The Best American Humorous Short Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about The Best American Humorous Short Stories.

And the deacon?  Well, well, with the lines in the crook of his elbow the deacon held out his arms to the widow and——.  The sisters at the next meeting of the Sewing Society were unanimously of the opinion that any woman who would risk her life like that for a husband was mighty anxious.

GIDEON

By Wells Hastings (1878- )

[From The Century Magazine, April, 1914; copyright, 1914, by The Century Co.; republished by the author’s permission.]

“An’ de next’ frawg dat houn’ pup seen, he pass him by wide.”

The house, which had hung upon every word, roared with laughter, and shook with a storming volley of applause.  Gideon bowed to right and to left, low, grinning, assured comedy obeisances; but as the laughter and applause grew he shook his head, and signaled quietly for the drop.  He had answered many encores, and he was an instinctive artist.  It was part of the fuel of his vanity that his audience had never yet had enough of him.  Dramatic judgment, as well as dramatic sense of delivery, was native to him, qualities which the shrewd Felix Stuhk, his manager and exultant discoverer, recognized and wisely trusted in.  Off stage Gideon was watched over like a child and a delicate investment, but once behind the footlights he was allowed to go his own triumphant gait.

It was small wonder that Stuhk deemed himself one of the cleverest managers in the business; that his narrow, blue-shaven face was continually chiseled in smiles of complacent self-congratulation.  He was rapidly becoming rich, and there were bright prospects of even greater triumphs, with proportionately greater reward.  He had made Gideon a national character, a headliner, a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of the vaudeville theater, and all in six short months.  Or, at any rate, he had helped to make him all this; he had booked him well and given him his opportunity.  To be sure, Gideon had done the rest; Stuhk was as ready as any one to do credit to Gideon’s ability.  Still, after all, he, Stuhk, was the discoverer, the theatrical Columbus who had had the courage and the vision.

A now-hallowed attack of tonsilitis had driven him to Florida, where presently Gideon had been employed to beguile his convalescence, and guide him over the intricate shallows of that long lagoon known as the Indian River in search of various fish.  On days when fish had been reluctant Gideon had been lured into conversation, and gradually into narrative and the relation of what had appeared to Gideon as humorous and entertaining; and finally Felix, the vague idea growing big within him, had one day persuaded his boatman to dance upon the boards of a long pier where they had made fast for lunch.  There, with all the sudden glory of crystallization, the vague idea took definite form and became the great inspiration of Stuhk’s career.

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The Best American Humorous Short Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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