says she. 'Me mother and Uncle Tim they are waiting beyond.
'Tis an elegant evening I've had. I've seen all the attractions that
be.'

"'Right ye are,' says I to Norah; and I don't know when I've been
that amused. After disportin' me-self among the most laughable moral
improvements of the revised shell games I took meself to the shore
for the benefit of the cool air. 'And did ye observe the Durbar, Miss
Flynn?'

"'I did,' says she, reflectin'; 'but 'tis not safe, I'm thinkin', to
ride down them slantin' things into the water.'

"'How did ye fancy the shoot the chutes?' I asks.

"'True, then, I'm afraid of guns,' says Norah. 'They make such noise
in my ears. But Uncle Tim, he shot them, he did, and won cigars. 'Tis
a fine time we had this day, Mr. Carnahan.'

"'I'm glad you've enjoyed yerself,' I says. 'I suppose you've had a
roarin' fine time seein' the sights. And how did the incubators and
the helter-skelter and the midgets suit the taste of ye?'

"'I--I wasn't hungry,' says Norah, faint. 'But mother ate a quantity
of all of 'em. I'm that pleased with the fine things in the new Coney
Island,' says she, 'that it's the happiest day I've seen in a long
time, at all.'

"'Did you see Venice?' says I.

"'We did,' says she. 'She was a beauty. She was all dressed in red,
she was, with--'

"I listened no more to Norah Flynn. I stepped up and I gathered her
in my arms.

"''Tis a story-teller ye are, Norah Flynn', says I. 'Ye've seen no
more of the greater Coney Island than I have meself. Come, now, tell
the truth--ye came to sit by the old pavilion by the waves where you
sat last summer and made Dennis Carnahan a happy man. Speak up, and
tell the truth.'

"Norah stuck her nose against me vest.

"'I despise it, Denny,' she says, half cryin'. 'Mother and Uncle
Tim went to see the shows, but I came down here to think of you. I
couldn't bear the lights and the crowd. Are you forgivin' me, Denny,
for the words we had?'

"''Twas me fault,' says I. 'I came here for the same reason meself.
Look at the lights, Norah,' I says, turning my back to the sea--'ain't
they pretty?'

"'They are,' says Norah, with her eyes shinin'; 'and do ye hear the
bands playin'? Oh, Denny, I think I'd like to see it all.'

"'The old Coney is gone, darlin',' I says to her. 'Everything moves.
When a man's glad it's not scenes of sadness he wants. 'Tis a greater
Coney we have here, but we couldn't see it till we got in the humour
for it. Next Sunday, Norah darlin', we'll see the new place from end
to end."
LADY HIGHER UP
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 7
New York City, they said, was deserted; and that accounted, doubtless,
for the sounds carrying so far in the tranquil summer air. The breeze
was south-by-southwest; the hour was midnight; the theme was a bit of
feminine gossip by wireless mythology. Three hundred and sixty-five
feet above the heated asphalt the tiptoeing symbolic deity on
Manhattan pointed her vacillating arrow straight, for the time, in
the direction of her exalted sister on Liberty Island. The lights of
the great Garden were out; the benches in the Square were filled with
sleepers in postures so strange that beside them the writhing figures
in Dore's illustrations of the Inferno would have straightened into
tailor's dummies. The statue of Diana on the tower of the Garden--its
constancy shown by its weathercock ways, its innocence by the coating
of gold that it has acquired, its devotion to style by its single,
graceful flying scarf, its candour and artlessness by its habit of
ever drawing the long bow, its metropolitanism by its posture of swift
flight to catch a Harlem train--remained poised with its arrow pointed
across the upper bay. Had that arrow sped truly and horizontally it
would have passed fifty feet above the head of the heroic matron whose
duty it is to offer a cast-ironical welcome to the oppressed of other
lands.

Seaward this lady gazed, and the furrows between steamship lines began
to cut steerage rates. The translators, too, have put an extra burden
upon her. "Liberty Lighting the World" (as her creator christened
her) would have had a no more responsible duty, except for the size
of it, than that of an electrician or a Standard Oil magnate. But to
"enlighten" the world (as our learned civic guardians "Englished" it)
requires abler qualities. And so poor Liberty, instead of having a
sinecure as a mere illuminator, must be converted into a Chautauqua
schoolma'am, with the oceans for her field instead of the placid,
classic lake. With a fireless torch and an empty head must she dispel
the shadows of the world and teach it its A, B, C's.

"Ah, there, Mrs. Liberty!" called a clear, rollicking soprano voice
through the still, midnight air.

"Is that you, Miss Diana? Excuse my not turning my head. I'm not as
flighty and whirly-whirly as some. And 'tis so hoarse I am I can
hardly talk on account of the peanut-hulls left on the stairs in me
throat by that last boatload of tourists from Marietta, Ohio. 'Tis
after being a fine evening, miss."

"If you don't mind my asking," came the bell-like tones of the golden
statue, "I'd like to know where you got that City Hall brogue. I
didn't know that Liberty was necessarily Irish."

"If ye'd studied the history of art in its foreign complications
ye'd not need to ask," replied the offshore statue. "If ye wasn't
so light-headed and giddy ye'd know that I was made by a Dago and
presented to the American people on behalf of the French Government
for the purpose of welcomin' Irish immigrants into the Dutch city of
New York. 'Tis that I've been doing night and day since I was erected.
Ye must know, Miss Diana, that 'tis with statues the same as with
people--'tis not their makers nor the purposes for which they were
created that influence the operations of their tongues at all--it's
the associations with which they become associated, I'm telling ye."

"You're dead right," agreed Diana. "I notice it on myself. If any of
the old guys from Olympus were to come along and hand me any hot air
in the ancient Greek I couldn't tell it from a conversation between a
Coney Island car conductor and a five-cent fare."

"I'm right glad ye've made up your mind to be sociable, Miss Diana,"
said Mrs. Liberty. "'Tis a lonesome life I have down here. Is there
anything doin' up in the city, Miss Diana, dear?"

"Oh, la, la, la!--no," said Diana. "Notice that 'la, la, la,' Aunt
Liberty? Got that from 'Paris by Night' on the roof garden under me.
You'll hear that 'la, la, la' at the Café McCann now, along with
'garsong.' The bohemian crowd there have become tired of 'garsong'
since O'Rafferty, the head waiter, punched three of them for calling
him it. Oh, no; the town's strickly on the bum these nights.
Everybody's away. Saw a downtown merchant on a roof garden this
evening with his stenographer. Show was so dull he went to sleep. A
waiter biting on a dime tip to see if it was good half woke him up.
He looks around and sees his little pothooks perpetrator. 'H'm!' says
he, 'will you take a letter, Miss De St. Montmorency?' 'Sure, in a
minute,' says she, 'if you'll make it an X.'

"That was the best thing happened on the roof. So you see how dull it
is. La, la, la!"

"'Tis fine ye have it up there in society, Miss Diana. Ye have the
cat show and the horse show and the military tournaments where the
privates look grand as generals and the generals try to look grand
as floor-walkers. And ye have the Sportsmen's Show, where the girl
that measures 36, 19, 45 cooks breakfast food in a birch-bark wigwam
on the banks of the Grand Canal of Venice conducted by one of the
Vanderbilts, Bernard McFadden, and the Reverends Dowie and Duss. And
ye have the French ball, where the original Cohens and the Robert
Emmet-Sangerbund Society dance the Highland fling one with another.
And ye have the grand O'Ryan ball, which is the most beautiful pageant
in the world, where the French students vie with the Tyrolean warblers
in doin' the cake walk. Ye have the best job for a statue in the whole
town, Miss Diana.

"'Tis weary work," sighed the island statue, "disseminatin' the
science of liberty in New York Bay. Sometimes when I take a peep down
at Ellis Island and see the gang of immigrants I'm supposed to light
up, 'tis tempted I am to blow out the gas and let the coroner write
out their naturalization papers."

"Say, it's a shame, ain't it, to give you the worst end of it?" came
the sympathetic antiphony of the steeplechase goddess. "It must be
awfully lonesome down there with so much water around you. I don't see
how you ever keep your hair in curl. And that Mother Hubbard you are
wearing went out ten years ago. I think those sculptor guys ought to
be held for damages for putting iron or marble clothes on a lady.
That's where Mr. St. Gaudens was wise. I'm always a little ahead of
the styles; but they're coming my way pretty fast. Excuse my back a
moment--I caught a puff of wind from the north--shouldn't wonder if
things had loosened up in Esopus. There, now! it's in the West--I
should think that gold plank would have calmed the air out in that
direction. What were you saying, Mrs. Liberty?"

"A fine chat I've had with ye, Miss Diana, ma'am, but I see one
of them European steamers a-sailin' up the Narrows, and I must be
attendin' to me duties. 'Tis me job to extend aloft the torch of
Liberty to welcome all them that survive the kicks that the steerage
stewards give 'em while landin.' Sure 'tis a great country ye can come
to for $8.50, and the doctor waitin' to send ye back home free if he
sees yer eyes red from cryin' for it."

The golden statue veered in the changing breeze, menacing many points
on the horizon with its aureate arrow.

"So long, Aunt Liberty," sweetly called Diana of the Tower. "Some
night, when the wind's right. I'll call you up again. But--say! you
haven't got such a fierce kick coming about your job. I've kept a
pretty good watch on the island of Manhattan since I've been up here.
That's a pretty sick-looking bunch of liberty chasers they dump down
at your end of it; but they don't all stay that way. Every little
while up here I see guys signing checks and voting the right ticket,
and encouraging the arts and taking a bath every morning, that was
shoved ashore by a dock labourer born in the United States who never
earned over forty dollars a month. Don't run down your job, Aunt
Liberty; you're all right, all right."
ADVENTURES OF SHAMROCK JOLNES
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 7
I am so fortunate as to count Shamrock Jolnes, the great New York
detective, among my muster of friends. Jolnes is what is called the
"inside man" of the city detective force. He is an expert in the use
of the typewriter, and it is his duty, whenever there is a "murder
mystery" to be solved, to sit at a desk telephone at headquarters and
take down the messages of "cranks" who 'phone in their confessions to
having committed the crime.

But on certain "off" days when confessions are coming in slowly and
three or four newspapers have run to earth as many different guilty
persons, Jolnes will knock about the town with me, exhibiting, to my
great delight and instruction, his marvellous powers of observation
and deduction.

The other day I dropped in at Headquarters and found the great
detective gazing thoughtfully at a string that was tied tightly around
his little finger.

"Good morning, Whatsup," he said, without turning his head. "I'm glad
to notice that you've had your house fitted up with electric lights at
last."

"Will you please tell me," I said, in surprise, "how you knew that? I
am sure that I never mentioned the fact to any one, and the wiring was
a rush order not completed until this morning."

"Nothing easier," said Jolnes, genially. "As you came in I caught the
odour of the cigar you are smoking. I know an expensive cigar; and
I know that not more than three men in New York can afford to smoke
cigars and pay gas bills too at the present time. That was an easy
one. But I am working just now on a little problem of my own."

"Why have you that string on your finger?" I asked.

"That's the problem," said Jolnes. "My wife tied that on this morning
to remind me of something I was to send up to the house. Sit down,
Whatsup, and excuse me for a few moments."

The distinguished detective went to a wall telephone, and stood with
the receiver to his ear for probably ten minutes.

"Were you listening to a confession?" I asked, when he had returned to
his chair.

"Perhaps," said Jolnes, with a smile, "it might be called something of
the sort. To be frank with you, Whatsup, I've cut out the dope. I've
been increasing the quantity for so long that morphine doesn't have
much effect on me any more. I've got to have something more powerful.
That telephone I just went to is connected with a room in the Waldorf
where there's an author's reading in progress. Now, to get at the
solution of this string."

After five minutes of silent pondering, Jolnes looked at me, with a
smile, and nodded his head.

"Wonderful man!" I exclaimed; "already?"

"It is quite simple," he said, holding up his finger. "You see
that knot? That is to prevent my forgetting. It is, therefore, a
forget-me-knot. A forget-me-not is a flower. It was a sack of flour
that I was to send home!"

"Beautiful!" I could not help crying out in admiration.

"Suppose we go out for a ramble," suggested Jolnes.

"There is only one case of importance on hand just now. Old man
McCarty, one hundred and four years old, died from eating too many
bananas. The evidence points so strongly to the Mafia that the police
have surrounded the Second Avenue Katzenjammer Gambrinus Club No. 2,
and the capture of the assassin is only the matter of a few hours. The
detective force has not yet been called on for assistance."

Jolnes and I went out and up the street toward the corner, where we
were to catch a surface car.

Half-way up the block we met Rheingelder, an acquaintance of ours, who
held a City Hall position.

"Good morning, Rheingelder," said Jolnes, halting.

"Nice breakfast that was you had this morning."

Always on the lookout for the detective's remarkable feats of
deduction, I saw Jolnes's eye flash for an instant upon a long
yellow splash on the shirt bosom and a smaller one upon the chin of
Rheingelder--both undoubtedly made by the yolk of an egg.

"Oh, dot is some of your detectiveness," said Rheingelder, shaking all
over with a smile. "Vell, I pet you trinks und cigars all round dot
you cannot tell vot I haf eaten for breakfast."

"Done," said Jolnes. "Sausage, pumpernickel and coffee."

Rheingelder admitted the correctness of the surmise and paid the bet.
When we had proceeded on our way I said to Jolnes:

"I thought you looked at the egg spilled on his chin and shirt front."

"I did," said Jolnes. "That is where I began my deduction. Rheingelder
is a very economical, saving man. Yesterday eggs dropped in the market
to twenty-eight cents per dozen. To-day they are quoted at forty-two.
Rheingelder ate eggs yesterday, and to-day he went back to his usual
fare. A little thing like this isn't anything, Whatsup; it belongs to
the primary arithmetic class."

When we boarded the street car we found the seats all
occupied--principally by ladies. Jolnes and I stood on the rear
platform.

About the middle of the car there sat an elderly man with a short,
gray beard, who looked to be the typical, well-dressed New Yorker. At
successive corners other ladies climbed aboard, and soon three or four
of them were standing over the man, clinging to straps and glaring
meaningly at the man who occupied the coveted seat. But he resolutely
retained his place.

"We New Yorkers," I remarked to Jolnes, "have about lost our manners,
as far as the exercise of them in public goes."

"Perhaps so," said Jolnes, lightly; "but the man you evidently refer
to happens to be a very chivalrous and courteous gentleman from Old
Virginia. He is spending a few days in New York with his wife and two
daughters, and he leaves for the South to-night."

"You know him, then?" I said, in amazement.

"I never saw him before we stepped on the car," declared the
detective, smilingly.

"By the gold tooth of the Witch of Endor!" I cried, "if you can
construe all that from his appearance you are dealing in nothing else
than black art."

"The habit of observation--nothing more," said Jolnes. "If the old
gentleman gets off the car before we do, I think I can demonstrate to
you the accuracy of my deduction."

Three blocks farther along the gentleman rose to leave the car. Jolnes
addressed him at the door:

"Pardon me, sir, but are you not Colonel Hunter, of Norfolk,
Virginia?"

"No, suh," was the extremely courteous answer. "My name, suh, is
Ellison--Major Winfield R. Ellison, from Fairfax County, in the same
state. I know a good many people, suh, in Norfolk--the Goodriches, the
Tollivers, and the Crabtrees, suh, but I never had the pleasure of
meeting yo' friend, Colonel Hunter. I am happy to say, suh, that I am
going back to Virginia to-night, after having spent a week in yo' city
with my wife and three daughters. I shall be in Norfolk in about ten
days, and if you will give me yo' name, suh, I will take pleasure in
looking up Colonel Hunter and telling him that you inquired after him,
suh."

"Thank you," said Jolnes; "tell him that Reynolds sent his regards, if
you will be so kind."

I glanced at the great New York detective and saw that a look of
intense chagrin had come upon his clear-cut features. Failure in the
slightest point always galled Shamrock Jolnes.

"Did you say your _three_ daughters?" he asked of the Virginia
gentleman.

"Yes, suh, my three daughters, all as fine girls as there are in
Fairfax County," was the answer.

With that Major Ellison stopped the car and began to descend the step.

Shamrock Jolnes clutched his arm.

"One moment, sir," he begged, in an urbane voice in which I alone
detected the anxiety--"am I not right in believing that one of the
young ladies is an _adopted_ daughter?"

"You are, suh," admitted the major, from the ground, "but how the
devil you knew it, suh, is mo' than I can tell."

"And mo' than I can tell, too," I said, as the car went on.

Jolnes was restored to his calm, observant serenity by having wrested
victory from his apparent failure; so after we got off the car he
invited me into a café, promising to reveal the process of his latest
wonderful feat.

"In the first place," he began after we were comfortably seated, "I
knew the gentleman was no New Yorker because he was flushed and uneasy
and restless on account of the ladies that were standing, although he
did not rise and give them his seat. I decided from his appearance
that he was a Southerner rather than a Westerner.

"Next I began to figure out his reason for not relinquishing his seat
to a lady when he evidently felt strongly, but not overpoweringly,
impelled to do so. I very quickly decided upon that. I noticed that
one of his eyes had received a severe jab in one corner, which was red
and inflamed, and that all over his face were tiny round marks about
the size of the end of an uncut lead pencil. Also upon both of his
patent leather shoes were a number of deep imprints shaped like ovals
cut off square at one end.

"Now, there is only one district in New York City where a man is bound
to receive scars and wounds and indentations of that sort--and that
is along the sidewalks of Twenty-third Street and a portion of Sixth
Avenue south of there. I knew from the imprints of trampling French
heels on his feet and the marks of countless jabs in the face from
umbrellas and parasols carried by women in the shopping district that
he had been in conflict with the amazonian troops. And as he was a
man of intelligent appearance, I knew he would not have braved such
dangers unless he had been dragged thither by his own women folk.
Therefore, when he got on the car his anger at the treatment he had
received was sufficient to make him keep his seat in spite of his
traditions of Southern chivalry."

"That is all very well," I said, "but why did you insist upon
daughters--and especially two daughters? Why couldn't a wife alone
have taken him shopping?"

"There had to be daughters," said Jolnes, calmly. "If he had only a
wife, and she near his own age, he could have bluffed her into going
alone. If he had a young wife she would prefer to go alone. So there
you are."

"I'll admit that," I said; "but, now, why two daughters? And how, in
the name of all the prophets, did you guess that one was adopted when
he told you he had three?"

"Don't say guess," said Jolnes, with a touch of pride in his air;
"there is no such word in the lexicon of ratiocination. In Major
Ellison's buttonhole there was a carnation and a rosebud backed by a
geranium leaf. No woman ever combined a carnation and a rosebud into
a boutonniere. Close your eyes, Whatsup, and give the logic of your
imagination a chance. Cannot you see the lovely Adele fastening the
carnation to the lapel so that papa may be gay upon the street? And
then the romping Edith May dancing up with sisterly jealousy to add
her rosebud to the adornment?"

"And then," I cried, beginning to feel enthusiasm, "when he declared
that he had three daughters--"

"I could see," said Jolnes, "one in the background who added no
flower; and I knew that she must be--"

"Adopted!" I broke in. "I give you every credit; but how did you know
he was leaving for the South to-night?"

"In his breast pocket," said the great detective, "something large and
oval made a protuberance. Good liquor is scarce on trains, and it is a
long journey from New York to Fairfax County."

"Again, I must bow to you," I said. "And tell me this, so that my last
shred of doubt will be cleared away; why did you decide that he was
from Virginia?"

"It was very faint, I admit," answered Shamrock Jolnes, "but no
trained observer could have failed to detect the odour of mint in the
car."
NEW YORK BY CAMP FIRE LIGHT
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
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Away out in the Creek Nation we learned things about New York.

We were on a hunting trip, and were camped one night on the bank of a
little stream. Bud Kingsbury was our skilled hunter and guide, and it
was from his lips that we had explanations of Manhattan and the queer
folks that inhabit it. Bud had once spent a month in the metropolis,
and a week or two at other times, and he was pleased to discourse to
us of what he had seen.

Fifty yards away from our camp was pitched the teepee of a wandering
family of Indians that had come up and settled there for the night. An
old, old Indian woman was trying to build a fire under an iron pot
hung upon three sticks.

