Page images
PDF
EPUB

60

lessened their circle, the avenues of of the man, remembered from long 50 escape became more

narrow. The ago, and the sound of his voice, never yawning arms

of the stockade quite forgotten. For an elephant stretched just beyond.

never forgets. "Will I win, jungle gods?” a little “Muztagh! Muztagh!" gray man at the keddah wing was The elephant knew him now. He whispering to the forests. “Will I remembered his one friend among all save you, great one that I knew in the human beings that he knew in

babyhood? Will you go down into his calfhood; the one mortal from 10 chains before the night is done? Ai! whom he had received love and given

I hear the thunder of your feet! The love in exchange. moment is almost here. And now- “More firebrands!” yelled the men your last chance, Muztagh!"

who held that corner of the wing. “Close down, close down!" Ahmad "Firebrands! Where is Langur Dass?” Din was shouting to his beaters. But instead of firebrands that would "The thing is done in another moment. have frightened beast and aided men, Hasten, pigs of the hills! Raise your Langur Dass stepped out from behind voice! Now! Aihai!

a tree and beat at the heads of the The herd was at the very wings of right-wing guards with a bamboo cane 20 the stockade. They had halted an that whistled and whacked and scat

instant, milling, and the beaters in- tered them into panic-yelling all 70 creased their shouts. Only one of all the while—“Muztagh! O my Muzthe herd seemed to know the danger tagh! Here is an opening! Muztagh, Muztagh himself, and he had dropped come!" from the front rank to the very rear. And Muztagh did come trumpetHe stood with uplifted trunk, facing ing-crashing like an avalanche, with the approaching rows of beaters. Langur Dass hard after him, afraid, And there seemed to be no break in now that he had done the trick. And the whole line.

hot on the trail of Langur Dass ran The herd started to move on, into Ahmad Din, with his knife drawn, the wings of captivity; and they did not meaning to let that prize be lost so not heed his warning squeals to turn. to him at less than the cost of the The circle of fire drew nearer. Then trickster's life. his trunk seemed to droop, and he But it was not written that the turned, too. He could not break the knife should ever enter the flesh of line. He turned, too, toward the Langur Dass. The elephant never mouth of the keddah.

forgets, and Muztagh was monarch But even

as he turned, a brown of his breed. He turned back two figure darted toward him from the end paces, and struck with his trunk. Ah40 of the wing. A voice known long ago mad Din was knocked aside as the

was calling to him-a voice that pene- wind whips straw. trated high and clear above the babble For an instant elephant and man of the beaters. "Muztagh!" it was stood front to front. To the left of crying, "Muztagh!"

them the gates of the stockade But it was not the words that dropped shut behind the herd. The turned Muztagh. An elephant cannot elephant stood with trunk slightly understand words, except a few ele- lifted, for the moment motionless. mental sounds such as a horse or dog The long-haired man who had saved can learn. Rather it was the smell him stood lifting upstretched arms.

30

90 10

It was such a scene as one might Langur Dass, murder shining no less remember in an old legend, wherein from their knives than from their beasts and men were brothers, or such lighted eyes. as sometimes might steal, like some- “Take me," the old man pleaded; thing remembered from another age, “thy herd is gone. into a man's dreams. Nowhere but The elephant seemed to know what in India, where men have a little he was asking. He had lifted him knowledge of the mystery of the ele- to his great shoulders many times, in phant, could it have taken place at all. the last days of his captivity. And 30

For Langur Dass was speaking to besides, his old love for Langur Dass my lord the elephant:

had never been forgotten. It all “Take me with thee, Muztagh! returned, full and strong as ever. Monarch of the hills! Thou and I For an elephant never can forget. are not of the world of men, but of It was not one of the man-herd that the jungle and the rain, the silence, stood pleading before him. It was one and the cold touch of rivers. We are of his own jungle people, just as, deep brothers, Muztagh. O beloved, wilt in his heart, he had always known. thou leave me here to die!"

So with one motion light as air, he The elephant slowly turned his swung him gently to his shoulder. 20 head and looked scornfully at the The jungle, vast and mysterious and

group of beaters bearing down on still, closed its gates behind them.

