The Best Short Stories - 4 - George Ade - ebook
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Best Authors -  Best Stories ------------------------------------------- The Best Short Stories - 4 AUTHORS Mark Twain , Louisa May Alcott , Laura E. Richards , T.S. Arthur , Herman Melville , George Ade , Kate Chopin , Harriet Beecher Stowe , Edith Wharton , Nathaniel Hawthorne , Edited by Ahmet Ünal ÇAM  

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Mark Twain , Louisa May Alcott , Laura E. Richards , T.S. Arthur , Herman Melville , George Ade , Kate Chopin , Harriet Beecher Stowe , Edith Wharton , Nathaniel Hawthorne , Edited by Ahmet Ünal ÇAM

The Best Short Stories - 4

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Table of contents

THE BEST SHORT STORY - 4

THE BEST SHORT STORY - 4

Best Authors - Best Stories

The Best Short Stories - 4

AUTHORS
Mark Twain ,
Louisa May Alcott ,
Laura E. Richards ,
T.S. Arthur ,
Herman Melville ,
George Ade ,
Kate Chopin ,
Harriet Beecher Stowe ,
Edith Wharton ,
Nathaniel Hawthorne ,
Edited by
Ahmet Ünal ÇAM
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
by Mark Twain
In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; and that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and as tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it succeeded.
I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Angel's, and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and gave me good-day. I told him a friend had commissioned me to make some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley--Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, who he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel's Camp. I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to him.
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned his initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly that, so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse. I let him go on in his own way, and never interrupted him once.
"Rev. Leonidas W. H'm, Reverend Le--well, there was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of '49--or may be it was the spring of '50--I don't recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't finished when he first came to the camp; but any way, he was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't he'd change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him--any way just so's he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn't be no solit'ry thing mentioned but that feller'd offer to bet on it, and take any side you please, as I was just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you'd find him flush or you'd find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a chicken-fight, he'd bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg'lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and he was, too, and a good man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to--to wherever he was going to, and if you took him up, he would foller that straddle-bug to Mexico but what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the road.Thish-yer Smiley had a mare. An illustration for the great short story The
Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by the author Mark Twain
Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley and can tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to him--he'd bet on any thing--the dangest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was considerable better--thank the Lord for his inf'nit' mercy--and coming on so smart that with the blessing of Prov'dence she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, Well, I'll risk two-and-a-half she don't anyway.'"
Thish-yer Smiley had a mare--the boys called her the fifteen-minute nag, but that was only in fun, you know, because, of course, she was faster than that--and he used to win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and always had the asthma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or something of that kind. They used to give her two or three hundred yards start, and then pass her under way; but always at the fag-end of the race she'd get excited and desperate-like, and come cavorting and straddling up, and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and sometimes out to one side amongst the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose--and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near as you could cipher it down.
And he had a little small bull-pup. An illustration for the great short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by the author Mark TwainAnd he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him you'd think he warn't worth a cent but to set around and look ornery and lay for a chance to steal something. But as soon as money was up on him he was a different dog; his under-jaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'-castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces. And a dog might tackle him and bully-rag him, and bite him, and throw him over his shoulder two or three times, and Andrew Jackson--which was the name of the pup--Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was satisfied, and hadn't expected nothing else--and the bets being doubled and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was all up; and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j'int of his hind leg and freeze to it--not chaw, you understand, but only just grip and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a year. Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till he harnessed a dog once that didn't have no hind legs, because they'd been sawed off in a circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money was all up, and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a minute how he'd been imposed on, and how the other dog had him in the door, so to speak, and he 'peared surprised, and then he looked sorter discouraged-like, and didn't try no more to win the fight, and so he got shucked out bad. He gave Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn't no hind legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence in a fight, and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he'd lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius--I know it, because he hadn't no opportunities to speak of, and it don't stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances if he hadn't no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when I think of that last fight of his'n, and the way it turned out.
Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tom-cats and all of them kind of things, till you couldn't rest, and you couldn't fetch nothing for him to bet on but he'd match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He'd give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you'd see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut--see him turn one summerset, or may be a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat.
