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Selected Short Stories of the World

World Literature.


Hashnu the Stonecutter
A Japanese Story Hashnu the Stonecutter sat beside the highway cutting stone. It was hard work, and the sun shone hot upon him. "Ah me!" said Hashnu, "if one only did not have to work all day. I would that I could sit and rest, and not have to ply this heavy mallet. Just then there was a great commotion, and Hashnu saw a crowd of people coming up the road. When they drew nearer he noticed that one of them was the King. On his right side rode soldiers, all arrayed in armor and ready to do his bidding, while on the left rode courtiers, seeking to serve him and win his favor. And Hashnu, watching, thought what a fine thing it would be to be a King, and to have soldiers to do his bidding, and courtiers to serve him, and he said: "Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only a King could be." At once he heard a voice say: "Be thou the King." Then in a moment Hashnu found that he was no longer the stonecutter, sitting beside the highway with a heavy mallet in his hand, but the King, dressed in armor, riding in the midst of soldiers and courtiers, and all about him doing homage. He rode very proudly for a while, and his subjects bowed low before him. But the armor was heavy, and the helmet pressed hard upon his brow, and his head throbbed with the weight of it. He was indeed weary and faint with the heat, because, though a King, the sun beat hot upon him! And he said to himself: "Lo, I am the King, and yet the sun can make me faint and weary. I had thought that to be a King was to be stronger than anything else, but the sun is stronger than the King!" And as they rode further, and the sun still beat hard upon him, he said: "Ah me, ah me, If Hashnu only the sun could be!" Then he heard a voice say: "Be thou the sun."

riding among his courtiers. until a cloud came between him and the earth. and heard the sound of his heavy mallet striking upon its head. and pouring rain upon the fields and the meadows. If Hashnu only the rock could be!" Then he heard a voice say: "Be thou the rock. and the meadows were turned into swamps. and a mallet on the ground beside him. Hashnu lamented. shining hot upon the fields and the meadows. shutting off the rays of the sun." Then Hashnu found himself again sitting beside the highway with a chisel in his hand. yet would the stonecutter change and alter it. Hashnu. with the wind blowing hard. and the grain rotted in the ground. and can pour my waters upon the earth and flood the fields and the meadows. If Hashnu only the stonecutter could be!" And he heard a voice say: "Be thou thyself. and Hashnu. but became heavier and blacker. and the wind had blown hard against it and had no effect. so that his rays no longer fell upon the fields and the cities of men. for he thought he was doing very finely indeed. and it fell too heavily. And he said: "For all I am strong. shining fiercely upon the earth. I. but only a grateful . Then he knew that. blazing high in the heavens. and pouring water upon the earth. And he said: "Ah me." Then. he felt the sharp point of a stonecutter's chisel. but the rock. filling the rivers and the streams to overflowing. and the rock before him. though the water had fallen upon the rock and been unable to change it. lamenting. and my rays fell upon the fields and the cities. riding in the sky. and the rays of the sun were now shadowed by the cloud. I am the sun. ah me. said: "Ah me. but the sun. he felt that he was stronger than all. But as he looked down upon the earth he saw that a rock beside the highway stood unmoved and firm. for all of his raining and blowing. and the wind blew. Now. yet does that rock defy my power. and was very proud. But Hashnu thought he was doing great things. But even as he rejoiced. and make it take whatever shape he desired.And in a moment he was no longer the King." And in a moment he was no longer the cloud. But he did not know how to let down the rain wisely. And Hashnu said: "Lo. If Hashnu only the cloud could be. ah me. and grass and grain were dried up and withered. and all acknowledge my power. and trees were uprooted. from which no rain fell. and said: "Ah me. but the cloud. But Hashnu cared for none of these things. and can blow down trees and destroy ities. he allowed his rays to fall too fiercely upon the world. and houses fell before it. would be stronger than the rock!" But the rock was unchanged. because the cloud would not go. fixed and unmoved beside the highway. and the rivers rose high and destroyed the fields and the cities. ah me. for it shuts off my rays from the earth. at last. But the cloud is stronger than the sun. And the King had gone by. As he did not know how to shine. and men lamented because of the cruelty of the heat." And in a moment he was no longer the sun.