Bud went over to her assistance, and soon had her fire going. When he
came back we complimented him playfully upon his gallantry.

"Oh," said Bud, "don't mention it. It's a way I have. Whenever I see a
lady trying to cook things in a pot and having trouble I always go to
the rescue. I done the same thing once in a high-toned house in. New
York City. Heap big society teepee on Fifth Avenue. That Injun lady
kind of recalled it to my mind. Yes, I endeavours to be polite and
help the ladies out."

The camp demanded the particulars.

"I was manager of the Triangle B Ranch in the Panhandle," said Bud.
"It was owned at that time by old man Sterling, of New York. He wanted
to sell out, and he wrote for me to come on to New York and explain
the ranch to the syndicate that wanted to buy. So I sends to Fort
Worth and has a forty dollar suit of clothes made, and hits the trail
for the big village.

"Well, when I got there, old man Sterling and his outfit certainly
laid themselves out to be agreeable. We had business and pleasure so
mixed up that you couldn't tell whether it was a treat or a trade half
the time. We had trolley rides, and cigars, and theatre round-ups, and
rubber parties."

"Rubber parties?" said a listener, inquiringly.

"Sure," said Bud. "Didn't you never attend 'em? You walk around and
try to look at the tops of the skyscrapers. Well, we sold the ranch,
and old man Sterling asks me 'round to his house to take grub on the
night before I started back. It wasn't any high-collared affair--just
me and the old man and his wife and daughter. But they was a
fine-haired outfit all right, and the lilies of the field wasn't in
it. They made my Fort Worth clothes carpenter look like a dealer in
horse blankets and gee strings. And then the table was all pompous
with flowers, and there was a whole kit of tools laid out beside
everybody's plate. You'd have thought you was fixed out to burglarize
a restaurant before you could get your grub. But I'd been in New York
over a week then, and I was getting on to stylish ways. I kind of
trailed behind and watched the others use the hardware supplies, and
then I tackled the chuck with the same weapons. It ain't much trouble
to travel with the high-flyers after you find out their gait.  I got
along fine. I was feeling cool and agreeable, and pretty soon I was
talking away fluent as you please, all about the ranch and the West,
and telling 'em how the Indians eat grasshopper stew and snakes, and
you never saw people so interested.

"But the real joy of that feast was that Miss Sterling. Just a little
trick she was, not bigger than two bits' worth of chewing plug; but
she had a way about her that seemed to say she was the people, and you
believed it. And yet, she never put on any airs, and she smiled at me
the same as if I was a millionaire while I was telling about a Creek
dog feast and listened like it was news from home.

"By and by, after we had eat oysters and some watery soup and truck
that never was in my repertory, a Methodist preacher brings in a kind
of camp stove arrangement, all silver, on long legs, with a lamp under
it.

"Miss Sterling lights up and begins to do some cooking right on the
supper table. I wondered why old man Sterling didn't hire a cook, with
all the money he had. Pretty soon she dished out some cheesy tasting
truck that she said was rabbit, but I swear there had never been a
Molly cotton tail in a mile of it.

"The last thing on the programme was lemonade. It was brought around
in little flat glass bowls and set by your plate. I was pretty
thirsty, and I picked up mine and took a big swig of it. Right there
was where the little lady had made a mistake. She had put in the lemon
all right, but she'd forgot the sugar. The best housekeepers slip up
sometimes. I thought maybe Miss Sterling was just learning to keep
house and cook--that rabbit would surely make you think so--and I says
to myself, 'Little lady, sugar or no sugar I'll stand by you,' and I
raises up my bowl again and drinks the last drop of the lemonade. And
then all the balance of 'em picks up their bowls and does the same.
And then I gives Miss Sterling the laugh proper, just to carry it off
like a joke, so she wouldn't feel bad about the mistake.

"After we all went into the sitting room she sat down and talked to me
quite awhile.

"'It was so kind of you, Mr. Kingsbury,' says she, 'to bring my
blunder off so nicely. It was so stupid of me to forget the sugar.'

"'Never you mind,' says I, 'some lucky man will throw his rope over a
mighty elegant little housekeeper some day, not far from here.'

"'If you mean me, Mr. Kingsbury,' says she, laughing out loud, 'I hope
he will be as lenient with my poor housekeeping as you have been.'

"'Don't mention it,' says I. 'Anything to oblige the ladies.'"

Bud ceased his reminiscences. And then some one asked him what he
considered the most striking and prominent trait of New Yorkers.

"The most visible and peculiar trait of New York folks," answered Bud,
"is New York. Most of 'em has New York on the brain. They have heard
of other places, such as Waco, and Paris, and Hot Springs, and London;
but they don't believe in 'em. They think that town is all Merino. Now
to show you how much they care for their village I'll tell you about
one of 'em that strayed out as far as the Triangle B while I was
working there.

"This New Yorker come out there looking for a job on the ranch. He
said he was a good horseback rider, and there was pieces of tanbark
hanging on his clothes yet from his riding school.

"Well, for a while they put him to keeping books in the ranch store,
for he was a devil at figures. But he got tired of that, and asked for
something more in the line of activity. The boys on the ranch liked
him all right, but he made us tired shouting New York all the time.
Every night he'd tell us about East River and J. P. Morgan and the
Eden Musee and Hetty Green and Central Park till we used to throw tin
plates and branding irons at him.

"One day this chap gets on a pitching pony, and the pony kind of
sidled up his back and went to eating grass while the New Yorker was
coming down.

"He come down on his head on a chunk of mesquit wood, and he didn't
show any designs toward getting up again. We laid him out in a tent,
and he begun to look pretty dead. So Gideon Pease saddles up and
burns the wind for old Doc Sleeper's residence in Dogtown, thirty
miles away.

"The doctor comes over and he investigates the patient.

"'Boys,' says he, 'you might as well go to playing seven-up for his
saddle and clothes, for his head's fractured and if he lives ten
minutes it will be a remarkable case of longevity.'

"Of course we didn't gamble for the poor rooster's saddle--that was
one of Doc's jokes. But we stood around feeling solemn, and all of us
forgive him for having talked us to death about New York.

"I never saw anybody about to hand in his checks act more peaceful
than this fellow. His eyes were fixed 'way up in the air, and he was
using rambling words to himself all about sweet music and beautiful
streets and white-robed forms, and he was smiling like dying was a
pleasure.

"'He's about gone now,' said Doc. 'Whenever they begin to think they
see heaven it's all off.'

"Blamed if that New York man didn't sit right up when he heard the Doc
say that.

"'Say,' says he, kind of disappointed, 'was that heaven? Confound it
all, I thought it was Broadway. Some of you fellows get my clothes.
I'm going to get up.'

"And I'll be blamed," concluded Bud, "if he wasn't on the train with a
ticket for New York in his pocket four days afterward!"


OCTOBER AND JUNE
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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The Captain gazed gloomily at his sword that hung upon the wall. In
the closet near by was stored his faded uniform, stained and worn by
weather and service. What a long, long time it seemed since those old
days of war's alarms!

And now, veteran that he was of his country's strenuous times, he had
been reduced to abject surrender by a woman's soft eyes and smiling
lips. As he sat in his quiet room he held in his hand the letter he
had just received from her--the letter that had caused him to wear
that look of gloom. He re-read the fatal paragraph that had destroyed
his hope.


   In declining the honour you have done me in asking me to be
   your wife, I feel that I ought to speak frankly. The reason
   I have for so doing is the great difference between our ages.
   I like you very, very much, but I am sure that our marriage
   would not be a happy one. I am sorry to have to refer to this,
   but I believe that you will appreciate my honesty in giving
   you the true reason.


The Captain sighed, and leaned his head upon his hand. Yes, there were
many years between their ages. But he was strong and rugged, he had
position and wealth. Would not his love, his tender care, and the
advantages he could bestow upon her make her forget the question of
age? Besides, he was almost sure that she cared for him.

The Captain was a man of prompt action. In the field he had been
distinguished for his decisiveness and energy. He would see her and
plead his cause again in person. Age!--what was it to come between him
and the one he loved?

In two hours he stood ready, in light marching order, for his greatest
battle. He took the train for the old Southern town in Tennessee where
she lived.

Theodora Deming was on the steps of the handsome, porticoed old
mansion, enjoying the summer twilight, when the Captain entered the
gate and came up the gravelled walk. She met him with a smile that was
free from embarrassment. As the Captain stood on the step below her,
the difference in their ages did not appear so great. He was tall and
straight and clear-eyed and browned. She was in the bloom of lovely
womanhood.

"I wasn't expecting you," said Theodora; "but now that you've come you
may sit on the step. Didn't you get my letter?"

"I did," said the Captain; "and that's why I came. I say, now, Theo,
reconsider your answer, won't you?"

Theodora smiled softly upon him. He carried his years well.
She was really fond of his strength, his wholesome looks, his
manliness--perhaps, if--

"No, no," she said, shaking her head, positively; "it's out of the
question. I like you a whole lot, but marrying won't do. My age and
yours are--but don't make me say it again--I told you in my letter."

The Captain flushed a little through the bronze on his face. He was
silent for a while, gazing sadly into the twilight. Beyond a line of
woods that he could see was a field where the boys in blue had once
bivouacked on their march toward the sea. How long ago it seemed now!
Truly, Fate and Father Time had tricked him sorely. Just a few years
interposed between himself and happiness!

Theodora's hand crept down and rested in the clasp of his firm, brown
one. She felt, at least, that sentiment that is akin to love.

"Don't take it so hard, please," she said, gently. "It's all for the
best. I've reasoned it out very wisely all by myself. Some day you'll
be glad I didn't marry you. It would be very nice and lovely for a
while--but, just think! In only a few short years what different
tastes we would have! One of us would want to sit by the fireside and
read, and maybe nurse neuralgia or rheumatism of evenings, while the
other would be crazy for balls and theatres and late suppers. No, my
dear friend. While it isn't exactly January and May, it's a clear case
of October and pretty early in June."

"I'd always do what you wanted me to do, Theo. If you wanted to--"

"No, you wouldn't. You think now that you would, but you wouldn't.
Please don't ask me any more."

The Captain had lost his battle. But he was a gallant warrior, and
when he rose to make his final adieu his mouth was grimly set and his
shoulders were squared.

He took the train for the North that night. On the next evening he was
back in his room, where his sword was hanging against the wall. He was
dressing for dinner, tying his white tie into a very careful bow. And
at the same time he was indulging in a pensive soliloquy.

"'Pon my honour, I believe Theo was right, after all. Nobody can deny
that she's a peach, but she must be twenty-eight, at the very kindest
calculation."

For you see, the Captain was only nineteen, and his sword had never
been drawn except on the parade ground at Chattanooga, which was as
near as he ever got to the Spanish-American War.
GHOST OF A CHANCE
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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"Actually, a _hod_!" repeated Mrs. Kinsolving, pathetically.

Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore arched a sympathetic eyebrow. Thus she expressed
condolence and a generous amount of apparent surprise.

"Fancy her telling everywhere," recapitulated Mrs. Kinsolving, "that
she saw a ghost in the apartment she occupied here--our choicest
guest-room--a ghost, carrying a hod on its shoulder--the ghost of
an old man in overalls, smoking a pipe and carrying a hod! The very
absurdity of the thing shows her malicious intent. There never was a
Kinsolving that carried a hod. Every one knows that Mr. Kinsolving's
father accumulated his money by large building contracts, but he never
worked a day with his own hands. He had this house built from his own
plans; but--oh, a hod! Why need she have been so cruel and malicious?"

"It is really too bad," murmured Mrs. Bellmore, with an approving
glance of her fine eyes about the vast chamber done in lilac and old
gold. "And it was in this room she saw it! Oh, no, I'm not afraid of
ghosts. Don't have the least fear on my account. I'm glad you put me
in here. I think family ghosts so interesting! But, really, the story
does sound a little inconsistent. I should have expected something
better from Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins. Don't they carry bricks in hods?
Why should a ghost bring bricks into a villa built of marble and
stone? I'm so sorry, but it makes me think that age is beginning to
tell upon Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins."

"This house," continued Mrs. Kinsolving, "was built upon the site of
an old one used by the family during the Revolution. There wouldn't
be anything strange in its having a ghost. And there was a Captain
Kinsolving who fought in General Greene's army, though we've never
been able to secure any papers to vouch for it. If there is to be a
family ghost, why couldn't it have been his, instead of a
bricklayer's?"

"The ghost of a Revolutionary ancestor wouldn't be a bad idea," agreed
Mrs. Bellmore; "but you know how arbitrary and inconsiderate ghosts
can be. Maybe, like love, they are 'engendered in the eye.' One
advantage of those who see ghosts is that their stories can't be
disproved. By a spiteful eye, a Revolutionary knapsack might easily be
construed to be a hod. Dear Mrs. Kinsolving, think no more of it. I am
sure it was a knapsack."

"But she told everybody!" mourned Mrs. Kinsolving, inconsolable. "She
insisted upon the details. There is the pipe. And how are you going to
get out of the overalls?"

"Shan't get into them," said Mrs. Bellmore, with a prettily suppressed
yawn; "too stiff and wrinkly. Is that you, Felice? Prepare my bath,
please. Do you dine at seven at Clifftop, Mrs. Kinsolving? So kind of
you to run in for a chat before dinner! I love those little touches of
informality with a guest. They give such a home flavour to a visit. So
sorry; I must be dressing. I am so indolent I always postpone it until
the last moment."

Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins had been the first large plum that the
Kinsolvings had drawn from the social pie. For a long time, the
pie itself had been out of reach on a top shelf. But the purse and
the pursuit had at last lowered it. Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins was the
heliograph of the smart society parading corps. The glitter of her wit
and actions passed along the line, transmitting whatever was latest
and most daring in the game of peep-show. Formerly, her fame and
leadership had been secure enough not to need the support of such
artifices as handing around live frogs for favours at a cotillon. But,
now, these things were necessary to the holding of her throne. Beside,
middle age had come to preside, incongruous, at her capers. The
sensational papers had cut her space from a page to two columns.
Her wit developed a sting; her manners became more rough and
inconsiderate, as if she felt the royal necessity of establishing
her autocracy by scorning the conventionalities that bound lesser
potentates.

To some pressure at the command of the Kinsolvings, she had yielded
so far as to honour their house by her presence, for an evening and
night. She had her revenge upon her hostess by relating, with grim
enjoyment and sarcastic humour, her story of the vision carrying
the hod. To that lady, in raptures at having penetrated thus far
toward the coveted inner circle, the result came as a crushing
disappointment. Everybody either sympathized or laughed, and there
was little to choose between the two modes of expression.

But, later on, Mrs. Kinsolving's hopes and spirits were revived by the
capture of a second and greater prize.

Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore had accepted an invitation to visit at Clifftop,
and would remain for three days. Mrs. Bellmore was one of the younger
matrons, whose beauty, descent, and wealth gave her a reserved seat
in the holy of holies that required no strenuous bolstering. She was
generous enough thus to give Mrs. Kinsolving the accolade that was so
poignantly desired; and, at the same time, she thought how much it
would please Terence. Perhaps it would end by solving him.

Terence was Mrs. Kinsolving's son, aged twenty-nine, quite
good-looking enough, and with two or three attractive and mysterious
traits. For one, he was very devoted to his mother, and that was
sufficiently odd to deserve notice. For others, he talked so little
that it was irritating, and he seemed either very shy or very deep.
Terence interested Mrs. Bellmore, because she was not sure which it
was. She intended to study him a little longer, unless she forgot
the matter. If he was only shy, she would abandon him, for shyness
is a bore. If he was deep, she would also abandon him, for depth is
precarious.

On the afternoon of the third day of her visit, Terence hunted up Mrs.
Bellmore, and found her in a nook actually looking at an album.

"It's so good of you," said he, "to come down here and retrieve the
day for us. I suppose you have heard that Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins
scuttled the ship before she left. She knocked a whole plank out of
the bottom with a hod. My mother is grieving herself ill about it.
Can't you manage to see a ghost for us while you are here, Mrs.
Bellmore--a bang-up, swell ghost, with a coronet on his head and a
cheque book under his arm?"

"That was a naughty old lady, Terence," said Mrs. Bellmore, "to tell
such stories. Perhaps you gave her too much supper. Your mother
doesn't really take it seriously, does she?"

"I think she does," answered Terence. "One would think every brick
in the hod had dropped on her. It's a good mammy, and I don't like
to see her worried. It's to be hoped that the ghost belongs to the
hod-carriers' union, and will go out on a strike. If he doesn't, there
will be no peace in this family."

"I'm sleeping in the ghost-chamber," said Mrs. Bellmore, pensively.
"But it's so nice I wouldn't change it, even if I were afraid,
which I'm not. It wouldn't do for me to submit a counter story of a
desirable, aristocratic shade, would it? I would do so, with pleasure,
but it seems to me it would be too obviously an antidote for the other
narrative to be effective."

"True," said Terence, running two fingers thoughtfully into his crisp,
brown hair; "that would never do. How would it work to see the same
ghost again, minus the overalls, and have gold bricks in the hod? That
would elevate the spectre from degrading toil to a financial plane.
Don't you think that would be respectable enough?"

"There was an ancestor who fought against the Britishers, wasn't
there? Your mother said something to that effect."

"I believe so; one of those old chaps in raglan vests and golf
trousers. I don't care a continental for a Continental, myself. But
the mother has set her heart on pomp and heraldry and pyrotechnics,
and I want her to be happy."

"You are a good boy, Terence," said Mrs. Bellmore, sweeping her silks
close to one side of her, "not to beat your mother. Sit here by me,
and let's look at the album, just as people used to do twenty years
ago. Now, tell me about every one of them. Who is this tall, dignified
gentleman leaning against the horizon, with one arm on the Corinthian
column?"

"That old chap with the big feet?" inquired Terence, craning his neck.
"That's great-uncle O'Brannigan. He used to keep a rathskeller on the
Bowery."

"I asked you to sit down, Terence. If you are not going to amuse, or
obey, me, I shall report in the morning that I saw a ghost wearing an
apron and carrying schooners of beer. Now, that is better. To be shy,
at your age, Terence, is a thing that you should blush to
acknowledge."



At breakfast on the last morning of her visit, Mrs. Bellmore startled
and entranced every one present by announcing positively that she had
seen the ghost.

"Did it have a--a--a--?" Mrs. Kinsolving, in her suspense and
agitation, could not bring out the word.

"No, indeed--far from it."

There was a chorus of questions from others at the table. "Weren't
you frightened?" "What did it do?" "How did it look?" "How was it
dressed?" "Did it say anything?" "Didn't you scream?"

"I'll try to answer everything at once," said Mrs. Bellmore,
heroically, "although I'm frightfully hungry. Something awakened
me--I'm not sure whether it was a noise or a touch--and there stood
the phantom. I never burn a light at night, so the room was quite
dark, but I saw it plainly. I wasn't dreaming. It was a tall man,
all misty white from head to foot. It wore the full dress of the old
Colonial days--powdered hair, baggy coat skirts, lace ruffles, and
a sword. It looked intangible and luminous in the dark, and moved
without a sound. Yes, I was a little frightened at first--or startled,
I should say. It was the first ghost I had ever seen. No, it didn't
say anything. I didn't scream. I raised up on my elbow, and then it
glided silently away, and disappeared when it reached the door."

Mrs. Kinsolving was in the seventh heaven. "The description is that of
Captain Kinsolving, of General Greene's army, one of our ancestors,"
she said, in a voice that trembled with pride and relief. "I really
think I must apologize for our ghostly relative, Mrs. Bellmore. I am
afraid he must have badly disturbed your rest."

Terence sent a smile of pleased congratulation toward his mother.
Attainment was Mrs. Kinsolving's, at last, and he loved to see her
happy.

"I suppose I ought to be ashamed to confess," said Mrs. Bellmore, who
was now enjoying her breakfast, "that I wasn't very much disturbed.
I presume it would have been the customary thing to scream and faint,
and have all of you running about in picturesque costumes. But, after
the first alarm was over, I really couldn't work myself up to a panic.
The ghost retired from the stage quietly and peacefully, after doing
its little turn, and I went to sleep again."

