Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

Posted on Jul 22, 2016

Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving

The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving A few miles from Boston in Massachusetts, there is a deep inlet, winding several miles into the interior of the country from Charles Bay, and terminating in a thickly wooded swamp or morass. On one side of this inlet is a beautiful dark grove; on the opposite side the land rises abruptly from the water’s edge into a high ridge, on which grow a few scattered oaks of great age and immense size. Under one of these gigantic trees, according to old stories, there was a great amount of treasure buried by Kidd the pirate. The inlet allowed a facility to bring the money in a boat se­cretly and at night to the very foot of the bill; the elevation of the place permitted a good lookout to be kept that no one was at hand; while the remarkable trees formed good landmarks by which the place might easily be found again. The old stories add, moreover, that the devil presided at the hiding of the money, and took it under his guardian­ship; but this, it is well known, he always does with bur­ied treasure, particularly when it had been ill-gotten. Be that as it may, Kidd never returned to recover his wealth; being shortly after seized at Boston, sent out to England, and there hanged for a pirate. About the year 1727, just at the time that earthquakes were prevalent in New England, and shook many tall sin­ners down upon their knees, there lived near this place a meager, miserly fellow, of the name of Tom Walker. He had a wife as miserly as himself: they were so miserly that they even conspired to cheat each other. Whatever the woman could lay hands on, she hid away; a hen could not cackle but she was on the alert to secure the new-laid egg. Her husband was continually prying about to detect her se­cret hoards, and many and fierce were the conflicts that took place about what ought to have been common proper­ty. They lived in a forlorn-looking house that stood alone, and had an air of starvation. A few straggling savin trees, emblems of sterility, grew near it; no smoke ever curled from its chimney; no traveler stopped at its door. A mis­erable horse, whose ribs were as articulate as the bars of a gridiron, stalked about a field where a thin carpet of moss, scarcely covering the ragged beds of pudding stone, tanta­lized and balked his hunger; and sometimes he would lean his head over the fence, look piteously at the passerby, and seem to petition deliverance from this land of famine. The house and its inmates had altogether a bad name. Tom’s wife was a tall termagant, fierce of temper, loud of tongue, and strong of arm. Her voice was often heard in wordy warfare with her husband;...

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Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Body-Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted on Jul 17, 2016

Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Body-Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Body-Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson Every night in the year, four of us sat in the small parlor of the George at Debenham–the undertaker, and the landlord, and Fettes, and myself. Sometimes there would be more; but blow high, blow low, come rain or snow or frost, we four would be each planted in his own particular armchair. Fettes was an old drunken Scotchman, a man of education obviously, and a man of some property, since he lived in idleness. He had come to Debenham years ago, while still young, and by a mere continuance of living had grown to be an adopted townsman. His blue camlet cloak was a local antiquity, like the church spire. His place in the parlor at the George, his absence from church, his old, crapulous, disreputable vices, were all things of course in Debenham. He had some vague Radical opinions and some fleeting infidelities, which he would now and again set forth and emphasize with tottering slaps upon the table. He drank rum–five glasses regularly every evening; and for the greater portion of his nightly visit to the George sat, with his glass in his right hand, in a state of melancholy alcoholic saturation. We called him the Doctor, for he was supposed to have some special knowledge of medicine, and had been known, upon a pinch, to set a fracture or reduce a dislocation; but beyond these slight particulars, we had no knowledge of his character and antecedents. One dark winter night–it had struck nine some time before the landlord joined us–there was a sick man in the George, a great neighboring proprietor suddenly struck down with apoplexy on his way to Parliament; and the great man’s still greater London doctor had been telegraphed to his bedside. It was the first time that such a thing had happened in Debenham, for the railway was but newly open, and we were all proportionately moved by the occurrence. “He’s come,” said the landlord, after he had filled and lighted his pipe. “He?” said I. “Who? Not the doctor?” “Himself,” replied our host. “What is his name?” “Doctor Macfarlane,” said the landlord. Fettes was far through his third tumbler, stupidly fuddled, now nodding over, now staring mazily around him; but at the last word he seemed to awaken, and repeated the name “Macfarlane” twice, quietly enough the first time, but with sudden emotion at the second. “Yes,” said the landlord, “that’s his name, Doctor Wolfe Macfarlane.” Fettes became instantly sober; his eyes awoke, his voice became clear, loud, and steady, his language forcible and earnest. We were all startled by the transformation, as if a man had risen from the dead. “I beg your pardon,” he said, “I am afraid I have not been paying much attention to your talk. Who is this Wolfe Macfarlane?” And then, when he had heard the landlord out,...

