Voxle.club is a way to practice reading aloud, get into the habit of reading, or find larger works to read.
I created Voxle.club so that I could conveniently read something brief every day as a voice-acting exercise. There are no ads, no marketing scripts running in the background, and no distractions on this site.
I hope you find it fun and useful.
Here, O my heart, let us burn the dear dreams that are dead,
Here in this wood let us fashion a funeral pyre
Of fallen white petals and leaves that are mellow and red,
Here let us burn them in noon's flaming torches of fire.
We are weary, my heart, we are weary, so long we have borne
The heavy loved burden of dreams that are dead, let us rest,
Let us scatter their ashes away, for a while let us mourn;
We will rest, O my heart, till the shadows are gray in the west.
But soon we must rise, O my heart, we must wander again
Into the war of the world and the strife of the throng;
Let us rise, O my heart, let us gather the dreams that remain,
We will conquer the sorrow of life with the sorrow of song.
I DWELL in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.
O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.
I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;
The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.
It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me—
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.
They are tireless folk, but slow and sad,
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.
OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.
Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”
“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not noticeably developed. “You clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”
“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”
“Mind you don’t drop leaves all over the stairs then. I’m going on a meeting of the Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne, and I won’t likely be home before dark. You’ll have to get Matthew and Jerry their supper, so mind you don’t forget to put the tea to draw until you sit down at the table as you did last time.”
“It was dreadful of me to forget,” said Anne apologetically, “but that was the afternoon I was trying to think of a name for Violet Vale and it crowded other things out. Matthew was so good. He never scolded a bit. He put the tea down himself and said we could wait awhile as well as not. And I told him a lovely fairy story while we were waiting, so he didn’t find the time long at all. It was a beautiful fairy story, Marilla. I forgot the end of it, so I made up an end for it myself and Matthew said he couldn’t tell where the join came in.”
“Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to get up and have dinner in the middle of the night. But you keep your wits about you this time. And—I don’t really know if I’m doing right—it may make you more addlepated than ever—but you can ask Diana to come over and spend the afternoon with you and have tea here.”
“Oh, Marilla!” Anne clasped her hands. “How perfectly lovely! You are able to imagine things after all or else you’d never have understood how I’ve longed for that very thing. It will seem so nice and grown-uppish. No fear of my forgetting to put the tea to draw when I have company. Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud spray tea set?”
“No, indeed! The rosebud tea set! Well, what next? You know I never use that except for the minister or the Aids. You’ll put down the old brown tea set. But you can open the little yellow crock of cherry preserves. It’s time it was being used anyhow—I believe it’s beginning to work. And you can cut some fruit cake and have some of the cookies and snaps.”
“I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and pouring out the tea,” said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. “And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she doesn’t but of course I’ll ask her just as if I didn’t know. And then pressing her to take another piece of fruit cake and another helping of preserves. Oh, Marilla, it’s a wonderful sensation just to think of it. Can I take her into the spare room to lay off her hat when she comes? And then into the parlor to sit?”
“No. The sitting room will do for you and your company. But there’s a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the church social the other night. It’s on the second shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like, and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for I daresay Matthew ‘ll be late coming in to tea since he’s hauling potatoes to the vessel.”
Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad’s Bubble and up the spruce path to Orchard Slope, to ask Diana to tea. As a result just after Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came over, dressed in her second-best dress and looking exactly as it is proper to look when asked out to tea. At other times she was wont to run into the kitchen without knocking; but now she knocked primly at the front door. And when Anne, dressed in her second best, as primly opened it, both little girls shook hands as gravely as if they had never met before. This unnatural solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the east gable to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the sitting room, toes in position.
“How is your mother?” inquired Anne politely, just as if she had not seen Mrs. Barry picking apples that morning in excellent health and spirits.
“She is very well, thank you. I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling potatoes to the lily sands this afternoon, is he?” said Diana, who had ridden down to Mr. Harmon Andrews’s that morning in Matthew’s cart.
“Yes. Our potato crop is very good this year. I hope your father’s crop is good too.”
“It is fairly good, thank you. Have you picked many of your apples yet?”
“Oh, ever so many,” said Anne forgetting to be dignified and jumping up quickly. “Let’s go out to the orchard and get some of the Red Sweetings, Diana. Marilla says we can have all that are left on the tree. Marilla is a very generous woman. She said we could have fruit cake and cherry preserves for tea. But it isn’t good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them to eat, so I won’t tell you what she said we could have to drink. Only it begins with an R and a C and it’s bright red color. I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color.”
