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Selected Short Stories of the World

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Selected Short

Stories of the

WorldWorld Literature.

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Hashnu the Stonecutter A Japanese Story 

Hashnu the Stonecutter sat beside the highway cutting stone. It was hard work, and the sunshone hot upon him.

"Ah me!" said Hashnu, "if one only did not have to work all day. I would that I could sit and rest,and not have to ply this heavy mallet.

Just then there was a great commotion, and Hashnu saw a crowd of people coming up the road. When they drew nearer he noticed that one of them was the King. On his right side rodesoldiers, all arrayed in armor and ready to do his bidding, while on the left rode courtiers,seeking to serve him and win his favor.

 And Hashnu, watching, thought what a fine thing it would be to be a King, and to have soldiersto do his bidding, and courtiers to serve him, and he said:

"Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only a King could be."

 At once he heard a voice say: "Be thou the King."

Then in a moment Hashnu found that he was no longer the stonecutter, sitting beside thehighway with a heavy mallet in his hand, but the King, dressed in armor, riding in the midst of soldiers and courtiers, and all about him doing homage.

He rode very proudly for a while, and his subjects bowed low before him. But the armor washeavy, and the helmet pressed hard upon his brow, and his head throbbed with the weight of it.He was indeed weary and faint with the heat, because, though a King, the sun beat hot uponhim!

 And he said to himself: "Lo, I am the King, and yet the sun can make me faint and weary. I hadthought that to be a King was to be stronger than anything else, but the sun is stronger than theKing!"

 And as they rode further, and the sun still beat hard upon him, he said:

"Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only the sun could be!"

Then he heard a voice say: "Be thou the sun."

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 And in a moment he was no longer the King, riding among his courtiers, but the sun, blazinghigh in the heavens, shining hot upon the fields and the meadows. As he did not know how toshine, he allowed his rays to fall too fiercely upon the world, and grass and grain were dried upand withered, and men lamented because of the cruelty of the heat. But Hashnu thought he wasdoing great things, and was very proud, until a cloud came between him and the earth, so that

his rays no longer fell upon the fields and the cities of men.

 And Hashnu said: "Lo, I am the sun, and my rays fell upon the fields and the cities, and allacknowledge my power. But the cloud is stronger than the sun, for it shuts off my rays from theearth."

Then, because the cloud would not go, but became heavier and blacker, Hashnu lamented, andsaid:

"Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only the cloud could be."

 And in a moment he was no longer the sun, shining fiercely upon the earth, but the cloud, riding

in the sky, shutting off the rays of the sun, and pouring rain upon the fields and the meadows,filling the rivers and the streams to overflowing. But he did not know how to let down the rain

 wisely, and it fell too heavily, and the rivers rose high and destroyed the fields and the cities, andthe meadows were turned into swamps, and the grain rotted in the ground, and the wind blew,and trees were uprooted, and houses fell before it. But Hashnu cared for none of these things,for he thought he was doing very finely indeed.

But as he looked down upon the earth he saw that a rock beside the highway stood unmoved andfirm, for all of his raining and blowing. And he said: "For all I am strong, and can blow downtrees and destroy ities, and can pour my waters upon the earth and flood the fields and themeadows, yet does that rock defy my power. I, Hashnu, would be stronger than the rock!"

But the rock was unchanged, and Hashnu, lamenting, said:

"Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only the rock could be!"

Then he heard a voice say: "Be thou the rock."

 And in a moment he was no longer the cloud, with the wind blowing hard, and pouring waterupon the earth, but the rock, fixed and unmoved beside the highway. Now, at last, he felt that he

 was stronger than all. But even as he rejoiced, he felt the sharp point of a stonecutter's chisel,and heard the sound of his heavy mallet striking upon its head. Then he knew that, though the

 water had fallen upon the rock and been unable to change it, and the wind had blown hardagainst it and had no effect, yet would the stonecutter change and alter it, and make it take

 whatever shape he desired. And he said:

"Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only the stonecutter could be!"

 And he heard a voice say: "Be thou thyself."

Then Hashnu found himself again sitting beside the highway with a chisel in his hand, and amallet on the ground beside him, and the rock before him. And the King had gone by, and therays of the sun were now shadowed by the cloud, from which no rain fell, but only a grateful

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shade. And Hashnu said:

"The sun was stronger than the King, the cloud was stronger than the sun, the rock was strongerthan the cloud, but I, Hashnu, am stronger than all."

 And so he worked on, now well content to do each day his added task.

