O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1921 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 467 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1921.
and autumn is rich in suggestion not of love, but of gracious age, having the aloof beauty of age and its true estimates of life.  The perception of its loveliness is impersonal and leaves the line between the aesthetic and the sensuous clearly marked.  Beneath a straighter sun the line is blurred and sometimes vanishes:  no orchid-musk, no azure and distant hill, no tinted bay but accosts the senses, confusing one with another, mingling all the emotions in a single cup, persuading man that he knows good from evil as little as though he lived still in Eden.  From such stealthy influences the man of rigid convictions is often in more danger than the man of no convictions at all, for rigid convictions rather often indicate inexperience and imperfect observation; experience, therefore—­especially emotional experience—­sometimes warps them into strange and hideous shapes.

Simpson did not find in the bush the enlightenment that he had hoped for.  He did, however, anaesthetize his mind into the belief that he had found it.  Returning, he approached Port au Prince by a route new to him.  A well-beaten trail aroused his curiosity and he followed it into a grove of ceiba and mahogany.  It was clear under foot, as no tropic grove uncared for by man can be clear; in the middle of it lay the ashes of a great fire, and three minaca-palm huts in good repair huddled almost invisible under the vast trees.  The ground, bare of grass, was trodden hard, as though a multitude had stamped it down—­danced it down, perhaps—­and kept it bare by frequent use.

“What a place for a camp-meeting!” thought Simpson as he turned to leave it.  “God’s cathedral aisles, and roofed by God’s blue sky.”

His pony shied and whirled around, a long snake—­a fer-de-lance—­flowed across the path.

The desire to hold his services in the grove remained in his mind; the only reason he did not transfer them there at once was that he was not yet quite sure of his people.  They came eagerly to hear him, they reflected his enthusiasm at his behest, they wept and praised God.  Yet, underneath all his hopes and all his pride in what he had done ran a cold current of doubt, an undefined and indefinable fear of something devilish and malign that might thwart him in the end.  He thrust it resolutely out of his mind.


“I have told your people—­your canaille,” said Father Antoine, “that I shall excommunicate them all.”

The priest had been graver than his wont—­more dignified, less volcanic, as though he was but the mouthpiece of authority, having none of it himself.

“They are better out of your Church than in it,” Simpson answered.

Father Antoine trembled a little; it was the first sign he had given that his violent personality was still alive under the perplexing new power that had covered it.

“You are determined?” Simpson nodded with compressed lips.  “Their damnation be on your head, then.”

Project Gutenberg
O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1921 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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