:
Wood Cutter
Category: Love Letters
A poor woodcutter lived with his wife and three daughters in a little
hut on the borders of a great forest.

One morning as he was going to his work, he said to his wife, 'Let our
eldest daughter bring me my lunch into the wood; and so that she shall
not lose her way, I will take a bag of millet with me, and sprinkle the
seed on the path.'

When the sun had risen high over the forest, the girl set out with a
basin of soup. But the field and wood sparrows, the larks and finches,
blackbirds and green finches had picked up the millet long ago, and the
girl could not find her way.

She went on and on, till the sun set and night came on. The trees
rustled in the darkness, the owls hooted, and she began to be very much
frightened. Then she saw in tile distance a light that twinkled between
the trees. 'There must be people living yonder,' she thought, 'who will
take me in for the night,' and she began walking towards it.

Not long afterwards she came to a house with lights in the windows.

She knocked at the door, and a gruff voice called, 'Come in!'

The girl stepped into the dark entrance, and tapped at the door of the
room.

'Just walk in,' cried the voice, and when she opened the door there sat
an old gray-haired man at the table. His face was resting on his hands,
and his white beard flowed over the table almost down to the ground.

By the stove lay three beasts, a hen, a cock, and a brindled cow. The
girl told the old man her story, and asked for a night's lodging.

The man said:

     Pretty cock,
     Pretty hen,
     And you, pretty brindled cow,
     What do you say now?

'Duks,' answered the beasts; and that must have meant, 'We are quite
willing,' for the old man went on, 'Here is abundance; go into the back
kitchen and cook us a supper.'

The girl found plenty of everything in the kitchen, and cooked a good
meal, but she did not think of the beasts.

She placed the full dishes on the table, sat down opposite the
gray-haired man, and ate till her hunger was appeased.

When she was satisfied, she said, 'But now I am so tired, where is a bed
in which I can sleep? '

The beasts answered:

     You have eaten with him,
     You have drunk with him,
     Of us you have not thought,
     Sleep then as you ought!

Then the old man said, 'Go upstairs, and there you will find a bedroom;
shake the bed, and put clean sheets on, and go to sleep.'

The maiden went upstairs, and when she had made the bed, she lay down.

After some time the gray-haired man came, looked at her by the light
of his candle, and shook his head. And when he saw that she was sound
asleep, he opened a trapdoor and let her fall into the cellar.

The woodcutter came home late in the evening, and reproached his wife
for leaving him all day without food.

'No, I did not,' she answered; 'the girl went off with your dinner. She
must have lost her way, but will no doubt come back to-morrow.'

But at daybreak the woodcutter started off into the wood, and this time
asked his second daughter to bring his food.

'I will take a bag of lentils,' said he; 'they are larger than millet,
and the girl will see them better and be sure to find her way.'

At midday the maiden took the food, but the lentils had all gone; as on
the previous day, the wood birds had eaten them all.

The maiden wandered about the wood till nightfall, when she came in
the same way to the old man's house, and asked for food and a night's
lodging.

The man with the white hair again asked the beasts:

     Pretty cock,
     Pretty hen,
     And you, pretty brindled cow,
     What do you say now?

The beasts answered, 'Duks,' and everything happened as on the former
day.

The girl cooked a good meal, ate and drank with the old man, and did not
trouble herself about the animals.

And when she asked for a bed, they replied:

     You have eaten with him
     You have drunk with him,
     Of us you have not thought,

Now sleep as you ought!

And when she was asleep, the old man shook his head over her, and let
her fall into the cellar.

On the third morning the woodcutter said to his wife, 'Send our youngest
child to-day with my dinner. She is always good and obedient, and will
keep to the right path, and not wander away like her sisters, idle
drones!'

But the mother said, 'Must I lose my dearest child too?'

'Do not fear,' he answered; 'she is too clever and intelligent to lose
her way. I will take plenty of peas with me and strew them along; they
are even larger than lentils, and will show her the way.'

But when the maiden started off with the basket on her arm, the wood
pigeons had eaten up the peas, and she did not know which way to go. She
was much distressed, and thought constantly of her poor hungry father
and her anxious mother. At last, when it grew dark, she saw the little
light, and came to the house in the wood. She asked prettily if she
might stay there for the night, and the man with the white beard asked
his beasts again:

     Pretty cock,
     Pretty hen,
     And you, pretty brindled cow,
     What do you say now?

'Duks,' they said. Then the maiden stepped up to the stove where the
animals were lying, and stroked the cock and the hen, and scratched the
brindled cow between its horns.

And when at the bidding of the old man she had prepared a good supper,
and the dishes were standing on the table, she said, 'Shall I have
plenty while the good beasts have nothing? There is food to spare
outside; I will attend to them first.'

Then she went out and fetched barley and strewed it before the cock and
hen, and brought the cow an armful of sweet-smelling hay.

'Eat that, dear beasts,' she said,' and when you are thirsty you shall
have a good drink.'

Then she fetched a bowl of water, and the cock and hen flew on to the
edge, put their beaks in, and then held up their heads as birds do when
they drink, and the brindled cow also drank her fill. When the beasts
were satisfied, the maiden sat down beside the old man at the table and
ate what was left for her. Soon the cock and hen began to tuck their
heads under their wings, and the brindled cow blinked its eyes, so the
maiden said, 'Shall we not go to rest now?'

     Pretty cock,
     Pretty hen,
     And you, pretty brindled cow,
     What do you say now?

The animals said, 'Duks:

     You have eaten with us,
     You have drunk with us,
     You have tended us right,
     So we wish you good night.'

The maiden therefore went upstairs, made the bed and put on clean sheets
and fell asleep. She slept peacefully till midnight, when there was such
a noise in the house that she awoke. Everything trembled and shook; the
animals sprang up and dashed themselves in terror against the wall; the
beams swayed as if they would be torn from their foundations, it seemed
as if the stairs were tumbling down, and then the roof fell in with a
crash. Then all became still, and as no harm came to the maiden she lay
down again and fell asleep. But when she awoke again in broad daylight,
what a sight met her eyes! She was lying in a splendid room furnished
with royal splendour; the walls were covered with golden flowers on a
green ground; the bed was of ivory and the counterpane of velvet, and on
a stool near by lay a pair of slippers studded with pearls. The maiden
thought she must be dreaming, but in came three servants richly dressed,
who asked what were her commands. 'Go,' said the maiden, 'I will get up
at once and cook the old man's supper for him, and then I will feed the
pretty cock and hen and the brindled cow.'

But the door opened and in came a handsome young man, who said, 'I am a
king's son, and was condemned by a wicked witch to live as an old man
in this wood with no company but that of my three servants, who were
transformed into a cock, a hen, and a brindled cow. The spell could only
be broken by the arrival of a maiden who should show herself kind
not only to men but to beasts. You are that maiden, and last night at
midnight we were freed, and this poor house was again transformed into
my royal palace.

As they stood there the king's son told his three servants to go and
fetch the maiden's parents to be present at the wedding feast.

'But where are my two sisters?' asked the maid.

'I shut them up in the cellar, but in the morning they shall be led
forth into the forest and shall serve a charcoal burner until they have
improved, and will never again suffer poor animals to go hungry.'

Goblin and the Grocer
Category: Love Letters
There was once a hard-working student who lived in an attic, and he had
nothing in the world of his own. There was also a hard-working grocer
who lived on the first floor, and he had the whole house for his own.

The Goblin belonged to him, for every Christmas Eve there was waiting
for him at the grocer's a dish of jam with a large lump of butter in the
middle.

The grocer could afford this, so the Goblin stayed in the grocer's shop;
and this teaches us a good deal. One evening the student came in by the
back door to buy a candle and some cheese; he had no one to send, so he
came himself.


He got what he wanted, paid for it, and nodded a good evening to the
grocer and his wife (she was a woman who could do more than nod; she
could talk).

When the student had said good night he suddenly stood still, reading
the sheet of paper in which the cheese had been wrapped.

It was a leaf torn out of an old book--a book of poetry

'There's more of that over there!' said the grocer 'I gave an old woman
some coffee for the book. If you like to give me twopence you can have
the rest.'

'Yes,' said the student, 'give me the book instead of the cheese. I can
eat my bread without cheese. It would be a shame to leave the book to
be torn up. You are a clever and practical man, but about poetry you
understand as much as that old tub over there!'

And that sounded rude as far as the tub was concerned, but the grocer
laughed, and so did the student. It was only said in fun.

But the Goblin was angry that anyone should dare to say such a thing to
a grocer who owned the house and sold the best butter.

When it was night and the shop was shut, and everyone was in bed except
the student, the Goblin went upstairs and took the grocer's wife's
tongue. She did not use it when she was asleep, and on whatever object
in the room he put it that thing began to speak, and spoke out its
thoughts and feelings just as well as the lady to whom it belonged. But
only one thing at a time could use it, and that was a good thing, or
they would have all spoken together.

The Goblin laid the tongue on the tub in which were the old newspapers.

'Is it true,' he asked, ' that you know nothing about poetry?'

'Certainly not!' answered the tub. 'Poetry is something that is in the
papers, and that is frequently cut out. I have a great deal more in
me than the student has, and yet I am only a small tub in the grocer's
shop.'

And the Goblin put the tongue on the coffee-mill, and how it began to
grind! He put it on the butter-cask, and on the till, and all were
of the same opinion as the waste-paper tub. and one must believe the
majority.

'Now I will tell the student!' and with these words he crept softly up
the stairs to the attic where the student lived.

There was a light burning, and the Goblin peeped through the key-hole
and saw that he was reading the torn book that he had bought in the
shop.


But how bright it was! Out of the book shot a streak of light which grew
into a large tree and spread its branches far above the student. Every
leaf was alive, and every flower was a beautiful girl's head, some with
dark and shining eyes, others with wonderful blue ones. Every fruit was
a glittering star, and there was a marvellous music in the student's
room. The little Goblin had never even dreamt of such a splendid sight,
much less seen it.

He stood on tiptoe gazing and gazing, till the candle in the attic
was put out; the student had blown it out and had gone to bed, but the
Goblin remained standing outside listening to the music, which very
softly and sweetly was now singing the student a lullaby.

'I have never seen anything like this!' said the Goblin. 'I never
expected this! I must stay with the student.'

The little fellow thought it over, for he was a sensible Goblin. Then he
sighed, 'The student has no jam!'

And on that he went down to the grocer again. And it was a good thing
that he did go back, for the tub had nearly worn out the tongue. It had
read everything that was inside it, on the one side, and was just going
to turn itself round and read from the other side when the Goblin came
in and returned the tongue to its owner.

But the whole shop, from the till down to the shavings, from that night
changed their opinion of the tub, and they looked up to it, and had such
faith in it that they were under the impression that when the grocer
read the art and drama critiques out of the paper in the evenings, it
all came from the tub.

But the Goblin could no longer sit quietly listening to the wisdom and
intellect downstairs. No, as soon as the light shone in the evening
from the attic it seemed to him as though its beams were strong ropes
dragging him up, and he had to go and peep through the key-hole. There
he felt the sort of feeling we have looking at the great rolling sea in
a storm, and he burst into tears. He could not himself say why he wept,
but in spite of his tears he felt quite happy. How beautiful it must be
to sit under that tree with the student, but that he could not do; he
had to content himself with the key-hole and be happy there!

There he stood out on the cold landing, the autumn wind blowing through
the cracks of the floor. It was cold--very cold, but he first found it
out when the light in the attic was put out and the music in the wood
died away. Ah! then it froze him, and he crept down again into his warm
corner; there it was comfortable and cosy.

When Christmas came, and with it the jam with the large lump of butter,
ah! then the grocer was first with him.

But in the middle of the night the Goblin awoke, hearing a great noise
and knocking against the shutters--people hammering from outside. The
watchman was blowing his horn: a great fire had broken out; the whole
town was in flames.

Was it in the house? or was it at a neighbour's? Where was it?

The alarm increased. The grocer's wife was so terrified that she took
her gold earrings out of her ears and put them in her pocket in order
to save something. The grocer seized his account books. and the maid her
black silk dress.

Everyone wanted to save his most valuable possession; so did the Goblin,
and in a few leaps he was up the stairs and in the student's room. He
was standing quietly by the open window looking at the fire that was
burning in the neighbour's house just opposite. The Goblin seized the
book lying on the table, put it in his red cap, and clasped it with both
hands. The best treasure in the house was saved, and he climbed out on
to the roof with it--on to the chimney. There he sat, lighted up by the
flames from the burning house opposite, both hands holding tightly on
his red cap, in which lay the treasure; and now he knew what his heart
really valued most--to whom he really belonged. But when the fire was
put out, and the Goblin thought it over--then--

'I will divide myself between the two,' he said. 'I cannot quite give up
the grocer, because of the jam!'

And it is just the same with us. We also cannot quite give up the
grocer--because of the jam.
PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE
Category: Love Letters
"Great heavens! What a woman!" cried the captain, and stamped with
fury. "Not without reason have I been trembling and in fear of her
from the first time I saw her! It must have been a warning of fate
that I stopped playing _écarté_ with her. It was also a bad omen that
I passed so many sleepless nights. Was there ever mortal in a worse
perplexity than I am? How can I leave her alone without a protector,
loving her, as I do, more than my own life? And, on the other hand,
how can I marry her, after all my declaimings against marriage?"

