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The Art of Story- Writing 









Springfield, Mass. 


^^u mi,^ 

Copyright, 1913 
Copyright, 1919 
The Home Correspondence School 
All Rights Reserved 

Table of Contents 



Chapter I— The Story-Teller's Art ... i 

1. What is a Story? 2 

2. Why We Study Form 4 

Special Reading List 6 

Questions and Exercises 10 

Chapter n — ^The Anecdote 11 

J. The Anecdote Defined 12 

2. Its Relation to Truth 13 

Example — The Visit of King Louis to Brother 

Giles of the Friars Minor 14 

3. Scope of the Anecdote 16 

Examples i7i i3 

4. Writing the Anecdote . . . • 19 


White Man w, Indian 22 

Advance News 23 

Chapter HI— The Fable 25 

1. The Ancient Fable 27 

Example — The Hare and the Tortoise ... 28 

Analysis 29 

Questions and Exerqses 29 

2. The Modem Fable 30 

Example 31 

The Reeds and the Oak 32 

The Oak and the Reed 32 

Analysis 33 


3. Fables in Slang 34 

The Grasshopper and the Ant 35 

4. The Modem Society Fable 35 

The Wolf and the Fox 36 

The Book 36 

The Woman Who Talked Well 36 

Questions and ExERasES 37 

Chapter IV— The Ancient Parable .... 39 

1. Four Essentials of the Parable 41 

2. The Parable Defined 42 

3. Ancient Parable Forms 43 

Examples — The Lost Sheep 43 

The Sower 45 

The Prodigal Son 46 

Questions and ExERasES 48 

Chapter V— The Modern Parable .... 50 
ExABiPLE, Out of the Agony, by Hamilton 

Wright Mabie 51 

Analysis 52 

Other Modern Parables 52 

Questions and Exerqses 55 

Chapter VI— The Early Tale 59 

Example — The Falcon of Signior Federigo . . 61 

Analysis 67 

Questions and Exeroses 68 

Chapter VII— The Modern Tale .... 70 
Example — The Maoris Legacy, by Washing- 
ton Irving (From the "Alhambra") . . 71 
Questions and Exeroses 89 

Chapter VIII— The Legend 91 

The Legend of Saint Christopher 92 

Questions and ExERasES 94 

The Lark, by* Florence Earle Coates . . 94 



Chapter IX— The Sketch 97 

Example — An Antidote for Order (A Sketch), 

BY Elizabeth Maury Coombs .... 98 

Analysis loi 

Questions and Exerqses loi 

Chapter X— The Short-Story and its Essentials 103 

I. Essentials of the Short-^tory 105 

The Necklace^ by Guy de Maupassant . . 109 


Chapter XI — ^A Specimen Short-Story . . . 113 
The Dub, (A Harvard-Yale Football Story) by 

Ralph Henry Barbour 114 

Questions and Exerqses 131 

Chapter XII — Selecting a Theme .... 134 

I. What is a Theme? 134 

2.Whai Not to Write About 135 

3. General Sources of Themes 136 

4. Whereto Find Materials 137 

Questions and Exerqses 139 

Chapter XHI — Building a Plot 142 

1. What is a Plot? 144 

2. The Process of Plot Building 152 

Don'ts for Plot-Builders 158 

Questions and ExERasES 159 

J. Plot Analysis 159 

Plot Synopsis 161 

2. Plot Construction 162 

Chapter XIV— The Opening op the Story 164 

1, Where to Begin 164 

2. How to Begin 166 

The Lady of the Garden 16^ 

A Scion of Adam 167 

The Unsuccessful Alumnus 167 

A Transformation Scene 167 


SkaighiGOf .168 

The Miracle 168 

Rentin* Hens 169 

The Balance of Pauper 169 

The ManWho Failed 169 

Mary Felicia 170 

The Frog in (he Well 171 

The Homeliest Child 171 

Questions and Exercises 172 

Chapter XV— The Setting 173 

Questions and Exercises 177 

Chapter XVI— The Characters 178 

1. How to Make the Reader Know the Characters 179 

2. Where to Find tte Characters 181 

3. Ten Reminders for Character-Drawing ... 182 

Questions AND Exercises 183 

Chapter XVn— The Conversation .... 185 

J. To Give Information 185 

2. To Advance the Plot 187 

3, To Reveal Character 187 

Questions to Ask Yourself about Dialogue . 188 

Questions and Exeroses 189 

Chapter XVm— ^The Ending of the Story 192 

The Happy Ending 193 

Questions and Exercises 194 

Chapter XIX— ^The Title of the Story . . 196 

Questions and Exerqses 198 

Chapter XX — ^Preparing and Marketing the 

Manuscript 199 

1. The Work of Revision 199 

Points for SELF-CRiTiasM 200 

2. Preparing the Manuscript 201 

3. Marketing the Manuscript 202 

Index 205 


The present volume is based on actual experience in 
teaching the art of story-writing to several thousand 
pupils, both in the classroom and by correspondence. 
The standards of the text and its methods of approach are 
doubtless modified by the editorial and the story-writing 
practice of the authors, but always the chief thing in their 
minds has been to guide the student in the most effective 
and direct way to actual fictional narration. For this 
reason, much insistence upon theory has been avoided — 
• one of the author's works, "Writing the Short-Story," 
covers that ground quite fully. The practical method 
consists in four important steps: 

1. The introduction of generally-approved examples 
of the various fictional forms gives both teacher and pupil 
a concrete basis for starting the study of each form, and 
furnishes a standard in the text for both criticism and 
wholesome imitation — ^though imitation must not be 
carried to the extreme. 

2. The development of principles of structure is almost 
entirely inductive, and therefore appeals to the conmion- 
sense of the pupil instead of setting up a series of arbitrary 

3. The Questions and Exercises give opportimity for 
research, reading, and plenty of written and oral narration, 
besides being so framed as to stimulate original thought 
and invention. They are so framed that the pupil is led 


to depend upon himself and not upon the over-worked 

4. The order of arrangement, from the simple anecdote, 
through the fable, the ancient parable, the modem parable, 
the early tale, the modem tale, the legend, the sketch, up 
to the short-story, is carefully calculated to lead the young 
writer by natural and easy steps up to the most sophisti- 
cated form of narration. This new approach is sound 
pedagogically and effective practically; besides, it enables 
the pupil to make real progress in narrating complete 
stories without spending much disheartening time at the 
start in studying and practising the parts of the more diffi- 
cult short-story form — a method which has heretofore 
been the usual one in teaching the art of story- writing. 

It is well for the teacher to impress upon the pupil that 
invention is the fotmdation of all narrative success, and 
that without some ability to see, develop, and originally 
devise interesting, fresh, and striking situations there is 
no hope of achieving distinction in the story-teller's art. 
At the same time, every pupil who is able to write English 
may with practice — ^preferably under guidance — ^leam to 
tell a simple story effectively. The story-telling impulse 
cannot be taught, for it is a gift; but the art of narration 
distinctly is a proper subject for instmction, and in many 
walks of life the ability to tell a story — even though it be 
not either an original or a notably good story — ^will prove 
to be a valuable attainment. No more fascinating and 
helpful method of teaching composition has yet been 
devised than by means of fictional narration. 


It is hoped that teachers will place in the hands--or at 
least at the disposal — of pupils some of the collections of 
short-stories and other short Active forms which are 
recommended in this volume. Good examples are pro- 
vided herein, but the examination and analysis of other 
q)ecimens will prove helpful and interesting. 
J. Berg Esenwein, 
Mary Davoren Csambsrs. 



Nansen's stoat-hearted comrades tell stories to one another 
while the Arctic ice drifts onward with the Fram; Stevenson is 
nicknamed the Tale-Teller by the brown-limbed Samoans ; Chinese 
Gordon reads a story while waiting— hopelessly waiting — at 
Khartoum. — Bliss Pbrrt, A Study of Prose Ficiion* 

We find that the most refined and strongest thinkers — ^the 
theologian, the poet, and the metaphysician — ^have turned a kind 
eye upon fiction, which beguiled the leisure and refreshed the 
toil of Gray and Warburton, of Locke and Crabbe. 

— ^R. A. WnxMOTT, Pleasures ofLUerature. 

All the world loves a story. From the day when our 
baby speech first begs Mother to "tell us a story," down 
to life's twilight when Grandfather's Chair becomes the 
story-teller's throne, the spinner of yams is a welcome 

So it has been throughout the history of the race, for 
the dawn of story-telling must have been coeval with the 
daybreak of intelligence. Even before men began to 
write by scratching rude s3ntnbols and pictures on day, 
carving them on wood and stone, or painting them on dried 
skins of animals, we may be sure that our savage ancestors 
loved to hear strange tales — of what marvelous sort we 
should find it difiicult to fancy. 

Conscious narration began when prehistoric man first 
saw the dramatic quality in some action qi animal or 
fellow man and related it to his comrade, perhaps by a 


gesture and an inarticulate cry, and ever since then story- 
telling has challenged the service of the most resourceful. 
The brightest minds have vied with each other in planning 
stories and relating them attractively, until now story- 
telling is an art of high order, with certain well-recognized 
standards of form, yet with all the room for diflFerences in 
individual taste that is accorded to any other art. Today 
it is much more than a mere means of entertainment — ^it is 
woven into our entire life-fabric The minister uses 
stories in the pulpit to illustrate his views of truth, the 
teacher illuminates his lessons by their aid, the advertiser 
emplo3rs them to explain the merit of his goods, the reporter 
casts the daily news in story form, and vast businesses 
are built up on the wide foundation of story printing and 
selling. So there are few, if any of us, who are not pro- 
foundly influenced for good or for evil by the myriad 
stories that fill the air and either beautify or mar the 
coimtless printed pages which confront us day by day. 
Whether as a means of pleasure or of curiosity, as a source 
of instruction or of livelihood, we shall find it worth while 
to look beneath the surface and learn more about an art 
which is at once so widespread and so potentiaL 

I. What is a Story? 

The derivation of the word ''story" is closely related 
to that of the word "history," as may be seen by a com- 
parison of both spellings. Naturally, therefore, one 
of the oldest meanings of "story" is an accoimt of past 
events — a, definition not far removed from that of 


In eaxly times the professional bards and story-tellers 
were the only historians, passing from martial camp to 
palace, from public sqiiare to any gathering of people, and 
weaving the mythical or the genuine deeds of gods and 
heroes into "histories" for the entertainment of listeners. 

Gradually, fact was separated from Action, until now 
there is a great gulf fixed between history and fictive 
story. True, the gulf is not impassable, for while history 
now deals solely with fact, or what it believes to be fact, it 
often adopts the story form; and while most stories are 
fictitious, some are woven chiefly of history, and all stories 
are sure to contain fact in greater or lesser degree. The 
truth remains, however, that story and history are now 

The term "story" includes a wide variety of narrative 
t3^s, but broadly it may be defined as the narration of a 
real or a fictitious action, dealing with thoughts, or motives, 
or feelings. 

This definition needs some discussion. 

Since it concerns itself with action, a story is more than 
a mere word-picture. Only to tell what a thing looks like 
is description, not story-telling. For example, merely to 
describe an avalanche would not be to tell a story. But 
when Hawthorne, in "The Ambitious Guest," tells how 
an avalanche becomes the climax of a series of actions, he 
does tell a story, for he tells how something occiured which 
was more than a mere movement of inanimate nature. His 
story included an action which dealt ''with thoughts or 
motives, or emotions " — actually, with all three. 

It must be remembered that the action which is the 


theme of a story need not be external or visible. Just as 
real and just as important actions take place in the inner 
life as occur in the outer; though generally inner life 
shows itself in outward action, and the best stories are 
those which show us something of how the inward man 
influences th^ outer. 

As regards general form, a story may be told either in 
prose or in verse, orally or in writing. The first stories 
were all oral, for as we have said, man told tales long 
before he began to record his 'thoughts in writing. The 
verse-story was likewise an early type, and still exists, 
but for the purposes of this treatise it will be enough to 
confine ourselves almost exclusively to the nature and 
production of the written prose story. 

2. Why We Study Form 

In studying the anecdote, the fable, the parable, th^ 
sketch, the tale, and the modem short-story — the several 
shorter forms which the narrator's art adopts — ^we must 
remember one thing of importance: these forms are all 
stories^ and therefore possess certain points in common. 
Indeed, we must not think that each particular type 
differs in many respects from other types. Quite to the 
contrary, the differences are only slight — so slight 
that the most expert among us may sometimes differ as 
to whether a story belongs entirely to one dass or to the 

This possible confusion, or difference in opinions, arises 
not so much from a lack of knowledge of what one form 
consists in, as from the fact that many stories possess the 


characteristics of more than one type— they are half- 
breeds, and therefore not easy to place. To continue a 
comparison drawn from mankind, even some pure Cauca- 
sians are ahnond-eyed, others have the swarthy skin of 
the Indian, while yet other whites are quite negroid in 
feature. So, too, we shall find it to be in the narratives we 
examine. The chief thing to the story-teller has always 
been that his story should be worth telling— that is, that 
it should awaken the interest of the listener; a secondary 
thing has always been the form in which the story is told. 
So true is this that few of us today have ever cared to ask 
what kind of story it was that we told or heard, and even 
now such distinctions may not seem to us of great impor- 

But as we try to produce a certain t)^ of narration we 
shall find it easier to do so successfully when we have 
before us as dearly as possible the leading characteristics 
of that type and how it differs from another. The archi- 
tect who knows no distinction between Gothic and Roman- 
esque arches, or between the capitals of Ionic columns and 
those of the Corinthian type, might design a very useful 
building, but its architecture would surely turn out to be a 
medley. So if we wish not only to tell good stories but to 
tell them in an effective way, the first step will be to learn 
something of the forms in which they may well be narrated. 
After we have mastered a knowledge of the purer and 
simpler types we shall feel more at liberty to attempt the 
composite. Our knowledge of form is not to hamper us 
but to make us free to use all forms so far as our talents 
and our inclinations may permit. 



Important Note: This work is complete in itself, but 
in the preparation of the following exerdses, as well as 
those given in connection with the succeeding chapters, 
it would be well to refer to such voliunes of the appended 
Reading List as may promise, either by the nature of their 
contents or by specific reference made by letter in the 
questions, to furnish the precise help needed. Other 
references for optional reading are freely made throughout 
the text and in abundant foot-notes. However, the follow- 
ing list, it is believed, will be found sufficient to supply all 
ordinary requirements. 

Suggested Analytical Reading List 

A. The Book op the Short Story, Alexander Jessup 
and Henry Seidel Canby. New York (1909): D.Appleton 
& Co., 507 pp. 

A collection of eighteen short narratives representative 
of different periods in the development of the art of story- 
telling, beginning with a story from an Egyptian pap3niis, 
and ending with one of Kipling's. There are full lists of 
tales and short-stories illustrative of each period, from 
1400 B. C. to 1904; a list of the best stories by each writer 
whose work is represented; and a brief critique of the 
author's chief characteristics. A very full introduction 
(practically a reprint of Professor Canby's monograph on 
"The Short Story," in the Yale Studies in English series), 
is confessedly an attempt to trace the development of an 
impressionistic purpose in the short-story of recent times. 

THE story-teller's ART 7 

B. The Short-story: Speomens Illustrating its 
Development, Brander Matthews. New York (1907): 
American Book Co. 399 pp. 

A collection of twenty-three short narratives, showing 
the evolution of the short-story proper. Brief critical 
notes follow each story, a brief appreciation of each author 
is prefixed to his work, and the voliune begins with an 
introduction which traces the development of this type 
of literature. 

C. Specimens of the Short Story, George Henry 
Nettleton. New York (1901): Henry Holt & Co. VI + 
329 pp« 

A collection of eight stories selected to represent different 
phases of the narrative art, e.g., sketch, tale, allegory, 
detective story, etc. Each story is preceded by a short 
biography of the author, an estimate of his literary quali- 
ties, and a criticism of the example selected from his 
writings. Several pages of "Notes" explain points in the 

D. Studying the Short-Story, J. Berg Esenwein. 
Springfield, Mass. (1912): The Home Correspondence 
School. XXXII + 438 pp. 

Sixteen complete short-stories, arranged in eight tjrpical 
classes, two stories illustrating each class. The first of 
each pair is analyzed, the second has wide margins left 
blank for analysis by the student. The general work of 
each author is criticised, suggestive questions follow each 
chapter, and explicit lists of representative stories of the 
different types illustrated, as well as reading references 


on the work of each author, stimulate and facilitate 
further study. 

E. Sho&t-Story Masterpieces^ ten volumes, edited 
by J. Berg Esenwein. Springfield, Mass. (1913-1913): 
The Home Correspondence School. 

A series of great short-stories translated into English, 
with introduction to each story by the editor, discussmg 
the author and his short-story work, particularly his 
literary methods. Four volumes now issued, two French, 
two Russian, comprismg twenty stories and twenty-two 
introductory essays; about 600 pages in the four volumes. 

F. The Evolution op Literature, A. S. Mackenzie. 
New York (1911): Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. XVI + 
440 pp. 

A scholarly examination into the origin of both poetry 
and prose in the remotest times, with q)ecial reference to 
the beginnings of narration. 

G. The Short Story in English, Henry Sddel Canby . 
New York (1909): Henry Holt & Co. XHI + 385 pp. 

A complete historical and critical study of the develop- 
ment of the short-story in English — ^the only complete 
treatise of the kind. 

H. A Study op Prose FicnoN, Bliss Perry. Boston 
(1902) : Houghton, Mifflin & Co. VHI + 408 pp. 

A practical guide to the study of fiction, with authori- 
tative discussions of its types, forms, and internal structure. 
Chapter XII (34 pp.) deak particularly with the short- 
story. The Appendix is especially valuable. 

THE story-teller's ART 9 

7. The Rhetorical Principles of Narration, Carroll 
Lewis Maxcy. Boston (1911): Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 
279 pp. 

An exposition of the principles of narrative art, adapted 
to the use of college classes in advanced composition. 

J. The Philosophy op the Short-story, Brander 
Matthews. New York (1901): Longmans, Green & Co. 

83 PP- 

A discussion of the essential differences between the 
short-story and the novel, arguing for imity of impression 
as the indispensable requisite in the short-story. 

K. The Plot op the Short Story, Henry Albert 
Phillips. Larchmont, N. Y. (191 2): The Stanhope- 
Dodge Pub. Co. XIV + 146 pp. 

Seventeen short chapters, discussing and illustrating 
the nature, differentiation and practical building of short 
fictional plots. 

L. WRmNG the Short-Story, J. Berg Esenwcin. 
Springfield, Mass. (1909): The Home Correspondence 
School. XIV -f- 441 pp. 

A hand-book designed for classes in short-story writ- 
ing, or for individual study. The rise, structure, writ- 
ing and sale of the modem short-story are discussed. 
OuUine summaries as well as suggestive questions and 
exercises follow each chapter. Full appendices and 
bibliographies, together with an anal3rtical device for 
the laboratory study of the short-story, complete the 


M, The Technique of the Mystery Story, 
Carolyn Wells. 

N. Children's Stories and How to Tell Them, 
J. Berg Esenwein and Marietta Stockard. 

0. "Synopsis Only," A. Van Buren Powell. This 
work on the photoplay contains extraordinarily helpful 
chapters on how to plot. 

My Ny and O, published by The Home Correspondence 
School, Springfield, Mass. 


1. Write a paragraph or two on the earliest narrative 
forms (See A, P and X.) 

2. Describe the scene, as though you yourself were a 
listener, made by a company gathered to hear (a) a savage 
chieftain telling of his exploits; or (b) a troubadour sing 
ing a tale of war; or (c) an oriental tale-teller addressing 
his audience; or (d) any other similar story-telling setting. 

3. Cut from a newspaper a news item told as a true 

4. Criticise the definition of a " story " given on p. 3. 

5. Construct your own definition of a " story. " 

6. Is a study of story-forms likely to hinder or encour- 
age a writer's originality ? Give reasons. 

Note i. Question 6 might furnish a class debate. 

Note 2. The Instructor may make assignments of 
reports to be made upon various chapters from the reading 
list covering the groimd of early narration. 



The champions of dry-as-dust literature have tried hard to 
discredit the use of the anecdote in literature. 

— ^Albert Schinz, The Dial. 

But the anecdote is really the relation of an actual experience 
of someone, either in the public eye or within the personal ken 
of the listener, which depends for its point upon the humor in 
the situation, or in the character, or in the manner of the narrator. 
It is plotless.— H. A. Phillips, The Plot of the Short-Story. 

An anecdote is the simplest form of consciously devised 
story y for we may assume that, though haphazard narration 
previously existed, a story centering about some person, 
and intentionally told as such, was the earliest type of 
connected narrative, almost as old as human speech. 

Our grandparent — a-million-times-removed — ^who first 
returned to his cave or climbed into his tree-dwelling and 
enforced one of his primary ideas by telling his family 
about some wonder he had seen or some enemy he had 
overcome, was the first anecdotist, for we have said that 
in some such way the first story came to be told. Since 
then, down through the ages, every one of us as soon as he 
can prattle begins to contribute to the great sum of these 
short narratives of incidents and events — ^wonderful, 
mysterious, sorrowful, joyful, or humorous, but always 
worth relating — that we call anecdotes. Proof positive, 
this, that the instinct to narrate anecdotes is natural in 


the human race, and may ahnost be classed with language, 
cookingy and the use of tools, as differentiating man from 

J. The Anecdote Defined 

The word "anecdote" means, according to its Greek 
derivation, "not given out," that is, not published, and 
was thus applied by Procopius — ^a historian of the sixth 
century — to his "Unpublished Memoirs" {Anecdotci) of 
happenings in the private life of the court of the Emperor 
Justinian. Anecdotes thus grew to signify a kind of tell- 
tale-tattle, and disparaging mention is made by various 
writers of "the anecdotal gossip of Suetonius,"* "the 
gossiping anecdote-mongers of later Greece,"* and of 
" the roguery and ignorance of those who pretend to write 
anecdotes, or secret histories. " * 

The word, however, is much too useful to be thus 
restricted, so we apply it now to any shorty pointed narra- 
tive of a detached incident ^ or of a single event, told as being 
in itself interesting or striking.^ 

Mr. Howells says: "The anecdote is palpably simple 
and single. It offers an illustration of character, or records 
a moment of action. " * 

Now, as we understand the anecdote today it differs 
from the first crude recital of a prehistoric man in this: it 

* Charles Merivale, History of the Romans Under the Empire, 
Vol. IV. Chap. 37. 

* Frederick Denison Maurice, Moral and Metaphysical Philoso* 
phy, Chap. 6, Division 3, Section 2. 

» Dean Swift, GvUiver's Travels, Part III, Chap. 8. 
^ Modified from Murray's New English Dictionary. 

* North American Review, September, 1901. 


has a point, to the making of which everything else is 
subordinated, and the keener the point, and the more 
condensed the form, the better the anecdote. It would not 
be an anecdote merely to tell that a boy fell on a slippery 
pavement; but suppose that his fall leads to a crisis in his 
life or even occasions merely a witty retort, then we have 
the foundation for some sort of story. 

There is an old anecdote of a lad who after he had fallen 
on the ice was asked by a kindly old gentleman, "Why, my 
boy, how did you happen to fall? Did you foiget to wear 

The little fellow grinned, and as he picked himself up, 
replied," I have rubbers on, sir, but I fell notwithstanding. " 

The narration of this incident, with its palpable point, 
constitutes a real anecdote. 

Alas, how many attempted anecdotes have no more 
point than the recital of the dullard who in attempting to 
repeat the foregoing gave the boy's reply in these words: 
"I have rubbers on, sir, but I fell nevertheless. " 

Of course it will not be supposed from this example that 
aU good anecdotes should be witty — though they very well 
might be. In reality the point may be something quite 
serious, as illustrated in the example next cited. 

2. Its Relation to Truth 

An attempt has been made to confine the word "anec- 
dote" to an incident which is supposed to be true, in 
contradistinction to the word "story," which may apply 
to either true or fictitious narrative.^ But even this effort 

^ TheCeniwryDiaionary. 


to narrow its meaning has proved ineffective, and one of 
our standard magazines^ sponsors a witty defence of 
anecdotes which are highly embellished, unauthenticated, 
and generally lacking foundation in fact. Thus we are 
begged not to investigate the origin of the immortal 
cherry-tree story of the Father of our Country. "What 
matters such a non-essential as historical accuracy so long 
as it gives to the bojrs and girls of this country an ideal 
view of a truly great and good man? " * 

Anecdotes often express the spirit of the times. They 
spring up around great movements and great men. We 
have anecdotes of the Fall of the Roman Empire, of the 
French Revolution, of the Civil War, of Napoleon, of 
Saint Francis of Assisi, of Abraham Lincoln. 

Like the subjoined, they must, if improvable historically, 
be at least true in the spirit, as are the sacred legends so 
often foimd in the religious writings of other days — for a 
legend is often an anecdote, and often a tale, as we shall 
shortly see. Li the following legend we have the real 
anecdotal form. 



Saint Louis, King of France, set out one time on a pilgrimage 
to visit the sanctuaries of the world, and learning of the great 
holiness of Brother Giles, one of the first companions of Saint 

1 The Oudook, Vol. 90, pp. 247-8. 


* Adapted from the FioreUi di San Francisco. 


Francis, and that he was truly a man of God, the king deter- 
mined to visit him. So he put off his royal state, and in the guise 
of a poor pilgrim he came to the door of the House of the Brothers 
whidi is in Perugia, and without telling his name he asked the 
porter with great earnestness for Brother Giles. Now God had 
revealed to Brother Giles who it was that asked for him, so he 
left his cell and quickly ran to the door. And though the friar 
and the king had never seen one another before, yet the moment 
they met they kneeled down with great devotion and embraced 
and kissed one another with the tender love of dose, familiar 
friends. But all the while no word was spoken by either the one 
or the other, only they remained together in silence, and with 
such signs of love and understanding as if they enjoyed sweet 
companionship with one another. 

And when they had continued for a long time together in the 
manner set forth above, but with no word spoken by either one, 
King Louis went his way on his journey, and Brother Giles 
returned to his cell. 

But so dose had their souls been knit together that speech 
would have only interrupted their perfect communion. They 
parted from one another with marvellous content and consola- 
tion, full of joy, but without words, and they never met again. 

Mr. Ruskiiiy who quotes the inddent in fuli, says that 
although the story may not be believed by everybody, 
''the spirit which created the story is an entirely indis- 
putable fact in the history of Italy and of mankind. 
Whether Saint Louis and Brother Giles ever knelt together 
in the street of Perugia matters not a whit. That a king 
and a poor monk could be conceived to have thoughts of 
each other which no words could speak; and that indeed 
the king's tenderness and humility made such a tale 
credible to the people, — this is what you have to meditate 
on here."* 

^ John Ruskin, Mornings in Florence. 


3. Scope of the Anecdote 

The anecdote is one of the useful bits of literary and 
social small-change. According to our several callings 
and avocations we use> exchange, and pass on, the ^'good 
story." It is told at the fireside^ at the sick-bed, at the 
social dinner. It is used by the toast-master, by the orator, 
by the evangelist. It is dressed-up and transformed by all 
sorts and conditions of writing people. Anecdotes enliven 
the work of the historian; the biographer could not por- 
tray a great life without them; the poet touches them with 
his wand and transforms them into gems, or chaplets of 
beads,^ or sets them here and there in a great epic. The 
"story" of the newspaper reporter is often an anecdote, 
and frequently it becomes the nucleus of a short-story, 
while many so-called short-stories are nothing more nor 
less than expanded anecdotes — ^though not a whit less 
interesting on that account. 

To the biographer, in particular, the anecdote is indis- 
pensable. Rather than at the great cross-roads of destiny, 
it is in the little crises of life — ^which often come with a 
transforming force of their own — ^that the natural bent of 
character is revealed; it is in the impremeditated response, 
in the every-day chit-chat not meant for the reporter's 
ear, that a man most faithfully discloses himself. A study 
of any of the great biographies, like Boswell's "Life of 
Johnson," will show that the anecdotes, more than any- 
thing else, give vitality to the portrayal. Plutarch tells 
us that "the most glorious exploits do not always furnish 

1 Like Sir Edwin Arnold's Pearls of the FaHh, or Islam* s Rosary. 


US with the clearest discoveries of vice and virtue in men; 
sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a 
jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations 
than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or 
the bloodiest battles whatsoever. " * Plutarch himself is 
confessedly an anecdotist, for the reason, as he tells us, 
that his " design is not jto write histories, but lives. " * 

The following anecdote, from a modem biography, well 
illustrates the suggestiveness of this form of narration. 


During Sir Walter Scott's visit to Rome, in 1832, one Don 
Luigi Santa Croce, a great admirer of his works, spoke to him of 
the plots of some of the novels, and earnestly remonstrated 
against the fate of Clara Mowbray, in "St. Ronan's Well." 
"I am much obliged to the gentleman for the interest he takes 
in her," said Sir Walter, "but I could not save her, poor thing — 
it is against the rules — she had the bee in her bonnet." Don 
Luigi still insisted. Sir Walter replied — "No; but of all the 
murders I have committed in that way, and few men have been 
guilty of more, there is none that went to my heart so much as 
the poor bride of Lammermoor; but it could not be helped — it 
is all true." 

Here is a characteristic picture of the author dominated 
by his subject, and regarding himself as merely the vehicle 
through which the story must be told. His heroines are 
real to him,— he may deplore, but he cannot change their 

The humorous anecdote, to which in particular the term 

* Plutarch's Lives, the introductory words to the Life of 

« Ibid. 

• Lockfaart's Life cf Sir Walter ScoU. 


"good story" is oftenest applied, is its own excuse for 
being. Like the first class of anecdotes discussed in this 
chapter, it need not aspire to literal truthfulness, nor 
always even to probability. Sometimes it is found to be 
consistent with the spirit of the times, or with the charac- 
ters involved, sometimes it is a burlesque, sometimes it is 
deliberately ironical. Its one essential is that it shall leave 
us at its close with a decided sensation of amusement — ^that 
it shall always score a point. 


Judge Ray, the temperance lecturer, in one of his speeches 
made the following statement: 

"No person can use whiskey for years with moderation. If 
there is a person in the audience before me whose experience 
disputes this, let him make it known. I will account for it, or 
acknowledge that I am mistaken." 

A tall, large man arose, and folding his arms across his breast, 

"I offer myself as one whose own experience contradicts your 

"Are you a moderate drinker?" asked the judge. 

''I am." 

"How long have you been drinking in moderation?" 

"Forty years." 

"And were you never intoxicated?" 


"Well," remarked the judge, scanning his subject from head to 
foot, "yours is a singular case; yet I think it is easily accounted 
for. I am reminded by it of a little story: A colored man, with a 
loaf of bread and a bottle of whiskey, sat down to dine on the 
bank of a clear stream. In breaking the bread he dropped some 
of the crumbs into the water. These were eagerly seized and 

^ George Bungay, Temperance Anecdotes. 


eaten by the fish. That circumstance suggested to the darkey 
the idea of dipping the bread into the whiskey and feeding it to 
them. He tried it. It worked well. Some of the fish ate of it, 
became drunk, and floated helpless on the surface. In this way 
he easily caught a large number. 

"But there was in the stream a big fish unlike the rest, for it 
partook freely of the bread and whiskey with no perceptible 
effect. The darkey resolved to take this fish and discover what 
was the matter. So he procured a net, caught the fish, and 
telling the case to a colored neighbor, asked his opinion. 

