Short Stories

 

When I was twenty-seven years old, I was a mining-broker’s clerk in San Francisco, and an expert in all the details of stock traffic. I was alone in the world, and had nothing to depend upon but my wits and a clean reputation; but these were setting my feet in the road to eventual fortune, and I was content with the prospect.
My time was my own after the afternoon board, Saturdays, and I was accustomed to put it in on a little sail-boat on the bay. One day I ventured too far, and was carried out to sea. Just at nightfall, when hope was about gone, I was picked up by a small brig which was bound for London. It was a long and stormy voyage, and they made me work my passage without pay, as a common sailor. When I stepped ashore in London my clothes were ragged and shabby, and I had only a dollar in my pocket. This money fed and sheltered me twenty-four hours. During the next twenty-four I went without food and shelter.

About ten o’clock on the following morning, seedy and hungry, I was dragging myself along Portland Place, when a child that was passing, towed by a nurse-maid, tossed a luscious big pear—minus one bite—into the gutter. I stopped, of course, and fastened my desiring eye on that muddy treasure. My mouth watered for it, my stomach craved it, my whole being begged for it. But every time I made a move to get it some passing eye detected my purpose, and of course I straightened up then, and looked indifferent, and pretended that I hadn’t been thinking about the pear at all. This same thing kept happening and happening, and I couldn’t get the pear. I was just getting desperate enough to brave all the shame, and to seize it, when a window behind me was raised, and a gentleman spoke out of it, saying:
“Step in here, please.”

 

Read more: The million pound bank-note - English story of the month

 

Foreword:- "I'll be at charges for a looking-glass; And entertain a score or two of tailors." Richard III

My Dear Freda:

Because you are fond of fairytales, and have been ill, I have made you a story all for yourself--a new one that nobody has read before. And the queerest thing about it is--that I heard it in Gloucestershire, and that it is true--at least about the tailor, the waistcoat, and the "No more twist!" Christmas

Read more: The Tailor of Gloucester - English story of the month

 

One morning the old water-rat put his head out of his hole. He had bright beady eyes and stiff grey whiskers and his tail was like a long bit of black india-rubber. The little ducks were swimming about in the pond, looking just like a lot of yellow canaries, and their mother, who was pure white with real red legs, was trying to teach them how to stand on their heads in the water.

"You will never be in the best society unless you can stand on your heads," she kept saying to them; and every now and then she showed them how it was done, but the little ducks paid no attention to her. They were so young that they did not know what an advantage it is to be in society at all.
Read more: The Devoted Friend - English story of the month

 
 

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