Then turning to Augustias--"What would they say of me in the club?
What would people say of me, if they met me in the street with a woman
on my arm, or if they found me at home, just about to feed a child in
swaddling clothes? I--to have children? To worry about them? To live
in eternal fear that they might fall sick or die? Augustias, believe
me, as true as there is a God above us, I am absolutely unfit for it!
I should behave in such a way that after a short while you would call
upon heaven either to be divorced or to become a widow. Listen to my
advice: do not marry me, even if I ask you."

"What a strange creature you are," said the young woman, without
allowing herself to be at all discomposed, and sitting very erect in
her chair. "All that you are only telling to yourself! From what do
you conclude that I wish to be married to you; that I would accept
your offer, and that I should not prefer living by myself, even if I
had to work day and night, as so many girls do who are orphans?"

"How do I come to that conclusion?" answered the captain with the
greatest candor. "Because it cannot be otherwise. Because we love each
other. Because we are drawn to each other. Because a man such as I,
and a woman such as you, cannot live in any other way! Do you suppose
I do not understand that? Don't you suppose I have reflected on it
before now? Do you think I am indifferent in your good name and
reputation? I have spoken plainly in order to speak, in order to fly
from my own conviction, in order to examine whether I can escape from
this terrible dilemma which is robbing me of my sleep, and whether I
can possibly find an expedient so that I need not marry you--to do
which I shall finally be compelled, if you stand by your resolve to
make your way alone!"

"Alone! Alone!" repeated Augustias, roguishly. "And why not with a
worthier companion? Who tells you that I shall not some day meet a man
whom I like, and who is not afraid to marry me?"

"Augustias! let us skip that!" growled the captain, his face turning
scarlet.

"And why should we not talk about it?"

"Let us pass over that, and let me say, at the same time, that I will
murder the man who dares to ask for your hand. But it is madness on
my part to be angry without any reason. I am not so dull as not to see
how we two stand. Shall I tell you? We love each other. Do not tell me
I am mistaken! That would be lying. And here is the proof: if you did
not love me, I, too, should not love you! Let us try to meet one
another halfway. I ask for a delay of ten years. When I shall have
completed my half century, and when, a feeble old man, I shall have
become familiar with the idea of slavery, then we will marry without
anyone knowing about it. We will leave Madrid, and go to the country,
where we shall have no spectators, where there will be nobody to make
fun of me. But until this happens, please take half of my income
secretly, and without any human soul ever knowing anything about it.
You continue to live here, and I remain in my house. We will see each
other, but only in the presence of witnesses--for instance, in
society. We will write to each other every day. So as not to endanger
your good name, I will never pass through this street, and on Memorial
Day only we will go to the cemetery together with Rosa."

Augustias could not but smile at the last proposal of the good
captain, and her smile was not mocking, but contented and happy, as if
some cherished hope had dawned in her heart, as if it were the first
ray of the sun of happiness which was about to rise in her heaven! But
being a woman--though as brave and free from artifices as few of
them--she yet managed to subdue the signs of joy rising within her.
She acted as if she cherished not the slightest hope, and said with a
distant coolness which is usually the special and genuine sign of
chaste reserve:

"You make yourself ridiculous with your peculiar conditions. You
stipulate for the gift of an engagement-ring, for which nobody has yet
asked you."

"I know still another way out--for a compromise, but that is really
the last one. Do you fully understand, my young lady from Aragon? It
is the last way out, which a man, also from Aragon, begs leave to
explain to you."

She turned her head and looked straight into his eyes, with an
expression indescribably earnest, captivating, quiet, and full of
expectation.

The captain had never seen her features so beautiful and expressive;
at that moment she looked to him like a queen.

"Augustias," said, or rather stammered, this brave soldier, who had
been under fire a hundred times, and who had made such a deep
impression on the young girl through his charging under a rain of
bullets like a lion, "I have the honor to ask for your hand on one
certain, essential, unchangeable condition. Tomorrow morning--today--a
soon as the papers are in order--as quickly as possible. I can live
without you no longer!"

The glances of the young girl became milder, and she rewarded him for
his decided heroism with a tender and bewitching smile.

"But I repeat that it is on one condition," the bold warrior hastened
to repeat, feeling that Augustias's glances made him confused and
weak.

"On what condition?" asked the young girl, turning fully round, and
now holding him under the witchery of her sparkling black eyes.

"On the condition," he stammered, "that, in case we have children, we
send them to the orphanage. I mean--on this point I will never yield.
Well, do you consent? For heaven's sake, say yes!"

"Why should I not consent to it, Captain Veneno?" answered Augustias,
with a peal of laughter. "You shall take them there yourself, or,
better still, we both of us will take them there. And we will give
them up without kissing them, or anything else! Don't you think we
shall take them there?"

Thus spoke Augustias, and looked at the captain with exquisite joy in
her eyes. The good captain thought he would die of happiness; a flood
of tears burst from his eyes; he folded the blushing girl in his arms,
and said:

"So I am lost?"

"Irretrievably lost, Captain Veneno," answered Augustias.

       *       *       *       *       *

One morning in May, 1852--that is, four years after the scene just
described--a friend of mine, who told me this story, stopped his horse
in front of a mansion on San Francisco Avenue, in Madrid; he threw the
reins to his groom, and asked the long-coated footman who met him at
the door:

"Is your master at home?"

"If your honor will be good enough to walk upstairs, you will find
him in the library. His excellency does not like to have visitors
announced. Everybody can go up to him directly."

"Fortunately I know the house thoroughly," said the stranger to
himself, while he mounted the stairs. "In the library! Well, well, who
would have thought of Captain Veneno ever taking to the sciences?"

Wandering through the rooms, the visitor met another servant, who
repeated, "The master is in the library." And at last he came to the
door of the room in question, opened it quickly, and stood, almost
turned to stone for astonishment, before the remarkable group which it
offered to his view.

In the middle of the room, on the carpet which covered the floor, a
man was crawling on all-fours. On his back rode a little fellow about
three years old, who was kicking the man's sides with his heels.
Another small boy, who might have been a year and a half old, stood in
front of the man's head, and had evidently been tumbling his hair. One
hand held the father's neckerchief, and the little fellow was tugging
at it as if it had been a halter, shouting with delight in his merry
child's voice:

"Gee up, donkey! Gee up!
THE ROAD TO DOUBT

The first effect of what used to be called natural philosophy is to fill its devotee with wonder at the marvels of God. This explains why the pursuit of science, so long as it remains superficial, is not incompatible with the most naif sort of religious faith. But the moment the student of the sciences passes this stage of childlike amazement and begins to investigate the inner workings of natural phenomena, he begins to see how ineptly many of them are managed, and so he tends to pass from awe of the Creator to criticism of the Creator, and once he has crossed that bridge he has ceased to be a believer. One finds plenty of neighborhood physicians, amateur botanists, high-school physics teachers and other such quasi-scientists in the pews on Sunday, but one never sees a Huxley there, or a Darwin, or an Ehrlich.

ZOOS

I often wonder how much sound and nourishing food is fed to the animals in the zoological gardens of America every week, and try to figure out what the public gets in return for the cost thereof. The annual bill must surely run into millions; one is constantly hearing how much beef a lion downs at a meal, and how many tons of hay an elephant dispatches in a month. And to what end? To the end, principally, that a horde of superintendents and keepers may be kept in easy jobs. To the end, secondarily, that the least intelligent minority of the population may have an idiotic show to gape at on Sunday afternoons, and that the young of the species may be instructed in the methods of amour prevailing among chimpanzees and become privy to the technic employed by jaguars, hyenas and polar bears in ridding themselves of lice.

So far as I can make out, after laborious visits to all the chief zoos of the nation, no other imaginable purpose is served by their existence. One hears constantly, true enough (mainly from the gentlemen they support) that they are educational. But how? Just what sort of instruction do they radiate, and what is its value? I have never been able to find out. The sober truth is that they are no more educational than so many firemen's parades or displays of sky-rockets, and that all they actually offer to the public in return for the taxes wasted upon them is a form of idle and witless amusement, compared to which a visit to a penitentiary, or even to Congress or a state legislature in session, is informing, stimulating and ennobling.

Education your grandmother! Show me a schoolboy who has ever learned anything valuable or important by watching a mangy old lion snoring away in its cage or a family of monkeys fighting for peanuts. To get any useful instruction out of such a spectacle is palpably impossible; not even a college professor is improved by it. The most it can imaginably impart is that the stripes of a certain sort of tiger run one way and the stripes of another sort some other way, that hyenas and polecats smell worse than Greek 'bus boys, that the Latin name of the raccoon (who was unheard of by the Romans) is Procyon lotor. For the dissemination of such banal knowledge, absurdly emitted and defectively taken in, the taxpayers of the United States are mulcted in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. As well make them pay for teaching policemen the theory of least squares, or for instructing roosters in the laying of eggs.

But zoos, it is argued, are of scientific value. They enable learned men to study this or that. Again the facts blast the theory. No scientific discovery of any value whatsoever, even to the animals themselves, has ever come out of a zoo. The zoo scientist is the old woman of zoology, and his alleged wisdom is usually exhibited, not in the groves of actual learning, but in the yellow journals. He is to biology what the late Camille Flammarion was to astronomy, which is to say, its court jester and reductio ad absurdum. When he leaps into public notice with some new pearl of knowledge, it commonly turns out to be no more than the news that Marie Bashkirtseff, the Russian lady walrus, has had her teeth plugged with zinc and is expecting twins. Or that Pishposh, the man-eating alligator, is down with locomotor ataxia. Or that Damon, the grizzly, has just finished his brother Pythias in the tenth round, chewing off his tail, nose and remaining ear.

Science, of course, has its uses for the lower animals. A diligent study of their livers and lights helps to an understanding of the anatomy and physiology, and particularly of the pathology, of man. They are necessary aids in devising and manufacturing many remedial agents, and in testing the virtues of those already devised; out of the mute agonies of a rabbit or a calf may come relief for a baby with diphtheria, or means for an archdeacon to escape the consequences of his youthful follies. Moreover, something valuable is to be got out of a mere study of their habits, instincts and ways of mind—knowledge that, by analogy, may illuminate the parallel doings of the genus homo, and so enable us to comprehend the primitive mental processes of Congressmen, morons and the rev. clergy.

But it must be obvious that none of these studies can be made in a zoo. The zoo animals, to begin with, provide no material for the biologist; he can find out no more about their insides than what he discerns from a safe distance and through the bars. He is not allowed to try his germs and specifics upon them; he is not allowed to vivisect them. If he would find out what goes on in the animal body under this condition or that, he must turn from the inhabitants of the zoo to the customary guinea pigs and street dogs, and buy or steal them for himself. Nor does he get any chance for profitable inquiry when zoo animals die (usually of lack of exercise or ignorant doctoring), for their carcasses are not handed to him for autopsy, but at once stuffed with gypsum and excelsior and placed in some museum.

Least of all do zoos produce any new knowledge about animal behavior. Such knowledge must be got, not from animals penned up and tortured, but from animals in a state of nature. A college professor studying the habits of the giraffe, for example, and confining his observations to specimens in zoos, would inevitably come to the conclusion that the giraffe is a sedentary and melancholy beast, standing immovable for hours at a time and employing an Italian to feed him hay and cabbages. As well proceed to a study of the psychology of a juris-consult by first immersing him in Sing Sing, or of a juggler by first cutting off his hands. Knowledge so gained is inaccurate and imbecile knowledge. Not even a college professor, if sober, would give it any faith and credit.

There remains, then, the only true utility of a zoo: it is a childish and pointless show for the unintelligent, in brief, for children, nursemaids, visiting yokels and the generality of the defective. Should the taxpayers be forced to sweat millions for such a purpose? I think not. The sort of man who likes to spend his time watching a cage of monkeys chase one another, or a lion gnaw its tail, or a lizard catch flies, is precisely the sort of man whose mental weakness should be combatted at the public expense, and not fostered. He is a public liability and a public menace, and society should seek to improve him. Instead of that, we spend a lot of money to feed his degrading appetite and further paralyze his mind. It is precisely as if the community provided free champagne for dipsomaniacs, or hired lecturers to convert the army to the doctrines of the Bolsheviki.

Of the abominable cruelties practised in zoos it is unnecessary to make mention. Even assuming that all the keepers are men of delicate natures and ardent zoophiles (which is about as safe as assuming that the keepers of a prison are all sentimentalists, and weep for the sorrows of their charges), it must be plain that the work they do involves an endless war upon the native instincts of the animals, and that they must thus inflict the most abominable tortures every day. What could be a sadder sight than a tiger in a cage, save it be a forest monkey climbing dispairingly up a barked stump, or an eagle chained to its roost? How can man be benefitted and made better by robbing the seal of its arctic ice, the hippopotamus of its soft wallow, the buffalo of its open range, the lion of its kingship, the birds of their air?

I am no sentimentalist, God knows. I am in favor of vivisection unrestrained, so long as the vivisectionist knows what he is about. I advocate clubbing a dog that barks unnecessarily, which all dogs do. I enjoy hangings, particularly of converts to the evangelical faiths. The crunch of a cockroach is music to my ears. But when the day comes to turn the prisoners of the zoo out of their cages, if it is only to lead them to the swifter, kinder knife of the schochet, I shall be present and rejoicing, and if any one present thinks to suggest that it would be a good plan to celebrate the day by shooting the whole zoo faculty, I shall have a revolver in my pocket and a sound eye in my head.