"The other surveyed the wonder a moment, and then said, 
'Sambo, I understands dis case. Dis fish is a mullet-head; it 
ain't got any brains, an* de whiskey affecks only de brains.* " 

The foregoing differs from the simple anecdote in two 
respects. First, it is what might be called an involved 
anecdote, th^-t is, an anecdote with an introduction, tell- 
ing how someone else came to tell an anecdote. Second, it 
carries with it a lesson, or moral, and this brings it close 
to the fable, which will form the subject of the next 

4. Writing the Anecdote 

We have had a two-fold purpose in thus examining the 
anecdote — ^that we might imderstand its origin, its purpose, 
and its forms; and that we might learn to use it effectively, 
whether orally or in writing. 

With the latter object in view, observe four points: 

(a) The theme must be simple, suited to the class of 
persons who are to hear it, and not so remote in interest 
that long and involved explanations are needed to establish 
a setting, or to make the point clear. A long story makes a 
poor anecdote. So does an obscure one. 

(b) The manner of telling is quite as important as the 


matter to be told. A good story badly told will prove less 
effective than an ordinary incident related with skill. 
Do not model your anecdotes upon the formal and labored 
style of past decades. A breezy, crisp, and informal 
manner is best. Tell the story as nearly as possible as it 
would be told by a bright speaker whose chief desire is to 
present the point of the anecdote as well as possible. Even 
a serious subject may be treated with a brisk and charming 
manner, therefore instill life into your narrative. If you 
must be dry-as-dust, write obituaries, not anecdotes. 

(c) The opening is a, cnxdalmsitteT. Be careful to select 
a good place to begin — and that does not necessarily mean 
at the beginning of the incident as it occurred. Study the 
anecdotes which have most impressed you — ^for tastes 
differ — ^and note the variety of ways in which the narrators 
open their recitals. Beware of lengthy introductions, lest 
the point be not effective enough to warrant the time you 
have consumed. Take, for example the foregoing story 
of the boy who fell on the ice, and practise by introducing 
it in a dozen different wa3rs, thus : 

Governor Stone, of Illiana, tells the story of a lad, etc 

There are two ways of telling a story, as I learned recently by 
hearing Governor Stone, of lUiana, tell of a little chap, etc. 

My friend of the opposition has missed the point entirely. He 
is like the serious-minded man who recently heard the following 
story, etc., etc. He knew by the laughter that it must be a good 
yam so he decided to repeat it on the first occasion, and this he 
did, but when he came to repeat the witty answer of the boy, the 
nearest approach he could make to it was, etc. 

That a world of meaning may lie in a single word, was well 
illustrated lately when Governor Stone of Uliama, told the story, 
etc., etc. About a week later a ponderous lawyer attempted to 
spin the same yam, etc. 


These variations could be carried on indefinitely to good 
advantage — at least they lead away from the tiresome 
"And that reminds me. '' 

{d) The ending is also of major importance. Many a 
good story is spoiled by "giving away" the ending too 
soon. The climax should be carefully reserved for the 
dose. If you must give explanations, never add them after 
you have reached the climax of your story. In such a case 
you not only commit the literary folly of anti-climax but 
actually call in question the clearness of the point you have 
tried to make by your anecdote. When you are through, 
stop. If you cannot be brief, be quiet. 


1. Cut out three newspaper items which furnish good 
material for anecdotes. Briefly work over each one, 
bringing out its strong points, and otherwise altering it so 
as to throw it into anecdote form. 

2. Why is an anecdote called a "consciously devised" 

3. Write an original anecdote dealing with some personal 
experience, altering the facts as you may wish. 

4. Write a fictitious anecdote relating to some topic or 
person of public interest at the present time. 

5. Write three original fictitious anecdotes in keeping 
with the character of some well-known historical personage. 
Let one of the three be cast in the "involved" form of the 
foregoing temperance anecdote from George Bungay. 
State in each case what trait or traits you wish to illus- 


6. Cut out three or four brief anecdotes from any news- 
paper or magazine^ illustrating national peculiarities, such 
as those of the Irish, the Scotch, the Germans, etc., and 
criticise them as to aptness, probability, offensiveness, 
point, anti-dimax, clearness, etc. . 

7. Rewrite one of them so as to avoid the weaknesses 
you criticise. 

8. Select and copy from the magazdnes at least six 
different forms of beginning an anecdote. 

9. Name some poems which are anecdotes in verse. 

10. Which of the great epics are rich in anecdote? 

11. Do you know of any short-story which could be 
" boiled down " into an anecdote? 

Note: These exercises may be varied so as to include 
oral work, especially the oral telling of anecdotes, both 
prepared and impromptu. 

1 2. Recast the following in two entirely different styles : 

White Man vs. Indian^ 

An officer of the Indian Office at Washington tells of the 
patronizing airs frequently assimied by visitors to the 
government schools for the redskins. 

On one occasion a pompous little man was being shown 
through one institution when he came upon an Indian lad 
of seventeen years. The worker was engaged in a bit of 
carpentry, which the visitor observed in silence for some 
minutes. Then, with the utmost gravity, he asked the 

» Taylor Edwards, in Lippincott's Magazine. Used by per- 



The youthful redskin lifted his eyes from his work, 
calmly surveyed his questioner, and then replied : 

"No, are you?" 
13. Recast the following, changing both the introduction 
and the entire style of narration : 

Advance News* 

Thomas Jefferson, the actor, tells the following story 
about his father, the late Joseph Jefferson, so well-beloved 
by all theatre-goers. 

For a long time before his death, Mr. Jefferson was very 
sensitive upon the subject of his retirement from the stage. 
When he was pla3dng in one of the Southern cities a paper 
came out with the news that he had decided to leave the 
footlights at the expiration of his engagement in that dty. 

Mr. Jefferson resented the printing of such a story, and 
the reporter who had brought it in was called upon to tell 
how he got it. 

"Why," he explained, "the city editor told me to see 
Joseph Jefferson and ask him if it were true that he was 
soon to retire. " 

" Well, " he was asked, " did you see him? " 

"No," he replied; "I went to his hotel and sent my 

card up to his room, and it was sent back with this written 

on it: 

"Mr. Jefferson has retired." 

" So, 3^u see, I had good authority for the story. " 

^ A. S. Hitchcock, in LippincoU's Magaaine. Used by permis- 


14. As the title is an important matter in a printed anec- 
dote, furnish original titles for all the anecdotes printed in 
this chapter. 

15. Give reasons why you prefer either the old title or 
the neW| in each instance. 



Strange stories were tdd of animals who talked and who had 
many of the characteristics of mankind; and by word of mouth 
these marvelous tales were passed down from generation to 
generation, growing in detail and gaining in precision, until there 
came to be an immense mass of beast-fable, surviving in oral 
tradition chiefly, but getting itself lifted up into literature now 
and again. It was from this fund of accumulated and transmitted 
lore of legend that Bidpay and .£sop made their selections, to be 
followed, after many a century, by that more accomplished 
artist in narrative. La Fontaine, the great master of the fable, 
which instructs and yet satirizes our common humanity. 

Every fable has its moral, even though this is not always 
tagged to the tail of it; and the ethical intent of the story-teller 
who sets down what the animals say to one another is as obvious 
in the record of the doings of Reynard the Fox as it is in the 
sayings of B'rer Rabbit preserved for us. by Uncle Remus. A 
moral there is also — ^and the sturdiest and wisest of morals — in 
the " Jimgle Book" of Mr. Kipling, wherein we learn how Mowgli 
grew to manhood among the wild creatures of the field and of 
the forest. — ^Bkander Matthews, The Short-story, 

In earlier days, when precise definitions were not held 
to be so necessary, any fictitious narrative was called a 
fable. Even yet, myths and legends are sometimes loosely 
called fables — so are mild and giuleless fibs. But the more 
restricted meaning of the word is the one we shall accept — 
that is, a very short narrative plainly designed to convey 
some useful lesson. Thus a fable is a kind of sugar-coated 
fictional pill, or it might be defined as a fictitious anecdote 
with a moral purpose. 


Most of US are in agreement with the old Greek drama- 
tist who said, "I hate all teaching that is thrust upon me." * 
But the fable is skilfully designed so that almost uncon- 
sdously we teach ourselves. We are lured by the exchange 
of table courtesies between a fox and a stork, or we read 
with a smile the adventiu^s of a greedy dog with a piece 
of meat in his mouth. Suddenly the ''moral" flashes on 
us, and we greet it with all the joy of the discoverer. 
Perhaps this is why animals and inanimate objects are so 
frequently the speakers and actors in the fable. "The 
man is hidden in the animal," * so the fun of discovery is 

Another reason for the use of animals in this kind of 
story is that the fox naturally stands for cunning, and the 
wolf for cruelty, and the hare for swiftness, and the tor- 
toise for sloth, so that the lesson is easier to learn. It is 
also a less personal, a more polite form, of convejdng a 
rebuke or of giving advice, to wrap it up in a story about 
a Hare and a Tortoise, or about the Frogs that wanted a 
King. Thus we find that the Orientals, lovers of politeness 
and lovers of metaphor, constantly make use of picturesque 
allegory in intercourse with one another. For instance, 
"Children should not see a pattern on the loom till the 
pattern is made plain," ' is both a prettier and a more 
effective way of refusing an explanation than to say, with 
unpolished directness, "I won't tell you, you are too 
young to understand." And "Thou wouldst have drunk 
water twice, perhaps thrice, afterwards. I do not think 

* Euripides. 

> Taine, La Fontaine et ses Fables, Partie II, Chap. 2. 

• Rudyard Zipling, Kim, Chap. VI. 


more tban thiicei '' ^ is surely a gentle and pleasing way of 
telling a boy that he would have been murdered if he had 
betrayed his trust. So, naturally, the Orientals are the 
great fable-tellers of the nations, for their love of S3anboli- 
cal themes and of figurative language finds outlet in this 
form of narrative. Many of the fables attributed to 
iEsop were first told in Hindustan — the panther, the ape, 
and the peacock, pointing to Indian origin.' 

But fables have appeared in the literatures of all races 
and nations. Their appeal is universal, for they teach les- 
sons we all have to learn — ^not high spiritual truths, per- 
haps, but every-day serviceable morality, profitable for the 
lif e^ that now is. 

J. The Ancient Fable 

Someone says the fable is composed of two parts, the 
soul and the body; the story-part of the fable is the body, 
and the moral is the soul.* 

The aim of the andent fable was to ''point the moral, " 
rather than to "adorn the tale," hence its language is very 
clear, simple, and direct — ^like that of a story told by a 
child, in short sentences, without deliberate literary crafts- 
manship and with little adornment. 

As the anecdote was the first oral attempt at story- 
telling, and therefore a work of imconsdous art, the fable 
is supposedly the beginning of consdous, though childlike, 
narrative effort in the race. Primitive peoples, like children, 

» Rudyard Kipling, Kim, Chap. VIII. 

« Harry Thurston Peck, in Warner's Library cf ihe Worlds Best 
Literature^ Vol. 1, Article on ^sop. 
* La Fontaine. 


display in this, as in all their arts, a native preference for a 
rude symbolism, a sort of literary suggestion, which "in 
some way or other serves to call up the object or the thought 
without really representing it. " ^ 

Jotham's story of "The Trees Choosing a King"* is 
said to be the oldest fable in the world. According to the 
chronology of King James's version of the Bible, it is at 
least 3,000 years old, and probably it is much older. 
Compared with Jotham, iEsop is a modem writer. But 
many of the fables of iEsop, himself a somewhat m3rthical 
personage, can be traced back to India or Egypt, so that 
our own nursery tales of "The Wolf and the Lamb," and 
"The Lion and the Mouse," are older than history, and 
have been told and loved by men, women, and children, 
and played with by poets, from the days of the childhood 
of the human race until now. 



A hare and a tortoise were once quarreling with one another as 
to their rate of speed. Accordingly they fixed a time and a place 
for a contest, and started together to race. Now the hare, on 
account of his natural quickness, was confident of winning, so 
feeling a little tired he lay down by the roadside and fell asleep. 
The tortoise, however, because he was aware of his slow gait, 
never once stopped, but kept up his best speed. Thus he hurried 
past the sleeping hare, and came to the goal of victory. 

^ Frederick Starr, First Steps in Human Progress, Chap. 21. 

'The Bible, Judges IX: 7-15. A kind of parable-fable. 
See next chapter. 

•Translated from the Greek collection of C. Halm, 
Leipsic, 1852. 



''Shortness^ sense, and salt," were said by an English 
writer* two or three centuries ago to be the essentials of a 
good proverb. They are likewise the characteristics of the 
ancient fable. No time is wasted in description, or in 
giving the setting, or in embroidery of the simple facts. 
The style is clear and direct, but lacking in the graces that 
charm, and its naive and somewhat bald simplicity is far 
from the "noble simplicity" which Professor Barrett 
Wendell* tells us characterizes a great work. The story is 
told in as few words as possible, and for its attractiveness 
it depends upon the message it carries. This message, or 
teaching, is self-evident — it is impossible to miss it — and 
the sole aim of the story is to enforce this teaching and to 
make it so plain that he who nms may read. 


1. Name some well-known Beast-Stories which are not 

2. (a) What is the difference between fable, myth, legend, 
and allegory?^ (b) Illustrate by naming one example 
under each head, if possible, briefly relating the story. 

3. (a) State briefly and clearly the moral of the fable 

* James Howell, Lexicon TetragloUon. 

* English Composition, Chap. VI. 

* See the animal stories of Ernest Thompson-Seton's Wild 
Animals I Have Known, William Long's School of the Woods, and 

« See Bifdical World, Vol. 33, pp. 305-312, also the first 
chapter of Dr. Trench's book on The Parables of Our Lord, for 
aid in these definitions. 


of "The Hare and the Tortoise/' (b) Show, by means of 
three human examples, how its lesson could be applied. 
(c) What lessons, besides that given in (a), could be drawn 
from this fable? 

4. (a) Make a list of from eight to ten proverbs suitable 
for the foundation of fables, (b) Which of these proverbs 
would be best suited to the Beast-Fable? (c) Which to 
development by means of inanimate objects as actors in 
the story? Give reasons for your answers. 

5. (a) Write a paragraph or two discussing the points 
to be observed in writing a fable, (b) Make a list of things 
to be avoided in the method of narration. 

6. Write two fables modelled on the type of the antique 

7. Write one fable on any of the themes in Exercise 4 (a). 

2. The Modern Fable 

The ancient fable, in its simplest form, seems to have 
been a kind of common property, and any writer who 
pleased was at liberty to re-edit it, as it were, or to re-write 
it in verse, or otherwise to embellish its form. This liberty 
was freely used by the ancients themselves, the verse- 
fables of Phaedrus and others being merely re-casts of the 
earlier iEsopian tales; even Socrates occupied himself in 
prison by turning some of iEsop's fables into verse.^ 

Similarly, the modem fable often adopts the same 
theme or even the same story as the ancient fable, but 

^ Max Mdller, On the Migration rf Fables, in Chips from a 
German Workshop, 


tells it with more literary skill and charm, with a deeper 
insight into human character and motives — that is to say, 
with a better knowledge of psychology— and, in the master- 
fabulists, with more or less power to touch the emotions. 

A typical modem fabulist of this class is La Fontaine, 
who has been called the iEsop of France. In his youth 
La Fontaine was an eager reader and student of the ancient 
classical writers. So we are not surprised to find that his 
fables are all twice-told tales, but in his hands the crude 
simplicity of the ancient fable is transformed by a touch of 
poetry into a thing of sparkle and charm. Thus the fable 
of "The Reeds and the Oak," attributed to iEsop, is in 
the original a moral-carrier and nothing more, while L§ 
Fontaine's "The Oak and the Reed" is said to be not only 
the finest he ever wrote but the finest in any language. 

Some of Hans Andersen's stories are fables, as are also 
a few of Lord Lytton's "Fables in Song" — though these 
are more complex, in both form and scheme. "The Ship 
that Found Herself, " by Rudyard Kipling,^ is a delightful 
fable. So are many of his "Jungle Stories." Of these 
Dr. Harry Thurston Peck writes that they have "creative 
imagination, psychological insight, brilliantly picturesque 
description, and the touch of one who is a daring master of 
vivid language.'** 


The difference between the ancient and the modem 
fable will best be seen by a comparison of the ancient form 

» McQure's Magazine, Vol. VI, p. 328. 

• Library of the World's Best Literature, Vd. I, £sop. 


of ''The Reeds and the Oak" with a translation of La 
Fontaine's version, previously mentioned. 


The wind, after uprooting an oak tree, hurled it into the river. 
Then, as it was being carried along down the stream, the oak asked 
the reeds: " How is it that you, who are so weak and fragile, are 
not torn up by the violent winds? " 

Their answer was: "You resisted the winds and struggled 
against them, and for this reason you have been uprooted. We, 
however, bending before every breeze, remain unharmed. " 


The Oak one day said to the Reed: — 
"You have good cause to rail at partial fate. 
' You groan beneath a hedge-wren's trifling weight; 

A puflf of air, a breath indeed, 
Which softly wrinkles the water's face, 
Makes you sink down in piteous case; 
Whereas my brow, like Alp or Apennine, 
Reflects the sun's radiance divine, 
And braves the tempest's hate. 
What I call zephyrs seem north winds to you. 
Moreover, in my shelter if you grew, 
Under the leaves I generously scatter, 
My patronage you would not rue. 
When storms do blow and winds do batter. 
But you spring up on the frontier 
Bordering the showery kingdoms of the wind. 
Against you tmjust Nature sure has sinned." 

"Your pity," quoth the bulrush in reply, 

€k>mes from a noble heart. But- have no fear; 

^ Translated from the Greek collection of C. Halm, Leipsic, 

* Translated by George McLean Harper. Library of the 
World's Best Literature, Vol. I, ^sop. 


To dread the winds you have more cause than I, 
Who bend, but break not. Many a year and age 
To their terrific rage 
YouVe turned a stalwart back; 
But not yet is the end." Scarce had he spoke 

When from the north with fl3ring rack, 
Hurried the wildest storm that ever broke 
From winter's icy fields. 
The tree stands firm, the bulrush yields. 
The wind with fury takes fresh head 
And casts the monarch roots on high, 
Whose lofty brow was neighbor to the sky 
And whose feet touched the empire of the dead. 


Though it is no easy task to preserve in translation the 
spirit of the original, and though many of the subtleties 
and felicities of expression are lost, it is yet not difiicult 
to discover the fundamental difference between the ancient 
and the modem fable in the foregoing examples. The sole 
aim of the ancient fable was to teach; the chief aim of the 
modem is to charm, and to this the lesson itself, though 
present, is incidental or tributary. 

This charm is brought about by the conscious exercise of 
the story-teller's art. Note the artless beginning of the 
ancient fable: ''The wind, after uprooting an oak tree, 
hurled it into the river. " This incident, in the later ver- 
sion, is liiade to furnish a strong and effective climax — the 
artless form begins where the artistic form ends. The 
contrast between the reed and the oak, an essential of the 
story, is heightened by the use of but a single reed, rather 
than an indefinite number of reeds, as in the ancient form. 


This contrast is further enhanced by skilfd and pictuiesq^^ 
suggestion. We can see the slender stalk bending under 
the weight of a wren, we can feel the strength and force of 
the mountainous summit of the oak, as it '^ braves the 
' tempest's hate." Imagination pictyres the wind gath- 
ering its forces, the fury of the battle, the final 
overthrow of the giant, brave, generous, and boastful. 
The last two lines are touching, and almost grand. So 
literary form constitutes one great point of difference 
between the new fable and the old. 

J. Fables in Slang 

Some gf the cleverly written modem fables* are worded 
in slang, which, since it is itself a form of metaphor, seems 
peculiarly fitting language for the fable. Slang has been 
called "the foe and the friend of English speech, the foe, 
because of its frequent inelegandes, the friend, because it 
is constantly enriching our vocabulary by the addition of 
fresh, vigorous, words and phrases. " The words " rogue, " 
" bully, " and " prig, " were once slang. So, more recently, 
was the word " blizzard, " and now we find the slang abbre- 
viations, "gym," "exam," and "photo," demanding 
recognition, as did the contractions, "limch," "cab," and 
the like, a generation ago. Thus fables in slang, aside 
from their moral, have a distinct literary value and interest. 
Perhaps it is needless to say, however, that slang should 
never be confused with good English — its value is distinctly 
limited, and young people need not be urged to adopt it. 

^ George Ade, Fables in Slang; Forty Modem Fables; More 


When used consciously and with intelligent purpose, it 
may be put to excellent use; when used habitually it 
degrades our English speech. 

George T. Lanigan (1845-1886), a journalist and author, 
considerably antedated Mr. Ade's ''Fables in Slang/' 
though his work was neither so prolific nor so finished as 
that of the later fabulist. The form, as will be apparent, is 
in imitation of the classical, though a satire on the ancient 
attempt to teach a lesson. 


A frivolous Grasshopper, having spent the summer in Mirth 
and Revelry, went on the Approach of the Inclement Winter to 
the Ant, and implored it of its charity to stake him. "You had 
better go to your Uncle," replied the prudent Ant; "had you 
imitated my forethought and deposited your ftmds in a Savings 
Bank, you would not now be compelled to regard your Duster 
in the light of an Ulster." Thus saying, the virtuous Ant retired, 
and read in the Papers next morning that the Savings Bank where 
he had deposited his funds had suspended. 

Moral— 27«m vivimus^ vivamus, 

4. The Modem Society Fable^ 

This is another form of recent vogue which deserves 
notice. It uses no slang, nor does it adhere to the classical 
model except in form, but it presents, often with some 
wholesome satire, many of the more or less harmless 
follies of our day and generation. 

Besides those authors mentioned in the footnote, Coimt 

^ Josephine Dodge Daskam, Fables for the Fair; Guy Wet- 
more Carryl, Fables for the Frivolous (verse); Elizabeth M. 
Gilmer (Dorothy Dix), FaJbUs of the Elite. 


Tolstoi was one of the brightest modem fable-writers. His 
fables are in part paraphrases from the Indian, and in part 
imitations. The first one, given below, has a direct bearing 
on the author's views of modem social conditions; the 
second is a simple satire. 


A Wolf was running from the dogs, and wanted to hide in a 
deft. But a Fox who was lying in the de^t showed her teeth to 
the Wolf and said, " You cannot come in here, this is my place." 
The Wolf did not stop to argue the matter, but merely said: 
"Were the dogs not so near I would teach you whose place it 
is; but now the right is on your side. " 


Two men together fotmd a book in the street and began to 
dispute as to its ownership. 

A third who happened along, asked: 

" Which of you can read? " 


" Then why do you want the book? Your dispute reminds me 
of two bald men who fought for possession of a comb, when 
ndther had any hair on his head. ' ' 

The next example is more in the flippant vein of the up- 
to-date social satire, and is quite representative of the 
type under examination. 


There was once a woman who had Remarkable Conversational 
Powers. Her Friends admired her Very Much. Once they 
Planned a Dinner Party in her Honor. To this Party they 

» Fables. 

* Copyright, 1901, by Charles Scribner's Sons, and used by 
permission, from Fables for the Fair, by Josephine Dodge Daskam. 


Invited a Man who was what is known as The Life of the Occasion. 
He was one of Those People who Set the Table in a Roar. The 
Hostess had Planned for him to Take Out the Woman of the 
• Conversational Powers. To her Surprise, he Refused, Politely but 
Forcibly, to do this. 

"Why, I Thought you would Enjoy each other So Much!" 
said the Hostess. "She is such a Fascinatmg Talker— so Brilliant ! 
You, of All People, would Appreciate Her. " 

" On the Contrary, " said the Man who could Set the Table in a 
Roar. "Far From It. That Woman Irritates me Beyond 
Endurance. Every Time I Open my Mouth, she knows What I 
am going to Say beforehand, and More than That, she Talks All 
the Time herself. I am Sorry to Disoblige you, but you must give 
me Somebody Else. " 

"Here's a list of the Ladies," said the Hostess. "Take your 

" I will take This One, " said he, "for she Stutters. " 

This teaches us that Birds of a Feather occasionally Prefer t9 
Flock Apart. 


1. (a) Who was called the iEsop of England? (6) Who 
the iEsop of Germany? (c) Name some fables by each. 

2. (a) Which of Hans Andersen's tales may properly be 
called fables? (b) Which of Kipling's "Jungle Stories?" 
(c) Why? 

3. Find a parallel in ancient fable to Kipling's "The 
Ship that Found Herself." 

4. Rewrite the fable of "The Hare and the Tortoise," 
giving it as much literary grace as you can. 

5. Write a fable embod3dng any one of the following 

He that will not when he may, when he wills it shall have 


Whatever we look for we find. 

Willows are weak, but they bind other wood. 

6. Write a fable in slang in ridicule of some common fad 
or hobby. 

7. Write a fable embodying any of the proverbs of (a) 
Poor Richard; (b) foimd in the Book of Proverbs, in the 

8. Write a social satire on any one of the following 
themes: (a) The Man Who Tried to Save; (6) The 
Woman Who was Afraid of Microbes; (c) The Boy Who 
Imagined he was a Man ; {d) any theme you may invent. 

9. Make lists (a) of points' of merit, and (b) points to 
avoid, in writing the modem fable. 

10. Criticise, either favorably or unfavorably, any 
modem fable you can find. 



The most perfect spedmens of this form of compositioii, and 
those by which the comparative value of all others in the like 
kind is to be measured, must be sought in that Book which is the 
most perfect of all books; yet they do not belong exclusively 
to it,— R. C. Trench, The Parables of Our Lord. 

The fable and the parable are closely related in that 

both are illustrative stories designed to carry a message; 

but while the message of the fable is self-evident, that of 

the parable is purposely so obscured as to be revealed only 

to the seeing eye. Its lesson needs study, and often even 

interpretation. It is mysterious and hidden, rather than 

popular and simple: 

"Thou shalt never get such a secret from me but by a 

parable," says Laimce.^ 

"The parables are fair and good, 

But then — they must be understood." 

writes a German poet.' And the word is often used in the 

Old Testament to signify things hidden and concealed: 

"I will open my mouth in a parable 

I will utter dark sayings of old." ' 

In the charm of this semi-obscurity there is implied a 

delicate and subtle compliment. In conveying a truth 

^ 7\vo Gentiemen of Verona, Act II, Scene V. 
* Matthias Claudius. 
•PiMOms, LXXVIII, 2. 


by means of a parable one says to his hearer with a sug- 
gestiveness much more potent than words: "You are 
favored by being thus spoken to, for you have the per- 
ception that is needed to recognize the inner meaning of 
this story. You and I can possess its treasure, while these 
others" (here the rest of the world is dismissed into outer 
darkness), "doubtless worthy people, but not gifted with 
our sensitive insight — these others may grope and guess, 
but they will never know. You and / are the secret- 
sharers." Or if the parable is so dark and obscure as to 
need explanation, if it is a kind of spiritual cypher-code, 
hiding its lesson even from the elect, then the one who is 
singled out as worthy to learn to translate it must feel that 
he is still more signally preferred. 

With all reverence, it may be remarked that this high 
form of compliment was often paid by Jesus to his disci- 
ples, and must have served to strengthen their loyalty to 
their Master, as well as to stimulate their desire to pene- 
trate to the heart of his teachings. " Unto you it is given 
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the 
rest in parables." * 

Thus the parable is intellectually and spiritually aristo- 
cratic, while the fable is democratic. And this distinction 
points out the relative popularity of the two forms, at 
least with modem readers and writers. 

"The parable," as is said by the publishers of Dr. 
Trench's book, "whilst it is amongst the earliest modes of 
conveying truth to the mind, is at the same time the most 
effective. Never losing its vigor by age or repetition, it 

» Luke, VIII, 10. 


convinces sooner than a logical argument, and strikes the 
imagination more readily than a living example." ^ 

Even the lash of a rebuke, while not less painful, may be 
made more acceptable when conveyed by a parable, for so 
the offender is elevated to the dignity of being made to 
some extent his own judge. Thus in one of the finest of 
the Old Testament parables was the sinner made at bnce 
the criminal, the judge, and the coimsel for the prosecu- 
tion, when Nathan told his story and then enforced the 
application by saying to David, ''Thou art the man." ' 

J. Four Essentials of the Parable 

(a) The parable must be metaphorical in character. This 
is plainly indicated by its derivation from a Greek word 
signifying to compare^ or to throw beside. It must then 
embody, to quote an English writer, "agreements or cor- 
respondences between things material and things 
spiritual." ' 

(b) The parable must tell a story — ^it must be more than 
a mere comparison, more even than a spiritual metaphor. 
In insisting on this characteristic Dr. Barton quotes, by 
way of warning rather than example, the following so- 
called Buddhist parable: 

As a man who has trusted his child to a protecting nurse is 
without uneasiness, and says, "A protecting nurse watches my 
child," so have I set royal ofl&cers for the welfare and protection 
of the land. 

^ Richard Chenevix Trench, Notes an the Parables^ first Ameri- 
can Edition, from the "Advertisement of the Publishers." 
« II Samuel, XII, 7. 
* J. Qowes, The Parables of Jesus Christ Explained. 


This, says Barton, is an extended simile.^ He further 
excludes Isaiah, XXVin, 24-28, elsewhere designated as a 
parable,' from this class of narrative, since ''it contains a 
comparison between the natur,al and spiritual worlds, but 
no story."* 

(c) The Pruth that the parable conveys must be spiritual in 
its naktre, rather than the commercial morality, so to 
speak, of the fable. It must be remarked, however, that 
it will not do to limit the word "spiritual" to things 
"heavenly." A broader modem knowledge of the dignity 
of man has taught us that all these truths are spiritual 
which have to do with man's higher nature, and with the 
lofty affairs of life which we embrace under the word 

(d) The story of (he parable must be probable, that is, 
something which might naturally happen. In this espe- 
cially it differs from the fable or apologue, which, as we 
have seen, often invests animals, trees, rocks, and the 
like, with the qualities of human beings. The reason for 
this insistence on what is natural and probable is that the 
purpose of the parable removes it from the sportive and 
jesting anecdote and the worldly-wise fable by a consider- 
able distance. 

2. The Parable Defined 

To recapitulate, the four characteristics of the paraUe 
are: (i) It must be metaphorical. (2) Its significance 

1 George A. Barton» Parables Outside the Gospel. BibUcal 
World, VoL 33, pp. 305-12. 

* The New International Encyclopedia. 

* George A Barton, Parables Outside the Gospd. 


must be of a high or spiritual nature. (3) It must contain 
a short story. (4) The story must be probable. From 
these points we may construct a definition: A parable is a 
short, probable, metaphorical story illustrating a lofty or 
spiritual truth. 

In passing, let us note the similarity of the allegory — 
The PUgrim^s Progress of Bimyan, for example — to the 
form we are now studying. The parable is really a short 
allegory, without the greater latitude of theme and treat- 
ment naturally accorded the longer literary form. Like 
the parable, the allegory treats one subject under the 
guise of another and better known form. 

J. Ancient Parable Forms 

The parables of Buddhism are among the earliest of 
which we have record, but the Old Testament, the Talmud, 
the Koran, and the Wisdom literature of the Greeks, are 
all rich in parables. As might be judged from that love 
of metaphor displayed by the Orientals, the parable is 
foimd to be "among the favorite vehicles for convejdng 
moral truth throughout the East." ^ 

Since the parables of Jesus excel all others in vigor, 
spiritual depth, himian interest, and literary charm, we 
can hardly err in choosing several as 


And he spake tinto them this parable, saying, What man of 
you, having a htmdred sheep, and having lost one of them, doth 

» St. Jerome. • Luke, XV, 3-7. 


not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that 
which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he 
layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, 
he calleth together his friends and his neighbors, saying unto 
them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was 
lost. I say imto you that even so there shall be joy in Heaven 
over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine 
righteous persons, which need no repentance. 