We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They consisted of a couple of comfortable bed-rooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain was concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession. That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and portmanteaus. For a day or two we were busily employed in unpacking and laying out our property to the best advantage. That done, we gradually began to settle down and to accommodate ourselves to our new surroundings.
Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest portions of the City. Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.
As the weeks went by, my interest in him and my curiosity as to his aims in life, gradually deepened and increased. His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. His hands were invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments.
The reader may set me down as a hopeless busybody, when I confess how much this man stimulated my curiosity, and how often I endeavoured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned himself. Before pronouncing judgment, however, be it remembered, how objectless was my life, and how little there was to engage my attention. My health forbade me from venturing out unless the weather was exceptionally genial, and I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence. Under these circumstances, I eagerly hailed the little mystery which hung around my companion, and spent much of my time in endeavouring to unravel it.
He was not studying medicine. He had himself, in reply to a question, confirmed Stamford’s opinion upon that point. Neither did he appear to have pursued any course of reading which might fit him for a degree in science or any other recognized portal which would give him an entrance into the learned world. Yet his zeal for certain studies was remarkable, and within eccentric limits his knowledge was so extraordinarily ample and minute that his observations have fairly astounded me. Surely no man would work so hard or attain such precise information unless he had some definite end in view. Desultory readers are seldom remarkable for the exactness of their learning. No man burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so.
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”
“To forget it!”
“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
“But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
I was on the point of asking him what that work might be, but something in his manner showed me that the question would be an unwelcome one. I pondered over our short conversation, however, and endeavoured to draw my deductions from it. He said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was exceptionally well-informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them down. I could not help smiling at the document when I had completed it. It ran in this way—
SHERLOCK HOLMES—his limits.
1. Knowledge of Literature.—Nil.
5. Botany.—Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Geology.—Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
8. Anatomy.—Accurate, but unsystematic.
9. Sensational Literature.—Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.
When I had got so far in my list I threw it into the fire in despair. “If I can only find what the fellow is driving at by reconciling all these accomplishments, and discovering a calling which needs them all,” I said to myself, “I may as well give up the attempt at once.”
It seemed to be the middle of the night when I was awakened by Lawrence Cavendish. He had a candle in his hand, and the agitation of his face told me at once that something was seriously wrong.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, sitting up in bed, and trying to collect my scattered thoughts.
“We are afraid my mother is very ill. She seems to be having some kind of fit. Unfortunately she has locked herself in.”
“I’ll come at once.”
I sprang out of bed; and, pulling on a dressing-gown, followed Lawrence along the passage and the gallery to the right wing of the house.
John Cavendish joined us, and one or two of the servants were standing round in a state of awe-stricken excitement. Lawrence turned to his brother.
“What do you think we had better do?”
Never, I thought, had his indecision of character been more apparent.
John rattled the handle of Mrs. Inglethorp’s door violently, but with no effect. It was obviously locked or bolted on the inside. The whole household was aroused by now. The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the room. Clearly something must be done.
“Try going through Mr. Inglethorp’s room, sir,” cried Dorcas. “Oh, the poor mistress!”
Suddenly I realized that Alfred Inglethorp was not with us—that he alone had given no sign of his presence. John opened the door of his room. It was pitch dark, but Lawrence was following with the candle, and by its feeble light we saw that the bed had not been slept in, and that there was no sign of the room having been occupied.
We went straight to the connecting door. That, too, was locked or bolted on the inside. What was to be done?
“Oh, dear, sir,” cried Dorcas, wringing her hands, “what ever shall we do?”
“We must try and break the door in, I suppose. It’ll be a tough job, though. Here, let one of the maids go down and wake Baily and tell him to go for Dr. Wilkins at once. Now then, we’ll have a try at the door. Half a moment, though, isn’t there a door into Miss Cynthia’s rooms?”
“Yes, sir, but that’s always bolted. It’s never been undone.”
“Well, we might just see.”
He ran rapidly down the corridor to Cynthia’s room. Mary Cavendish was there, shaking the girl—who must have been an unusually sound sleeper—and trying to wake her.
In a moment or two he was back.
“No good. That’s bolted too. We must break in the door. I think this one is a shade less solid than the one in the passage.”