An illustration of a frog summersetting for the great short story The
Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by the author Mark Twain
He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep' him in practice so constant, that he'd nail a fly every time as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do 'most anything--and I believe him. Why, I've seen him set Dan'l Webster down here on this floor--Dan'l Webster was the name of the frog--and sing out, "Flies, Dan'l, flies!" and quicker'n you could wink he'd spring straight up and snake a fly off'n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag'in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd been doin' any more'n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor'ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had traveled and been everywheres, all said he laid over any frog that ever they see.
Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box. An illustration for the great short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by the author Mark TwainWell, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box, and he used to fetch him downtown sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller--a stranger in the camp, he was--come acrost him with his box, and says:
"What might be that you've got in the box?"
And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, "It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't--it's only just a frog."
And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, "H'm--so 'tis. Well, what's he good for?"
"Well," Smiley says, easy and careless, "he's good enough for one thing, I should judge--he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county."
The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, "Well," he says, "I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog."
"Maybe you don't," Smiley says. "Maybe you understand frogs and maybe you don't understand 'em; maybe you've had experience, and maybe you ain't only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I've got my opinion and I'll risk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County."
And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad like, "Well, I'm only a stranger here, and I ain't got no frog; but if I had a frog, I'd bet you."
And then Smiley says, "That's all right--that's all right--if you'll hold my box a minute, I'll go and get you a frog." And so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley's, and set down to wait.
So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to his-self, and then he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a teaspoon and filled him full of quail shot--filled! him pretty near up to his chin--and set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him in, and give him to this feller, and says:
"Now, if you're ready, set him alongside of Dan'l, with his forepaws just even with Dan'l's, and I'll give the word." Then he says, "One--two--three--git!" and him and the feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off lively, but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders--so--like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use--he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter was, of course.
The feller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder--so--at Dan'l, and says again, very deliberate, "Well," he says, "I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog."
An illustration for the great short story The
Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by the author Mark TwainSmiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan'l a long time, and at last says, "I do wonder what in the nation that frog throwed off for--I wonder if there ain't something the matter with him--he 'pears to look mighty baggy, somehow." And he ketched Dan'l up by the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, "Why blame my cats if he don't weigh five pounds!" and turned him upside down and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man--he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never ketched him. And----
(Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up to see what was wanted.) And turning to me as he moved away, he said: "Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy--I ain't going to be gone a second."
But, by your leave, I did not think that a continuation of the history of the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away.
At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he buttonholed me and recommenced:
"Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller, one-eyed cow that didn't have no tail, only jest a short stump like a bannanner, and----"
However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave.
End of story
About the author
Mark Twain
Born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Mark Twain “came in with the comet” and as he predicted he went “out with the comet” passing away on April 21, 1910, the day after Halley’s Comet returned. His real name was Samuel Longhorne Clemens, and he took his pen name from his days as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River where the cry “mark twain” signaled the depth of water -- about 12 feet was required for the safe passage of riverboats.
Mark Twain was a talented writer, speaker and humorist whose own personality shined through his work. As his writing grew in popularity, he became a public figure and iconic American whose work represents some of the best in the genre of Realism. As the young country grew in size but not in a cultural manner to the liking of the European gentry, it became fashionable to criticize "the ugly American.” Twain famously travelled abroad and disarmed his audience with his wit and humor with pronouncements like the following: “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”
Mark Twain quote bourbonTwain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and would later use that location as the setting for two of his most famous works, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He started his career as a typesetter at a newspaper, worked as a printer, a riverboat pilot, and then turned to gold mining. When he failed to strike it rich, he turned to journalism and it was during that time that he wrote the short story that would launch his career, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County -- a story that captivated me when read out loud by one of my teachers in elementary school. Children may also enjoy reading Mark Twain: A Child's Biography.