This illustrative story is an example of what may be 
called (a) tite simple parable. It scarcely needs explana- 
tion, except perhaps as a reinforcement of its lesson. Its 
story element, though slight, is sufiSdent to redeem it 
from being merely a metaphor with a similitude at the 

In construction as a piece of story-telling, notice its 
remarkable compression, the personal way in which the 
hearer is at once made an interested party, the com- 
parative values of ninety-nine sheep and one, and the 
tremendously emphasized value set upon the one, because 
it was lost. Notice, too, the effective simplidty of state- 
ment: could the multiplication of words convey the pur- 
pose and earnestness of the shepherd half so well as those 
simple Saxon words, "go after that which is lost, until he 
find it?" Finally, notice how big a scene Jesus paints, 
with not a single false stroke from start to climax — ^a big 
scene as a human picture, and a bigger scene as the applica- 
tion of the story suddenly sweeps us up to a vision of great 
rejoicings in another world. Even if one were to reject 
the spiritual teaching, how could he fail to marvel at 
"The Lost Sheep" as a literary masterpiece! 

An example of (b) the complex parable follows: 



And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them 
in his teaching, Hearken: Behold, the sower went forth to sow: 
and it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside, 
and the birds come and devoured it. And other f dl on the rocky 
ground, where it had not much earth; and straightway it sprang 
up, because it had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was 
risen it was scorched; and because it had no root it withered 
away. And other fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up 
and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And others fell into the 
good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and 
brought forth, thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. 
And he said, Who hath eanj to hear, let him hear. 

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the 
twelve asked of him the parables. 

And he saith unto them, . . • The sower soweth the word, 
and these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; and 
when they have heard, straightway cometh Satan, and taketh 
away the word which hath been sown in them. And these in like 
manner are they that are sown upon the rocky places, who, when 
they have heard the word, straightway receive it with joy; and 
they have no root in themselves, but endure for awhile; then, 
when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, 
straightway they stumble. And others are they that are sown 
among the thorns; these are they that have heard the word, and 
the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the 
lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh 
unfruitful. And these are they that were sown upon the good 
ground; such as hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit, 
thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a htmdredfold. 

In this parable we see almost the same literary values as 
in "The Lost Sheep,'* with an advance in the use of ma- 
terials — the keen, accurate observation of nature— and a 
farther advance in mysticism, for the interpretation is 

» Mark, IV, 3-20. 


added to show the exact contact of the parable ai aUUs 
points with the complete ^iritual situation it illustrates. 
In ''The Lost Sheep" the whole situation is included in a 
simple comparison; in ''The Sower" the teaching is com- 
plex and progresses to a climax of its own. 

Yet another class we may call (c) ihe compound parable. 
In this a double narrative is told, each a parable in itself, 
yet mutually related Such is the story in which figures 
"that immortal Prodigal who walks from the page of the 
Evangelist into the hearts of every successive generation."^ 


A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to 
his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that 
falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not 
many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took 
his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance 
with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a 
mighty famine in that cotmtry; and he began to be in want. And 
he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; 
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain 
have been filled with the husks that the swine did eat: and no 
man gave unto him. But when he came to himself he said, How 
many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to 
spare, and I perish here with htmger! I will arise and go to my 
father, and will say unto him. Father, I have sinned against 
heaven and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy 
son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose and 
came to his father. But while he was yet afar off his father saw 
him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his 
neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him. Father, I 
have sinned against heaven and in thy sight: I am no more 
worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, 

* Joseph Farrell, Lectures by q Certain Professor. 
« Luke, XV, ll-«2. 


Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a 
ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted 
calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son 
was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And 
they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and 
as he came and drew nigh to the house he heard music and danc- 
ing. And he called to him one of the servants, and inquired what 
these things might be. And he said unto him, Thy brother is 
come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath 
received him safe and sound. But he was angry, and would not 
go in, and his father came out, and intreated him. But he an- 
swered and said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve 
thee, and I never transgressed a commandment of thine: and 
yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with 
my friends: but when this thy son came, which hath devoured 
thy living with harlots, thou killedst for him the fatted calf. And 
he said unto him. Son, thou art ever with me, and all that is mine 
is thine. But it was meet to make merry and be glad: for this 
thy brother was dead and is alive again; and was lost, and is 

In this charming story— for however divine its teaching 
it is precisely that— we find the high tide of parabolic 
narration. Considered merely as a story, its theme is 
admirably chosen, for that weariness of an uneventful and 
serene life, that disgust with the commonplace, and that 
impelling lure of the Wanderlust, so skilfully suggested in 
the case of the younger brother, are phases of human 
experience always old and always new, and universal in 
their appeal to our sympathies. 

With yet rarer skill there is woven in with the story of 
the self-willed and impulsive youth who wins our hearts 
from the start, a second parable — that of the elder brother. 
Here is introduced, with the touch of fine art which dis- 
tinguishes the master-narrator, that strong element of 


contrast which enhances the effect. As in the case of the 
younger brother, very little is really said regarding the 
temperament and disposition of the elder, but with subtle 
and convincing art we are made aware that he was a man 
of irreproachable character and blameless conduct — one 
who never sinned and never repented, who alwa)^ had a 
good opinion of himself, and who probably was not pleas- 
ant to live with. Note here how the righteousness of one 
brother, set side by side with the transgressions of the 
other — ^and these not a whit minimized or condoned — ^yet 
serves merely as a foil to enhance the "values" of the 
younger, to enlist our sympathies for him. This in itself is 
a miracle of story-telling! 

The plot of this story as a whole is slight; it is simply 
and succinctly told; the setting is merely suggested. 
Plot, setting, and narration are adroitly subordinated to 
the incomparable character-portrayal which has just 
been referred to. Not only the two youths, but the link 
between the two — that fine father, loving, tolerant, ripe 
in wisdom — olives and moves before us, and each reveals 
himself so that we see into his very heart. And all this is 
done without direct description of the men, or any ap- 
parently conscious revelation of temperament or bent. 
What wonderful art in the Narrator! How did he do U? 


1. Make a list of themes suitable for treatment in 
ancient parable form. 

2. What elements both of parable and fable do you 
find in Jotham's story of the "Trees Choosing a King?" 


3. Write a short parable, dealing with tendencies of the 
present day, and parallel in form to the simple New Testa- 
ment parable. (See page 44.) 

4. Do another in the complex form. 

5. Do a third in the compomid form. 

6. Write two short parables, having for their themes the 
lessons taught in any two of the parables of Jesus, but 
written from the standpoint of today, and dealing with 
circumstances and persons of the present time. 



Poetry has always been apt in blending the noble and lofty in 
moral sentiment with the element of beauty. 

— Sherwin Cody, The World's Greatest Short Stories. 

To one who sternly demands the fulfilment of every jot 
and tittle of the "Four Essentials of the Parable" (page 
41), the quest for the modem parable is likely to prove dis- 
couraging and unfruitful — it will not do, in literature, to 
insist too strongly on definitions. Besides, if the tide of 
parabolic narration rose to its full in the stories told by 
Jesus, it is only to be expected that His pure and simple 
style should not be attained by narrators of today. Hence, 
though the parable — the fictitious narrative designed to 
carry a spiritual truth by suggestion instead of by direct 
statement — is well represented in present-day fiction, 
it will usually be found to diverge widely from the strictest 
ancient type. It will either be lacking in probability, being 
confessedly mystical, allegorical, and dealing with the 
marvellous; or it will be excessively long; or yet again the 
story-element will be lacking. But if we remember that 
unalterable laws went out of fashion with the passing of 
the Medes and Persians, and if further we adopt something 
of the excellent philosophy of the fox who did not want the 
grapes that he could not get, and if still further we demand 
only the spiritual lesson, letting go of all that is sub- 
ordinate, then we shall find whole gold-mines of modem 
parable in the most modest "five-foot shelf." 

the modern parable 5 1 

By Hamilton Wright Mabie 

It was midday, and the sun beat on the course with merciless 
intensity; a cloud of dust hung over the track and enfolded the 
runners so that they saw neither the sky nor the crowd that 
waited and watched, excited, eager, ready to break into thunders 
of applause. They saw one another only indistinctly — vague 
figures moving in a suffocating fog. The agony of the contest had 
entered their souls; their faces were strained, sweat poured from 
them; they ran with a silent, steady persistence that was full of 
pain and yet indifferent to it. The few who still ran had ceased 
to count suffering; that was part of the price of the reward, and 
they paid it without questioning. It was, after all, only a kind 
of acute fatigue, and tj^ie brave spirit makes sport of fatigue. 

The weak, the irresolute, the fickle-minded, had long since 
fallen out of the race. They had started with'assurance on their 
faces; for the course lay so clearly before them that it seemed 
but a little way to the goals shining in the fresh morning air. 
There was an eager throng cheering the runners as they sped away 
from the starting-post, and friendly faces and shouts lined the 
path or followed them long. It was pure pleasure to run in the 
bracing air, with fl3dng competitors, with goals to guide the feet, 
and vociferous praise following like a noisy wave. But the dis- 
tance lengthened, the morning passed, the heat grew bitter, the 
dust of racing feet rose in a suffocating cloud, sweat ran from 
every pore, the struggle became agonizing. Those who were 
untrained, who had borne no yoke of discipline, who needed the 
stimtilus of applause or of visible rewards, grew faint and weary 
and ceased to run. In the cloud of dust which moved along the 
course there was left only the little group of those whose sinews 
were steel, whose wills were iron, who cared neither for applause 
nor for rewards if only the race might be well run. They had 
ceased to hear the cheers so long that they had forgotten that 
there were any spectators; they were so intent upon putting forth 

1 Copyright, 1902, The Outlook Company; Copyright, 1904, 
The MacmiUan Company, and used by permission. 


their full strength that they had ceased to think of the goals. 
They ran as if running were life and nothing else were worth while. 
They had given themselves to the race, they were paying the 
price; that was the whole of their simple, heroic story. 

And while they ran, long forgetful of all save the speed of the 
moment, the dust began to settle, the sky began to clear, the 
heat began to -pasSf faces began to appear on either side, and 
sounds broke the silence. And, lo, when they had ceased to care 
for reward in the strain and stress of the trial, suddenly the goals 
shone dear and dose at hand in the soft afternoon air, and long 
cheers thtmdered about them, and flowei*s rained from friendly 
hands, and crowns of wild olive were outstretched. 


In this beautiful parable of present-day life, there is 
only the merest suggestion of a story. It is, however, both 
natural and probable. Moreover, we readily see that it is 
an extended metaphor, and its significance is of a high or 
spiritual nature. Hence all the strictest requirements of 
the parable are fulfilled. The lesson conveyed is clear and 
simple, needing no explanation, but it is reinforced by the 
beauty and convincing truth-seeming of the narration. 
We feel the stress of the contest, the long test of endurance, 
the self-forgetfulness in eflfort, the rich reward when all 
thought of recompense had been lost in consecration. The 
lesson is one of those old ones that is always new, and 
can be applied in every life that is worth living. 

Other Modern Parables 

"The Pilgrim's Progress, " the allegory by John Bunyan 
already alluded to, is, barring its length, pure parable. 
It is, to be sure, too long to be related in the course of 
ordinary conversation^ but aside from this, the other con- 


ditions of the parable are fulfilled, for it tells a story, it 
conveys a spiritual truth, and if Bun3ran knew of the 
"probability" requirement — which is unlikely — he 
piously "hedged" by making the statement that his story 
was "delivered under the similitude of a dream." 

"The Passing of the Third Floor Back" by Jerome K. 
Jerome, that beautiful narrative which has also been put 
into play form, is nearly perfect as a parable, and who, 
save those hopelessly addicted to the commonplace, would 
cavil at the improbability of its " quick results? " We fed 
that it represents great forces of character, and the people 
of the story interest us more by what their experiences 
teach us about oiursdves than by what they are as mere 
fictional personages. 

"Where Love Is There God Is Also," one of the most 
exquisite of Tolstoi's short-stories, is a gem amongst 
modem parables, even though at times it comes very dose 
to direct teaching. That it deals with the marvellous 
hardly debars its happenings from "such as might natu- 
rally occur." The coming of the Presence to the poor 
Russian Cobbler who all day sought to see the Christ and 
found Him at length only in the persons of those to whom 
he had been doing deeds of kindness throughout his day 
of searching, is real to us, as it was to the Cobbler, in an 
inward and spiritual sense. 

Many of Dr. Henry Van Dyke's short-stories, notably 
"The Blue Flower," "The Other Wise Man," and several 
of his "Half-Told Tales," in the volume entiUed "The 
Unknown Quantity," are fine and beautiful parables in 
^irit, for while there is always a certain amount of 


direct teaching, the underlying truth is the ever great 

"Parables of Life" by Hamilton Wright Mabie, from 
which was chosen our example of the modem parable, " Out 
of the Agony," are rich in spiritual meaning. Though not 
all of them tell a story, and though the mystical element 
predominates, their convincing lessons are set forth with 
a skill and charm which make the impression permanent, 
and render them true contributions to the literature of 
the parable. 

"Dreams" by Olive Schreiner, a collection of short alle- 
gories, may also be ranked as parables, though a touch of 
the gruesome detracts from their charm, and anointed 
eyes are needed to find the optimistic in their teaching. 

"Story-Tell Lib" by Annie Trumbull Slosson, a collec- 
tion of tender, charming, all^ory-parables, may be read 
with delight by all who are young in heart at any age from 
nine to pinety. 

Other fictitious narratives bearing the parable stamp are 
some of Alice Brown's imaginative tales, touched with 
mysticism, such as "The Man Who Wanted to be Safe," ^ 
"Golden Baby,"* and others. 

" The Reason Why " * by Edward Lef cvre, is a story con- 
taining parables within a parable, and dealing with present- 
day problems. 

It will be seen from the examples dted that the essential 
of the modem parable is that it shall be designed to convey 

^Hwper^s Magazine, June, 1807. 

« Ibid., March, 1910. 

^Evsrybo&y*s Magasme, Volume 96. 


a lofty or spiritual truth. That the events related shaO 
bear the stamp of probability — even of possibility — 
is not insisted upon. 


1. (a) Which of the modern parables mentioned in this 
chapter have you read? (b) Read as many of them as you 
can. (c) Write out a short opinion of such as you have 

2. (a) Cite at least three other short narratives by con- 
temporary writers which may be classed as parables, (b) 
State in each case what you consider the chief divergencies 
from the strict parable form. 

3. Write a parable conveying the truth: Where love is, 
there self-denial is also. Adhere strictly to the four rules 
for the parable given on page 42. 

4. (a) Outline the story of any modern parable you 
have read which you liked particularly, (b) Analyze it. 
(c) State clearly the parts that pleased you. 

5. Write a modem parable of not more than five hun- 
dred words, on any of the adages of "Poor Richard," 
giving free play to your fancy. 

6. Analyze the parabolic teachings of any one of the 
parables referred to on pages 53 and 54. 

7. Taking the following story-plan from Hawthorne's 
"The Great Stone Face," turn it into a parable (a) of the 
brief, andent sort; (b) of the longer, modem type — say, 
of about seven or eight hundred words for the latter form. 
The original contains over eight thousand words. 

The Great Stone Face "was a work of Nature in her 


mood of majestic playfulness, formed on the perpendicular 
side of a mountain by some immense rocks." ''Its fea- 
tures were noble, and the expression was at once grand 
and sweet, as if it were the glow of a vast, warm heart, 
that embraced all mankind in its affections, and had 
room for more." There was a tradition in the populous 
valley that some day would appear a noble man with 
the very countenance of the Great Stone Face. As little 
Ernest sat with his mother he wished that such a man 
might indeed appear. The boy, who grew up under the 
benignant inspiration of the Face, one day heard it said 
that Mr. Gathergold had returned to his native place after 
having become very rich. With ceremony the citizens 
acclaimed him as the man of prophecy, but as Ernest saw 
him give out merely coppers in charity, he knew that it 
was not he. Later another son of the valley returned full 
of glory — Old Blood-and-Thunder they called this mili- 
tary hero — and thought they had found in him the desired 
likeness. But in the "war-worn and weather-beaten 
countenance, full of energy, and expressive of an iron will," 
Ernest could see no similarity to "the gentle wisdom, the 
deep, broad, tender sympathies" of the Great Stone Face. 
Next a great statesman returned to his native valley, and 
because the people thought he looked like the Face, they 
called him Old Stony Phiz, but Ernest knew that this one 
too was lacking. 

At length a poet visited the home of Ernest, now an old 
man. The two conversed profoundly, and in his visitor 
Ernest sought to find the expected Man, but the poet 
suddenly "by an irresistible impulse, threw his arms aloft, 


and shouted — 'Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the 
likeness of the Great Stone Face!' 

"Then all the people looked, and saw that what the 
deep-sighted poet said was true. The prophecy was ful- 
filled. But Ernest, having finished what he had to say, 
took the poet's arm, and walked slowly homeward, still 
hoping that some wiser and better man than himself would 
by and by appear, bearing a resemblance to the Great 
Stone Face." 

8. Expand the following into a "modem" parable — 
it is an outline of Tolstoi's "Where Love Is, There God Is 

Martin Avdyeeich was an honest Russian cobbler whose 
wife and children had died, leaving him with but one child, 
a small boy upon whom he had set his heart. But that 
child also died, and Martin reproached God. A Pilgrim 
monk, however, directed him to the Gospels and he became 
a devout follower of their teachings. One day Martin 
heard a voice which bade him look tomorrow in the 
streets, for Christ would come to him. But He did not 
appear, only a chilled old snow-sweeper to whom Martin 
gave hot tea to drink as he explained the Gospel; where- 
upon the grateful old man left. Martin continued to look 
for Christ, but He did not come, though the cobbler saw a 
poorly-clad woman with a little child, both of whom he 
fed and warmed, giving the mother an old jacket to cover 
her thin sunmier garments. He next acted as mediator 
between an old woman and a mischievous boy who had 
stolen her apples; and to her also he expoimded the new 
truth which possessed him — the doctrine of love. All day 


long he had looked for the Christ and had not seen Hun, 
but now as he returned to his cellar a Presence declared 
itself as He who had said: " Inasmuch as ye have done it 
to the least of these My brethren, ye have done it luito 
Me." And Martin then understood that his dream had 
not deceived him, and that the Saviour had really come to 
him that day, and he had really received Him, 

9. Draft just such an outline of an original parable as 
the forgoing synopsis, and submit it for class criticism. 

10. Expand into a modem parable the outline made in 
9, using less than one thousand words. Be particular in 
seeking to keep your manner of narration free from flip- 
pancy, lofty in spirit, simple yet forceful in language, and 
dignified in tone. 

11. Read Joseph Addison's "Vision of Mirza" and say 
how it approaches the parabolic form. 



Brief tales there have been since the woxld began, since the art 
of the story-teller was first attempted, since the Cave-men filled 
the long evenings around the smoking fire with narratives of the 
mysterious deeds of the strange creatures of their own primitive 
fancy, since the earliest travelers who ventured abroad brought 
back episodic accounts of one or another of their misadventures, 
commingled of fact and of fiction. 

— Brander Matthews, The Short-story. 

In the tale we find apparently the beginning of the 
narrator's art pursued as a career or profession. Any man 
with a limber tongue, a tendency to fiction, and a taste 
for the dramatic (which may be said to be the exemplifica- 
tion of some phase of life chiefly by means of action or 
mimicry), could wander through many lands in happy 
vagrancy, sure of his welcome at inn, camp, or palace, and 
equally certain of immunity not only from manual labor 
but from the sordid virtue of accuracy as to facts. 

The tale (the word comes from the same root as the 
word "tell") was originally an oral relation, though the 
term was afterwards applied to any narrative, whether 
oral or written. 

The rise of this form of narration to a highly finished 
literary product is easy to trace. The fable and the para- 
ble, both designed to teach, to reprove, or to point to 
straight and narrow ways, were often imfit instruments to 
lure and hold audiences that yearned for delightful or 


wonderful stories. The mere anecdote was too brief for an 
evening's entertainment* But a series of anecdotes, held 
together by no matter how slender a thread, as in *'King 
Horn," "Gil Bias," or any of the old tales of adventure— 
or a single long anecdote, padded, embellished, and spun 
out, such as most of the tales in Boccaccio's '' Decameron " 
— ^resulted in a narrative full of allurement and charm; 
one which, moreover, could be ingeniously dressed up by 
the wandering artist so as to be adapted to his audience, 
whether nobles or commoners. Most of these narratives 
were redted in rude verse or rh)mie, frequently with the 
accessories of pantomime, song, or musical instruments. 
Such were the tales of the Jongleurs, the Troubadours 
and the Minnesingers — ^not to go to Asia, Africa, and 
early America for examples. 

Every country has grown its crop of tales,^ each one 
t3rpical of the region where it blossomed, from the stories 
of courage and endurance told by the Norse grandmothers 
during the long semi-Arctic nights, to the many-tinted 
wonder-tales of the "Arabian Nights Entertainments." 
Similar tales are told to this day by the vayageur at the 
camp fire, by the vanthee in the Irish cabin, by the profes- 
sional story-teller in the streets of Bagdad. 

From what we know technically as the modem short- 
story, the tale di£Fers in its looseness of structure, its lack 
of organic unity, and its rambling style. But, what is 
more, it never had a well-constructed, compact plot;* 

* The Evolution of Literature, A. S. Mackenzie, traces primitive 
narration to its sources. 

* Later chapters will take up the nature of the short-stoxy and 
of plot. 


indeed, the tale of adventure did not pretend to a plot at 
all. If a plot there was, it was there rather by accident 
than by reason of the narrator's understanding of the re- 
qxiirements of plot as we understand it nowadaj^. Neither 
was there any deliberate attempt at definiteness of setting, 
nor at delineation of character. The interest was chiefly in 
the happenings — the thrilling events, the daring adven- 
tures, or the humorous escapades, of its actors. The world 
was in its intellectual boyhood in the days of the early tale, 
and as a certain well-beloved story-teller of om: own times 
says: "Character to the boy is a sealed book; for him a 
pirate is a beard, a pair of wide trousers, and a liberal com- 
plement of pistols."* And again, "We read story-books 
in childhood, not for eloquence or character or thought, 
but for some quality of the brute incident." * 


There lived in Florence a young gentleman named Federigo, 
son to Signior Fillippo Alberighi, who was reputed both for arms 
and all other actions beseeming a gentleman, hardly to have his 
equal throughout all Tuscany. 

This Federigo, as is no rare matter with yotmg gentlemen, 
became enamoured of a gentlewoman named Monna Giovanna, 
who was esteemed in her time to be the fairest lady in all Florence. 
In order to win her he made many stunptuous feasts and ban- 

* Robert Louis Stevenson, A Humble Remonstrance, in Memories 
and Portraits. 

' Robert Louis Stevenson, A Gossip On Romance^ in Memories 
and Portraits. 

• Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron. Adapted from Henry 
Motley's Forty Tales from the Decameron, Ed. 1884. 


quets, besides which he held jousts, tilts, tournaments, and all 
other noble actions of arms in her honor. He further sent her 
an infinite number of rich and costly presents, and in fact, lav- 
ished on her all that he possessed. But the lady, being no less 
honest than fair, made no pretence at caring either for what he 
did for her, or for himself. Federigo, however, continued to 
spend more than his means warranted, and, no supplies redound- 
ing to him, his fortune, as very easily it might, diminished in such 
fashion that he had nothing left but a small farm, whose trifling 
revenues scarcely allowed him meat and drink. But above these 
he owned a fair hawk or falcon, hardly anywhere to be excelled, 
so sure and swift was she of flight. Now, though his poverty in 
no wise lessened his love to his lady, but rather set a keener edge 
thereon, he nevertheless saw that the city life, though greatly 
enjoyed by him, no longer suited his purse, so he betook himself 
to his poor cotmtry farm, to let his falcon get his dinner and 
supper, patiently supporting his penurious estate, and asking no 
one for help or relief in his necessities. « 

While thus he continued in this extremity it came to pass that 
the husband of Giovanna fell sick, and his debility being such 
that little or no hope of life remained, he made his will, leaving 
to his only son, a half -grown boy, all his lands and riches wherein 
he greatly abotmded. Next tmto this son, if he shotdd chance to 
die without a lawful heir, he wiUed his wife to have all that he 
possessed, seeing that most dearly he loved her. Giovanna being 
thus left a widow, she went to a house of her own in the country, 
as is the conmion custom with our dty dames during the summer 
season. This house was in the neighborhood of poor Federigo's 
farm, where he lived in such honest and contented poverty. 

Hereupon the yotmg gentleman, her son, taking great delight 
in hotmds and hawks, grew into familiarity with poor Federigo, 
and having seen many fair flights of his falcon they pleased him 
so extremely that he earnestly coveted the bird for his own, yet 
he durst not hint at his desire, seeing how choicely Federigo 
esteemed her. 

A short while afterwards the young gentleman became very 
sick, whereat his mother grieved exceedingly as having no one 
but he. Constantly did she tend him, both day and night, and 
did her best to comfort him, and asked him continually to tell 


her if he had a desire for anything, assuring him that if it were 
within the compass of possibility she would procure it for him. 
Hearing how many times she made him these assurances at last 
the youth said: 

'* Mother, if you can do so much for me as that I may have 
Ferderigo's falcon, I am persuaded that my sickness will depart." 

The lady hearing this sate musing awhile, and pondering what 
she should do. She remembered the great love Federigo had 
borne to her, and how he had spent on her all that he possessed 
save only this bird, which was now the only thing he had to com- 
fort him. Entering into private advice with her own thoughts 
she considered: " How can I send to him, or go to him, to request 
this falcon, it being the best that ever flew, and moreover, his 
only jewel of delight? How can I bring myself to rob a gentleman 
of his felicity, seeing he has no other joy or comfort left him?'* 
These and the like considerations troubled her, yet in tender love 
to her son, after spending some time in silent meditation, she 
decided to satisfy him, and even resolved that she wotdd go in 
person for the bird, and then return home again with it. 

Whereupon thus she spake: "Son, comfort thyself, and con- 
sider no longer thy sickness, for here I promise thee that the 
first thing I do tomorrow morning shall be to journey for the 
falcon, and resj^ assured that I shall bring it home with me." 

Whereat the youth was so joyed that he imagined his sickness 
began that moment to leave him, and he looked for a speedy 

Early the next morning the lady was up and ready, and taking 
another gentlewoman with her, she set out, as if for a morning's 
recreation, and walked to Federigo's poor coimtry home, know- 
ing that it would not a little glad him to see her. At the time of 
her arrival he was in a poor garden at the back of the house, it 
being yet too early for htmting, but when he heard that Giovanna 
desired speech with him he hasted to the door almost beside 
himself with joy, and saluted her with great courtesy. Modestly 
and graciously she returned to him like salutations, and thus 

"Signior Federigo, may your own best wishes be granted you. 
I have now come hither to recompense you in some fashion for 
all that you have suffered for my sake; and my reparation is that 


today I have come to dine with you, taking for granted that 
myself and also this gentlewoman will be welcomed by you as 
your guests." 

Whereto, with lowly reverence, thus he replied: "Madam, I 
do not remember ever to have sufifered any loss on your account, 
but rather so much good, for, if ever I was worth anything it was 
owing to your goodness, and to the service to you in which I 
engaged mjrself. But your present visit gives me a happiness 
that cannot be equalled, on account qf your gracious favor and 
more than common kindness in visiting your poor servant. Oh, 
that I had now as much to spend as heretofore what a welcome 
would I not bestow on you for gracing this poor house with your 

With these words he conducted her within and then into his 
simple garden, where, not having any fit company for her he 
said: "Madam, the poverty of this place affords no one meet to 
present to you; but this poor woman, the wife of my gardener, 
wiU attend on you while I do speedily arrange for the dinner." 

Signior Federigo, although his necessity was extreme and his 
grief great remembering his former extravagance, a small part of 
which would now have stood him in good stead, yet his heart was 
no whit cast down, but as free and generous as ever. Yet had 
he not one penny of money, and neither pawn nor pledge where- 
with to procure any. Neither had he a neighbor to borrow nor 
beg of, seeing that all were as needy as himself. But looking 
round about he saw his beloved falcon standing on her perch, and 
finding her to be plump and fat — and having no other resource — 
he immediately thought his precious bird to be but fit food for 
so noble a lady. So without an instant's demur he wrung her 
neck, and caused his servant to pluck and prepare her for the 
spit, whereon in a short time she was daintily roasted. Himself 
did set the table with fair linen, whereof he had a little left, and 
after the bread and salt was laid he went with cheerful looks int9 
the garden, to tell the lady that such dinner as he was able to 
serve her was now ready, and nothing was lacking but her pres- 
ence. The two gentlewomen went in, and not knowing what 
they fed on enjoyed their repast — ^Federigo not a little ddighted 
that they f otmd themselves well served. . 

When they had risen from the table and had spent some time 


in conversation the lady thought it fit to acquaint him with the 
reason of her coming thither, and therefore, with a sweet and 
gracious manner she began: 

"Ferderigo, if you do yet remember your former love to me, 
and my denial of it, which you may very likely have thought 
harsh and cruel, I make no doubt you will wonder at my present 
presumption, when you learn the cause which moved me to come 
hither. But if you were ever possessed of children, thereby to 
learn what manner of love it is one bears to them, then I durst 
assure myself you would partly hold me excused. Now, though 
you never had any, and myself only but one, I stand not exempt 
from those laws which are common to other mothers, but being 
compelled to obey their power, though contrary to my own pleas- 
ure and even my duty to you, I am come to request of you the 
gift which I am certain you do accotmt most precious. This is your 
fair falcon, of which bird my son is become so strangely desirous 
that if I do not bring it to him at my coming home I much fear 
that there will ensue such increase in his sickness as will result 
in his loss of life. Wherefore I beseech you, not in regard of the 
love you have borne me — ^for thereby you stand in no way 
obliged — but for the sake of your own gentle nature (which hath 
always caused you to do more kind offices than any other gentle- 
man I know), that you will be pleased to give her to me, or at the 
least let me buy her of you; which if you do I shall then freely 
confess that only by your means is my son's life saved, and we 
shall both forever remain indebted to you." 

When Federigo had heard the lady's request, which was quite 
out of his power to grant because the bird had been served to her 
at dinner, he stood like a man stupefied, and the tears trickled 
amain down his cheeks, so that he was not able to utter one word. 
Which she perceiving began to conjecture immediately that these 
tears proceeded from grief of mind, at being loth to part with his 
falcon; the which made her ready to say that she wotdd not have 
it. Nevertheless she did not speak, but rather awaited his an- 
swer, which after some small delay he returned in this manner: 

" Madam, since the hour when first my affection became solely 
devoted to your service Forttme hath been contrary to me on 
many occasions, so that justly and in good reason I may com- 
plain of her — ^yet all seemed light and easy to be endured in com- 


parison with her present malidous contradictions, which cause 
my utter overthrow, considering that you are come hither to my 
poor house, which while I was rich and able you would not so 
much as vouchsafe to look upon, and that you have requested a 
small matter of me, and that she hath therein most crookedly 
thwarted me, because she hath disabled me from bestowing this 
mean gift, as yourself will see when it shall be related to you. 

"So soon as I heard that it was your gracious pleasure to dine 
with me, having regard to your excdlency and merit, I considered 
it my bounden duty to entertain you with the best viands my 
poor means could afford, and far above any which might be 
offered to common or ordinary persons. Whereupon, remember- 
ing my falcon, which now you ask for, and knowing that in good- 
ness ^e excelled all others of her kind, I thought she would make 
a dainty dish for your diet, so, having dressed her as well as I 
could devise, you have fed heartily upon her, and proud am I at 
having so well bestown her. But perceiving now that you would 
have her for your sick son, it is no mean affliction to me that I am 
disabled from yielding you this contentment, when all my life I 
have desired to please you." 