We strained and heaved together. The framework of the door was solid, and for a long time it resisted our efforts, but at last we felt it give beneath our weight, and finally, with a resounding crash, it was burst open.
We stumbled in together, Lawrence still holding his candle. Mrs. Inglethorp was lying on the bed, her whole form agitated by violent convulsions, in one of which she must have overturned the table beside her. As we entered, however, her limbs relaxed, and she fell back upon the pillows.
John strode across the room, and lit the gas. Turning to Annie, one of the housemaids, he sent her downstairs to the dining-room for brandy. Then he went across to his mother whilst I unbolted the door that gave on the corridor.
I turned to Lawrence, to suggest that I had better leave them now that there was no further need of my services, but the words were frozen on my lips. Never have I seen such a ghastly look on any man’s face. He was white as chalk, the candle he held in his shaking hand was sputtering onto the carpet, and his eyes, petrified with terror, or some such kindred emotion, stared fixedly over my head at a point on the further wall. It was as though he had seen something that turned him to stone. I instinctively followed the direction of his eyes, but I could see nothing unusual. The still feebly flickering ashes in the grate, and the row of prim ornaments on the mantelpiece, were surely harmless enough.
The violence of Mrs. Inglethorp’s attack seemed to be passing. She was able to speak in short gasps.
“Better now—very sudden—stupid of me—to lock myself in.”
A shadow fell on the bed and, looking up, I saw Mary Cavendish standing near the door with her arm around Cynthia. She seemed to be supporting the girl, who looked utterly dazed and unlike herself. Her face was heavily flushed, and she yawned repeatedly.
“Poor Cynthia is quite frightened,” said Mrs. Cavendish in a low clear voice. She herself, I noticed, was dressed in her white land smock. Then it must be later than I thought. I saw that a faint streak of daylight was showing through the curtains of the windows, and that the clock on the mantelpiece pointed to close upon five o’clock.
A strangled cry from the bed startled me. A fresh access of pain seized the unfortunate old lady. The convulsions were of a violence terrible to behold. Everything was confusion. We thronged round her, powerless to help or alleviate. A final convulsion lifted her from the bed, until she appeared to rest upon her head and her heels, with her body arched in an extraordinary manner. In vain Mary and John tried to administer more brandy. The moments flew. Again the body arched itself in that peculiar fashion.
At that moment, Dr. Bauerstein pushed his way authoritatively into the room. For one instant he stopped dead, staring at the figure on the bed, and, at the same instant, Mrs. Inglethorp cried out in a strangled voice, her eyes fixed on the doctor:
“Alfred—Alfred——” Then she fell back motionless on the pillows.
With a stride, the doctor reached the bed, and seizing her arms worked them energetically, applying what I knew to be artificial respiration. He issued a few short sharp orders to the servants. An imperious wave of his hand drove us all to the door. We watched him, fascinated, though I think we all knew in our hearts that it was too late, and that nothing could be done now. I could see by the expression on his face that he himself had little hope.
Finally he abandoned his task, shaking his head gravely. At that moment, we heard footsteps outside, and Dr. Wilkins, Mrs. Inglethorp’s own doctor, a portly, fussy little man, came bustling in.
In a few words Dr. Bauerstein explained how he had happened to be passing the lodge gates as the car came out, and had run up to the house as fast as he could, whilst the car went on to fetch Dr. Wilkins. With a faint gesture of the hand, he indicated the figure on the bed.
“Ve—ry sad. Ve—ry sad,” murmured Dr. Wilkins. “Poor dear lady. Always did far too much—far too much—against my advice. I warned her. Her heart was far from strong. ‘Take it easy,’ I said to her, ‘Take—it—easy’. But no—her zeal for good works was too great. Nature rebelled. Na—ture—re—belled.”
Dr. Bauerstein, I noticed, was watching the local doctor narrowly. He still kept his eyes fixed on him as he spoke.
“The convulsions were of a peculiar violence, Dr. Wilkins. I am sorry you were not here in time to witness them. They were quite—tetanic in character.”
“Ah!” said Dr. Wilkins wisely.
“I should like to speak to you in private,” said Dr. Bauerstein. He turned to John. “You do not object?”
We all trooped out into the corridor, leaving the two doctors alone, and I heard the key turned in the lock behind us.
We went slowly down the stairs. I was violently excited. I have a certain talent for deduction, and Dr. Bauerstein’s manner had started a flock of wild surmises in my mind. Mary Cavendish laid her hand upon my arm.
