O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1919 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1919.

“But, Lord, how seriously Pevensey takes it all! and himself in particular!  Why, there departs from us, in befitting state, a personage whose opinion as to every topic in the world is written legibly in the carriage of those fine shoulders, even when seen from behind and from so considerable a distance.  And in not one syllable do any of these opinions differ from the opinions of his great-great-grandfathers.  Oho, and hark to Deptford! now all the oafs in the Corn-market are cheering this bulwark of Protestant England, this rising young hero of a people with no nonsense about them.  Yes, it is a very quaint and rather splendid ephemera.”

A marquis’s daughter could not quite approve of the way in which this shoemaker’s son, however talented, railed at his betters.  “Pevensey will be the greatest man in these kingdoms some day.  Indeed, Kit Marlowe, there are those who say he is that much already.”

“Oh very probably!  Still, I am puzzled by human greatness.  A century hence what will he matter, this Pevensey?  His ascent and his declension will have been completed, and his foolish battles and treaties will have given place to other foolish battles and treaties and oblivion will have swallowed this glistening bluebottle, plumes and fine lace and stately ruff and all.  Why, he is but an adviser to the queen of half an island, whereas my Tamburlaine was lord of all the golden ancient East:  and what does my Tamburlaine matter now, save that he gave Kit Marlowe the subject of a drama?  Hah, softly though! for does even that very greatly matter?  Who really cares to-day about what scratches were made upon wax by that old Euripides, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to unloose?  No, not quite worthy, as yet!”

And thereupon the shabby fellow sat down in the tall leather-covered chair which Pevensey had just vacated:  and this Marlowe nodded his flaming head portentously.  “Hoh, look you, I am displeased, Mistress Cyn, I cannot lend my approval to this over-greedy oblivion that gapes for all.  No, it is not a satisfying arrangement that I should teeter insecurely through the void on a gob of mud, and be expected bye and bye to relinquish even that crazy foothold.  Even for Kit Marlowe death lies in wait! and it may be, not anything more after death, not even any lovely words to play with.  Yes, and this Marlowe may amount to nothing, after all:  and his one chance of amounting to that which he intends may be taken away from him at any moment!”

He touched the breast of a weather-beaten doublet.  He gave her that queer twisted sort of smile which the girl could not but find attractive, somehow.  He said:  “Why but this heart thumping here inside me may stop any moment like a broken clock.  Here is Euripides writing better than I:  and here in my body, under my hand, is the mechanism upon which depend all those masterpieces that are to blot the Athenian from the reckoning, and I have no control of it!”

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O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1919 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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