To approve his words the feathers, feet, and beak of the falcon 
were now brought in, which when the lady saw she greatly blamed 
him for killing so rare a bird to content the appetite of any 
woman; yet she commended his nobility of spirit, which poverty 
had no power to abase. Lastly, her hopes being frustrated for 
enjoying the falcon, she thanked Federigo for his kindness, and 
fearful for the health of her son she returned home very mel- 

Shortly after, either by grief that he could not have the falcon, 
or by reason of the force of his sickness, her son died, leaving 
his mother a woeful lady. After the proper time for her mourn- 
ing had expired her brethren were urgent that she should marry 
again, because she was both very rich and still a young woman. 
Now though she was well contented to remain a widow, yet being 
continually importuned by her brothers, and remembering the 
honor and worth of Federigo, and his last poor yet magnificent 
dinner, when he killed the falcon for her sake, she said to her 
brethren: "So well doth my present life suit me that willingly 
I would not leave it, but seeing that you urge me so greatly let 


me plainly tell yoa that I will never acx^t of any other husband 
but only of Ferderigo degli Alberighi. 

Her brothers in a scornful manner reproved her, telling her he 
was a beggar, and had nothing left. "I know it well," quoth 
she, "and am heartily sorry for it, but give me a man that hath 
need of wealth, rather than wealth that hath need of a man." 
The brothers, hearing thus of how she regarded Federigo, and 
knowing him to be a worthy gentleman, though poor, consented 
that she shotdd bestow herself and her riches upon him. He, on 
his part, having so noble a lady to his wife, one whom for so long 
he had dearly loved, became an excellent husband, and wise in 
the management of her great fortune, and they lived and loved 
in equal joy and happiness. 


This narrative is a good example of the anecdote ex- 
tended and amplified into a tale. 

First, note the obvious "padding," its rambling fulness 
of detail, its reiteration of facts already stated, its leisiurely 

Nexty see how the interest of the narrative lies entirely 
in the events described, the characterization being plainly 
a by-product. 

Then observe the lack of individuality in the characters. 
Monna Giovanna is little more than a wooden doll, and 
Federigo, lovable as he is, is merely a shadow-man, a dear 
and charming ghost. 

This unreality of the actors in the story is due a good 
deal to the treatment of the dialogue. The characters are 
all made to speak alike, and in the same style which the 
author employs in his narration. It may be questioned 
whether even in Tuscany, and in mediaeval times, men and 
women made such set and formal speeches, prefaced with 


such roundabout introductions to what they really had 
to say. Note the calm poise with which they enter upon 
these long-winded sentences, without ever coming to the 
surface to breathe, for whole paragraphs at a time, and 
then they emerge, unharmed, imruffled, without even 
the turning of a hair. Finally, the whole story is told 
prosaically rather than dramatically, and there is not a 
gleam of humor anywhere. 

Yet, Boccaccio was a bom story-teller, and he actually 
holds our interest until we arrive at the foregone conclu- 
sion that Monna Giovanna and Signior Federigo married 
and lived happy ever afterwards. 


1. Make a brief simunary of the events of the foregoing 

2. In your own language, briefly describe the char- 
acters individually as you have pictured them to yourself. 

3. Write a paragraph describing the setting (the sur- 
roundings and conditions) in which the tale is placed. 

4. Briefly show how the language of this tale differs 
from our modem tongue. 

5. Rewrite the tale, using the original language but 
condensing it so as to avoid repetition and needless detail. 

6. Select or invent an anecdote and expand it into a 
tale in the style of "The Falcon," but do not allow your- 
self too many details. 

7. From the "Arabian Nights" select a tale which is 
treated in much the same general manner as " The Falcon. ' ' 

8. Which do you prefer, and why? 


Note: Further studies in the Early Tale may be de- 
vised from Canby and Jessup's "The Book of the Short 
Story." (A, p. 6) 



For my part, I consider a story merely as a frame upon which 
to stretch my materials. It is the play of thought, and sentiment, 
and language; the weaving in of characters, lightly, yet express- 
ively delineated; the familiar and faithftd exhibition of scenes in 
conmion life; and the half -concealed vein of humor that is often 
playing through the whole — these are among what I aim at, 
upon which I felicitate myself in proportion as I think I succeed. 
—Washington Irving, Introduction to Tales of a Traveler. 

As we may infer from the foregoing quotation from a 
great nineteenth century story-teller, the modem tale 
di£Fers from a tale of long-ago in that it shows the elements, 
at least, of setting and of characterization; and even an 
embryo plot. It thus bridges the gap between the old- 
fashioned tale and the short-story of the present day, 
which must have a plot, however simple, in order to be 
properly so termed. The modem tale, like the ancient, 
is rambling and discursive, the introduction is usually ex- 
cessively prolonged, there is unnecessary amplification of 
detail, and' there are frequent wanderings in by-paths. 
But, as in the short-story, we find, in greater or less degree, 
reality of setting and considerable attention to atmosphere, 
the characters are real people, and instead of an expanded 
anecdote, or a loosely- jointed string of incidents, there is a 
succession of incidents so disposed as to form a more or less 
well-articulated chain- — which is some approach to plot. 

The narratives of Washington Irving are excellent ex- 
amples of the transition point between the tale and the 


short-Story, which occurred in the decade or two prior to 
1835. Technically, they are not short-stories in the pres- 
ent acceptation of the word, but they are precursors of the 
short-story, and fittingly blaze the trail for it. Some of 
them, indeed, like "Rip Van Winkle," are even a shade 
nearer to the short-story form than they are to the typical 
tale; but, generally speaking, Irving was a teller of 



(From "The Alhambra") 

By Washington Irving 

Just within the fortress of the Alhambra, in front of the ro3ral 
palace, is a broad open esplanade, called the place or square of the 
cisterns (la plaza de los algibes), so called from being undermined 
by reservoirs of water hidden from sight, and which have e3dsted 
from the time of the Moors. At one comer of this esplanade is a 
Moorish well, cut through the living rock to a great depth, the 
water of which is cold as ice and dear as crystal. The wdls made 
by the Moors are always in repute, for it is well known what pains 
they took to penetrate to the purest and sweetest springs and' 
f otmtains. The one we are speaking of is famous throughout 
Granada, insomuch that the water-carriers, some bearing great 
water- jars on their shoulders, others driving asses before them, 
laden with earthen vessels, are ascending and descending the steep 
woody avenues of the Alhambra from early dawn until a late hour 
of the night. 

Fountains and wells, ever since the scriptural da3rs, have been 
noted gossiping places in hot climates, and at the well in question 
there is a Idnd of perpetual dub kept up during the livdong day, 
by the invalids, old women, and other curious, do-nothing folk 
of the fortress, who sit here on the stone benches under an awning 


Spread over the well to shelter the toU-gatherer from the sun, and 
dawdle over the gossip of the fortress, and question any water- 
carrier that arrives about the news of the city and make long 
comments on everything they hear and see. Not an hour of the 
day but loitering housewives and idle maid-servants may be seen 
lingering with pitcher on head or in hand, to hear the last of the 
endless tattle of these worthies. 

Among the water-carriers who once resorted to this well there 
was a sturdy, strong-backed, bandy-legged little fellow, named 
Pedro Gil, but called Peregil for shortness. Being a water-carrier, 
he was a Gallego, or native of Gallida, of course. Nature seems 
to have formed races of men as she has of animals for different 
kinds of drudgery. In Prance the shoeblacks are all Savoyards, 
the porters of hotels all Swiss, and in the days of hoops and hair 
powder in England, no man could give the regular swing to a 
sedan chair but a bog-trotting Irishman. So in Spain the carriers 
of water and bearers of burdens are all sturdy little natives 
of Gallida. No man says, "get me a porter," but, ''call a 

To return from this digression. Peregil the Gallego had begun 
business with merely a great earthen jar, which he carried upon 
his shotdder; by degrees he rose in the world and was enabled to 
purchase an assistant of a correspondent class of animals, being 
a stout shaggy-haired donkey. On each side of this his long-eared 
aid-de-camp, in a kind of pannier, were sltmg his water-jars cov- 
ered with fig leaves to protect them from the stm. There was not 
a more industrious water-carrier in all Granada, nor onemore merry 
withal. The streets rang with his cheerf td voice as he trudged 
after his donkey, singing forth the usual stunmer note that re- 
sounds through the Spanish towns, ** quien quiere agua in agua mas 
fria que la nieve. Who wants water — water colder than snow — 
who wants water from the well of the Alhambra — cold as ice 
and dear as crystal?" When he served a customer with a spar- 
kling glass, it was always with a pleasant word that caused a smile, 
and if, perchance, it was a comdy dame or dimpling damsel, it 
was always with a sly leer and a compliment to her beauty that 
was irresistible. Thus Peregil the Gallego was noted throughout 
all Granada for being one of the dvilest, pleasantest, and happiest 
of mortals. Yet it is not he who sings loudest and jokes most that 


has the lightest heart. Under all this air of merriment, honest 
Peregil had his cares and troubles. He had a large family of 
ragged children to support, who were hungry and clamorous as a 
nest of yoimg swallows, and beset him with their outcries for 
food whenever he came home of an evening. He had a helpmate 
too who was anything but a help to him. She had been a village 
beauty before marriage, noted for her skill in dancing the bolero 
and rattling the castanets, and she still retained her early pro- 
pensities, spending the hard earnings of honest Peregil in frippery, 
and laying the very donkey under requisition for junketing parties 
into the country on Sundays and saints' days, and those innumer- 
able holidays which are rather more numerous in Spain than the 
days of the week. With all this she was a little of a slattern, some- 
thing more of a lie-a-bed, and, above all, a gossip of the first 
water; . neglecting house, household and everything else, to loiter 
slipshod in the houses of her gossip neighbors. 

He, however, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, 
accommodates the yoke of matrimony to the submissive neck. 
Peregil bore all the heavy dispensations of wife and children with 
as meek a spirit as his donkey bore the water- jars; and however 
he might shake his ears in private, never ventured to question 
the household virtues of his slattern spouse. 

He loved his children too, even as an owl loves its owlets, seeing 
in them his own image mtdtiplied and perpetuated, for they were 
a sturdy, long-backed, bandy-legged little brood. The great 
pleasure of honest Peregil was, whenever he could afford himself 
a scanty holiday and had a handftd of maravedies to spare, to 
take the whole litter forth with him, some in his arms, some 
tugging at his skirts, and some trudging at his heels, and to treat 
them to a gambol among the orchards of the Vega, while his wife 
was dancing with her holiday friends in the Angosturas of the 

It was a late hour one summer night, and most of the water- 
carriers had desisted from their toils. The day had been uncom- 
monly sultry; the night was one of those delicious moonlights 
which tempt the inhabitants of those southern climes to indemnify 
themselves for the heat and inaction of the day, by lingering in 
the open air and enjoying its tempered sweetness tmtil after mid- 
night. Customers for water were therefore still abroad. Peregil, 


like a considerate, painstaking little father, thought of his hungry 
children. "One more journey to the well," said he to himself, 
" to earn a good Sunday's puchero for the little ones." So saying, 
he trudged rapidly up the steep avenue of the Alhambra, singing 
as he went, and now and then bestowing a hearty thwack with a 
cudgel on the flanks of his donkey, either by way of cadence to the 
song or refreshment to the animal; for dry blows serve in lieu of 
provender in Spain, for all beasts of burden. 

When arrived at the well he found it deserted by every one 
except a solitary stranger in Moorish garb, seated on the stone 
bench in the moonlight. Peregil paused at jQrst and regarded him 
with surprise, not unmixed with awe, but the Moor feebly beck- 
oned him to approach. 

"I am faint and ill," said he; "aid me to return to the dty, 
and I will pay thee double what thou couldst gain by thy jars of 

The honest heart of the little water-carrier was touched with 
compassion at the appeal of the stranger. " God forbid," said he, 
"that I should ask fee or reward for doing a common act of hu- 

He accordingly helped the Moor on his donkey, and set off 
slowly for Granada, the poor Moslem being so weak that it was 
necessary to hold him on the animal to keep him from falling to 
the earth. 

When they entered the dty the water-carrier demanded whither 
he shotdd conduct him. "Alas!" said the Moor faintly, " I have 
neither home nor habitation. I am a stranger in the land. Suffer 
me to lay my head this night beneath thy roof, and thou shall be 
amply repaid." 

Honest Peregil thus saw himself tmexpectedly saddled with an 
infidel guest, but he was too humane to refuse a night's shdter to 
a fdlow bdng in so forlorn a plight; so he conducted the Moor to 
his dwelling. The children, who had sallied forth, open-mouthed 
as usual, on hearing the tramp of the donkey, ran back with 
affright when they behdd the turbaned stranger, and hid them- 
sdves behind their mother. The latter stepped fbrth intrepidly, 
like a rufiSing hen before her brood, when a vagrant dog 

" What infidd companion," cried she, "is this you have broogfat 


home at this late hour to draw upon us the eyes of the Inquisition?" 

"Be quiet, wife," replied the Gallego; "here is a poor sick 
stranger, without friend or home; wouldst thou turn him forth 
to perish in the streets?" 

The wife would still have remonstrated, for, though she lived 
in a hovel, she was a furious stickler for the credit of her house; 
the little water-carrier, however, for once was stiff-necked, and 
refused to bend beneath the yoke. He assisted the poor Moslem 
to alight, and spread a mat and a sheepskin for him, on the ground 
in the coolest part of the house; being the only kind of bed that 
his poverty afforded. 

In a little while the Moor was seized with violent convulsions 
which defied all the ministering skill of the simple water-carrier. 
The eye of the poor patient acknowledged his kindness. During 
an interval of his fits he called him to his side, and addressing 
him in a low voice: " My end," said he, " I fear is at hand. If I 
die I bequeath you this box as a reward for your charity." So 
saying, he opened his albomoz, or cloak, and showed a small box 
d sandalwood, strapped round his body. 

"God grant, my friend," replied the worthy little Gallego, 
"that you may live many years to enjoy your treasure, whatever 
it may be." 

The Moor shook his head; he laid his hand upon the box and 
would have said something more concerning it, but his convul- 
sions returned with increased violence, and in a little while he 

The water-carrier's wife was now as one distracted. "This 
comes," said she, "of your foolish good nature, always running 
into 5«crapes to oblige others. What will become of us when this 
corpse is found in our house? We shall be sent to prison as mur- 
derers; and if we escape with our lives, shall be ruined by notaries 
and alguazils." 

Poor Peregil was in equal tribulation, and almost repented him- 
self of having done a good deed. At length a thought struck him. 
" It is not yet day," said he. "I can convey the dead body out of 
the city and bury it in the sands on the banks of the XeniL No 
one saw the Moor enter our dwelling, and no one will know any- 
thing of his death." So said, so done. The wife aided him: they 
rolled the body of the unfortunate Moslem in the mat on which he 


had expired, laid it across the ass, and Mattias set out with it for 
the banks of the river. 

As ill luck would have it, there lived opposite to the water- 
carrier a barber, named Pedrillo Pedrugo, one of the most prying, 
tattling, mischief-making of his gossip tribe. He was a weasel- 
faced, spider-legged varlet, supple and insinuating; the famous 
Barber of Seville could not surpass him for his tmiversal knowl- 
edge of the affairs of others, and he had no more power of retention 
than a sieve. It was said that he slept with but one eye at a time, 
and kept one ear uncovered, so that, even in his sleep, he might 
see and hear all that was going on. Certain it is, he was a sort of 
scandalous chronicle for the quidnuncs of Granada, and had more 
customers than all the rest of his fraternity. 

This meddlesome barber heard Peregil arrive at an tmusual 
hour of the night, and the exclamations of his wife and children. 
His head was instantly popped out of a little window which served 
him as a lookout, and he saw his neighbor assist a man in Moorish 
garb into his dwelling. This was so strange an occurrence that 
Pedrillo Pedrugo slept not a wink that night — every five minutes 
he was at his loophole, watching the lights that gleamed through 
the chinks of his neighbor's door, and before daylight he beheld 
Peregil sally forth with his donkey unusually laden. 

The inquisitive barber was in a fidget; he sUpped on his clothes, 
and stealing forth silently, followed the water-carrier at a dis- 
tance, tmtil he saw him dig a hole in the sandy bank of the Xenil, 
and bury something that had the appearance of a dead body. 

The barber hied him home and fidgeted about his shop, setting 
everything upside down, until sunrise. He then took a basin 
under his arm and sallied forth to the house of his daily customer, 
the Alcalde. 

The Alcalde was just risen. Pedrillo Pedrugo seated him in a 
chair, threw a napkin rotmd his neck, put a basin of hot water 
under his chin, and began to mollify his beard with his fingers. 

"Strange doings," said Pedrugo, who played barber and news- 
monger at the same time, " Strange doings! Robbery, and mur- 
der, and burial, all in one night!" 

"Hey? how! What is it you say?" cried the Alcalde. 

" I say," replied the barber, rubbing a piece of soap over the 
nose and mouth of the dignitary, for a Spanish barber disdains 


to employ a brush; "I say that Peregil the Gallego has robbed 
and murdered a Moorish Mussehnan, and buried him this blessed 
night — tnaldita sea la noche — accursed be the night for the 

" But how do you know all this?" demanded the Alcalde. 

"Be patient, senor, and you shall hear all about it/* replied 
Pedrillo, taking him by the nose and sliding a razor over his cheek. 
He then recoimted all that he had seen, going through both opera- 
tions at the same time, shaving his beard, washing his chin, and 
wiping him dry with a dirty napkin, while he was robbing, mur- 
dering, and burjring the Moslem. 

Now it so happened that this Alcalde was one of the most over- 
bearing and at the same time most griping and corrupt, cur- 
mudgeons in all Granada. It could not be denied, however, that 
he set a high value upon justice, for he sold it at its weight in gold. 
He presumed the case in point to be one of murder and robbery; 
doubtless there must be rich spoil; how was it to be secured into 
the legitimate hands of the law for as to merely entrapping the 
delinquent — that would be feeding the gallows; but entrapping 
the booty — that would be enriching the judge ; and such, accord- 
ing to his creed, was the great end of justice. So thinking, he 
summoned to his presence his trustiest alguazil — a gaimt, hungry- 
looking varlet, dad, according to the custom of his order, in the 
ancient Spanish garb — a broad black beaver turned up at the 
sides; a quaint ruff, a small black coat dangling from his shoul- 
ders; rusty black underclothes that set off his spare wiry form; 
while in his hand he bore a slender white wand, the dreaded 
insignia of his office. Such was the legal bloodhotmd of the 
ancient Spanish breed, that he put upon the traces of the unlucky 
water-carrier; and such was his speed and certainty that he was 
upon the hatmches of poor Peregil before he had returned to his 
dwelling, and brought both him and his donkey before the dis- 
penser of justice. 

The Alcalde bent upon him one of his most terrific frowns. 
''Hark ye, culprit," roared he in a voice that made the knees of 
the little Gallego smite together — "Hark ye, culprit! there is 
no need of den)ring thy guilt; everything is known to me. A 
gallows is the proper reward for the crime thou hast committed* 
but I am merdftil, and readily listen to reason. The man that has 


at the shop of a Moor, a native of Tangiers, who sold trinkets and 
perfumery in the Zacatin» and asked him to expkdn the contents. 

The Moor read the scroll attentively, then stroked his beard 
and smiled. "This manuscript," said he, "is a form of incanta- 
tion for the recovery of hidden treasure, that is tmder the power of 
enchantment. It is said to have such virtue that the strongest 
bolts and bars, nay, the adamantine rock itself, will yield before 

"Bah!" cried the little Gallego, "what is all that to me? I am 
no enchanter, and know nothing of buried treasure." So saying 
he shouldered his water-jar, left the scroll in the hands of the Moor 
and trudged forward on his daily rounds. 

That evening, however, as he rested himself about twilight at 
the well of the Alhambra, he found a number of gossips assembled 
at the place, and their conversation, as is not unusual at that 
shadowy hour, turned upon old tales and traditions of a super- 
natural nature. Being all poor as rats, they dwelt with peculiar 
fondness upon the poptdar theme of enchanted riches left by the 
Moors in various parts of the Alhambra. Above all, they con- 
curred in the belief that there were great treasures buried deep in 
the earth imder the tower of the Seven Floors. 

These stories made an unusual impression on the mind of honest 
Peregil, and they sank deeper and deeper into his thoughts as he 
returned alone down the darkling avenues. " If, after all, there 
should be treasure hid beneath that tower — and if the scroll I 
left with the Moor should enable me to get at it!" In the sudden 
ecstacy of the thought he had well nigh let fall his water-jar. 

That night he tumbled and tossed, and could scarcely get a 
wink of sleep for the thoughts that were bewildering his brain. 
In the morning, bright and early, he repaired to the shop of the 
Moor, and told him all that was passing in his mind. "You can 
read Arabic, " said he, "suppose we go together to the tower and 
try the eflEect of the charm; if it fails we are no worse oflE than 
b^ore, but if it succeeds we will share equally all the treasure we 
may discover." 

"Hold," replied the Moslem, "this writing is not sufficient of 
itself; it must be read at midnight, by the light of a taper singu- 
larly compounded and prepared, the ingredients of which are not 
within my reach. Without such taper the scroll is of no avail." 


"Say no more!" cried the little Gallego. ** I have such a taper 
at hand and will bring it here in a moment." So saying he 
hastened home, and soon returned with the end of a yellow wax 
taper that he had found in the box of sandalwood. 

The Moor felt it, and smelt of it. "Here are rare and costly 
perfumes/-' said he, " combined with this yellow wax. This is the 
kind of taper specified in the scroll. While this bums, the strong- 
est walls and most secret caverns will remain open; woe to him, 
however, who lingers within until it be extinguished. He will 
remain enchanted with' the treasure." 

It was now agreed between them to try the charm that very 
night. At a late hour, therefore, when nothing was stirring but 
bats and owls, they ascended the woody hill of the Alhambra, 
and approached that awftd tower, shrouded by trees and ren- 
dered formidable by so many traditionary tales. 

By the light of a lantern they groped their way through bushes 
and over fallen stones, to the door of a vault beneath the tower. 
With fear and trembling they descended a flight of steps cut into 
the rock. It led to an empty chamber, damp and drear, from 
which another flight of steps led to a deeper vault. In this way 
they descended four several flights, leading into as many vaults, 
one below the other, but the floor of the fourth was solid, and 
though, according to tradition, there remained three vaults still 
below, it was said to be impossible to penetrate further, the resi- 
due being shut up by strong enchantment. The air of this vault 
was damp and chilly, and had an earthy smell, and the light 
scarce cast forth any rays. They paused here for a time in breath- 
less suspense, tmtil they faintly heard the dock of the watch-tower 
strike midnight; upon this they lit the waxen taper, which dif- 
fused an odor of myrrh, and frankincense, and storax. 

The Moor began to read in a hurried voice. He had scarce 
finished, when there was a noise as of subterraneous thunder. The 
earth shook, and the floor yawning open disclosed a flight of 
steps. Trembling with awe they descended, and by the light of 
the lantern found themselves in another vault covered with 
Arabic inscriptions. In the center stood a great chest, secured 
with seven bands of steel, at each end of which sat an enchanted 
Moor in armor, but motionless as a statue, being controlled by 
the power of the incantation. Before the chest were several jars 


filled with gold and silver and precious stones. In the largest of 
these they thrust their arms up to the elbow, and at every dip 
hauled forth hands! ul of broad srellow pieces of Moorish gold, or 
bracelets and ornaments of the same precious metal, while occa- 
sionally a necklace of Oriental pearl would stick to their fingers. 
Still they trembled and breathed short while cramming tiieir 
pockets with the spoils; and cast many a fearful glance at the 
two enchanted Moors who sat grim and motionless, glaring upon 
them with unwinking eyes. At length, struck with a sudden panic 
at some fancied noise, they both rushed ,up the staircase, tumbled 
over one another into the upper apartment, overturned and ex- 
tinguished the waxen taper, and the pavement again closed with 
a thundering sotmd. 

Filled with dismay they did not pause until they had groped 
their way out of the tower, and beheld the stars shining through 
the trees. Then seating themselves upon the grass, they divided 
the spoil, determining to content themselves for the present with 
this mere skimming of the jars, but to return on some future night 
and drain them to the bottom. To make sure of each other's good 
faith, also, they divided the talismans between them, one retain- 
ing the scroll and the other the taper; this done, they set off with 
light hearts and well-lined pockets for Granada. 

As they wended their way down the hill the shrewd Moor 
whispered a word of counsel in the ear of the simple little water- 

"Friend Peregil," said he, "all this affair must be kept a pro- 
found secret until we have secured the treasure and conveyed it 
out of harm's way. If a whisper of it gets to the ear of the Alcalde 
we are undone!" 

" Certainly!" replied the Gallego; " nothing can be more true." 

"Friend Peregil," said the Moor, "you are a discreet man, and 
I make no doubt can keep a secret; but — you have a wife " 

"She shall not know a word of it!" replied the little water- 
carrier sturdily. 

" Enough," said the Moor, " I depend upon thy discretion and 
thy promise." 

Never was promise more positive and sincere; but alas! what 
man can keep a secret from his wife? Certainly not such a one as 
Peregil the water-carrier, who was one of the most loving and 


tractable of husbands. On his return home he found his wife 
moping in a comer. 

" Mighty well !" cried she, as he entered ; "you've come at last, 
after rambling about until this hour of the night. I wonder you 
have not brought home another Moor as a housemate.'* Then 
bursting into tears she began to wring her hands and smite her 
breast. "Unhappy woman that I am!'* exclaimed she, "what 
will become of me ! My house stripped and plundered by lawyers 
and alguazils; my husband a do-no-good that no longer brings 
home bread for his family, but goes rambling about, day and 
night, with infidel Moors. Oh, my children! my children! what 
will become of us; we shall all have to beg in the streets!" 

Honest Peregil was so moved by the distress of his spouse that 
he could not help whimpering also. His heart was as full as his 
pocket, and not to be restrained. Thrusting his hand into the 
latter he hauled forth three or four broad gold pieces and slipped 
them into her bosom. The poor woman stared with astonishment, 
and could not understand the meaning of this golden shower. 
Before she could recover her surprise the little Gallego drew forth 
a chain of gold and dangled it before her, capering with exultation, 
his mouth extended from ear to ear. 

"Holy Virgin protect us!" exclaimed the wife. "What hast 
thou been doing, Peregil? Surely thou hast not been committing 
murder and robbery!" 

The idea scarce entered the brain of the poor woman than it 
became a certainty with her. She saw a prison and a gallows in 
the distance, and a little bandy-legged Callage dangling pendant 
from it; and overcome by the horrors conjured up by her imagi- 
nation, fell into violent hysterics. 

What could the poor man do? He had no other means of paci- 
fying his wife and dispelling the phantoms of her fancy than by 
relating the whole story of his good fortune. This, however, he 
did not do until he had exacted from her the most solemn promise 
to keep it a profound secret from every living being. 

To describe her joy would be impossible. She fltmg her arms 
round the neck of her husband, and almost strangled him with her 
caresses. "Now, wife!" exclaimed the little man with honest 
exultation, "what say you now to the Moor's legacy? Hence- 
forth never abuse me for helping a fellow creature in distress." 


The honest Gallego retired to his sheepskin mat, and slept as 
soundly as if on a bed of down. Not so his wife. She emptied 
the whole ccwatents of his pockets upon the mat and sat all night 
coimting gold pieces of Arabic coin, trying on necklaces and ear- 
rings, and fancjdng the figure she should make one day when 
permitted to enjoy her riches. 

On the following morning the honest Gallego took a broad 
golden coin, and repaired with it to a jeweler's shop in the 2Jacatin 
to offer it for sale, pretending to have fotmd it among the ruins 
of the Alhambra. The jeweler saw that it had an Arabic inscrip- 
tion and was of the purest gold; he offered, however, but a third 
of its value, with which the water-carrier was perfectly content. 
Peregil now bought new clothes for his little flock, and all kinds 
of toys, together with ample provisions for a hearty meal, and 
returning to his dwelling set all his children dancing around him, 
while he capered in the midst, the happiest of fathers. 

The wife of the water-carrier kept her promise of secrecy with 
surprising strictness. For a whole day and a half she went about 
with a look of mystery and a heart swelling almost to bursting, 
yet she held her peace, though surrounded by her gossips. It is 
true she could not help giving herself a few airs, apologized for her 
ragged dress, and talked of ordering a new basquina all trimmed 
with gold lace and bugles, and a new lace mantilla. She threw 
out hints of her husband's intention of leaving off his trade of 
water-carrying, as it did not altogether agree with his health. 
In fact, she thought they should all retire to the cotmtry for 
the summer, that the children might have the benefit of the 
motmtain air, for there was no living in the city in this sultry 

The neighbors stared at each other, and thought the poor 
woman had lost her wits, and her airs and graces and elegant 
pretensions were the theme of universal scofifing and merriment 
among her friends, the moment her back was turned. 

If she restrained herself abroad, however, she indenmified her- 
self at home, and putting a string of rich Oriental pearls round her 
neck, Moorish bracelets on her arms, an aigrette of diamonds on 
her head, sailed backward and forward in her slattern rags about 
the room, now and then stopping to admire herself in a piece of 
broken mirror. Nay, in the impulse of her simple vanity, she 


could not resist on one occasion showing herself at the window, 
to enjoy the effect of her finery on the passers-by. 

As the fates would have it, Pedrillo Pedrugo, the meddlesome 
barber, was at this moment sitting idly in his shop on the opposite 
side of the street, when his ever-watchful eye caught the sparkle 
of a diamond. In an instant he was at his loophole reconnoitering 
the slattern spouse of the water-carrier, decorated with the splen- 
dor of an Eastern bride. No sooner had he taken an accurate 
inventory of her ornaments than he posted off with all speed to 
the Alcalde. In a little while the hungry alguazil was again on 
the scent, and before the day was over the unfortunate Peregil 
was again dragged into the presence of the judge. 

"How is this, villain!" cried the Alcalde in a furious voice. 
"You told me that the infidel who died in your house left nothing 
behind but an empty coffer, and now I hear of your wife flaunting 
in her rags decked out with pearls and diamonds. Wretch that 
thou art! prepare to render up the spoils of thy miserable victim, 
and to swing on the gallows that is already tired of waiting for 

The terrified water-carrier fell on his knees and made a full 
revelation of the marvelous manner in which he had gained his 
wealth. The Alcalde, the alguazil, and the inquisitive barber 
listened with greedy ears to this Arabian tale of enchanted 
treasure. The alguazil was dispatched to bring the Moor who had 
assisted in the incantation. The Moslem entered half -frightened 
out of his wits at finding himself in the hands of the harpies of the 
law. When he beheld the water-carrier standing with sheepish 
look and downcast cotmtenance, he comprehended the whole 
matter. " Miserable animal," said he as he passed near him, " did 
I not warn thee against babbling to thy wifej" 

The story of the Moor coincided exactly with that of his 
colleague; but the Alcalde affected to be slow of belief, and 
threw out menaces of imprisonment and rigorous investiga- 

"Softly, good Sefior Alcalde," said the Musselman, who by this 
time had recovered his usual shrewdness and self-possession. 
" Let us not mar fortune's favors in the scramble for them. No- 
body knows anything of this matter but ourselves; let us keep 
the secret. There is wealth enough in the cave to enrich us all. 


