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“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


“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


FAMOUS IMPOSTORS by Bram Stoker

Famous Impostors was Bram Stoker’s fifth and final book of nonfiction. This book deals with the exposing of various impostors and hoaxes. It was first published in the UK in 1910 by Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

For more information and a copy of this book visit:
Famous Impostors at bramstoker.org


Bram Stoker’s Autograph – 6

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“Sir Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry” with an introduction by Bram Stoker

“Sir Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry” was a “Souvenir” booklet of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry with an introduction by Bram Stoker and illustrated by Miss Pamela Colman Smith under the full tittle “Sir Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry in Robespierre, Merchant of Venice, The Bells, Nance Oldfield, The Amber Heart, Waterloo, etc.”

For more information and a copy of this booklet please visit:
“Sir Henry Irving and Miss Ellen Terry” at bramstoker.org


“The Way of Peace” by Bram Stoker

I knew both Michael Hennessey and his wife Katty, though under the local pronunciation of the surname-Hinnessey. I had often gone into the little farmhouse to smoke a pipe with the old man, and to have, before I came away, a glass of milk from the old woman’s clean, cool dairy. I had always understood that they were looked upon as a model couple; and it was within my knowledge that a little more than a year ago they had celebrated their golden wedding. But when old Lord Killendell – “The Lard” as they called him locally – suggested that I should ask old Michael how it was that they had lived such a happy life, there was something in his tone and the quiet laugh which followed it, which made me take the advice to heart. More especially when Lady Killendell, who had always been most kind to me, added with an approving smile –

“Do! You are a young man and a bachelor; you will learn something which may be of some service to you later on in your life.”

The next time I was near Hennessey’s farm the advice occurred to me, and I went in. The two old folk were alone in the house. Their work for the day – the strenuous work – was done, and they were beginning the long evening of rest, which is the farmer’s reward for patient toil. We three sat round the hearth enjoying the glowing fire, and the aromatic smell of the burning turf, which is the only fuel used in that part of Ireland.

I gradually led conversation round to the point of happy marriages by way of the Golden Wedding, which was not yet so far off as to have lost interest to the old folk.

“They tell me,” I said presently, “that you two are the happiest couple in the Country. I hope that is so? You look it anyway; and every time I have seen you the idea has been with me.”

“That’s true, God be thanked!” said Michael, after a pause.

“Amin!” joined in Katty, as she crossed herself.

“I wish you’d tell me how you do it?” I asked. Michael smiled this time, and his wife laughed.

“Why do ye want to know, acushla?” she said in reply. This put me in a little personal difficulty. As a matter of fact, I was engaged to be married, but I had been enjoined not to say anything about it – as yet. So I had to put my request on general grounds, which is never so appealing as when such information is asked for personal reasons.

“Well, you see, Mrs. Hennessey,” I said, stumbling along as well as I could, “a man would always like to know a secret like that. It is one which might – at some time in his life – be – be useful to him. He – ”

“Begob it might, yer ‘ann’r,” broke in Michael. “Divil recave me if a young man beginnin’ life wid a knowledge like that mightn’t have all the young women iv a township follyin’ round afther him like a flock iv geese afther a ghander.” He was interrupted in turn by Katty –

“Ay, or th’ ould wans too!” Then she turned to me –

“An’ so ye’re goin’ to be married, yer ‘ann’r. More power to ye; an’ as many childher as there’s days in the month.”

“Hold hard there, ma’am!” I retorted. “That would be an embarras de richesse.” She winced at the foreign phrase, so I translated it – “too much of a good thing – as the French say. But why do you think I’m going to be married?”

“Ah, go on out iv that wid ye! For what would a young man like yer ‘ann’r want to know how marrid people does get on wid wan another, unless he’s ceasin’ to be a bhoy himself!” (In Ireland a man is a “bhoy” so long as he remains a bachelor. I have myself known a “bhoy” over ninety.) Her inductive ratiocination was too much for me; I remained silent.

To read the rest of this story visit:
“The Way of Peace” at bramstoker.org


“A Yellow Duster” by Bram Stoker

When my old friend Stanhope came unexpectedly, late in life, into a huge fortune he went traveling round the world for a whole year with his wife before settling down. We had been friends in college days, but I had seen little of him during his busy professional life. Now, however, in our declining years, chance threw us together again, and our old intimacy became renewed. I often stayed with him, both at Stanhope Towers and in his beautiful house in St. James’s-square; and I noticed that wherever he was, certain of his curios went with him. He had always been a collector in a small way, and I have no doubt that in his hard-working time, though he had not the means to gratify his exquisite taste, the little he could do served as a relief to the worry and tedium of daily toil. His great-uncle, from whom he inherited, had a wonderful collection of interesting things; and Stanhope kept them much in the same way as he had found them – not grouped or classified in any way, but placed in juxtaposition as taste or pleasure prompted. There was one glass-covered table which stood always in the small drawing room, or rather sitting room, which Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope held as their own particular sanctum. In it was a small but very wonderful collection of precious and beautiful things; an enormous gold scarib with graven pictures on its natural panels, such a scarib as is not to be found even amongst the wonderful collection at Leyden; a carved star ruby from Persia, a New Zealand chieftain’s head wrought in greenstone, a jade amulet from Central India, an enamelled watch with an exquisitely-painted miniature of Madame du Barri, a perfect Queen Anne farthing laid in a contemporary pounce-box of gold and enamel, a Borgia ring, a coiled serpent with emerald eyes, a miniature of Peg Woffington by Gainsborough, in a quaint frame of aqua marines, a tiny Elzivir Bible in cover of lapis lazuli mounted in red gold, a chain of wrought iron as delicate as hair, and many other such things, which were not only rare and costly as well as beautiful, but each of which seemed to have some personal association.

And yet in the very middle of the case was placed a common cotton duster, carefully folded. It was not only coarse and common in its texture, but it was of such crude and vulgar colours that it looked startlingly out of place in such a congeries of beautiful treasures. It was so manifestly a personal relic that for a long time I felt some diffidence in alluding to it; though I always looked at that particular table, for as Mrs. Stanhope was good enough to share her husband’s liking for me, I was always treated as one of themselves and admitted to their special sitting-room.

One day when Stanhope and I were bending over the case, I remarked:-

“I see one treasure there which must be supreme, for it has not the same intrinsic claim as the others!” He smiled as he said:-

“Oh, that! You are right; that is one of the best treasures I have got. Only for it all the rest might be of no avail!”

This piqued my curiosity, so I said:-

“May an old friend hear the story? Of course, it is evident by its being there that it is not a subject to be shunned.”

“Right again!” he answered, and opening the case he took out the duster and held it in his hand lovingly. I could see that it was not even clean; it was one that had manifestly done service.

“You ask the missis,” he said: “and if she doesn’t mind I’ll tell you with pleasure.”

At tea that afternoon, when we were alone, I asked Mrs. Stanhope if I might hear the story. Her reply was quick and hearty:-

“Indeed you may! Moreover, I hope I may hear it, too!”

“Do you mean to tell me,” I said, “that you don’t know why it is there?” She smiled as she replied:-

“I have often wondered; but Frank never told me, and I never asked. It is a long, long time since he kept it. It used to be in the safe of his study till he came into Stanhope Towers; and then he put it where it is now. He keeps the key of the table himself, and no one touches the things in it but him. You noticed, I suppose, that every thing in it is fastened down for traveling?”

To read the rest of this story visit:
“A Yellow Duster” at bramstoker.org