Nearly all listened, politely accepted Mrs. Bellmore s story as a
made-up affair, charitably offered as an offset to the unkind vision
seen by Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins. But one or two present perceived that
her assertions bore the genuine stamp of her own convictions. Truth
and candour seemed to attend upon every word. Even a scoffer at
ghosts--if he were very observant--would have been forced to admit
that she had, at least in a very vivid dream, been honestly aware of
the weird visitor.'

Soon Mrs. Bellmore's maid was packing. In two hours the auto would
come to convey her to the station. As Terence was strolling upon the
east piazza, Mrs. Bellmore came up to him, with a confidential sparkle
in her eye.

"I didn't wish to tell the others all of it," she said, "but I will
tell you. In a way, I think you should be held responsible. Can you
guess in what manner that ghost awakened me last night?"

"Rattled chains," suggested Terence, after some thought, "or groaned?
They usually do one or the other."

"Do you happen to know," continued Mrs. Bellmore, with sudden
irrelevancy, "if I resemble any one of the female relatives of your
restless ancestor, Captain Kinsolving?"

"Don't think so," said Terence, with an extremely puzzled air. "Never
heard of any of them being noted beauties."

"Then, why," said Mrs. Bellmore, looking the young man gravely in the
eye, "should that ghost have kissed me, as I'm sure it did?"

"Heavens!" exclaimed Terence, in wide-eyed amazement; "you don't mean
that, Mrs. Bellmore! Did he actually kiss you?"

"I said _it_," corrected Mrs. Bellmore. "I hope the impersonal pronoun
is correctly used."

"But why did you say I was responsible?"

"Because you are the only living male relative of the ghost."

"I see. 'Unto the third and fourth generation.' But, seriously, did
he--did it--how do you--?"

"Know? How does any one know? I was asleep, and that is what awakened
me, I'm almost certain."

"Almost?"

"Well, I awoke just as--oh, can't you understand what I mean? When
anything arouses you suddenly, you are not positive whether you
dreamed, or--and yet you know that-- Dear me, Terence, must I dissect
the most elementary sensations in order to accommodate your extremely
practical intelligence?"

"But, about kissing ghosts, you know," said Terence, humbly, "I
require the most primary instruction. I never kissed a ghost. Is
it--is it--?"

"The sensation," said Mrs. Bellmore, with deliberate, but slightly
smiling, emphasis, "since you are seeking instruction, is a mingling
of the material and the spiritual."

"Of course," said Terence, suddenly growing serious, "it was a dream
or some kind of an hallucination. Nobody believes in spirits, these
days. If you told the tale out of kindness of heart, Mrs. Bellmore,
I can't express how grateful I am to you. It has made my mother
supremely happy. That Revolutionary ancestor was a stunning idea."

Mrs. Bellmore sighed. "The usual fate of ghost-seers is mine," she
said, resignedly. "My privileged encounter with a spirit is attributed
to lobster salad or mendacity. Well, I have, at least, one memory left
from the wreck--a kiss from the unseen world. Was Captain Kinsolving a
very brave man, do you know, Terence?"

"He was licked at Yorktown, I believe," said Terence, reflecting.
"They say he skedaddled with his company, after the first battle
there."

"I thought he must have been timid," said Mrs. Bellmore, absently. "He
might have had another."

"Another battle?" asked Terence, dully.

"What else could I mean? I must go and get ready now; the auto will
be here in an hour. I've enjoyed Clifftop immensely. Such a lovely
morning, isn't it, Terence?"

On her way to the station, Mrs. Bellmore took from her bag a silk
handkerchief, and looked at it with a little peculiar smile. Then she
tied it in several very hard knots, and threw it, at a convenient
moment, over the edge of the cliff along which the road ran.

In his room, Terence was giving some directions to his man, Brooks.
"Have this stuff done up in a parcel," he said, "and ship it to the
address on that card."

The card was that of a New York costumer. The "stuff" was a
gentleman's costume of the days of '76, made of white satin, with
silver buckles, white silk stockings, and white kid shoes. A powdered
wig and a sword completed the dress.

"And look about, Brooks," added Terence, a little anxiously, "for a
silk handkerchief with my initials in one corner. I must have dropped
it somewhere."

It was a month later when Mrs. Bellmore and one or two others of
the smart crowd were making up a list of names for a coaching trip
through the Catskills. Mrs. Bellmore looked over the list for a final
censoring. The name of Terence Kinsolving was there. Mrs. Bellmore ran
her prohibitive pencil lightly through the name.

"Too shy!" she murmured, sweetly, in explanation.

AT ARMS
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 8
I never could quite understand how Tom Hopkins came to make that
blunder, for he had been through a whole term at a medical
college--before he inherited his aunt's fortune--and had been
considered strong in therapeutics.

We had been making a call together that evening, and afterward Tom
ran up to my rooms for a pipe and a chat before going on to his own
luxurious apartments. I had stepped into the other room for a moment
when I heard Tom sing out:

"Oh, Billy, I'm going to take about four grains of quinine, if you
don't mind-- I'm feeling all blue and shivery. Guess I'm taking cold."

"All right," I called back. "The bottle is on the second shelf. Take
it in a spoonful of that elixir of eucalyptus. It knocks the bitter
out."

After I came back we sat by the fire and got our briars going. In
about eight minutes Tom sank back into a gentle collapse.

I went straight to the medicine cabinet and looked.

"You unmitigated hayseed!" I growled. "See what money will do for a
man's brains!"

There stood the morphine bottle with the stopple out, just as Tom had
left it.

I routed out another young M.D. who roomed on the floor above, and
sent him for old Doctor Gales, two squares away. Tom Hopkins has too
much money to be attended by rising young practitioners alone.

When Gales came we put Tom through as expensive a course of treatment
as the resources of the profession permit. After the more drastic
remedies we gave him citrate of caffeine in frequent doses and strong
coffee, and walked him up and down the floor between two of us. Old
Gales pinched him and slapped his face and worked hard for the big
check he could see in the distance. The young M.D. from the next floor
gave Tom a most hearty, rousing kick, and then apologized to me.

"Couldn't help it," he said. "I never kicked a millionaire before in
my life. I may never have another opportunity."

"Now," said Doctor Gales, after a couple of hours, "he'll do. But keep
him awake for another hour. You can do that by talking to him and
shaking him up occasionally. When his pulse and respiration are normal
then let him sleep. I'll leave him with you now."

I was left alone with Tom, whom we had laid on a couch. He lay very
still, and his eyes were half closed. I began my work of keeping him
awake.

"Well, old man," I said, "you've had a narrow squeak, but we've pulled
you through. When you were attending lectures, Tom, didn't any of
the professors ever casually remark that m-o-r-p-h-i-a never spells
'quinia,' especially in four-grain doses? But I won't pile it up on
you until you get on your feet. But you ought to have been a druggist,
Tom; you're splendidly qualified to fill prescriptions."

Tom looked at me with a faint and foolish smile.

"B'ly," he murmured, "I feel jus' like a hum'n bird flyin' around a
jolly lot of most 'shpensive roses. Don' bozzer me. Goin' sleep now."

And he went to sleep in two seconds. I shook him by the shoulder.

"Now, Tom," I said, severely, "this won't do. The big doctor said you
must stay awake for at least an hour. Open your eyes. You're not
entirely safe yet, you know. Wake up."

Tom Hopkins weighs one hundred and ninety-eight. He gave me another
somnolent grin, and fell into deeper slumber. I would have made him
move about, but I might as well have tried to make Cleopatra's needle
waltz around the room with me. Tom's breathing became stertorous, and
that, in connection with morphia poisoning, means danger.

Then I began to think. I could not rouse his body; I must strive to
excite his mind. "Make him angry," was an idea that suggested itself.
"Good!" I thought; but how? There was not a joint in Tom's armour.
Dear old fellow! He was good nature itself, and a gallant gentleman,
fine and true and clean as sunlight. He came from somewhere down
South, where they still have ideals and a code. New York had charmed,
but had not spoiled, him. He had that old-fashioned chivalrous
reverence for women, that--Eureka!--there was my idea! I worked the
thing up for a minute or two in my imagination. I chuckled to myself
at the thought of springing a thing like that on old Tom Hopkins. Then
I took him by the shoulder and shook him till his ears flopped. He
opened his eyes lazily. I assumed an expression of scorn and contempt,
and pointed my finger within two inches of his nose.

"Listen to me, Hopkins," I said, in cutting and distinct tones, "you
and I have been good friends, but I want you to understand that in the
future my doors are closed against any man who acts as much like a
scoundrel as you have."

Tom looked the least bit interested.

"What's the matter, Billy?" he muttered, composedly. "Don't your
clothes fit you?"

"If I were in your place," I went on, "which, thank God, I am not, I
think I would be afraid to close my eyes. How about that girl you left
waiting for you down among those lonesome Southern pines--the girl
that you've forgotten since you came into your confounded money? Oh,
I know what I'm talking about. While you were a poor medical student
she was good enough for you. But now, since you are a millionaire,
it's different. I wonder what she thinks of the performances of that
peculiar class of people which she has been taught to worship--the
Southern gentlemen? I'm sorry, Hopkins, that I was forced to speak
about these matters, but you've covered it up so well and played your
part so nicely that I would have sworn you were above such unmanly
tricks."

Poor Tom. I could scarcely keep from laughing outright to see him
struggling against the effects of the opiate. He was distinctly angry,
and I didn't blame him. Tom had a Southern temper. His eyes were
open now, and they showed a gleam or two of fire. But the drug still
clouded his mind and bound his tongue.

"C-c-confound you," he stammered, "I'll s-smash you."

He tried to rise from the couch. With all his size he was very weak
now. I thrust him back with one arm. He lay there glaring like a lion
in a trap.

"That will hold you for a while, you old loony," I said to myself. I
got up and lit my pipe, for I was needing a smoke. I walked around a
bit, congratulating myself on my brilliant idea.

I heard a snore. I looked around. Tom was asleep again. I walked over
and punched him on the jaw. He looked at me as pleasant and ungrudging
as an idiot. I chewed my pipe and gave it to him hard.

"I want you to recover yourself and get out of my rooms as soon as
you can," I said, insultingly. "I've told you what I think of you. If
you have any honour or honesty left you will think twice before you
attempt again to associate with gentlemen. She's a poor girl, isn't
she?" I sneered. "Somewhat too plain and unfashionable for us since we
got our money. Be ashamed to walk on Fifth Avenue with her, wouldn't
you? Hopkins, you're forty-seven times worse than a cad. Who cares
for your money? I don't. I'll bet that girl don't. Perhaps if you
didn't have it you'd be more of a man. As it is you've made a cur
of yourself, and"--I thought that quite dramatic--"perhaps broken a
faithful heart." (Old Tom Hopkins breaking a faithful heart!) "Let me
be rid of you as soon as possible."

I turned my back on Tom, and winked at myself in a mirror. I heard
him moving, and I turned again quickly. I didn't want a hundred and
ninety-eight pounds falling on me from the rear. But Tom had only
turned partly over, and laid one arm across his face. He spoke a few
words rather more distinctly than before.

"I couldn't have--talked this way--to you, Billy, even if I'd heard
people--lyin' 'bout you. But jus' soon's I can s-stand up--I'll break
your neck--don' f'get it."

I did feel a little ashamed then. But it was to save Tom. In the
morning, when I explained it, we would have a good laugh over it
together.

In about twenty minutes Tom dropped into a sound, easy slumber. I felt
his pulse, listened to his respiration, and let him sleep. Everything
was normal, and Tom was safe. I went into the other room and tumbled
into bed.

I found Tom up and dressed when I awoke the next morning. He was
entirely himself again with the exception of shaky nerves and a tongue
like a white-oak chip.

"What an idiot I was," he said, thoughtfully. "I remember thinking
that quinine bottle looked queer while I was taking the dose. Have
much trouble in bringing me 'round?"

I told him no. His memory seemed bad about the entire affair. I
concluded that he had no recollection of my efforts to keep him awake,
and decided not to enlighten him. Some other time, I thought, when he
was feeling better, we would have some fun over it.

When Tom was ready to go he stopped, with the door open, and shook my
hand.

"Much obliged, old fellow," he said, quietly, "for taking so much
trouble with me--and for what you said. I'm going down now to
telegraph to the little girl."



MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD KIN
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
The burglar stepped inside the window quickly, and then he took his
time. A burglar who respects his art always takes his time before
taking anything else.

The house was a private residence. By its boarded front door and
untrimmed Boston ivy the burglar knew that the mistress of it was
sitting on some oceanside piazza telling a sympathetic man in a
yachting cap that no one had ever understood her sensitive, lonely
heart. He knew by the light in the third-story front windows, and by
the lateness of the season, that the master of the house had come
home, and would soon extinguish his light and retire. For it was
September of the year and of the soul, in which season the house's
good man comes to consider roof gardens and stenographers as vanities,
and to desire the return of his mate and the more durable blessings of
decorum and the moral excellencies.

The burglar lighted a cigarette. The guarded glow of the match
illuminated his salient points for a moment. He belonged to the third
type of burglars.

This third type has not yet been recognized and accepted. The police
have made us familiar with the first and second. Their classification
is simple. The collar is the distinguishing mark.

When a burglar is caught who does not wear a collar he is described as
a degenerate of the lowest type, singularly vicious and depraved, and
is suspected of being the desperate criminal who stole the handcuffs
out of Patrolman Hennessy's pocket in 1878 and walked away to escape
arrest.

The other well-known type is the burglar who wears a collar. He is
always referred to as a Raffles in real life. He is invariably a
gentleman by daylight, breakfasting in a dress suit, and posing as a
paperhanger, while after dark he plies his nefarious occupation of
burglary. His mother is an extremely wealthy and respected resident
of Ocean Grove, and when he is conducted to his cell he asks at once
for a nail file and the _Police Gazette_. He always has a wife in
every State in the Union and fiancées in all the Territories, and the
newspapers print his matrimonial gallery out of their stock of cuts of
the ladies who were cured by only one bottle after having been given
up by five doctors, experiencing great relief after the first dose.

The burglar wore a blue sweater. He was neither a Raffles nor one of
the chefs from Hell's Kitchen. The police would have been baffled
had they attempted to classify him. They have not yet heard of the
respectable, unassuming burglar who is neither above nor below his
station.

This burglar of the third class began to prowl. He wore no masks,
dark lanterns, or gum shoes. He carried a 38-calibre revolver in his
pocket, and he chewed peppermint gum thoughtfully.

The furniture of the house was swathed in its summer dust protectors.
The silver was far away in safe-deposit vaults. The burglar expected
no remarkable "haul." His objective point was that dimly lighted
room where the master of the house should be sleeping heavily
after whatever solace he had sought to lighten the burden of
his loneliness. A "touch" might be made there to the extent of
legitimate, fair professional profits--loose money, a watch, a
jewelled stick-pin--nothing exorbitant or beyond reason. He had seen
the window left open and had taken the chance.

The burglar softly opened the door of the lighted room. The gas was
turned low. A man lay in the bed asleep. On the dresser lay many
things in confusion--a crumpled roll of bills, a watch, keys, three
poker chips, crushed cigars, a pink silk hair bow, and an unopened
bottle of bromo-seltzer for a bulwark in the morning.

The burglar took three steps toward the dresser. The man in the bed
suddenly uttered a squeaky groan and opened his eyes. His right hand
slid under his pillow, but remained there.

"Lay still," said the burglar in conversational tone. Burglars of the
third type do not hiss. The citizen in the bed looked at the round end
of the burglar's pistol and lay still.

"Now hold up both your hands," commanded the burglar.

The citizen had a little, pointed, brown-and-gray beard, like that
of a painless dentist. He looked solid, esteemed, irritable, and
disgusted. He sat up in bed and raised his right hand above his head.

"Up with the other one," ordered the burglar. "You might be amphibious
and shoot with your left. You can count two, can't you? Hurry up,
now."

"Can't raise the other one," said the citizen, with a contortion of
his lineaments.

"What's the matter with it?"

"Rheumatism in the shoulder."

"Inflammatory?"

"Was. The inflammation has gone down." The burglar stood for a moment
or two, holding his gun on the afflicted one. He glanced at the
plunder on the dresser and then, with a half-embarrassed air, back at
the man in the bed. Then he, too, made a sudden grimace.

"Don't stand there making faces," snapped the citizen, bad-humouredly.
"If you've come to burgle why don't you do it? There's some stuff
lying around."

"'Scuse me," said the burglar, with a grin; "but it just socked me
one, too. It's good for you that rheumatism and me happens to be old
pals. I got it in my left arm, too. Most anybody but me would have
popped you when you wouldn't hoist that left claw of yours."

"How long have you had it?" inquired the citizen.

"Four years. I guess that ain't all. Once you've got it, it's you for
a rheumatic life--that's my judgment."

"Ever try rattlesnake oil?" asked the citizen, interestedly.

"Gallons," said the burglar. "If all the snakes I've used the oil of
was strung out in a row they'd reach eight times as far as Saturn, and
the rattles could be heard at Valparaiso, Indiana, and back."

"Some use Chiselum's Pills," remarked the citizen.

"Fudge!" said the burglar. "Took 'em five months. No good. I had some
relief the year I tried Finkelham's Extract, Balm of Gilead poultices
and Potts's Pain Pulverizer; but I think it was the buckeye I carried
in my pocket what done the trick."

"Is yours worse in the morning or at night?" asked the citizen.

"Night," said the burglar; "just when I'm busiest. Say, take down that
arm of yours--I guess you won't--Say! did you ever try Blickerstaff's
Blood Builder?"

"I never did. Does yours come in paroxysms or is it a steady pain?"

The burglar sat down on the foot of the bed and rested his gun on his
crossed knee.

"It jumps," said he. "It strikes me when I ain't looking for it. I had
to give up second-story work because I got stuck sometimes half-way
up. Tell you what--I don't believe the bloomin' doctors know what is
good for it."

"Same here. I've spent a thousand dollars without getting any relief.
Yours swell any?"

"Of mornings. And when it's goin' to rain--great Christopher!"

"Me, too," said the citizen. "I can tell when a streak of humidity the
size of a table-cloth starts from Florida on its way to New York. And
if I pass a theatre where there's an 'East Lynne' matinee going on,
the moisture starts my left arm jumping like a toothache."

"It's undiluted--hades!" said the burglar.

"You're dead right," said the citizen.

The burglar looked down at his pistol and thrust it into his pocket
with an awkward attempt at ease.

"Say, old man," he said, constrainedly, "ever try opodeldoc?"

"Slop!" said the citizen angrily. "Might as well rub on restaurant
butter."

"Sure," concurred the burglar. "It's a salve suitable for little
Minnie when the kitty scratches her finger. I'll tell you what! We're
up against it. I only find one thing that eases her up. Hey? Little
old sanitary, ameliorating, lest-we-forget Booze. Say--this job's
off--'scuse me--get on your clothes and let's go out and have some.
'Scuse the liberty, but--ouch! There she goes again!"

"For a week," said the citizen. "I haven't been able to dress myself
without help. I'm afraid Thomas is in bed, and--"

"Climb out," said the burglar, "I'll help you get into your duds."

The conventional returned as a tidal wave and flooded the citizen. He
stroked his brown-and-gray beard.

"It's very unusual--" he began.

"Here's your shirt," said the burglar, "fall out. I knew a man who
said Omberry's Ointment fixed him in two weeks so he could use both
hands in tying his four-in-hand."

As they were going out the door the citizen turned and started back.

"'Liked to forgot my money," he explained; "laid it on the dresser
last night."

The burglar caught him by the right sleeve.

"Come on," he said bluffly. "I ask you. Leave it alone. I've got the
price. Ever try witch hazel and oil of wintergreen?"
CHAMPION OF THE WEATHER
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 7
If you should speak of the Kiowa Reservation to the average New
Yorker he probably wouldn't know whether you were referring to a new
political dodge at Albany or a leitmotif from "Parsifal." But out
in the Kiowa Reservation advices have been received concerning the
existence of New York.

A party of us were on a hunting trip in the Reservation. Bud
Kingsbury, our guide, philosopher, and friend, was broiling antelope
steaks in camp one night. One of the party, a pinkish-haired young man
in a correct hunting costume, sauntered over to the fire to light a
cigarette, and remarked carelessly to Bud:

"Nice night!"