“What is it? Why did Dr. Bauerstein seem so—peculiar?”
I looked at her.
“Do you know what I think?”
“Listen!” I looked round, the others were out of earshot. I lowered my voice to a whisper. “I believe she has been poisoned! I’m certain Dr. Bauerstein suspects it.”
Lady Hunstanton. Well, Mr. Kelvil, have you got through your work?
Kelvil. I have finished my writing for the day, Lady Hunstanton. It has been an arduous task. The demands on the time of a public man are very heavy nowadays, very heavy indeed. And I don’t think they meet with adequate recognition.
Lady Caroline. John, have you got your overshoes on?
Sir John. Yes, my love.
Lady Caroline. I think you had better come over here, John. It is more sheltered.
Sir John. I am quite comfortable, Caroline.
Lady Caroline. I think not, John. You had better sit beside me. [Sir John rises and goes across.]
Lady Stutfield. And what have you been writing about this morning, Mr. Kelvil?
Kelvil. On the usual subject, Lady Stutfield. On Purity.
Lady Stutfield. That must be such a very, very interesting thing to write about.
Kelvil. It is the one subject of really national importance, nowadays, Lady Stutfield. I purpose addressing my constituents on the question before Parliament meets. I find that the poorer classes of this country display a marked desire for a higher ethical standard.
Lady Stutfield. How quite, quite nice of them.
Lady Caroline. Are you in favour of women taking part in politics, Mr. Kettle?
Sir John. Kelvil, my love, Kelvil.
Kelvil. The growing influence of women is the one reassuring thing in our political life, Lady Caroline. Women are always on the side of morality, public and private.
Lady Stutfield. It is so very, very gratifying to hear you say that.
Lady Hunstanton. Ah, yes!—the moral qualities in women—that is the important thing. I am afraid, Caroline, that dear Lord Illingworth doesn’t value the moral qualities in women as much as he should.
[Enter Lord Illingworth.]
Lady Stutfield. The world says that Lord Illingworth is very, very wicked.
Lord Illingworth. But what world says that, Lady Stutfield? It must be the next world. This world and I are on excellent terms. [Sits down beside Mrs. Allonby.]
Lady Stutfield. Every one I know says you are very, very wicked.
Lord Illingworth. It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.
Lady Hunstanton. Dear Lord Illingworth is quite hopeless, Lady Stutfield. I have given up trying to reform him. It would take a Public Company with a Board of Directors and a paid Secretary to do that. But you have the secretary already, Lord Illingworth, haven’t you? Gerald Arbuthnot has told us of his good fortune; it is really most kind of you.
Lord Illingworth. Oh, don’t say that, Lady Hunstanton. Kind is a dreadful word. I took a great fancy to young Arbuthnot the moment I met him, and he’ll be of considerable use to me in something I am foolish enough to think of doing.
Lady Hunstanton. He is an admirable young man. And his mother is one of my dearest friends. He has just gone for a walk with our pretty American. She is very pretty, is she not?
Lady Caroline. Far too pretty. These American girls carry off all the good matches. Why can’t they stay in their own country? They are always telling us it is the Paradise of women.
Lord Illingworth. It is, Lady Caroline. That is why, like Eve, they are so extremely anxious to get out of it.
Lady Caroline. Who are Miss Worsley’s parents?
Lord Illingworth. American women are wonderfully clever in concealing their parents.
Lady Hunstanton. My dear Lord Illingworth, what do you mean? Miss Worsley, Caroline, is an orphan. Her father was a very wealthy millionaire or philanthropist, or both, I believe, who entertained my son quite hospitably, when he visited Boston. I don’t know how he made his money, originally.
Kelvil. I fancy in American dry goods.
Lady Hunstanton. What are American dry goods?
Lord Illingworth. American novels.
Lady Hunstanton. How very singular! . . . Well, from whatever source her large fortune came, I have a great esteem for Miss Worsley. She dresses exceedingly well. All Americans do dress well. They get their clothes in Paris.
Mrs. Allonby. They say, Lady Hunstanton, that when good Americans die they go to Paris.
Lady Hunstanton. Indeed? And when bad Americans die, where do they go to?
Lord Illingworth. Oh, they go to America.
Kelvil. I am afraid you don’t appreciate America, Lord Illingworth. It is a very remarkable country, especially considering its youth.