but I. He tried to make love to me. "What is the weight of that basket you carry. Bata said. the cloud was stronger than the sun. the rock was stronger than the cloud. The Two Brothers An Egyptian Story There were once two brothers. and harvesting the grain. One day Anpu announced that it was time to plow the fields and sow the seeds." Bata found a large basket. At Anpu's house. he saw me fixing my hair. Her clothes were torn." Anpu's wife replied. "Get the seed yourself. Bata worked hard for his brother. Oh Anpu. And he said that he would hurt me more if I told you what had happened. saying. And he instructed his brother to take sacks of seed out to the fields. Anpu is waiting. and his wife was in bed moaning and weeping. kill him for me. . am stronger than all. Anpu had a wife. and handsome. waiting to kill his brother. "Anpu is like a father to me. He was very good at his work." Bata replied. and you are like a mother to me. plowing the fields. The animals would even speak to him. Bata came to live with Anpu and his wife. Stay with me and let us make love. Hashnu. And. Anpu was the older. I won't tell anyone of the evil words that you have said. and filled it with seed. And Anpu will never know. And Hashnu said: "The sun was stronger than the King. Anpu's wife said." She said." And so he worked on. and beat me. and doing many other tasks. And never let me hear them again. he carried the basket through the house. "There are three sacks of wheat and two of barley. and hid behind the door of the cattle pen. Anpu demanded that she tell him what had happened. or I will surely die." He picked up his basket. She replied. Bata found Anpu's wife fixing her hair. no food had been cooked. he realized that something was wrong." Anpu was angry like a leopard. and owned a farm. He took a spear.shade. "When your brother came to fetch the seed." Bata replied in horror. They spent the next few days plowing and sowing seeds. No fire had been lit. and she seemed to be bruised. "How strong you are. now well content to do each day his added task. I'm busy with my hair. 'Is not Anpu like a father to you? And am I not like a mother to you?' And he became angry. When Anpu got back home. And I refused. and rushed out into the fields. Then Anpu sent Bata back for more seeds. Bata was the younger. "Get up and get me some seed.

She tried to flee." One day. and said that she would die a sudden death. She escaped. He killed his wife. without giving me a chance to explain?" And Bata told his side of the story. And he hid his heart in the branches of a tree. and was sick at heart. Run away while you can. "Your brother hides with a spear. who judges between the bad and the good. And they saw that Bata was lonely. The first cow said to Bata. And the hair floated to where the washermen of the King were washing the King's clothes. And Anpu believed him. I will be in danger of dying. And he plans to kill you. "Stay in the house. or the sea may try to carry you away. And he took the lock of hair to the King. Bata loved her. The sea took the lock of hair. "O my good lord. And when the gods breathed life into her. Come to the valley of cedars and search for my heart. Bata called out to Ra. Every day. Then Bata took out his knife and cut himself. The river was wide and full of crocodiles." And Ra heard Bata's prayer. you will know that I need your help. And when the cedar tree is cut down. And the King's advisers said. behind the door. And I shall hide my heart in a cedar tree. And. But the tree caught her by the hair. when Bata had gone out to hunt. the nine gods were walking in the valley. And there is little I could do to save you. "I must go to the valley of cedars. The two brothers stood on opposite banks of the river. and rested until his wound had healed. to be healed." Bata would not believe the cow. And I will come back to life again. One day. with his brother. But I must leave you." And the King wanted to make this woman his Queen. And the King complained of this. the sea saw her. "This is a lock of hair from a daughter of Ra. his wife grew bored and went out for a walk. Anpu chased him in great anger.When the sun had gone down. Bata spoke again. and caused a river to flow between them. He hunted wild beasts and built a house for himself. save me. as she stood beneath the tree. where the Nile took it. But the second cow gave him the same warning. and threw her body to the dogs. leaving a lock of her hair in the tree. "Ra delivers the wicked to the just. on his potters wheel. The seven Hathors gathered to declare her fate. This happened every day. and surged up the valley to get her. and went home. As he ran. If your beer turns sour. he warned her. And the sweet-smelling hair caused the King's clothes to smell like perfume. as he left to hunt wild animals. Anpu promised to obey his brother. . One day the overseer of the washermen saw the lock of hair caught in the reeds. and he fell to the ground. Put my heart in a bowl of water. Then he saw his brother's feet behind the door. He ordered that it be brought to him. And he was afraid and ran away. and carried it to Egypt. And he knew that whoever saw her would desire her. And he smelled its sweet smell. And he longed to be on the other side of the river. they saw that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Bata returned with the cattle. Bata traveled to the valley of cedars. Why did you try to kill me. Bata shouted to Anpu. And Ra ordered Khnum to make a wife for Bata.