The Two Brothers An Egyptian Story 

There were once two brothers, Anpu was the older, Bata was the younger. Anpu had a wife, andowned a farm. Bata came to live with Anpu and his wife. Bata worked hard for his brother,plowing the fields, and harvesting the grain, and doing many other tasks. He was very good athis work. The animals would even speak to him.

One day Anpu announced that it was time to plow the fields and sow the seeds. And heinstructed his brother to take sacks of seed out to the fields. They spent the next few days

plowing and sowing seeds.

Then Anpu sent Bata back for more seeds. At Anpu's house, Bata found Anpu's wife fixing herhair. Bata said, "Get up and get me some seed, Anpu is waiting."

 Anpu's wife replied, "Get the seed yourself. I'm busy with my hair."

Bata found a large basket, and filled it with seed. And, he carried the basket through the house.

 Anpu's wife said, "What is the weight of that basket you carry."

Bata replied, "There are three sacks of wheat and two of barley."

She said, "How strong you are, and handsome. Stay with me and let us make love. And Anpu willnever know."

Bata replied in horror, "Anpu is like a father to me, and you are like a mother to me. I won't tellanyone of the evil words that you have said. And never let me hear them again." He picked uphis basket, and rushed out into the fields.

 When Anpu got back home, he realized that something was wrong. No fire had been lit, no foodhad been cooked, and his wife was in bed moaning and weeping. Her clothes were torn, and sheseemed to be bruised. Anpu demanded that she tell him what had happened.

She replied, "When your brother came to fetch the seed, he saw me fixing my hair. He tried tomake love to me. And I refused, saying, 'Is not Anpu like a father to you? And am I not like amother to you?' And he became angry, and beat me. And he said that he would hurt me more if Itold you what had happened. Oh Anpu, kill him for me, or I will surely die."

 Anpu was angry like a leopard. He took a spear, and hid behind the door of the cattle pen, waiting to kill his brother.

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 When the sun had gone down, Bata returned with the cattle. The first cow said to Bata, "Your brother hides with a spear, behind the door. And he plans to kill you. Run away while you can."

Bata would not believe the cow. But the second cow gave him the same warning. Then he saw his brother's feet behind the door. And he was afraid and ran away. Anpu chased him in great anger. As he ran, Bata called out to Ra, "O my good lord, who judges between the bad and the good,

save me."

 And Ra heard Bata's prayer, and caused a river to flow between them. The river was wide andfull of crocodiles. The two brothers stood on opposite banks of the river. Bata shouted to Anpu,"Ra delivers the wicked to the just. But I must leave you. Why did you try to kill me, withoutgiving me a chance to explain?" And Bata told his side of the story.

Then Bata took out his knife and cut himself, and he fell to the ground. And Anpu believed him,and was sick at heart. And he longed to be on the other side of the river, with his brother.

Bata spoke again, "I must go to the valley of cedars, to be healed. And I shall hide my heart in acedar tree. And when the cedar tree is cut down, I will be in danger of dying. If your beer turns

sour, you will know that I need your help. Come to the valley of cedars and search for my heart.Put my heart in a bowl of water. And I will come back to life again.

 Anpu promised to obey his brother, and went home. He killed his wife, and threw her body tothe dogs.

Bata traveled to the valley of cedars, and rested until his wound had healed. He hunted wild beasts and built a house for himself. And he hid his heart in the branches of a tree.

One day, the nine gods were walking in the valley. And they saw that Bata was lonely. And Raordered Khnum to make a wife for Bata, on his potters wheel. And when the gods breathed lifeinto her, they saw that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The seven Hathors

gathered to declare her fate, and said that she would die a sudden death.

Bata loved her. And he knew that whoever saw her would desire her. Every day, as he left to hunt wild animals, he warned her, "Stay in the house, or the sea may try to carry you away. And thereis little I could do to save you."

One day, when Bata had gone out to hunt, his wife grew bored and went out for a walk. And, asshe stood beneath the tree, the sea saw her, and surged up the valley to get her. She tried to flee.But the tree caught her by the hair. She escaped, leaving a lock of her hair in the tree.

The sea took the lock of hair, and carried it to Egypt, where the Nile took it. And the hair floatedto where the washermen of the King were washing the King's clothes. And the sweet-smellinghair caused the King's clothes to smell like perfume. And the King complained of this. Thishappened every day.

One day the overseer of the washermen saw the lock of hair caught in the reeds. He ordered thatit be brought to him. And he smelled its sweet smell.

 And he took the lock of hair to the King. And the King's advisers said, "This is a lock of hair froma daughter of Ra." And the King wanted to make this woman his Queen.

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The King sent many messengers to all lands. All returned to say that they had failed to find the woman. But one returned from the valley of the cedars to say that his companions had beenkilled by Bata, and that Bata's wife was the woman that he sought.

