Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

22 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



MR SHORT STORY. 1 THE PROPOSAL. I B? JOHN BENEDICT. I -And 0 this _aII?" asked the lawyer. He wa.a called, by courtesy, "literary executer/' but peer Angelique knew that this was ouly to spare her veelings. The hard-beaded business man was going a!! over her late husband's writings—hia papers, both published and unpublished; his note-books; even the hali'-nuisrhed ei?crts that <*very author shrinks from exposing— net to do Godfrey honour, not even to see how imch of a living would be left for Barbara and herself.. N o-t.1iI.a real object was to find out whether enoug-h could he equeezed fut of the royalties and the copy- rights, and all the other things that Ang'e- liJue dlli:;¡'t understand, to pay Godirey's debts—his lavish and f-plendid debts, which contracted, like everything he had coBtracted, with a prodigal Hand in royal .fashion. He had been like that—in his writing, so spendthrift of his strength and power it 'had brought on his sudden and early death, in hie living, liberal unthinking, just so long as it had been luxitrious. -N-e,.vc-pap4aT work and magazine articles—they had beeH as nroJiSc as h'a poetry'; he had comm,lld-2<1 the market price, and he had spent the proceeds aa quicK'y as he ,had earned the!B. The little wife. with her old world ill-elas 4 thwft, could not but shudder as sne realised hc.w wasteful he must have b&cn To sq;;anJo@? such largcase in so short a time. Sh<? recalled hew Godfrey had hated to hare anyone touch his papeis; e-he, his wi_fe, in all her dusting had never so much as glanced &t a single line. And here was this "literai-'v executor nlicg and tabulating .all those gossamer rainbows of Godfrey's brain jnst as if they were stocks or bonds or cattte or auything else from which a -penny might be wrung. "You see," said Mr. Brieneigh, vnth a professtonal wrinkle to his brow, "all "his work of Mr. Barstow's, while it's very and. just now,, very -popular, won't, I'm afraid, bring in enough money to saJ;i=f" v the creditors—not right away, any- how, and the creditors want their money this minute- "Whut the Marlb-7,roughs--I,lr. Par- stop's publishers, you know, Mrs. Bar- stow ''—he spoke as to an uncomprehending child—" want to do, and what we've got to dcr In order to raise enough mooey. is to boost Tour husband's work—give it a f-esh Etart in some wav or other, so that it will attract !Lt-:ntion the public will buy twice as much of it as they've beeR doing. If vou had something of bis—1 don't care how short it is, so it hasn't been in print— that we could spring on 'cm while tile iron is hot, so to speak. we might yet turn the trick. We coutd double cur sales on hie entire works if we could adverti se that in O!lE' of the books tnNe was something never 1).forc published. You haven't got any. thig of the sort. have you, Mrs. Barstow! You' d, ,-i't know of any euch poe in? You cert!"inlv need it now, if ever you lid, and so do 'vour creditors." AI'blic¡n paled suddenly. GodfrcY'E love-making had been as tempestuous as hi- p&et:v making; he had, indeed, combined the two. How well she remembered the sunriMr he had appeared in Tours, where she th,- daughter of a professor in the uni- vers i ty had met him. Godfrey had been studying he not been doing anything but 'livmg, warmly, fully, richly, as was h's wont and, with huge pront. putting his ex- periences into his work. It had bwu almost love ..t first sight between the big. blond, anA the demure. brown-eyed Frc.nch girL If she had never drmoo of anvonc so magniDccnt, so im- petuc.ue, so like a fairy-tale prince, neither had 1-1-0 ever fc.ucd a girl so completely to his liking.. The wocing had ended in a i ki.nd .j of whirlwind one June morning, when he had brought her a p<K'm, "The Proposal, say- mo- that she, it.3 iuspiration, must give him her Mswer. The English of the lyno had be<n pbin to her. hut just the sound of the impa3ioned syllabus would have Ocn enogh; thev had needed no translation. Her a4iswer "had not been slow in coming, and it had been worthy her lover's lyric. All("¡!liqu treasured that poem 'as she treasured nothing else. It had a Ie shrine &U to \ta<?f; no oM hcrse.f ?had e\e'- seen it. Some day she would show it to Barbara and tell her all it meant, but not yet—not, until the girl wa,3 older and more sytnpa.thctic. Now, at eighteen, she &Mmed to have little in common with her w lao sometimes felt very much alOll;) in a strange laud. Brcught up in the modern Enghsh )n., Barbara wns, a'-)ove all, Her undoubted musical talent was the only trace she showed of b,n.9 a poet' daugh- tsr No, it. would be a long tijae hef.e BarbAra could be permitted to read The Propo&il." P&rhapc, when the girl hersett was in love—— But Angeiique could -not conceive even her practical daughter in lovo with one of the mcdern young men. How diSercnt they were from Godfrey! How lacking in his tenderness, hig steadfastness! Imagine one of them wooing a girl with "The Frcpccal'" "Well Mrs. B<1rst()w," pursued the law'ver "can't you put your hand on some rtf's thing of Tour husband's that, for some rensall or other, he never printed? Some- thing that you've got tucked away some- where that nobody knows about? If we