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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 WELL Two men stood in the billiard-room of an old country house, talking. Play, which had been of a half-hearted nature, was over, and they sat at the open window, looking out over the park stretching away beneath them, conversing idly. "Your time's nearly up, Jem," said one at length, "this time six weeks you'll be yawning out the honeymoon and cursing the man—woman I mean— who invented them." Jem Benson stretched his long... more...

THE WEAKER VESSEL Mr. Gribble sat in his small front parlour in a state of angry amazement. It was half-past six and there was no Mrs. Gribble; worse still, there was no tea. It was a state of things that had only happened once before. That was three weeks after marriage, and on that occasion Mr. Gribble had put his foot down with a bang that had echoed down the corridors of thirty years. The fire in the little kitchen was out, and the untidy... 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 UNKNOWN "Handsome is as 'andsome does," said the night-watchman. It's an old saying, but it's true. Give a chap good looks, and it's precious little else that is given to 'im. He's lucky when 'is good looks 'ave gorn—or partly gorn—to get a berth as night-watchman or some other hard and bad-paid job. One drawback to a good-looking man is that he generally marries young; not because 'e wants to, but because somebody else wants... 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 TOLL-HOUSE" "It's all nonsense," said Jack Barnes. "Of course people have died in the house; people die in every house. As for the noises—wind in the chimney and rats in the wainscot are very convincing to a nervous man. Give me another cup of tea, Meagle." "Lester and White are first," said Meagle, who was presiding at the tea-table of the Three Feathers Inn. "You've had two." Lester and White finished their cups with irritating... 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...