The King sent many soldiers to fetch Bata's wife. And with the soldiers, he sent a woman to give jewels to Bata's wife, and to tell her that the King wanted to make her a queen. Bata's wife told

this woman that Bata's heart was hidden in the tree, and that if the tree were cut down, Bata would die. And the soldiers cut down the tree. As the tree fell, Bata fell down dead. And thesoldiers chopped up the tree and dispersed the pieces.

 At the same moment that Bata died, Anpu's beer began to bubble and turn sour. And heimmediately put on his sandals, and grabbed his spear and his staff, and hastened to the valley of cedars.

There he found his brother dead, and he wept. But he remembered his brother's instruction andsearched for his heart. He searched in vain for three years. And he longed to return to Egypt. Atthe beginning of the fourth year, he said to himself, "If I don't find my brother's heart tomorrow,I will go back home."

The next day, he searched again. And near the end of the day, he found what he thought was aseed. But it was Bata's dried up heart. And he put it in a bowl of water, and sat down to wait. Theheart grew as it absorbed water. Bata came back to life, but was very weak. Then Anpu held the

 bowl to Bata's lips, and he swallowed the remaining water, and then swallowed his own heart. And his strength returned to him. And the two brothers embraced.

Bata said, "Tomorrow, I will change myself into a sacred bull. And you will ride me back toEgypt. Lead me before the King. And he will reward you. Then return to your house."

The next day, Bata changed into a bull. And Anpu rode him to Egypt, and led him before theKing. The King rewarded Anpu with gold, and silver, and land, and slaves. And there was

rejoicing throughout the land. And Anpu returned to his house.

Eventually, Bata encountered his wife, who was now the Queen. And he said, "Look upon me, forI am alive."

She asked, "And who are you?"

He replied, "I am Bata. And it was you who caused the tree to be cut down, so that I would bedestroyed. But I am alive." And she trembled in fear, and left the room.

That evening, the King sat at a feast, with his Queen. And she said to him, "Will you swear by thegods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queensaid, "I desire to eat the liver of the sacred bull, for he is nothing to you."

The king was upset at her request. But the next day, he commanded that the bull be sacrificed. And the bull was sacrificed. And its blood splattered on each side the gate of the palace.

That night, two persea trees sprang up next to the palace gate. The King was told of this miracle,and there was much rejoicing.

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One day the King and Queen were standing in the shade of one of the trees. And the tree spoketo the Queen, "False woman, you are the one who caused the cedar tree to be cut down, and youmade the King slaughter the bull. But, I am Bata, I am still alive." And the Queen was afraid.

Later, when the King and Queen were feasting, the Queen said, "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queen said, "It is

my desire that those two persea trees be chopped down, to make furniture for me."

The King was troubled by her request. But the next day the King and Queen watched as the trees were cut down. As the Queen stood watching, a chip of wood flew from one of the trees, and flew into her mouth, and she swallowed it. And it made the Queen become pregnant.

 After many days, the Queen gave birth to a son. The King loved him, and made him heir to thethrone.

In time the King died, and rejoined the gods. And his son succeeded him as King.

The new King (who was Bata) summoned his court, and told everyone the story of his life. And

he judged that his wife, who had become his mother, should die for her crimes. And the courtagreed. And she was led away to be killed.

Bata ruled Egypt for thirty years. Then he died. And his brother Anpu then ruled Egypt.

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The FatherBy: Björnstjerne Björnson THE MAN whose story is here to be told was the wealthiest and most influential person in hisparish; his name was Thord Overaas. He appeared in the priest’s study one day, tall and earnest.


“I have gotten a son,” said he, “and I wish to present him for baptism.”

“What shall his name be?” “Finn,—after my father.” “And the sponsors?” They were mentioned, and proved to be the best men and women of Thord’s relations in theparish. “Is there anything else?” inquired the priest, and looked up. The peasant hesitated a little.

 “I should like very much to have him baptized by himself,” said he finally.

“That is to say on a week day?”

“Next Saturday, at twelve o’clock noon.”

“Is there anything else?” inquired the priest.

“There is nothing else;” and the peasant twirled his cap, as though he were about to go.

Then the priest arose. “There is yet this, however,” said he, and walking toward Thord, he took 

him by the hand and looked gravely into his eyes: “God grant that the child may become a blessing to you!”

One day sixteen years later, Thord stood once more in the priest’s study.

“Really, you carry your age astonishingly well, Thord,” said the priest; for he saw no change whatever in the man.

“That is because I have no troubles,” replied Thord.