can catch too public with a fresh one before ilie to"-ue is gone. there's money in it." Barbajra, who had entered the room, hea.rd lI.r. Erieileigh's last words. "I can he!p you cut," she said, with her customary dircctnc&a. "At least, I think I can. I saw au old po,-m. of father's the other da- that I knew lias never bæn published. It wac in an oid autograph album, and it niust have been written v.hcii he was very 'oung-l.11g before he met you, another, ior it was awfully nt,lll1èal. I wonder why fa.tLer never p?b?ked it. He never wrote anything more to tiic popular taste, I'm t-ure. "Where did you say you saw this. Miss Barbara.?" asked, the lawyer. He was regarding the girl with the respect that one practical mmd fe;els for another. It wsd entirely diSerent from his manner towards Mrs. Barstow. "'V.' ell, you I was visiting in Store- ?m—father'? o!d honte, you know—the par- ticular bi'ier patch where he wa? born and bred. Thev think a lot of him down there -he's one of their few celebrities—and one day I.wa6 viÚti!Jg' a muso where the mother got out a funny old b04,k, an autograph album with covers all inlaid with mcther- vere the fa-shion, it aeems, thousands of years ago—and showed me this poem written by father to her, signed with his name, the date, and all in hi.s own hand- writing. The iak was faded, and the paper torn, but that poem, was hot stun. Anybody living in any other place would have had it published. long ago, and gathered in what- ever wa<s to be got from it. Jn?t' the fact that you'd had such a poem written to you bv Godfrey Barstow would mean fame for any wonjan. But down there they're slow. I don't wonder father ptillcd out' as soon aa h€ could." Angeiique smiled in "happy on. Barbara was not without sympathy, a.fte: all. "Some day you shall w a po,-mthat your father wrote to me," said the mother to ner daughter. "I don't know whether you would call it—wha.t is it that you said? Oh, yes— 4 hc.t stun.' But It M very beautiful. He wrote it for —a alone. No on- elee, in a.U these years, has ever aocn it. Cnder no circurastances would it be to publish it-it is ton intimate, to personal. But ycu, some day, I c-hall show it to You alone shall share it with me." "I thought the old lady looked as if she had someth-ing up her sleeve.' observed the iawyer to himself. Aloud, he raid, "Wol!, I gU(>.ss you've got just what we want, Miss Barbara. Where and when can we get hol<i of thi6 p'x-m? We mustn't let the grass grow under our feat, you know." "Oh, I have it here," returned Barbsra, t:lk:ug a folded paper from the bag in her baud. "I copied it right out of the auto- graph album then and theie. I tai-cin:t know, then, how tangled up father's aHairs were, nor how much mother needed the money— not to.speak of the creditors—hut I saw that there w3. prcnt in that poem. I've on!y waited till the came to epea.k ab.iut it. I waD<:ed to copyright it first, for one thing, and tnen, it t.< so passionate, you kr:ow—I set it to m'\L3ie and copyrighted that. Once it gt'Jt into, prÍrLt. somebody would he sure to make a song o.f it-it makea a pe:1ch of a goag—and I -oiii- to have anvbodv else make mone-v o,t of it." "Good for you. Miss 'Hnrbara!" cried th<- "No need for the family forturea to "low let's hear the w  i ,e you're rorn d pc-em and your soHg, "I'll read you te popxi first," said Bar- bara. unfolding her paper. "It's called 'The PropDsai.' and it begim—— Why, w.hat'a the matter with mothct?" As soon as An-C-liqt,,e was able te rise front* t'Le b<rd where Barbara and the lawyer had carried her, she crossed the room to her nttio ole,-f-,ishicn42cl mahogany cabinet. She preyed the spring thut* opened the secret driver. Out of a. €adcd satin case she took a f{)ld,d paper, with creases that all but dropDed apart. Her tears fell on the faded writi'ng', with its burning, pMsipnats words, but they were tears of forgiveness. "V.'hat matter.; it if there was another," phc whispered brokenly. "What I cannot understand ie how anyone could have re- sisted him. It is very, very strange," and .he pres-ed her lips to tha paper, as she always pressed them whenever she took the paper from its shrine. In the next room, Barbara, sat down at the piano.. "Xow, I'll give you the song, she sai-d. "IV,kat would mother have done, I wonder, had I told her the actwat fa6t'—tha.t half the old autograph albums in Storeham had that Proposal poem of father's—written to different girls, you know, at dISerent times; each g'Irl, until they got to comparing notes, being under the impression that .she-had in- spLrcd it. that it was written to her alcne. Father rnu.t ha-ve been some boy, mustn't !he? Or RiaybR it's with poets as with prophet—not without honour save in the.r own country. I wonder whether he wore hie hair long-? Oh, the girls must have made fuB. of him, if he did WeH, they're proud enough of him now, and of the poem he once wrote to half the girls. though, when it was written, they probably laughed, at him and caned him a sentimental goose behind his back. I don't believe one of them took hinr or his poem seriously. It was a case of cast- ing pearls before—terrapin. Not until he laid The Proposal at dear little mother's feet did it meet the reward it deserved."



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