While Twain’s career as a writer enriched him, his turn as a gentleman investor did much to impoverish him. He lost a great deal of his writing profits and much of his wife’s inheritance on different investments, the costliest was his backing of a promising typesetting machine. The machine had great potential but it failed in the market due to frequent breakdowns. Twain recovered financially with the help of a benefactor from Standard Oil, Henry Huttleson Rogers. Rogers guided Twain successfully through bankruptcy and even had Twain transfer his copyrights to his wife to keep his royalties from his creditors. Further success from book sales and lectures restored his financial health and in the end all his creditors were paid.
Mark Twain is also well remembered for his witty quotations, a small sampling follows:
Mark Twain quote artsyMany a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.
I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.
An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.
Mark Twain quoteAlways acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
And as Ernest Hemingway wisely observed:
"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.""
End of story
Scarlet Stockings
by Louisa May Alcott
________________________________________
Chapter 1
I. HOW THEY WALKED INTO LENNOX'S LIFE.
"COME out for a drive, Harry?"
"Too cold."
"Have a game of billiards?"
"Too tired."
"Go and call on the Fairchilds?"
"Having an unfortunate prejudice against country girls, I respectfully decline."
"What will you do then?"
"Nothing, thank you."
And settling himself more luxuriously upon the couch, Lennox closed his eyes, and appeared to slumber tranquilly. Kate shook her head, and stood regarding her brother, despondently, till a sudden idea made her turn toward the window, exclaiming abruptly,
"Scarlet stockings, Harry!"
"Where?" and, as if the words were a spell to break the deepest day-dream, Lennox hurried to the window, with an unusual expression of interest in his listless face.
"I thought that would succeed! She isn't there, but I've got you up, and you are not to go down again," laughed Kate, taking possession of the sofa.
"Not a bad manoeuvre. I don't mind; it's about time for the one interesting event of the day to occur, so I'll watch for myself, thank you," and Lennox took the easy chair by the window with a shrug and a yawn.
"I'm glad any thing does interest you," said Kate, petulantly, "though I don't think it amounts to much, for, though you perch yourself at the window every day to see that girl pass, you don't care enough about it to ask her name."
"I've been waiting to be told."
"It's Belle Morgan, the Doctor's daughter, and my dearest friend."
"Then, of course, she is a blue-belle?"
"Don't try to be witty or sarcastic with her, for she will beat you at that."
"Not a dumb-belle then?"
"Quite the reverse; she talks a good deal, and very well too, when she likes."
"She is very pretty; has anybody the right to call her 'Ma belle'?"
"Many would be glad to do so, but she won't have any thing to say to them."
"A Canterbury belle in every sense of the word then?"
"She might be, for all Canterbury loves her, but she isn't fashionable, and has more friends among the poor than among the rich."
"Ah, I see, a diving-bell, who knows how to go down into a sea of troubles, and bring up the pearls worth having."
"I'll tell her that, it will please her. You are really waking up, Harry," and Kate smiled approvingly upon him.
"This page of 'Belle's Life' is rather amusing, so read away," said Lennox, glancing up the street, as if he awaited the appearance of the next edition with pleasure.
"There isn't much to tell; she is a nice, bright, energetic, warm-hearted dear; the pride of the Doctor's heart, and a favorite with every one, though she is odd.
"How odd?"
"Does and says what she likes, is very blunt and honest, has ideas and principles of her own, goes to parties in high dresses, won't dance round dances, and wears red stockings, though Mrs. Plantagenet says it's fast."
"Rather a jolly little person, I fancy. Why haven't we met her at some of the tea-fights and muffin-worries we've been to lately?"
"It may make you angry, but it will do you good, so I'll tell. She didn't care enough about seeing the distinguished stranger to come; that's the truth."
"Sensible girl, to spare herself hours of mortal dulness, gossip, and dyspepsia," was the placid reply.
"She has seen you, though, at church and dawdling about town, and she called you 'Sir Charles Coldstream' on the spot. How does that suit?" asked Kate, maliciously.
"Not bad, I rather like that. Wish she'd call some day, and stir us up."
"She won't; I asked her, but she said she was very busy, and told Jessy Tudor, she wasn't fond of peacocks."