The heart grew as it absorbed water. And with the soldiers. he sent a woman to give jewels to Bata's wife. "I am Bata. And the soldiers chopped up the tree and dispersed the pieces. There he found his brother dead. and left the room. and slaves. He searched in vain for three years. . But it was Bata's dried up heart. he found what he thought was a seed. and silver. Eventually. so that I would be destroyed. who was now the Queen. And the soldiers cut down the tree. and there was much rejoicing. And the bull was sacrificed. for he is nothing to you. Then return to your house. And he immediately put on his sandals. At the same moment that Bata died. Bata came back to life. But he remembered his brother's instruction and searched for his heart. That evening. and land. And its blood splattered on each side the gate of the palace. "And who are you?" He replied. the King sat at a feast. And he said. The Queen said. As the tree fell. And he put it in a bowl of water. for I am alive. The King rewarded Anpu with gold. and hastened to the valley of cedars. he said to himself. and grabbed his spear and his staff. I will go back home. The King was told of this miracle. Bata fell down dead. Bata encountered his wife. And near the end of the day. and sat down to wait. and he wept. And there was rejoicing throughout the land. And his strength returned to him. Bata's wife told this woman that Bata's heart was hidden in the tree." The next day. Bata would die. "Tomorrow. And she said to him. and then swallowed his own heart. And it was you who caused the tree to be cut down. And you will ride me back to Egypt. All returned to say that they had failed to find the woman. two persea trees sprang up next to the palace gate. And the two brothers embraced. But the next day." The next day. Anpu's beer began to bubble and turn sour. But I am alive. he commanded that the bull be sacrificed. and that Bata's wife was the woman that he sought. Bata changed into a bull. "If I don't find my brother's heart tomorrow. And Anpu returned to his house. And he longed to return to Egypt. and that if the tree were cut down. And he will reward you. "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would.The King sent many messengers to all lands. Lead me before the King. But one returned from the valley of the cedars to say that his companions had been killed by Bata. Bata said. And Anpu rode him to Egypt. and he swallowed the remaining water." She asked. but was very weak. At the beginning of the fourth year. I will change myself into a sacred bull. he searched again. The King sent many soldiers to fetch Bata's wife. That night. and led him before the King. and to tell her that the King wanted to make her a queen." The king was upset at her request." And she trembled in fear. "Look upon me. with his Queen. "I desire to eat the liver of the sacred bull. Then Anpu held the bowl to Bata's lips.

I am Bata. the Queen gave birth to a son. Then he died. a chip of wood flew from one of the trees. should die for her crimes. In time the King died. But. And it made the Queen become pregnant. "It is my desire that those two persea trees be chopped down. Later. Bata ruled Egypt for thirty years. As the Queen stood watching. "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. you are the one who caused the cedar tree to be cut down. the Queen said. and rejoined the gods. . I am still alive. when the King and Queen were feasting.One day the King and Queen were standing in the shade of one of the trees. And she was led away to be killed. And the court agreed. The King loved him. But the next day the King and Queen watched as the trees were cut down. to make furniture for me. The Queen said. After many days. And his brother Anpu then ruled Egypt. and told everyone the story of his life. And his son succeeded him as King. who had become his mother." And the Queen was afraid. and flew into her mouth. And he judged that his wife. and made him heir to the throne. and she swallowed it. "False woman. The new King (who was Bata) summoned his court. And the tree spoke to the Queen. and you made the King slaughter the bull." The King was troubled by her request.

He appeared in the priest’s study one day. “Is there anything else?” inquired the priest. tall and earnest. and walking toward Thord. “I should like very much to have him baptized by himself. The peasant hesitated a little. “That is to say on a week day?” “Next Saturday. “There is yet this. and proved to be the best men and women of Thord’s relations in the parish. he took him by the hand and looked gravely into his eyes: “God grant that the child may become a blessing to you!” One day sixteen years later. “There is nothing else.” said he. you carry your age astonishingly well. at twelve o’clock noon. and looked up.—after my father. however. Then the priest arose. Thord. “That is because I have no troubles.” replied Thord. “and I wish to present him for baptism. Thord stood once more in the priest’s study.” “What shall his name be?” “Finn. for he saw no change whatever in the man. as though he were about to go.The Father By: Björnstjerne Björnson THE MAN whose story is here to be told was the wealthiest and most influential person in his parish. his name was Thord Overaas. .” “Is there anything else?” inquired the priest.” and the peasant twirled his cap.” said he finally. “I have gotten a son.” said the priest.” said he. “Really.” “And the sponsors?” They were mentioned.

“I am here to request that the banns may be published for my son. . stroking back his hair with one hand. without making any comments. for many men were approaching. daughter of Gudmund.” “So they say. who entered first. Thord. and here are ten dollars for the priest.” said the priest.” “He will stand number one. “You come well attended this evening. Eight years more rolled by. that is the richest girl in the parish.” “So I have heard. Thord. I want to do it handsomely. but after a while he asked: “What is the pleasure this evening?” “I have come this evening about that son of mine who is to be confirmed to-morrow.” said he. The priest looked up and recognized him. “This is now the third time.” Thord went out. “One is all I am to have.To this the priest said nothing.” replied the peasant. he is about to marry Karen Storliden.” The priest took the money. The priest sat awhile as if in deep thought. “I know that very well. fixing his eyes on Thord.” “But now I am through with him. and folding up his pocket-book he said farewell and walked away.” “He is a bright boy. but he is my only child. The men slowly followed him. that you have come here on your son’s account. “There is nothing else. Thord laid three dollars on the table. and then one day a noise was heard outside of the priest’s study.” “I did not wish to pay the priest until I heard what number the boy would have when he takes his place in church to-morrow. and the men wrote their signatures underneath.” “Why. then entered the names in his book. and at their head was Thord.” said Thord.” “Is there anything else I can do for you?” inquired the priest. who stands here beside me.

