Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.

The Gaffer read on, his lips moving silently.  Heaven knows how he had acquired this strayed and stained and filthy little demi-octavo with the arms of Saumarez on its book-plate—­“The Sixth Volume of Letters writ by a Turkish Spy, who liv’d Five-and-Forty Years Undiscovered at Paris:  Giving an Impartial Account to the Divan at Constantinople of the most remarkable Transactions of Europe, And discovering several Intrigues and Secrets of the Christian Courts (especially of that of France),” etc., etc.  “Written originally in Arabick.  Translated into Italian, and from thence into English by the Translator of the First Volume.  The Eleventh Edition.  London:  Printed for G. Strahan, S. Ballard”—­and a score of booksellers—­“MDCCXLI.”  Heavens knows why he read it; since he understood about one-half, and admired less than one-tenth.  The Oriental reflections struck him as mainly blasphemous.  But the Gaffer’s religious belief marked down nine-tenths of mankind for perdition:  which perhaps made him tolerant.  At any rate, he read on gravely between the puffs of his short clay—­

On the 19th of this Moon, the King and the whole Court were present at a Ballet, representing the grandeur of the French monarchy.  About the Middle of the Entertainment, there was an Antique Dance perform d by twelve Masqueraders, in the suppos’d form of Daemons. But before they had advanc’d far in their Dance, they found an Interloper amongst ’em, who by encreasing the Number to thirteen, put them quite out of their Measure:  For they practise every Step and Motion beforehand, till they are perfect.  Being abash’d therefore at the unavoidable Blunders the thirteenth Antique made them commit, they stood still like Fools, gazing at one another:  None daring to unmask, or speak a Word; for that would have put all the Spectators into a Disorder and Confusion.  Cardinal Mazarmi (who was the chief Contriver of these Entertainments, to divert the King from more serious Thoughts) stood close by the young Monarch, with the Scheme of the Ballet in his Hand.  Knowing therefore that this Dance was to consist but of twelve Antiques, and taking notice that there were actually thirteen, he at first imputed it to some Mistake.  But, afterwards, when he perceived the Confusion of the Dancers, he made a more narrow Enquiry into the Cause of this Disorder.  To be brief, they convinced the Cardinal that it could be no Error of theirs, by a kind of Demonstration, in that they had but twelve Antique Dresses of that sort, which were made on purpose for this particular Ballet.  That which made it seem the greater Mystery was, that when they came behind the Scenes to uncase, and examine the Matter, they found but twelve Antiques, whereas on the Stage there were thirteen . . .

“Let him say it.  Let him say he didn’t mean it, the rotten Irishman!”

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Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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