"I don't exactly see the connection."
"Stupid boy! she meant you, of course."
"Oh, I'm peacocks, am I?"
"I don't wish to be rude, but I really do think you are vain of your good looks, elegant accomplishments, and the impression you make wherever you go. When it's worth while you exert yourself, and are altogether fascinating, but the 'I come -- see -- and -- conquer' air you put on, spoils it all for sensible people."
"It strikes me that Miss Morgan has slightly infected you with her oddity as far as bluntness goes. Fire away, it's rather amusing to be abused when one is dying of ennui."
"That's grateful and complimentary to me, when I have devoted myself to you ever since you came. But every thing bores you, and the only sign of interest you've shown is in those absurd red hose. I should like to know what the charm is," said Kate, sharply.
"Impossible to say; accept the fact calmly as I do, and be grateful that there is one glimpse of color, life, and spirit in this aristocratic tomb of a town."
"You are not obliged to stay in it!" fiercely.
"Begging your pardon, my dove, but I am. I promised to give you my enlivening society for a month, and a Lennox keeps his word, even at the cost of his life."
"I'm sorry I asked such a sacrifice; but I innocently thought that after being away for five long years, you might care to see your orphan sister," and the dove produced her handkerchief with a plaintive sniff.
"Now, my dear creature, don't be melodramatic, I beg of you," cried her brother, imploringly. "I wished to come, I pined to embrace you, and I give you my word, I don't blame you for the stupidity of this confounded place."
"It never was so gay as since you came, for every one has tried to make it pleasant for you," cried Kate, ruffled at his indifference to the hospitable efforts of herself and friends. "But you don't care for any of our simple amusements, because you are spoilt by the flattery, gayety, and nonsense of foreign society. If I didn't know it was half affectation, I should be in despair, you are so blase and absurd. It's always the way with men, if one happens to be handsome, accomplished, and talented, he puts on as many airs, and is as vain as any silly girl."
"Don't you think if you took breath, you'd get on faster, my dear?" asked the imperturbable gentleman, as Kate paused with a gasp.
"I know it's useless for me to talk, as you don't care a straw what I say, but it's true, and some day you'll wish you had done something worth doing all these years. I was so proud of you, so fond of you, that I can't help being disappointed, to find you with no more ambition than to kill time comfortably, no interest in any thing but your own pleasures, and only energy enough to amuse yourself with a pair of scarlet stockings."
Pathetic as poor Kate's face and voice were, it was impossible to help laughing at the comical conclusion of her lament. Lennox tried to hide the smile on his lips by affecting to curl his moustache with care, and to gaze pensively out as if touched by her appeal. But he wasn't, oh, bless you, no! she was only his sister, and, though she might have talked with the wisdom of Solomon, and the eloquence of Demosthenes, it wouldn't have done a particle of good. Sisters do very well to work for one, to pet one, and play confidante when one's love affairs need feminine wit to conduct them, but when they begin to reprove, or criticise or moralize, it won't do, and can't be allowed, of course. Lennox never snubbed anybody, but blandly extinguished them by a polite acquiescence in all their affirmations, for the time being, and then went on in his own way as if nothing had been said.
"I dare say you are right; I'll go and think over your very sensible advice," and, as if roused to unwonted exertion by the stings of an accusing conscience, he left the room abruptly.
"I do believe I've made an impression at last! He's actually gone out to think over what I've said. Dear Harry, I was sure he had a heart, if one only knew how to get at it!" and with a sigh of satisfaction Kate went to the window to behold the "dear Harry" going briskly down the street after a pair of scarlet stockings. A spark of anger kindled in her eyes as she watched him, and when he vanished, she still stood knitting her brows in deep thought, for a grand idea was dawning upon her.