“It is half the price of my gard. still day. then some more. springing to his feet and holding out the oar. long silence followed. I want it to be invested as a legacy in my son’s name. It might have been about a year from that day. There rose some bubbles. he was dragging the lake for the body of his son. and took a seat. For three days and three nights people saw the father rowing round and round the spot. uttered a shriek. and stood still in front of him. late one autumn evening. and fell overboard.” . heard some one in the passage outside of the door. and began to row toward his son. laid some money on the table. but gently:— “What do you propose to do now.” The priest sat long in silence. as though he must surely come to the surface again.” said Thord. carefully trying to find the latch. with bowed form and white hair. thin man. But when the son had made a couple of efforts he grew stiff. and in walked a tall. he held the boat still. the father and son were rowing across the lake. and carried it in his arms up over the hills to his gard. as though waiting. when the priest. And toward morning of the third day he found it. and finally one large one that burst. The priest sat down also. It was Thord. and stood up to straighten the seat on which he was sitting. and stared at the spot where his son had gone down.” said he. and sank. and the lake lay there as smooth and bright as a mirror again. “It is a great deal of money. “Wait a moment!” cried the father. At last he asked. one calm. The priest opened the door. At last Thord said:— “I have something with me that I should like to give to the poor. without taking either food or sleep. “Ah.” said the son. Thord could scarcely believe it. and sat down again. The priest counted it. “This thwart is not secure. I sold it to-day.” He rose. he threw out his arms. yes! it is late. Thord?” “Something better. At the same moment the board he was standing on slipped from under him. “Are you out walking so late?” said the priest. “Take hold of the oar!” shouted the father. gave his father one long look. Then the son rolled over on his back. A long.A fortnight later. The priest looked long at him before he recognized him. to Storliden to make arrangements for the wedding.

He turned therefore away from the Lord. be there at the right time. his godfather one day appeared and bade him go with him. and said. thou shalt be godfather. "Who art thou?" "I am Death. "Thou art the right one. When thou art called to a patient. and showed him a herb which grew there. and said to him. and then came Death striding up to him with withered legs." The man said. Now it so befell that the King became ill. Death was standing by the feet of the sick man." So they said of him. If I stand by the head of the sick man." Thus spoke the man. I will give him gold in plenty and all the joys of the world as well.” said Thord. "Who art thou?" "I am God. and stood godfather quite in the usual way.” “Yes. and thou must say that all remedies are in vain. and went farther. looking up while two big tears coursed slowly down his cheeks. "Now shalt thou receive thy godfather's present. He led him forth into a forest. "I will make thy child rich and famous. I make thee a celebrated physician. The first to meet him was the good God who already knew what filled his heart. and the physician was summoned. but. and said. Then the Devil came to him and said. and will take charge of it and make it happy on earth. or it might fare ill with thee. I will risk . and that no physician in the world could save him. When therefore the thirteenth came into the world." "Then I do not desire to have thee for a godfather. and leavest the poor to hunger. and resolved to ask the first person whom he met to be godfather. Presently the priest said. "he is sure to take it ill if I do. sent for him when they had any one ill. "Next Sunday is the christening.They sat there for a while. When the boy had grown up." said the man. but ran out into the great highway." It was not long before the youth was the most famous physician in the whole world. thou takest the rich as well as the poor. I will hold thy child at its christening. slowly and softly:— “I think your son has at last brought you a true blessing. "Who art thou?" "I am the Devil. "Poor man." He went onwards. "thou deceivest men and leadest them astray. and from far and wide people came to him. he knew not what to do in his trouble. or must needs die. he is mine. "Take me as godfather. for he did not know how wisely God apportions riches and poverty. and was to say if recovery were possible." The man asked. and I make all equal." The man asked." "Then I do not desire to have thee for godfather. But beware of using the herb against my will. the priest with his eyes fixed on Thord. "thou givest to the rich." Death answered. without distinction. for he who has me for a friend can lack nothing. Godfather Death By: Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm A poor man had twelve children and was forced to work night and day to give them even bread. I pity thee." Death appeared as he had promised. and if thou givest him of this herb he will recover." Then said the man. he will shut one eye." thought the physician. "If I could but cheat Death for once. But when he came to the bed. I think so myself." said the man. thou mayst say with confidence that thou wilt make him well again. as I am his godson. Thord with downcast eyes. but if I stand by the patient's feet." The man said. and if he would recover. "He had only to look at the patient and he knew his condition at once. I will always appear to thee. and gave him so much money that he soon became a rich man. "What seekest thou? If thou wilt take me as a godfather for thy child. and the herb did not grow which could save him.