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To this the priest said nothing, but after a while he asked: “What is the pleasure this evening?”

“I have come this evening about that son of mine who is to be confirmed to-morrow.”

“He is a bright boy.”

“I did not wish to pay the priest until I heard what number the boy would have when he takes hisplace in church to-morrow.”

“He will stand number one.”

“So I have heard; and here are ten dollars for the priest.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” inquired the priest, fixing his eyes on Thord.

“There is nothing else.”

Thord went out.

Eight years more rolled by, and then one day a noise was heard outside of the priest’s study, formany men were approaching, and at their head was Thord, who entered first.

The priest looked up and recognized him.

“You come well attended this evening, Thord,” said he.

“I am here to request that the banns may be published for my son; he is about to marry KarenStorliden, daughter of Gudmund, who stands here beside me.”

“Why, that is the richest girl in the parish.”

“So they say,” replied the peasant, stroking back his hair with one hand.

The priest sat awhile as if in deep thought, then entered the names in his book, without makingany comments, and the men wrote their signatures underneath. Thord laid three dollars on thetable.

“One is all I am to have,” said the priest.

“I know that very well; but he is my only child; I want to do it handsomely.”

The priest took the money.

“This is now the third time, Thord, that you have come here on your son’s account.”“But now I am through with him,” said Thord, and folding up his pocket-book he said farewelland walked away.

The men slowly followed him.

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 A fortnight later, the father and son were rowing across the lake, one calm, still day, to Storlidento make arrangements for the wedding.

“This thwart is not secure,” said the son, and stood up to straighten the seat on which he wassitting.

 At the same moment the board he was standing on slipped from under him; he threw out hisarms, uttered a shriek, and fell overboard.

“Take hold of the oar!” shouted the father, springing to his feet and holding out the oar.

But when the son had made a couple of efforts he grew stiff.

“Wait a moment!” cried the father, and began to row toward his son.

Then the son rolled over on his back, gave his father one long look, and sank.

Thord could scarcely believe it; he held the boat still, and stared at the spot where his son had

gone down, as though he must surely come to the surface again. There rose some bubbles, thensome more, and finally one large one that burst; and the lake lay there as smooth and bright as amirror again.

For three days and three nights people saw the father rowing round and round the spot, withouttaking either food or sleep; he was dragging the lake for the body of his son. And towardmorning of the third day he found it, and carried it in his arms up over the hills to his gard.

It might have been about a year from that day, when the priest, late one autumn evening, heardsome one in the passage outside of the door, carefully trying to find the latch. The priest openedthe door, and in walked a tall, thin man, with bowed form and white hair. The priest looked longat him before he recognized him. It was Thord.

“Are you out walking so late?” said the priest, and stood still in front of him.

“Ah, yes! it is late,” said Thord, and took a seat.

The priest sat down also, as though waiting. A long, long silence followed. At last Thord said:—

“I have something with me that I should like to give to the poor; I want it to be invested as alegacy in my son’s name.”

He rose, laid some money on the table, and sat down again. The priest counted it.

“It is a great deal of money,” said he.

“It is half the price of my gard. I sold it to-day.”

The priest sat long in silence. At last he asked, but gently:—

“What do you propose to do now, Thord?”

“Something better.”

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They sat there for a while, Thord with downcast eyes, the priest with his eyes fixed on Thord.Presently the priest said, slowly and softly:—

“I think your son has at last brought you a true blessing.”

“Yes, I think so myself,” said Thord, looking up while two big tears coursed slowly down hischeeks.

Godfather DeathBy: Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

 A poor man had twelve children and was forced to work night and day to give them even bread. When therefore the thirteenth came into the world, he knew not what to do in his trouble, butran out into the great highway, and resolved to ask the first person whom he met to begodfather. The first to meet him was the good God who already knew what filled his heart, and

said to him, "Poor man, I pity thee. I will hold thy child at its christening, and will take charge of it and make it happy on earth." The man said, "Who art thou?" "I am God." "Then I do not desireto have thee for a godfather," said the man; "thou givest to the rich, and leavest the poor tohunger." Thus spoke the man, for he did not know how wisely God apportions riches andpoverty. He turned therefore away from the Lord, and went farther. Then the Devil came to himand said, "What seekest thou? If thou wilt take me as a godfather for thy child, I will give himgold in plenty and all the joys of the world as well." The man asked, "Who art thou?" "I am theDevil." "Then I do not desire to have thee for godfather," said the man; "thou deceivest men andleadest them astray." He went onwards, and then came Death striding up to him with witheredlegs, and said, "Take me as godfather." The man asked, "Who art thou?" "I am Death, and Imake all equal." Then said the man, "Thou art the right one, thou takest the rich as well as thepoor, without distinction; thou shalt be godfather." Death answered, "I will make thy child rich

and famous, for he who has me for a friend can lack nothing." The man said, "Next Sunday is thechristening; be there at the right time." Death appeared as he had promised, and stoodgodfather quite in the usual way.