WILD SHOTS
Category: Love Letters

If I had the time, and there were no sweeter follies offering, I should like to write an essay on the books that have quite failed of achieving their original purposes, and are yet of respectable use and potency for other purposes. For example, the Book of Revelation. The obvious aim of the learned author of this work was to bring the early Christians into accord by telling them authoritatively what to expect and hope for; its actual effect during eighteen hundred years has been to split them into a multitude of camps, and so set them to denouncing, damning, jailing and murdering one another. Again, consider the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Ben wrote it to prove that he was an honest man, a mirror of all the virtues, an injured innocent; the world, reading it, hails him respectfully as the noblest, the boldest, the gaudiest liar that ever lived. Again, turn to "Gulliver's Travels." The thing was planned by its rev. author as a devastating satire, a terrible piece of cynicism; it survives as a story-book for sucklings. Yet again, there is "Hamlet." Shakespeare wrote it frankly to make money for a theatrical manager; it has lost money for theatrical managers ever since. Yet again, there is Caesar's "De Bello Gallico." Julius composed it to thrill and arouse the Romans; its sole use today is to stupefy and sicken schoolboys. Finally, there is the celebrated book of General F. von Bernhardi. He wrote it to inflame Germany; its effect was to inflame England....

The list might be lengthened almost ad infinitum. When a man writes a book he fires a machine gun into a wood. The game he brings down often astonishes him, and sometimes horrifies him. Consider the case of Ibsen.... After my book on Nietzsche I was actually invited to lecture at Princeton.

THE DUEL OF SEX
Category: Love Letters

If I were a woman I should want to be a blonde, with golden, silky hair, pink cheeks and sky-blue eyes. It would not bother me to think that this color scheme was mistaken by the world for a flaunting badge of stupidity; I would have a better arm in my arsenal than mere intelligence; I would get a husband by easy surrender while the brunettes attempted it vainly by frontal assault.

Men are not easily taken by frontal assault; it is only strategem that can quickly knock them down. To be a blonde, pink, soft and delicate, is to be a strategem. It is to be a ruse, a feint, an ambush. It is to fight under the Red Cross flag. A man sees nothing alert and designing in those pale, crystalline eyes; he sees only something helpless, childish, weak; something that calls to his compassion; something that appeals powerfully to his conceit in his own strength. And so he is taken before he knows that there is a war. He lifts his portcullis in Christian charity—and the enemy is in his citadel.

The brunette can make no such stealthy and sure attack. No matter how subtle her art, she can never hope to quite conceal her intent. Her eyes give her away. They flash and glitter. They have depths. They draw the male gaze into mysterious and sinister recesses. And so the male behind the gaze flies to arms. He may be taken in the end—indeed, he usually is—but he is not taken by surprise; he is not taken without a fight. A brunette has to battle for every inch of her advance. She is confronted by an endless succession of Dead Man's Hills, each equipped with telescopes, semaphores, alarm gongs, wireless. The male sees her clearly through her densest smoke-clouds.... But the blonde captures him under a flag of truce. He regards her tenderly, kindly, almost pityingly, until the moment the gyves are upon his wrists.

It is all an optical matter, a question of color. The pastel shades deceive him; the louder hues send him to his artillery. God help, I say, the red-haired girl! She goes into action with warning pennants flying. The dullest, blindest man can see her a mile away; he can catch the alarming flash of her hair long before he can see the whites, or even the terrible red-browns, of her eyes. She has a long field to cross, heavily under defensive fire, before she can get into rifle range. Her quarry has a chance to throw up redoubts, to dig himself in, to call for reinforcements, to elude her by ignominious flight. She must win, if she is to win at all, by an unparalleled combination of craft and resolution. She must be swift, daring, merciless. Even the brunette of black and penetrating eye has great advantages over her. No wonder she never lets go, once her arms are around her antagonist's neck! No wonder she is, of all women, the hardest to shake off!

All nature works in circles. Causes become effects; effects develop into causes. The red-haired girl's dire need of courage and cunning has augmented her store of those qualities by the law of natural selection. She is, by long odds, the most intelligent and bemusing of women. She shows cunning, foresight, technique, variety. She always fails a dozen times before she succeeds; but she brings to the final business the abominable expertness of a Ludendorff; she has learnt painfully by the process of trial and error. Red-haired girls are intellectual stimulants. They know all the tricks. They are so clever that they have even cast a false glamour of beauty about their worst defect—their harsh and gaudy hair. They give it euphemistic and deceitful names—auburn, bronze, Titian. They overcome by their hellish arts that deep-seated dread of red which is inborn in all of God's creatures. They charm men with what would even alarm bulls.

And the blondes, by following the law of least resistance, have gone in the other direction. The great majority of them—I speak, of course, of natural blondes; not of the immoral wenches who work their atrocities under cover of a synthetic blondeness—are quite as shallow and stupid as they look. One seldom hears a blonde say anything worth hearing; the most they commonly achieve is a specious, baby-like prattling, an infantile artlessness. But let us not blame them for nature's work. Why, after all, be intelligent? It is, at best, no more than a capacity for unhappiness. The blonde not only doesn't miss it; she is even better off without it. What imaginable intelligence could compensate her for the flat blueness of her eyes, the xanthous pallor of her hair, the doll-like pink of her cheeks? What conceivable cunning could do such execution as her stupendous appeal to masculine vanity, sentimentality, egoism?

If I were a woman I should want to be a blonde. My blondeness might be hideous, but it would get me a husband, and it would make him cherish me and love me.

TEST OF TRUTH
Category: Love Letters

The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few religious dogmas have ever faced it and survived. Huxley laughed the devils out of the Gadarene swine. Dowie's whiskers broke the back of Dowieism. Not the laws of the United States but the mother-in-law joke brought the Mormons to compromise and surrender. Not the horror of it but the absurdity of it killed the doctrine of infant damnation.... But the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth. How loudly the barber-surgeons laughed at Harvey—and how vainly! What clown ever brought down the house like Galileo? Or Columbus? Or Jenner? Or Lincoln? Or Darwin?... They are laughing at Nietzsche yet....

THEOLOGICAL MYSTERY
Category: Love Letters

The moral order of the world runs aground on hay fever. Of what use is it? Why was it invented? Cancer and hydrophobia, at least, may be defended on the ground that they kill. Killing may have some benign purpose, some esoteric significance, some cosmic use. But hay fever never kills; it merely tortures. No man ever died of it. Is the torture, then, an end in itself? Does it break the pride of strutting, snorting man, and turn his heart to the things of the spirit? Nonsense! A man with hay fever is a natural criminal. He curses the gods, and defies them to kill him. He even curses the devil. Is its use, then, to prepare him for happiness to come—for the vast ease and comfort of convalescence? Nonsense again! The one thing he is sure of, the one thing he never forgets for a moment, is that it will come back again next year.

WAR
Category: Love Letters

Superficially, war seems inordinately cruel and wasteful, and yet it must be plain on reflection that the natural evolutionary process is quite as cruel and even more wasteful. Man's chief efforts in times of peace are devoted to making that process less violent and sanguinary. Civilization, indeed, may be defined as a constructive criticism of nature, and Huxley even called it a conspiracy against nature. Man tries to remedy what must inevitably seem the mistakes and to check what must inevitably seem the wanton cruelty of the Creator. In war man abandons these efforts, and so becomes more jovian. The Greeks never represented the inhabitants of Olympus as succoring and protecting one another, but always as fighting and attempting to destroy one another. No form of death inflicted by war is one-half so cruel as certain forms of death that are seen in hospitals every day. Besides, these forms of death have the further disadvantage of being inglorious. The average man, dying in bed, not only has to stand the pains and terrors of death; he must also, if he can bring himself to think of it at all, stand the notion that he is ridiculous.... The soldier is at least not laughed at. Even his enemies treat his agonies with respect.

CURSE OF CIVILIZATION
Category: Love Letters

A civilized man's worst curse is social obligation. The most unpleasant act imaginable is to go to a dinner party. One could get far better food, taking one day with another, at Childs', or even in a Pennsylvania Railroad dining-car; one could find far more amusing society in a bar-room or a bordello, or even at the Y. M. C. A. No hostess in Christendom ever arranged a dinner party of any pretensions without including at least one intensely disagreeable person—a vain and vapid girl, a hideous woman, a follower of baseball, a stock-broker, a veteran of some war or other, a gabbler of politics. And one is enough to do the business.

HISTORY
Category: Love Letters

It is the misfortune of humanity that its history is chiefly written by third-rate men. The first-rate man seldom has any impulse to record and philosophise; his impulse is to act; life, to him, is an adventure, not a syllogism or an autopsy. Thus the writing of history is left to college professors, moralists, theorists, dunder-heads. Few historians, great or small, have shown any capacity for the affairs they presume to describe and interpret. Gibbon was an inglorious failure as a member of Parliament. Thycydides made such a mess of his military (or, rather, naval) command that he was exiled from Athens for twenty years and finally assassinated. Flavius Josephus, serving as governor of Galilee, lost the whole province to the Romans, and had to flee for his life. Momssen, elected to the Prussian Landtag, flirted with the Socialists. How much better we would understand the habits and nature of man if there were more historians like Julius Caesar, or even like Niccolo Machiavelli! Remembering the sharp and devastating character of their rough notes, think what marvelous histories Bismarck, Washington and Frederick the Great might have written! Such men are privy to the facts; the usual historians have to depend on deductions, rumors, guesses. Again, such men know how to tell the truth, however unpleasant; they are wholly free of that puerile moral obsession which marks the professor.... But they so seldom tell it! Well, perhaps some of them have—and their penalty is that they are damned and forgotten.

COMSTOCKIAN PREMISS
Category: Love Letters

It is argued against certain books, by virtuosi of moral alarm, that they depict vice as attractive. This recalls the king who hanged a judge for deciding that an archbishop was a mammal.

NAMES

Why doesn't some patient drudge of a privat dozent compile a dictionary of the stable-names of the great? All show dogs and race horses, as everyone knows, have stable-names. On the list of entries a fast mare may appear as Czarina Ogla Fedorovna, but in the stable she is not that at all, nor even Czarina or Olga, but maybe Lil or Jennie. And a prize bulldog, Champion Zoroaster or Charlemagne XI. on the bench, may be plain Jack or Ponto en famille. So with celebrities of the genus homo. Huxley's official style and appellation was "The Right Hon. Thomas Henry Huxley, P. C., M. D., Ph. D., LL. D., D. C. L., D. Sc., F. R. S.," and his biographer tells us that he delighted in its rolling grandeur—but to his wife he was always Hal. Shakespeare, to his fellows of his Bankside, was Will, and perhaps Willie to Ann Hathaway. The Kaiser is another Willie: the late Czar so addressed him in their famous exchange of telegrams. The Czar himself was Nicky in those days, and no doubt remains Nicky to his intimates today. Edgar Allan Poe was always Eddie to his wife, and Mark Twain was always Youth to his. P. T. Barnum's stable-name was Taylor, his middle name; Charles Lamb's was Guy; Nietzsche's was Fritz; Whistler's was Jimmie; the late King Edward's was Bertie; Grover Cleveland's was Steve; J. Pierpont Morgan's was Jack; Dr. Wilson's is Tom.

Some given names are surrounded by a whole flotilla of stable-names. Henry, for example, is softened variously into Harry, Hen, Hank, Hal, Henny, Enery, On'ry and Heinie. Which did Ann Boleyn use when she cooed into the suspicious ear of Henry VIII.? To which did Henrik Ibsen answer at the domestic hearth? It is difficult to imagine his wife calling him Henrik: the name is harsh, clumsy, razor-edged. But did she make it Hen or Rik, or neither? What was Bismarck to the Fürstin, and to the mother he so vastly feared? Ottchen? Somehow it seems impossible. What was Grant to his wife? Surely not Ulysses! And Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? And Rutherford B. Hayes? Was Robert Browning ever Bob? Was John Wesley ever Jack? Was Emmanuel Swendenborg ever Manny? Was Tadeusz Kosciusko ever Teddy?

A fair field of inquiry invites. Let some laborious assistant professor explore and chart it. There will be more of human nature in his report than in all the novels ever written.

MORAL INDIGNATION
Category: Love Letters

The loud, preposterous moral crusades that so endlessly rock the republic—against the rum demon, against Sunday baseball, against Sunday moving-pictures, against dancing, against fornication, against the cigarette, against all things sinful and charming—these astounding Methodist jehads offer fat clinical material to the student of mobocracy. In the long run, nearly all of them must succeed, for the mob is eternally virtuous, and the only thing necessary to get it in favor of some new and super-oppressive law is to convince it that that law will be distasteful to the minority that it envies and hates. The poor numskull who is so horribly harrowed by Puritan pulpit-thumpers that he can't go to a ball game on Sunday afternoon without dreaming of hell and the devil all Sunday night is naturally envious of the fellow who can, and being envious of him, he hates him and is eager to destroy his offensive happiness. The farmer who works 18 hours a day and never gets a day off is envious of his farmhand who goes to the crossroads and barrels up on Saturday afternoon; hence the virulence of prohibition among the peasantry. The hard-working householder who, on some bitter evening, glances over the Saturday Evening Post for a square and honest look at his wife is envious of those gaudy drummers who go gallivanting about the country with scarlet girls; hence the Mann act. If these deviltries were equally open to all men, and all men were equally capable of appreciating them, their unpopularity would tend to wither.

