Short Story Classics by English Authors

Short Story Classics by English Authors

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Short Story Classics by English Authors

Short Story Classics by English Authors

Read FREE!

Excerpt

A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Excerpt

It was late in November, 1456. The snow fell over Paris with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices; sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake descended out of the black night air, silent, circuitous, interminable. To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from. Master Francis Villon had propounded an alternative that afternoon, at a tavern window: was it only pagan Jupiter plucking geese upon Olympus? or were the holy angels moulting? He was only a poor Master of Arts, he went on; and as the question somewhat touched upon divinity, he durst not venture to conclude. A silly old priest from Montargis, who was among the company, treated the young rascal to a bottle of wine in honour of the jest and grimaces with which it was accompanied, and swore on his own white beard that he had been just such another irreverent dog when he was Villon's age.

A LEAF IN THE STORM BY OUIDA

Excerpt

The Berceau de Dieu was a little village in the valley of the Seine. As a lark drops its nest among the grasses, so a few peasant people had dropped their little farms and cottages amid the great green woods on the winding river. It was a pretty place, with one steep, stony street, shady with poplars and with elms; quaint houses, about whose thatch a cloud of white and gray pigeons fluttered all day long; a little aged chapel with a conical red roof; and great barns covered with ivy and thick creepers, red and purple, and lichens that were yellow in the sun. All around it were the broad, flowering meadows, with the sleek cattle of Normandy fattening in them, and the sweet dim forests where the young men and maidens went on every holy day and feast-day in the summer-time to seek for wood-anemones, and lilies of the pools, and the wild campanula, and the fresh dog-rose, and all the boughs and grasses that made their house-doors like garden bowers, and seemed to take the cushat's note and the linnet's song into their little temple of God.

THE TRAVELLER'S STORY OF A TERRIBLY STRANGE BED by WILKIE COLLINS

Excerpt

Before I begin, by the aid of my wife's patient attention and ready pen, to relate any of the stories which I have heard at various times from persons whose likenesses I have been employed to take, it will not be amiss if I try to secure the reader's interest in the following pages by briefly explaining how I became possessed of the narrative matter which they contain.Of myself I have nothing to say, but that I have followed the profession of a travelling portraitpainter for the last fifteen years. The pursuit of my calling has not only led me all through England, but has taken me twice to Scotland and once to Ireland. In moving from district to district, I am never guided beforehand by any settled plan. Sometimes the letters of recommendation which I get from persons who are satisfied with the work I have done for them determine the direction in which I travel. Sometimes I hear of a new neighbourhood in which there is no resident artist of ability, and remove thither on speculation. Sometimes my friends among the picture-dealers say a good word on my behalf to their rich customers, and so pave the way for me in the large towns.

MICHEL LORIO'S CROSS BY HESBA STRETTON

Excerpt

In the southwest point of Normandy, separated from Brittany only by a narrow and straight river, like the formal canals of Holland, stands the curious granite rock which is called the Mont St. Michel. It is an isolated peak, rising abruptly out of a vast plain of sand to the height of nearly four hundred feet, and so precipitous toward the west that scarcely a root of grass finds soil enough in its weather-beaten clefts. At the very summit is built that wonderful church, the rich architecture and flying buttresses of which strike the eye leagues and leagues away, either on the sea or the mainland. Below the church, and supporting it by a 9solid masonry, is a vast pile formerly a fortress castle, and prison; with caverns and dungeons hewn out of the living rock, and vaulted halls and solemn crypts; all desolate and solitary now, except when a party of pilgrims or tourists pass through them, ushered by a guide. Still lower down the rock, along its eastern and southern face, there winds a dark and narrow street, with odd, antique houses on either side. The only conveyance that can pass along it is the water-cart . . .

A PERILOUS AMOUR by S. J. WEYMAN

Excerpt

Such in brief were the reasons which would have led me, had I followed the promptings of my own sagacity, to oppose the return of the Jesuits. It remains for me only to add that these arguments lost all their weight when set in the balance against the safety of my beloved master. To this plea the king himself for once condescended, and found those who were most strenuous to dissuade him the least able to refute it; since the more a man abhorred the Jesuits, the more ready he was to allow that the king's life could not be safe from their practices while the edict against them remained in force. The support which I gave to the king on this occasion exposed me to the utmost odium of my co-religionists, and was in later times ill-requited by the order. But a remarkable incident that occurred while the matter was still under debate, and which I now for the first time make public, proved beyond question the wisdom of my conduct.

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