 When the boy had grown up, his godfather one day appeared and bade him go with him. He ledhim forth into a forest, and showed him a herb which grew there, and said, "Now shalt thoureceive thy godfather's present. I make thee a celebrated physician. When thou art called to apatient, I will always appear to thee. If I stand by the head of the sick man, thou mayst say withconfidence that thou wilt make him well again, and if thou givest him of this herb he willrecover; but if I stand by the patient's feet, he is mine, and thou must say that all remedies are in

 vain, and that no physician in the world could save him. But beware of using the herb against my  will, or it might fare ill with thee."

It was not long before the youth was the most famous physician in the whole world. "He hadonly to look at the patient and he knew his condition at once, and if he would recover, or mustneeds die." So they said of him, and from far and wide people came to him, sent for him whenthey had any one ill, and gave him so much money that he soon became a rich man. Now it so

 befell that the King became ill, and the physician was summoned, and was to say if recovery  were possible. But when he came to the bed, Death was standing by the feet of the sick man, andthe herb did not grow which could save him. "If I could but cheat Death for once," thought thephysician, "he is sure to take it ill if I do, but, as I am his godson, he will shut one eye; I will risk 

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it." He therefore took up the sick man, and laid him the other way, so that now Death wasstanding by his head. Then he gave the King some of the herb, and he recovered and grew healthy again. But Death came to the physician, looking very black and angry, threatened him

 with his finger, and said, "Thou hast overreached me; this time I will pardon it, as thou art my godson; but if thou venturest it again, it will cost thee thy neck, for I will take thee thyself away 

 with me."

Soon afterwards the King's daughter fell into a severe illness. She was his only child, and he wept day and night, so that he began to lose the sight of his eyes, and he caused it to be madeknown that whosoever rescued her from death should be her husband and inherit the crown.

 When the physician came to the sick girl's bed, he saw Death by her feet. He ought to haveremembered the warning given by his godfather, but he was so infatuated by the great beauty of the King's daughter, and the happiness of becoming her husband, that he flung all thought to the

 winds. He did not see that Death was casting angry glances on him, that he was raising his handin the air, and threatening him with his withered fist. He raised up the sick girl, and placed herhead where her feet had lain. Then he gave her some of the herb, and instantly her cheeksflushed red, and life stirred afresh in her.

 When Death saw that for a second time he was defrauded of his own property, he walked up tothe physician with long strides, and said, "All is over with thee, and now the lot falls on thee,"and seized him so firmly with his ice-cold hand, that he could not resist, and led him into a cave

 below the earth. There he saw how thousands and thousands of candles were burning incountless rows, some large, others half-sized, others small. Every instant some wereextinguished, and others again burnt up, so that the flames seemed to leap hither and thither inperpetual change. "See," said Death, "these are the lights of men's lives. The large ones belong tochildren, the half-sized ones to married people in their prime, the little ones belong to oldpeople; but children and young folks likewise have often only a tiny candle." "Show me the lightof my life," said the physician, and he thought that it would be still very tall. Death pointed to alittle end which was just threatening to go out, and said, "Behold, it is there." "Ah, deargodfather," said the horrified physician, "light a new one for me, do it for love of me, that I may 

enjoy my life, be King, and the husband of the King's beautiful daughter." "I cannot," answeredDeath, "one must go out before a new one is lighted." "Then place the old one on a new one, that will go on burning at once when the old one has come to an end," pleaded the physician. Death behaved as if he were going to fulfill his wish, and took hold of a tall new candle; but as hedesired to revenge himself, he purposely made a mistake in fixing it, and the little piece felldown and was extinguished. Immediately the physician fell on the ground, and now he himself 

 was in the hands of Death.

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The NecklaceBy: Guy de Maupassant

< 1 >She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, intoa family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known,

understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself bemarried off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she hadnever been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneathher; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth orfamily, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from thepoorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of 

 which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-

 broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy withOriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breechessleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vastsaloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments,and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men

 who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's enviouslongings.

 When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, oppositeher husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch

 broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peoplingthe walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate foodserved in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as onetrifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

< 2 >She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt thatshe was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractiveand sought after.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered sokeenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, andmisery.

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One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand.

"Here's something for you," he said.

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words:

"The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th."

Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across thetable, murmuring:

"What do you want me to do with this?"