"See. so that he began to lose the sight of his eyes. and threatening him with his withered fist. for I will take thee thyself away with me. and said. When the physician came to the sick girl's bed." "I cannot." said Death. She was his only dear godfather. Then he gave the King some of the herb. and laid him the other way. He raised up the sick girl. do it for love of me. and took hold of a tall new candle. and the husband of the King's beautiful daughter. it will cost thee thy neck. and he recovered and grew healthy again. this time I will pardon it. and he caused it to be made known that whosoever rescued her from death should be her husband and inherit the crown. and he wept day and night. others half-sized. so that now Death was standing by his head. But Death came to the physician. but children and young folks likewise have often only a tiny candle. Death behaved as if he were going to fulfill his wish. but as he desired to revenge himself. and life stirred afresh in her. some large. and now he himself was in the hands of Death." "Then place the old one on a new one. he saw Death by her feet. "All is over with thee." and seized him so firmly with his ice-cold hand. "Behold. threatened him with his finger. and he thought that it would be still very tall." "Show me the light of my life. The large ones belong to children. and led him into a cave below the earth. but if thou venturest it again. he purposely made a mistake in fixing it. the half-sized ones to married people in their prime. and said. and the happiness of becoming her husband. as thou art my godson. so that the flames seemed to leap hither and thither in perpetual change. he walked up to the physician with long strides. Death pointed to a little end which was just threatening to go out." Soon afterwards the King's daughter fell into a severe illness. and others again burnt up. . Then he gave her some of the herb. but he was so infatuated by the great beauty of the King's daughter. it is there." answered Death." He therefore took up the sick man. the little ones belong to old people. that he could not resist. He did not see that Death was casting angry glances on him. Immediately the physician fell on the ground. There he saw how thousands and thousands of candles were burning in countless rows. that he flung all thought to the winds. and placed her head where her feet had lain. Every instant some were extinguished. When Death saw that for a second time he was defrauded of his own property." said the physician." "Ah. be King." said the horrified physician. and instantly her cheeks flushed red. "Thou hast overreached me. "light a new one for me. "these are the lights of men's lives. "one must go out before a new one is lighted. that he was raising his hand in the air. others small." pleaded the physician. that will go on burning at once when the old one has come to an end. and said. and the little piece fell down and was extinguished. looking very black and angry. and now the lot falls on thee. He ought to have remembered the warning given by his godfather. that I may enjoy my life.

and small. worn chairs. And these were the only things she loved. and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction. All these things. She suffered endlessly. their natural delicacy. from its mean walls. whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings. tormented and insulted her. she felt that she was made for them. and ugly curtains. lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets. murmured gallantries. gleaming silver. to be desired. with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs. She would weep whole days. feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes. created just for little parties of intimate friends. no expectations. . <2> She had no clothes. despair. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other. into a family of artisans. and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land. understood. exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments. their beauty. with grief. perfumed rooms. She suffered from the poorness of her house. When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth. loved. exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals. no means of getting known. but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her. opposite her husband. are their only mark of rank. She imagined silent antechambers. tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests. listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heartbroken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. heavy with Oriental tapestries. men who were famous and sought after.The Necklace By: Guy de Maupassant <1> She was one of those pretty and charming girls born. who took the cover off the soup-tureen. for women have no caste or class. She had longed so eagerly to charm. as though fate had blundered over her. She had no marriage portion. an old school friend whom she refused to visit. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks. overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. nothing. to be wildly attractive and sought after. and charm serving them for birth or family. their instinctive elegance. regret. She had a rich friend. their nimbleness of wit. and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. no jewels. of which other women of her class would not even have been aware. grace. and misery. charming.

* One evening her husband came home with an exultant air. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. wiping her wet cheeks: “Nothing. You never go out. Every one wants one." he persisted. something very simple?" She thought for several seconds. Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words: "The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday. and very few go to the clerks. "Look here. At last she replied with some hesitation: . "Here's something for you. stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. which you could use on other occasions as well. <3> "What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you?" he faltered. holding a large envelope in his hand. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth. I thought you'd be pleased. and said impatiently: "And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?" He had not thought about it. January the 18th. as her husband hoped. . I had tremendous trouble to get it." He stopped. darling." he said. But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice. he stammered: "Why. to me . . It looks very nice. reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk. and this is a great occasion. it's very select. Mathilde. she flung the invitation petulantly across the table. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall." He was heart-broken. "What would be the cost of a suitable dress." She looked at him out of furious eyes. murmuring: "What do you want me to do with this?" "Why. You'll see all the really big people there." Instead of being delighted. the dress you go to the theatre in.

." Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble. Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table. hesitating. and Madame Loisel seemed sad." Suddenly she discovered. She kept on asking: “Haven't you anything else?" "Yes. "I shall look absolutely no one. You know her quite well enough for that." she replied. intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went larkshooting there on Sundays. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses. of exquisite workmanship. there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women. to wear. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror."I don't know exactly. "They're very smart at this time of the year. for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun. her heart began to beat covetously. I'll give you four hundred francs. ." <4> "Wear flowers. But try and get a really nice dress with the money. took up a large box." First she saw some bracelets." he said. however. then a pearl necklace." She uttered a cry of delight. "That's true. Her dress was ready. uneasy and anxious." “I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels." She was not convinced. brought it to Madame Loisel. Nevertheless he said: "Very well. to give them up. I would almost rather not go to the party. but I think I could do it on four hundred francs. One evening her husband said to her: "What's the matter with you? You've been very odd for the last three days. a superb diamond necklace. "No . and said: "Choose. She fastened it round her neck. not a single stone. opened it. in a black satin case. I never thought of it. I don't know what you would like best. my dear. unable to make up her mind to leave them. Look for yourself. then a Venetian cross in gold and gems." "How stupid you are!" exclaimed her husband." The day of the party drew near." He grew slightly pale. and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. . upon her high dress.

and went away with her treasure. The Minister noticed her. I've no longer got Madame Forestier's necklace. and asked to be introduced to her." She flung herself on her friend's breast. with hesitation. Loisel restrained her." But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the staircase. elegant. All the men stared at her. . At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark. whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. of the desires she had aroused. . ecstatically. they began to look for one. shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance. with no thought for anything. of course. graceful. . so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. Madame Loisel was a success. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room. embraced her frenziedly. It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs. and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. in the triumph of her beauty. The necklace was no longer round her neck! <6> "What's the matter with you?" asked her husband. As for him. she asked in anguish: "Could you lend me this. I . . modest everyday clothes. for her. She turned towards him in the utmost distress. You'll catch cold in the open. and quite above herself with happiness." . inquired her name. It was the end. already half undressed. as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight. desperate and shivering. in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration. he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten. drunk with pleasure. just this alone?" "Yes. <5> She danced madly. She was the prettiest woman present. "I . . But suddenly she uttered a cry. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab. . smiling. I'm going to fetch a cab. She left about four o'clock in the morning. of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart. They walked down towards the Seine. She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in. in the pride of her success.Then. in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. The day of the party arrived. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. . "Wait a little. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away. so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs.

Her husband returned about seven. "and tell her that you've broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. declared: "We must see about replacing the diamonds. his face lined and pale. She waited all day long. She remained in her evening clothes. "What! ." "Yes. Loisel came home at night. everywhere. . in the pockets. "and see if I can't find it. He went to the police station. Impossible!" They searched in the folds of her dress. lacking strength to get into bed. without volition or power of thought. huddled on a chair. we should have heard it fall. <7> "You must write to your friend. dumbfounded." . Loisel. to offer a reward. You didn't notice it. Did you take the number of the cab?" "No. to the newspapers. he had discovered nothing. He had found nothing. in the folds of the coat. “I'll go over all the ground we walked." They stared at one another. in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe." And he went out. They could not find it. That will give us time to look about us. did you?" "No." he said.He started with astonishment. I touched it in the hall at the Ministry. to the cab companies. . everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him." She wrote at his dictation. "Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?" he asked. * By the end of a week they had lost all hope. Probably we should." "But if you had lost it in the street. "Yes." he said. At last Loisel put on his clothes again. who had aged five years.

They changed their flat. at the black misery about to fall upon him. haggling. fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money. . It was worth forty thousand francs. And. the latter said to her in a chilly voice: "You ought to have brought it back sooner. He intended to borrow the rest. stopping on each landing to get her breath. every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water. what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief? * Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. Madame. five hundred from another. he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller's counter thirty-six thousand francs. "It was not I who sold this necklace. as her friend had feared. searching for another necklace like the first. she went to the fruiterer. getting a thousand from one man. to the butcher. entered into ruinous agreements. time gained. They begged the jeweller not to sell it for three days. This fearful debt must be paid off. at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture. consulting their memories. they took a garret under the roof. a basket on her arm. if the first one were found before the end of February. wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. three louis there. I must have merely supplied the clasp. appalled at the agonising face of the future. I might have needed it. five louis here. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs. others renewed. risked his signature without even knowing if he could honour it. both ill with remorse and anguish of mind. She would pay it. open the case. He did borrow it. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand. and. the hateful duties of the kitchen. Every month notes had to be paid off. She came to know the heavy work of the house. She washed the dirty linen. The servant was dismissed. clad like a poor woman. He gave notes of hand. He consulted his books. In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. If she had noticed the substitution." Then they went from jeweller to jeweller. Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father.Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. and hung them out to dry on a string. to the grocer." She did not. From the very first she played her part heroically. She washed the plates. the shirts and dish-cloths. did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. insulted. <8> When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She spoke in a shrill voice. "Good morning. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is. Should she speak to her? Yes. . . still attractive. and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page. she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago. . still beautiful. She had become like all the other strong. And this life lasted ten years. ." The other did not recognise her. and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. . my poor Mathilde. ." ." she stammered. I've had some hard times since I saw you last. the usurer's charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest.Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant's accounts. At the end of ten years everything was paid off. <9> What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Madame . "But . she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. hard. "I don't know . . how you have changed! . everything. It was Madame Forestier. still young." "Yes." "No . I lost it. . and many sorrows . of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired. coarse women of poor households. . Why not? She went up to her. . when her husband was at the office. and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman. . . she would tell her all. Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Well?" "Well. . . certainly." Her friend uttered a cry. "Oh! . you must be making a mistake. Her hair was badly done. and all on your account. And now that she had paid. But sometimes. how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save! One Sunday. How was that?" "You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?" "Yes. as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week. . her skirts were awry." "On my account! . . Jeanne. I am Mathilde Loisel. her hands were red.