40

[blocks in formation]

THE ROMANCE OF A BUSY BROKER

0. HENRY

Pitcher, confidential clerk in the "Well-what is it? Anything?” office of Harvey Maxwell, broker, asked Maxwell sharply. His opened allowed a look of mild interest and mail lay like a bank of stage snow on surprise to visit his usually expression- his crowded desk. His keen gray eye, less countenance when his employer impersonal and brusque, flashed upon briskly entered at half past nine in her half impatiently. company with his young lady stenog- "Nothing," answered the stenog- 50 rapher. With a snappy “Good morn- rapher, moving away with a little

ing, Pitcher," Maxwell dashed at his smile. 10 desk as though he were intending to “Mr. Pitcher,” she said to the con

leap over it, and then plunged into fidential clerk, "did Mr. Maxwell say the great heap of letters and telegrams anything yesterday about engaging waiting there for him.

another stenographer?” The young lady had been Maxwell's "He did," answered Pitcher. "He stenographer for a year. She was told me to get another one. I notified beautiful in a way that was decidedly the agency yesterday afternoon to unstenographic. She forewent the send over a few samples this morning. 60 pomp of the alluring pompadour. She It's 9:45 o'clock, and not a single

wore no chains, bracelets, or lockets. picture hat or piece of pineapple 20 She had not the air of being about to chewing gum has showed up yet.

accept an invitation to luncheon. "I will do the work as usual, then,” Her dress was gray and plain, but it said the young lady, "until someone fitted her figure with fidelity and comes to fill the place.' And she discretion. In her neat black turban went to her desk at once and hung hat was the gold-green wing of a the black turban hat with the goldmacaw. On this morning she was green macaw wing in its accustomed softly and shyly radiant. Her eyes place. were dreamily bright, her cheeks He who has been denied the spec

genuine peachblow, her expression a tacle of a busy Manhattan broker 30 happy one, tinged with reminiscence. during a rush of business is handi

Pitcher, still mildly curious, no- capped for the profession of anthroticed a difference in her ways this pology. The poet sings of the "crowded morning. Instead of going straight hour of glorious life.” The broker's into the adjoining room, where her hour is not only crowded, but the desk was, she lingered, slightly ir- minutes and seconds are hanging to resolute, in the outer office. Once she all the straps and packing both front moved over by Maxwell's desk, near and rear platforms. enough for him to be aware of her And this day was Harvey Maxwell's presence.

busy day. The ticker began to reel The machine sitting at that desk out jerkily its fitful coils of tape, the was no longer a man; it was a busy desk telephone had a chronic attack New York broker, moved by buzzing of buzzing. Men began to throng into wheels and uncoiling springs.

the office and call at him over the

[ocr errors]

70

80

40

60

railing, jovially, sharply, viciously, mand that order with the agency, 50 excitedly. Messenger boys ran in and Pitcher, and don't bring any more of out with messages and telegrams. The 'em in here." clerks in the office jumped about like The silver heart left the office, sailors during a storm. Even Pitcher's swinging and banging itself indeface relaxed into something resembling pendently against the office furniture animation.

as it indignantly departed. Pitcher On the Exchange there were hurri- seized a moment to remark to the canes and landslides and snowstorms bookkeeper that the “old man" seemed 10 and glaciers and volcanoes, and those to get more absent-minded and for

elemental disturbances were repro- getful every day of the world. duced in miniature in the broker's The rush and pace of business offices. Maxwell shoved his chair grew fiercer and faster. On the floor against the wall and transacted busi- they were pounding half a dozen ness after the manner of a toe dancer. stocks in which Maxwell's customers He jumped from ticker to phone, from were heavy investors. Orders to buy desk to door, with the trained agility and sell were coming and going as of a harlequin.

swift as the flight of swallows. Some In the midst of this growing and of his own holdings were imperiled, 20 important stress the broker became and the man was working like some

aware of a high-rolled fringe of golden high-geared, delicate, strong machine 70 hair under a nodding canopy of velvet -strung to full tension, going at full and ostrich tips, an imitation sealskin speed, accurate, never hesitating, with sack, and a string of beads as large as the proper word and decision and act hickory nuts, ending near the floor ready and prompt as clockwork. with a silver heart. There was a self- Stocks and bonds, loans and mortpossessed young lady connected with gages, margins and securities-here these accessories; and Pitcher was was a world of finance, and there was there to construe her.