It was a dull town; no one could deny that, for everybody was so intensely proper and well-born, that nobody dared to be jolly. All the houses were square, aristocratic mansions with Revolutionary elms in front and spacious coach-houses behind. The knockers had a supercilious perk to their bronze or brass noses, the dandelions on the lawns had a highly connected air, and the very pigs were evidently descended from "our first families." Stately dinner-parties, decorous dances, moral picnics, and much tea-pot gossiping were the social resources of the place. Of course, the young people flirted, for that diversion is apparently irradicable even in the "best society," but it was done with a propriety which was edifying to behold.
One can easily imagine that such a starched state of things would not be particularly attractive to a travelled young gentleman like Lennox, who, as Kate very truly said, had been spoilt by the flattery, luxury, and gayety of foreign society. He did his best, but by the end of the first week ennui claimed him for its own, and passive endurance was all that was left him. From perfect despair he was rescued by the scarlet stockings, which went tripping by one day as he stood at the window, planning some means of escape.
A brisk, blithe-faced girl passed in a grey walking suit with a distracting pair of high-heeled boots and glimpses of scarlet at the ankle. Modest, perfectly so, I assure you, were the glimpses, but the feet were so decidedly pretty that one forgot to look at the face appertaining thereunto. It wasn't a remarkably lovely face, but it was a happy, wholesome one, with all sorts of good little dimples in cheek and chin, sunshiny twinkles in the black eyes, and a decided, yet lovable look about the mouth that was quite satisfactory. A busy, bustling little body she seemed to be, for sack-pockets and muff were full of bundles, and the trim boots tripped briskly over the ground, as if the girl's heart were as light as her heels. Somehow this active, pleasant figure seemed to wake up the whole street, and leave a streak of sunshine behind it, for every one nodded as it passed, and the primmest faces relaxed into smiles, which lingered when the girl had gone.
"Uncommonly pretty feet -- she walks well, which American girls seldom do -- all waddle or prance -- nice face, but the boots are French, and it does my heart good to see 'em."
Lennox made these observations to himself as the young lady approached, nodded to Kate at another window, gave a quick but comprehensive glance at himself and trotted round the corner, leaving the impression on his mind that a whiff of fresh spring air had blown through the street in spite of the December snow. He didn't trouble himself to ask who it was, but fell into the way of lounging in the bay-window at about three P. M., and watching the grey and scarlet figure pass with its blooming cheeks, bright eyes, and elastic step. Having nothing else to do, he took to petting this new whim, and quite depended on the daily stirring-up which the sight of the energetic damsel gave him. Kate saw it all, but took no notice till the day of the little tiff above recorded; after that she was as soft as a summer sea, and by some clever stroke had Belle Morgan to tea that very week.
Lennox was one of the best tempered fellows in the world, but the "peacocks" did rather nettle him because there was some truth in the insinuation; so he took care to put on no airs or try to be fascinating in the presence of Miss Belle. In truth he soon forgot himself entirely, and enjoyed her oddities with a relish, after the prim proprieties of the other young ladies who had simpered and sighed before him. For the first time in his life, the "Crusher," as his male friends called him, got crushed; for Belle, with the subtle skill of a quick-witted, keen-sighted girl, soon saw and condemned the elegant affectations which others called foreign polish. A look, a word, a gesture from a pretty woman is often more eloquent and impressive than moral essays or semi-occasional twinges of conscience, and in the presence of one satirical little person, Sir Charles Coldstream soon ceased to deserve the name.
Belle seemed to get over her hurry and to find time for occasional relaxation, but one never knew in what mood he might find her, for the weathercock was not more changeable than she. Lennox liked that, and found the muffin-worries quite endurable with this sauce piquante to relieve their insipidity. Presently he discovered that he was suffering for exercise, and formed the wholesome habit of promenading the town about three P. M.; Kate said, to follow the scarlet stockings.
Chapter 2
II. WHERE THEY LED HIM.
"WHITHER away, Miss Morgan?" asked Lennox, as he overtook her one bitter cold day.
"I'm taking my constitutional."
"So am I."
"With a difference," and Belle glanced at the blue-nosed, muffled-up gentleman strolling along beside her with an occasional shiver and shrug.
"After a winter in the south of France one don't find arctic weather like this easy to bear," he said, with a disgusted air.