Promise a fair division, and all shall be produced; refuse, and the 
cave shall remain forever closed.*' 

The Alcalde consulted apart with the alguazil. The latter was 
an old fox in his profession. " Promise anything, " said he, " until 
you get possession of the treasure. You may then sieze upon the 
whole, and if he and his accomplice dare to murmur, threaten 
them with the fagot and the stake as infidels and sorcerers." 

The Alcalde relished the advice. Smoothing his brow and 
turning to the Moor — "This is a strange story," said he, "and 
may be true, but I must have ocular proof of it. This very night 
you must repeat the incantation in my presence. If there be 
really such treasure, we will share it amicably between us, and 
say nothing further of the matter; if ye have deceived me, expect 
no mercy at my hands. In the meantime you must remain in 

The Moor and the water-carrier cheerfully agreed to these 
conditions, satisfied that the event would prove the truth of their 

Toward midnight the Alcalde sallied forth secretly, attended 
by the alguazil and the meddlesome barber, all strongly armed. 
They conducted the Moor and the water-carrier as prisoners, 
and were provided with the stout donkey of the latter, to bear oflf 
the expected treasure. They arrived at the tower without being 
observed, and tying the donkey to a fig-tree, descended into the 
fourth vault of the tower. 

The scroll was produced, the yellow waxen taper lighted, and 
the Moor read the form of incantation. The earth trembled as 
before, and the pavement opened with a thundering sound, dis- 
closing the narrow flight of steps. The Alcalde, the alguazil, and 
the barber were struck aghast and could not summon courage to 
descend. The Moor and the water-carrier entered the lower 
vault and found the two Moors seated as before, silent and 
motionless. They removed two of the great jars filled with golden 
coin and precious stones. The water-carrier bore them up one 
by one upon his shoulders, but though a strong-backed little man, 
and accustomed to carry burdens, he staggered beneath their 
weight, and found, when slung on each side of his donkey, they 
were as much as the animal could bear. 

"Let us^ content for the present," said the Moor; "here is 


as much treasure as we can cany off without being perodved* and 
enough to make us all wealthy to our heart's desire/' 

"Is there no more treasure remaining behind?" demanded the 

"The greatest prize of all," said the Moor; "a huge coffer, 
bound with bands of steel, and filled with pearls and precious 

"Let us have up the coffer by all means," cried the grasping 

"I will descend for no more," said the Moor, doggedly. 
"Enough is enough for a reasonable man; more is superfluous." 

"And I," said the water-carrier, "will bring up no further bur- 
den to break the back of my poor donkey." 

Finding commands, threats, and entreaties equally vain, the 
Alcalde turned to his two adherents. "Aid me," said he, "to 
bring up the coffer, and its contents shall be divided between us." 
So saying h^ descended the steps, followed^ with trembling reluct- 
ance by the alguazil and the barber. 

No sooner did the Moor behold them fairly earthed than he 
extinguished the yellow taper: the pavement closed with its 
usual crash, and the three worthies remained buried in its 

He then hastened up the different flights of steps, nor stopped 
until in the open air. The little water-carrier followed him as fast 
as his short legs would permit. 

"What hast thou done?" cried Peregil, as soon as he could 
recover breath. "The Alcalde and the other two are shut up in 
the vault!" 

" It is the will of AUah!" said the Moor devoutly. 

"And will you not release them?" demanded the Gallego. 

" Allah forbid!" replied the Moor, smoothing his beard. " It is 
written in the book of fate that they shall remain enchanted until 
some future adventurer shall come to break the charm. The will 
of God be done !" So saying, he hurled the end of the waxen taper 
far among the gloomy thickets of the glen. 

There was now no remedy, so the Moor and the water-carrier 
proceeded with the richly laden donkey toward the dty; nor 
could honest Peregil refrain from hugging and kissing his long- 
eared fellow-laborer, thus restored to him from the clutches of the 


law; and, in fact, it is doubtful which gave the ample-hearted 
little man most joy at the moment, the gaining of the treasure or 
the recovery of the donkey. 

The two partners in good luck divided their spoil amicably and 
fairly, excepting that the Moor, who had a little taste for trin- 
ketry, made out to get into his heap the most of the pearls and 
precious stones, and other baubles, but then he always gave the 
water-carrier in lieu magnificent jewels of massy gold four times 
the size, with which the latter was heartily content. They took 
care not to linger within reach of accidents, but made off to enjoy 
their wealth undisturbed in other countries. The Moor returned 
into Africa, to his native city of Tetuan, and the GaUego, with his 
wife, his children and his donkey, made the best of his way to 
Portugal. Here, under the admonition and tuition of his wife, he 
became a personage of some consequence, for she made the little 
man array his long body and short legs in doublet and hose, with 
a feather in his hat and a sword by his side; and, laying aside the 
familiar appellation of Peregil, assume the more sonorous title of 
Don Pedro Gil. His progeny grew up a thriving and merry- 
hearted, though short and bandy-legged, generation; while the 
Sefiora Gil, be-f ringed, be-laced, and be-tasseled from her head to 
her heels, with glittering rings on every finger, became a model of 
slattern fashion and finery. 

As to the Alcalde and his adjuncts, they remained shut up under 
the great tower of the Seven Floors, and there they remain spell- 
bound at the present day. Whenever there shall be a lack in 
Spain of pimping barbers, sharking alguazils, and corrupt Al- 
caldes, they may be sought after; but if they have to wait until 
such time for their deliverance, there is danger of their enchant- 
ment enduring until doomsday. 

In this delightful recital, we Gnd that special ear-mark 
of the tale, the long introduction, in which the chief char- 
acter is described, his profession, his nationality, his phy- 
sique, his wife, his children, and his donkey. By way of 
good measure, we are given an introduction to the intro- 
duction, which describes a Moorish well, its origin, its 


situation, the nature of its water, and the general habits 
of the citizens who made use of it. 

On the other hand, we have some quite definite char- 
acter delineation. The cheerful, impulsive little Peregil, 
his nagging wife, the meddlesome barber, the greedy Al- 
calde, who is the villain of the piece, and the long-headed 
Moslem who outwitted him, are all real people, and possess 
a vitality not to be found in the Signior of the preceding 
chapter, his lady, or his falcon. The dialogue, too, though 
slight, has freedom and natiuralness, and the whole narra- 
tive is delidously touched with himior, from the descrip- 
tion of Peregil's purchase of a donkey as "an assistant of a 
correspondent class of animals," to that of the Moslem's 
pious resignation to the will of Allah, on the occasion of 
his enemies being securely shut up in the vault. 


1. Select another tale from Irving and show why you 
classify it as such. 

2. (a) Re-write "The Falcon of Ser Federigo," omit- 
ting all the unnecessary discursiveness, reiteration, etc. 
(b) Re-write the same, curtailing it to a brief anecdote. 

3. Treat "The Moor's Legacy" as you treated the 
older tale, first cutting out the non-essentials, then cur- 
tailing it further into the limits of an anecdote, (b) Com- 
pare the two from the standpoint of structure, discursive- 
ness, cumbrous elaboration of detaU, etc. 

4. Select an anecdote from any source you please, and 
expand it into a tale, done in the style of Irving, omitting 


bears some relation to the fable in that its events were often 
outside the realm of probability; and, as we have seen, 
the religions legend is related to history itself in that it 
chiefly attaches itself to persons prominent in the past life 
of a church,andanational legend to the history of a people. ^ 

An attempt has been made to differentiate legend from 
myth, in the statement that the myth is "the evolving of 
an imaginary fact from an idea; e. g., when the Romans of 
the Augustan times, out of the idea of how their polity 
arose, created the narrative of iEneas, his misfortimes, his 
wanderings, and his settlement in Italy, they framed a 
myth." * While the legend, it is said, is " the evolving of an 
idea from a fact. When real historic facts become em- 
bellished by fiction they are legendary."* 

In the following example the nucleus of historic fact is 
probably the existence, once upon a time, of a holy man 
named Christopher. 


There once lived a heathen giant named Reprobus, who deter- 
mined to serve the strongest king he could find. He went to the 
mighty Pharaoh and served him; but whenever the Devil was 
mentioned, the king crossed himself, by which Reprobus per- 
ceived that he feared the Devil. Consequently the giant went 
off in search of the Devil to serve him. At length he found Satan, 
and the Evil One took him into his service; but one day Reprobus 
saw the Devil start aside from a cross. Then he realized that 

» Legends of the Middle Ages, H. A. Gubrbbr. 
' Cassell's Encyclopadic Dictionary. 
» Ibid. 

* Adapted from S. Baring-Gould, Lives of the Saints, VoL VIII, 
pp. 557-8. 


there is one stronger than Satan, so he left the service of the Devil, 
and went oflE in search of Christ. On his journey he found a her- 
mit, who ordered him to pray. 

"That I cannot do,** said Reprobus. 

"Then you must carry travellers over the deep river.** 

So the giant Reprobus tmdertook the good work. One night a 
voice called him. He went out and found a little child, whom he 
took on his shoulders to carry over. But the child nearly weighed 
him down, and when he had placed the child on the other side the 
giant saijd, "You seem to weigh as heavy as the whole world.'* 

"Well said, Reprobus,** answered the Child. "I created the 
world, I redeemed the world, I bear the sins of the world." And 
he vanished. 

Thus Reprobus saw that he had borne Christ over the stream. 
And from that day he took the name Christopher — Christo- 
ferrOy the Christ-bearer. 

It is thus that Saint Christopher is usually represented in 
Western art. It is evident that an allegory is contained in this 
beautiful story. 

It will readily be seen that the foregoing legend could be 
expanded into a tale, by amplifying the adventures of 
Reprobus, while it lacks but one essential of the parable — 
that is, the events related are hardly ''such as might natu- 
rally occur.'* But the play of imagination, allowing the 
superaddition of fancy to fact, its touch of charm — due to 
the glamor of the aforesaid imagination — and its im- 
mistakable purpose to edify, mark it as a legend. The 
element of the miraculous of course does away with the 
demand for himian probability and relegates the question 
of its truth to the realm of faith, as in the case of all 

The legend, in various forms, has a prominent place in 
literature. Many of the mediaeval epics were collections 
of legends brought together to glorify, almost to deify, the 


hero. Such a collection is the Niebelungenlied. The 
famous Golden Legend, the Legenda Aureal of the thir- 
teenth century, is a collection of the marvellous and mir- 
aculous deeds of the saints. Similarly, not one but many 
legends, went to make up the Song of Roland, the old 
Saxon Legend of Beowulf, and the romance of the Morte 
d' Arthur. The delightfully non-critical attitude of the 
mediaeval mind was tolerant to the blending of Christianity 
and paganism, as well as to the general mixing-up of dates, 
persons, and places, in defiance not only of probability 
but of possibility, which mark the legends of that time. 

In distinguishing between the legend and the tale, it 
should be particularly noted that the legend is a narrative 
of a single incident, while the tale is usually compounded 
of manifold incidents. The tale is also more prone to 
digression, and consequentiy to length. 


I. Transpose the following legendary poem into prose 


By Flosence Earle Coates 

There is a legend somewhere told 
Of how the skylark came of old 

To the dying Saviour's cross 
And, circling round that form of pain, 
Poured forth a wild, lamenting strain, 

As if for human loss. 

^ Copyright, 1007, J. B. Lippincott Co., and used by permisston 
of publikhiers and author. 



Pierced by ^ose accents of despair, 
Upon the little mourner there 

Turning his fading eyes, 
The Saviour said, '* Dost thou so mourn, 
And is thy fragile breast so torn. 

That Man, thy brother, dies? 

"O'er all the world uplifted high, 
We are alone here, thou and I; 

And, near to heaven and thee, 
I bless thy pity-guided wings! 
I bless thy voice — the last that sings 

Love's requiem for me! 

"Sorrow shall cease to fill thy song; 

These frail and fluttering wings grown strong. 

Thou shalt no longer fly 
Earth's captive — nay, but boldly dare 
The azure vault, and upward bear 

Thy raptures to the sky!" 

Soon passed the Saviour; but the lark. 
Close hovering near him in the dark. 

Could not his grief abate; 
And nigh the watchers at the tomb, 
Still mourned through days of grief and gloom. 

With note disconsolate. 

But when to those sad mourners came. 
In rose and amethyst and flame, 

The Dawn Miraculous, 
Song in which sorrow had no part 
Burst from the lark's triumphant heart — 

Sweet and tumultuous! 

An instant, as with rapture blind. 
He faltered; then, his Lord to find. 

Straight to the ether flew — 
Rising where falls no human tear. 
Singing where still his song we hear 

Piercing the upper blue! 


2. Similarly put one of these into prose (a) "The Vision 
of Sir Launfal," by Lowell; (i) "The Son of the Evening 
Star," or "The Hunting of Pau-Puk-Keewis," or "The 
Death of Kwasind," from Longfellow's "The Song of 
Hiawatha," (c) "The Legend of the Monk Felix," from 
Longfellow's "The Golden Legend." 

3. Expand into a legend designed for spiritual edifica- 
tion either the first incident in Beowulf (the birth and 
death of Skiold), the last incident in Gudrun (Horant's 
refusal of the crowns), or the story of Merlin and the Siege 
Perilous. (See H, A. Guerber's "Legends of the Middle 

4. Relate in your own words some Lidian legend with 
which you are familiar. 

5. Frame an original story in the form of a legend which 
shall account for such a natural phenomenon as the Great 
Stone Face in the White Mountains, or the Old Faithful 
Geyser in Yellowstone Park, or any other remarkable 
natural object that you have seen. 

6. From any surname or Christian name signif3dng a 
mental or physical characteristic, such as Strong, Bold, 
Frank, Grace, etc., construct a "legend" which shall 
account for the origin of the name, after the manner of the 
Saint Christopher l^end. 



You should never write about anybody until you persuade 
yourself, at least for the moment, that you love him. 

— ^Robert Louis Stevenson, in Vailima Letters. 

An artist, with eyes alwajrs open to the picturesque and 
the beautiful, will fill his portfolio with sketches — ^perhaps 
a bit of landscape, a building, a bridge, or the vista of a 
village street; or a hint at the sunrise glory; or maybe a 
group of figures, quaint, amusing, or beautiful. 

Some of these sketches will be merely crude memoranda, 
some will be rich in their suggestiveness as fragments ; and 
some will be carefully and completely finished. Many of 
these sketches will be used later as details for some large 
canvas; others will be thrown aside; others, not fitted 
for accessories of some great picture, will be preserved for 
their own worth- whileness. 

In like manner does the artist in words make sketches — 
bits of nature-description, humorous incidents, phases of 
emotion, character-revealing situations, inspiring all the 
more for their very incompleteness. Viewed as material, 
a number of these will be used later in a short-story, more 
will be thrown aside, while a few will be kept because of 
what they are. It is this last dass that we must now 

Such a sketch w^l differ from a rounded-out story in 
that it may be a study of still-life, a bit of description, a 


portrayal of emotion, while in a story there will be action, 
and a sense of progress from point to point. Then again, 
a sketch may deal with something done, some vividly 
dramatic incident, but it will present an appearance^ not 
a working oiU; a candiHan, not that progression of in- 
cidents which, skilfully composed, to use the language of 
art, will form a story. As we have said, a sketch will 
often suggest a story, but it will never fidly tell one — ^it 
will give an impression, but never relate the beginning, 
middle, and end of a plotted work of fiction — it will be 
wholly without plot. 



By Elizabeth Maury Coombs 

The Road to Nowhere winds away between low, grassed hills, 
and always the mountains loom before you — turquoise, sap- 
phire, or emerald, as the day is fair, doud-shadowed, or after 
stmimer rain. 

To-day the leaves are' falling, and each house-keeping tree has 
laid her Persian prayer-rugs on the floor of the old road, where 
lately only her own shadows lay. Before the wind had cleaned 
their carpets for them — and then wilfully whirled them away — 
my horse's feet found soft padding along the lane, so that I came 
quite unannounced upon an old man who hobbled along with a 
tiny paper bag in his hand. Plainly, he was just from the little 
country store that supplies our must-haves at Rabbit Run. I 
pulled in my horse a little way ahead, and, pointing to the empty 
seat of the runabout, said: 

1 Copyright, 1913, J. B. Lippinoott Company, and used by per- 


"Might yoa and I be gomg the same way?" 

"We might," he answered, "but mine leads to the almshouse." 

"Friend," I smiled, "perhaps mine also, for I am collecting 
magazine dejection slips." 

"Ill just put my little poke here" — placing his small bag 
carefully as he scrambled up by my invitation — "and my 
wooden leg can ride outside" — with a wintry smile which time 
had not robbed of its childlikeness. "It'U ride jest as nice out 
there." So on the step he propped it — that weU-wom contrap- 
tion of wood, with iron bands, and padded in wearing-spots with 

We held some converse of weather and crops, as is our country- 
neighbor way, and then, as we fell silent, he said: 

"I be n't as feeble as some of us. Miss — only a touch of rhu- 
matiz on dampish days. 'Times now, when the leaves ain't 
rusUin', I kin crope up an' git a squirrel in a mulberry tree, and," 
with a self -respectful air he further confided, "I ain't obliged to 
stay at the County Home. I've got a granddaughter as would 
take keer er me. But I'm happier here — I can whittle when I 

"Then your granddaughter is a single woman?" 

"No, 'm, not to say exactly; but sometimes them what's mar- 
ried and ain't got no little fellers — seems like they's sometimes 
more singler than them whar's jest happened not to marry." 

"I've seen them." 

"I went to live with her when Mother— that's my wife — died. 
Sarah, my granddaughter, had the name er bein' a powerful 
housekeeper. Everything had its place, and everything was in 
its place — 'cep'n me. Seems like there was n't no place that fitted 
me — or that I fitted, rather. Seems like," he mused on, "er 
man is just allers kinder litter, after his wife dies, don't it, Miss?" 

And again, " Do you dean house often, Miss?" 

"Well, no; only enough to allay public opinion." 

" 'Pears like you looked sorter that er way ter me when I fust 
laid eyes on you!" 

I never had a compliment that pleased me more. 

"Well — Sarah, she cleaned often, with a towel pinned over 
her head. Seems like they dean harder with a towel on their 
heads! And 'peared like my feet was aUers in the very place 


she'd wanted ter sweep, and then when I'd git up ter go outen the 
door, I'd let in a fly — I'd be jest about sure to! Seems like that 
fly'd wait on that porch fer hours jest fer me ter be the one ter 
open the screen door fer him! Now," he reflected with an indulg- 
ent smile, " / ain't never had no great anxiety against a fly — no 
more had Mother. 'Pears like ter me that he be the harmlessest 
creetur Gord Almighty made. No bite nor sting has he! Some- 
times when a feller gets lonesome a fly's right nice to be with, a 
sociable little body settin* right on yer knee an' a-deanin' o' his 
wings with his little hind legs, an' a-rubbin' o' his little black 
hands tergether fer ter dean his own little face — an' a-doin' 
nothin' ter nobody!" 

He paused awhile and then badc-tracked on his thought, as is 
the habit of age. 

"So I moved along, an' I'm right happy. I brought my old 
white oak chair — with the patchwork cushion Mother made fer 
it that fust winter I had rhumatiz — an' it sets mighty comfort- 
able by the fire. 'Times I sets by the fire and whittles jumpin' 
jinnys — you know them kind? Chilluns loves 'em, an' Mother 
she used ter say I made *em that funny a parson would 'a' laughed. 
'Times I seems to hear her laughin' yet; she was fat and had a 
great big shaky laugh — an' war n't never no great hand at 

" Yes'm, this is where I turn in, an' the road was most amazin' 
short this evenin'." Then, taking out his little bag, he looked at 
me so anxiously and queried: 

" Miss, do you like sugar?" 

As it happens I do not, but, remembering my old grandfather's 
secretary, as we called his desk, and a certain pigeonhole wherein 
lay a ddectable oozy bag containing brown sugar, which made 
an appearance only on tooth-pulling occasions when tmattended 
with tears, I said: 

"//it's brown " 

"Brown it is. Miss!" he cried with his glad child-smile. So in 
I dipped my fingers. 

He added as I left him: 

" Now, was n't that lucky ! I just had five cents, an' the white 
cost six a pound!" 

Sometimes I wonder — as the Road to Nowhere in my mind 


leads along to where, far in front, the mountains of Truth loom 
turquoise, sapphire, and emerald battlemented against the hori- 
zon of the world — if maybe with the litter and the whittlings — 
we housekeepers — that in the largest sense are house-mothers — 
may not be sweeping out some human souls with the trash? If, 
possibly, we may not have kept out the little children — along 
with the mud on their shoes? If, in our eternal sweeping away of 
cobwebs, we may not unwittingly have swept away those fine 
filaments of love crossing from mother to child that by-and-by 
would have doubled and strengthened into the cable cords of love 
that would have held them to the home? 


This sketch has excellent characterization. The two 
persons in the narrative, the contented old Derelict, 
and the Lady who did not look like the house-cleaning- 
kind, are no more complete and distinct than are the 
two who are merely mentioned and who do not appear 
— the vigorously orderly Granddaughter, and the Mother 
who was tolerant of flies, and had a ''big, shaky laugh." 

There is atmosphere too, on "The Road to Nowhere," 
and a well-defined setting. 

This sketch has humor and pathos, and it is pervaded 
by charm, nowhere greater than in the tender moralizing 
of the closing paragraph. 

But though it suggests a story, it was more fitting to 
crystallize the situation into its present sketch-form than 
further to amplify it, and we feel that in this presentation 
it has most worth-whileness. 


I. (a) Name some narratives from current magazine 
fiction which you consider are sketches — descriptive, 


humorous, emotional, or diaracter-portra)nuQg. (b) Criti- 
cise one fully. 

2. Make a list of situations which strike you as being 
suitable for original sketches. 

3. Write two sketches, of from one thousand to two 
thousand words each, illustrating different phases of 
nature or of himian life. 

4. Select a situation or a mood from some famous 
short-story and do that section over into sketch form. 

5. Do you think the narrative style of a sketch admits 
of as much delicacy as that of a short-story, or more? 



There is no greater mistake than the supposition that a true 
originality is a mere matter of impulse or inspiration. To. origi- 
nate, is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine. 
— ^Edgar Allan Poe, Magasine Writing. 

The tale may be said to bear the same relation to the 
short-story that a string of beads does to a jewelled brooch. 
The beads may be few or many, and they may vary in 
size and color — the string upon which they are stnmg is 
the only thing that holds them together. But in the 
brooch, the jewels are arranged in such a well-defined 
pattern that the symmetry of its design would be lost by 
the removal of a single gem or even the alteration of its 

The short-story is the youngest of all forms of narrative, 
for its conscious development began less than a hundred 
years ago — in France, with "Mateo Falcone" (1829), by 
Prosper M6rim£e; and in America, with Poe's "Bere- 
nice" (183s). 

While Poe himself began to write technically perfect 
short-stories several years later than some foreign writers — 
notably the Frenchmen M6rim6e and Balzac, and the 
Russian Pushkin — it must be remembered that the Ameri- 
can author first publicly recognized the short-story as 


something diflferent from, and superior to, the story that 
is short, and actually set forth its principles so broadly 
that we accept them generally today. 

Thus the modem short-story has developed, imtil 
now it is recognized to be as distinct a form of com- 
position as the writing of verse or drama — it is an 
elastic, living thing, ready to receive new beauties of 
form from whosoever may approach it with a skillful 

More than this, the short-story is said by men of parts 
to be one of the highest forms of the narrator's art. Poe 
writes that in his opinion it "affords imquestionably the 
fairest field for the exercise of the loftiest talent which can 
be afforded by the wide domains of mere prose."* And 
a more recent critic asserts that "in its capacity for perfec- 
tion of structure, for nice discrimination in means, and for 
a satisf)dng exposition of the full power of words, it is 
much superior to the novel and can only rank below the 
poem."« ' 

When we come to christen this modem form we are 
embarrassed, for it would seem that all the good names 
were used for various types of narrative before the birth 
of this particular fictional form. One of its most intelligent 
exponents finds no better way out of the difficulty than 
this: "I have written 'Short-story' with a capital S and 
a hyphen because I wished to emphasize the distinction 
between the Short-story and the story which is merely 
short. The Short-story is a high and difficult department 

* Foe's critique on Hawthorne. 

s Heniy Seidel Canby, Yale Studies in English. 


of fiction. The story which is short can be written by 
anybody who can write at all."^ 

This distinction will appear more dearly as we proceed; 
and as for the name, it is too late a day now to attempt to 
change it, so we shall always use the hyphen while writing 
of the modem short-story, though it seems best not to 
insist upon the capital S, except in titles, and when the 
wcNxl opens a sentence. 

I. Essentials of the Short-Story 

(a) A Singleness of Impression. The standard to 
which the would-be short-story must inevitably conform 
is what a great story-writer* has called " totality of eflFect. " 
This means that the story must leave at its close one 
dominant, well-defined sensation. To illustrate, let us 
compare the impression we feel after reading the tale of 
"Sinbad the Sailor" with that produced by Poe's "The 
Fall of the House of Usher. '* The first gives us the broken 
and diversified sensations made by a vivid and brilliant 
series of incidents whidi do not have a single central idea 
powerful aiough to fuse all these incidents into a whole. 
The second gives a single, strong impression — that <rf 
gloomy desolation, to which all the incidents of the story 
have contributed, and in which they are all merged. The 
whole story is gloom — gloom begins and gloom ends it; 
and after we have read the story, gloom is the single 
impression that remains. 

It is no easy matter to explain to the yoimg writer how 

^ Brander Mathews, The Philosophy of ihe Short-story. 


this singleness of effect may be secured, because many 
really good short-stories are somewhat weak in this regard, 
just as a person may be a very good man and yet be weak 
in some one important respect. Then too, there is some- 
thing in all art which may be seen and felt more readily 
than explained. 

There are several things, however, which we ought to 
remember when seeking to secure singleness of effect as we 
write a short-story: a) Determine at the outstart what 
tone you wish to strike, what effect you wish to produce — 
for example, that of a young man whose character develops 
by his struggle to remain true to his ideals while imder 
heavy pressure brought to bear to make him imfaithful. 
») Do not put into your story a single word, or action, or 
bit of description, or character, or anything^ that does not 
in some direct or indirect way help to produce the effect 
you desire, d) Do not omit anything that may help to 
bring about the same result. 

Natiuully, these are merely principles, and you cannot 
leam to apply them without both care and practise; but 
they are important, and well worth your earnest attention. 
In proportion as they are carried out will a short-story 
leave a definite impression on the reader. 

(b) A WdUDefined PloU An anecdote, or a tale 
developed from an anecdote, a fable, a legend, or a sketch, 
may leave a unified impression. For example, a fable 
may leave the single effect of folly, or of stinginess. Single- 
ness of effect, then, is not the sole essential of the short- 
story, even if it is one of the most important. The short- 
story must have a well-defined plot, otherwise it is some- 


thing else than a modem short-story. This necessary 
plot is the very foundation of the story, or to quote from a 
recent study of the subject, it is "the working plan used 
by the building author. " * The plot is the arrangemerU of 
the action of the story so that each incident shall be a 
necessary step in the progress towards the climax. 

The plot should be consciously designed and adapted so 
as to produce the singleness of effect already mentioned; 
therefore it should be regarded as a means to an end. In 
structure, it should be simple rather than complex; that 
is, it should be direct, forceful, and swift in its action, and 
never very elaborate, as are the plots of most novels. 
Compare the direct simplicity of the plot of Maupassant's 
"The Necklace" with the complexity of that of "The 
Gold Bug " by Poe. The latter is 15,000 words in length- 
much longer than the average short-story of today— yet 
even 15,000 words appear too few to carry so cumbrous a 
plot, and the story staggers under its weight. 

(c) A Dominant Incident. The plot should revolve 
about a single, central, dominant incident, which in many 
cases will be the nucleus (in the mind of the author) from 
which the story originally developed. The short-story is 
too brief a literary form to carry either too large a number 
of incidents, or more than one that is central and really 
dominant. All the other incidents must therefore help to 
develop this main incident. Thus the unity of effect which 
we have said is the first essential, will best be secured. 
"Mrs. KnoUys," by H. J. Stimson, "The Ambitious 
Guest," by Hawthorne, and "The Substitute," by Franjois 

»Henry Albert Phillips, The Plot of the Short Story. 


Copp^e, are all stories having a single big incident, and the 
minor incidents and details are introduced solely to expand 
and accentuate this one. 

(d) A Preeminent Character. "The short-story," says 
Professor James Weber Linn, "should be a turning-point 
in the life of a single character. " The plot of the modem 
short-story is concerned with one, or at most two, persons. 
If others are introduced, their parts are so slight as to be 
merely tributary, serving only to aid in the plot action of 
the chief actors. Such stories are "Tennessee's Partner," 
by Bret Harte, where the main actors are only two, and 
"Markheim," by Stevenson, wherein the hero plays 
practically a solo part, with the old Dealer, his servant, 
and the Visitant, as accompanists. The true short-story 
concentrates its interest instead of spreading it. The surest 
way to spread, and hence to weaken, interest is to divide 
attention among too many characters. 

(e) A Complication and Its Resolution. If the chief 
actors in the story were able to pursue the even tenor of 
their way to joy and good fortime, their lives would perhaps 
be happy, but like the nations that have no history they 
would not be worth writing about. So, the short-story 
plot must involve some difficulty or complication, and 
the interest of the story will lie in the outcome of this 
difficulty — ^whether it dominates, or is dominated by, the 
chief actors; in other words, after you have shown the 
complication, the interest hinges upon how it all turns 

Let us now examine a short-story plot embodying the 
foregoing essentials. 


By Guy de Maupassant 

The discontented young wife of a petty clerk, alwajrs 
longing for luxuries she could not have, borrows a diamond 
necklace from a wealthy friend to go to a reception. On 
her return home she discovers she has lost the necklace. 
All search for it is fruitless, and her husband feels obliged 
to borrow largely, and to mortgage all their future to 
raise money to replace the costly ornament. The pair 
sink into a life of sordid drudgery. The once frivolous, 
pleasure-loving wife spends day after day, year after year, 
in degrading toil. She washes dirty linen, she scrubs 
floors, she does all manner of rough work, losing all her 
beauty and grace. At the end of ten dreary years the 
debt is paid. Then one Sunday she meets the rich 
friend. She is so coarsened, so aged, that the latter does 
not recognize her. The wife speaks to her friend, and 
is moved to tell her the cause of her unhappy transform- 
ation. The friend, to whom the substitution had been 
until that moment unknown, exclaims in pity, " My poor 
Mathildel" and tells her that the lost necklace had 
not been of diamonds, but of comparatively worthless 

Here is ''Singleness of Impression," the tragedy of 
needless suffering. The ''Dominant Incident" is the ball 
and what havoc it works in two lives. The "Preeminent 
Character" is Mathilde. The "Complication" is the loss 
of the Necklace. The "Resolution" of the complication 
is the discovery of the truth at the end. The combination 


of all these elements constitutes the "plot. " Technically, 
"The Necklace" is a perfect short-story. 


1. Using what books of reference you may have at 
command, (a) quote as many definitions of the short- 
story as you can find; (b) make a list of the several 
elements the various authors find in the short-story; 

(c) add any essentials which you think have been omitted; 

(d) give your reasons for your belief that they should be 
added; (e) using the foregoing material, construct a defi- 
nition of your own. 

2. Find a short-story not named in this chapter which 
seems to you to leave a single impression, as, for ex- 
ample, the failure of kidnappers to subdue the spirit of 
a lively youngster, in "The Ransom of Red Chief," by 
O. Henry. 

3. Find a short-story which is weak in this element 
because it leaves a divided impression. 

4. Is the story good otherwise? 

5. Write out the plots of two short-stories and then 
say how they do or do not show the five essentials men- 
tioned in this chapter. 