no room in it for the human world “Lady from the Stenographer's or the world of Nature. Agency to see about the position,' When the luncheon hour drew near 80 said Pitcher.

there came a slight lull in the uproar. Maxwell turned half around, with Maxwell stood by his desk with his his hands full of papers and ticker hands full of telegrams and memotape.

randa, with a fountain pen over his "What position?” he asked, with a right ear and his hair hanging in frown.

disorderly strings over his forehead. “Position of stenographer,” said His window was open, for the beloved Pitcher. “You told me yesterday janitress Spring had turned on a little 40 to call them up and have one sent warmth through the waking registers over this morning.”

of the earth. "You are losing your mind, Pitcher," And through the window came a said Maxwell. "Why should I have wandering-perhaps a lost-odor-a given you any such instructions? delicate, sweet odor of lilac that fixed Miss Leslie has given perfect satis- the broker for a moment immovable. faction during the year she has been For this odor belonged to Miss Leslie; here. The place is hers as long as it was her own, and hers only. she chooses to retain it. There's no The odor brought her vividly, alplace open here, madam. Counter- most tangibly, before him. The world

30

90

ago.”

10 cover.

of finance dwindled suddenly to a "Oh, what are you talking about?” speck. And she was in the next room exclaimed the young lady. She rose -twenty steps away.

to her feet and gazed upon him, 30 “By George, I'll do it now,” said round-eyed. Maxwell, half aloud. “I'll ask her "Don't you understand?” said Maxnow. I wonder I didn't do it long well, restively. "I want you to marry

me. I love you, Miss Leslie. I wanted He dashed into the inner · office to tell you, and I snatched a minute with the haste of a short trying to when things had slackened up a bit.

He charged upon the desk They're calling me for the phone now. of the stenographer.

Tell 'em to wait a minute, Pitcher. She looked at him with a smile. Won't you, Miss Leslie?” A soft pink crept over her cheek, and The stenographer acted very queer- 40 her eyes were kind and frank. Max- ly. At first she seemed overcome well leaned one elbow on her desk. with amazement; then tears flowed He still clutched fluttering papers from her wondering eyes; and then with both hands, and the pen was she smiled sunnily through them, and above his ear.

one of her arms slid tenderly about "Miss Leslie,” he began hurriedly, the broker's neck. 20 “I have but a moment to spare. I "I know now," she said, softly. .

want to say something in that mo- "It's this old business that has driven ment. Will you be

my

wife? I everything else out of your head for haven't had time to make love to you the time. I was frightened at first. 50 in the ordinary way, but I really do Don't you remember, Harvey? We love you. Talk quick, please—those were married last evening at eight fellows are clubbing the stuffing out o'clock in the Little Church Around of Union Pacific.”

the Corner."

NOTES AND QUESTIONS

EXPLANATORY NOTES 1. William Sydney Porter, better known under his pen-name of 0. Henry, is probably the most famous of recent writers of the short story in America. His stories first appeared in magazines and newspapers, and have been collected in twelve volumes. Their interest is due to the brevity with which he achieves his effects, their mixture of the realism and the romance of ordinary American life, their humor and pathos, and the unfailing sympathy which they extend to all sorts of people. 0. Henry writes as men talk; there is nothing "bookish” or literary about his work, despite the fact that at one period he studied the unabridged dictionary so faithfully that he knew much of it by heart.

2. This story, from The Four Million, illustrates the method used by a true master. There are no unnecessary details. Every sentence adds to the swift movement of the plot and

to the surprising conclusion. The characters are clearly drawn. The broker's office is as real as though you were actually looking at what was going on. The language is adapted to the situation; it belongs to a story about a busy broker, not to a story about one of King Arthur's knights or to Irving's story of the Specter Bridegroom. Thus plot, character, setting, and language all contribute to the single impression that a good short story should always give.

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS 1. In Junior High School Literature, Book Two, it was pointed out that the short story has no unnecessary characters, incidents, or details. Everything aids in swift movement toward the moment of highest interest. Give illustrations of these points drawn from this story.

2. The main divisions of the typical short story are the introduction, the main incident,

« PreviousContinue »