Lord Illingworth. The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years. To hear them talk one would imagine they were in their first childhood. As far as civilisation goes they are in their second.
HYACINTH. [In a tone of agony.] I wish I had never seen Cloon.
FARDY. What is on you?
HYACINTH. I wish I had never left Carrow. I wish I had been drowned the first day I thought of it, and I'd be better off.
FARDY. What is it ails you?
HYACINTH. I wouldn't for the best pound ever I had be in this place to-day.
FARDY. I don't know what you are talking about.
HYACINTH. To have left Carrow, if it was a poor place, where I had my comrades, and an odd spree, and a game of cards—and a coursing-match coming on, and I promised a new greyhound from the city of Cork. I'll die in this place, the way I am, I'll be too much closed in.
FARDY. Sure it mightn't be as bad as what you think.
HYACINTH. Will you tell me, I ask you, what way can I undo it?
FARDY. What is it you are wanting to undo?
HYACINTH. Will you tell me what way can I get rid of my character?
FARDY. To get rid of it, is it?
HYACINTH. That is what I said. Aren't you after hearing the great character they are after putting on me?
FARDY. That is a good thing to have.
HYACINTH. It is not. It's the worst in the world. If I hadn't it, I wouldn't be like a prize marigold at a show, with every person praising me.
FARDY. If I had it, I wouldn't be like a head in a barrel, with every person making hits at me.
HYACINTH. If I hadn't it, I wouldn't be shoved into a room with all the clergy watching me and the police in the back yard.
FARDY. If I had it, I wouldn't be but a message-carrier now, and a clapper scaring birds in the summer-time.
HYACINTH. If I hadn't it, I wouldn't be wearing this button and brought up for an example at the meeting.
FARDY. [Whistles.] Maybe you're not so, what those papers make you out to be?
HYACINTH. How would I be what they make me out to be? Was there ever any person of that sort since the world was a world, unless it might be Saint Antony of Padua looking down from the chapel wall? If it is like that I was, isn't it in Mount Melleray I would be, or with the friars at Esker? Why would I be living in the world at all, or doing the world's work?
FARDY. [Taking up parcel.] Who would think, now, there would be so much lies in a small place like Carrow?
HYACINTH. It was my mother's cousin did it. He said I was not reared for laboring—he gave me a new suit and bid me never to come back again. I daren't go back to face him—the neighbors knew my mother had a long family—bad luck to them the day they gave me these. [Tears letters and scatters them.] I'm done with testimonials. They won't be here to bear witness against me.
FARDY. The sergeant thought them to be great. Sure he has the samples of them in his pocket. There's not one in the town but will know before morning that you are the next thing to an earthly saint.
HYACINTH. [Stamping.] I'll stop their mouths. I'll show them I can be a terror for badness. I'll do some injury. I'll commit some crime. The first thing I'll do I'll go and get drunk. If I never did it before I'll do it now. I'll get drunk—then I'll make an assault—I tell you I'd think as little of taking a life as of blowing out a candle.
FARDY. If you get drunk you are done for. Sure that will be held up after as an excuse for any breaking of the law.
HYACINTH. I will break the law. Drunk or sober, I'll break it. I'll do something that will have no excuse. What would you say is the worst crime that any man can do?
FARDY. I don't know. I heard the sergeant saying one time it was to obstruct the police in the discharge of their duty——
HYACINTH. That won't do. It's a patriot I would be then, worse than before, with my picture in the weeklies. It's a red crime I must commit that will make all respectable people quit minding me. What can I do? Search your mind now.
FARDY. It's what I heard the old people saying there could be no worse crime than to steal a sheep——
HYACINTH. I'll steal a sheep—or a cow—or a horse—if that will leave me the way I was before.
FARDY. It's maybe in jail it will leave you.
HYACINTH. I don't care—I'll confess—I'll tell why I did it—I give you my word I would as soon be picking oakum or breaking stones as to be perched in the daylight the same as that bird, and all the town chirruping to me or bidding me chirrup——
FARDY. There is reason in that, now.
HYACINTH. Help me, will you?
FARDY. Well, if it is to steal a sheep you want, you haven't far to go.
HYACINTH. [Looking around wildly.] Where is it? I see no sheep.
FARDY. Look around you.
HYACINTH. I see no living thing but that thrush——
FARDY. Did I say it was living? What is that hanging on Quirke's rack?