"Why, yes," said Bud, "as nice as any night could be that ain't
received the Broadway stamp of approval."

Now, the young man was from New York, but the rest of us wondered how
Bud guessed it. So, when the steaks were done, we besought him to
lay bare his system of ratiocination. And as Bud was something of a
Territorial talking machine he made oration as follows:

"How did I know he was from New York? Well, I figured it out as soon
as he sprung them two words on me. I was in New York myself a couple
of years ago, and I noticed some of the earmarks and hoof tracks of
the Rancho Manhattan."

"Found New York rather different from the Panhandle, didn't you, Bud?"
asked one of the hunters.

"Can't say that I did," answered Bud; "anyways, not more than some.
The main trail in that town which they call Broadway is plenty
travelled, but they're about the same brand of bipeds that tramp
around in Cheyenne and Amarillo, At first I was sort of rattled by the
crowds, but I soon says to myself, 'Here, now, Bud; they're just plain
folks like you and Geronimo and Grover Cleveland and the Watson boys,
so don't get all flustered up with consternation under your saddle
blanket,' and then I feels calm and peaceful, like I was back in the
Nation again at a ghost dance or a green corn pow-wow.

"I'd been saving up for a year to give this New York a whirl. I knew
a man named Summers that lived there, but I couldn't find him; so
I played a lone hand at enjoying the intoxicating pleasures of the
corn-fed metropolis.

"For a while I was so frivolous and locoed by the electric lights
and the noises of the phonographs and the second-story railroads
that I forgot one of the crying needs of my Western system of natural
requirements. I never was no hand to deny myself the pleasures of
sociable vocal intercourse with friends and strangers. Out in the
Territories when I meet a man I never saw before, inside of nine
minutes I know his income, religion, size of collar, and his wife's
temper, and how much he pays for clothes, alimony, and chewing
tobacco. It's a gift with me not to be penurious with my conversation.

"But this here New York was inaugurated on the idea of abstemiousness
in regard to the parts of speech. At the end of three weeks nobody in
the city had fired even a blank syllable in my direction except the
waiter in the grub emporium where I fed. And as his outpourings of
syntax wasn't nothing but plagiarisms from the bill of fare, he never
satisfied my yearnings, which was to have somebody hit. If I stood
next to a man at a bar he'd edge off and give a Baldwin-Ziegler look
as if he suspected me of having the North Pole concealed on my person.
I began to wish that I'd gone to Abilene or Waco for my _paseado_; for
the mayor of them places will drink with you, and the first citizen
you meet will tell you his middle name and ask you to take a chance
in a raffle for a music box.

"Well, one day when I was particular hankering for to be gregarious
with something more loquacious than a lamp post, a fellow in a caffy
says to me, says he:

"'Nice day!'

"He was a kind of a manager of the place, and I reckon he'd seen me
in there a good many times. He had a face like a fish and an eye like
Judas, but I got up and put one arm around his neck.

"'Pardner,' I says, 'sure it's a nice day. You're the first gentleman
in all New York to observe that the intricacies of human speech might
not be altogether wasted on William Kingsbury. But don't you think,'
says I, 'that 'twas a little cool early in the morning; and ain't
there a feeling of rain in the air to-night? But along about noon it
sure was gallupsious weather. How's all up to the house? You doing
right well with the caffy, now?'

"Well, sir, that galoot just turns his back and walks off stiff,
without a word, after all my trying to be agreeable! I didn't know
what to make of it. That night I finds a note from Summers, who'd
been away from town, giving the address of his camp. I goes up to
his house and has a good, old-time talk with his folks. And I tells
Summers about the actions of this coyote in the caffy, and desires
interpretation.

"'Oh,' says Summers, 'he wasn't intending to strike up a conversation
with you. That's just the New York style. He'd seen you was a regular
customer and he spoke a word or two just to show you he appreciated
your custom. You oughtn't to have followed it up. That's about as far
as we care to go with a stranger. A word or so about the weather may
be ventured, but we don't generally make it the basis of an
acquaintance.'

"'Billy,' says I, 'the weather and its ramifications is a solemn
subject with me. Meteorology is one of my sore points. No man can
open up the question of temperature or humidity or the glad sunshine
with me, and then turn tail on it without its leading to a falling
barometer. I'm going down to see that man again and give him a lesson
in the art of continuous conversation. You say New York etiquette
allows him two words and no answer. Well, he's going to turn himself
into a weather bureau and finish what he begun with me, besides
indulging in neighbourly remarks on other subjects.'

"Summers talked agin it, but I was irritated some and I went on the
street car back to that caffy.

"The same fellow was there yet, walking round in a sort of back corral
where there was tables and chairs. A few people was sitting around
having drinks and sneering at one another.

"I called that man to one side and herded him into a corner. I
unbuttoned enough to show him a thirty-eight I carried stuck under my
vest.

"'Pardner,' I says, 'a brief space ago I was in here and you seized
the opportunity to say it was a nice day. When I attempted to
corroborate your weather signal, you turned your back and walked off.
Now,' says I, 'you frog-hearted, language-shy, stiff-necked cross
between a Spitzbergen sea cook and a muzzled oyster, you resume where
you left off in your discourse on the weather.'

"The fellow looks at me and tries to grin, but he sees I don't and he
comes around serious.

"'Well,' says he, eyeing the handle of my gun, 'it was rather a nice
day; some warmish, though.'

"'Particulars, you mealy-mouthed snoozer,' I says--'let's have the
specifications--expatiate--fill in the outlines. When you start
anything with me in short-hand it's bound to turn out a storm signal.'

"'Looked like rain yesterday,' says the man, 'but it cleared off fine
in the forenoon. I hear the farmers are needing rain right badly
up-State.'

"'That's the kind of a canter,' says I. 'Shake the New York dust off
your hoofs and be a real agreeable kind of a centaur. You broke the
ice, you know, and we're getting better acquainted every minute. Seems
to me I asked you about your family?'

"'They're all well, thanks,' says he. 'We--we have a new piano.'

"'Now you're coming it,' I says. 'This cold reserve is breaking up
at last. That little touch about the piano almost makes us brothers.
What's the youngest kid's name?' I asks him.

"'Thomas,' says he. 'He's just getting well from the measles.'

"'I feel like I'd known you always,' says I. 'Now there was just one
more--are you doing right well with the caffy, now?'

"'Pretty well,' he says. 'I'm putting away a little money.'

"'Glad to hear it,' says I. 'Now go back to your work and get
civilized. Keep your hands off the weather unless you're ready to
follow it up in a personal manner, It's a subject that naturally
belongs to sociability and the forming of new ties, and I hate to see
it handed out in small change in a town like this.'

"So the next day I rolls up my blankets and hits the trail away from
New York City."

For many minutes after Bud ceased talking we lingered around the fire,
and then all hands began to disperse for bed.

As I was unrolling my bedding I heard the pinkish-haired young man
saying to Bud, with something like anxiety in his voice:

"As I say, Mr. Kingsbury, there is something really beautiful about
this night. The delightful breeze and the bright stars and the clear
air unite in making it wonderfully attractive."

"Yes," said Bud, "it's a nice night."
THE PRIDE OF THE CITIES
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 12
Said Mr. Kipling, "The cities are full of pride, challenging each to
each." Even so.

New York was empty. Two hundred thousand of its people were away
for the summer. Three million eight hundred thousand remained as
caretakers and to pay the bills of the absentees. But the two hundred
thousand are an expensive lot.

The New Yorker sat at a roof-garden table, ingesting solace through a
straw. His panama lay upon a chair. The July audience was scattered
among vacant seats as widely as outfielders when the champion batter
steps to the plate. Vaudeville happened at intervals. The breeze
was cool from the bay; around and above--everywhere except on the
stage--were stars. Glimpses were to be had of waiters, always
disappearing, like startled chamois. Prudent visitors who had ordered
refreshments by 'phone in the morning were now being served. The New
Yorker was aware of certain drawbacks to his comfort, but content
beamed softly from his rimless eyeglasses. His family was out of town.
The drinks were warm; the ballet was suffering from lack of both tune
and talcum--but his family would not return until September.

Then up into the garden stumbled the man from Topaz City, Nevada. The
gloom of the solitary sightseer enwrapped him. Bereft of joy through
loneliness, he stalked with a widower's face through the halls of
pleasure. Thirst for human companionship possessed him as he panted
in the metropolitan draught. Straight to the New Yorker's table he
steered.

The New Yorker, disarmed and made reckless by the lawless atmosphere
of a roof garden, decided upon utter abandonment of his life's
traditions. He resolved to shatter with one rash, dare-devil,
impulsive, hair-brained act the conventions that had hitherto been
woven into his existence. Carrying out this radical and precipitous
inspiration he nodded slightly to the stranger as he drew nearer the
table.

The next moment found the man from Topaz City in the list of the New
Yorker's closest friends. He took a chair at the table, he gathered
two others for his feet, he tossed his broad-brimmed hat upon a
fourth, and told his life's history to his new-found pard.

The New Yorker warmed a little, as an apartment-house furnace warms
when the strawberry season begins. A waiter who came within hail in an
unguarded moment was captured and paroled on an errand to the Doctor
Wiley experimental station. The ballet was now in the midst of a
musical vagary, and danced upon the stage programmed as Bolivian
peasants, clothed in some portions of its anatomy as Norwegian
fisher maidens, in others as ladies-in-waiting of Marie Antoinette,
historically denuded in other portions so as to represent sea nymphs,
and presenting the _tout ensemble_ of a social club of Central Park
West housemaids at a fish fry.

"Been in the city long?" inquired the New Yorker, getting ready the
exact tip against the waiter's coming with large change from the bill.

"Me?" said the man from Topaz City. "Four days. Never in Topaz City,
was you?"

"I!" said the New Yorker. "I was never farther west than Eighth
Avenue. I had a brother who died on Ninth, but I met the cortege at
Eighth. There was a bunch of violets on the hearse, and the undertaker
mentioned the incident to avoid mistake. I cannot say that I am
familiar with the West."

"Topaz City," said the man who occupied four chairs, "is one of the
finest towns in the world."

"I presume that you have seen the sights of the metropolis," said the
New Yorker, "Four days is not a sufficient length of time in which to
view even our most salient points of interest, but one can possibly
form a general impression. Our architectural supremacy is what
generally strikes visitors to our city most forcibly. Of course you
have seen our Flatiron Building. It is considered--"

"Saw it," said the man from Topaz City. "But you ought to come out our
way. It's mountainous, you know, and the ladies all wear short skirts
for climbing and--"

"Excuse me," said the New Yorker, "but that isn't exactly the point.
New York must be a wonderful revelation to a visitor from the West.
Now, as to our hotels--"

"Say," said the man from Topaz City, "that reminds me--there were
sixteen stage robbers shot last year within twenty miles of--"

"I was speaking of hotels," said the New Yorker. "We lead Europe in
that respect. And as far as our leisure class is concerned we are
far--"

"Oh, I don't know," interrupted the man from Topaz City. "There were
twelve tramps in our jail when I left home. I guess New York isn't
so--"

"Beg pardon, you seem to misapprehend the idea. Of course, you visited
the Stock Exchange and Wall Street, where the--"

"Oh, yes," said the man from Topaz City, as he lighted a Pennsylvania
stogie, "and I want to tell you that we've got the finest town marshal
west of the Rockies. Bill Rainer he took in five pickpockets out of
the crowd when Red Nose Thompson laid the cornerstone of his new
saloon. Topaz City don't allow--"

"Have another Rhine wine and seltzer," suggested the New Yorker. "I've
never been West, as I said; but there can't be any place out there to
compare with New York. As to the claims of Chicago I--"

"One man," said the Topazite--"one man only has been murdered and
robbed in Topaz City in the last three--"

"Oh, I know what Chicago is," interposed the New Yorker. "Have you
been up Fifth Avenue to see the magnificent residences of our mil--"

"Seen 'em all. You ought to know Reub Stegall, the assessor of Topaz.
When old man Tilbury, that owns the only two-story house in town,
tried to swear his taxes from $6,000 down to $450.75, Reub buckled on
his forty-five and went down to see--"

"Yes, yes, but speaking of our great city--one of its greatest
features is our superb police department. There is no body of men in
the world that can equal it for--"

"That waiter gets around like a Langley flying machine," remarked the
man from Topaz City, thirstily. "We've got men in our town, too, worth
$400,000. There's old Bill Withers and Colonel Metcalf and--"

"Have you seen Broadway at night?" asked the New Yorker, courteously.
"There are few streets in the world that can compare with it. When the
electrics are shining and the pavements are alive with two hurrying
streams of elegantly clothed men and beautiful women attired in
the costliest costumes that wind in and out in a close maze of
expensively--"

"Never knew but one case in Topaz City," said the man from the West.
"Jim Bailey, our mayor, had his watch and chain and $235 in cash taken
from his pocket while--"

"That's another matter," said the New Yorker. "While you are in
our city you should avail yourself of every opportunity to see its
wonders. Our rapid transit system--"

"If you was out in Topaz," broke in the man from there, "I could show
you a whole cemetery full of people that got killed accidentally.
Talking about mangling folks up! why, when Berry Rogers turned loose
that old double-barrelled shot-gun of his loaded with slugs at
anybody--"

"Here, waiter!" called the New Yorker. "Two more of the same. It
is acknowledged by every one that our city is the centre of art,
and literature, and learning. Take, for instance, our after-dinner
speakers. Where else in the country would you find such wit and
eloquence as emanate from Depew and Ford, and--"

"If you take the papers," interrupted the Westerner, "you must have
read of Pete Webster's daughter. The Websters live two blocks north of
the court-house in Topaz City. Miss Tillie Webster, she slept forty
days and nights without waking up. The doctors said that--"

"Pass the matches, please," said the New Yorker. "Have you observed
the expedition with which new buildings are being run up in New York?
Improved inventions in steel framework and--"

"I noticed," said the Nevadian, "that the statistics of Topaz City
showed only one carpenter crushed by falling timbers last year and he
was caught in a cyclone."

"They abuse our sky line," continued the New Yorker, "and it is likely
that we are not yet artistic in the construction of our buildings. But
I can safely assert that we lead in pictorial and decorative art. In
some of our houses can be found masterpieces in the way of paintings
and sculpture. One who has the entree to our best galleries will
find--"

"Back up," exclaimed the man from Topaz City. "There was a game last
month in our town in which $90,000 changed hands on a pair of--"

"Ta-romt-tara!" went the orchestra. The stage curtain, blushing pink
at the name "Asbestos" inscribed upon it, came down with a slow
midsummer movement. The audience trickled leisurely down the elevator
and stairs.

On the sidewalk below, the New Yorker and the man from Topaz City
shook hands with alcoholic gravity. The elevated crashed raucously,
surface cars hummed and clanged, cabmen swore, newsboys shrieked,
wheels clattered ear-piercingly. The New Yorker conceived a happy
thought, with which he aspired to clinch the pre-eminence of his city.

"You must admit," said he, "that in the way of noise New York is far
ahead of any other--"

"Back to the everglades!" said the man from Topaz City. "In 1900, when
Sousa's band and the repeating candidate were in our town you
couldn't--"

The rattle of an express wagon drowned the rest of the words.
WITCHES' LOAVES
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
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Miss Martha Meacham kept the little bakery on the corner (the one
where you go up three steps, and the bell tinkles when you open the
door).

Miss Martha was forty, her bank-book showed a credit of two thousand
dollars, and she possessed two false teeth and a sympathetic heart.
Many people have married whose chances to do so were much inferior to
Miss Martha's.

Two or three times a week a customer came in in whom she began to take
an interest. He was a middle-aged man, wearing spectacles and a brown
beard trimmed to a careful point.

He spoke English with a strong German accent. His clothes were worn
and darned in places, and wrinkled and baggy in others. But he looked
neat, and had very good manners.

He always bought two loaves of stale bread. Fresh bread was five cents
a loaf. Stale ones were two for five. Never did he call for anything
but stale bread.

Once Miss Martha saw a red and brown stain on his fingers. She was
sure then that he was an artist and very poor. No doubt he lived in a
garret, where he painted pictures and ate stale bread and thought of
the good things to eat in Miss Martha's bakery.

Often when Miss Martha sat down to her chops and light rolls and jam
and tea she would sigh, and wish that the gentle-mannered artist might
share her tasty meal instead of eating his dry crust in that draughty
attic. Miss Martha's heart, as you have been told, was a sympathetic
one.

In order to test her theory as to his occupation, she brought from
her room one day a painting that she had bought at a sale, and set it
against the shelves behind the bread counter.

It was a Venetian scene. A splendid marble palazzio (so it said on the
picture) stood in the foreground--or rather forewater. For the rest
there were gondolas (with the lady trailing her hand in the water),
clouds, sky, and chiaro-oscuro in plenty. No artist could fail to
notice it.

Two days afterward the customer came in.

"Two loafs of stale bread, if you blease.

"You haf here a fine bicture, madame," he said while she was wrapping
up the bread.

"Yes?" says Miss Martha, revelling in her own cunning. "I do so admire
art and" (no, it would not do to say "artists" thus early) "and
paintings," she substituted. "You think it is a good picture?"

"Der balance," said the customer, "is not in good drawing. Der
bairspective of it is not true. Goot morning, madame."

He took his bread, bowed, and hurried out.

Yes, he must be an artist. Miss Martha took the picture back to her
room.

How gentle and kindly his eyes shone behind his spectacles! What a
broad brow he had! To be able to judge perspective at a glance--and
to live on stale bread! But genius often has to struggle before it is
recognized.

What a thing it would be for art and perspective if genius were backed
by two thousand dollars in bank, a bakery, and a sympathetic heart
to-- But these were day-dreams, Miss Martha.

Often now when he came he would chat for a while across the showcase.
He seemed to crave Miss Martha's cheerful words.

He kept on buying stale bread. Never a cake, never a pie, never one of
her delicious Sally Lunns.

She thought he began to look thinner and discouraged. Her heart ached
to add something good to eat to his meagre purchase, but her courage
failed at the act. She did not dare affront him. She knew the pride of
artists.

Miss Martha took to wearing her blue-dotted silk waist behind the
counter. In the back room she cooked a mysterious compound of quince
seeds and borax. Ever so many people use it for the complexion.

One day the customer came in as usual, laid his nickel on the
showcase, and called for his stale loaves. While Miss Martha was
reaching for them there was a great tooting and clanging, and a
fire-engine came lumbering past.

The customer hurried to the door to look, as any one will. Suddenly
inspired, Miss Martha seized the opportunity.

On the bottom shelf behind the counter was a pound of fresh butter
that the dairyman had left ten minutes before. With a bread knife
Miss Martha made a deep slash in each of the stale loaves, inserted
a generous quantity of butter, and pressed the loaves tight again.

When the customer turned once more she was tying the paper around
them.

When he had gone, after an unusually pleasant little chat, Miss Martha
smiled to herself, but not without a slight fluttering of the heart.

Had she been too bold? Would he take offense? But surely not. There
was no language of edibles. Butter was no emblem of unmaidenly
forwardness.

For a long time that day her mind dwelt on the subject. She imagined
the scene when he should discover her little deception.

He would lay down his brushes and palette. There would stand his easel
with the picture he was painting in which the perspective was beyond
criticism.

He would prepare for his luncheon of dry bread and water. He would
slice into a loaf--ah!

Miss Martha blushed. Would he think of the hand that placed it there
as he ate? Would he--

The front door bell jangled viciously. Somebody was coming in, making
a great deal of noise.

Miss Martha hurried to the front. Two men were there. One was a young
man smoking a pipe--a man she had never seen before. The other was her
artist.

His face was very red, his hat was on the back of his head, his
hair was wildly rumpled. He clinched his two fists and shook them
ferociously at Miss Martha. _At Miss Martha_.

"_Dummkopf!_" he shouted with extreme loudness; and then
"_Tausendonfer!_" or something like it in German.

The young man tried to draw him away.

"I vill not go," he said angrily, "else I shall told her."

He made a bass drum of Miss Martha's counter.