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Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Blind Spot by Saki

Posted on Jul 13, 2016

Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Blind Spot by Saki

The Blind Spot by Saki THE BLIND SPOT “You’ve just come back from Adelaide’s funeral, haven’t you?” said Sir Lulworth to his nephew; “I suppose it was very like most other funerals?” “I’ll tell you all about it at lunch,” said Egbert. “You’ll do nothing of the sort.  It wouldn’t be respectful either to your great aunt’s memory or to the lunch.  We begin with Spanish olives, then a borshch, then more olives and a bird of some kind, and a rather enticing Rhenish wine, not at all expensive as wines go in this country, but still quite laudable in its way.  Now there’s absolutely nothing in that menu that harmonizes in the least with the subject of your great aunt Adelaide or her funeral.  She was a charming woman, and quite as intelligent as she had any need to be, but somehow she always reminded me of an English cook’s idea of a Madras curry.” “She used to say you were frivolous,” said Egbert.  Something in his tone suggested that he rather endorsed the verdict. “I believe I once considerably scandalized her by declaring that clear soup was a more important factor in life than a clear conscience.  She had very little sense of proportion.  By the way, she made you her principal heir, didn’t she?” “Yes,” said Egbert, “and executor as well.  It’s in that connection that I particularly want to speak to you.” “Business is not my strong point at any time,” said Sir Lulworth, “and certainly not when we’re on the immediate threshold of lunch.” “It isn’t exactly business,” explained Egbert, as he followed his uncle into the dining room. “It’s something rather serious.  Very serious.” “Then we can’t possibly speak about it now,” said Sir Lulworth; “no one could talk seriously during a borshch.  A beautifully constructed borshch, such as you are going to experience presently, ought not only to banish conversation but almost to annihilate thought.  Later on, when we arrive at the second stage of olives, I shall be quite ready to discuss that new book on Borrow, or, if you prefer it, the present situation in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg.  But I absolutely decline to talk anything approaching business till we have finished with the bird.” For the greater part of the meal Egbert sat in an abstracted silence, the silence of a man whose mind is focused on one topic.  When the coffee stage had been reached he launched himself suddenly athwart his uncle’s reminiscences of the Court of Luxemburg. “I think I told you that great aunt Adelaide had made me her executor.  There wasn’t very much to be done in the way of legal matters, but I had to go through her papers.” “That would be a fairly heavy task in itself.  I should imagine there were reams of family letters.” “Stacks of them, and most of...

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Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

Posted on Jul 6, 2016

Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

  The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe The chateau into which my valet had ventured to make forcible entrance, rather than permit me, in my desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the open air, was one of those piles of commingled gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Appennines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Radcliffe. To all appearance it had been temporarily and very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in one of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque. In these paintings, which depended from the walls not only in their main surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the chateau rendered necessary—in these paintings my incipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest; so that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the room—since it was already night—to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head of my bed—and to throw open far and wide the fringed curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at least alternately to the contemplation of these pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had been found upon the pillow, and which purported to criticize and describe them. Long—long I read—and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by and the deep midnight came. The position of the candelabrum displeased me, and outreaching my hand with difficulty, rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so as to throw its rays more fully upon the book. But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays of the numerous candles (for there were many) now fell within a niche of the room which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade by one of the bedposts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my own perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in my mind my reason for so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought—to make sure that my vision had not deceived me—to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain gaze. In a very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting. That I now saw...

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Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: An Unwritten Novel by Virginia Woolf

Posted on Jun 30, 2016

Firbolg Publishing’s Blood Beach: An Unwritten Novel by Virginia Woolf

An Unwritten Novel by Virginia Woolf Such an expression of unhappiness was enough by itself to make one’s eyes slide above the paper’s edge to the poor woman’s face—insignificant without that look, almost a symbol of human destiny with it. Life’s what you see in people’s eyes; life’s what they learn, and, having learnt it, never, though they seek to hide it, cease to be aware of—what? That life’s like that, it seems. Five faces opposite—five mature faces—and the knowledge in each face. Strange, though, how people want to conceal it! Marks of reticence are on all those faces: lips shut, eyes shaded, each one of the five doing something to hide or stultify his knowledge. One smokes; another reads; a third checks entries in a pocket book; a fourth stares at the map of the line framed opposite; and the fifth—the terrible thing about the fifth is that she does nothing at all. She looks at life. Ah, but my poor, unfortunate woman, do play the game—do, for all our sakes, conceal it! As if she heard me, she looked up, shifted slightly in her seat and sighed. She seemed to apologize and at the same time to say to me, “If only you knew!” Then she looked at life again. “But I do know,” I answered silently, glancing at the Times for manners’ sake. “I know the whole business. ‘Peace between Germany and the Allied Powers was yesterday officially ushered in at Paris—Signor Nitti, the Italian Prime Minister—a passenger train at Doncaster was in collision with a goods train…’ We all know—the Times knows—but we pretend we don’t.” My eyes had once more crept over the paper’s rim. She shuddered, twitched her arm queerly to the middle of her back and shook her head. Again I dipped into my great reservoir of life. “Take what you like,” I continued, “births, deaths, marriages, Court Circular, the habits of birds, Leonardo da Vinci, the Sandhills murder, high wages and the cost of living—oh, take what you like,” I repeated, “it’s all in the Times!” Again with infinite weariness she moved her head from side to side until, like a top exhausted with spinning, it settled on her neck. The Times was no protection against such sorrow as hers. But other human beings forbade intercourse. The best thing to do against life was to fold the paper so that it made a perfect square, crisp, thick, impervious even to life. This done, I glanced up quickly, armed with a shield of my own. She pierced through my shield; she gazed into my eyes as if searching any sediment of courage at the depths of them and damping it to clay. Her twitch alone denied all hope, discounted all illusion. So we rattled through Surrey and across the border into Sussex. But with my eyes upon life I did not see...

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