6. Construct a short-story plot of your own and do the 
same with it. 

7. Criticise any short-story you can find, noticing par- 
ticularly whether the main incident is brought out or 
partially hidden by the introduction of minor or subordi- 
nate incidents. 

8. Do the same with any short-story, having in mind the 


relative importance of the leading and the minor char- 

9. Pick out the complication (or crisis, or "mix-up") 
and its resolution (or solution, or outcome), in any two 

10. Invent at least three original complications for plots 
and briefly suggest how they might be worked out. 

11. Invent an original plot for a short-story and state 
it in not more than three hundred words. 

13. Somewhat in the following manner, analyze its sev- 
eral parts under four essential heads — ^the whole will be 
"b, " the "well-defined plot," omitted in the following 
sample outline. 

(a) Single Impression 

The failure of an undeserved success. 

(c) Dominant Incident 

The plot of a play is stolen by a weak but ambitious 
young man from a comrade whose sudden illness prevents 
his offering his plot for a prize competition. 

Minor Incidents. 

How the theft occurs. 

The first moral effect on the thief. 

The surprise and pleasure of his friends to learn of 
"his success." 

The b^inning of doubt upon the part of his friends, 

(d) Preeminent Character 
Name and characteristics. 

Minor Characters. 
The victim, and others. 


(e) Complication and Resoltttion 
How the theft threatens to ruin the offender. 
How he deals with the situation. 
The sudden exposure. 
Generosity of the victim. 



The short-story must be short, i. e., capable of being read at 
one sitting, in order that it may gain the immense force derivable 
from toUUity. Second, the short-story must possess immediate- 
ness; it should aim at a single or unique effect— "if the very 
initial sentence tend not to the outbringing of this effect, then 
it has failed in its first step/' Thirdly, that the short-story must 
be subjected to compression; in the whole composition there 
should not be one word written of which the tendency, direct or 
indirect, is not to the one pre^tablished design. Fourthly, that 
it must assume the aspect of verisimilitude; ''truth is often, and 
in very great degree the aim of the tale — some of the finest tales 
are tales of ratiocination." Fifthly, that it must give the im- 
pression of finality; the story, and the interest in the characters 
which it introduces, must begin with the opening sentence and 
end with the last.—- W. J. and C. W. Dawson, The Great English 
Short-Story Writers. 

It is now time to examine a typical specimen of the 
short-story, and in doing so, we shall have in view a two- 
fold purpose: to see how a skillful writer handles the 
essentials of the short-story, as set forth in the preceding 
chapter; and also to familiarize ourselves with a good 
specimen of the form so that we may refer to it as we 
study succeeding chapters. 

In stud3dng this story, first read it over without paying 
any attention to the marginal notes, for many of them will 
become more dear as later chapters are reached. Remem- 
ber that not all good stories are perfect stories, therefore 



be independent in forming your opinions regarding the 
merits and the defects of this example. 

• THE DUB ^ 


Foundation for plot. 


By Ralph Henry Barbour 

"Briggs, Bayard Newlyn, Ham- 
mondsport, 111., 1 L., H 24." 

2. That's the way the catalogue put 
it. Mostly, though, he was called 
" Bi " Briggs. He was six feet and one 
inch tall and weighed one hundred and 
ninety-four pounds stripped, and was 
built by an all- wise Providence to play 
guard. Graduate Coaches used to get 
together on the side-line and figure out 
what we'd do to Yale if we had eleven 
men like Bi. 

3. Then after they'd watched Bi play 
awhile they'd want to kick him. 

4. He got started all wrong, Bi did. 
He came to college from a Western 
university and entered the jtmior class. 
That was his first mistake. A fellow 
can't butt in at the beginning of the 
third year and expect to trot even with 
fellows who have been there two years. 
It takes a chap one year to get shaken 
down and another year to get set up. 
By the time Bi was writing his "life" 
he had just about learned the rules. 

5. His second mistake was in joining 
the first society that saw his name in 

* Copyright 1906 — ^by J. B. Lippincott Co., and used by per- 
mission of the publishers and the author. 

Not in full sympathy with 
his college. 


For the oollege 
"The rules*' not literaL 



the catalogue. It was a bum frat, and 
it queered Bi right away. I guess he 
made other mistakes too, but those 
were enough. 

6. In his junior year Bi was let alone. 
He was taking about every course any 
6t us had ever heard of — and several 
we had n't — and had no time for foot- 
ball. We got licked for keeps that fall, 
and after the Crimson and the Bulletin 
and the Graduates* Magazine and the 
newspapers had shown us just what 
ailed our system of coaching, we started 
to reorganize things. We hadn't re- 
organized for two years, and it was 
about time. The new Coach was a 
chap who hadn't made the 'Varsity 
when he was in college, but who was 
supposed to have football down to a 
fine point; to hear the fellows tell about 
the new Coach made you feel real sorry 
for Walter Camp. Well, he started in 
by kidnapping every man in college 
who weighed over a hundred and sixty- 
five. Bi did n't escape. Bi had played 
one year in the freshwater college at 
left tackle and knew a touchdown from 
a nose-guard, and that was about all. 
Bi was for refusing to have anything 
to do with football at first : said he was 
head-over-ears in study and hadn't 
the time. But they told him all about 
his Duty to his College and Every Man 
into the Breach, and he relented. Bi 
was terribly good-natured. That was 
the main trouble with him. 

7. The fellows who did football for 
the papers fell in love with him on 
the spot. He was a good-looker, with 

Note relation of fntt to 
college life, and especially 
to athletioa. 


Kar. Foundation vob 
Main Cbibis. 



sort of curly brown hair, nice eyes, a 
romantic nose, and cheeks like a pair 
of twenty-four-dollar American Beau- 
ties, and his pictures looked fine and 
dandy in the papers. " Bayard Briggs, 
Harvard's new candidate for guard, of 
whom the Coaches expect great 
things." That's the way they put it. 
And they weren't far wrong. The 
Coaches did expect great things from 
Bi; so did the rest of us. When they 
took Bi from the second and put him 
in at right guard on the Varsity we all 

8. But there was trouble right away. 
Bi did n't seem to fit. They swapped 
him over to left guard, then they tried 
him at right tackle, then at right guard 
again. Then they placed him gently but 
firmly back on the second. And Bi was 
quite happy and contented and dis- 
interested during it all. He didn't 
mind when six Coaches gathered about 
him and demanded to know what in the 
name of This and That and the Other 
Thing was the matter with him. He 
just shook his head and assured them 
good-naturedly that he didn't know; 
and intimated by his manner that he 
didn't care. When he came back to 
the second he seemed rather glad; I 
think he felt as though he had got back 
home after a hard trip. He stayed 
right with us all the rest of the season. 

9. I think the trouble was that Bi 
never got it f idly into his fool head that 
it was n't just fun — like puss-in-the- 
comer or blind-man's-buff. If you 
talked to him about Retrieving Last 


Foundation for surpriae. 

Minor oomplicaiion — ^foun- 
dation for main complica- 


Narrator writes as from th^ 
second, eleven. 



Year's Overwhelming Defeat he'd 
smile pleasantly and come back with 
some silly remark about Political 
Economy or Government or other 
poppycock. I fancy Bi's father had 
told him that he was coming to college 
to study, and Bi believed him. 

10. Of course, he did n't go to New 
Haven with us. He did n't have time. 
I wished afterwards that I had n't had 
time m3rself . Yale trimmed us 23 to 6, 
and there was n't a ten-dollar bill to be 
found from one end of college to the 
other when we got home. 

11. The papers threshed it all out 
again, and all the old grads who weren't 
too weak to hold pens wrote to the Bul- 
letin and explained where the trouble 
lay. It looked for awhile like another 
reorganization, but Cooper, the new 
Captain, was different. He didn't 
get hysterical. Along about Christ- 
mas-time, after everyone had got tired 
of guessing, he announced his new 
Coach. His name was Hecker, and he 
had graduated so far back that the 
Crimson had to look up its old files to 
find out who in blazes he was. He had 
played right half two years, it seemed, 
but had n't made any special hit, and 
Yale had won each year. The Herald 
said he was a successful lawyer in Tona- 
wanda, New York. He did n't show 
up for spring practice; could n't leave 
his work. Cooper explained. Bi did n't 
come out either. He couldn't leave 
his work. At the end of the year he 
graduated summa ctun laude, or some- 
thing like that, and the Crimson said 

DeveloxHnc incident. Note 
how evenrthing shows 
Bi*8 attitude to the same. 

Preparation for the main 



he was coming back to the Law School 
and wotdd be eligible for the team. 
Just as though it mattered. 

12. We showed up a week before 
college began and had practice twice a 
day. At the end of that week we knew 
a whole lot about Hecker. He was 
about thirty-six, kind of thin, wore 
glasses and was a devil for work. 
When we crawled back to showers after 
practice we'd cuss Hecker up hill and 
down dale. And half an hour later, if 
we met him crossing the Square, we'd 
be haughty and stuck-up for a week 
if he remembered our names. He was 
a little bit of all right, was Hecker. I 
never heard him swear all season, but 
he could talk to make the blood come. 
He was one of the quiet kind. He'd 
always say "please," and if you did n't 
please mighty quick you'd be sitting 
on the bench all nicely snuggled up in a 
blanket before you knew what had 
struck you. That's the sort of Indian 
Hecker was, and we loved him. 

13. Ten days after college opened 
we had one hundued and twenty men 
on the field. If Hecker heard of a likely 
chap and thought well of his looks, it 
was all up with Mr. Chap. He was out 
on the gridiron biting holes in the sod 
before he knew it. That's what hap- 
pened to Bi. One day Bi was n't there 
and the next day he was. 

14. We had two or three weeding- 
outs, and it got along towards the 
middle of October, and Bi was still 
with us. We were shy on plunging 
halfs that fall and so I got my chance 

Use of oonfnst. 

Ch&racter drawing. 


at last. I had to fight hard, though, 

for I was up against Murray, last year's 

first sub. Then a provisional Varsity 

was formed and the Second Team 

began doing business with Bi at right 

guard again. The left guard on the 

Varsity was Bannen — "Slugger** 

Bannen. He did n't weigh within 

seven pounds of Bi, but he had springs 

inside of him and could get the jump 

on a flea. He was called "Slugger" 

because he looked like a prize-fighter, 

but he was a gentle, harmless chap, 

and one of the Earnest Workers in the 

Christian Association. He could stick 

his fist through an oak panel same as Charaoterintion. 

you or I would put our fingers through 

a sheet of paper. And he did pretty 

much as he dam pleased with Bi. I'll 

bet, though, that Bi could have walked 

all over "Slugger" if he'd really tried. 

But he was like an automobile and 

did n't know his own strength. 

15. We disposed of the usual ruck 
of small teams, and by the first of No- 
vember it was mighty plain that we 
had the best Eleven in years. But we 
did n't talk that way, and the general 
impression was that we had another 
one of the Beaten But Not Humiliated 

16. A week before we went to Phila- 
delphia I had a streak of good luck and 
squeezed Murray out for keeps. Penn 
had a dandy team that year and we 
had to work like thimder to bring the 
ball home. It was nip and tuck to the 
end of the first half, neither side scor- 
ing. Then we went back and began 



kicking, and Cooper had the better of 
the other chap ten yards on a punt. 
Finally we got down to their twenty 
yards, and Saunders and I pulled in 
eight more of it. Then we took our 
tackles back and hammered out the 
only score. But that did n't send our 
stock up much because folks didn't 
know how good Penn was. But the 
Eli's Coaches who saw the game 
were n't fooled a little bit; only as we 
had n't played anything but the com- 
mon or garden variety of football they 
didn't get much to help them. We 
went back to Cambridge and began to 
learn the higher branches. 

17. We were coming fast now, so 
fast that Hecker got scary and laid 
half the team off for a day at a time. 
And that's how Bi got his chance again, 
and threw it away just as he had last 
year. He played hard, but — oh, I 
don't know. Some fellow wrote once 
that unless you had football instinct 
you'd never make a real top-notcher. 
I think maybe that's so. Maybe Bi 
did n't have football instinct. Though 
I'll bet if someone had hammered it 
into his head that it was business and 
not a parlor entertainment, he'd have 
buckled down and done something. It 
was n't that he was afraid of punish- 
ment; he'd take any amount and come 
back smiling. I came out of the Locker 
Building late that evening and Hecker 
and Cooper were just ahead of me. 

18. "What's the matter with this 
man" — Hecker glanced at his note- 
book — ''this man Briggs?" he asked. 

No writer who did not 
know the same could 
write this oonvinoingly. 


foundation for 



19. "Briggs?" answ««d Cooper. 
"He's a dub; that's all — just a dub." 

20. That described him pretty well, 
I thought. By dub we didn't mean 
just a man who couldn't play the 
game; we meant a man who knew how 
to play and wouldn't; a chap who 
could n't be made to tmderstand. Bi 
was a dub of the first water. 

21. We did n't have much trouble 
with Dartmouth that year. It was 
before she got sassy and rude. Then 
there were two weeks of hard practice 
before the Yale game. We had a new 
set of signals to learn and about half a 
dozen new plays. The weather got 
nice and cold and Hecker made the 
most of it. We didn't have time to 
feel chilly. One week went by, and 
then — it was a Simday morning, I 
remember — it came out that Corson, 
the Varsity right guard, had been pro- 
tested by Yale. It seemed that Corson 
had won a prize of two dollars and fifty 
cents about five years before for throw- 
ing the hammer at a picnic back in 
Pennsylvania. Well, there was a big 
shindy and the Athletic Comnuttee got 
busy and considered his case. But 
Hecker did n't wait for the Committee 
to get through considering. He just 
turned Corson out and put in Blake, 
the first sub. On Tuesday the Com- 
mittee declared Corson ineligible and 
Blake sprained his knee in practice! 
With Corson and Blake both out of it, 
Hecker was up against it. He tried 
shifting "Slugger" Bannen over to 
right and putting the full-back at left. 

Kbt to Maim Cbabaotbb. 

Note I 


DnacT BfXMOB GunB. 


Jordan, the Yale left guard, was the 

best in the world, and we needed a man 

that could stand up against him. But 

"Slugger" was simply at sea on the ' 

right side of center and so had to be 

put back again. After that the only 

thing in sight that looked the least bit 

like a right guard was Bayard Newlyn 


22. They took Bi and put him on the 
Varsity, and forty- leven Coaches stood 
over his defenceless form and ham- 
mered football into him for eight solid 
hours on Wednesday and Thursday. 
And Bi took it all like a little woolly 
lamb, without a bleat. But it just 
made you sick to think what was going 
to happen to Bi when Jordan got to 
work on him! 

23. We had our last practice Thurs- 
day, and that night we went to the 
Union and heard speeches and listened 
to the new songs. Pretty rotten they 
were too; but that's got nothing to do 
with the story. Friday we mooned 
arotmd until afternoon and then had a 
few minutes of signal practice indoors. 
Bi looked a little bit worried, I thoiM^ht. 
Maybe it was just beginning to dawn k»t. 
on him that it was n't all a blooming 


24. What happened next morning 
I learned afterwards from Bi. Hecker 
sent for him to come to his room, put 
him in a nice, easy chair, an^d then sat 
down in front of him. And he talked. 

25. " I've sent for you, Mr. Briggs," Majn Incidbnt Opbni. 
began Hecker in his quiet way, "be- 
cause it has occurred to me that you 


dcai't altogether understand what we 
are going to do this afternoon.'* 

26. Bi looked surprised. 

27. "Play Yale, sir?" 

28. "Incidentally, yes. But we are 
going to do more than play her; we 
are going to beat her to a standstill; 
we are going to give her a drubbing 
that she will look back upon for several 
years with painful emotion. It is n't 
often that we have an opportunity to 
beat Yale, and I propose to make the 
best of this one. So kindly disabuse 
your mind of the idea that we are mere- 
ly going out to play a nice, exhilarating 
game of football. We are going to 
simply wipe up the earth with Yale!" 

29. "Indeed?" murmured Bi po- 

30. "Quite so," answered the Coach 
dryly. " I suppose you know that your 
presence on the team is a sheer acci- 
dent? If you don't, allow me to tell 
you candidly that if there had been- 
anyone else in the college to put in 
Corson's place we would never have 
called on you, Mr. Briggs." 

31. He let that soak in a minute. 

32. "Have you ever heard of this 
man Jordan who will play opposite you 
to-day?" he asked. 

33. "Yes, sir; a very good player, 
I understand." 

34. "A good player! My dear 
fellow, he's the best guard on a college 
team in twenty years. And you are 
going to play opposite him. Under- 
stand that?" 


35. "Er — certainly," answered Bi, 
getting a bit uneasy. 

36. "What are you going to do 
about it?" 

37. "Do? Why, I shall do the best 
I can, Mr. Hecker. I don't suppose I 
am any match for Jordan, but I shall 
try " 

38. "Stop that! Don't you dare 
talk to me of doing the best you can!" 
said the Coach, shaking a finger under 
Bi's nose — "for aU the world," as Bi 
told me afterwards, "as though he was 
trying to make me mad!" " * Best you 
can' be hanged! You've got to do 
better than you can, a htmdred per 
cent, better than you can, ever did, or 
ever will again. That's what you've 
got to do ! You've got to fight like the 
devil from the first whistle to the last 
without a let-up! You've got to re- 
member every instant that if you don't, 
we are going to be beaten! You've 
got to make Jordan look like a base 
imitation before the first half is over! 
That's what you've got to do, my boy!" 

39. "But it isn't fair!" protested 
Bi. "You know yourself that Jordan 
can outplay me, sir!" 

40. "I know it? I know nothing of 
the sort. Look at yourself! Look at 
your weight and your build! Look at 
those arms and legs of yours! Look at 
those muscles! And you dare to sit 
there, like a squeaking kid, and tell me 
that Jordan can outplay you! What 
have you got your strength for? What 
have we pounded football into you for? 

41. Over went his chair and he was 



shaking his finger within an inch of Bi's 
face, his eyes blazing behind his glasses. 

42. "Shall I tell you what's the 
matter with you, Briggs? Shall I tell 
you why we wouldn't have chosen 
you if there had been anyone else under 
God's blue sky? Because you're a 
coward — a rank, measly coward, sir!" 

43. Bi's face went white and he got 
up slowly out of his chair. 

44. "That will do, sir," he said 
softly, like a tiger-puss purring. 
"You've done what no one else has 
ever done, Mr. Hecker. You've called 
me a coward. You're in authority 
and I have no redress — now. But 

after to-day ." He stopped and 

laughed unpleasantly. "I'll see you 
again, sir." 

45. "Heroics!" sneered the Coach. 
"They don't impress me, sir. I've 
said you're a coward, and I stand by 
it. I repeat it. You are a coward, 
Briggs, an arrant coward." 

46. Bi gripped his hands and tried 
to keep the tears back. 

47. * * Coward , am I ? What are you, 
I'd like to know? What are you when 
you take advantage of your position 
to throw insults at me? If you were n't 
the Head Coach I'd — I'd — " 

48. "What wotdd you do?" sneered 

49. "I'd kill you!" blazed Bi. 
"And I'll do it yet, you -- you —" 

60. "Tut, tut! That's enough, 
Briggs. You can't impose on me that 
way. I haven't watched you play 
football all the fall to be taken in now 

Fnun* Main Cbius. 


Hint of Cumaz. 


by your melodrama. But after to-day 
you will find me quite at your service, 
Mr. — Coward. And meanwhile we'll 
call this interview off, if you please. 
The door, Mr. Briggs!" 

51. Bi seized his hat from the table 
and faced Hecker. He was smiling 
now, smiling with a wjiite, set, ugly 

52. "Perhaps I am wrong," he said 
softly with a little laugh. ''I think I 
am. Either that or you are lying. For 
if you are really willing to meet me 

after to-day*s game you are no coward, SuspeoM. 

53. Then he went out. 

54. We lined up at two o'clock. Preparation for climax 

55. Our chances were thought so begina. 
poorly of that the Elis were offering 

seven to five, while over in New York 
on the floor of the Stock Exchange they 
were laying two to one on Yale. There 
was a huge crowd and a band. I did n't 
mind the crowd, but that band got me 
worried so that I could n't do a thing 
the first ten minutes. It's funny how 
a little thing Kke that will queer your 
game. One f eUow I knew once was off 
his game the whole first half because 
some idiot was flying a kite over the 
field advertising someone's pills. 

55. We had the ball and began 
hammering at the Yale line and kept 
it up until we had reached her fifteen 
yards. Then she got together and 
stopped us; neld us for downs in spite 
of all we could do. Then she kidced 
and we started it all over again. It 
wasn't exciting football to watch. 


maybe, but it was the real thing with 
us. We had to work — Lord, how we 
had to work! And how we did work 
too! We made good the next time, but 
it took us fifteen minutes to get back 
down the field. Cooper himself went 
over for the first touchdown. Maybe 
the crowd did n*t shout! Talk about 
noise! I'd never heard any before! 
It was so darned unexpected, you see, 
for almost everyone had thought Yale 
was going to do her usual stunt and 
rip us to pieces. But in that first half 
she was on the defensive every moment. 
Seven times she had the ball in that 
first thirty-five minutes, but she cotdd 
no more keep it than she could fly. 
Altogether she gained eighteen yards 
in that half. It was one-sided, if you 
like, but it was no picnic. It was ham- 
mer and tongs from first to last — 
man's work and lots of it. 

57. We didn't rely on tricks, but 
went at her centre and guards and just 
wore them down. And when that first 
half was over — 11-0 was the score — 
the glory of one Jordan was as a last 
season's straw hat. A new star blazed 
in the football firmament; and it was 
in the constellation of Harvard and its 
name was Bi Briggs. What I'm telling 
you is history, and you need n't take 
my word alone for it. I never really 
saw a man play guard before that day 
— and I'd watched lots of fellows try. 
Bi was a cyclone. To see him charge 
into Jordan — and get the jump on 
him every time — was alone worth the 
price of admission. And as for block- 


ing, he was a stone wall, and that's all 
there is to it. Never once did the Elis 
get through him. He held the line on 
his side as stiff as a poker until quarter 
had got the ball away, and then he 
mixed things up with the redoubtable 
Jordan, and you could almost see the 
fur fly! Play? O Lord! He was sim- 
ply great! And the rest of us, watch- 
ing when we had a chance, just felt our 
eyes popping out. And all the time he 
smiled; smiled when he went charging "Smiled." See f 61. 
through the Blue line, smiled when he 
took Toppan on his shoulder and hurled 

him over the mix-up for six yards, Hurdlinc wm allowed then, 
smiled when we pulled him out of a 
pile-up looking Hke a badly butchered 
beeve, and still smiled when we trotted 
off the field in a chaos of sound. But 
that smile was n't pretty. I guess he 
was thinking most of the time of 
Hecker; and maybe sometimes he got 
Hecker and Jordan mixed up. Kbt. 

58. When we came back for the 
second half we were n't yet out of the 
woods, and we knew it. We knew that 
Yale would forget that she was bruised 
and battered and tired and would play 
harder than ever. And she did. And 
for just about ten minutes I would n't 
have bet a copper on the game. Yale 
had us on the run and plugged away 
until we were digging our toes into our 
twelve-yard line. Then, thank 
Heaven! we held her. After that, al- 
though she still played the game as 
though she didn't know she was 
beaten, she was never dangerous. We 
scored twice more in that half. When 



there was still ten minutes of play the 

whistle blew and Jordan, white, groggy, ^ 

and we^y about the eyes, was dragged MmoB Cumax. 

off the field. Bi had sure used him 

rough, but I'm not pretending Jordan 

had n't come back at him. Bi's face 

was something fierce. The blood had 

dried in flakes under his nose, one eye 

was out of commission, and his lip was 

bleeding where his tooth had gone 

through it. But he still smiled. When 

we trotted off for the last time the 

score-board said: "Harvard 22; Oppo- 

nents, 0." And those blurry white 

figures up there paid for all the hard 

work of the year. 

59. It was past seven when we as- Ct^diaz BBonm. 
sembled for dinner. About all the old 

players for twenty years back were 
there and it sounded like a sewing- 
circle. Bi was one of the last to come 
in. He pushed his way through the 
crowd about the door, shaking off the 
fellows* hands, and strode across to 
where Hecker was standing. Hecker 
saw him coming, but he only watched 
calmly. Bi stopped in front of him, 
that same sort of ugly smile on his face. 

60. "We've broken training, sir?" Full Crisis. 
he asked quietly. 

61. "Yes," answered the Coach. 

62. Then Bi's hand swung around 
and that slap was heard all over the 
room. There was a moment of dead 
silence; then half-a-dozen of us 
grabbed Bi. We thought he'd gone 
crazy, but he did n't try to shake us 
off. He just stood there and looked at 
Hecker. The Coach never raised a 



hand and never changed his expression. 
— only one cheek was as red as the big 
flag at the end of the room. He held 
up his hand and we quieted down. 

63. "Gentlemen," he said, "Mr. 
Briggs was quite within his rights. 
Please do not interfere with him." 

64. We let Bi go. 

65. "The incident demands expla- 
nation," continued the Coach. "As 
you all know, we were left in a hole by 
the loss of Corson and Blake, and the 
only man who seemed at all possible 
was Mr. Briggs. But Mr. Briggs, play- 
ing as he had been playing all year, 
would have been no match for Jordan 
of Yale. We tried every means we 
could think of to wake Mr. Briggs up. 
He had, I felt certain, the ability to 
play football, — winning football, — 
but we could n't get it out of him. As 
a last resort I tried questionable means. 
I asked Mr. Briggs to call on me this 
morning. I told him we must win to- 
day, and that in order to do so he would 
have to play better than he'd been 
doing. He told me that he would do 
his best, but that hk knew himself 
no match for Jordan. That spirit 
wouldn't have done, gentlemen, and 
I tried to change it. I told Mr. Briggs 
that he was a coward, something I 
knew to be false. I insulted him over 
and over again until only my authority 
as Head Coach kept him from trying 
to kill me. He told me he would do so 
when we had broken training and I 
promised to give him satisfaction. 
What I did is, I am well aware, open 




to criticism. But our necessity wou 
great and I stand ready to accept any 
consequences. At least, the result of 
to-day's contest in a measure vindicates 
my method. You who saw Mr. Briggs 
play will, I am sure, find excuses for 
me. As for the gentleman himself, it 
remains with him to say whether he 
will accept my apology for what passed 
this morning, taking into consideration 
the strait in which we were placed and 
the results as shown, or whether he 
will demand other satisfaction." 

66. Half a hundred surprised, 
carious faces turned towards Bi, who, 
during Hecker's statement, had looked 
at first contemptuous, then bewildered 
and finally comprehending. For about 
ten seconds the room was as still as a 
graveyard. Then Bi stepped up with 
outstretched hand like a little man, 
and for the second time that day we 

went crazy! Moral vietoiy. 

67. Bi was hailed as the greatest 
guard of the year, and they put him 
on the All-America Team, but I don't 
think Bi cared a button. Anyhow, 
when they tried to get him to come 
out for the Eleven the next fall he 

absolutely refused, and nothing any- Final *'twiit," or Burpriae. 
one could say would budge him. He 
said he was too busy. 


I. Besides the general qualities of compression and 
completeness, which may be assimied in the very name 
short-story, write out under five heads an analysis of 

Conaistenoy in character. 


"The Dub," showing how all the essentials are employed 
by the author. Be careful to state the plot briefly. 

2. Neariy every good short-story la)^ strong emphasis 
upon its "big moment." (a) Which is the "big moment" 
in this one? (b) Does any other moment rival it in 
either interest or importance? 

3. Make a list of the. incidents, or separate (though 
connected) events of "The Dub," setting down the para- 
graph numbers of eadi. 

4. By using the letters P (plot) and D (developing), 
separate the list you made for Question 3 into Plot in- 
cidents and Developing incidents. Notice that a plot 
incident is one which is absolutely essential to the story — 
that is, one that could not be either dispensed with or 
totally changed without totally changing the story. A 
developing incident is one which serves to develop the 
progress of the story, yet it might be omitted, or another 
incident might be substituted for it, without vitally alter- 
ing the story. 

5. Can you state the final impression left by "The 
Dub" in one short sentence? 

6. What are the things in "The Dub" which seem to 
you to be handled with special skill from the standpoint 
of good story-telling? 

7. Criticise any points which seem to you to be weak. 

8. Would you omit any paragraphs? If so, which? 

9. Would you omit any sentences? Which, if any? 
ID. Suggest any additions or changes which in your 

opinion would improve the stoiy. 

II. Is the story told convincingly— that is, does it 


seem like a true story, or merely a concocted narra- 

12. Suggest any improvements in this respect that 
may occur to you. 

13. Does the language have the college flavor? Point 
out examples, favorable or unfavorable. 

14. Compare "The Dub" with any story of sport 
with which you may be familiar. 

15. Is the complication worked out, or resolved, 

16. Construct a plot in outline (synopsis) of a short- 
story dealing with school or college sport. 

Note: The members of the class should be asked to 
criticise the plots submitted. 

17. Following the ideas suggested by these questions, 
criticise a story selected from a magazine. 



There is too much joy in life, too much that is clearly good and 
beautiful, and too strong an instinct in man of its mystic import, 
for him long to endure the books that merely disillusion and 
defile. — RiCHAKD lb Gallibnnb, Ecw to Get ihe Best Out of 


K the plot is "the building author's working plan," the 
theme may be compared to the ground on which the 
house is erected. To multiply metaphors, the theme of 
the story may be called its keynote; it is the motive 
force of the story; it is the pivot on which the plot 
moves. Plainly, the theme is specifically what the story is 
about. * 

The theme of the story should never be confounded 
with the title of the story. The title is one of the important 
adjuncts of the story, as we shall see later, but the theme is 
more than the name of the story — it is the germ from 
which the story grew. For example: How a minister 
whose son had committed some crime, and who was con- 
stantly preaching on the punishment due to sin, was moved 
to forgiveness of that son by S3rmpathy with a paroled 
prisoner in whom he became interested — this might be 
the theme of a story; while the title might be, "A new 
Theme for the Pastor of All Souls." 


2. What Not to Write Abatd 

There are some themes which people have grown tired 
of, becaxise they have been used so often that interest in 
them has palled. The poor apprentice with a noble soul 
who wins the love of the rich merchant's daughter has not 
a chance in a thousand of winning the favor of an editor. 
The long-lost wanderer who returns at Christmas or 
Thanksgiving will be sent back — with a rejection slip — 
by the magazines. The story of the child who writes to 
Santa Claus for delicacies for his sick mother, and thereby 
discovers wealthy relatives, could not be sold for so much 
as the price of a pint of milk. The missing will that is 
providentially found; the noble revenge that heaps coals 
of j&re on the wrong-doer's head, and, incidentally, glorifies 
and crowns with a halo the party of the first part; the 
angel child who converts the sinner, or who re-unites 
parents on the brink of a separation, or who reconciles 
parents and grandparents; the yoimg workman who turns 
out to be heir to a dukedom; the Southern youth who 
enlists in the Union army, and fires on his brother or loses 
his sweetheart or is disowned by his father; even the 
millionaire who is converted to Christian socialism — have 
long been calling in vain at the magazine oflSces, and it 
may be taken as a foregone conclusion that editors today 
are "not at home" to a single one of them. 

Besides these trite themes, there are others which are 
commonly taboo, such as those which are on the shady 
side of sex morality, the controversial or polemical themes, 
the didactic themes, those which are crazily absurd, and 


all those which deal with persons, places, or things un- 
familiar to the writer. 