. took her two hands. my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. " . And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. Well. "Oh. and I'm glad indeed. "You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?" "Yes. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! ."How could you? Why. it's paid for at last. Madame Forestier. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike. ." < 10 > Madame Forestier had halted. deeply moved. you brought it back." "I brought you another one just like it. . . we had no money." And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness. . You realise it wasn't easy for us.

the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured. He was a man of exuberant fancy. nor to enable them to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws. withal. but. of an authority so irresistible that. when he and himself agreed upon anything. and untrammeled. he gave a signal. with its encircling galleries. by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor. a structure which well deserved its name. He was greatly given to self-communing. But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. He could open either door he pleased. When a subject was accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king. its mysterious vaults. florid. were still large. at his will. sat high up on his throne of royal state on one side of the arena. This vast amphitheater. whose ideas. although its form and plan were borrowed from afar. in which crime was punished. the thing was done. and. for nothing pleased him so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places. he turned his varied fancies into facts. a door beneath him opened. and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheater. and who ingrafted on every adopted form of human thought and action the rich growth of his barbaric idealism. his nature was bland and genial. <2> When all the people had assembled in the galleries. by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance. were two doors. whenever there was a little hitch. every barleycorn a king. its purpose emanated solely from the brain of this man. or virtue rewarded. he was subject to no guidance or influence but that . on the other side of the enclosed space. as became the half of him which was barbaric. and its unseen passages. and. exactly alike and side by side. and some of his orbs got out of their orbits. The arena of the king was built. he was blander and more genial still. but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. was an agent of poetic justice. and the king. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course. not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators. public notice was given that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the king's arena. knew no tradition to which he owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy. for. surrounded by his court. Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become semified was that of the public arena.The Lady or The Tiger? By: Frank Stockton In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king. It was the duty and the privilege of the person on trial to walk directly to these doors and open one of them. in which. who. Directly opposite him. though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors.

in the next instant. The exercises. and in the arena. This royal maiden was well satisfied with her lover. As is usual in such cases. Another door opened beneath the king. side by side. and. they were positively determinate: the accused person was instantly punished if he found himself guilty. preceded by children strewing flowers on his path. the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his great scheme of retribution and reward. or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of his own selection. took place immediately. mourning greatly that one so young and fair. whether he liked it or not. . she was the apple of his eye. until one day the king happened to discover its existence. In after years such things became commonplace enough. never before had a subject dared to love the daughter of the king. great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena. But. without having the slightest idea whether. if innocent. as well as all the people. was an especially important occasion. wended slowly their homeward way. and on some out of the other. Never before had such a case occurred.of the aforementioned impartial and incorruptible chance. they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could not otherwise have attained. and the thinking part of the community could bring no charge of unfairness against this plan. the people shouted glad hurrahs. and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on golden horns and treading an epithalamic measure. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days. and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own. of course. and to this lady he was immediately married. <3> This was the king's semi-barbaric method of administering justice. there came out of it a hungry tiger. It mattered not that he might already possess a wife and family. and she loved him with an ardor that had enough of barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong. he was rewarded on the spot. followed by a band of choristers. but then they were in no slight degree novel and startling. The youth was immediately cast into prison. The moment that the case of the criminal was thus decided. and the vast audience. the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects. There was no escape from the judgments of the king's arena. and a priest. The institution was a very popular one. should have merited so dire a fate. He did not hesitate nor waver in regard to his duty in the premises. This. which immediately sprang upon him and tore him to pieces as a punishment for his guilt. and a day was appointed for his trial in the king's arena. The criminal could not know out of which door would come the lady. as a reward of his innocence. The decisions of this tribunal were not only fair. Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals. was greatly interested in the workings and development of this trial. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens. Thus. and the innocent man. if the accused person opened the other door. as in the other instance. the fiercest and most cruel that could be procured. and was loved by him above all humanity. with bowed heads and downcast hearts. doleful iron bells were clanged. there came forth from it a lady. If he opened the one. This love affair moved on happily for many months. and the wedding was promptly and cheerily solemnized. for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands? This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies. On some occasions the tiger came out of one door. he was to be devoured or married. led his bride to his home. the masses were entertained and pleased. or so old and respected. advanced to where the pair stood. for he was handsome and brave to a degree unsurpassed in all this kingdom. Its perfect fairness is obvious. and his majesty. he opened either he pleased.