I often think, indeed, that the prohibitionist tub-thumpers make a tactical mistake in dwelling too much upon the evils and horrors of alcohol, and not enough upon its delights. A few enlarged photographs of first-class bar-rooms, showing the rows of well-fed, well-dressed bibuli happily moored to the brass rails, their noses in fragrant mint and hops and their hands reaching out for free rations of olives, pretzels, cloves, pumpernickle, Bismarck herring, anchovies, schwartenmagen, wieners, Smithfield ham and dill pickles—such a gallery of contentment would probably do far more execution among the dismal shudra than all the current portraits of drunkards' livers. To vote for prohibition in the face of the liver portraits means to vote for the good of the other fellow, for even the oldest bibulomaniac always thinks that he himself will escape. This is an act of altruism almost impossible to the mob-man, whose selfishness is but little corrupted by the imagination that shows itself in his betters. His most austere renunciations represent no more than a matching of the joys of indulgence against the pains of hell; religion, to him, is little more than synthesized fear.... I venture that many a vote for prohibition comes from gentlemen who look longingly through swinging doors—and pass on in propitiation of Satan and their alert consorts, the lake of brimstone and the corrective broomstick....

Patriot
Category: Love Letters

PIf George Washington were alive today, what a shining mark he would be for the whole camorra of uplifters, forward-lookers and professional patriots! He was the Rockefeller of his time, the richest man in the United States, a promoter of stock companies, a land-grabber, an exploiter of mines and timber. He was a bitter opponent of foreign alliances, and denounced their evils in harsh, specific terms. He had a liking for all forthright and pugnacious men, and a contempt for lawyers, schoolmasters and all other such obscurantists. He was not pious. He drank whisky whenever he felt chilly, and kept a jug of it handy. He knew far more profanity than Scripture, and used and enjoyed it more. He had no belief in the infallible wisdom of the common people, but regarded them as inflammatory dolts, and tried to save the republic from them. He advocated no sure cure for all the sorrows of the world, and doubted that such a panacea existed. He took no interest in the private morals of his neighbors.

Inhabiting These States today, George would be ineligible for any office of honor or profit. The Senate would never dare confirm him; the President would not think of nominating him. He would be on trial in all the yellow journals for belonging to the Invisible Government, the Hell Hounds of Plutocracy, the Money Power, the Interests. The Sherman Act would have him in its toils; he would be under indictment by every grand jury south of the Potomac; the triumphant prohibitionists of his native state would be denouncing him (he had a still at Mount Vernon) as a debaucher of youth, a recruiting officer for insane asylums, a poisoner of the home. The suffragettes would be on his trail, with sentinels posted all along the Accotink road. The initiators and referendors would be bawling for his blood. The young college men of the Nation and the New Republic would be lecturing him weekly. He would be used to scare children in Kansas and Arkansas. The chautauquas would shiver whenever his name was mentioned....

And what a chance there would be for that ambitious young district attorney who thought to shadow him on his peregrinations—and grab him under the Mann Act!

DUSK
Category: Love Letters
Norman Gortsby sat on a bench in the Park, with his back to a strip of
bush-planted sward, fenced by the park railings, and the Row fronting him
across a wide stretch of carriage drive.  Hyde Park Corner, with its
rattle and hoot of traffic, lay immediately to his right.  It was some
thirty minutes past six on an early March evening, and dusk had fallen
heavily over the scene, dusk mitigated by some faint moonlight and many
street lamps.  There was a wide emptiness over road and sidewalk, and yet
there were many unconsidered figures moving silently through the half-
light, or dotted unobtrusively on bench and chair, scarcely to be
distinguished from the shadowed gloom in which they sat.

The scene pleased Gortsby and harmonised with his present mood.  Dusk, to
his mind, was the hour of the defeated.  Men and women, who had fought
and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible
from the scrutiny of the curious, came forth in this hour of gloaming,
when their shabby clothes and bowed shoulders and unhappy eyes might pass
unnoticed, or, at any rate, unrecognised.

   A king that is conquered must see strange looks,
   So bitter a thing is the heart of man.

The wanderers in the dusk did not choose to have strange looks fasten on
them, therefore they came out in this bat-fashion, taking their pleasure
sadly in a pleasure-ground that had emptied of its rightful occupants.
Beyond the sheltering screen of bushes and palings came a realm of
brilliant lights and noisy, rushing traffic.  A blazing, many-tiered
stretch of windows shone through the dusk and almost dispersed it,
marking the haunts of those other people, who held their own in life's
struggle, or at any rate had not had to admit failure.  So Gortsby's
imagination pictured things as he sat on his bench in the almost deserted
walk.  He was in the mood to count himself among the defeated.  Money
troubles did not press on him; had he so wished he could have strolled
into the thoroughfares of light and noise, and taken his place among the
jostling ranks of those who enjoyed prosperity or struggled for it.  He
had failed in a more subtle ambition, and for the moment he was heartsore
and disillusionised, and not disinclined to take a certain cynical
pleasure in observing and labelling his fellow wanderers as they went
their ways in the dark stretches between the lamp-lights.

On the bench by his side sat an elderly gentleman with a drooping air of
defiance that was probably the remaining vestige of self-respect in an
individual who had ceased to defy successfully anybody or anything.  His
clothes could scarcely be called shabby, at least they passed muster in
the half-light, but one's imagination could not have pictured the wearer
embarking on the purchase of a half-crown box of chocolates or laying out
ninepence on a carnation buttonhole.  He belonged unmistakably to that
forlorn orchestra to whose piping no one dances; he was one of the
world's lamenters who induce no responsive weeping.  As he rose to go
Gortsby imagined him returning to a home circle where he was snubbed and
of no account, or to some bleak lodging where his ability to pay a weekly
bill was the beginning and end of the interest he inspired.  His
retreating figure vanished slowly into the shadows, and his place on the
bench was taken almost immediately by a young man, fairly well dressed
but scarcely more cheerful of mien than his predecessor.  As if to
emphasise the fact that the world went badly with him the new-corner
unburdened himself of an angry and very audible expletive as he flung
himself into the seat.

"You don't seem in a very good temper," said Gortsby, judging that he was
expected to take due notice of the demonstration.

The young man turned to him with a look of disarming frankness which put
him instantly on his guard.

"You wouldn't be in a good temper if you were in the fix I'm in," he
said; "I've done the silliest thing I've ever done in my life."

"Yes?" said Gortsby dispassionately.

"Came up this afternoon, meaning to stay at the Patagonian Hotel in
Berkshire Square," continued the young man; "when I got there I found it
had been pulled down some weeks ago and a cinema theatre run up on the
site.  The taxi driver recommended me to another hotel some way off and I
went there.  I just sent a letter to my people, giving them the address,
and then I went out to buy some soap--I'd forgotten to pack any and I
hate using hotel soap.  Then I strolled about a bit, had a drink at a bar
and looked at the shops, and when I came to turn my steps back to the
hotel I suddenly realised that I didn't remember its name or even what
street it was in.  There's a nice predicament for a fellow who hasn't any
friends or connections in London!  Of course I can wire to my people for
the address, but they won't have got my letter till to-morrow; meantime
I'm without any money, came out with about a shilling on me, which went
in buying the soap and getting the drink, and here I am, wandering about
with twopence in my pocket and nowhere to go for the night."

There was an eloquent pause after the story had been told.  "I suppose
you think I've spun you rather an impossible yarn," said the young man
presently, with a suggestion of resentment in his voice.

"Not at all impossible," said Gortsby judicially; "I remember doing
exactly the same thing once in a foreign capital, and on that occasion
there were two of us, which made it more remarkable.  Luckily we
remembered that the hotel was on a sort of canal, and when we struck the
canal we were able to find our way back to the hotel."

The youth brightened at the reminiscence.  "In a foreign city I wouldn't
mind so much," he said; "one could go to one's Consul and get the
requisite help from him.  Here in one's own land one is far more derelict
if one gets into a fix.  Unless I can find some decent chap to swallow my
story and lend me some money I seem likely to spend the night on the
Embankment.  I'm glad, anyhow, that you don't think the story
outrageously improbable."

He threw a good deal of warmth into the last remark, as though perhaps to
indicate his hope that Gortsby did not fall far short of the requisite
decency.

"Of course," said Gortsby slowly, "the weak point of your story is that
you can't produce the soap."

The young man sat forward hurriedly, felt rapidly in the pockets of his
overcoat, and then jumped to his feet.

"I must have lost it," he muttered angrily.

"To lose an hotel and a cake of soap on one afternoon suggests wilful
carelessness," said Gortsby, but the young man scarcely waited to hear
the end of the remark.  He flitted away down the path, his head held
high, with an air of somewhat jaded jauntiness.

"It was a pity," mused Gortsby; "the going out to get one's own soap was
the one convincing touch in the whole story, and yet it was just that
little detail that brought him to grief.  If he had had the brilliant
forethought to provide himself with a cake of soap, wrapped and sealed
with all the solicitude of the chemist's counter, he would have been a
genius in his particular line.  In his particular line genius certainly
consists of an infinite capacity for taking precautions."

With that reflection Gortsby rose to go; as he did so an exclamation of
concern escaped him.  Lying on the ground by the side of the bench was a
small oval packet, wrapped and sealed with the solicitude of a chemist's
counter.  It could be nothing else but a cake of soap, and it had
evidently fallen out of the youth's overcoat pocket when he flung himself
down on the seat.  In another moment Gortsby was scudding along the dusk-
shrouded path in anxious quest for a youthful figure in a light overcoat.
He had nearly given up the search when he caught sight of the object of
his pursuit standing irresolutely on the border of the carriage drive,
evidently uncertain whether to strike across the Park or make for the
bustling pavements of Knightsbridge.  He turned round sharply with an air
of defensive hostility when he found Gortsby hailing him.

"The important witness to the genuineness of your story has turned up,"
said Gortsby, holding out the cake of soap; "it must have slid out of
your overcoat pocket when you sat down on the seat.  I saw it on the
ground after you left.  You must excuse my disbelief, but appearances
were really rather against you, and now, as I appealed to the testimony
of the soap I think I ought to abide by its verdict.  If the loan of a
sovereign is any good to you--"

The young man hastily removed all doubt on the subject by pocketing the
coin.

"Here is my card with my address," continued Gortsby; "any day this week
will do for returning the money, and here is the soap--don't lose it
again it's been a good friend to you."

"Lucky thing your finding it," said the youth, and then, with a catch in
his voice, he blurted out a word or two of thanks and fled headlong in
the direction of Knightsbridge.

"Poor boy, he as nearly as possible broke down," said Gortsby to himself.
"I don't wonder either; the relief from his quandary must have been
acute.  It's a lesson to me not to be too clever in judging by
circumstances."

As Gortsby retraced his steps past the seat where the little drama had
taken place he saw an elderly gentleman poking and peering beneath it and
on all sides of it, and recognised his earlier fellow occupant.

"Have you lost anything, sir?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, a cake of soap."

ROMANCERS
Category: Love Letters
It was autumn in London, that blessed season between the harshness of
winter and the insincerities of summer; a trustful season when one buys
bulbs and sees to the registration of one's vote, believing perpetually
in spring and a change of Government.

Morton Crosby sat on a bench in a secluded corner of Hyde Park, lazily
enjoying a cigarette and watching the slow grazing promenade of a pair of
snow-geese, the male looking rather like an albino edition of the russet-
hued female.  Out of the corner of his eye Crosby also noted with some
interest the hesitating hoverings of a human figure, which had passed and
repassed his seat two or three times at shortening intervals, like a wary
crow about to alight near some possibly edible morsel.  Inevitably the
figure came to an anchorage on the bench, within easy talking distance of
its original occupant.  The uncared-for clothes, the aggressive, grizzled
beard, and the furtive, evasive eye of the new-comer bespoke the
professional cadger, the man who would undergo hours of humiliating tale-
spinning and rebuff rather than adventure on half a day's decent work.

For a while the new-comer fixed his eyes straight in front of him in a
strenuous, unseeing gaze; then his voice broke out with the insinuating
inflection of one who has a story to retail well worth any loiterer's
while to listen to.

"It's a strange world," he said.

As the statement met with no response he altered it to the form of a
question.

"I daresay you've found it to be a strange world, mister?"

"As far as I am concerned," said Crosby, "the strangeness has worn off in
the course of thirty-six years."

"Ah," said the greybeard, "I could tell you things that you'd hardly
believe.  Marvellous things that have really happened to me."

"Nowadays there is no demand for marvellous things that have really
happened," said Crosby discouragingly; "the professional writers of
fiction turn these things out so much better.  For instance, my
neighbours tell me wonderful, incredible things that their Aberdeens and
chows and borzois have done; I never listen to them.  On the other hand,
I have read 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' three times."

The greybeard moved uneasily in his seat; then he opened up new country.

"I take it that you are a professing Christian," he observed.