J, General Sources of Themes 

(a) Race and Country, The themes that deal with radal 
types — from negro stories, and those dealing with the 
Indian, to the stories of the Pennsylvania Germans — 
may be f omid mider this head. So may all the themes of 
patriotism and love of native land. 

(b) Work and Play. Man's pursuits and avocations are 
fruitful sources of story theme. The soldier, the sailor, 
and the candle-stick maker, the work of the scholar, the 
politician, and the engineer, the daily roimd of the farm 
and the shop, are all represented in fiction, and always 
will be. Likewise are the play-themes. The football 
field, the siunmer resort, the theatre, the social "set," all 
furnish good ground on which to build plots. 

(c) The Emotions. From the beginning until now, the 
emotions have furnished most of the themes for the story- 
teller, and will furnish them during all time to come. Love 
and hate, sorrow and joy, jealousy and revenge — all the 
deeps and the billows of the inner life — are ever-new 
sources of plot-motive. 

(d) Philosophy and Religion. Under this more intel- 
lectual head may be grouped the psychological problem 
themes, and all that deal with the occult, the m)rsterious, 
the supernatural — with crime and with virtue in their 
relation to human character. 

(e) Men as Characters. All the varied types of mankind, 
as they represent classes and localities, and as they stand 


out as individuals, will 3deld story-themes in infinite 
variety. The stories of child-life, of youth, of married life, 
of old age, of strong and vigorous individuality, of men 
and women who were greater than their race, or work, or 
religion, or loves, or sorrows, will be depicted in the short- 
story with never-ending interest. 

One word of caution here: It must be reiterated that 
a theme must not be general, like Love of Country, but it 
must be specific, and develop, for instance, how one man 
in a particularized crisis chooses between self-interest and 
the love of his adopted land. 

4, Where to find Materials 

(a) In Your Own Locality. 

"That is best which liest nearest, 
Shape from thence thy work of art." 
wrote a great literary artist,^ and the truth is worth atten- 
tion. The best source of material should be the field with 
which you are best acquainted. Thus, New York life, the 
breezy civilization of our Southwest, and the colorful 
republics of Central America, were constantly used by 
"O. Henry." The New England village has been depicted 
by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. John Fox has found rich 
material in the Kentucky moimtains, and Hamlin Garland 
has told the stories he found in the vast Rockies.' 

Similarly we have war stories, sea stories, college stories, 
stories of the factories, the mills, and the schoolroom — 

* Longfellow, Caspar Becerra, 

* See Elias Liebermann, The American ShorUStory, which deals 
with the short-story as local-color fiction. 


Stories of all sorts and conditions of life^ by writers who 
knew places and people at first hand. But be sure you 
kfunv the field of which you write, for imagination — 
which is a fine thing in its place — cannot always be 
trusted to create local color in the absence of first-hand 

(b) In the Things thai Interest You. What you are 
naturally interested in and drawn to ought to be a good 
source of material. The adventurous, the mysterious, the 
problems of psychological reaction, the occult, will draw 
one writer — a historical epoch, another — racial pecu- 
liarities, a third. Think of the limitless field of nature 
which spreads all around you, and, in one or another of its 
phases, is always awakening your interest. 

(c) In Men and Women. The chit-chat of the hotel 
veranda, the stories told in the camp, on the steanier-deck, 
in the club-rooms, in the church, in the heart-to-heart-talk 
with a friend — all may be gold-mines of rich material. 

(d) In Yourself. "Look, then, into thine heart, and 
write!" wrote Longfellow,* paraphrasing Sir Philip Sidney. 
Your own life-experiences, your aspirations and failures 
and successes, the happenings that befall you, the 
"scrapes" you fall into — should be a living spring of 
story material. So should be your inner, emotional life, 
if you cultivate that objective subjectivity — which 
means in plain English, getting outside yourself to look in 
at yoiurself — a practice that will enable you to rejoice 
even at your own grief as affording an opportunity to make 
splendid "copy," or will help you to analyze your own joy 

' Longfellow, Prelude to Vokes of the Night. 


80 as to "write it up." Thiskindof faculty once developed, 
the writer can find themes wherever he goes, whatever he 
does, and so long as he lives, for he is his own treasure- 
house, from which he can constantly draw new things or 

(e) In Newspaper CuUings. The incidents and reporters' 
stories in the newspapers will always yield material. The 
events related can be transplanted to the locality with 
which you are most familiar, and the tjrpes of men and 
women you know best can be made to act in them. You 
can choose the phase of life that is most attractive to you, 
you can "subjectify" and translate the incidents into 
your own life experience. Maupassant sought the news- 
paper for his materials, so did "Octave Th^et," so does 
Richard Harding Davis. Many of the stories of "O. 
Henry" bear the stamp of the reporter. 

One word of caution, however, regarding the use of 
themes from newspapers, books, and plays: be sure to 
alter them so as to avoid giving offence to the originals; 
and be equally sure that you handle the incidents with 
such invention that the story becomes your very own. 
Originality gathers its material where it wills, but stamps 
it with personality. When you borrow, return with com- 
pound interest, and so borrow that you do not mar all the 
results of your borrowing by one mistake in your facts. 


1. In a few words, state the theme of "The Dub." 

2. Do the same for any three magazine stories you may 
select. Be careful not to confuse the title (which is merely 


the convenient name) of a story, with its theme, which is 
the subject of the story — what it is about. 

3. Under each of the five "general sources of themes" 
(pages 137-139), make a list of such themes as occur to 
you as offering good material for short-stories. Be specific. 

4. Choose one from each group as being most attractive 
to you. 

5. Construct a plot on c, or on any one of the themes in 
e that you prefer. 

6. Criticise any theme from the list submitted by one 
of your classmates, on the following points: 

(a) Is the theme too big for a successful short-story? 

(b) Is it too trifling or slight? 

(c) Has it been treated too often — that is, is it trite or 

(d) Is it suitable for general reading? 

(e) Is it interesting enough to make an experienced 
editor want to read it? 

(f ) Has the same theme been so well handled before that 
it would require especially brilliant work to make the 
story a good one? 

(g) Would it make a pleasant or an unpleasant story? 

7. Make a list of any sources of themes that may occur 
to you other than those named in this chapter. 

8. Which source of short-story themes seems richest to 
you, and why? 

Note. — It is earnestly urged that representative 
short-story collections (see the Reading List given in 
Chapter i), and the stories in the best magazines be com- 
pared in order to discover what difference may exist be- 


tween the themes that were popular twenty-five, fifty, 
and seventy-five years ago and those which are \ised today. 
A classified list of a hundred short-story themes foimd in 
the magazines of the current year would form a helpful 
guide to the student — provided he did not imitate those 
on the list, but rather studied them to learn what kinds 
now interest the public. 


ideas — ^their chance of success will then be all the greater. 
Having decided on a theme, you must get a dear idea of 


A fictional plot is such an arrangement of the events in a 
story as will bring out effectively the basic situation^ the 
main crisis y the minor crises ^ if any, and the denouement} 

The several terms of this definition will require some 
discussion, though not in the precise order of their state- 
ment above. 

(a) A plot deals with events, and not merely with de- 
scriptions, remarks by the characters, clever comments by . 
the author, or a series of pleasing or striking pictures. In 
a plot — which is the skeleton of the story, the story in 
brief — there must be an action. By this we do not mean 
merely a deed, but an action which hinges upon a character 
or characters in a definite situation, or condition of affairs, 
the working out of which constitutes the story. A plot is 
never a single photograph, however interesting the scene 
may be; it is a moving-picture presenting a niunber of care- 
fully prearranged events — one event working upon another, 
one incident leading to another, one character influencing 
another, all in such a manner as to produce a definitely 
recognizable, concentrated, and climax-reaching result. 

It is important to remember that the events of a plot 

1 The student is referred to The Plot of the Short Story, Henry 
Albert Phillips; and the chapters on plot in the following trea- 
tises: The Short-Story, Evelyn May Albright; Short-Story Writ- 
ing, Charles Raymond Barrett; Short-Story Writing, Walter B. 
Pitkin; Writing the Short-Story, J. Berg Esenwein, and Writing 
the Photoplay, J. Berg Esenwein and Arthur Leeds. 


need not be outward, or visible to the eye, for they may 
take place in the soul and have their results in character 
changes. But in the greater niunber of instances the 
events which go to make up a plot will be outward happen- 
ings, because it is natural for man to act out his feelings 
and to put his decisions into effect — ^what a man is will 
usually appear in what he does, and not merely in what he 
thinks, feels, and says. Internal action — the events of 
mind and heart and the decisions of the will — ^will there- 
fore usually and best be displayed in a story-plot by 
external action. A story in which nothing happens is an 
impossibility; and the importance of the story will very 
largely depend on the importance of the events which go 
to make up its plot. 

(b) A plot is an arrangemenl, and not a mere transcript 
of the natural order of events as you may find them in 
daily life. It is conceivable that a series of events in your 
experience might occur in such an order that without any 
readjustment they would form a perfect short-story plot; 
but such a thing is most unlikely — some planning, some 
shifting in the order of happenings, some additions, some 
eliminations, some toning down and some exaggerations, 
are pretty sure to be necessary in order to produce a good 
plot. Remember that a tale is not a plotted short-story. 

Hence a plot is artificial — ^it is a work of art, an artifice, 
and not a growth of nature. But be neither alarmed nor 
deceived by this word artificial, for we use it in a carefully 
restricted sense, in its true original meaning — made by art. 
Now art is effective in direct proportion as it produces an 
effect of reality; and so it must be with a fictive plot — 


the best plot is the one in which the events of real life are 
so arranged by the plotter as to produce a more effective 
impression than if they were not shifted artfully into a new 
combination but related just as they actually occurred. 
This is what we mean by saying that a story is typical, 
instead of being a mere transcript of actualities. Just as 
a painter has two courses set before him, so does the story- 
teller. The painter may compose a landscape or an 
action-scene by selecting parts of several scenes, imagining 
some others, then arranging the whole so as to produce a 
certain preconceived effect. The writer does precisely 
this in plotting a short-story. Or the pictorial artist may 
transfer a scene to his canvas, faithfully following his 
original. The writer may do likewise and thus produce a 
realistic tale. 

Each of these courses has its merits, but they are dis- 
tinct and must not be confused — ^let us repeat, a plot is a 
composition and not a perfect transcription from nature. 
It may be, and — except in the case of fantasy and romance 
and highly-wrought adventure — should be, truth-seeming 
to the last degree, indeed it should be t3rpical of life and 
not a warped picture of the author's imperfect fancies; 
nevertheless, a plot departs from real happenings while 
yet remaining true to the spirit of reality. 

The truth of all this will become more apparent when 
you consider some striking event in the life of an acquaint- 
ance. Interesting as it may be, in telling it as a short- 
story, which is so much more condensed and limited than 
the novel, would you not have at least to cut out a great 
many preliminaries and after-effects, or alter some of the 

BunmNG A PLOT 147 

drcumstances so as to heighten the dramatic effect, or 
contrive a stronger motive for the deed so as to preserve 
the reader's S3anpathy for the chief character—in a word, 
to take the same liberties with the actual facts that an 
anecdotist does with his story germ? 

"But," you say, "truth is stranger than fiction." Yes, 
but not when considered as a completed plot — only when 
r^arded as plot material. The events of real life are im- 
surpassed for interest, but some — though not always a 
great deal of — change is almost sure to be required to 
build them into a short-story plot. It is often said that 
all the events of a certain life are worth recording. How 
thoughtless I It would become most tiresome to record 
all of the happenings of a single day, be that day as dra- 
matically exciting as it might be. The most extreme 
realist draws a discreet veil over the dull routine of shoe- 
shining, and hair-brushing, and hand-cleansing, and banal 
street-car conversation. He chooses and arranges so as to 
seem to be telling all in a natural order, yet all the while 
artfully subdues the imimportant so as to lead up to the 
points of major interest. 

(c) The EFFECT of a plot is its reason for being, hence 
everything in the arrangement must cast a shrewd look 
toward what that effect (on the reader) is going to be, and 
further constant and equally acute glances at all the 
schemes you adopt to bring out the effect most strongly, 
pleasingly, surprisingly — or whatever may be your object. 

(d) A plot must feature a crisis in the life of the chief 
character in the story, "A mere chain of happenings which 
do not involve some change or threatened change in the 


character, the welfare, the destinies of the leading 'people,* 
would not form a plot. Jack goes to college, studies hard, 
makes the football team, enjoys the companionship of his 
class-mates, indulges in a few pranks, and returns home — 
there is no plot here, though there is plenty of plot maierial. 
But send Jack to college, and have him there find an old 
enemy, and at once a struggle begins. This gives us a 
complication, a 'mix-up,' a crisis; and the working out of 
that struggle constitutes the plot. 

'' So all dramatic and all fictional plots give the idea of a 

struggle, more or less definitely set forth 

The struggle in a plot may be comical as well as tragic. 
Mr. Botts ludicrously fights against a black-hand enemy — 
who proves to be his mischievous small son. Plump and 
fussy Mrs. Jellifer lays deep but always transparent plans 
to outwit her daughter's suitor, and is finally entrapped 
into so laughable a situation that she yields gracefully 
in the end. 

"And so on indefinitely. Hamlet wars against his hesi- 
tating nature. Macbeth struggles with his conscience 
that reincarnates the murdered Banquo. Sentimental 
Tommy fights his own play-actor character. Tito Melema 
goes down beneath the weight of his accumulated insin- 
cerities. Sometimes light shines in the end, sometimes 
the hero wins only to die. To be sure, these struggles 
suggest merely a single idea, whereas plots often become 
very elaborate and contain even sub-plots, coimter-plots,^ 

* The short-story plot must never contain a sub-plot, or a rival 
complication that might divert interest from the main compli- 


and added complications of all sorts. But the basis is 
the same, and always in some form struggle pervades 
the drama; always this struggle ranges the subordinate 
characters for or against protagonist and antagonist, and 
the outcome is vitally part and substance of all that goes 
before — the end was sown when the seeds of the beginning 
were planted." ^ 

It will be worth your while to pause at this point long 
enough to make it perfectly clear to your mind what are 
the big crises in each of a group of short-stories you may 
select. Notice what a water-shed the crisis really is, even 
when it may be hidden among circumstances — ^just as in 
real life one may not suspect that the hour of decision has 
struck, until suddenly confronted by its momentous 
issues. So softly does the crucial moment creep upon us at 
times that it comes and goes before we realize that the 
opportimity is forever past — some decisions are made by 
neglecting to make them! 

The crisis, then, is a cross-roads, a parting of the ways, 
a decision in the balance, a necessary choice, a poised 
destiny, sudden recognition that something must be done, 
the appearance of an obstacle, the rise of a danger — any- 
thing that means a change or a threatened change in life. 

If this crisis should prove to be unreal, trivial, obscure, 
or — and this is a vital point — not well concentrated, not 
sharply focused, then it is useless to waste time in trying 
to make it an effective story — it is sick at the very heart. 
If your reader cannot be brought to a pitch of real concern 
as to what your heroine is going to do about it, how your 

* Writing the Photoplay , J. Berg Esenwein and Arthur Leeds. 


hero is going to surmount the barrier, or what forces 
will enter the scene and finally resolve the difficulty, you 
have failed in your plot. In a real sense, the plot is the 
stoiy, and the crisis, is the plot, so be careful of your 

One caution seems important here: not every big story 
is built on a colossal crisis, for much depends on the results 
that accrue from the crisis. The main crisis in Mau- 
passant's wonderful short-story, "The Necklace," consists 
in a woman^s losing a diamond necklace borrowed from a 
friend. Let her husband merely buy another, and what a 
tepid story you have! But see the years of struggle re- 
quired to pay the loans made necessary to replace the 
necklace with one which the friend would not suspect to 
be a substitution, consider the break-down of fineness and 
ideals under all this decade of terrible self-denial, and 
finally realize that the years of slavery were practically 
wasted because the borrowed necklace proved to be only 
paste after all, and we see how out of a commonplace 
crisis may grow a tremendous story. So bear this one 
thing in mind — ^a crisis is big in proportion as it leads to 
big things. 

(e) A plot may contain minor crises. The main crisis — 
the big struggle, the chief obstacle, the tragic moment — 
in the story may be the outcome of an earlier lesser 
crisis, or even of several such. In "The Monkey's Paw," 
by W. W. Jacobs, if the son had not snatched the dried paw 
from the fire into which its owner had thrown it, thus 
deciding a foundation crisis in the lives of the whole 
family, there would have been no series of increasingly 


terrible crises brought about by the three wishes — ^and of 
course, there would have been no story. 

The play of minor crises in a short-story is well typified 
by Marguerite's testing of her love-fortunes by plucking 
the daisy petals: ''He loves me, he loves me not, he loves 
me." With each minor crisis aif element of suspense enters 
the story; this is followed by a resolution of the suspense; 
then a new element enters, causing an entirely new sort of 
suspense, which in turn is dispelled, only to make way for 
another difficulty — and thus the story zig-zags its way to 
the end. Indeed the progress of the plot may be com- 
pared to a not-too-elaborate maze in which one makes 
several inefFectual turnings and enters one or two bUnd 
alle3rs before finding the way out. 

(f) A plpt must have a dSnauemefU — ^literally, as we have 
seen,* an \mtymg of the knot. Of course, the knot is to be 
tied solely that it may be untied — therefore it is well not 
to tie it too tight! You must interest your readers in the 
complication, but the greater the crisis the greater the 
disappointment if you fail to provide a satisf3dng outcome. 
A tantalizing tangle is good fictional art only if you can 
untwist the yam swiftly, deftly, and with just the right 
^maunt of surprise. Do not let your plot peter out — 
March may without dispute come in like a lion and go 
out like a lamb, but not so a short-story plot. 

The denouement of the plot must be a natural, inevit- 
able, plausible, satisf)ring, and — usually — a surprising 
climax to the whole story. "Novelty and interest in the 
situations throughout the story, with an increasing in- 

» Chapter XVIII. 


terest in the denouement, are the essential demands of a 

When the interest rises to its apex, toward or at the 
dose, the climax — the high-tide — ^is reached. A story 
without a cUmax is a mountain view without a moimtain. 
Cherish your climax as a anall boy does his circus ticket, 
for else there will be no "grand finale." 

2, The Process of Plot Building 

(a) The plot-germ is likely to take on one of two forms: 
an impression which the author has strongly felt and 
wishes to transfer to his readers; or an interesting siHui- 
tion — ^by which we mean an interesting condition of affairs 
involving a complication and its outcome — ^which the 
writer feels could be worked up effectively. Whichever 
of these two forms your plot-germ, your inspiring idea, 
your motif y may take, the process of plot-building will 
directly lead to the big crisis of the plot. 

There will always be room for discussion as to whether 
a given writer of stories is chiefly an artizan or an artist. 
Here are some very practical words from Mr. George 
Allan England, a coll^e-bred writer whose stories are in 
wide demand, and range from the powerfully realistic and 
artistically wrought to the frankly sensational. These 
quotations are from a recent article in The Independent^ 
in which Mr. England freely discusses his methods. 
Whether the young writer accepts his viewpoint or not, he 
cannot but find help in these intensely business-like 
records of how one story-writer gathers his material. 

» Evelyn May Albright, The Short-Story. 


**My eye is ever open, also my ear, for every bit of good 
material coming my way. Into the note^book goes now a 
bit of scenery, a face, a phrase, again some new idea, a 
plot-germ, an odd garment, a deformity, .a beauty. The 
olla podrida receives all; and in good time, each bit is 
fished out and consumed. For example, I open the book 
at random and read: 

"Aug. 21, '12. — ^Man on boat, dark Dago; hair gray, brushed 
back; eyes slant up, heavy lids; thick, up-curved lips, mustache 
waxed up, goatee, swarthy, handsome, looks Hke Pan. 

" (He'll be the villain in some still-unwritten tale.) 

" Sept. 1. Sea-view. — Dappled white and slate clouds, breeze, 
^un in dazzling shine, beach wet, black, green, shiny; seaweed 
smells. Weed, lank and wet. Haze over beach. Big stuf makes 
lather. Sea very pale green, running to white at top of wave. 
Thtmder of stuf, mist of spray, wind from surf in face. 

" (This will form part of the scene of reconciliation be- 
tween M. and N. at some future date.) 

" Gormin*. Any God's a-mint o* things to tell ye. Swell up on 
your leavin's. Make longs arms. All puckered up to a gool- 
thrite. Double up the prunes! All of a high to go. He ain't 
goin* to Stan' it a gret sight longer. Jillpoke. Hotter'n a skunk. 
Fatter'n a settled minister, etc., etc. 

" (Local color stuff, Maine dialect.) 

"So much for the minutiae. My books contain a world 
of every kind of 'property,' like that at the stage-director's 
hand. No situation canarisewherelcannot findacharacter, 
scenery and dialect to fit the case. Now for the plots. 

" * Where do you get your stories?' 

''Everywhere! The writer who is alive, can pick up 
stories right from the air. On trains and boats, from the 


newspapers, from the living q)eech of humans, from a 
thousand and one sources, good fiction can be culled. All 
you have to do is to watch for it — ^and grab it. And after 
years of work, .the watching becomes second nature; you 
can't help it. Writers are just big tom-cats stalking 
plot-rats through the attics and cellars of life, or sitting at 
incident-holes waiting for the story-mice to pop out. It's 
so' easy. Sometimes a. chance bit of conversation will 
detonate a whole story or series of stories. About two 
years ago I took a morning walk with a friend. We got to 
speculating on what would happen if all the people in the 
world were killed, save two. From this germ has grown a 
trilogy of serials. Two have already been published in the* 
Cavalier, and the third is now in course of preparation. 
They are 'Darkness and Dawn,' 'Beyond the Great Ob- 
livion,' and 'The After-glow,' and they have kept bread 
and cheese on the shelf for a long time 

"At the same time I employ myself and exploit my own 
labor. So I'm both slave and master. It's confusing. 
Then, too, arises the matter of disassociating myself from 
my work. As time passes, I find the factory more and 
more absorbs my personality. 

"The business makes one cold-blooded. From observ- 
ing other people and outside events, all with an eye to 
fiction, one comes to observe one's own self and acts with a 
similar view. One begins to capitalize one's own emotions, 
which is shocking. 

"No longer can I enjoy a sunset, an opera, a foreign 
town, a friendship, or a flower, with disinterested frank- 
ness. No, alwa3rs the shop intrudes! The note-book ever 


itches to be in the hand. Alas! I leave the reader to figure 
it out for himself. When one's own woes and blisses, 
romandngs, hates, loves, ambitions, passions, b^in to 
assume the note-book stage, wherein lies any spontaneous 
enjoyment of life? Ask any writer, and — ^if he be not a 
* short and ugly word' fellow — see if he won't tell you that 
his inner shrines have really become an annex to the shop! 

^' There lies something fundamentally tragic in the 
drying of a tear with the thought: 'No matter — even this 
grief, too, will make good copy ! ' 

"Perseverance, note-books, cold-bloodedness, scenarios, 
contracts, many hours a day in the factory, an observant 
eye, and some knowledge of what the public, 'that big 
baby,' really wants — these supply the lack of genius with 
most satisfactory sufficiency. 

" Some day when I am very, very rich — oh, worth maybe 
$S,ooo — ^I'm going to be a genius. Till then I shall remain 
a mechanic, sawing wood like any other, making the chips 
fly, capitalizing myself and everybody and everything else 
I can get my hands on, and in general enjoying life through 
the very fimction of tr3dng to interpret it. 

"Ever3rthing and everybody must pay toll to me and 
go into the note-books." 

(J) Where to start in telling the story. This does not 
mean the verbal opening, but the scene, the condition of 
affairs, which ought first to be presented to the reader. 

Natiurally, you may begin anywhere — ^literally any- 
where — ^in the story. Only, you must do so by deliberate 
intention and not by careless accident. 


For instance, you may begin at the end, by showing Jack 
as a failure at college, and then presenting the conditions, 
the crucial struggle, and the outcome, all of which ended in 
his failure. Such a course demands considerable skill in 
story-telling, for there must be some absorbing happenings 
if our interest is to be maintained when all the time the 
outcome is known from the start. Such stories depend 
for their interest upon what happens before the final 
moments rather than on the outcome itself. 

Again, the plot may begin in the very midst of the action 
and first show the chief character in the act of making the 
decision which is all-important because it leads to one 
resultant complication after another iimtil the final crash — 
or triimaph — ends the story. In such stories the foimda- 
tion material is either suggested in a swift sentence or two, 
or skilfully revealed as the story goes on. 

Or, the story may begin at the beginning, lay the foun- 
dation in full view of the reader, present the essential situa- 
tion, bring the chief character to his hour of testing, and 
show the outcome, all in a natural way. This is the obvious 
way to tell a story, and therefore the way chosen by eleven 
amateurs out of a dozen. Do this sort of thing well or 
do it not at all. Superior story-telling is required to 
justify the la)dng of the scene and the gradual introduction 
of the characters before you have captured — don't slide 
over this word — captured the reader's interest, for the 
chances are in favor of his being absorbed in some subject 
other than the one you are writing about. 

But wherever you begin in your plot-building, let your 
opening incident be a vital part of the plot and not a pre- 


liminary cough to dear your throat. If, as Stevenson 
said, yovLj the writer, should be able to see the end from 
the b^gmning, it is none-the-Iess essential that you should 
see the end in the beginning — that your plot-roots, big and 
tiny, should verily grapple every inch of earth in which 
you have chosen to plant your story. The end of the story 
will be inevitably logical only if its plot-beginnings contain 
the end in germ. 

(c) Carrying on the story is a process which you must 
determine to fit the case. Shall your plot be unfolded in a 
simple, direct order, or had it better back-track and cross- 
coimtry until the final swift dash to the finish? No one 
can tell you. Study the plot-methods of good preserU-day 
story-tellers, jot down in outline the plots of the best 
twenty stories of today that you can find and observe the 
varying methods of narration — ^whether they are told in 
the first person, the third person, or partly in each way; 
whether the order of events is direct or indirect; whether 
the story is chiefly the restUt of a crisis, or the main interest 
depends on the action which leads up to the crisis. But 
when you have studied th^ work of other writers — and 
good ones only — dare to be yourself and choose a course 
which seems good to you. Only do not be too self-suffi- 
dent or you may get stuck in a bog. 

(d) The end of the plot. Enough has been said dsewhere 
to show the importance of a striking, surprising, yet natural 
climax at the close of the story, for when once the high 
point has been reached, do not dawdle, but end swiftly. 
Moralizing and belated explanations at the dose of a plot 
are like soup after dessert. Let the dosing scene be the 


logical, though generally the unexpected, outcome of the 
crisb; let it be a simple, compact, concentrated scene and 
not a complex one which may scatter interest and awaken 
other questions; let it be free of all taint of displeasing anti- 
climax; and let it be your best possible work. 

Don'ts for Plot-Buelders 

Don't digress. When Kipling was tempted to enter a 
bypath he said, "But that's another story/' 

Don't confuse complexity with complication. Complex- 
ity is confusing, whereas the true complication throws a 
strong light forward toward the denouement. 

Don't think that big-soimding words can dress up a 
feeble crisis in the semblance of vigor. 

Don't neglect the element of surprise, but let it enter 
natiu^lly as the outcome of the situation; never drag it in. 

Don't depend greatly on accidents or coincidences for 
your plot-situations. *'It couldn't help but happen so" 
is much more convincing than "It just happened so." 

Don't over-elaborate. It never pays to crowd two plots 
into one. 

Don't neglect the unities — one time, one place, one 
smalt set of big characters, and one vital crisis, are better 
than a plot that wanders without restraint. 

Don't plagiarize — don't make a mosaic — don't even 
imitate. Be yourself, — ^rather than be a trailer, fail like 
a man who has done his own best. 

Don't model your plot-methods on those of writers who 
are unable to get into magazines of good standing. Study 
the masters. 


Don't assume that all plots constructed by great story- 
tellers are necessarily models^ for many are not Be dis- 

Don't fail to test your plot for balance— it may be top- 
heavy, or weak in the middle, or feeble at the end. 

Don't be obvious — nothing is more painful to an editor 
than to discern on page two what the Yoimg Hopeful 
fondly hopes &e has concealed until page sixteen. 

Don't confuse the silly with the light, the lurid with the 
strong, or the inunoral with the fascinating. Sensible 
readers are the only ones to whom the modem editor caters. 

Don't assume that all great short-stories excel chiefly in 
plot. Many are masterpieces for other reasons. That 
does not prove that you can afford to ignore the present- 
day importance of plot — ^you are not living in the year 


Note: It is suggested that, since this is a long chapter 
and likely to cover the work of some days, the earlier exer- 
cises be taken up in connection with the first section of the 

J. Plot Analysis 

1. Make a very brief plot-skdetan of "The Dub" by 
setting down the events of the story in order, thus: 

Bayard Newlyn Briggs enters Harvard. 
Effect of entering as a junior is to keep him out 
of touch with his class. 
Is induced to try for the team, etc. 

2. Make a ploUscenaHo of "The Dub" by outlining 


the action of each event more fully than the foregoing, 
being careful to keep each "scene" separate so as to in- 
dicate the progress of the story. The first section might 
be done thus: 

Bayard Newlyn Briggs enters Harvard. Big six- 
footer, with foot-ball experience in a Western uni- 

Entering as a junior puts him out of touch with 
his classmates, etc. 

3. Make a plot-synopsis of " The Dub " by briefly tell- 
ing the story in the present tense, using terse but careful 
English, thus: 

Bayard Newlyn Briggs, a big young athlete from 
a Western university, enters the junior class at 
Harvard, etc. 

4. In a single sentence, state the situation — the state 
of matters that constitutes the essence of the story — ^in 
"The Dub." 

5. What is the main crisis? 

6. What are the minor crises? Give paragraph num- 

7. What is the denouement? 

8. What is the climax? 

9. Are there any minor climaxes? 

10. Mark on the plot-skeleton the points where the 
main and minor crises and the climax occur. 

Note: It is earnestly urged upon the student that the 
foregoing analytical processes be followed out persistently 
with really good stories in short-story collections and in 
magazines until it becomes comparatively easy to pick out 
the plot-elements of a story. 


1 1 . Criticise any two magazine stories for plot-structure 
on the following points: (a) Interest; (b) Probability; 
(c) Surprise; (d) General merits of the crisis; (e) Order of 
events; (/) Proportion or balance; (g) Climax; (h) The 
presence of irrelevant material; (i) Any other points you 
may think important. Confine your criticisms to plot- 

12. See if you can find in the magazines a story which is 
built on a rather conmionplace crisis but which is redeemed 
by an ingenious series of resulting events. 

13. Fully discuss the following plot-s3nttopsis of "The 
Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs. The story contains 
about 3500 words and is found complete in Harper^s Maga- 
zine, 105: 634; in a volume of Mr. Jacobs' short-stories. 
"The Lady of the Barge," and in "Studying the Short- 
Story," by J. Berg Esenwein. 


While visiting an elderly couple and their grown son in 
an English village, a British soldier, who has just returned 
from India, shows them a dried monkey's paw, upon which, 
he declares, an Indian fakir once cast a spell, so that by 
means of it each of three men could have three wishes 
granted him. He tells them that the previous owner had 
three wishes, the last being for death; and that he himself 
had three also, but he refuses to explain further in either 
case what the wishes were. He seems to fear the gruesome 
object and finally throws it on the fire, from which it is 
rescued by the son. The soldier finally consents to the 
old man's keeping it, though he warns him that no good 


will come of it. The visitor then leaves and the old man 
takes the paw in his hand and wishes for two himdred 
pomids to clear their home of its mortgage. The next 
day a stranger comes and tells them that their son has 
been mangled to death by being caught in some ma- 
chinery, and on behalf of the mill-owners offers them 
two hwidred pomids. Ten days later the old woman 
again thinks of the monkey's paw, and insists that her 
husband wish their boy alive again. Under protest he 
does as she wishes. In the night they are aroused by 
a familiar rapping on their door. Expecting to see her 
boy, the woman runs to open the door, despite the en- 
treaties of her husband, who remembers the awful con- 
dition of their son's body. While she is struggling with 
the door fastenings, the husband hurriedly finds the mon- 
key's paw, and utters his third and last wish. Immediately 
the knocking ceases, and when the woman gets the door 
open, the street lamp flickering opposite is shining on a 
quiet and deserted road. His third wish has been granted. 