and the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land were carefully surveyed by competent judges in order that the young man might have a fitting bride in case fate did not determine for him a different destiny. and sometimes she thought these glances were perceived. thought of denying the fact. Possessed of more power. but how could she know that? The girl was lovely. The signal was given. but he did not think at all of that royal personage. she had thought of nothing. it may have been on most unimportant topics. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there! As the youth advanced into the arena he turned. or imagined that she had seen. and. From the moment that the decree had gone forth that her lover should decide his fate in the king's arena. and crowds. No matter how the affair turned out. but the king would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of the tribunal. she had done what no other person had done . nor any one else. Through these thick doors. opposite the twin doors. with its open front. but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absent on an occasion in which she was so terribly interested. It was one of the fairest and loveliest of the damsels of the court who had been selected as the reward of the accused youth. and neither he. heavily curtained with skins on the inside. should her door be opened. From far and near the people gathered. which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the princess. it was impossible that any noise or suggestion should come from within to the person who should approach to raise the latch of one of them. should he be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him. with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her . stood the cage of the tiger. influence. those fateful portals. and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events. his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety. Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable that lady would not have been there. massed themselves against its outside walls. The appointed day arrived. and in which waited the lady. A door beneath the royal party opened. but this great event and the various subjects connected with it. as the custom was. and thronged the great galleries of the arena. but much can be said in a brief space.<4> The tiger-cages of the kingdom were searched for the most savage and relentless beasts. who sat to the right of her father. Now and then she had seen them talking together. so terrible in their similarity. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived among them. and the power of a woman's will. but she had dared to raise her eyes to the loved one of the princess. beautiful. from which the fiercest monster might be selected for the arena. But gold. it was but for a moment or two. <5> And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge. Of course. All was ready. everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. and the princess hated her. His eyes were fixed upon the princess. fair. but she knew who the lady was. had brought the secret to the princess. in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. He had loved the princess. The king and his court were in their places. to bow to the king. the youth would be disposed of. she.she had possessed herself of the secret of the doors. and even returned. unable to gain admittance. and the lover of the princess walked into the arena. that lay behind those doors. night or day. Tall. this fair creature throwing glances of admiration upon the person of her lover. Often had she seen. all blushing and radiant. and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested in such a case. She knew in which of the two rooms.

and when she had seen them walk away together upon their path of flowers. as in his soul he knew she would succeed. Every eye but his was fixed on the man in the arena. out of which it is difficult to find our way. Every heart stopped beating.through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors. hidden to all other lookers-on. No one but her lover saw her. she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door. with his joyous followers. and made a slight. There was not an instant to be lost. He had expected her to know it. The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery. that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger. with her flushing cheek and sparkling eye of triumph. in her waking hours and in her dreams. his whole frame kindled with the joy of recovered life. Now. or did the lady ? The more we reflect upon this question. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion. Then it was that his quick and anxious glance asked the question: "Which?" It was as plain to her as if he shouted it from where he stood. but upon that hot-blooded. She raised her hand. not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself. he saw she had succeeded. and make them man and wife before her very eyes. when she had seen the priest. the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door. and his eye met hers as she sat there. it must be answered in another. He understood her nature. but who should have him? How often. She had lost him. Without the slightest hesitation. when she saw his start of rapturous delight as he opened the door of the lady! How her soul had burned in agony when she had seen him rush to meet that woman. her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. semi-barbaric princess. and with a firm and rapid step he walked across the empty space. He turned. when she had seen him lead her forth. fair reader. When her lover turned and looked at her. even to the king. The question was asked in a flash. and the wild ringing of the happy bells. quick movement toward the right. <6> Her right arm lay on the cushioned parapet before her. he went to the door on the right. followed by the tremendous shouts of the hilarious multitude. Think of it. and opened it. by that power of quick perception which is given to those whose souls are one. advance to the couple. and covered her face with her hands as she thought of her lover opening the door on the other side of which waited the cruel fangs of the tiger! But how much oftener had she seen him at the other door! How in her grievous reveries had she gnashed her teeth. and the moment he looked upon her. the harder it is to answer. every breath was held. and torn her hair. and behind which stood the lady. and his soul was assured that she would never rest until she had made plain to herself this thing. paler and whiter than any one in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her. every eye was fixed immovably upon that man. he saw. when she had heard the glad shouts from the multitude. in which her one despairing shriek was lost and drowned! <7> . had she started in wild horror.

she had decided what she would answer. and it is not for me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer it. without the slightest hesitation.Would it not be better for him to die at once. and. but it had been made after days and nights of anguished deliberation. And so I leave it with all of you: Which came out of the opened door . The question of her decision is one not to be lightly considered. and go to wait for her in the blessed regions of semi-barbaric futurity? And yet. she had moved her hand to the right. She had known she would be asked. that awful tiger.the lady. or the tiger? . those shrieks. that blood! Her decision had been indicated in an instant.

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