"I am a prominent and I think I may say an influential member of the
Mussulman community of Eastern Persia," said Crosby, making an excursion
himself into the realms of fiction.

The greybeard was obviously disconcerted at this new check to
introductory conversation, but the defeat was only momentary.

"Persia.  I should never have taken you for a Persian," he remarked, with
a somewhat aggrieved air.

"I am not," said Crosby; "my father was an Afghan."

"An Afghan!" said the other, smitten into bewildered silence for a
moment.  Then he recovered himself and renewed his attack.

"Afghanistan.  Ah!  We've had some wars with that country; now, I
daresay, instead of fighting it we might have learned something from it.
A very wealthy country, I believe.  No real poverty there."

He raised his voice on the word "poverty" with a suggestion of intense
feeling.  Crosby saw the opening and avoided it.

"It possesses, nevertheless, a number of highly talented and ingenious
beggars," he said; "if I had not spoken so disparagingly of marvellous
things that have really happened I would tell you the story of Ibrahim
and the eleven camel-loads of blotting-paper.  Also I have forgotten
exactly how it ended."

"My own life-story is a curious one," said the stranger, apparently
stifling all desire to hear the history of Ibrahim; "I was not always as
you see me now."

"We are supposed to undergo complete change in the course of every seven
years," said Crosby, as an explanation of the foregoing announcement.

"I mean I was not always in such distressing circumstances as I am at
present," pursued the stranger doggedly.

"That sounds rather rude," said Crosby stiffly, "considering that you are
at present talking to a man reputed to be one of the most gifted
conversationalists of the Afghan border."

"I don't mean in that way," said the greybeard hastily; "I've been very
much interested in your conversation.  I was alluding to my unfortunate
financial situation.  You mayn't hardly believe it, but at the present
moment I am absolutely without a farthing.  Don't see any prospect of
getting any money, either, for the next few days.  I don't suppose you've
ever found yourself in such a position," he added.

"In the town of Yom," said Crosby, "which is in Southern Afghanistan, and
which also happens to be my birthplace, there was a Chinese philosopher
who used to say that one of the three chiefest human blessings was to be
absolutely without money.  I forget what the other two were."

"Ah, I daresay," said the stranger, in a tone that betrayed no enthusiasm
for the philosopher's memory; "and did he practise what he preached?
That's the test."

"He lived happily with very little money or resources," said Crosby.

"Then I expect he had friends who would help him liberally whenever he
was in difficulties, such as I am in at present."

"In Yom," said Crosby, "it is not necessary to have friends in order to
obtain help.  Any citizen of Yom would help a stranger as a matter of
course."

The greybeard was now genuinely interested.

The conversation had at last taken a favourable turn.

"If someone, like me, for instance, who was in undeserved difficulties,
asked a citizen of that town you speak of for a small loan to tide over a
few days' impecuniosity--five shillings, or perhaps a rather larger
sum--would it be given to him as a matter of course?"

"There would be a certain preliminary," said Crosby; "one would take him
to a wine-shop and treat him to a measure of wine, and then, after a
little high-flown conversation, one would put the desired sum in his hand
and wish him good-day.  It is a roundabout way of performing a simple
transaction, but in the East all ways are roundabout."

The listener's eyes were glittering.

"Ah," he exclaimed, with a thin sneer ringing meaningly through his
words, "I suppose you've given up all those generous customs since you
left your town.  Don't practise them now, I expect."

"No one who has lived in Yom," said Crosby fervently, "and remembers its
green hills covered with apricot and almond trees, and the cold water
that rushes down like a caress from the upland snows and dashes under the
little wooden bridges, no one who remembers these things and treasures
the memory of them would ever give up a single one of its unwritten laws
and customs.  To me they are as binding as though I still lived in that
hallowed home of my youth."

"Then if I was to ask you for a small loan--" began the greybeard
fawningly, edging nearer on the seat and hurriedly wondering how large he
might safely make his request, "if I was to ask you for, say--"

"At any other time, certainly," said Crosby; "in the months of November
and December, however, it is absolutely forbidden for anyone of our race
to give or receive loans or gifts; in fact, one does not willingly speak
of them.  It is considered unlucky.  We will therefore close this
discussion."

"But it is still October!" exclaimed the adventurer with an eager, angry
whine, as Crosby rose from his seat; "wants eight days to the end of the
month!"

"The Afghan November began yesterday," said Crosby severely, and in
another moment he was striding across the Park, leaving his recent
companion scowling and muttering furiously on the seat.

"I don't believe a word of his story," he chattered to himself; "pack of
nasty lies from beginning to end.  Wish I'd told him so to his face.
Calling himself an Afghan!"

The snorts and snarls that escaped from him for the next quarter of an
hour went far to support the truth of the old saying that two of a trade
never agree.

THE TREASURE SHIP
Category: Love Letters
The great galleon lay in semi-retirement under the sand and weed and
water of the northern bay where the fortune of war and weather had long
ago ensconced it.  Three and a quarter centuries had passed since the day
when it had taken the high seas as an important unit of a fighting
squadron--precisely which squadron the learned were not agreed.  The
galleon had brought nothing into the world, but it had, according to
tradition and report, taken much out of it.  But how much?  There again
the learned were in disagreement.  Some were as generous in their
estimate as an income-tax assessor, others applied a species of higher
criticism to the submerged treasure chests, and debased their contents to
the currency of goblin gold.  Of the former school was Lulu, Duchess of
Dulverton.

The Duchess was not only a believer in the existence of a sunken treasure
of alluring proportions; she also believed that she knew of a method by
which the said treasure might be precisely located and cheaply
disembedded.  An aunt on her mother's side of the family had been Maid of
Honour at the Court of Monaco, and had taken a respectful interest in the
deep-sea researches in which the Throne of that country, impatient
perhaps of its terrestrial restrictions, was wont to immerse itself.  It
was through the instrumentality of this relative that the Duchess learned
of an invention, perfected and very nearly patented by a Monegaskan
savant, by means of which the home-life of the Mediterranean sardine
might be studied at a depth of many fathoms in a cold white light of more
than ball-room brilliancy.  Implicated in this invention (and, in the
Duchess's eyes, the most attractive part of it) was an electric suction
dredge, specially designed for dragging to the surface such objects of
interest and value as might be found in the more accessible levels of the
ocean-bed.  The rights of the invention were to be acquired for a matter
of eighteen hundred francs, and the apparatus for a few thousand more.
The Duchess of Dulverton was rich, as the world counted wealth; she
nursed the hope, of being one day rich at her own computation.  Companies
had been formed and efforts had been made again and again during the
course of three centuries to probe for the alleged treasures of the
interesting galleon; with the aid of this invention she considered that
she might go to work on the wreck privately and independently.  After
all, one of her ancestors on her mother's side was descended from Medina
Sidonia, so she was of opinion that she had as much right to the treasure
as anyone.  She acquired the invention and bought the apparatus.

Among other family ties and encumbrances, Lulu possessed a nephew, Vasco
Honiton, a young gentleman who was blessed with a small income and a
large circle of relatives, and lived impartially and precariously on
both.  The name Vasco had been given him possibly in the hope that he
might live up to its adventurous tradition, but he limited himself
strictly to the home industry of adventurer, preferring to exploit the
assured rather than to explore the unknown.  Lulu's intercourse with him
had been restricted of recent years to the negative processes of being
out of town when he called on her, and short of money when he wrote to
her.  Now, however, she bethought herself of his eminent suitability for
the direction of a treasure-seeking experiment; if anyone could extract
gold from an unpromising situation it would certainly be Vasco--of
course, under the necessary safeguards in the way of supervision.  Where
money was in question Vasco's conscience was liable to fits of obstinate
silence.

Somewhere on the west coast of Ireland the Dulverton property included a
few acres of shingle, rock, and heather, too barren to support even an
agrarian outrage, but embracing a small and fairly deep bay where the
lobster yield was good in most seasons.  There was a bleak little house
on the property, and for those who liked lobsters and solitude, and were
able to accept an Irish cook's ideas as to what might be perpetrated in
the name of mayonnaise, Innisgluther was a tolerable exile during the
summer months.  Lulu seldom went there herself, but she lent the house
lavishly to friends and relations.  She put it now at Vasco's disposal.

"It will be the very place to practise and experiment with the salvage
apparatus," she said; "the bay is quite deep in places, and you will be
able to test everything thoroughly before starting on the treasure hunt."

In less than three weeks Vasco turned up in town to report progress.

"The apparatus works beautifully," he informed his aunt; "the deeper one
got the clearer everything grew.  We found something in the way of a
sunken wreck to operate on, too!"

"A wreck in Innisgluther Bay!" exclaimed Lulu.

"A submerged motor-boat, the _Sub-Rosa_," said Vasco.

"No! really?" said Lulu; "poor Billy Yuttley's boat.  I remember it went
down somewhere off that coast some three years ago.  His body was washed
ashore at the Point.  People said at the time that the boat was capsized
intentionally--a case of suicide, you know.  People always say that sort
of thing when anything tragic happens."

"In this case they were right," said Vasco.

"What do you mean?" asked the Duchess hurriedly.  "What makes you think
so?"

"I know," said Vasco simply.

"Know?  How can you know?  How can anyone know?  The thing happened three
years ago."

"In a locker of the _Sub-Rosa_ I found a water-tight strong-box.  It
contained papers."  Vasco paused with dramatic effect and searched for a
moment in the inner breast-pocket of his coat.  He drew out a folded slip
of paper.  The Duchess snatched at it in almost indecent haste and moved
appreciably nearer the fireplace.

"Was this in the _Sub-Rosa's_ strong-box?" she asked.

"Oh no," said Vasco carelessly, "that is a list of the well-known people
who would be involved in a very disagreeable scandal if the _Sub-Rosa's_
papers were made public.  I've put you at the head of it, otherwise it
follows alphabetical order."

The Duchess gazed helplessly at the string of names, which seemed for the
moment to include nearly every one she knew.  As a matter of fact, her
own name at the head of the list exercised an almost paralysing effect on
her thinking faculties.

"Of course you have destroyed the papers?" she asked, when she had
somewhat recovered herself.  She was conscious that she made the remark
with an entire lack of conviction.

Vasco shook his head.

"But you should have," said Lulu angrily; "if, as you say, they are
highly compromising--"

"Oh, they are, I assure you of that," interposed the young man.

"Then you should put them out of harm's way at once.  Supposing anything
should leak out, think of all these poor, unfortunate people who would be
involved in the disclosures," and Lulu tapped the list with an agitated
gesture.

"Unfortunate, perhaps, but not poor," corrected Vasco; "if you read the
list carefully you'll notice that I haven't troubled to include anyone
whose financial standing isn't above question."

Lulu glared at her nephew for some moments in silence.  Then she asked
hoarsely: "What are you going to do?"

"Nothing--for the remainder of my life," he answered meaningly.  "A
little hunting, perhaps," he continued, "and I shall have a villa at
Florence.  The Villa Sub-Rosa would sound rather quaint and picturesque,
don't you think, and quite a lot of people would be able to attach a
meaning to the name.  And I suppose I must have a hobby; I shall probably
collect Raeburns."

Lulu's relative, who lived at the Court of Monaco, got quite a snappish
answer when she wrote recommending some further invention in the realm of
marine research.
THE HEN
Category: Love Letters
"Dora Bittholz is coming on Thursday," said Mrs. Sangrail.

"This next Thursday?" asked Clovis

His mother nodded.

"You've rather done it, haven't you?" he chuckled; "Jane Martlet has only
been here five days, and she never stays less than a fortnight, even when
she's asked definitely for a week.  You'll never get her out of the house
by Thursday."

"Why should I?" asked Mrs. Sangrail; "she and Dora are good friends,
aren't they?  They used to be, as far as I remember."

"They used to be; that's what makes them all the more bitter now.  Each
feels that she has nursed a viper in her bosom.  Nothing fans the flame
of human resentment so much as the discovery that one's bosom has been
utilised as a snake sanatorium."

"But what has happened?  Has some one been making mischief?"

"Not exactly," said Clovis; "a hen came between them."

"A hen?  What hen?"

"It was a bronze Leghorn or some such exotic breed, and Dora sold it to
Jane at a rather exotic price.  They both go in for prize poultry, you
know, and Jane thought she was going to get her money back in a large
family of pedigree chickens.  The bird turned out to be an abstainer from
the egg habit, and I'm told that the letters which passed between the two
women were a revelation as to how much invective could be got on to a
sheet of notepaper."

"How ridiculous!" said Mrs. Sangrail.  "Couldn't some of their friends
compose the quarrel?"

"People tried," said Clovis, "but it must have been rather like composing
the storm music of the 'Fliegende Hollander.'  Jane was willing to take
back some of her most libellous remarks if Dora would take back the hen,
but Dora said that would be owning herself in the wrong, and you know
she'd as soon think of owning slum property in Whitechapel as do that."

"It's a most awkward situation," said Mrs. Sangrail.  "Do you suppose
they won't speak to one another?"

"On the contrary, the difficulty will be to get them to leave off.  Their
remarks on each other's conduct and character have hitherto been governed
by the fact that only four ounces of plain speaking can be sent through
the post for a penny."