"Why, darling, I thought you'd be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had

tremendous trouble to get it. Every one wants one; it's very select, and very few go to the clerks. You'll see all the really big people there."

She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: "And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?"

He had not thought about it; he stammered:

"Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me . . ."

He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Twolarge tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth.

< 3 >"What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you?" he faltered.

But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wetcheeks:

“Nothing. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to somefriend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall."

He was heart-broken.

"Look here, Mathilde," he persisted. "What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which youcould use on other occasions as well, something very simple?"

She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sumshe could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horrorfrom the careful-minded clerk.

 At last she replied with some hesitation:

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"I don't know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs."

He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending toget a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays.

Nevertheless he said: "Very well. I'll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nicedress with the money."

The day of the party drew near, and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy and anxious. Her dress was ready, however. One evening her husband said to her:

"What's the matter with you? You've been very odd for the last three days."

“I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear," she replied. "I shalllook absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party."

< 4 >

"Wear flowers," he said. "They're very smart at this time of the year. For ten francs you could gettwo or three gorgeous roses."

She was not convinced.

"No . . . there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women."

"How stupid you are!" exclaimed her husband. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her tolend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that."

She uttered a cry of delight.

"That's true. I never thought of it."

Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble.

Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took up a large box, brought it to Madame Loisel,opened it, and said:

"Choose, my dear."

First she saw some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror, hesitating, unable tomake up her mind to leave them, to give them up. She kept on asking:

“Haven't you anything else?"

"Yes. Look for yourself. I don't know what you would like best."

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetously. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon herhigh dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself.

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Then, with hesitation, she asked in anguish:

"Could you lend me this, just this alone?"

"Yes, of course."

She flung herself on her friend's breast, embraced her frenziedly, and went away with hertreasure. The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest

 woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the menstared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her.

< 5 >She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in thetriumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of thisuniversal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a

 victory so dear to her feminine heart.

She left about four o'clock in the morning. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in adeserted little room, in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. Hethrew over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. She was conscious of this and

 was anxious to hurry away, so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting ontheir costly furs.

Loisel restrained her.

"Wait a little. You'll catch cold in the open. I'm going to fetch a cab."

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the staircase. When they were out in the

street they could not find a cab; they began to look for one, shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance.

They walked down towards the Seine, desperate and shivering. At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as thoughthey were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.

It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they walked up to their ownapartment. It was the end, for her. As for him, he was thinking that he must be at the office atten.

She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all herglory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round herneck!

< 6 >"What's the matter with you?" asked her husband, already half undressed.

She turned towards him in the utmost distress.

"I . . . I . . . I've no longer got Madame Forestier's necklace. . . ."

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He started with astonishment.

"What! . . . Impossible!"

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They 

could not find it.

"Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?" he asked.

"Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry."

"But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall."

"Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?"

"No. You didn't notice it, did you?"


They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again.

“I'll go over all the ground we walked," he said, "and see if I can't find it."

 And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddledon a chair, without volition or power of thought.

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing.

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies,

everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him.

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe.

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing.

< 7 >"You must write to your friend," he said, "and tell her that you've broken the clasp of hernecklace and are getting it mended. That will give us time to look about us."

She wrote at his dictation.


By the end of a week they had lost all hope.

Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

"We must see about replacing the diamonds."

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Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. He consulted his books.

"It was not I who sold this necklace, Madame; I must have merely supplied the clasp."

Then they went from jeweller to jeweller, searching for another necklace like the first, consulting

their memories, both ill with remorse and anguish of mind.

In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly likethe one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have itfor thirty-six thousand.

They begged the jeweller not to sell it for three days. And they arranged matters on theunderstanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs, if the first one werefound before the end of February.

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow therest.

He did borrow it, getting a thousand from one man, five hundred from another, five louis here,three louis there. He gave notes of hand, entered into ruinous agreements, did business withusurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of hisexistence, risked his signature without even knowing if he could honour it, and, appalled at theagonising face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace and put downupon the jeweller's counter thirty-six thousand francs.

< 8 > When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in achilly voice:

"You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it."

She did not, as her friend had feared, open the case. If she had noticed the substitution, what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief?


Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she playedher part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant wasdismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof.

She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed theplates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. She washed thedirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning shetook the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to gether breath. And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher,a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money.

Every month notes had to be paid off, others renewed, time gained.

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Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant's accounts, and often atnight he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page.

 And this life lasted ten years.

 At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer's charges and theaccumulation of superimposed interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spokein a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. But sometimes,

 when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window and thought of that eveninglong ago, of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired.