"You haf shpoilt me," he cried, his blue eyes blazing behind his
spectacles. "I vill tell you. You vas von _meddingsome old cat!_"

Miss Martha leaned weakly against the shelves and laid one hand on her
blue-dotted silk waist. The young man took the other by the collar.

"Come on," he said, "you've said enough." He dragged the angry one out
at the door to the sidewalk, and then came back.

"Guess you ought to be told, ma'am," he said, "what the row is about.
That's Blumberger. He's an architectural draftsman. I work in the same
office with him.

"He's been working hard for three months drawing a plan for a new
city hall. It was a prize competition. He finished inking the lines
yesterday. You know, a draftsman always makes his drawing in pencil
first. When it's done he rubs out the pencil lines with handfuls of
stale bread crumbs. That's better than India rubber.

"Blumberger's been buying the bread here. Well, to-day--well, you
know, ma'am, that butter isn't--well, Blumberger's plan isn't good for
anything now except to cut up into railroad sandwiches."

Miss Martha went into the back room. She took off the blue-dotted silk
waist and put on the old brown serge she used to wear. Then she poured
the quince seed and borax mixture out of the window into the ash can.




IV

SLEUTHS
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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In The Big City a man will disappear with the suddenness and
completeness of the flame of a candle that is blown out. All the
agencies of inquisition--the hounds of the trail, the sleuths of the
city's labyrinths, the closet detectives of theory and induction--will
be invoked to the search. Most often the man's face will be seen no
more. Sometimes he will reappear in Sheboygan or in the wilds of Terre
Haute, calling himself one of the synonyms of "Smith," and without
memory of events up to a certain time, including his grocer's bill.
Sometimes it will be found, after dragging the rivers, and polling the
restaurants to see if he may be waiting for a well-done sirloin, that
he has moved next door.

This snuffing out of a human being like the erasure of a chalk man
from a blackboard is one of the most impressive themes in dramaturgy.

The case of Mary Snyder, in point, should not be without interest.

A man of middle age, of the name of Meeks, came from the West to New
York to find his sister, Mrs. Mary Snyder, a widow, aged fifty-two,
who had been living for a year in a tenement house in a crowded
neighbourhood.

At her address he was told that Mary Snyder had moved away longer than
a month before. No one could tell him her new address.

On coming out Mr. Meeks addressed a policeman who was standing on the
corner, and explained his dilemma.

"My sister is very poor," he said, "and I am anxious to find her. I
have recently made quite a lot of money in a lead mine, and I want her
to share my prosperity. There is no use in advertising her, because
she cannot read."

The policeman pulled his moustache and looked so thoughtful and mighty
that Meeks could almost feel the joyful tears of his sister Mary
dropping upon his bright blue tie.

"You go down in the Canal Street neighbourhood," said the policeman,
"and get a job drivin' the biggest dray you can find. There's old
women always gettin' knocked over by drays down there. You might see
'er among 'em. If you don't want to do that you better go 'round to
headquarters and get 'em to put a fly cop onto the dame."

At police headquarters, Meeks received ready assistance. A general
alarm was sent out, and copies of a photograph of Mary Snyder that her
brother had were distributed among the stations. In Mulberry Street
the chief assigned Detective Mullins to the case.

The detective took Meeks aside and said:

"This is not a very difficult case to unravel. Shave off your
whiskers, fill your pockets with good cigars, and meet me in the café
of the Waldorf at three o'clock this afternoon."

Meeks obeyed. He found Mullins there. They had a bottle of wine, while
the detective asked questions concerning the missing woman.

"Now," said Mullins, "New York is a big city, but we've got the
detective business systematized. There are two ways we can go about
finding your sister. We will try one of 'em first. You say she's
fifty-two?"

"A little past," said Meeks.

The detective conducted the Westerner to a branch advertising office
of one of the largest dailies. There he wrote the following "ad" and
submitted it to Meeks:

"Wanted, at once--one hundred attractive chorus girls for a new
musical comedy. Apply all day at No. ---- Broadway."

Meeks was indignant.

"My sister," said he, "is a poor, hard-working, elderly woman. I do
not see what aid an advertisement of this kind would be toward finding
her."

"All right," said the detective. "I guess you don't know New York. But
if you've got a grouch against this scheme we'll try the other one.
It's a sure thing. But it'll cost you more."

"Never mind the expense," said Meeks; "we'll try it."

The sleuth led him back to the Waldorf. "Engage a couple of bedrooms
and a parlour," he advised, "and let's go up."

This was done, and the two were shown to a superb suite on the fourth
floor. Meeks looked puzzled. The detective sank into a velvet
armchair, and pulled out his cigar case.

"I forgot to suggest, old man," he said, "that you should have taken
the rooms by the month. They wouldn't have stuck you so much for 'em.

"By the month!" exclaimed Meeks. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, it'll take time to work the game this way. I told you it would
cost you more. We'll have to wait till spring. There'll be a new city
directory out then. Very likely your sister's name and address will be
in it."

Meeks rid himself of the city detective at once. On the next day some
one advised him to consult Shamrock Jolnes, New York's famous private
detective, who demanded fabulous fees, but performed miracles in the
way of solving mysteries and crimes.

After waiting for two hours in the anteroom of the great detective's
apartment, Meeks was shown into his presence. Jolnes sat in a purple
dressing-gown at an inlaid ivory chess table, with a magazine before
him, trying to solve the mystery of "They." The famous sleuth's thin,
intellectual face, piercing eyes, and rate per word are too well known
to need description.

Meeks set forth his errand. "My fee, if successful, will be $500,"
said Shamrock Jolnes.

Meeks bowed his agreement to the price.

"I will undertake your case, Mr. Meeks," said Jolnes, finally. "The
disappearance of people in this city has always been an interesting
problem to me. I remember a case that I brought to a successful
outcome a year ago. A family bearing the name of Clark disappeared
suddenly from a small flat in which they were living. I watched the
flat building for two months for a clue. One day it struck me that a
certain milkman and a grocer's boy always walked backward when they
carried their wares upstairs. Following out by induction the idea that
this observation gave me, I at once located the missing family. They
had moved into the flat across the hall and changed their name to
Kralc."

Shamrock Jolnes and his client went to the tenement house where Mary
Snyder had lived, and the detective demanded to be shown the room in
which she had lived. It had been occupied by no tenant since her
disappearance.

The room was small, dingy, and poorly furnished. Meeks seated himself
dejectedly on a broken chair, while the great detective searched the
walls and floor and the few sticks of old, rickety furniture for a
clue.

At the end of half an hour Jolnes had collected a few seemingly
unintelligible articles--a cheap black hat pin, a piece torn off a
theatre programme, and the end of a small torn card on which was the
word "left" and the characters "C 12."

Shamrock Jolnes leaned against the mantel for ten minutes, with his
head resting upon his hand, and an absorbed look upon his intellectual
face. At the end of that time he exclaimed, with animation:

"Come, Mr. Meeks; the problem is solved. I can take you directly to
the house where your sister is living. And you may have no fears
concerning her welfare, for she is amply provided with funds--for the
present at least."

Meeks felt joy and wonder in equal proportions.

"How did you manage it?" he asked, with admiration in his tones.

Perhaps Jolnes's only weakness was a professional pride in his
wonderful achievements in induction. He was ever ready to astound and
charm his listeners by describing his methods.

"By elimination," said Jolnes, spreading his clues upon a little
table, "I got rid of certain parts of the city to which Mrs. Snyder
might have removed. You see this hatpin? That eliminates Brooklyn. No
woman attempts to board a car at the Brooklyn Bridge without being
sure that she carries a hatpin with which to fight her way into a
seat. And now I will demonstrate to you that she could not have gone
to Harlem. Behind this door are two hooks in the wall. Upon one of
these Mrs. Snyder has hung her bonnet, and upon the other her shawl.
You will observe that the bottom of the hanging shawl has gradually
made a soiled streak against the plastered wall. The mark is
clean-cut, proving that there is no fringe on the shawl. Now, was
there ever a case where a middle-aged woman, wearing a shawl, boarded
a Harlem train without there being a fringe on the shawl to catch in
the gate and delay the passengers behind her? So we eliminate Harlem.

"Therefore I conclude that Mrs. Snyder has not moved very far away.
On this torn piece of card you see the word 'Left,' the letter 'C,'
and the number '12.' Now, I happen to know that No. 12 Avenue C is
a first-class boarding house, far beyond your sister's means--as we
suppose. But then I find this piece of a theatre programme, crumpled
into an odd shape. What meaning does it convey. None to you, very
likely, Mr. Meeks; but it is eloquent to one whose habits and training
take cognizance of the smallest things.

"You have told me that your sister was a scrub woman. She scrubbed the
floors of offices and hallways. Let us assume that she procured such
work to perform in a theatre. Where is valuable jewellery lost the
oftenest, Mr. Meeks? In the theatres, of course. Look at that piece of
programme, Mr. Meeks. Observe the round impression in it. It has been
wrapped around a ring--perhaps a ring of great value. Mrs. Snyder
found the ring while at work in the theatre. She hastily tore off a
piece of a programme, wrapped the ring carefully, and thrust it into
her bosom. The next day she disposed of it, and, with her increased
means, looked about her for a more comfortable place in which to live.
When I reach thus far in the chain I see nothing impossible about No.
12 Avenue C. It is there we will find your sister, Mr. Meeks."

Shamrock Jolnes concluded his convincing speech with the smile of
a successful artist. Meeks's admiration was too great for words.
Together they went to No. 12 Avenue C. It was an old-fashioned
brownstone house in a prosperous and respectable neighbourhood.

They rang the bell, and on inquiring were told that no Mrs. Snyder was
known there, and that not within six months had a new occupant come to
the house.

When they reached the sidewalk again, Meeks examined the clues which
he had brought away from his sister's old room.

"I am no detective," he remarked to Jolnes as he raised the piece of
theatre programme to his nose, "but it seems to me that instead of
a ring having been wrapped in this paper it was one of those round
peppermint drops. And this piece with the address on it looks to me
like the end of a seat coupon--No. 12, row C, left aisle."

Shamrock Jolnes had a far-away look in his eyes.

"I think you would do well to consult Juggins," said he.

"Who is Juggins?" asked Meeks.

"He is the leader," said Jolnes, "of a new modern school of
detectives. Their methods are different from ours, but it is said that
Juggins has solved some extremely puzzling cases. I will take you to
him."

They found the greater Juggins in his office. He was a small man with
light hair, deeply absorbed in reading one of the bourgeois works of
Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The two great detectives of different schools shook hands with
ceremony, and Meeks was introduced.

"State the facts," said Juggins, going on with his reading.

When Meeks ceased, the greater one closed his book and said:

"Do I understand that your sister is fifty-two years of age, with a
large mole on the side of her nose, and that she is a very poor widow,
making a scanty living by scrubbing, and with a very homely face and
figure?"

"That describes her exactly," admitted Meeks. Juggins rose and put on
his hat.

"In fifteen minutes," he said, "I will return, bringing you her
present address."

Shamrock Jolnes turned pale, but forced a smile.

Within the specified time Juggins returned and consulted a little slip
of paper held in his hand.

"Your sister, Mary Snyder," he announced calmly, "will be found at
No. 162 Chilton street. She is living in the back hall bedroom, five
flights up. The house is only four blocks from here," he continued,
addressing Meeks. "Suppose you go and verify the statement and then
return here. Mr. Jolnes will await you, I dare say."

Meeks hurried away. In twenty minutes he was back again, with a
beaming face.

"She is there and well!" he cried. "Name your fee!"

"Two dollars," said Juggins.

When Meeks had settled his bill and departed, Shamrock Jolnes stood
with his hat in his hand before Juggins.

"If it would not be asking too much," he stammered--"if you would
favour me so far--would you object to--"

"Certainly not," said Juggins pleasantly. "I will tell you how I did
it. You remember the description of Mrs. Snyder? Did you ever know a
woman like that who wasn't paying weekly instalments on an enlarged
crayon portrait of herself? The biggest factory of that kind in the
country is just around the corner. I went there and got her address
off the books. That's all."


BROGUE
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
The hunting season had come to an end, and the Mullets had not succeeded
in selling the Brogue.  There had been a kind of tradition in the family
for the past three or four years, a sort of fatalistic hope, that the
Brogue would find a purchaser before the hunting was over; but seasons
came and went without anything happening to justify such ill-founded
optimism.  The animal had been named Berserker in the earlier stages of
its career; it had been rechristened the Brogue later on, in recognition
of the fact that, once acquired, it was extremely difficult to get rid
of.  The unkinder wits of the neighbourhood had been known to suggest
that the first letter of its name was superfluous.  The Brogue had been
variously described in sale catalogues as a light-weight hunter, a lady's
hack, and, more simply, but still with a touch of imagination, as a
useful brown gelding, standing 15.1.  Toby Mullet had ridden him for four
seasons with the West Wessex; you can ride almost any sort of horse with
the West Wessex as long as it is an animal that knows the country.  The
Brogue knew the country intimately, having personally created most of the
gaps that were to be met with in banks and hedges for many miles round.
His manners and characteristics were not ideal in the hunting field, but
he was probably rather safer to ride to hounds than he was as a hack on
country roads.  According to the Mullet family, he was not really road-
shy, but there were one or two objects of dislike that brought on sudden
attacks of what Toby called the swerving sickness.  Motors and cycles he
treated with tolerant disregard, but pigs, wheelbarrows, piles of stones
by the roadside, perambulators in a village street, gates painted too
aggressively white, and sometimes, but not always, the newer kind of
beehives, turned him aside from his tracks in vivid imitation of the
zigzag course of forked lightning.  If a pheasant rose noisily from the
other side of a hedgerow the Brogue would spring into the air at the same
moment, but this may have been due to a desire to be companionable.  The
Mullet family contradicted the widely prevalent report that the horse was
a confirmed crib-biter.

It was about the third week in May that Mrs. Mullet, relict of the late
Sylvester Mullet, and mother of Toby and a bunch of daughters, assailed
Clovis Sangrail on the outskirts of the village with a breathless
catalogue of local happenings.

"You know our new neighbour, Mr. Penricarde?" she vociferated; "awfully
rich, owns tin mines in Cornwall, middle-aged and rather quiet.  He's
taken the Red House on a long lease and spent a lot of money on
alterations and improvements.  Well, Toby's sold him the Brogue!"

Clovis spent a moment or two in assimilating the astonishing news; then
he broke out into unstinted congratulation.  If he had belonged to a more
emotional race he would probably have kissed Mrs. Mullet.

"How wonderfully lucky to have pulled it off at last!  Now you can buy a
decent animal.  I've always said that Toby was clever.  Ever so many
congratulations."

"Don't congratulate me.  It's the most unfortunate thing that could have
happened!" said Mrs. Mullet dramatically.

Clovis stared at her in amazement.

"Mr. Penricarde," said Mrs. Mullet, sinking her voice to what she
imagined to be an impressive whisper, though it rather resembled a
hoarse, excited squeak, "Mr. Penricarde has just begun to pay attentions
to Jessie.  Slight at first, but now unmistakable.  I was a fool not to
have seen it sooner.  Yesterday, at the Rectory garden party, he asked
her what her favourite flowers were, and she told him carnations, and to-
day a whole stack of carnations has arrived, clove and malmaison and
lovely dark red ones, regular exhibition blooms, and a box of chocolates
that he must have got on purpose from London.  And he's asked her to go
round the links with him to-morrow.  And now, just at this critical
moment, Toby has sold him that animal.  It's a calamity!"

"But you've been trying to get the horse off your hands for years," said
Clovis.

"I've got a houseful of daughters," said Mrs. Mullet, "and I've been
trying--well, not to get them off my hands, of course, but a husband or
two wouldn't be amiss among the lot of them; there are six of them, you
know."

"I don't know," said Clovis, "I've never counted, but I expect you're
right as to the number; mothers generally know these things."

"And now," continued Mrs. Mullet, in her tragic whisper, "when there's a
rich husband-in-prospect imminent on the horizon Toby goes and sells him
that miserable animal.  It will probably kill him if he tries to ride it;
anyway it will kill any affection he might have felt towards any member
of our family.  What is to be done?  We can't very well ask to have the
horse back; you see, we praised it up like anything when we thought there
was a chance of his buying it, and said it was just the animal to suit
him."

"Couldn't you steal it out of his stable and send it to grass at some
farm miles away?" suggested Clovis; "write 'Votes for Women' on the
stable door, and the thing would pass for a Suffragette outrage.  No one
who knew the horse could possibly suspect you of wanting to get it back
again."

"Every newspaper in the country would ring with the affair," said Mrs.
Mullet; "can't you imagine the headline, 'Valuable Hunter Stolen by
Suffragettes'?  The police would scour the countryside till they found
the animal."

"Well, Jessie must try and get it back from Penricarde on the plea that
it's an old favourite.  She can say it was only sold because the stable
had to be pulled down under the terms of an old repairing lease, and that
now it has been arranged that the stable is to stand for a couple of
years longer."

"It sounds a queer proceeding to ask for a horse back when you've just
sold him," said Mrs. Mullet, "but something must be done, and done at
once.  The man is not used to horses, and I believe I told him it was as
quiet as a lamb.  After all, lambs go kicking and twisting about as if
they were demented, don't they?"

"The lamb has an entirely unmerited character for sedateness," agreed
Clovis.

Jessie came back from the golf links next day in a state of mingled
elation and concern.

"It's all right about the proposal," she announced; "he came out with it
at the sixth hole.  I said I must have time to think it over.  I accepted
him at the seventh."

"My dear," said her mother, "I think a little more maidenly reserve and
hesitation would have been advisable, as you've known him so short a
time.  You might have waited till the ninth hole."

"The seventh is a very long hole," said Jessie; "besides, the tension was
putting us both off our game.  By the time we'd got to the ninth hole
we'd settled lots of things.  The honeymoon is to be spent in Corsica,
with perhaps a flying visit to Naples if we feel like it, and a week in
London to wind up with.  Two of his nieces are to be asked to be
bridesmaids, so with our lot there will be seven, which is rather a lucky
number.  You are to wear your pearl grey, with any amount of Honiton lace
jabbed into it.  By the way, he's coming over this evening to ask your
consent to the whole affair.  So far all's well, but about the Brogue
it's a different matter.  I told him the legend about the stable, and how
keen we were about buying the horse back, but he seems equally keen on
keeping it.  He said he must have horse exercise now that he's living in
the country, and he's going to start riding to-morrow.  He's ridden a few
times in the Row, on an animal that was accustomed to carry octogenarians
and people undergoing rest cures, and that's about all his experience in
the saddle--oh, and he rode a pony once in Norfolk, when he was fifteen
and the pony twenty-four; and to-morrow he's going to ride the Brogue!  I
shall be a widow before I'm married, and I do so want to see what
Corsica's like; it looks so silly on the map."

Clovis was sent for in haste, and the developments of the situation put
before him.

"Nobody can ride that animal with any safety," said Mrs. Mullet, "except
Toby, and he knows by long experience what it is going to shy at, and
manages to swerve at the same time."

"I did hint to Mr. Penricarde--to Vincent, I should say--that the Brogue
didn't like white gates," said Jessie.

"White gates!" exclaimed Mrs. Mullet; "did you mention what effect a pig
has on him?  He'll have to go past Lockyer's farm to get to the high
road, and there's sure to be a pig or two grunting about in the lane."

"He's taken rather a dislike to turkeys lately," said Toby.

"It's obvious that Penricarde mustn't be allowed to go out on that
animal," said Clovis, "at least not till Jessie has married him, and
tired of him.  I tell you what: ask him to a picnic to-morrow, starting
at an early hour; he's not the sort to go out for a ride before
breakfast.  The day after I'll get the rector to drive him over to
Crowleigh before lunch, to see the new cottage hospital they're building
there.  The Brogue will be standing idle in the stable and Toby can offer
to exercise it; then it can pick up a stone or something of the sort and
go conveniently lame.  If you hurry on the wedding a bit the lameness
fiction can be kept up till the ceremony is safely over."

Mrs. Mullet belonged to an emotional race, and she kissed Clovis.