"I can't put Dora off," said Mrs. Sangrail.  "I've already postponed her
visit once, and nothing short of a miracle would make Jane leave before
her self-allotted fortnight is over."

"Miracles are rather in my line," said Clovis.  "I don't pretend to be
very hopeful in this case but I'll do my best."

"As long as you don't drag me into it--" stipulated his mother.

* * * * *

"Servants are a bit of a nuisance," muttered Clovis, as he sat in the
smoking-room after lunch, talking fitfully to Jane Martlet in the
intervals of putting together the materials of a cocktail, which he had
irreverently patented under the name of an Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  It was
partly compounded of old brandy and partly of curacoa; there were other
ingredients, but they were never indiscriminately revealed.

"Servants a nuisance!" exclaimed Jane, bounding into the topic with the
exuberant plunge of a hunter when it leaves the high road and feels turf
under its hoofs; "I should think they were!  The trouble I've had in
getting suited this year you would hardly believe.  But I don't see what
you have to complain of--your mother is so wonderfully lucky in her
servants.  Sturridge, for instance--he's been with you for years, and I'm
sure he's a paragon as butlers go."

"That's just the trouble," said Clovis.  "It's when servants have been
with you for years that they become a really serious nuisance.  The 'here
to-day and gone to-morrow' sort don't matter--you've simply got to
replace them; it's the stayers and the paragons that are the real worry."

"But if they give satisfaction--"

"That doesn't prevent them from giving trouble.  Now, you've mentioned
Sturridge--it was Sturridge I was particularly thinking of when I made
the observation about servants being a nuisance."

"The excellent Sturridge a nuisance!  I can't believe it."

"I know he's excellent, and we just couldn't get along without him; he's
the one reliable element in this rather haphazard household.  But his
very orderliness has had an effect on him.  Have you ever considered what
it must be like to go on unceasingly doing the correct thing in the
correct manner in the same surroundings for the greater part of a
lifetime?  To know and ordain and superintend exactly what silver and
glass and table linen shall be used and set out on what occasions, to
have cellar and pantry and plate-cupboard under a minutely devised and
undeviating administration, to be noiseless, impalpable, omnipresent,
and, as far as your own department is concerned, omniscient?"

"I should go mad," said Jane with conviction.

"Exactly," said Clovis thoughtfully, swallowing his completed Ella
Wheeler Wilcox.

"But Sturridge hasn't gone mad," said Jane with a flutter of inquiry in
her voice.

"On most points he's thoroughly sane and reliable," said Clovis, "but at
times he is subject to the most obstinate delusions, and on those
occasions he becomes not merely a nuisance but a decided embarrassment."

"What sort of delusions?"

"Unfortunately they usually centre round one of the guests of the house
party, and that is where the awkwardness comes in.  For instance, he took
it into his head that Matilda Sheringham was the Prophet Elijah, and as
all that he remembered about Elijah's history was the episode of the
ravens in the wilderness he absolutely declined to interfere with what he
imagined to be Matilda's private catering arrangements, wouldn't allow
any tea to be sent up to her in the morning, and if he was waiting at
table he passed her over altogether in handing round the dishes."

"How very unpleasant.  Whatever did you do about it?"

"Oh, Matilda got fed, after a fashion, but it was judged to be best for
her to cut her visit short.  It was really the only thing to be done,"
said Clovis with some emphasis.

"I shouldn't have done that," said Jane, "I should have humoured him in
some way.  I certainly shouldn't have gone away."

Clovis frowned.

"It is not always wise to humour people when they get these ideas into
their heads.  There's no knowing to what lengths they may go if you
encourage them."

"You don't mean to say he might be dangerous, do you?" asked Jane with
some anxiety.

"One can never be certain," said Clovis; "now and then he gets some idea
about a guest which might take an unfortunate turn.  That is precisely
what is worrying me at the present moment."

"What, has he taken a fancy about some one here now?" asked Jane
excitedly; "how thrilling!  Do tell me who it is."

"You," said Clovis briefly.

"Me?"

Clovis nodded.

"Who on earth does he think I am?"

"Queen Anne," was the unexpected answer.

"Queen Anne!  What an idea.  But, anyhow, there's nothing dangerous about
her; she's such a colourless personality."

"What does posterity chiefly say about Queen Anne?" asked Clovis rather
sternly.

"The only thing that I can remember about her," said Jane, "is the saying
'Queen Anne's dead.'"

"Exactly," said Clovis, staring at the glass that had held the Ella
Wheeler Wilcox, "dead."

"Do you mean he takes me for the ghost of Queen Anne?" asked Jane.

"Ghost?  Dear no.  No one ever heard of a ghost that came down to
breakfast and ate kidneys and toast and honey with a healthy appetite.
No, it's the fact of you being so very much alive and flourishing that
perplexes and annoys him.  All his life he has been accustomed to look on
Queen Anne as the personification of everything that is dead and done
with, 'as dead as Queen Anne,' you know; and now he has to fill your
glass at lunch and dinner and listen to your accounts of the gay time you
had at the Dublin Horse Show, and naturally he feels that something's
very wrong with you."

"But he wouldn't be downright hostile to me on that account, would he?"
Jane asked anxiously.

"I didn't get really alarmed about it till lunch to-day," said Clovis; "I
caught him glowering at you with a very sinister look and muttering:
'Ought to be dead long ago, she ought, and some one should see to it.'
That's why I mentioned the matter to you."

"This is awful," said Jane; "your mother must be told about it at once."

"My mother mustn't hear a word about it," said Clovis earnestly; "it
would upset her dreadfully.  She relies on Sturridge for everything."

"But he might kill me at any moment," protested Jane.

"Not at any moment; he's busy with the silver all the afternoon."

"You'll have to keep a sharp look-out all the time and be on your guard
to frustrate any murderous attack," said Jane, adding in a tone of weak
obstinacy: "It's a dreadful situation to be in, with a mad butler
dangling over you like the sword of What's-his-name, but I'm certainly
not going to cut my visit short."

Clovis swore horribly under his breath; the miracle was an obvious
misfire.

It was in the hall the next morning after a late breakfast that Clovis
had his final inspiration as he stood engaged in coaxing rust spots from
an old putter.

"Where is Miss Martlet?" he asked the butler, who was at that moment
crossing the hall.

"Writing letters in the morning-room, sir," said Sturridge, announcing a
fact of which his questioner was already aware.

"She wants to copy the inscription on that old basket-hilted sabre," said
Clovis, pointing to a venerable weapon hanging on the wall.  "I wish
you'd take it to her; my hands are all over oil.  Take it without the
sheath, it will be less trouble."

The butler drew the blade, still keen and bright in its well-cared for
old age, and carried it into the morning-room.  There was a door near the
writing-table leading to a back stairway; Jane vanished through it with
such lightning rapidity that the butler doubted whether she had seen him
come in.  Half an hour later Clovis was driving her and her
hastily-packed luggage to the station.

"Mother will be awfully vexed when she comes back from her ride and finds
you have gone," he observed to the departing guest, "but I'll make up
some story about an urgent wire having called you away.  It wouldn't do
to alarm her unnecessarily about Sturridge."

Jane sniffed slightly at Clovis' ideas of unnecessary alarm, and was
almost rude to the young man who came round with thoughtful inquiries as
to luncheon-baskets.

The miracle lost some of its usefulness from the fact that Dora wrote the
same day postponing the date of her visit, but, at any rate, Clovis holds
the record as the only human being who ever hustled Jane Martlet out of
the time-table of her migrations.



THE BROGUE
Category: Love Letters
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."
THE STRANGE BUILDER.
Category: Love Letters
Once upon a time, when the gods were building their abodes, a certain
builder came and offered to erect them, in the space of three
half-years, a city so well fortified that they should be quite safe in
it from the incursions of the forest-giants and the giants of the
mountains, even although these foes should have already penetrated
within the enclosure Midgard. He asked, however, for his reward, the
goddess Freyja, together with the sun and moon. The gods thought over
the matter a long while, and at length agreed to his terms, on the
understanding that he would finish the whole work himself without any
one's assistance, and that all was to be finished within the space of
one single winter. If anything remained to be done when the first day of
summer came, the builder was to entirely forfeit the reward agreed on.
When the builder was told this he asked that he might be allowed the use
of his horse, Svadilfari, and to this the gods, by the advice of Loki,
agreed.

On the first day of winter the builder set to work, and during the night
he caused his horse to draw stones for the building. The gods beheld
with astonishment the extraordinary size of these, and marked with
wonder that the horse did much more work than his master. The contract
between them and the giant had, however, been confirmed with many oaths
and in the presence of many witnesses, for without such a precaution a
giant would not have trusted himself among the gods, especially at a
time when Thor was returning from an expedition he had made into the
east against the giants.

The winter was far advanced, and towards its end the city had been built
so strongly and so lofty as to be almost secure. The time was nearly
expired, only three days remaining, and nothing was wanted to complete
the work save the gates, which were not yet put up. The gods then began
to deliberate, and to ask one another who it was that had advised that
Freyja should be given to one who dwelt in Jotunheim, and that they
should plunge the heavens in darkness by allowing one to carry away with
him the sun and moon. They all agreed that only Loki could have given
such bad counsel, and that it would be only just to either make him
contrive some way or other to prevent the builder accomplishing his work
and having a right to claim his reward, or to put him to death. They at
once laid hands on Loki, who, in his fright, promised upon oath to do
what they desired, let it cost him what it might.

That very night, while the builder was employing his horse to convey
stones, a mare suddenly ran out of a neighbouring forest and commenced
to neigh. The horse broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest,
and the builder ran after his horse.

Between one thing and another the whole night was lost, so that when day
broke the work was not completed.

The builder, recognising that he could by no means finish his task,
took again his giant form; and the gods, seeing that it was a
mountain-giant with whom they had to deal, feeling that their oath did
not bind them, called on Thor. He at once ran to them, and paid the
builder his fee with a blow of his hammer which shattered his skull to
pieces and threw him down headlong into Niflhel.

The horse Sleipner comes of the horse Svadilfari, and it excels all
others possessed by gods or men.
THE GODS
Category: Love Letters
Among the Æsir, or gods, is reckoned one named Loki or Loptur. By many
he is called the reviler of the gods, the author of all fraud and
mischief, and the shame of gods and men alike. He is the son of the
giant Farbauti, his mother being Laufey or Nal, and his brothers Byleist
and Helblindi. He is of a goodly appearance and elegant form, but his
mood is changeable, and he is inclined to all wickedness. In cunning and
perfidy he excels every one, and many a time has he placed the gods in
great danger, and often has he saved them again by his cunning. He has a
wife named Siguna, and their son is called Nari.

Loki had three children by Angurbodi, a giantess of Jotunheim (the
giants' home). The first of these was Fenris, the wolf; the second was
Jörmungand, the Midgard serpent; and the third was Hela, death. Very
soon did the gods become aware of this evil progeny which was being
reared in Jotunheim, and by divination they discovered that they must
receive great injury from them. That they had such a mother spoke bad
for them, but their coming of such a sire was a still worse presage.
All-father therefore despatched certain of the gods to bring the
children to him, and when they were brought before him he cast the
serpent down into the ocean which surrounds the world. There the monster
waxed so large that he wound himself round the whole globe, and that
with such ease that he can with his mouth lay hold of his tail. Hela
All-father cast into Niflheim, where she rules over nine worlds. Into
these she distributes all those who are sent to her,--that is to say,
all who die through sickness or old age. She has there an abode with
very thick walls, and fenced with strong gates. Her hall is Elvidnir;
her table is Hunger; her knife, Starvation; her man-servant, Delay; her
maid-servant, Sloth; her threshold, Precipice; her bed, Care; and her
curtains, Anguish of Soul. The one half of her body is livid, the other
half is flesh-colour. She has a terrible look, so that she can be easily
known.

As to the wolf, Fenris, the gods let him grow up among themselves, Tyr
being the only one of them who dare give him his food. When, however,
they perceived how he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that
the oracles warned them that he would one day prove fatal to them, they
determined to make very strong iron fetters for him which they called
Loeding. These they presented to the wolf, and desired him to put them
on to show his strength by endeavouring to break them. The wolf saw that
it would not be difficult for him to burst them, so he let the gods put
the fetters on him, then violently stretching himself he broke the
fetters asunder, and set himself free.

Having seen this, the gods went to work, and prepared a second set of
fetters, called Dromi, half as strong again as the former, and these
they persuaded the wolf to put on, assuring him that if he broke them he
would then furnish them with an undeniable proof of his power. The wolf
saw well enough that it would not be easy to break this set, but he
considered that he had himself increased in strength since he broke the
others, and he knew that without running some risk he could never become
celebrated. He therefore allowed the gods to place the fetters on him.
Then Fenris shook himself, stretched his limbs, rolled on the ground,
and at length burst the fetters, which he made fly in all directions.
Thus did he free himself the second time from his chains, and from this
has arisen the saying, "To get free from Loeding, or to burst from
Dromi," meaning to perform something by strong exertion.

The gods now despaired of ever being able to secure the wolf with any
chain of their own making. All-father, however, sent Skirnir, the
messenger of the god Frey, into the country of the Black Elves, to the
dwarfs, to ask them to make a chain to bind Fenris with. This chain was
composed of six things--the noise made by the fall of a cat's foot, the
hair of a woman's beard, the roots of stones, the nerves of bears, the
breath of fish, and the spittle of birds.

