An Avenger

Shortly after finding his wife in flagrante delicto Fyodor Fyodorovitch Sigaev was standing in Schmuck and Co.'s, the gunsmiths, selecting a suitable revolver. His countenance expressed wrath, grief, and unalterable determination. "I know what I must do," he was thinking. "The sanctities of the home are outraged, honour is trampled in the mud, vice is triumphant, and therefore as a citizen and a man of honour I must be their avenger. First, I will kill her and her lover and then myself." He had not yet chosen a revolver or killed anyone, but already in imagination he saw three bloodstained corpses, broken skulls, brains oozing from them, the commotion, the crowd of gaping spectators, the post-mortem. . . . With the malignant joy of an insulted man he pictured the horror of the relations and Read more [...]

The Cayote

by Mark Twain Another night of alternate tranquillity and turmoil.  But morning came,by and by.  It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expansesof level greensward, bright sunlight, an impressive solitude utterlywithout visible human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere ofsuch amazing magnifying properties that trees that seemed close at handwere more than three mile away.  We resumed undress uniform, climbeda-top of the flying coach, dangled our legs over the side, shoutedoccasionally at our frantic mules, merely to see them lay their ears backand scamper faster, tied our hats on to keep our hair from blowing away,and leveled an outlook over the world-wide carpet about us for things newand strange to gaze at.  Even at this day it thrills me through andthrough Read more [...]

St. John’s Eve

A STORY TOLD BY THE SACRISTAN OF THE DIKANKA CHURCHThoma Grigroovitch had one very strange eccentricity: to the day of his death he never liked to tell the same thing twice. There were times when, if you asked him to relate a thing afresh, he would interpolate new matter, or alter it so that it was impossible to recognise it. Once upon a time, one of those gentlemen who, like the usurers at our yearly fairs, clutch and beg and steal every sort of frippery, and issue mean little volumes, no thicker than an A B C book, every month, or even every week, wormed this same story out of Thoma Grigorovitch, and the latter completely forgot about it. But that same young gentleman, in the pea-green caftan, came from Poltava, bringing with him a little book, and, opening it in the middle, showed it to Read more [...]

London Recreations

The wish of per­sons in the hum­bler classes of life, to ape the man­ners and cus­toms of those whom for­tune has placed above them, is of­ten the sub­ject of re­mark, and not un­fre­quently of com­plaint. The in­cli­na­tion may, and no doubt does, ex­ist to a great ex­tent, among the small gen­til­ity—the would-be ar­is­to­crats—of the mid­dle classes. Trades­men and clerks, with fash­ion­able nov­el-read­ing fam­i­lies, and cir­cu­lat­ing-li­brary-sub­scrib­ing daugh­ters, get up small as­sem­blies in hum­ble im­i­ta­tion of Al­mack’s, and prom­e­nade the dingy ‘large room’ of some sec­ond-rate hotel Read more [...]

Kassyan of Fair Springs

by Ivan Turgenev I was re­turn­ing from hunt­ing in a jolt­ing lit­tle trap, and over­come by the sti­fling heat of a cloudy sum­mer day (it is well known that the heat is often more in­sup­port­able on such days than in bright days, es­pe­cially when there is no wind), I dozed and was shaken about, re­sign­ing my­self with sullen for­ti­tude to being per­se­cuted by the fine white dust which was in­ces­santly raised from the beaten road by the warped and creak­ing wheels, when sud­denly my at­ten­tion was aroused by the ex­tra­or­di­nary un­easi­ness and ag­i­tated move­ments of my coach­man, who had till that in­stant been more soundly doz­ing than I. He began tug­ging at the reins, moved un­easily on the box, and started shout­ing to the horses, Read more [...]

The Five Orange Pips

When I glance over my notes and records of the Sherlock Holmes cases between the years ’82 and ’90, I am faced by so many which present strange and interesting features that it is no easy matter to know which to choose and which to leave. Some, however, have already gained publicity through the papers, and others have not offered a field for those peculiar qualities which my friend possessed in so high a degree, and which it is the object of these papers to illustrate. Some, too, have baffled his analytical skill, and would be, as narratives, beginnings without an ending, while others have been but partially cleared up, and have their explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him. There is, however, one of these last Read more [...]

