Successful Recitations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about Successful Recitations.
of “Henry, Henry!” from the upper story.  The burglars caught it also.  They desisted from their occupation of examining the articles of vertu upon the chimney-piece, while their fiendish countenances relaxed into a hideous grin.  One of them stole cautiously towards the door where I was standing.  I hear his burglarious feet, I heard the “Henry, Henry!” still going on from above-stairs; I heard my own heart pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat within me.  It was one of those moments in which one lives a life.  The head of the craped marauder was projected cautiously round the door, as if to listen.  I poised my weapon, and brought it down with unerring aim upon his skull.  He fell like a bullock beneath the axe, and I sped up to my bedchamber with all the noiselessness and celerity of a bird.  It was I who locked the door this time, and piled the washhand-stand, two band-boxes, and a chair against it with the speed of lightning.

Was Mrs. B. out of her mind with terror that at such an hour as that she should indulge in a paroxysm of mirth?

“Good heavens!” I cried, “be calm, my love; there are burglars in the house at last.”

“My dear Henry,” she answered, laughing so that the tears quite stood in her eyes, “I am very sorry; I tried to call you back.  But when I sent you downstairs, I quite forgot that this was the morning upon which I had ordered the sweeps!”

One of those gentlemen was at that moment lying underneath with his skull fractured, and it cost me fifteen pounds to get it mended, besides the expense of a new drawing-room carpet.

   —­From “Humorous Stories” by James Payn.  By permission of
   Messrs. Chatto & Windus



  It was a cloudy, dismal day, and I was all alone,
  For early in the morning John Earl and Nathan Stone
  Came riding up the lane to say—­I saw they both looked pale—­
  That Anderson the murderer had broken out of jail.

  They only stopped a minute, to tell my man that he
  Must go to the four corners, where all the folks would be;
  They were going to hunt the country, for he only had been gone
  An hour or so when they missed him, that morning just at dawn.

John never finished his breakfast; he saddled the old white mare. 
She seemed to know there was trouble, and galloped as free and fair
And even a gait as she ever struck when she was a five-year-old: 
The knowingest beast we ever had, and worth her weight in gold.

He turned in the saddle and called to me—­I watched him from
the door—­
“I shan’t be home to dinner,” says he, “but I’ll be back by four. 
I’d fasten the doors if I was you, and keep at home to-day;”
And a little chill came over me as I watched him ride away.

I went in and washed the dishes—­I was sort of scary too. 
We had ’ranged to go away that day.  I hadn’t much to do,
Though I always had some sewing work, and I got it and sat down;
But the old clock tick-tacked loud at me, and I put away the gown.

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Successful Recitations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.