The fetters were as smooth and as soft as silk, and yet, as you will
presently see, of great strength. The gods were very thankful for them
when they were brought to them, and returned many thanks to him who
brought them. Then they took the wolf with them on to the island Lyngvi,
which is in the lake Amsvartnir, and there they showed him the chain,
desiring him to try his strength in breaking it. At the same time they
told him that it was a good deal stronger than it looked. They took it
in their own hands and pulled at it, attempting in vain to break it, and
then they said to Fenris--

"No one else but you, Fenris, can break it."

"I don't see," replied the wolf, "that I shall gain any glory by
breaking such a slight string, but if any artifice has been employed in
the making of it, you may be sure, though it looks so fragile, it shall
never touch foot of mine."

The gods told him he would easily break so slight a bandage, since he
had already broken asunder shackles of iron of the most solid make.

"But," said they, "if you should not be able to break the chain, you are
too feeble to cause us any anxiety, and we shall not hesitate to loose
you again."

"I very much fear," replied the wolf, "that if you once tie me up so
fast that I cannot release myself, you will be in no haste to unloose
me. I am, therefore, unwilling to have this cord wound around me; but to
show you I am no coward, I will agree to it, but one of you must put his
hand in my mouth, as a pledge that you intend me no deceit."

The gods looked on one another wistfully, for they found themselves in
an embarrassing position.

Then Tyr stepped forward and bravely put his right hand in the monster's
mouth. The gods then tied up the wolf, who forcibly stretched himself,
as he had formerly done, and exerted all his powers to disengage
himself; but the more efforts he made the tighter he drew the chain
about him, and then all the gods, except Tyr, who lost his hand, burst
out into laughter at the sight. Seeing that he was so fast tied that he
would never be able to get loose again, they took one end of the chain,
which was called Gelgja, and having drilled a hole for it, drew it
through the middle of a large broad rock, which they sank very deep in
the earth. Afterwards, to make all still more secure, they tied the end
of the chain, which came through the rock to a great stone called
Keviti, which they sank still deeper. The wolf used his utmost power to
free himself, and, opening his mouth, tried to bite them. When the gods
saw that they took a sword and thrust it into his mouth, so that it
entered his under jaw right up to the hilt, and the point reached his
palate. He howled in the most terrible manner, and since then the foam
has poured from his mouth in such abundance that it forms the river
called Von. So the wolf must remain until Ragnarök.

Such a wicked race has Loki begot. The gods would not put the wolf to
death because they respected the sanctity of the place, which forbade
blood being shed there.
HOLGER DANSKE.
Category: Love Letters
The Danish peasantry of the present day relate many wonderful things of
an ancient hero whom they name Holger Danske, _i.e_. Danish Holger,
and to whom they ascribe wonderful strength and dimensions.

Holger Danske came one time to a town named Bagsvoer, in the isle of
Zealand, where, being in want of a new suit of clothes, he sent for
twelve tailors to make them. He was so tall that they were obliged to
set ladders to his back and shoulders to take his measure. They measured
and measured away, but unluckily a man, who was on the top of one of the
ladders, happened, as he was cutting a mark in the measure, to give
Holger's ear a clip with the scissors. Holger, forgetting what was going
on, thinking that he was being bitten by a flea, put up his hand and
crushed the unlucky tailor to death between his fingers.

It is also said that a witch one time gave him a pair of spectacles
which would enable him to see through the ground. He lay down at a place
not far from Copenhagen to make a trial of their powers, and as he put
his face close to the ground, he left in it the mark of his spectacles,
which mark is to be seen at this very day, and the size of it proves
what a goodly pair they must have been.

Tradition does not say at what time it was that this mighty hero
honoured the isles of the Baltic with his actual presence, but, in
return, it informs us that Holger, like so many other heroes of renown,
"is not dead, but sleepeth." The clang of arms, we are told, was
frequently heard under the castle of Cronberg, but in all Denmark no one
could be found hardy enough to penetrate the subterranean recesses and
ascertain the cause. At length a slave, who had been condemned to death,
was offered his life and a pardon if he would go down, proceed through
the subterranean passage as far as it went, and bring an account of what
he should meet there. He accordingly descended, and went along till he
came to a great iron door, which opened of itself the instant he knocked
at it, and he beheld before him a deep vault. From the roof in the
centre hung a lamp whose flame was nearly extinct, and beneath was a
huge great stone table, around which sat steel-clad warriors, bowed down
over it, each with his head on his crossed arms. He who was seated at
the head of the board then raised himself up. This was Holger Danske.
When he had lifted his head up from off his arms, the stone table split
throughout, for his beard was grown into it.

"Give me thy hand," said he to the intruder.

The slave feared to trust his hand in the grasp of the ancient warrior,
and he reached him the end of an iron bar which he had brought with him.
Holger squeezed it so hard, that the mark of his hand remained in it. He
let it go at last, saying--

"Well! I am glad to find there are still men in Denmark."
THE MEAL OF FROTHI.
Category: Love Letters
Gold is called by the poets the meal of Frothi, and the origin of the
term is found in this story.

Odin had a son named Skioldr who settled and reigned in the land which
is now called Denmark, but was then called Gotland. Skioldr had a son
named Frithleif, who reigned after him. Frithleif's son was called
Frothi, and succeeded him on the throne. At the time that the Emperor
Augustus made peace over the whole world, Christ was born, but as Frothi
was the most powerful of all the monarchs of the north, that peace,
wherever the Danish language was spoken, was imputed to him, and the
Northmen called it Frothi's peace.

At that time no man hurt another, even if he found the murderer of his
father or brother, loose or bound. Theft and robbery were then unknown,
insomuch that a gold armlet lay for a long time untouched in
Jalangursheath.

Frothi chanced to go on a friendly visit to a certain king in Sweden,
named Fiolnir, and there purchased two female slaves, called Fenia and
Menia, equally distinguished for their stature and strength. In those
days there were found in Denmark two quern-stones of such a size, that
no one was able to move them, and these mill-stones were endued with
such virtue, that the quern in grinding produced whatever the grinder
wished for. The quern was called Grotti. He who presented this quern to
Frothi was called Hengikioptr (hanging-chops). King Frothi caused these
slaves to be brought to the quern, and ordered them to grind gold,
peace, and prosperity for Frothi. The king allowed them no longer rest
or sleep than while the cuckoo was silent or a verse could be recited.
Then they are said to have sung the lay called Grotta-Savngr, and before
they ended their song to have ground a hostile army against Frothi,
insomuch, that a certain sea-king, called Mysingr, arriving the same
night, slew Frothi, taking great spoil. And so ended Frothi's peace.

Mysingr took with him the quern, Grotti, with Fenia and Menia, and
ordered them to grind salt. About midnight they asked Mysingr whether he
had salt enough. On his ordering them to go on grinding, they went on a
little longer till the ship sank under the weight of the salt. A
whirlpool was produced, where the waves are sucked up by the mill-eye,
and the waters of the sea have been salt ever since.



THE HILL-MAN
Category: Love Letters
The hill-people are excessively frightened during thunder. When,
therefore, they see bad weather coming on, they lose no time in getting
to the shelter of their hills. This terror is also the cause of their
not being able to endure the beating of a drum. They take it to be the
rolling of thunder. It is, therefore, a good recipe for banishing them
to beat a drum every day in the neighbourhood of their hills, for they
immediately pack up, and depart to some quieter residence.

A farmer lived once in great friendship and concord with a hill-man,
whose hill was in his lands. One time when his wife was about to have a
child, it gave him great perplexity to think that he could not well
avoid inviting the hill-man to the christening, which might, not
improbably, bring him into ill repute with the priest and the other
people of the village. He was going about pondering deeply, but in vain,
how he might get out of this dilemma, when it came into his head to ask
the advice of the boy that kept his pigs, who had a great head-piece,
and had often helped him before. The pig-boy instantly undertook to
arrange the matter with the hill-man in such a manner that he should not
only stay away without being offended, but, moreover, give a good
christening present.

Accordingly, when it was night, he took a sack on his shoulder, went to
the hill-man's hill, knocked, and was admitted. He delivered his
message, gave his master's compliments, and requested the honour of his
company at the christening. The hill-man thanked him, and said--

"I think it is but right I should give you a christening present."

With these words he opened his money-chests, bidding the boy hold up his
sack while he poured money into it.

"Is there enough now?" said he, when he had put a good quantity into it.

"Many give more, few give less," replied the boy.

The hill-man once more fell to filling the sack, and again asked--

"Is there enough now?"

The boy lifted the sack a little off the ground to see if he was able to
carry any more, and then answered--

"It is about what most people give."

Upon this the hill-man emptied the whole chest into the bag, and once
more asked--

"Is there enough now?"

The guardian of the pigs now saw that there was as much in the sack as
he would be able to carry, so he answered--

"No one gives more, most people give less."

"Come now," said the hill-man, "let us hear who else is to be at the
christening."

"Ah," said the boy, "we are to have a great many strangers and great
people. First and foremost, we are to have three priests and a bishop."

"Hem!" muttered the hill-man; "however, those gentlemen usually look
only after the eating and drinking; they will never take any notice of
me. Well, who else?"

"Then we have asked St. Peter and St. Paul."

"Hem! hem! However, there will be a bye-place for me behind the stove.
Well, and what then?"

"Then Our Lady herself is coming."

"Hem! hem! hem! However, guests of such high rank come late and go away
early. But tell me, my lad, what sort of music is it you are to have?"

"Music," said the boy, "why, we are to have drums."

"Drums!" repeated the troll, quite terrified. "No, no! Thank you. I
shall stay at home in that case. Give my best respects to your master,
and I thank him for the invitation, but I cannot come. I did but once go
out to take a little walk, and some people began to beat a drum. I
hurried home, and was but just got to my door when they flung the
drum-stick after me, and broke one of my shins. I have been lame of that
leg ever since, and I shall take good care in future to avoid that sort
of music."

So saying he helped the boy to put the sack on his back, once more
charging him to present his best respects to his master.

Cat Tales
The house of Katholm (Cat-isle) near Grenaac, in Jutland, got its name
from the following circumstance.

There was a man in Jutland who had made a good deal of money by improper
means. When he died he left his property equally among his three sons.
The youngest, when he got his share, thought to himself--

"What comes with sin goes with sorrow," and he resolved to submit his
money to the water-ordeal, thinking that the ill-got money would sink to
the bottom, and what was honestly acquired swim on the top. He
accordingly cast all his money into the water, and only one solitary
farthing swam. With this he bought a cat, and he went to sea and visited
foreign parts. At length he chanced to come to a place where the people
were sadly plagued by an enormous number of rats and mice, and as his
cat had had kittens by this time, he acquired great wealth by selling
them. So he came home to Jutland, and built himself a house, which he
called Katholm.

There was one time a poor sailor out of Ribe, who came to a foreign
island whose inhabitants were grievously plagued with mice. By good
luck he had a cat of his own on board, and the people of the island gave
him so much gold for it that he went home as fast as he could to fetch
more cats, and by this traffic he in a short time grew so rich that he
had no need of any more. Some time after, when he was on his deathbed,
he bequeathed a large sum of money for the building of Ribe Cathedral,
and a proof of this is still to be seen in a carving over the east door
of the church, representing a cat and four mice. The door is called
Cat-head Door (Kathoved Dor).

BRIAR ROSE
Category: Love Letters
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had no children; and
this they lamented very much. But one day, as the queen was walking by
the side of the river, a little fish lifted its head out of the water,
and said, "Your wish shall be fulfilled, and you shall soon have a
daughter."

What the little fish had foretold soon came to pass; and the queen had a
little girl who was so very beautiful that the king could not cease
looking on her for joy, and determined to hold a great feast. So he
invited not only his relations, friends, and neighbors, but also all the
fairies, that they might be kind and good to his little daughter. Now
there were thirteen fairies in his kingdom, and he had only twelve
golden dishes for them to eat out of, so that he was obliged to leave
one of the fairies without an invitation. The rest came, and after the
feast was over they gave all their best gifts to the little princess;
one gave her virtue, another beauty, another riches, and so on till she
had all that was excellent in the world. When eleven had done blessing
her, the thirteenth, who had not been invited, and was very angry on
that account, came in, and determined to take her revenge. So she cried
out, "The king's daughter shall in her fifteenth year be wounded by a
spindle, and fall down dead." Then the twelfth, who had not yet given
her gift, came forward and said that the bad wish must be fulfilled, but
that she could soften it, and that the king's daughter should not die,
but fall asleep for a hundred years.

But the king hoped to save his dear child from the threatened evil, and
ordered that all the spindles in the kingdom should be bought up and
destroyed. All the fairies' gifts were in the meantime fulfilled; for
the princess was so beautiful, and well-behaved and amiable, and wise,
that every one who knew her loved her.

Now it happened that on the very day she was fifteen years old the king
and queen were not at home, and she was left alone in the palace. So she
roamed about by herself, and looked at all the rooms and chambers, till
at last she came to an old tower, to which there was a narrow staircase
ending with a little door. In the door there was a golden key, and when
she turned it the door sprang open, and there sat an old lady spinning
away very busily.

"Why, how now, good mother," said the princess, "what are you doing
there?"