< 9 > What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!

One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after thelabours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk.It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.

Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. Andnow that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not?

She went up to her.

"Good morning, Jeanne."

The other did not recognise her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman.

"But . . . Madame . . ." she stammered. "I don't know . . . you must be making a mistake."

"No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel."

Her friend uttered a cry.

"Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed! . . ."

"Yes, I've had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on youraccount."

"On my account! . . . How was that?"

"You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?"

"Yes. Well?"

"Well, I lost it."

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"How could you? Why, you brought it back."

"I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. Yourealise it wasn't easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it's paid for at last, and I'm glad indeed."

< 10 >Madame Forestier had halted.

"You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?"

"Yes. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike."

 And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred

francs! . . . "

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The Lady or The Tiger?By: Frank Stockton

In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polishedand sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, anduntrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy,

and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts.He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, thething was done. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly inits appointed course, his nature was bland and genial; but, whenever there was a little hitch, andsome of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and more genial still, for nothing pleasedhim so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places.

 Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become semified was that of thepublic arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects wererefined and cultured.

But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. The arena of the king was built,not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators, nor to enablethem to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws,

 but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decreesof an impartial and incorruptible chance.

 When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king, publicnotice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in theking's arena, a structure which well deserved its name, for, although its form and plan were

 borrowed from afar, its purpose emanated solely from the brain of this man, who, every  barleycorn a king, knew no tradition to which he owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy,and who ingrafted on every adopted form of human thought and action the rich growth of his

 barbaric idealism.

< 2 > When all the people had assembled in the galleries, and the king, surrounded by his court, sathigh up on his throne of royal state on one side of the arena, he gave a signal, a door beneathhim opened, and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. Directly opposite him,on the other side of the enclosed space, were two doors, exactly alike and side by side. It was theduty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. He could open either door he pleased; he was subject to no guidance or influence but that

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of the aforementioned impartial and incorruptible chance. If he opened the one, there came outof it a hungry tiger, the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured, which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt. The moment that the caseof the criminal was thus decided, doleful iron bells were clanged, great wails went up from thehired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and the vast audience, with bowed headsand downcast hearts, wended slowly their homeward way, mourning greatly that one so young

and fair, or so old and respected, should have merited so dire a fate.

But, if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the mostsuitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to thislady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence. It mattered not that he mightalready possess a wife and family, or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of hisown selection; the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his greatscheme of retribution and reward. The exercises, as in the other instance, took placeimmediately, and in the arena. Another door opened beneath the king, and a priest, followed by a band of choristers, and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on golden horns and treading anepithalamic measure, advanced to where the pair stood, side by side, and the wedding waspromptly and cheerily solemnized. Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals, the

people shouted glad hurrahs, and the innocent man, preceded by children strewing flowers onhis path, led his bride to his home.

< 3 >This was the king's semi-barbaric method of administering justice. Its perfect fairness isobvious. The criminal could not know out of which door would come the lady; he opened eitherhe pleased, without having the slightest idea whether, in the next instant, he was to be devouredor married. On some occasions the tiger came out of one door, and on some out of the other. Thedecisions of this tribunal were not only fair, they were positively determinate: the accusedperson was instantly punished if he found himself guilty, and, if innocent, he was rewarded onthe spot, whether he liked it or not. There was no escape from the judgments of the king's arena.

The institution was a very popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the greattrial days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could nototherwise have attained. Thus, the masses were entertained and pleased, and the thinking partof the community could bring no charge of unfairness against this plan, for did not the accusedperson have the whole matter in his own hands?

This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul asfervent and imperious as his own. As is usual in such cases, she was the apple of his eye, and wasloved by him above all humanity. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of bloodand lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens.This royal maiden was well satisfied with her lover, for he was handsome and brave to a degreeunsurpassed in all this kingdom, and she loved him with an ardor that had enough of barbarismin it to make it exceedingly warm and strong. This love affair moved on happily for many months, until one day the king happened to discover its existence. He did not hesitate nor waverin regard to his duty in the premises. The youth was immediately cast into prison, and a day wasappointed for his trial in the king's arena. This, of course, was an especially important occasion,and his majesty, as well as all the people, was greatly interested in the workings anddevelopment of this trial. Never before had such a case occurred; never before had a subjectdared to love the daughter of the king. In after years such things became commonplace enough,

 but then they were in no slight degree novel and startling.

