Monthly Archives: February 2017

“Greater Love” by Bram Stoker

We was just standin’ here at about eleven in the evenin’, an’ the moon was beginnin’ to rise. We could see the little patch of light growin’ bigger an’ bigger, just as it is now, an’ we knew that before many moments the light would be up over the sea. My back was to the sea, an’ Bill was leanin’ agin’ the handrail, just like you now.

It ain’t much, sir, after all; leastwise to you; but it was, aye, an’ it is, a deal to me, for it has all my life in it, such as it is. There’s a deal of poetry an’ story-tellin’ in books; but, Lor’ bless ye, if ye could see the heart right through of even such men as me, you’d have no need o’ books when you wanted poetry and romance. I often think that them chaps in them don’t feel a bit more nor we do when things is happenin’; it’s only when they’re written down that they become heroes an’ martyrs, an’ suchlike. Why, Bill was as big a hero as any of them. I often wished as how I could write, that I might tell all about him.

Howsumdever, if I can’t write, I can talk, an’ if you’re not in a hurry, an’ll wait till I tell you all, I’ll be proud. It does me good to talk about Bill.

Well, when I turned round an’ faced Bill I see his eyes with the light in ’em, an’ they was glistenin’. Bill gives a big gulp, an’ says to me:

“Joe, the world’s a big place, big enough for you an’ me to live in without quarrelin’. An’, mayhap, the same God as made one woman would make another, an’ we might both live an’ be happy. You an’ me has been comrades for long, an’ God knows that, next to Mary, I’d be sad to see you die, so whatever comes, we won’t quarrel or think hard of one another, sure we won’t, Joe.”

He put out his hand, an’ I took it sudden. We held hands for a long time. I thought he was in low spirits, and I wished to cheer him, so I says:

“Why, Bill, who talks o’ dyin’ that’s as hearty as we?”

He shook his head sadly, an’ says he:

”Joe, I don’t vally my life at a pin’s head, an’ I ain’t afraid to die. For her sake or for yours – aye, even for her pleasure – I’d – No matter. Just see if I turn coward if I ever get the chance to do her a service.”

Well, we stood there for a long time. Neither of us said a word, for I didn’t like to speak, although I would several times have liked to ask him a question. An’ then I gave up wishin’ to speak, an’ began to think, like him.

I thought of all the time Bill an’ me had been friends an’ comrades, an’ how fond we were both of Mary, an’ she of us. Ye see, when we was all children, the little thing took such a fancy for both of us that we couldn’t help likin’ her for it, and so we became, in course of time, like big brothers to her. She would come down on the shore with Bill an’ me an’ sit quiet all the day an’ never say a word or do anything to annoy us or put us out. Sometimes we’d go out sailin’, an’ then she would come an’ sit beside whoever was steerin’ till he’d ask her to come up an’ sit on his knee. Then she’d put up her little arms round his neck an’ kiss him, an’ would stay as quiet as a mouse till she’d have to change her place. That was the way, sir, that we both came to be so fond of her.

An’, sure enough, when she began to grow up, Bill an’ me wanted none other but her. An’ the more she grew, the prouder we were of her, till at last we found out that we were both of us in love with her. But we never told her so, or let her see it; an’ she had grown up so amongst us that she never suspected it. She said so long after.

Then Bill an’ me held a kind of council about what was to be done, an’ so we came to be talkin’ on the bridge that night. Mary was growin’ into a young woman, an’ we feared that some other chap might take her fancy, if one of us didn’t get her at once. Bill was very serious, far more serious than me, for I had somehow got the idea into my head as how Mary cared for me, an’ as long as I felt that I couldn’t feel either unhappy or downhearted.

All at once Bill’s face grew brighter, an’ there was a soft look in his eyes.

”Joe,” he says, “whatever happens, Mary must never hang her head. The lass is tender-hearted, and she likes both of us, we know; an’ as she can only love one of us, it might pain her to think that when she was marryin’ one man she was leavin’ a hole in the life of his comrade. So she must never know as how we both love her, if we can prevent it.”

To read the rest of this story visit:
“Greater Love” at bramstoker.org

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“The ‘Eroes of the Thames” by Bram Stoker

When Peter Jimpson, the professional swimmer, had won all the prizes to be had in the towns of Southern England, he thought that the time had come when he should attempt the possibilities of London. He was the more encouraged in the idea because his young son, whom he had brought up to his own calling, had developed quite a genius for his work. Not only could he swim so fast and stay so well that his father looked upon him as a future champion, but he had manifested a decided ability as an aquatic actor.

His tricks were always amusing, and, whether in the humours of a duck chase or exhibiting possibilities of the disasters which may happen to the imperfect swimmer, he showed undoubted power. Peter, therefore, determined to turn young Peter’s gift to advantage. He had long known that to win the attention of magnificent, rich, indifferent London, some sort of coup is necessary; there are so many workers of all kinds in the vast metropolis that merely to work is only to be one of many.

So all the early summer the two Peters rehearsed a little aquatic scena-that of a drowning boy rescued by a brave passing stranger. Many a time and oft, and always in secret-for the elder Peter impressed on his son the absolute necessity for silence-they went through every detail, till at last Peter junior could simulate the entire dangers and possibilities of an immersion.

He would fall into the water in the most natural way in the world; would struggle violently with his hands above water and his mouth open, after the manner of the ignorant; he would sink and rise again with strange portions of his anatomy appearing first above water, as though forced up by an irresistible current; he would gasp and choke and go down again; rise again with only his hands above water, and clutch at the empty air with writhing fingers in a manner which was positively heartrending to witness. Then the proud father knew that in his son were all the elements of success.

Wherefore they took their way to London. Having surveyed the various bridges they fixed on London Bridge as the scene of their exploit, and the hour when the afternoon throng was greatest as the time. They had several consultations, for it was necessary to be circumspect; the bridge was always well-furnished with police, and on two occasions they had noticed that different men had eyed them curiously, as though they were suspicious characters.

However, they fixed on every detail of their plan, leaving nothing to chance. As the construction of London Bridge does not allow of a small boy who is simply passing along to fall off by accident, and as to climb the parapet is at least a suspicious act, they arranged that Peter, having ascertained that neither passing barge nor steamer made a special source of danger, was to throw his son right over the parapet, and immediately jump after him.

They felt that in the excitement of the rescue-which they knew so well how to play-the crowd would instantly line the parapet, and would lose sight of the seemingly lethal act. They anticipated a rich harvest of praise, and possibly of a more tangible kind of reward; in any case, their fame as swimmers would be noised abroad.

Next day at the appointed time, when London Bridge was almost a solid mass of vehicles, horsemen, and pedestrians, they made their enterprise. Having seen that no barge or steamer was close, they moved to the pathway over the very centre arch of the bridge on the down-river side as the current was running up.

There Peter, suddenly seizing the boy, hurled him with a mighty effort over the parapet into the water, and the instant after began to climb after him. But just as he was gaining a footing a man rushed forward and caught him by the ankles, and dragged him back upon the pavement. Peter turned on him furiously, and saw that his captor was one of the very men whom he had seen watching him on a previous occasion.

“Let me go!” he cried, “let me go! I must save my boy!” and he struggled frantically.

“A new way to save him, to throw him over the bridge!” said the man, who held him in a grip of iron.

To read the rest of this story visit:
“The ‘Eroes of the Thames” at bramstoker.org