"Spinning," said the old lady, and nodded her head. "How prettily that
little thing turns round!" said the princess, and took the spindle and
began to spin. But scarcely had she touched it before the prophecy was
fulfilled, and she fell down lifeless on the ground.

However, she was not dead, but had only fallen into a deep sleep; and
the king and the queen, who just then came home, and all their court,
fell asleep too, and the horses slept in the stables, and the dogs in
the yard, and the pigeons on the house-top, and the flies on the walls.
Even the fire on the I  hearth left off blazing, and went to sleep; and
the meat that was roasting stood still; and the cook, who was at that
moment pulling the kitchen-boy by the hair to give him a box on the ear
for something he had done amiss, let him go, and both fell asleep; and
so everything stood still, and slept soundly.

A high hedge of thorns soon grew around the palace, and every year it
became higher and thicker, till at last the whole palace was surrounded
and hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen.

But there went a report through all the land of the beautiful sleeping
Briar Rose, for thus was the king's daughter called; so that from time
to time several kings' sons came, and tried to break through the thicket
into the palace.

This they could never do; for the thorns and bushes laid hold of them as
it were with hands, and there they stuck fast and died miserably.

After many, many years there came another king's son into that land, and
an old man told him the story of the thicket of thorns, and how a
beautiful palace stood behind it, in which was a wondrous princess,
called Briar Rose, asleep with all her court. He told, too, how he had
heard from his grandfather that many, many princes had come, and had
tried to break through the thicket, but had stuck fast and died.

Then the young prince said, "All this shall not frighten me; I will go
and see Briar Rose." The old man tried to dissuade him, but he persisted
in going.

Now that very day the hundred years were completed; and as the prince
came to the thicket he saw nothing but beautiful flowering shrubs,
through which he passed with ease, and they closed after him as firm as
ever.

Then he came at last to the palace, and there in the yard lay the dogs
asleep, and the horses in the stables, and on the roof sat the pigeons
fast asleep with their heads under their wings; and when he came into
the palace, the flies slept on the walls, and the cook in the kitchen
was still holding up her hand as if she would beat the boy, and the maid
sat with a black fowl in her hand ready to be plucked.

Then he went on still further, and all was so still that he could hear
every breath he drew; till at last he came to the old tower and opened
the door of the little room in which Briar Rose was, and there she lay
fast asleep, and looked so beautiful that he could not take his eyes
off, and he stooped down and gave her a kiss. But the moment he kissed
her she opened her eyes and awoke, and smiled upon him.

Then they went out together, and presently the king and queen also
awoke, and all the court, and they gazed on each other with great
wonder.

And the horses got up and shook themselves, and the dogs jumped about
and barked; the pigeons took their heads from under their wings, and
looked about and flew into the fields; the flies on the walls buzzed
away; the fire in the kitchen blazed up and cooked the dinner, and the
roast meat turned round again; the cook gave the boy the box on his ear
so that he cried out, and the maid went on plucking the fowl.

And then was the wedding of the prince and Briar Rose celebrated, and
they lived happily together all their lives.


THUMBLING
Category: Love Letters
There was once a poor peasant who sat in the evening by the hearth and
poked the fire, and his wife sat and span. Then said he, "How sad it is
that we have no children! With us all is so quiet, and in other houses
it is noisy and lively."

"Yes," replied the wife, and sighed, "even if we had only one, and it
were quite small, and only as big as a thumb, I should be quite
satisfied, and we would still love it with all our hearts." Now it so
happened that their wish was granted and a child was given them, but
although it was perfect in all its limbs, it was no longer than a thumb.
Then said they, "It is as we wished it to be, and it shall be our dear
child;" and because of its size, they called it Thumbling. They did not
let it want for food, but the child did not grow taller, but remained as
it had been at the first, nevertheless it looked sensibly out of its
eyes, and soon showed itself to be a wise and nimble creature, for
everything it did turned out well.

One day the peasant was getting ready to go into the forest to cut wood,
when he said as if to himself, "How I wish that there was any one who
would bring the cart to me!" "Oh, father," cried Thumbling, "I will soon
bring the cart; rely on that; it shall be in the forest at the appointed
time." The man smiled and said, "How can that be done; you are far too
small to lead the horse by the reins?" "That's of no consequence,
father, if my mother will only harness it, I will sit in the horse's
ear, and call out to him how he is to go." "Well," answered the man,
"for once we will try it."

When the time came, the mother harnessed the horse, and placed Thumbling
in its ear, and then the little creature cried, "Gee up, gee up!"

Then it went quite properly as if with its master, and the cart went the
right way into the forest. It so happened that just as he was turning a
corner, and the little one was crying, "Gee up," two strange men came
towards him. "My word!" said one of them. "What is this? There is a cart
coming, and a driver is calling to the horse, and still he is not to be
seen!" "That can't be right," said the other, "we will follow the cart
and see where it stops." The cart, however, drove right into the forest,
and exactly to the place where the wood had been cut. When Thumbling saw
his father, he cried to him, "See, father, here I am with the cart; now
take me down." The father got hold of the horse with his left hand, and
with the right took his little son out of the ear. Thumbling sat down
quite merrily on a straw, but when the two strange men saw him, they did
not know what to say for astonishment. Then one of them took the other
aside and said, "Hark, the little fellow would make our fortune if we
exhibited him in a large town, for money. We will buy him." They went to
the peasant and said, "Sell us the little man. He shall be well treated
with us." "No," replied the father, "he is the apple of my eye, and all
the money in the world cannot buy him from me." Thumbling, however, when
he heard of the bargain, had crept up the folds of his father's coat,
placed himself on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear. "Father, do
give me away; I will soon come back again." Then the father parted with
him to the two men for a handsome bit of money. "Where do you want to
sit?" they said to him. "Oh, just set me on the rim of your hat, and
then I can walk backwards and forwards and look at the country, and
still not fall down." They did as he wished, and when Thumbling had
taken leave of his father, they went away with him. They walked until it
was dusk, and then the little fellow said, "Do take me down; I want to
come down." The man took his hat off, and put the little fellow on the
ground by the wayside, and he leapt and crept about a little between the
sods, and then he suddenly slipped into a mouse-hole which he had sought
out. "Good-evening, gentlemen, just go home without me," he cried to
them, and mocked them. They ran thither and stuck their sticks into the
mouse-hole, but it was all lost labor. Thumbling crept still farther in,
and as it soon became quite dark, they were forced to go home with their
vexation and their empty purses.

When Thumbling saw that they were gone, he crept back out of the
subterranean passage. "It is so dangerous to walk on the ground in the
dark," said he; "how easily a neck or a leg is broken!" Fortunately, he
knocked against an empty snail-shell. "Thank God!" said he. "In that I
can pass the night in safety," and got into it. Not long afterwards,
when he was just going to sleep, he heard two men go by, and one of them
was saying, "How shall we contrive to get hold of the rich pastor's
silver and gold?" "I could tell you that," cried Thumbling, interrupting
them. "What was that?" said one of the thieves in a fright; "I heard
some one speaking." They stood still listening, and Thumbling spoke
again and said, "Take me with you, and I'll help you."

"But where are you?" "Just look on the ground, and observe from where my
voice comes," he replied. There the thieves at length found him, and
lifted him up. "You little imp, how will you help us?" they said. "A
great deal," said he; "I will creep into the pastor's room through the
iron bars, and will reach out to you whatever you want to have." "Come,
then," they said, "and we will see what you can do." When they got to
the pastor's house, Thumbling crept into the room, but instantly cried
out with all his might, "Do you want to have everything that is here?"
The thieves were alarmed, and said, "But do speak softly, so as not to
waken any one!" Thumbling, however, behaved as if he had not understood
this, and cried again, "What do you want? Do you want to have everything
that is here?" The cook, who slept in the next room, heard this and sat
up in bed, and listened. The thieves, however, had in their fright run
some distance away, but at last they took courage, and thought, "The
little rascal wants to mock us." They came back and whispered to him,
"Come, be serious, and reach something out to us." Then Thumbling again
cried as loudly as he could, "I really will give you everything, only
put your hands in." The maid who was listening, heard this quite
distinctly, and jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. The thieves
took flight, and ran as if the Wild Huntsman were behind them, but as
the maid could not see anything, she went to strike a light. When she
came to the place with it, Thumbling, unperceived, hid himself in the
granary, and the maid, after she had examined every corner and found
nothing, lay down in her bed again, and believed that, after all, she
had only been dreaming with open eyes and ears.

Thumbling had climbed up among the hay and found a beautiful place to
sleep in: there he intended to rest until day, and then go home again to
his parents. But he had other things to go through. Truly there is much
affliction and misery in this world! When day dawned, the maid arose
from her bed to feed the cows. Her first walk was into the barn, where
she laid hold of an armful of hay, and precisely that very one in which
poor Thumbling was lying asleep. He, however, was sleeping so soundly
that he was aware of nothing, and did not awake until he was in the
mouth of the cow, who had picked him up with the hay. "Ah, heavens!"
cried he, "how have I got into the fulling mill?" but he soon discovered
where he was. Then it was necessary to be careful not to let himself go
between the teeth and be dismembered, but he was nevertheless forced to
slip down into the stomach with the hay. "In this little room the
windows are forgotten," said he, "and no sun shines in, neither will a
candle be brought." His quarters were especially unpleasing to him, and
the worst was, more and more hay was always coming in by the door, and
the space grew less and less. Then, at length in his anguish, he cried
as loud as he could, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder."
The maid was just milking the cow, and when she heard some one speaking,
and saw no one, and perceived that it was the same voice that she had
heard in the night, she was so terrified that she slipped off her stool,
and spilt the milk. She ran in the greatest haste to her master, and
said, "Oh, heavens, pastor, the cow has been speaking!" "You are mad,"
replied the pastor; but he went himself to the byre to see what was
there. Hardly, however, had he set his foot inside than Thumbling again
cried, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder." Then the
pastor himself was alarmed, and thought that an evil spirit had gone
into the cow, and ordered her to be killed. She was killed, but the
stomach, in which Thumbling was, was thrown on the midden. Thumbling had
great difficulty in working his way out; however, he succeeded so far as
to get some room, but, just as he was going to thrust his head out, a
new misfortune occurred. A hungry wolf ran thither, and swallowed the
whole stomach at one gulp. Thumbling did not lose courage. "Perhaps,"
thought he, "the wolf will listen to what I have got to say," and he
called to him from out of his stomach, "Dear wolf, I know of a
magnificent feast for you."

"Where is it to be had?" said the wolf.

"In such and such a house; you must creep into it through the
kitchen-sink; you will find cakes, and bacon, and sausages, and as much
of them as you can eat," and he described to him exactly his father's
house. The wolf did not require to be told this twice, squeezed himself
in at night through the sink, and ate to his heart's content in the
larder. When he had eaten his fill, he wanted to go out again, but he
had become so big that he could not go out by the same way. Thumbling
had reckoned on this, and now began to make a violent noise in the wolfs
body, and raged and screamed as loudly as he could. "Will you be quiet,"
said the wolf; "you will waken up the people!" "Eh, what," replied the
little fellow, "you have eaten your fill, and I will make merry
likewise," and began once more to scream with all his strength. At last
his father and mother were aroused by it, and ran to the room and looked
in through the opening in the door. When they saw that a wolf was
inside, they ran away, and the husband fetched his axe, and the wife the
scythe. "Stay behind," said the man, when they entered the room. "When I
have given him a blow, if he is not killed by it, you must cut him down
and hew his body to pieces." Then Thumbling heard his parents' voices,
and cried, "Dear father, I am here; I am in the wolf's body." Said the
father, full of joy, "Thank God, our dear child has found us again," and
bade the woman take away her scythe, that Thumbling might not be hurt
with it. After that he raised his arm, and struck the wolf such a blow
on his head that he fell down dead, and then they got knives and
scissors and cut his body open, and drew the little fellow forth. "Ah,"
said the father, "what sorrow we have gone through for your sake." "Yes,
father, I have gone about the world a great deal. Thank heaven, I
breathe fresh air again!" "Where have you been, then?" "Ah, father, I
have been in a mouse's hole, in a cow's stomach, and then in a wolf's;
now I will stay with you." "And we will not sell you again; no, not for
all the riches in the world," said his parents, and they embraced and
kissed their dear Thumbling.


Ning Vs. Spruz Tags: blog funny money plenty tony bling sting ching ring sing ding ping rang chang

Many people have started communities on the popular network creation site Ning since its inception. On April 15th they announced they would no longer offer their free services. Realize this isn’t the end of Ning as they point out

The tens of thousands of you who already use our paid service represent over 75% of our traffic

So I imagine most of the popular networks you belong to on Ning will remain in place.

However, for the other 25% that might navigate elsewhere you have several options. I’ve yet to see a good breakdown of some of the better free Ning alternatives out there so I thought I would give it a shot. I found most of these sites in the comments and blog posts of other despaired Ning network creators. I’ve also tried to track down these other networks reactions to Ning’s announcement. Hopefully this will help you with your own transition.

Spruz seems to be the network of choice for most ex-ningers. I’ve read several reports of great up time and quality service. Spruz seems to have everything Ning has and a few extras that make it somewhat unique. I’ve seen users specifically boast about its file sharing capabilities.

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