The Nose

I On the 25th March, 18—, a very strange oc­cur­rence took place in St Pe­ters­burg. On the As­cen­sion Av­enue there lived a bar­ber of the name of Ivan Jakovle­vitch. He had lost his fam­ily name, and on his sign-board, on which was de­picted the head of a gen­tle­man with one cheek soaped, the only in­scrip­tion to be read was, “Blood-let­ting done here.” On this par­tic­u­lar morn­ing he awoke pretty early. Be­com­ing aware of the smell of fresh-baked bread, he sat up a lit­tle in bed, and saw his wife, who had a spe­cial par­tial­ity for cof­fee, in the act of tak­ing some fresh-baked bread out of the oven. “To-day, Prasskovna Os­sipovna,” he said, “I do not want any cof­fee; I should like a fresh loaf with onions.” “The block­head Read more [...]

The Red-headed League

I had called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in the autumn of last year and found him in deep conversation with a very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair. With an apology for my intrusion, I was about to withdraw when Holmes pulled me abruptly into the room and closed the door behind me."You could not possibly have come at a better time, my dear Watson," he said cordially."I was afraid that you were engaged.""So I am. Very much so.""Then I can wait in the next room.""Not at all. This gentleman, Mr. Wilson, has been my partner and helper in many of my most successful cases, and I have no doubt that he will be of the utmost use to me in yours also."The stout gentleman half rose from his chair and gave a bob of greeting, with a quick little questioning glance Read more [...]

Sketches of London: Early Coaches

We have of­ten won­dered how many months’ in­ces­sant trav­el­ling in a post-chaise it would take to kill a man; and won­der­ing by anal­ogy, we should very much like to know how many months of con­stant trav­el­ling in a suc­ces­sion of early coaches, an un­for­tu­nate mor­tal could en­dure. Break­ing a man alive upon the wheel, would be noth­ing to break­ing his rest, his peace, his heart—every­thing but his fast—upon four; and the pun­ish­ment of Ix­ion (the only prac­ti­cal per­son, by-the-bye, who has dis­cov­ered the se­cret of the per­pet­ual mo­tion) would sink in­to ut­ter in­sig­nif­i­cance be­fore the one we Read more [...]

Hor and Kalinitch

by Ivan TurgenevAny­one who has chanced to pass from the Bol­hovsky dis­trict into the Zhiz­drin­sky dis­trict, must have been im­pressed by the strik­ing dif­fer­ence be­tween the race of peo­ple in the province of Orel and the pop­u­la­tion of the province of Kaluga. The peas­ant of Orel is not tall, is bent in fig­ure, sullen and sus­pi­cious in his looks; he lives in wretched lit­tle hov­els of as­pen-wood, labours as a serf in the fields, and en­gages in no kind of trad­ing, is mis­er­ably fed, and wears slip­pers of bast: the rent-pay­ing peas­ant of Kaluga lives in roomy cot­tages of pine-wood; he is tall, bold, and cheer­ful in his looks, neat and clean of coun­te­nance; he car­ries on a trade in but­ter and tar, and on hol­i­days he wears boots. Read more [...]

Hackney-Coach-Stands

We main­tain that hack­ney-coaches, prop­erly so called, be­long solely to the me­trop­o­lis. We may be told, that there are hack­ney-coach stands in Ed­in­burgh; and not to go quite so far for a con­tra­dic­tion to our po­si­tion, we may be re­minded that Liv­er­pool, Man­ches­ter, ‘and oth­er large towns’ (as the Par­lia­men­tary phrase goes), have their hack­ney-coach stands. We read­ily con­cede to these places the pos­ses­sion of cer­tain ve­hi­cles, which may look al­most as dirty, and even go al­most as slowly, as Lon­don hack­ney-coaches; but that they have the slight­est claim to com­pete with the me­trop­o­lis, ei­ther Read more [...]

Holding up a Train

by O. HenryNote.  The man who told me these things was for sev­eral years an out­law in the South­west and a fol­lower of the pur­suit he so frankly de­scribes. His de­scrip­tion of the modus operandi should prove in­ter­est­ing, his coun­sel of value to the po­ten­tial pas­sen­ger in some fu­ture "hold-up," while his es­ti­mate of the plea­sures of train rob­bing will hardly in­duce any one to adopt it as a pro­fes­sion. I give the story in al­most ex­actly his own words.O. H.Most peo­ple would say, if their opin­ion was asked for, that hold­ing up a train would be a hard job. Well, it isn't; it's easy. I have con­tributed some to the un­easi­ness of rail­roads and the in­som­nia of ex­press com­pa­nies, and the most trou­ble I ever had about a hold-up Read more [...]