It was nobody's fault that the rain came down in torrents the next
morning, making a picnic a fantastic impossibility.  It was also nobody's
fault, but sheer ill-luck, that the weather cleared up sufficiently in
the afternoon to tempt Mr. Penricarde to make his first essay with the
Brogue.  They did not get as far as the pigs at Lockyer's farm; the
rectory gate was painted a dull unobtrusive green, but it had been white
a year or two ago, and the Brogue never forgot that he had been in the
habit of making a violent curtsey, a back-pedal and a swerve at this
particular point of the road.  Subsequently, there being apparently no
further call on his services, he broke his way into the rectory orchard,
where he found a hen turkey in a coop; later visitors to the orchard
found the coop almost intact, but very little left of the turkey.

Mr. Penricarde, a little stunned and shaken, and suffering from a bruised
knee and some minor damages, good-naturedly ascribed the accident to his
own inexperience with horses and country roads, and allowed Jessie to
nurse him back into complete recovery and golf-fitness within something
less than a week.

In the list of wedding presents which the local newspaper published a
fortnight or so later appeared the following item:

"Brown saddle-horse, 'The Brogue,' bridegroom's gift to bride."

"Which shows," said Toby Mullet, "that he knew nothing."

"Or else," said Clovis, "that he has a very pleasing wit."



BOAR-PIG
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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"There is a back way on to the lawn," said Mrs. Philidore Stossen to her
daughter, "through a small grass paddock and then through a walled fruit
garden full of gooseberry bushes.  I went all over the place last year
when the family were away.  There is a door that opens from the fruit
garden into a shrubbery, and once we emerge from there we can mingle with
the guests as if we had come in by the ordinary way.  It's much safer
than going in by the front entrance and running the risk of coming bang
up against the hostess; that would be so awkward when she doesn't happen
to have invited us."

"Isn't it a lot of trouble to take for getting admittance to a garden
party?"

"To a garden party, yes; to _the_ garden party of the season, certainly
not.  Every one of any consequence in the county, with the exception of
ourselves, has been asked to meet the Princess, and it would be far more
troublesome to invent explanations as to why we weren't there than to get
in by a roundabout way.  I stopped Mrs. Cuvering in the road yesterday
and talked very pointedly about the Princess.  If she didn't choose to
take the hint and send me an invitation it's not my fault, is it?  Here
we are: we just cut across the grass and through that little gate into
the garden."

Mrs. Stossen and her daughter, suitably arrayed for a county garden party
function with an infusion of Almanack de Gotha, sailed through the narrow
grass paddock and the ensuing gooseberry garden with the air of state
barges making an unofficial progress along a rural trout stream.  There
was a certain amount of furtive haste mingled with the stateliness of
their advance, as though hostile search-lights might be turned on them at
any moment; and, as a matter of fact, they were not unobserved.  Matilda
Cuvering, with the alert eyes of thirteen years old and the added
advantage of an exalted position in the branches of a medlar tree, had
enjoyed a good view of the Stossen flanking movement and had foreseen
exactly where it would break down in execution.

"They'll find the door locked, and they'll jolly well have to go back the
way they came," she remarked to herself.  "Serves them right for not
coming in by the proper entrance.  What a pity Tarquin Superbus isn't
loose in the paddock.  After all, as every one else is enjoying
themselves, I don't see why Tarquin shouldn't have an afternoon out."

Matilda was of an age when thought is action; she slid down from the
branches of the medlar tree, and when she clambered back again Tarquin,
the huge white Yorkshire boar-pig, had exchanged the narrow limits of his
stye for the wider range of the grass paddock.  The discomfited Stossen
expedition, returning in recriminatory but otherwise orderly retreat from
the unyielding obstacle of the locked door, came to a sudden halt at the
gate dividing the paddock from the gooseberry garden.

"What a villainous-looking animal," exclaimed Mrs. Stossen; "it wasn't
there when we came in."

"It's there now, anyhow," said her daughter.  "What on earth are we to
do?  I wish we had never come."

The boar-pig had drawn nearer to the gate for a closer inspection of the
human intruders, and stood champing his jaws and blinking his small red
eyes in a manner that was doubtless intended to be disconcerting, and, as
far as the Stossens were concerned, thoroughly achieved that result.

"Shoo!  Hish!  Hish!  Shoo!" cried the ladies in chorus.

"If they think they're going to drive him away by reciting lists of the
kings of Israel and Judah they're laying themselves out for
disappointment," observed Matilda from her seat in the medlar tree.  As
she made the observation aloud Mrs. Stossen became for the first time
aware of her presence.  A moment or two earlier she would have been
anything but pleased at the discovery that the garden was not as deserted
as it looked, but now she hailed the fact of the child's presence on the
scene with absolute relief.

"Little girl, can you find some one to drive away--" she began hopefully.

"_Comment?  Comprends pas_," was the response.

"Oh, are you French?  _Etes vous francaise_?"

"_Pas de tous.  'Suis anglaise_."

"Then why not talk English?  I want to know if--"

"_Permettez-moi expliquer_.  You see, I'm rather under a cloud," said
Matilda.  "I'm staying with my aunt, and I was told I must behave
particularly well to-day, as lots of people were coming for a garden
party, and I was told to imitate Claude, that's my young cousin, who
never does anything wrong except by accident, and then is always
apologetic about it.  It seems they thought I ate too much raspberry
trifle at lunch, and they said Claude never eats too much raspberry
trifle.  Well, Claude always goes to sleep for half an hour after lunch,
because he's told to, and I waited till he was asleep, and tied his hands
and started forcible feeding with a whole bucketful of raspberry trifle
that they were keeping for the garden-party.  Lots of it went on to his
sailor-suit and some of it on to the bed, but a good deal went down
Claude's throat, and they can't say again that he has never been known to
eat too much raspberry trifle.  That is why I am not allowed to go to the
party, and as an additional punishment I must speak French all the
afternoon.  I've had to tell you all this in English, as there were words
like 'forcible feeding' that I didn't know the French for; of course I
could have invented them, but if I had said _nourriture obligatoire_ you
wouldn't have had the least idea what I was talking about.  _Mais
maintenant, nous parlons francais_."

"Oh, very well, _tres bien_," said Mrs. Stossen reluctantly; in moments
of flurry such French as she knew was not under very good control.  "_La,
a l'autre cote de la porte, est un cochon_--"

"_Un cochon? Ah, le petit charmant_!" exclaimed Matilda with enthusiasm.

"_Mais non, pas du tout petit, et pas du tout charmant; un bete feroce_--"

"_Une bete_," corrected Matilda; "a pig is masculine as long as you call
it a pig, but if you lose your temper with it and call it a ferocious
beast it becomes one of us at once.  French is a dreadfully unsexing
language."

"For goodness' sake let us talk English then," said Mrs. Stossen.  "Is
there any way out of this garden except through the paddock where the pig
is?"

"I always go over the wall, by way of the plum tree," said Matilda.

"Dressed as we are we could hardly do that," said Mrs. Stossen; it was
difficult to imagine her doing it in any costume.

"Do you think you could go and get some one who would drive the pig
away?" asked Miss Stossen.

"I promised my aunt I would stay here till five o'clock; it's not four
yet."

"I am sure, under the circumstances, your aunt would permit--"

"My conscience would not permit," said Matilda with cold dignity.

"We can't stay here till five o'clock," exclaimed Mrs. Stossen with
growing exasperation.

"Shall I recite to you to make the time pass quicker?" asked Matilda
obligingly.  "'Belinda, the little Breadwinner,' is considered my best
piece, or, perhaps, it ought to be something in French.  Henri Quatre's
address to his soldiers is the only thing I really know in that
language."

"If you will go and fetch some one to drive that animal away I will give
you something to buy yourself a nice present," said Mrs. Stossen.

Matilda came several inches lower down the medlar tree.

"That is the most practical suggestion you have made yet for getting out
of the garden," she remarked cheerfully; "Claude and I are collecting
money for the Children's Fresh Air Fund, and we are seeing which of us
can collect the biggest sum."

"I shall be very glad to contribute half a crown, very glad indeed," said
Mrs. Stossen, digging that coin out of the depths of a receptacle which
formed a detached outwork of her toilet.

"Claude is a long way ahead of me at present," continued Matilda, taking
no notice of the suggested offering; "you see, he's only eleven, and has
golden hair, and those are enormous advantages when you're on the
collecting job.  Only the other day a Russian lady gave him ten
shillings.  Russians understand the art of giving far better than we do.
I expect Claude will net quite twenty-five shillings this afternoon;
he'll have the field to himself, and he'll be able to do the pale,
fragile, not-long-for-this-world business to perfection after his
raspberry trifle experience.  Yes, he'll be _quite_ two pounds ahead of
me by now."

With much probing and plucking and many regretful murmurs the beleaguered
ladies managed to produce seven-and-sixpence between them.

"I am afraid this is all we've got," said Mrs. Stossen.

Matilda showed no sign of coming down either to the earth or to their
figure.

"I could not do violence to my conscience for anything less than ten
shillings," she announced stiffly.

Mother and daughter muttered certain remarks under their breath, in which
the word "beast" was prominent, and probably had no reference to Tarquin.

"I find I _have_ got another half-crown," said Mrs. Stossen in a shaking
voice; "here you are.  Now please fetch some one quickly."

Matilda slipped down from the tree, took possession of the donation, and
proceeded to pick up a handful of over-ripe medlars from the grass at her
feet.  Then she climbed over the gate and addressed herself
affectionately to the boar-pig.

"Come, Tarquin, dear old boy; you know you can't resist medlars when
they're rotten and squashy."

Tarquin couldn't.  By dint of throwing the fruit in front of him at
judicious intervals Matilda decoyed him back to his stye, while the
delivered captives hurried across the paddock.

"Well, I never!  The little minx!" exclaimed Mrs. Stossen when she was
safely on the high road.  "The animal wasn't savage at all, and as for
the ten shillings, I don't believe the Fresh Air Fund will see a penny of
it!"

There she was unwarrantably harsh in her judgment.  If you examine the
books of the fund you will find the acknowledgment: "Collected by Miss
Matilda Cuvering, 2s. 6d."
LAURA
Posted by Bling King Jun 30th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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"You are not really dying, are you?" asked Amanda.

"I have the doctor's permission to live till Tuesday," said Laura.

"But to-day is Saturday; this is serious!" gasped Amanda.

"I don't know about it being serious; it is certainly Saturday," said
Laura.

"Death is always serious," said Amanda.

"I never said I was going to die.  I am presumably going to leave off
being Laura, but I shall go on being something.  An animal of some kind,
I suppose.  You see, when one hasn't been very good in the life one has
just lived, one reincarnates in some lower organism.  And I haven't been
very good, when one comes to think of it.  I've been petty and mean and
vindictive and all that sort of thing when circumstances have seemed to
warrant it."

"Circumstances never warrant that sort of thing," said Amanda hastily.

"If you don't mind my saying so," observed Laura, "Egbert is a
circumstance that would warrant any amount of that sort of thing.  You're
married to him--that's different; you've sworn to love, honour, and
endure him: I haven't."

"I don't see what's wrong with Egbert," protested Amanda.

"Oh, I daresay the wrongness has been on my part," admitted Laura
dispassionately; "he has merely been the extenuating circumstance.  He
made a thin, peevish kind of fuss, for instance, when I took the collie
puppies from the farm out for a run the other day."

"They chased his young broods of speckled Sussex and drove two sitting
hens off their nests, besides running all over the flower beds.  You know
how devoted he is to his poultry and garden."

"Anyhow, he needn't have gone on about it for the entire evening and then
have said, 'Let's say no more about it' just when I was beginning to
enjoy the discussion.  That's where one of my petty vindictive revenges
came in," added Laura with an unrepentant chuckle; "I turned the entire
family of speckled Sussex into his seedling shed the day after the puppy
episode."

"How could you?" exclaimed Amanda.

"It came quite easy," said Laura; "two of the hens pretended to be laying
at the time, but I was firm."

"And we thought it was an accident!"

"You see," resumed Laura, "I really _have_ some grounds for supposing
that my next incarnation will be in a lower organism.  I shall be an
animal of some kind.  On the other hand, I haven't been a bad sort in my
way, so I think I may count on being a nice animal, something elegant and
lively, with a love of fun.  An otter, perhaps."

"I can't imagine you as an otter," said Amanda.

"Well, I don't suppose you can imagine me as an angel, if it comes to
that," said Laura.

Amanda was silent.  She couldn't.

"Personally I think an otter life would be rather enjoyable," continued
Laura; "salmon to eat all the year round, and the satisfaction of being
able to fetch the trout in their own homes without having to wait for
hours till they condescend to rise to the fly you've been dangling before
them; and an elegant svelte figure--"

"Think of the otter hounds," interposed Amanda; "how dreadful to be
hunted and harried and finally worried to death!"

"Rather fun with half the neighbourhood looking on, and anyhow not worse
than this Saturday-to-Tuesday business of dying by inches; and then I
should go on into something else.  If I had been a moderately good otter
I suppose I should get back into human shape of some sort; probably
something rather primitive--a little brown, unclothed Nubian boy, I
should think."

"I wish you would be serious," sighed Amanda; "you really ought to be if
you're only going to live till Tuesday."

As a matter of fact Laura died on Monday.

"So dreadfully upsetting," Amanda complained to her uncle-in-law, Sir
Lulworth Quayne.  "I've asked quite a lot of people down for golf and
fishing, and the rhododendrons are just looking their best."

"Laura always was inconsiderate," said Sir Lulworth; "she was born during
Goodwood week, with an Ambassador staying in the house who hated babies."

"She had the maddest kind of ideas," said Amanda; "do you know if there
was any insanity in her family?"

"Insanity?  No, I never heard of any.  Her father lives in West
Kensington, but I believe he's sane on all other subjects."

"She had an idea that she was going to be reincarnated as an otter," said
Amanda.

"One meets with those ideas of reincarnation so frequently, even in the
West," said Sir Lulworth, "that one can hardly set them down as being
mad.  And Laura was such an unaccountable person in this life that I
should not like to lay down definite rules as to what she might be doing
in an after state."

"You think she really might have passed into some animal form?" asked
Amanda.  She was one of those who shape their opinions rather readily
from the standpoint of those around them.

Just then Egbert entered the breakfast-room, wearing an air of
bereavement that Laura's demise would have been insufficient, in itself,
to account for.

"Four of my speckled Sussex have been killed," he exclaimed; "the very
four that were to go to the show on Friday.  One of them was dragged away
and eaten right in the middle of that new carnation bed that I've been to
such trouble and expense over.  My best flower bed and my best fowls
singled out for destruction; it almost seems as if the brute that did the
deed had special knowledge how to be as devastating as possible in a
short space of time."

"Was it a fox, do you think?" asked Amanda.

"Sounds more like a polecat," said Sir Lulworth.

"No," said Egbert, "there were marks of webbed feet all over the place,
and we followed the tracks down to the stream at the bottom of the
garden; evidently an otter."

Amanda looked quickly and furtively across at Sir Lulworth.

Egbert was too agitated to eat any breakfast, and went out to superintend
the strengthening of the poultry yard defences.

"I think she might at least have waited till the funeral was over," said
Amanda in a scandalised voice.

"It's her own funeral, you know," said Sir Lulworth; "it's a nice point
in etiquette how far one ought to show respect to one's own mortal
remains."

Disregard for mortuary convention was carried to further lengths next
day; during the absence of the family at the funeral ceremony the
remaining survivors of the speckled Sussex were massacred.  The
marauder's line of retreat seemed to have embraced most of the flower
beds on the lawn, but the strawberry beds in the lower garden had also
suffered.

"I shall get the otter hounds to come here at the earliest possible
moment," said Egbert savagely.

"On no account!  You can't dream of such a thing!" exclaimed Amanda.  "I
mean, it wouldn't do, so soon after a funeral in the house."

"It's a case of necessity," said Egbert; "once an otter takes to that
sort of thing it won't stop."

"Perhaps it will go elsewhere now there are no more fowls left,"
suggested Amanda.

"One would think you wanted to shield the beast," said Egbert.

"There's been so little water in the stream lately," objected Amanda; "it
seems hardly sporting to hunt an animal when it has so little chance of
taking refuge anywhere."

"Good gracious!" fumed Egbert, "I'm not thinking about sport.  I want to
have the animal killed as soon as possible."

Even Amanda's opposition weakened when, during church time on the
following Sunday, the otter made its way into the house, raided half a
salmon from the larder and worried it into scaly fragments on the Persian
rug in Egbert's studio.

"We shall have it hiding under our beds and biting pieces out of our feet
before long," said Egbert, and from what Amanda knew of this particular
otter she felt that the possibility was not a remote one.

On the evening preceding the day fixed for the hunt Amanda spent a
solitary hour walking by the banks of the stream, making what she
imagined to be hound noises.  It was charitably supposed by those who
overheard her performance, that she was practising for farmyard
imitations at the forth-coming village entertainment.

It was her friend and neighbour, Aurora Burret, who brought her news of
the day's sport.

"Pity you weren't out; we had quite a good day.  We found at once, in the
pool just below your garden."

"Did you--kill?" asked Amanda.

"Rather.  A fine she-otter.  Your husband got rather badly bitten in
trying to 'tail it.'  Poor beast, I felt quite sorry for it, it had such
a human look in its eyes when it was killed.  You'll call me silly, but
do you know who the look reminded me of?  My dear woman, what is the
matter?"

When Amanda had recovered to a certain extent from her attack of nervous
prostration Egbert took her to the Nile Valley to recuperate.  Change of
scene speedily brought about the desired recovery of health and mental
balance.  The escapades of an adventurous otter in search of a variation
of diet were viewed in their proper light.  Amanda's normally placid
temperament reasserted itself.  Even a hurricane of shouted curses,
coming from her husband's dressing-room, in her husband's voice, but
hardly in his usual vocabulary, failed to disturb her serenity as she
made a leisurely toilet one evening in a Cairo hotel.

"What is the matter?  What has happened?" she asked in amused curiosity.

"The little beast has thrown all my clean shirts into the bath!  Wait
till I catch you, you little--"

"What little beast?" asked Amanda, suppressing a desire to laugh;
Egbert's language was so hopelessly inadequate to express his outraged
feelings.

"A little beast of a naked brown Nubian boy," spluttered Egbert.

And now Amanda is seriously ill.
Sicilianische Mahrchen
Posted by Bling King Jun 29th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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There was once a man whose name was Don Giovanni de la Fortuna, and he
lived in a beautiful house that his father had built, and spent a great
deal of money. Indeed, he spent so much that very soon there was none
left, and Don Giovanni, instead of being a rich man with everything
he could wish for, was forced to put on the dress of a pilgrim, and to
wander from place to place begging his bread.

One day he was walking down a broad road when he was stopped by a
handsome man he had never seen before, who, little as Don Giovanni knew
it, was the devil himself.

'Would you like to be rich,' asked the devil, 'and to lead a pleasant
life?'

'Yes, of course I should,' replied the Don.

'Well, here is a purse; take it and say to it, "Dear purse, give me some
money," and you will get as much as you can want But the charm will only
work if you promise to remain three years, three months, and three days
without washing and without combing and without shaving your beard or
changing your clothes. If you do all this faithfully, when the time is
up you shall keep the purse for yourself, and I will let you off any
other conditions.'

Now Don Giovanni was a man who never troubled his head about the future.
He did not once think how very uncomfortable he should be all those
three years, but only that he should be able, by means of the purse,
to have all sorts of things he had been obliged to do without; so he
joyfully put the purse in his pocket and went on his way. He soon began
to ask for money for the mere pleasure of it, and there was always as
much as he needed. For a little while he even forgot to notice how dirty
he was getting, but this did not last long, for his hair became matted
with dirt and hung over his eyes, and his pilgrim's dress was a mass of
horrible rags and tatters.

He was in this state when, one morning, he happened to be passing a fine
palace; and, as the sun was shining bright and warm, he sat down on the
steps and tried to shake off some of the dust which he had picked up on
the road. But in a few minutes a maid saw him, and said to her master,
'I pray you, sir, to drive away that beggar who is sitting on the steps,
or he will fill the whole house with his dirt.'

So the master went out and called from some distance off, for he was
really afraid to go near the man, 'You filthy beggar, leave my house at
once!'