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< 4 >The tiger-cages of the kingdom were searched for the most savage and relentless beasts, from

 which the fiercest monster might be selected for the arena; and the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land were carefully surveyed by competent judges in order that the youngman might have a fitting bride in case fate did not determine for him a different destiny. Of 

course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. Hehad loved the princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else, thought of denying the fact; but theking would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of thetribunal, in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. No matter how the affair turnedout, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watchingthe course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong inallowing himself to love the princess.

The appointed day arrived. From far and near the people gathered, and thronged the greatgalleries of the arena, and crowds, unable to gain admittance, massed themselves against itsoutside walls. The king and his court were in their places, opposite the twin doors, those fatefulportals, so terrible in their similarity.

 All was ready. The signal was given. A door beneath the royal party opened, and the lover of theprincess walked into the arena. Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low humof admiration and anxiety. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived amongthem. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there!

 As the youth advanced into the arena he turned, as the custom was, to bow to the king, but hedid not think at all of that royal personage. His eyes were fixed upon the princess, who sat to theright of her father. Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable thatlady would not have been there, but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absenton an occasion in which she was so terribly interested. From the moment that the decree hadgone forth that her lover should decide his fate in the king's arena, she had thought of nothing,

night or day, but this great event and the various subjects connected with it. Possessed of morepower, influence, and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested insuch a case, she had done what no other person had done - she had possessed herself of thesecret of the doors. She knew in which of the two rooms, that lay behind those doors, stood thecage of the tiger, with its open front, and in which waited the lady. Through these thick doors,heavily curtained with skins on the inside, it was impossible that any noise or suggestion shouldcome from within to the person who should approach to raise the latch of one of them. But gold,and the power of a woman's will, had brought the secret to the princess.

< 5 > And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge, all blushing andradiant, should her door be opened, but she knew who the lady was. It was one of the fairest andloveliest of the damsels of the court who had been selected as the reward of the accused youth,should he be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him; and the princesshated her. Often had she seen, or imagined that she had seen, this fair creature throwing glancesof admiration upon the person of her lover, and sometimes she thought these glances wereperceived, and even returned. Now and then she had seen them talking together; it was but for amoment or two, but much can be said in a brief space; it may have been on most unimportanttopics, but how could she know that? The girl was lovely, but she had dared to raise her eyes tothe loved one of the princess; and, with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her

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through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed andtrembled behind that silent door.

 When her lover turned and looked at her, and his eye met hers as she sat there, paler and whiterthan any one in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her, he saw, by that power of quick perception which is given to those whose souls are one, that she knew behind which door

crouched the tiger, and behind which stood the lady. He had expected her to know it. Heunderstood her nature, and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had madeplain to herself this thing, hidden to all other lookers-on, even to the king. The only hope for the

 youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess indiscovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as inhis soul he knew she would succeed.

Then it was that his quick and anxious glance asked the question: "Which?" It was as plain toher as if he shouted it from where he stood. There was not an instant to be lost. The question

 was asked in a flash; it must be answered in another.

< 6 >

Her right arm lay on the cushioned parapet before her. She raised her hand, and made a slight,quick movement toward the right. No one but her lover saw her. Every eye but his was fixed onthe man in the arena.

He turned, and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. Every heartstopped beating, every breath was held, every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. Withoutthe slightest hesitation, he went to the door on the right, and opened it.

Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady ?

The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of thehuman heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find

our way. Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath thecombined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?

How often, in her waking hours and in her dreams, had she started in wild horror, and coveredher face with her hands as she thought of her lover opening the door on the other side of which

 waited the cruel fangs of the tiger!

But how much oftener had she seen him at the other door! How in her grievous reveries had shegnashed her teeth, and torn her hair, when she saw his start of rapturous delight as he openedthe door of the lady! How her soul had burned in agony when she had seen him rush to meetthat woman, with her flushing cheek and sparkling eye of triumph; when she had seen him leadher forth, his whole frame kindled with the joy of recovered life; when she had heard the gladshouts from the multitude, and the wild ringing of the happy bells; when she had seen the priest,

 with his joyous followers, advance to the couple, and make them man and wife before her very eyes; and when she had seen them walk away together upon their path of flowers, followed by the tremendous shouts of the hilarious multitude, in which her one despairing shriek was lostand drowned!

< 7 >

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 Would it not be better for him to die at once, and go to wait for her in the blessed regions of semi-barbaric futurity?

 And yet, that awful tiger, those shrieks, that blood!

Her decision had been indicated in an instant, but it had been made after days and nights of 

anguished deliberation. She had known she would be asked, she had decided what she wouldanswer, and, without the slightest hesitation, she had moved her hand to the right.

The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered, and it is not for me to presumeto set myself up as the one person able to answer it. And so I leave it with all of you: Which cameout of the opened door - the lady, or the tiger?