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THE OLD MAN OF THE SEA   "What I want you to do," said Mr. George Wright, as he leaned towards the old sailor, "is to be an uncle to me." "Aye, aye," said the mystified Mr. Kemp, pausing with a mug of beer midway to his lips. "A rich uncle," continued the young man, lowering his voice to prevent any keen ears in the next bar from acquiring useless knowledge. "An uncle from New Zealand, who is going to leave me all 'is money."... more...

WATCH-DOGS "It's a'most the only enj'yment I've got left," said the oldest inhabitant, taking a long, slow draught of beer, "that and a pipe o' baccy. Neither of 'em wants chewing, and that's a great thing when you ain't got anything worth speaking about left to chew with." He put his mug on the table and, ignoring the stillness of the summer air, sheltered the flame of a match between his cupped hands and conveyed it with infinite care to... more...

THREE AT TABLE The talk in the coffee-room had been of ghosts and apparitions, and nearly everybody present had contributed his mite to the stock of information upon a hazy and somewhat thread-bare subject. Opinions ranged from rank incredulity to childlike faith, one believer going so far as to denounce unbelief as impious, with a reference to the Witch of Endor, which was somewhat marred by being complicated in an inexplicable fashion with... more...

THE WHITE CAT   The traveller stood looking from the tap-room window of the Cauliflower at the falling rain. The village street below was empty, and everything was quiet with the exception of the garrulous old man smoking with much enjoyment on the settle behind him. "It'll do a power o' good," said the ancient, craning his neck round the edge of the settle and turning a bleared eye on the window. "I ain't like some folk; I never did... more...

THE VIGIL "I'm the happiest man in the world," said Mr. Farrer, in accents of dreamy tenderness. Miss Ward sighed. "Wait till father comes in," she said. Mr. Farrer peered through the plants which formed a welcome screen to the window and listened with some uneasiness. He was waiting for the firm, springy step that should herald the approach of ex-Sergeant-Major Ward. A squeeze of Miss Ward's hand renewed his courage. "Perhaps I had better... more...


THE UNDERSTUDY "Dogs on board ship is a nuisance," said the night-watchman, gazing fiercely at the vociferous mongrel that had chased him from the deck of the Henry William; "the skipper asks me to keep an eye on the ship, and then leaves a thing like that down in the cabin." He leaned against a pile of empty casks to recover his breath, shook his fist at the dog, and said, slowly— Some people can't make too much of 'em. They talk... more...

THE THREE SISTERS Thirty years ago on a wet autumn evening the household of Mallett's Lodge was gathered round the death-bed of Ursula Mallow, the eldest of the three sisters who inhabited it. The dingy moth-eaten curtains of the old wooden bedstead were drawn apart, the light of a smoking oil-lamp falling upon the hopeless countenance of the dying woman as she turned her dull eyes upon her sisters. The room was in silence except for an... more...

THE THIRD STRING Love? said the night-watchman, as he watched in an abstracted fashion the efforts of a skipper to reach a brother skipper on a passing barge with a boathook. Don't talk to me about love, because I've suffered enough through it. There ought to be teetotalers for love the same as wot there is for drink, and they ought to wear a piece o' ribbon to show it, the same as the teetotalers do; but not an attractive piece o' ribbon, mind... more...

THE TEMPTATION OF SAMUEL BURGE   Mr. Higgs, jeweller, sat in the small parlour behind his shop, gazing hungrily at a supper-table which had been laid some time before. It was a quarter to ten by the small town clock on the mantelpiece, and the jeweller rubbing his hands over the fire tried in vain to remember what etiquette had to say about starting a meal before the arrival of an expected guest. "He must be coming by the last train... more...

THE MONKEY'S PAW I. Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire. "Hark at the wind," said Mr. White,... more...