'You need not be so rude,' said Don Giovanni; 'I am not a beggar, and if
I chose I could force you and your wife to leave your house.'

'What is that you can do?' laughed the gentleman.

'Will you sell me your house?' asked Don Giovanni. 'I will buy it from
you on the spot.'

'Oh, the dirty creature is quite mad!' thought the gentleman. 'I shall
just accept his offer for a joke.' And aloud he said: ' All right;
follow me, and we will go to a lawyer and get him to make a contract.'
And Don Giovanni followed him, and an agreement was drawn up by which
the house was to be sold at once, and a large sum of money paid down in
eight days. Then the Don went to an inn, where he hired two rooms, and,
standing in one of them, said to his purse, ' Dear purse, fill this room
with gold;' and when the eight days were up it was so full you could not
have put in another sovereign.

When the owner of the house came to take away his money Don Giovanni
led him into the room and said: 'There, just pocket what you want.' The
gentleman stared with open mouth at the astonishing sight; but he had
given his word to sell the house, so he took his money, as he was told,
and went away with his wife to look for some place to live in. And Don
Giovanni left the inn and dwelt in the beautiful rooms, where his rags
and dirt looked sadly out of place. And every day these got worse and
worse.

By-and-bye the fame of his riches reached the ears of the king, and, as
he himself was always in need of money, he sent for Don Giovanni, as he
wished to borrow a large sum. Don Giovanni readily agreed to lend him
what he wanted, and sent next day a huge waggon laden with sacks of
gold.

'Who can he be?' thought the king to himself. 'Why, he is much richer
than I!'

The king took as much as he had need of; then ordered the rest to be
returned to Don Giovanni, who refused to receive it, saying, 'Tell his
majesty I am much hurt at his proposal. I shall certainly not take
back that handful of gold, and, if he declines to accept it, keep it
yourself.'

The servant departed and delivered the message, and the king wondered
more than ever how anyone could be so rich. At last he spoke to the
queen: 'Dear wife, this man has done me a great service, and has,
besides, behaved like a gentleman in not allowing me to send back the
money. I wish to give him the hand of our eldest daughter.'

The queen was quite pleased at this idea, and again messenger was sent
to Don Giovanni, offering him the hand of the eldest princess.


'His majesty is too good,' he replied. 'I can only humbly accept the
honour.'

The messenger took back this answer, but a second time returned with the
request that Don Giovanni would present them with his picture, so that
they might know what sort of a person to expect. But when it came, and
the princess saw the horrible figure, she screamed out, 'What! marry
this dirty beggar? Never, never!'

'Ah, child,' answered the king, 'how could I ever guess that the rich
Don Giovanni would ever look like that? But I have passed my royal word,
and I cannot break it, so there is no help for you.'

'No, father; you may cut off my head, if you choose, but marry that
horrible beggar--I never will!'

And the queen took her part, and reproached her husband bitterly for
wishing his daughter to marry a creature like that.

Then the youngest daughter spoke: 'Dear father, do not look so sad. As
you have given your word, I will marry Don Giovanni.' The king fell on
her neck, and thanked her and kissed her, but the queen and the elder
girl had nothing for her but laughs and jeers.

So it was settled, and then the king bade one of his lords go to
Don Giovanni and ask him when the wedding day was to be, so that the
princess might make ready.

'Let it be in two months,' answered Don Giovanni, for the time was
nearly up that the devil had fixed, and he wanted a whole month to
himself to wash off the dirt of the past three years.

The very minute that the compact with the devil had come to an end his
beard was shaved, his hair was cut, and his rags were burned, and day
and night he lay in a bath of clear warm water. At length he felt he was
clean again, and he put on splendid clothes, and hired a beautiful ship,
and arrived in state at the king's palace.

The whole of the royal family came down to the ship to receive him, and
the whole way the queen and the elder princess teased the sister about
the dirty husband she was going to have. But when they saw how handsome
he really was their hearts were filled with envy and anger, so that
their eyes were blinded, and they fell over into the sea and were
drowned. And the youngest daughter rejoiced in the good luck that had
come to her, and they had a splendid wedding when the days of mourning
for her mother and sister were ended.

Soon after the old king died, and Don Giovanni became king. And he was
rich and happy to the end of his days, for he loved his wife, and his
purse always gave him money.
Sparrow with the Slit Tongue
Posted by Bling King Jun 29th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10
A long long time ago, an old couple dwelt in the very heart of a high
mountain. They lived together in peace and harmony, although they were
very different in character, the man being good-natured and honest, and
the wife being greedy and quarrelsome when anyone came her way that she
could possibly quarrel with.

One day the old man was sitting in front of his cottage, as he was very
fond of doing, when he saw flying towards him a little sparrow, followed
by a big black raven. The poor little thing was very much frightened and
cried out as it flew, and the great bird came behind it terribly fast,
flapping its wings and craning its beak, for it was hungry and wanted
some dinner. But as they drew near the old man, he jumped up, and beat
back the raven, which mounted, with hoarse screams of disappointment,
into the sky, and the little bird, freed from its enemy, nestled into
the old man's hand, and he carried it into the house. He stroked its
feathers, and told it not to be afraid, for it was quite safe; but as
he still felt its heart beating, he put it into a cage, where it soon
plucked up courage to twitter and hop about. The old man was fond of
all creatures, and every morning he used to open the cage door, and the
sparrow flew happily about until it caught sight of a cat or a rat or
some other fierce beast, when it would instantly return to the cage,
knowing that there no harm could come to it.

The woman, who was always on the look-out for something to grumble at,
grew very jealous of her husband's affection for the bird, and would
gladly have done it some harm had she dared. At last, one morning her
opportunity came. Her husband had gone to the town some miles away down
the mountain, and would not be back for several hours, but before he
left he did not forget to open the door of the cage. The sparrow hopped
about as usual, twittering happily, and thinking no evil, and all the
while the woman's brow became blacker and blacker, and at length her
fury broke out. She threw her broom at the bird, who was perched on a
bracket high up on the wall. The broom missed the bird, but knocked down
and broke the vase on the bracket, which did not soothe the angry woman.
Then she chased it from place to place, and at last had it safe between
her fingers, almost as frightened as on the day that it had made its
first entrance into the hut.

By this time the woman was more furious than ever. If she had dared,
she would have killed the sparrow then and there, but as it was she only
ventured to slit its tongue. The bird struggled and piped, but there was
no one to hear it, and then, crying out loud with the pain, it flew from
the house and was lost in the depths of the forest.

By-and-bye the old man came back, and at once began to ask for his pet.
His wife, who was still in a very bad temper, told him the whole story,
and scolded him roundly for being so silly as to make such a fuss over
a bird. But the old man, who was much troubled, declared she was a bad,
hard-hearted woman, to have behaved so to a poor harmless bird; then he
left the house, and went into the forest to seek for his pet. He walked
many hours, whistling and calling for it, but it never came, and he went
sadly home, resolved to be out with the dawn and never to rest till he
had brought the wanderer back. Day after day he searched and called; and
evening after evening he returned in despair. At length he gave up hope,
and made up his mind that he should see his little friend no more.

One hot summer morning, the old man was walking slowly under the cool
shadows of the big trees, and without thinking where he was going,
he entered a bamboo thicket. As the bamboos became thinner, he found
himself opposite to a beautiful garden, in the centre of which stood
a tiny spick-and-span little house, and out of the house came a lovely
maiden, who unlatched the gate and invited him in the most hospitable
way to enter and rest. 'Oh, my dear old friend,' she exclaimed, 'how
glad I am you have found me at last! I am your little sparrow, whose
life you saved, and whom you took such care of.'

The old man seized her hands eagerly, but no time was given him to ask
any questions, for the maiden drew him into the house, and set food
before him, and waited on him herself.

While he was eating, the damsel and her maids took their lutes, and sang
and danced to him, and altogether the hours passed so swiftly that the
old man never saw that darkness had come, or remembered the scolding he
would get from his wife for returning home so late.

Thus, in dancing and singing, and talking over the days when the maiden
was a sparrow hopping in and out of her cage, the night passed away, and
when the first rays of sun broke through the hedge of bamboo, the
old man started up, thanked his hostess for her friendly welcome, and
prepared to say farewell. 'I am not going to let you depart like that,'
said she; 'I have a present for you, which you must take as a sign of my
gratitude.' And as she spoke, her servants brought in two chests, one
of them very small, the other large and heavy. 'Now choose which of them
you will carry with you.' So the old man chose the small chest, and hid
it under his cloak, and set out on his homeward way.

But as he drew near the house his heart sank a little, for he knew
what a fury his wife would be in, and how she would abuse him for
his absence. And it was even worse than he expected. However, long
experience had taught him to let her storm and say nothing, so he lit
his pipe and waited till she was tired out. The woman was still raging,
and did not seem likely to stop, when her husband, who by this time had
forgotten all about her, drew out the chest from under his cloak, and
opened it. Oh, what a blaze met his eyes! gold and precious stones were
heaped up to the very lid, and lay dancing in he sunlight. At the
sight of these wonders even the scolding tongue ceased, and the woman
approached, and took the stones in her hand, setting greedily aside
those that were the largest and most costly. Then her voice softened,
and she begged him quite politely to tell her where he had spent his
evening, and how he had come by these wonderful riches. So he told her
the whole story, and she listened with amazement, till he came to the
choice which had been given him between the two chests. At this her
tongue broke loose again, as she abused him for his folly in taking
the little one, and she never rested till her husband had described the
exact way which led to the sparrow-princess's house. When she had got it
into her head, she put on her best clothes and set out at once. But in
her blind haste she often missed the path, and she wandered for several
hours before she at length reached the little house. She walked boldly
up to the door and entered the room as if the whole place belonged to
her, and quite frightened the poor girl, who was startled at the sight
of her old enemy. However, she concealed her feelings as well as she
could, and bade the intruder welcome, placing before her food and wine,
hoping that when she had eaten and drunk she might take her leave. But
nothing of the sort.

'You will not let me go without a little present?' said the greedy wife,
as she saw no signs of one being offered her. 'Of course not,' replied
the girl, and at her orders two chests were brought in, as they had been
before. The old woman instantly seized the bigger, and staggering under
the weight of it, disappeared into the forest, hardly waiting even to
say good-bye.

It was a long way to her own house, and the chest seemed to grow heavier
at every step. Sometimes she felt as if it would be impossible for
her to get on at all, but her greed gave her strength, and at last she
arrived at her own door. She sank down on the threshold, overcome with
weariness, but in a moment was on her feet again, fumbling with the lock
of the chest. But by this time night had come, and there was no light in
the house, and the woman was in too much hurry to get to her treasures,
to go and look for one. At length, however, the lock gave way, and
the lid flew open, when, O horror! instead of gold and jewels, she saw
before her serpents with glittering eyes and forky tongues. And they
twined themselves about her and darted poison into her veins, and she
died, and no man regretted her.
Jackal, the Dove, and the Panther
Posted by Bling King Jun 29th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10
There was once a dove who built a nice soft nest as a home for her three
little ones. She was very proud of their beauty, and perhaps talked
about them to her neighbours more than she need have done, till at last
everybody for miles round knew where the three prettiest baby doves in
the whole country-side were to be found.

One day a jackal who was prowling about in search of a dinner came by
chance to the foot of the rock where the dove's nest was hidden away,
and he suddenly bethought himself that if he could get nothing better he
might manage to make a mouthful of one of the young doves. So he shouted
as loud as he could, 'Ohe, ohe, mother dove.'

And the dove replied, trembling with fear, 'What do you want, sir?'

'One of your children,' said he; 'and if you don't throw it to me I will
eat up you and the others as well.'

Now, the dove was nearly driven distracted at the jackal's words; but,
in order to save the lives of the other two, she did at last throw
the little one out of the nest. The jackal ate it up, and went home to
sleep.

Meanwhile the mother dove sat on the edge of her nest, crying bitterly,
when a heron, who was flying slowly past the rock, was filled with pity
for her, and stopped to ask, 'What is the matter, you poor dove?'

And the dove answered, 'A jackal came by, and asked me to give him one
of my little ones, and said that if I refused he would jump on my nest
and eat us all up.'

But the heron replied, 'You should not have believed him. He could never
have jumped so high. He only deceived you because he wanted something
for supper.' And with these words the heron flew off.

He had hardly got out of sight when again the jackal came creeping
slowly round the foot of the rock. And when he saw the dove he cried out
a second time, 'Ohe, ohe, mother dove! give me one of your little ones,
or I will jump on your nest and eat you all up.'

This time the dove knew better, and she answered boldly, 'Indeed, I
shall do nothing of the sort,' though her heart beat wildly with fear
when she saw the jackal preparing for a spring.

However, he only cut himself against the rock, and thought he had better
stick to threats, so he started again with his old cry, 'Mother dove,
mother dove! be quick and give me one of your little ones, or I will eat
you all up.'

But the mother dove only answered as before, 'Indeed, I shall do nothing
of the sort, for I know we are safely out of your reach.'

The jackal felt it was quite hopeless to get what he wanted, and asked,
'Tell me, mother dove, how have you suddenly become so wise?'

'It was the heron who told me,' replied she.

'And which way did he go?' said the jackal.

'Down there among the reeds. You can see him if you look,' said the
dove.

Then the jackal nodded good-bye, and went quickly after the heron. He
soon came up to the great bird, who was standing on a stone on the edge
of the river watching for a nice fat fish. 'Tell me, heron,' said he,
'when the wind blows from that quarter, to which side do you turn?'

'And which side do you turn to?' asked the heron.

The jackal answered, 'I always turn to this side.'

'Then that is the side I turn to,' remarked the heron.

'And when the rain comes from that quarter, which side do you turn to?'

And the heron replied, 'And which side do you turn to?'

'Oh, I always turn to this side,' said the jackal.

'Then that is the side I turn to,' said the heron.

'And when the rain comes straight down, what do you do?'

'What do you do yourself?' asked the heron.

'I do this,' answered the jackal. 'I cover my head with my paws.'

'Then that is what I do,' said the heron. 'I cover my head with my
wings,' and as he spoke he lifted his large wings and spread them
completely over his head.

With one bound the jackal had seized him by the neck, and began to shake
him.

'Oh, have pity, have pity!' cried the heron. 'I never did you any harm.'

'You told the dove how to get the better of me, and I am going to eat
you for it.'

'But if you will let me go,' entreated the heron, 'I will show you the
place where the panther has her lair.'

'Then you had better be quick about it,' said the jackal, holding tight
on to the heron until he had pointed out the panther's den. 'Now you may
go, my friend, for there is plenty of food here for me.'

So the jackal came up to the panther, and asked politely, 'Panther,
would you like me to look after your children while you are out
hunting?'

'I should be very much obliged,' said the panther; 'but be sure you take
care of them. They always cry all the time that I am away.'

So saying she trotted off, and the jackal marched into the cave, where
he found ten little panthers, and instantly ate one up. By-and-bye the
panther returned from hunting, and said to him, 'Jackal, bring out my
little ones for their supper.'

The jackal fetched them out one by one till he had brought out nine, and
he took the last one and brought it out again, so the whole ten seemed
to be there, and the panther was quite satisfied.

Next day she went again to the chase, and the jackal ate up another
little panther, so now there were only eight. In the evening, when she
came back, the panther said, 'Jackal, bring out my little ones!'

And the jackal brought out first one and then another, and the last one
he brought out three times, so that the whole ten seemed to be there.

The following day the same thing happened, and the next and the next and
the next, till at length there was not even one left, and the rest of
the day the jackal busied himself with digging a large hole at the back
of the den.

That night, when the panther returned from hunting, she said to him as
usual, 'Jackal, bring out my little ones.'

But the jackal replied: 'Bring out your little ones, indeed! Why, you
know as well as I do that you have eaten them all up.'

Of course the panther had not the least idea what the jackal meant by
this, and only repeated, 'Jackal, bring out my children.' As she got
no answer she entered the cave, but found no jackal, for he had crawled
through the hole he had made and escaped. And, what was worse, she did
not find the little ones either.

Now the panther was not going to let the jackal get off like that, and
set off at a trot to catch him. The jackal, however, had got a good
start, and he reached a place where a swarm of bees deposited their
honey in the cleft of a rock. Then he stood still and waited till the
panther came up to him: 'Jackal, where are my little ones?' she asked.

And the jackal answered: 'They are up there. It is where I keep school.'

The panther looked about, and then inquired, 'But where? I see nothing
of them.'

'Come a little this way,' said the jackal, 'and you will hear how
beautifully they sing.'

So the panther drew near the cleft of the rock.

'Don't you hear them?' said the jackal; 'they are in there,' and slipped
away while the panther was listening to the song of the children.

She was still standing in the same place when a baboon went by. 'What
are you doing there, panther?'

'I am listening to my children singing. It is here that the jackal keeps
his school.'

Then the baboon seized a stick, and poked it in the cleft of the rock,
exclaiming, 'Well, then, I should like to see your children!'

The bees flew out in a huge swarm, and made furiously for the panther,
whom they attacked on all sides, while the baboon soon climbed up out of
the way, crying, as he perched himself on the branch of a tree, 'I wish
you joy of your children!' while from afar the jackal's voice was heard
exclaiming: 'Sting, her well! don't let her go!'

The panther galloped away as if she was mad, and flung herself into the
nearest lake, but every time she raised her head, the bees stung her
afresh so at last the poor beast was drowned altogether.




The Little Hare

Contes populaires des Bassoutos. Recueillis et traduits par E. Jacottet.
Paris: Leroux, Editeur.


A long, long way off, in a land where water is very scarce, there lived
a man and his wife and several children. One day the wife said to her
husband, 'I am pining to have the liver of a nyamatsane for my dinner.
If you love me as much as you say you do, you will go out and hunt for
a nyamatsane, and will kill it and get its liver. If not, I shall know
that your love is not worth having.'

'Bake some bread,' was all her husband answered, 'then take the crust
and put it in this little bag.'

The wife did as she was told, and when she had finished she said to her
husband, 'The bag is all ready and quite full.'

'Very well,' said he, 'and now good-bye; I am going after the
nyamatsane.'

But the nyamatsane was not so easy to find as the woman had hoped. The
husband walked on and on and on without ever seeing one, and every now
and then he felt so hungry that he was obl
Troll's Daughter
Posted by Bling King Jun 29th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 11
There was once a lad who went to look for a place. As he went along he
met a man, who asked him where he was going. He told him his errand, and
the stranger said, 'Then you can serve me; I am just in want of a lad
like you, and I will give you good wages--a bushel of money the first
year, two the second year, and three the third year, for you must serve
me three years, and obey me in everything, however strange it seems to
you. You need not be afraid of taking service with me, for there is no
danger in it if you only know how to obey.'

The bargain was made, and the lad went home with the man to whom he had
engaged himself. It was a strange place indeed, for he lived in a bank
in the middle of the wild forest, and the lad saw there no other person
than his master. The latter was a great troll, and had marvellous power
over both men and beasts.

Next day the lad had to begin his service. The first thing that the
troll set him to was to feed all the wild animals from the forest. These
the troll had tied up, and there were both wolves and bears, deer and
hares, which the troll had gathered in the stalls and folds in his
stable down beneath the ground, and that stable was a mile long. The
boy, however, accomplished all this work on that day, and the troll
praised him and said that it was very well done.

Next morning the troll said to him, 'To-day the animals are not to be
fed; they don't get the like of that every day. You shall have leave to
play about for a little, until they are to be fed again.'

Then the troll said some words to him which he did not understand, and
with that the lad turned into a hare, and ran out into the wood. He got
plenty to run for, too, for all the hunters aimed at him, and tried to
shoot him, and the dogs barked and ran after him wherever they got wind
of him. He was the only animal that was left in the wood now, for the
troll had tied up all the others, and every hunter in the whole country
was eager to knock him over. But in this they met with no success; there
was no dog that could overtake him, and no marksman that could hit him.
They shot and shot at him, and he ran and ran. It was an unquiet life,
but in the long run he got used to it, when he saw that there was no
danger in it, and it even amused him to befool all the hunters and dogs
that were so eager after him.

Thus a whole year passed, and when it was over the troll called him
home, for he was now in his power like all the other animals. The troll
then said some words to him which he did not understand, and the hare
immediately became a human being again. 'Well, how do you like to serve
me?' said the troll, 'and how do you like being a hare?'