HYACINTH. It's [fingers it] a sheep, sure enough——
FARDY. Well, what ails you that you can't bring it away?
HYACINTH. It's a dead one——
FARDY. What matter if it is?
HYACINTH. If it was living I could drive it before me——
FARDY. You could. Is it to your own lodging you would drive it? Sure every one would take it to be a pet you brought from Carrow.
HYACINTH. I suppose they might.
FARDY. Miss Joyce sending in for news of it and it bleating behind the bed.
HYACINTH. [Distracted.] Stop! stop!
MRS. DELANE. [From upper window.] Fardy! Are you there, Fardy Farrell?
FARDY. I am, ma'am.
MRS. DELANE. [From window.] Look and tell me is that the telegraph I hear ticking?
FARDY. [Looking in at door.] It is, ma'am.
MRS. DELANE. Then botheration to it, and I not dressed or undressed. Wouldn't you say, now, it's to annoy me it is calling me down. I'm coming! I'm coming!
FARDY. Hurry on, now! Hurry! She'll be coming out on you. If you are going to do it, do it, and if you are not, let it alone.
HYACINTH. I'll do it! I'll do it!
FARDY. [Lifting the sheep on his back.] I'll give you a hand with it.
HYACINTH. [Goes a step or two and turns round.] You told me no place where I could hide it.
FARDY. You needn't go far. There is the church beyond at the side of the square. Go round to the ditch behind the wall—there's nettles in it.
HYACINTH. That'll do.
FARDY. She's coming out—run! run!
HYACINTH. [Runs a step or two.] It's slipping!
FARDY. Hoist it up. I'll give it a hoist!
[Halvey runs out.
MRS. DELANE. [Calling out.] What are you doing, Fardy Farrell? Is it idling you are?
FARDY. Waiting I am, ma'am, for the message——
MRS. DELANE. Never mind the message yet. Who said it was ready? [Going to door.] Go ask for the loan of—no, but ask news of—Here, now go bring that bag of Mr. Halvey's to the lodging Miss Joyce has taken——
FARDY. I will, ma'am. [Takes bag and goes out.
MRS. DELANE. [Coming out with a telegram in her hand.] Nobody here? [Looks round and calls cautiously.] Mr. Quirke! Mr. Quirke! James Quirke!
MR. QUIRKE. [Looking out of his upper window, with soap-suddy face.] What is it, Mrs. Delane?
MRS. DELANE. [Beckoning.] Come down here till I tell you.
MR. QUIRKE. I cannot do that. I'm not fully shaved.
MRS. DELANE. You'd come if you knew the news I have.
MR. QUIRKE. Tell it to me now. I'm not so supple as I was.
MRS. DELANE. Whisper now, have you an enemy in any place?
MR. QUIRKE. It's likely I may have. A man in business——
MRS. DELANE. I was thinking you had one.
MR. QUIRKE. Why would you think that at this time more than any other time?
MRS. DELANE. If you could know what is in this envelope you would know that, James Quirke.
MR. QUIRKE. Is that so? And what, now, is there in it?
MRS. DELANE. Who do you think now is it addressed to?
MR. QUIRKE. How would I know that, and I not seeing it?
MRS. DELANE. That is true. Well, it is a message from Dublin Castle to the sergeant of police!
MR. QUIRKE. To Sergeant Carden, is it?
MRS. DELANE. It is. And it concerns yourself.
MR. QUIRKE. Myself, is it? What accusation can they be bringing against me? I'm a peaceable man.
MRS. DELANE. Wait till you hear.
MR. QUIRKE. Maybe they think I was in that moonlighting case——
MRS. DELANE. That is not it——
MR. QUIRKE. I was not in it—I was but in the neighboring field—cutting up a dead cow, that those never had a hand in——
MRS. DELANE. You're out of it——
MR. QUIRKE. They had their faces blackened. There is no man can say I recognized them.
MRS. DELANE. That's not what they're saying——
MR. QUIRKE. I'll swear I did not hear their voices or know them if I did hear them.
MRS. DELANE. I tell you it has nothing to do with that. It might be better for you if it had.
MR. QUIRKE. What is it, so?
MRS. DELANE. It is an order to the sergeant, bidding him immediately to seize all suspicious meat in your house. There is an officer coming down. There are complaints from the Shannon Fort Barracks.
Something is awry with Voxle.club. It is time for a good book, methinks.
You are the picture of a practiced reader.
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