Lgov

by Ivan Turgenjev'Let us go to Lgov,' Yer­molaï, whom the reader knows al­ready, said to me one day; 'there we can shoot ducks to our heart's con­tent.'Al­though wild duck of­fers no spe­cial at­trac­tion for a gen­uine sports­man, still, through lack of other game at the time (it was the be­gin­ning of Sep­tem­ber; snipe were not on the wing yet, and I was tired of run­ning across the fields after par­tridges), I lis­tened to my hunts­man's sug­ges­tion, and we went to Lgov.Lgov is a large vil­lage of the steppes, with a very old stone church with a sin­gle cupola, and two mills on the swampy lit­tle river Rossota. Five miles from Lgov, this river be­comes a wide swampy pond, over­grown at the edges, and in places also in the cen­tre, with thick reeds. Here, in the Read more [...]

Is He Living Or Is He Dead?

by Mark TwainI was spending the month of March 1892 at Mentone, in the Riviera. At this retired spot one has all the advantages, privately, which are to be had publicly at Monte Carlo and Nice, a few miles farther along. That is to say, one has the flooding sunshine, the balmy air and the brilliant blue sea, without the marring additions of human pow-wow and fuss and feathers and display. Mentone is quiet, simple, restful, unpretentious; the rich and the gaudy do not come there. As a rule, I mean, the rich do not come there. Now and then a rich man comes, and I presently got acquainted with one of these. Partially to disguise him I will call him Smith. One day, in the Hotel des Anglais, at the second breakfast, he exclaimed: ‚Quick! Cast your eye on the man going out at the door. Take Read more [...]

The Pimienta Pancakes

by O. Henry While we were round­ing up a bunch of the Tri­an­gle-O cat­tle in the Frio bot­toms a pro­ject­ing branch of a dead mes­quite caught my wooden stir­rup and gave my ankle a wrench that laid me up in camp for a week.On the third day of my com­pul­sory idle­ness I crawled out near the grub wag­on, and re­clined help­less un­der the con­ver­sa­tion­al fire of Jud­son Odom, the camp cook. Jud was a mo­nolo­gist by na­ture, whom Des­tiny, with cus­tom­ary blun­der­ing, had set in a pro­fes­sion wherein he was be­reaved, for the great­er por­tion of his time, of an au­di­en­ce.There­fore, I was manna in the desert of Jud's ob­mutes­cence.Be­times Read more [...]

Wan Lee, The Pagan

by Bret Harte As I opened Hop Sing's letter, there fluttered to the ground a square strip of yellow paper covered with hieroglyphics, which, at first glance, I innocently took to be the label from a pack of Chinese fire-crackers. But the same envelope also contained a smaller strip of rice-paper, with two Chinese characters traced in India ink, that I at once knew to be Hop Sing's visiting-card. The whole, as afterwards literally translated, ran as follows:--"To the stranger the gates of my house are not closed: the rice-jar is on the left, and the sweetmeats on the right, as you enter.Two sayings of the Master:--Hospitality is the virtue of the son and the wisdom of the ancestor.The Superior man is light hearted after the crop-gathering: he makes a festival.When the stranger is in your melon-patch, Read more [...]

Celebrated Criminal Cases of America: The Murder of the Physician Dr. Parkman

On Fri­day, No­vem­ber 23, 1849, one of the most promi­nent physi­cians in Boston, Dr. George Park­man, mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared. Being very me­thod­i­cal in his habits, his fam­ily im­me­di­ately sus­pected foul play.He was the owner of many ten­e­ment houses and was rather ex­act­ing in his at­ti­tude to­ward his ten­ants, many of whom were of the rougher class. As he col­lected the rents him­self, the au­thor­i­ties pro­ceeded on the the­ory that he had an­tag­o­nized some of these ten­ants to such an ex­tent that they mur­dered him for the dou­ble pur­pose of re­venge and rob­bery, and then con­cealed his body.The river was dredged and the doc­tor's ten­e­ments and the build­ings ad­ja­cent thereto were thor­oughly searched, but no Read more [...]

Life on the Mississippi: A Pilot’s Needs

by Mark TwainBUT I am wandering from what I was intending to do, that is, makeplainer than perhaps appears in the previous chapters, some of thepeculiar requirements of the science of piloting. First of all, there isone faculty which a pilot must incessantly cultivate until he hasbrought it to absolute perfection. Nothing short of perfection will do.That faculty is memory. He cannot stop with merely thinking a thing isso and so; he must know it; for this is eminently one of the ’exact’sciences. With what scorn a pilot was looked upon, in the old times, ifhe ever ventured to deal in that feeble phrase ’I think,’ instead of thevigorous one ’I know!’ One cannot easily realize what a tremendousthing it is to know every trivial detail of twelve hundred miles ofriver and know it with Read more [...]