The lad replied that he liked it very well; he had never been able to go
over the ground so quickly before. The troll then showed him the bushel
of money that he had already earned, and the lad was well pleased to
serve him for another year.

The first day of the second year the boy had the same work to do as on
the previous one--namely, to feed all the wild animals in the troll's
stable. When he had done this the troll again said some words to him,
and with that he became a raven, and flew high up into the air. This was
delightful, the lad thought; he could go even faster now than when he
was a hare, and the dogs could not come after him here. This was a great
delight to him, but he soon found out that he was not to be left quite
at peace, for all the marksmen and hunters who saw him aimed at him and
fired away, for they had no other birds to shoot at than himself, as the
troll had tied up all the others.

This, however, he also got used to, when he saw that they could never
hit him, and in this way he flew about all that year, until the troll
called him home again, said some strange words to him, and gave him
his human shape again. 'Well, how did you like being a raven?' said the
troll.

'I liked it very well,' said the lad, 'for never in all my days have I
been able to rise so high.' The troll then showed him the two bushels
of money which he had earned that year, and the lad was well content to
remain in his service for another year.

Next day he got his old task of feeding all the wild beasts. When this
was done the troll again said some words to him, and at these he turned
into a fish, and sprang into the river. He swam up and he swam down, and
thought it was pleasant to let himself drive with the stream. In this
way he came right out into the sea, and swam further and further out. At
last he came to a glass palace, which stood at the bottom of the sea. He
could see into all the rooms and halls, where everything was very grand;
all the furniture was of white ivory, inlaid with gold and pearl. There
were soft rugs and cushions of all the colours of the rainbow, and
beautiful carpets that looked like the finest moss, and flowers and
trees with curiously crooked branches, both green and yellow, white and
red, and there were also little fountains which sprang up from the most
beautiful snail-shells, and fell into bright mussel-shells, and at the
same time made a most delightful music, which filled the whole palace.

The most beautiful thing of all, however, was a young girl who went
about there, all alone. She went about from one room to another, but did
not seem to be happy with all the grandeur she had about her. She walked
in solitude and melancholy, and never even thought of looking at her
own image in the polished glass walls that were on every side of her,
although she was the prettiest creature anyone could wish to see. The
lad thought so too while he swam round the palace and peeped in from
every side.

'Here, indeed, it would be better to be a man than such a poor dumb fish
as I am now,' said he to himself; 'if I could only remember the words
that the troll says when he changes my shape, then perhaps I could help
myself to become a man again.' He swam and he pondered and he thought
over this until he remembered the sound of what the troll said, and then
he tried to say it himself. In a moment he stood in human form at the
bottom of the sea.

He made haste then to enter the glass palace, and went up to the young
girl and spoke to her.

At first he nearly frightened the life out of her, but he talked to
her so kindly and explained how he had come down there that she soon
recovered from her alarm, and was very pleased to have some company to
relieve the terrible solitude that she lived in. Time passed so quickly
for both of them that the youth (for now he was quite a young man, and
no more a lad) forgot altogether how long he had been there.

One day the girl said to him that now it was close on the time when he
must become a fish again--the troll would soon call him home, and he
would have to go, but before that he must put on the shape of the fish,
otherwise he could not pass through the sea alive. Before this, while he
was staying down there, she had told him that she was a daughter of the
same troll whom the youth served, and he had shut her up there to keep
her away from everyone. She had now devised a plan by which they could
perhaps succeed in getting to see each other again, and spending the
rest of their lives together. But there was much to attend to, and he
must give careful heed to all that she told him.

She told him then that all the kings in the country round about were
in debt to her father the troll, and the king of a certain kingdom,
the name of which she told him, was the first who had to pay, and if he
could not do so at the time appointed he would lose his head. 'And he
cannot pay,' said she; 'I know that for certain. Now you must, first of
all, give up your service with my father; the three years are past,
and you are at liberty to go. You will go off with your six bushels
of money, to the kingdom that I have told you of, and there enter the
service of the king. When the time comes near for his debt becoming due
you will be able to notice by his manner that he is ill at ease. You
shall then say to him that you know well enough what it is that is
weighing upon him--that it is the debt which he owes to the troll and
cannot pay, but that you can lend him the money. The amount is six
bushels--just what you have. You shall, however, only lend them to
him on condition that you may accompany him when he goes to make the
payment, and that you then have permission to run before him as a fool.
When you arrive at the troll's abode, you must perform all kinds of
foolish tricks, and see that you break a whole lot of his windows, and
do all other damage that you can. My father will then get very angry,
and as the king must answer for what his fool does he will sentence him,
even although he has paid his debt, either to answer three questions or
to lose his life. The first question my father will ask will be, "Where
is my daughter?" Then you shall step forward and answer "She is at the
bottom of the sea." He will then ask you whether you can recognise her,
and to this you will answer "Yes." Then he will bring forward a whole
troop of women, and cause them to pass before you, in order that you may
pick out the one that you take for his daughter. You will not be able
to recognise me at all, and therefore I will catch hold of you as I go
past, so that you can notice it, and you must then make haste to catch
me and hold me fast. You have then answered his first question. His next
question will be, "Where is my heart?" You shall then step forward again
and answer, "It is in a fish." "Do you know that fish?" he will say,
and you will again answer "Yes." He will then cause all kinds of fish
to come before you, and you shall choose between them. I shall take good
care to keep by your side, and when the right fish comes I will give you
a little push, and with that you will seize the fish and cut it up. Then
all will be over with the troll; he will ask no more questions, and we
shall be free to wed.'

When the youth had got all these directions as to what he had to do when
he got ashore again the next thing was to remember the words which the
troll said when he changed him from a human being to an animal; but
these he had forgotten, and the girl did not know them either. He went
about all day in despair, and thought and thought, but he could not
remember what they sounded like. During the night he could not sleep,
until towards morning he fell into a slumber, and all at once it flashed
upon him what the troll used to say. He made haste to repeat the words,
and at the same moment he became a fish again and slipped out into the
sea. Immediately after this he was called upon, and swam through the sea
up the river to where the troll stood on the bank and restored him to
human shape with the same words as before.

'Well, how do you like to be a fish?' asked the troll.

It was what he had liked best of all, said the youth, and that was no
lie, as everybody can guess.

The troll then showed him the three bushels of money which he had earned
during the past year; they stood beside the other three, and all the six
now belonged to him.

'Perhaps you will serve me for another year yet,' said the troll, 'and
you will get six bushels of money for it; that makes twelve in all, and
that is a pretty penny.'

'No,' said the youth; he thought he had done enough, and was anxious to
go to some other place to serve, and learn other people's ways; but he
would, perhaps, come back to the troll some other time.

The troll said that he would always be welcome; he had served him
faithfully for the three years they had agreed upon, and he could make
no objections to his leaving now.

The youth then got his six bushels of money, and with these he betook
himself straight to the kingdom which his sweetheart had told him of.
He got his money buried in a lonely spot close to the king's palace, and
then went in there and asked to be taken into service. He obtained his
request, and was taken on as stableman, to tend the king's horses.

Some time passed, and he noticed how the king always went about
sorrowing and grieving, and was never glad or happy. One day the king
came into the stable, where there was no one present except the youth,
who said straight out to him that, with his majesty's permission, he
wished to ask him why he was so sorrowful.

'It's of no use speaking about that,' said the king; 'you cannot help
me, at any rate.'

'You don't know about that,' said the youth; ' I know well enough what
it is that lies so heavy on your mind, and I know also of a plan to get
the money paid.'

This was quite another case, and the king had more talk with the
stableman, who said that he could easily lend the king the six bushels
of money, but would only do it on condition that he should be allowed to
accompany the king when he went to pay the debt, and that he should
then be dressed like the king's court fool, and run before him. He would
cause some trouble, for which the king would be severely spoken to, but
he would answer for it that no harm would befall him.

The king gladly agreed to all that the youth proposed, and it was now
high time for them to set out.

When they came to the troll's dwelling it was no longer in the bank, but
on the top of this there stood a large castle which the youth had never
seen before. The troll could, in fact, make it visible or invisible,
just as he pleased, and, knowing as much as he did of the troll's magic
arts, the youth was not at all surprised at this.

When they came near to this castle, which looked as if it was of pure
glass, the youth ran on in front as the king's fool. Heran sometimes
facing forwards, sometimes backwards, stood sometimes on his head, and
sometimes on his feet, and he dashed in pieces so many of the troll's
big glass windows and doors that it was something awful to see, and
overturned everything he could, and made a fearful disturbance.

The troll came rushing out, and was so angry and furious, and abused the
king with all his might for bringing such a wretched fool with him, as
he was sure that he could not pay the least bit of all the damage that
had been done when he could not even pay off his old debt.

The fool, however, spoke up, and said that he could do so quite easily,
and the king then came forward with the six bushels of money which the
youth had lent him. They were measured and found to be correct. This the
troll had not reckoned on, but he could make no objection against it.
The old debt was honestly paid, and the king got his bond back again.

But there still remained all the damage that had been done that day, and
the king had nothing with which to pay for this. The troll, therefore,
sentenced the king, either to answer three questions that he would put
to him, or have his head taken off, as was agreed on in the old bond.

There was nothing else to be done than to try to answer the troll's
riddles. The fool then stationed himself just by the king's side while
the troll came forward with his questions. He first asked, 'Where is my
daughter?'

The fool spoke up and said, 'She is at the bottom of the sea.'

'How do you know that?' said the troll.

'The little fish saw it,' said the fool.

'Would you know her?' said the troll.

'Yes, bring her forward,' said the fool.

The troll made a whole crowd of women go past them, one after the other,
but all these were nothing but shadows and deceptions. Amongst the very
last was the troll's real daughter, who pinched the fool as she went
past him to make him aware of her presence. He thereupon caught her
round the waist and held her fast, and the troll had to admit that his
first riddle was solved.

Then the troll asked again: 'Where is my heart?'

'It is in a fish,' said the fool.

'Would you know that fish?' said the troll.

'Yes, bring it forward,' said the fool.

Then all the fishes came swimming past them, and meanwhile the troll's
daughter stood just by the youth's side. When at last the right fish
came swimming along she gave him a nudge, and he seized it at once,
drove his knife into it, and split it up, took the heart out of it, and
cut it through the middle.

At the same moment the troll fell dead and turned into pieces of flint.
With that a,ll the bonds that the troll had bound were broken; all the
wild beasts and birds which he had caught and hid under the ground were
free now, and dispersed themselves in the woods and in the air.

The youth and his sweetheart entered the castle, which was now theirs,
and held their wedding; and all the kings roundabout, who had been
in the troll's debt, and were now out of it, came to the wedding, and
saluted the youth as their emperor, and he ruled over them all, and kept
peace between them, and lived in his castle with his beautiful empress
in great joy and magnificence. And if they have not died since they are
living there to this day.

White Dove
Posted by Bling King Jun 29th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10
A king had two sons. They were a pair of reckless fellows, who always
had something foolish to do. One day they rowed out alone on the sea in
a little boat. It was beautiful weather when they set out, but as soon
as they had got some distance from the shore there arose a terrific
storm. The oars went overboard at once, and the little boat was tossed
about on the rolling billows like a nut-shell. The princes had to hold
fast by the seats to keep from being thrown out of the boat.

In the midst of all this they met a wonderful vessel--it was a
dough-trough, in which there sat an old woman. She called to them, and
said that they could still get to shore alive if they would promise her
the son that was next to come to their mother the queen.

'We can't do that,' shouted the princes; 'he doesn't belong to us so we
can't give him away.'

'Then you can rot at the bottom of the sea, both of you,' said the old
woman; 'and perhaps it may be the case that your mother would rather
keep the two sons she has than the one she hasn't got yet.'

Then she rowed away in her dough-trough, while the storm howled still
louder than before, and the water dashed over their boat until it was
almost sinking. Then the princes thought that there was something in
what the old woman had said about their mother, and being, of course,
eager to save their lives, they shouted to her, and promised that she
should have their brother if she would deliver them from this danger. As
soon as they had done so the storm ceased and the waves fell. The boat
drove ashore below their father's castle, and both princes were received
with open arms by their father and mother, who had suffered great
anxiety for them.

The two brothers said nothing about what they had promised, neither at
that time nor later on when the queen's third son came, a beautiful boy,
whom she loved more than anything else in the world. He was brought up
and educated in his father's house until he was full grown, and still
his brothers had never seen or heard anything about the witch to whom
they had promised him before he was born.

It happened one evening that there arose a raging storm, with mist and
darkness. It howled and roared around the king's palace, and in the
midst of it there came a loud knock on the door of the hall where the
youngest prince was. He went to the door and found there an old woman
with a dough- trough on her back, who said to him that he must go with
her at once; his brothers had promised him to her if she would save
their lives.

'Yes,' said he; 'if you saved my brothers' lives, and they promised me
to you, then I will go with you.'

They therefore went down to the beach together, where he had to take his
seat in the trough, along with the witch, who sailed away with him, over
the sea, home to her dwelling.

The prince was now in the witch's power, and in her service. The first
thing she set him to was to pick feathers. 'The heap of feathers that
you see here,' said she, 'you must get finished before I come home in
the evening, otherwise you shall be set to harder work.' He started
to the feathers, and picked and picked until there was only a single
feather left that had not passed through his hands. But then there came
a whirlwind and sent all the feathers flying, and swept them along the
floor into a heap, where they lay as if they were trampled together.
He had now to begin all his work over again, but by this time it only
wanted an hour of evening, when the witch was to be expected home, and
he easily saw that it was impossible for him to be finished by that
time.

Then he heard something tapping at the window pane, and a thin voice
said, 'Let me in, and I will help you.' It was a white dove, which sat
outside the window, and was pecking at it with its beak. He opened the
window, and the dove came in and set to work at once, and picked all
the feathers out of the heap with its beak. Before the hour was past the
feathers were all nicely arranged: the dove flew out at the window, and
at, the same moment the witch came in at the door.

'Well, well,' said she, 'it was more than I would have expected of you
to get all the feathers put in order so nicely. However, such a prince
might be expected to have neat fingers.'

Next morning the witch said to the prince, 'To-day you shall have some
easy work to do. Outside the door I have some firewood lying; you must
split that for me into little bits that I can kindle the fire with. That
will soon be done, but you must be finished before I come home.'

The prince got a little axe and set to work at once. He split and clove
away, and thought that he was getting on fast; but the day wore on until
it was long past midday, and he was still very far from having finished.
He thought, in fact, that the pile of wood rather grew bigger than
smaller, in spite of what he took off it; so he let his hands fall by
his side, and dried the sweat from his forehead, and was ill at ease,
for he knew that it would be bad for him if he was not finished with the
work before the witch came home.

Then the white dove came flying and settled down on the pile of wood,
and cooed and said, 'Shall I help you?'

'Yes,' said the prince, 'many thanks for your help yesterday, and for
what you offer to-day.' Thereupon the little dove seized one piece of
wood after another and split it with its beak. The prince could not take
away the wood as quickly as the dove could split it, and in a short time
it was all cleft into little sticks.

The dove then flew up on his shoulder and sat there and the prince
thanked it, and stroked and caressed its white feathers, and kissed
its little red beak. With that it was a dove no longer, but a beautiful
young maiden, who stood by his side. She told him then that she was a
princess whom the witch had stolen, and had changed to this shape,
but with his kiss she had got her human form again; and if he would be
faithful to her, and take her to wife, she could free them both from the
witch's power.

The prince was quite captivated by the beautiful princess, and was quite
willing to do anything whatsoever to get her for himself.

She then said to him, 'When the witch comes home you must ask her to
grant you a wish, when you have accomplished so well all that she has
demanded of you. When she agrees to this you must ask her straight out
for the princess that she has flying about as a white dove. But just now
you must take a red silk thread and tie it round my little finger, so
that you may be able to recognise me again, into whatever shape she
turns me.'

The prince made haste to get the silk thread tied round her little white
finger; at the same moment the princess became a dove again and flew
away, and immediately after that the old witch came home with her
dough-trough on he back.

'Well,' said she, 'I must say that you are clever at your work, and it
is something, too, that such princely hands are not accustomed to.'

'Since you are so well pleased with my work, said the prince, 'you
will, no doubt, be willing to give me a little pleasure too, and give me
something that I have taken a fancy to.'

'Oh yes, indeed,' said the old woman; 'what is it that you want?'

'I want the princess here who is in the shape of a white dove,' said the
prince.

'What nonsense!' said the witch. 'Why should you imagine that there are
princesses here flying about in the shape of white doves? But if you
will have a princess, you can get one such as we have them.' She then
came to him, dragging a shaggy little grey ass with long ears. 'Will you
have this?' said she; 'you can't get any other princess!'

The prince used his eyes and saw the red silk thread on one of the ass's
hoofs, so he said, 'Yes, just let me have it.'

'What will you do with it?' asked the witch.

'I will ride on it,' said the prince; but with that the witch dragged
it away again, and came back with an old, wrinkled, toothless hag, whose
hands trembled with age. 'You can have no other princess,' said she.
'Will you have her?'

'Yes, I will,' said the prince, for he saw the red silk thread on the
old woman's finger.

At this the witch became so furious that she danced about and knocked
everything to pieces that she could lay her hands upon, so that the
splinters flew about the ears of the prince and princess, who now stood
there in her own beautiful shape.

Then their marriage had to be celebrated, for the witch had to stick
to what she had promised, and he must get the princess whatever might
happen afterwards.

The princess now said to him, 'At the marriage feast you may eat what
you please, but you must not drink anything whatever, for if you do that
you will forget me.'

This, however, the prince forgot on the wedding day, and stretched out
his hand and took a cup of wine; but the princess was keeping watch over
him, and gave him a push with her elbow, so that the wine flew over the
table- cloth.

Then the witch got up and laid about her among the plates and dishes, so
that the pieces flew about their ears, just as she had done when she was
cheated the first time.

They were then taken to the bridal chamber, and the door was shut. Then
the princess said, 'Now the witch has kept her promise, but she will do
no more if she can help it, so we must fly immediately. I shall lay two
pieces of wood in the bed to answer for us when the witch speaks to us.
You can take the flower-pot and the glass of water that stands in the
window, and we must slip out by that and get away.'

No sooner said than done. They hurried off out into the dark night, the
princess leading, because she knew the way, having spied it out while
she flew about as a dove.

At midnight the witch came to the door of the room and called in to
them, and the two pieces of wood answered her, so that she believed they
were there, and went away again. Before daybreak she was at the door
again and called to them, and again the pieces of wood answered for
them. She thus thought that she had them, and when the sun rose the
bridal night was past: she had then kept her promise, and could vent her
anger and revenge on both of them. With the first sunbeam she broke into
the room, but there she found no prince and no princess--nothing but the
two pieces of firewood, which lay in the bed, and stared, and spoke not
a word. These she threw on the floor, so that they were splintered into
a thousand pieces, and off she hastened after the fugitives.

With the first sunbeam the princess said to the prince, 'Look round; do
you see anything behind us?'

'Yes, I see a dark cloud, far away,' said he.

'Then throw the flower-pot over your head,' said she. When this was done
there was a large thick forest behind them.

When the witch came to the forest she could not get through it until she
went home and brought her axe to cut a path.

A little after this the princess said again to the prince, 'Look round;
do you see anything behind us?'

'Yes,' said the prince, 'the big black cloud is there again.'

'Then throw the glass of water over your head,' said she.

When he had done this there was a great lake behind them, and this
the witch could not cross until she ran home again and brought her
dough-trough.

Meanwhile the fugitives had reached the castle which was the prince's
home. They climbed over the garden wall, ran across the garden, and
crept in at an open window. By this time the witch was just at their
heels, but the princess stood in the window and blew upon the witch;
hundreds of white doves flew out of her mouth, fluttered and flapped
around the witch's head until she grew so angry that she turned into
flint, and there she stands to this day, in the shape of a large flint
stone, outside the window.

Within the castle there was great rejoicing over the prince and his
bride. His two elder brothers came and knelt before him and confessed
what they had done, and said that he alone should inherit the kingdom,
and they would always be his faithful subjects.
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