2. Plot Construction 

14. Set down a list of five plot-germs, or plot ideas. 

15. Select the most promising and make (a) a plot- 
skeleton; (b) a plot-scenario; and (c) a plot-synopsis. 

16. Criticise your own plot according to question ii. 

Note: When questions 14, 15 and 16 have been satis- 
factorily developed, the other plot-germs called for in 14 
should be developed in like manner, or new plots devised. 
It is by no means insisted on that this is the only way to 
build a plot — ^it is merely one good way. 


17. Make a list of original plot-genns, or ideas^ setting 
them down under the following heads^ which may stimu- 
late your invention: (a) Thwarted intrigues; (b) Sur- 
prising or alarming discoveries; (c) Betrayals of trust; 
(d) Revenge, with a new twist; (e) Struggle for possession 
of the same thing; (J) Treachery; (g) Humorous mis- 
takes; (A) Influence of one character on another; (i) 
Power of environment to influence a decision; (j) Struggle 
against evil combinations. Be sure thai each germ is 
specific and not merely a general situation, like the foregoing. 

Note: The student should expand this list indefinitely 
and set down all original plot-germs in a note-book. This 
will stimulate invention. The habit of plot-invention may 
be cultivated astonishingly. 



In so brief a piece of work as the short-story, the first impres- 
sion and the last are of supreme importance, and there is little 
opportunity to redeem a bad beginning. Here the reader's taste 
must be consulted, rather than the author's ease. The story 
must begin where it has some interest, even if it would have been 
more convenient to begin somewhere else. 

— ^Evelyn May Albright, The Short-Story, 

A good first impression is half the battle. The opening 
of your story is like the introduction of one friend to 
another^ and opens the way to interesting things to come. 

J. Where to Begin 

The tale-writers usually began at the beginning, if not 
ages and ages before the beginning, and after a more or less 
long-winded introduction — which could just as well as not 
be skipped — they arrived at the story-part of their narra- 
tives. Even Irving, who wrote at the transition period 
between the tale and the short-story, revelled in long in- 
troductions, and sometimes, as we have seen, in introduc- 
tions to the introductions, Hawthorne, not a generation 
later, made a stride in advance by generally beginning at 
the beginning; but Poe, the radical, the innovator, turned 
everything upside down by very often beginning in the 
miadle, or even at the end. An examination of several of 
Poe's plots will illustrate his varied methods, 

"The Purloined Letter" begins in the middle. The 
Prefect of Police, in a difficulty, seeks the aid of Monsieur 


Dupin, the detective after whom so many later sleuths of 
crime have been modeled. In the conversation that 
follows, the reader is gradually told the story up to the 
point where the author's narrative began. A letter has 
been stolen, the thief is known, the motive for the theft is 
evident, the consequences threaten to be disastrous, so far 
the search has been f ruitiess — all this is told quite fully. 
The story then proceeds more rapidly to its climax, which 
is the presentation of the purloined letter to the astonished 
Prefect. Lastiy, by a kind of double-back-action in the 
denouement, or untying of the tangle, the reader is told 
the precise method of reasoning the detective pursued and 
how the letter was obtained. 

"A Descent Into the Maelstrom'' begins at the end, at 
the final consequence. A man has been ph3rsically wrecked 
by a horrible experience. Then he relates the experience, 
retracing his steps, so to say, for the benefit of the reader. 
Similarly, in "The Cask of Amontillado," we are at once 
introduced to a man who gloats over a satisfied revenge. 
The story of the vengeance is then told, in direct order of 
incidents, just like a tale. 

"If Poe had written 'Rip Van Winkle'," says the Edgar 
Allen Poe professor of English in the University of Vir- 
ginia,^ "he would have inverted the sequence of the story. 
He would have begim with Rip's return from the mountain. 
He would have directed the reader's attention, first of all, 
to the mysterious problem presented by the sudden emer- 
gence of a stranger who did not know that the Revolu- 
tionary War had been fought." 

^ C. Alphonso Smith, The American Short Story, p. 18. 


The advantage of beginning in the middle or at the end 
is that the reader is at once introduced to a dramatic 
crisis^ so that his curiosity is immediately aroused and 
stimulated, whereas first to lay all the foundation of the 
plot in full view of the reader often proves to be a sleeping 
potion. To present the complication at once is the method 
used in detective stories. The disadvantage of this pro- 
cedure, in perhaps all but detective stories, lies in the diflS- 
culty of sustaining interest while working back to the 
beginning, for the author has risked all upon the reader's 
deep desire to learn the outcome, and counts on this to 
hold interest in the meanwhile. 

But in whatever part of the plot the story opens, the first 
and chief commandment for the short-story writer of today 
is to waste no time in beginning. With this commandment 
written in his heart, he is free to choose the where and the 
how to open his story. 

2. E<rw to Begin 

It is good to begin with the setting of the story. A com- 
parison of the narratives classified as short-stories which 
were published in the AUatUiCf the Century^ Harper's, ScrHh 
tier's, and LippiticoWs magazines in the first volume of 
191 2 — covering six issues — shows that about four- 
tenths of these stories open with the setting. In other 
words, the reader is at once, and as a rule swiftly, given the 
environment, whether material or spiritual — the time, 
place, local color, weather conditions, and mood or mental 
atmosphere, which form the background of the narrative 
and interpenetrate its framework. 



The moonlight drifted down through the orchard, flooding the 
garden with dreamy radiance. It was a young moonlight, and its 
quality was mystic and ethereal, visions lurked in it. 


Do you know Poketown? Have you ever driven through its 
one long, straggling street, guiding your horse carefully that you 
may avoid injuring the speckled hens and the pickaninnies that 
luxuriate promiscuously in the dust of the public highway? 


The dinner was a long one. There were songs between the 
courses, and the courses were many. The banquet hall was gay 
with light and color. The dass of 1898 was proud of its college 
spirit and class loyalty. This was 1908, but there were few empty 
diairs at the long table. The toasts were beginning at last. The 
master of ceremonies arose, bland and smiling, to present the first 

The device of mingling a bit of dialogue with the setting, 
or of giving the setting by means of dialogue instead of 
direct description, or of mingling dialogue, setting, and a 
touch of characterization, will often enhance the interest 
of the opening. Such devices may be studied in the follow- 
ing examples: 


"Keep her right on — right on!" said the skipper to the man 
at the wheel, just glancing back at the compass, and then back 
again at the waves that struck heavily against the port bow and 

t Zelphine Humphrey, The AOatUic, April, 1912. 
« Ella Middleton Tybout, Lipfnncott's, April, 1912. 

• Rose Henderson, Lippincotfs, jUne, 1912. 

* Henry W. Nevinson, Harper's, May, 1912. 


dung the trawler's nose high out of water, letting her down with 
a splash of white foam into the trough. 

'* Right on it is" repeated the man methodically. 


"Beastly of you, Pritchard, to keep us in town on a day like 
this!" puffed Darragh, that fattest and fussiest of the directors, 
as he plumped into a chair near the window, and mopped his face 
on one of the three dean handkerchiefs with which he provided 
himself in stdtry weather. 

"Too bad, Darragh! — HoW are you, Kent? — I fancy we are 
all in the same boat as to not liking the city to-day." 

" I wish I were in a boat!" said McGlade, mournfully. 


"It's the Second National! Mr. Steams wishes to speak with 
you," said the stenographer, in a low tone, pushing the instru- 
ment across the desk toward her employer. 

As Langdon took the receiver from her hand he glanced sharply 
at the woman; his eyes continued to study her face while he 
talked with the official of the bank. 

"Yes, Langdon! — No, not today. — I'll call the first thing 
in the morning — I said the first thing in the morning!" His 
usual low, controlled telephone voice rose irritably at the last 
words, and he clanged the receiver on the instrument bruskly. 

"We'll finish that letter now. Miss Condon," he said, and as he 
dictated the conventional business terms he was thinking: " Does 
she suspect? Of course, she must! How much does she know?" 

A little more than two-tenths of the short-stories ex- 
amined began by the direct introduction of one of the 
characters, sometimes the chief actor, sometimes the one 
who looked on. This method is time-saving, bringing the 
reader at once into the human relation — but it has some 

^ Anna Alice Chapin, The Century, November, 1910. 
" Robert Herrick, Harper* s, December, 1911. 


of the disadvantages of staging a play without scenery, for 
the figures, especially when introduced by direct descrip- 
tion, may seem to be as detached from their environment 
as silhouettes. 


Mr. Bamaby was the type of man who called women angels and 
treated them as fools. He seemed to feel that by doing the 
former he had done all that cotdd be expected of him, and with 
this once off his conscience he could form his conduct more closely 
according to facts as he saw them. 

Characterization is given in the next examples, but less 
directly than in the foregoing, and the setting is also well 


Joe Matson was not popular with his neighbors. He had had 
trouble with all of them every day for years. If Sam Peters' hogs 
found a defective panel of fence and foraged over in Matson's 
meadow, Matson promptly penned them up and demanded 
damages. If Silas Casey's turkeys strayed down the public road 
to Matson's bam and mingled with Matson's turkeys, they 
thereby were instantly amalgamated into Matson turkeys, and 
calmly claimed as such when Casey went for them. 


As Robert Brockton started across the bridge toward Brooklyn, 
he turned and glanced hopelessly at the sky-scrapers behind him. 
In the gathering darkness they loomed, huge symbols of the 
triumphant force of New York. Brockton shrank from them 
because he knew that he was a failure; a failure in this country of 
ambition, this city of success. 

1 Florida Pier, The Century, December, 1911. 

* John Reed Scott, LippincotVs, Jtme, 1912. 

• Helen Ormsbee, The Atlantic, April, 1912. 



About three-tenths of the remaining short-stories could 
be divided pretty evenly between those that opened with 
an incident, and those that opened with dialogue. The 
remaining one-tenth opened in various fashions. 

The rapid plunge into the plot, necessitated by opening 
with incident^ secures interest at once, but calls for ex- 
perience and skill in gradually introducing setting and 
characterization as the story progresses, without allowing 
interest to flag. Such a beginning implies courage to cut 
out — a virtue essential to authorship. 


When Larry Gordon came back to East Windsor to look at his 
grandfather's place, just inherited, and make up his mind about 
selling it, he found the little neighborhood in an uproar. Mary 
Felicia Blake had left her unde's house, where she was the 
adopted daughter and "kindly treated," and walked fifteen miles 
on the road to running away. 

The advantages of opening a story with dialogue are 
that it is interesting, for one always likes to hear what 
worth-while people have to say; and that it introduces the 
characters at once — it "hits them off," and reveals them 
directly. The disadvantages are that unless the actors 
deliver themselves of "information speeches" — and these 
are deadly if not very well handled — the writer will have 
to get down to his real introduction after he has brought his 
people on the stage, a palpable loss of time. This will have 
the effect of making them wait around while the writer 
speaks a piece himself. The reader will not like such an 
interruption after he has become interested in the folks, 

^ Alice Brows, Warper's, Maj^ek, 1912. 


and no matter how interesting the writer tries to be in his 
solid paragraph, it will taste dry and flat — like a chunk of 
bread — after the fizz and sparkle of conversation. 


" Oh, how can I work with all this noise?" Elsa burst out, petu- 
lantly, after a prolonged scratching of pencil against paper. 

" Why don't you take your work upstairs?" Mrs. Morgan asked. 

"Oh, it's too quiet up there, mother," Elsa answered, dis- 
content succeeding the petulance in her tone. "I feel lonesome 
away from everybody." 

Here the relation between the speakers, and a good deal 
of the character of at least one of them, are quickly brought 
out. Two short paragraphs of setting follow. 

In the following example it is what "Miss Ladd did not 
say" that gives the setting and the information, while 
apparently continuing the dialogue. 


** I want a pretty baby," Mrs. Thornton said, "about two years 
old — a happy, wholesome, healthy baby — and preferably a 
baby with golden curls — but above all a pretty baby." 

Miss Ladd did not say: "You are asking, my dear lady, for 
exactly what everybody else asks. All babies can't be happy, 
wholesome, healthy, pretty, and golden-haired." In fact, she 
did not say any of the things that on these occasions invariably 
recurred to her. She had had charge of the State's orphans for 
five years, and had learned to suppress her coll^;e-bred free- 

^ Inez Haynes Gilmore, Harper's, May, 1912. 

* Inez Haynes Gilmore, Harper's, December, 1011. 



1. Choose any brief, direct narrative and re-write it, 
beginning it in the middle or at the end — that is, invert, 
wholly or in part, the simple, direct sequence of incidents 
in the story. 

2. Write original opening paragraphs for three stories 
designed to give the setting of (a) a congested district in a 
great dty, (b) a lonely comitry place, (c) colonial times, or 
ante-bellimi times in the South. 

3. Write three dialogue openings which shall both 
reveal character and give the setting, 

4. Write two introductory paragraphs which shall in- 
troduce at once the chief character in the story. 

5. Write several brief, dramatic incidents suitable for 
the introductory paragraphs of stories which shall open 
with incident. 

6. Select two stories from the magazines and criticise 
the openings favorably or unfavorably. 

7. Re- write the description of setting on page 167, by 
giving the same information in the form of conversation. 

8. Reverse the process with " The Frog in the Well," on 
page 171. 

9. Recast at least three openings taken from the maga- 
zines, striving to make them more interesting. Do not 
strain after very new effects. 

10. Write the opening of an original short-story in any 
manner you prefer, sa3dng why you chose the particular 
method you adopted. 

1 1. Give your opinion of the opening of " The Dub." 



In writing the description in your stories, of places as well as 
of persons, draw on as many senses as you can. Everybody 
knows the commonplace observation of the power of smells to 
recall places and scenes and people and all kinds of associations. 
For example, at this moment, what does the smell of fresh lumber 
recall to you, or the smell of f reah-cut hay, or the smell of burning 
leaves? If these or other like words can stir in you a rich and 
thronging mass of associations, t;hey will do the same for your 
reader if you put them in a story. . . . The best advice — in 
the case of description, is to avoid still life as much as you can. 

.... where a painter wotild lay the emphasis on the 
color and outlines you can lay it on the things that move and 
flash. — ^J. H. Gardiner, Forms of Prose Literature. 

The setting of a story may be described as the visible 
stage-scene, the atmosphere, and even the enveloping 
mood in which the actors play their parts — the surround- 
ings of place, and tone, in which their lives, for the period 
of the story, are set. Let the setting be vague and gen- 
eral, and the story fails to produce a sense of reality, but 
let the setting be dearly, vividly, and exactly set forth, 
and the story-people are furnished with a convincing 
background against which their actions take on a natural- 
ness that makes the whole story a thing of life. 

So, generally speaking, the function of the setting is to 
enhance the "values" of the story; it is "description in 
the service of narrative," description deftly applied not 
to what the characters feel and do, but to what they see 


around them, for a man is as really set in the framework 
of his era, his country, his town, his home, his occupations, 
and his associates, as a picture is set in its frame and 
larger surroundiDgs. 

But setting is more than merely ph3^cal— it is the 
spirit of the time and place; it takes us into the surround- 
ings and causes us to breathe their very air. The setting 
of the French Revolution was much wider than the visible 
France — ^it was the whole mood and tone of that turbu- 
lently awakening era, and no story set in that time would 
be convincing that pictured the one without somehow 
suggesting the other. 

One potent means of producing the conviction of reality 
in setting is to awaken in the reader a response in his 
senses. The portrayal of the phjrsical environment must 
appeal to the physical senses: a sea story must bring to 
us the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves, the sight 
of the tossing white crests — the feeling of it all, as Loti 
does in ''An Iceland Fisherman;" while in a shoe-shop 
story the writer may let us hear the hum of the machines, 
see the mechanical movements of the stitchers, and feel 
the weariness of the long, long day. 

Likewise, where the environment touches more on the 
psychical, we must have the mood flung over us like a 
mantle. The glamor of a touch of mystery, the creepiness 
of ghosts, the loneliness of a great solitude, as well as such 
moods as mental unrest, disappointment, expectancy, or 
joy, must be vicariously experienced by us through the 
medium of this subtle thing, the setting. 

Ordinarily, as has been said, the setting is sieidy 


tributary to the story, like the setting of a jewel, the 
scenery of the stage, the background of a picture. But 
sometimes the setting is the dominant note, it influences 
the actions of the characters and is the compelling force 
in shaping their lives — ^just as environment often is in 
real life. Thus, in "The Fall of the House of Usher" * the 
setting dominates, and plot and characterization are sub- 
ordinate. In "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"^ the climax 
actually results from the setting, and in "The Solitude" ' 
the setting is fundamental to the plot. 

Yet this is not to say that the story enstsfar the setting 
even when it exists on account of the setting — the story 
must ever be the big element in fiction. And just here 
many writers — ^particularly beginners — err. A taste for 
writing naturally leads one to description, and facility in 
description craves expression; from this it is an easy step 
to writing a story so as to air a series of fine phrases. It 
is a deadly literary fault. A story worth telling will be 
like a good picture, it will warrant a good frame, but to 
put a miserable daub in an ornate frame will only bring 
the painter to ridicule, and a rich stage setting will not 
atone for dull lines in the mouths of the actors. 

This brings up the important question of proportion. 
Do not overweight your story by too much setting. The 
question of what is the happy "just enough" will, of 
course, be decided by tact and experience, and is well 
worth your utmost care. A good story may be spoiled by 
too much attention to atmosphere and local color, yet 

iPoe; »Hartc. 

*PIeta CaApMlSpriaeHr, Mmrper*s, U»Mk, 1912. 


when the story is inextricably interwoven with the setting, 
and by it is actually made possible, much attention must 
be given to its faithful portrayal. In "The Dub" the 
whole story depends upon the pictures of the football 
field and the training quarters. To cut them down materi- 
ally would be to mar the story. 

The choice of a setting grows out of the story. Such a 
theme as that of "The Dub" natiurally implies its setting, 
and the siuroimdings form the dominant element in the 
story. The writer takes us immediately not only into 
college life, but into the life of one particular college — 
the traditional rival of Yale — and into one intensive phase 
of college life, the football team, both on the "gridiron" 
and in the training house. To this strongly defined setting 
both characterization and plot are subordinate. 

In choosing a setting for your story, stick to what you 
know. Do not guess at the nature of a Klondike land- 
scape when your farthest north has been the upper tier of 
counties in Ohio. To be sure, a very fair knowledge of 
settings may be gotten at second hand, but be certain that 
your authorities are trustworthy, and spare no pains to 
verify minor points — otherwise you may unwittingly add 
to the gayety of those who read. 

A setting may serve as a contrast to the action of the 
story or it may be in perfect harmony with it. Consider 
carefully which method will better serve your purpose. 

Finally, be specific, and do not scatter your setting over 
a large extent of space or a long duration of time. The 
tendency of the good short-story is to focus interest — to 
focus it on one central incident, one small group of char- 


acters, one period of time, and one dominating place. All 
that tends to divergence is weakness, all that tends to 
convergence is good. 


1. By numbers, list the paragraphs in "The Dub" 
which are wholly given to setting. 

2. (a) Which are physical? (b) Which convey the 
tone or spirit of the siuroundings? 

3. Criticise any of them for accuracy, needless length, 
naturalness, and any other points which occur to you. 

4. Select a magazine short-story in which setting is 
prominent and apply to it questions i, 2, and 3. 

5. Analyze the method used by Hawthorne, or Poe, 
or Stevenson, in any one short-story from any of them, 
that gives much attention to setting. 

6. Find a short-story anywhere in which setting in- 
fluences the destinies of the characters, as, for instance, it 
does in Jack London's long story, "White Fang." 

7. What kind of story needs little setting? 

8. What kinds need much more? 

9. Outline briefly three settings in (a) a locality, 
(b) an occupation, and (c) a period of time, with which 
you are familiar. 

10. Write (approximately) the opening five hundred 
words of an original story with special attention to setting. 

11. Do the stories you admire give all the setting in 
lumps or do they scatter the setting throughout? 

12. Construct an original plot in which the setting has a 
strong bearing on the chief character in some hour of crisis. 



What is an original writer good for if he cannot compare, and 
combine, and invent? Here is a skeleton interview: 

" Is it true, sir, that Mr. Pea Green sat for the villain in your 
last book?" 

"Not exactly. The ears only are his, and them I lengthened 

and pointed somewhat. The nose is Brown's, turned a little to 

one side. The leg» I took from Gray, but not the trousers; he 

never wears plaids. One mustn't be too personal, you Imow." 

— ^P. Rbid, LippincoWs Magaune. 

After all is said and done, people, living ''human'' 
people — people with the qualities which make us fed 
their humanity — are the most interesting things in the 
world, and much more worth while than what happens to 
them (plot), or where it happens (setting). We remember 
Elipling's Terence Mulvaney and Mrs. Deland's Dr. Lav- 
endar — we know and love them after the stories we read 
about them have all merged into a blur. 

There are two pre-requisites to successful character 
portrayal. You must first know your characters, know 
them so well that you can tell exactly what they would do 
and say in given drcimistances, know them so well that 
you feel sense-impressions of their height, and com- 
plexion, and clothing, and gestures, of the sound of their 
voices and all their little mannerisms. 

But knowledge alone, cold-blooded, analytical knowl- 
edge, will not give you the power to create living, ''human " 


people. For this you must fed your characters, you must 
be able to live inside of them — actually to transform 
yoiurself into each one of them, to rejoice, to suffer, to be 
tempted — in your own person to live their lives and ex- 
perience their emotions so that you may portray them, 
whether saints or sinners or half-way-betweens, with 
understanding S3anpathy. 

/. How to Make the Reader Know the Characters 

The characters may be directly explained and inter- 
preted by the writer: 

Not a day passed by that the world was not the better because 
this man, humble as he was, had lived. He never stepped aside 
from his own path, yet would always reach a blessing to his 
neighbor. Almost involuntarily, too, he had become a preacher. 
The pure and high simplicity of his thought, which, as one of its 
manifestations, took shape in the good deeds that dropped 
silently from his hand, flowed also forth in speech. He uttered 
truths that wrought upon and molded the lives of those who 
heard him.^ 

And after all this fine description the man remains an 
amiable shadow I This direct method of characterization 
is perhaps time-saving, and is sanctioned by the example 
of writers of repute, but it is one which was more fre- 
quently employed in the past than it is at present. The 
writer who uses it runs the risk of being unconvincing, and 
his characters often will lack reality. Perhaps as citizens 
of a democracy we are not so apt to believe statements 
supported only by the word of authority. Perhaps we have 
been trained by modem educational methods to accept 

1 Hawthorne, The Great Stone Face. 


only what we discover for ourselves: the chemistry 
teacher no longer tells his classes that ammonia gas is 
soluble in water — he lets them mix the gas with water 
and see for themselves. So the modem writer no longer 
makes pages of statement about his characters, but he 
much more cleverly leads the reader to form his own 
opinions of them. 

Characters in fiction may be made to reveal themselves 
in this more forcible and convincing, but less direct fashion, 
by telling what they say and what they do, by disclosing 
their thoughts, and describing their acts and gestures. In 
"A Coward," by Maupassant, the author in his own person 
makes no mention of the intense pride, the craven body, 
and the will impotent to control the betrayal of emotion, 
that made up the personality of the Viscount Gontran 
Joseph de Signoles. But he makes the man think, speak, 
and act before us — he lives on the printed page. In 
Kipling's "A Bank Fraud," we are not told that Reggie 
Burke was tolerant, patient, and sympathetic. We are 
told what he did and said, and we know the rest. 

Dress and appearance may be used as aids to characteri- 
zation. Writers of modem drama, and stage managers, 
make a great point of appropriate costimiing and "make 
up," as a help to the audience to understand the persons 
in the play. Chaucer, in the prologue to " The Canterbiuy 
Tales," minutely described the dress and appearance of 
each member of the party. But in doing so he described a 
type as a person. Before we are acquainted with people 
we are apt to judge them largely by their clothes, and to 
form our private opinion of the woman who wears a sleazy 


pink silk shirtwaist and a soiled collar, of the man with a 
diamond pin and dirty finger nails. Such a man and 
woman may be found on later acquaintance to be pos- 
sessed of all the cardinal virtues, but if so, the outcome of 
knowing them better in the story, as in real life, will be a 

The names of the characters should be carefully and 
appropriately chosen. A woman of dignity and maturity 
would be seriously handicapped by the name "Flossie." 
A fop or a dandy could hardly act the part if he were named 
after one of the Minor Prophets. A grandmother would 
not be natural as "May." 

2, Where to Find the Characters 

The old injunction, "Look into thine own heart and 
write," may always be followed with profit. Without 
transforming himself into his characters, the writer can 
imagine his own reactions to the stimulus of diflferent 
situations, can fit himself — while retaining his own per- 
sonality — into the time, the place, and the incident, so 
perfectly as to be aware of what he would feel and think 
and do in the circumstances. Then, if he is not able to 
perform so simple a feat as to turn himself inside out and 
write himself up, be had better adopt some profession 
whose first pre-requisite is not creative imagination. 

Persons whom the writer knows in daily life may serve 
as models, or suggestions, for the characters in his story. 
Their dialect may or may not be reproduced; the condi- 
tions of their lives, liberties, and pursuit of happiness may 
h^ altered: the mannerisms of one may be grafted on the 


personality of another — but a mental or an actual note- 
book should be kept to preserve their characteristics for 
future fictional use. The best characterization is not a 
matter of portraiture, of slavish and faithful copying and 
reproduction of traits in one's self or others. The author's 
models must be molded and re-created by his own fancy. 
Then he must put himself into them. 

Sometimes a character will spring into the mind, full- 
grown, spontaneously generated to fit some dramatic 
incident — the right one in the right place — and to the 
writer such a character will have a reality as unquestion- 
able as his own existence. But oftener it must be built up 
with patient care. 

3. Ten Remindets far Character-Drawing 

1. Learn to characterize by suggestion, as Kipling does 
in "The Captive": "I sat on his left hand, and he talked 
like — like the Ladies^ Home Journal." 

2. Keep each character consistently like itself, imless 
you are drawing an inconsistent character. 

3. Distinguish between a type and an individual; not 
all soldiers are soldierly. 

4. Remember that your characters have characters — 
good, or bad, or mixed, and they will be mostly mixed, if 
they are human. 

5. Determine on what each character is like predseiv, 
before you write, else the result will be a haphazard vague- 

6. Don't think that constant harping on a single trait, 


like the habit of cracking the knuckles, is enough to make 
a characterization vivid. 

7. Remember that to caricature your characters by- 
exaggerating all their traits is not likely to be convincing. 

8. Do not have too many characters in the foreground; 
characters in the backgroxmd will help strengthen the one 
or two principals. 

9. It requires more ability to make a pleasant character 
interesting than to bring out a villain, but the villain is 
much over-worked in fiction. 

10. Differentiate your characters perfectly; it will not 
do to let them all talk and act by the same set of rules* 


1. Write four names appropriate to each one of the 
following characters: (a) A scholarly physician; (b) a 
country store-keeper; (c) a woman settlement-worker; (d) 
a society girl; (e) a college flirt; (f) a rough workman; 
(g) a brow-beaten clerk. Add to this list at will. 

2. Further characterize the persons named in (i), by: 
(a) direct description; (b) indirect description of any kind, 
such as conversation, acts and gestures, dress and appear- 

3. Analyze at least four characterizations from current 
magazine fiction, showing the method employed in each 
case, and comparing the forcefulness of the presentation. 

4« Write out a list of the actual (a) mental, (b) physical, 
(c) business or professional, and (d) social qualities of at 
least four characters that seem to you interesting enough 
to introduce into a work of fiction. 


5. Add to these actual qualities some imagined ones 
which would make the characters more interesting if put 
into stories. 

6. Which qualities would you dwell upon as being most 

7. Write about five hundred words, just as though it 
were in the heart of a short-story, in which special atten- 
tion is given to character drawing. Remember that what 
a character does and how he does it is often a better index 
to his character than the author's description of what he is. 
Furthermore, let the character's own words describe 
himseli by revealing his own character indirectly. 



Dialogue should have an interest of its own, aside from its 
function of characterization and suggestion of the circumstances. 
It shotild be made attractive, if possible, by wit, humor, bright- 
ness, or sheer individuality. The best way to accomplish this 
is by placing the characters in an interesting situation— Evelyn 
May Albright, The Short-Story. 

Our attention is held, as we turn over the magazine pages 
for rest and refreshment, not by solid chmiks of unbroken 
paragraph, but by those stories that are variegated by con- 
versation. As a rule, the lighter and frothier the story, 
the more will it eflFervesce and bubble-over with conversa- 
tion, while the thought-breeding and serious narrative 
will be less and less "talky." .Nevertheless, the stories are 
few that win their way into print without being somewhere 
lightened by dialogue. 

Conversation may be used as a means to three chief 
ends — and several subordinate ends. 

I, To Give InformaUon 

''Information speeches" are not easy things to handle. 
When the inexperienced writer is adjured to let his char- 
acters tell then: own story he will often, to his sorrow, 
make them ostentatiously and unnaturally drag in lumber- 
ing biographical facts, declaim their relation to other 
characters, or explicitly inform the reader of their race, 


color, or previous condition of servitude. Such bald and 
palpable artifice is sure to breed contempt. The informa- 
tion speech should be designed so skilfully as to conceal 
its design. Note in the following examples how time, 
place, character, and opening incident are all told in brief 
and well-handled dialogue: 

"Nor I," cried John Harcourt, ptilling up in the moon-silvered 
mist and clapping his hand to his pocket, "not a groat! Stay, 
here is a crooked sixpence of King James' that none but a fool 
would take. The merry robbers left me that for luck." 

Dick Barton growled as he turned in his saddle. "We must 
ride on, then, till we find a cousin to loan us a few pounds. Sir 
Empty-purse fares ill at an inn." 

"By my sore seat," laughed Harcourt, "we'll ride no farther 
tonight. Here we light, at the sign of the Magpie in the Moon. 
The rogues of Famborough Cross have trimmed us well; the 
honest folks of Market Famborough shall feed us better!" 

"For a crooked sixpence I" grumbled Barton. "Will you beg 
our entertainment like a pair of landlopers, or will you take it by 
force like our late friends on the road?" 

"Neither," said Harcourt, "but in the fashion that befits 
gentlemen — with a bold face, a gay tongue, and a fine coat well 
carried. Remember, Dick, look up, and no snivelling! Tell your 
ill-fortune and you bid for more. 'Tis Monsieur Debonair that 
owns the tavern."* 

"O mother, mother, h&^ can we let you go!" wailed Kathleen. 

"Kitty! how can you!" exclaimed Nancy. "What does it 
matter about us when mother has the long journey and father is 
so ill." 

"It will not be for very long — it can't be," said Mrs. Carey 
wistfully. "The telegram only said 'symptoms of typhoid,' but 
these low fevers sometimes last a good while and are very weaken- 
ing, so I may not be able to bring father back for two or three 

1 Henry Van Dyke, The Return of the Charm, Harper's Maga- 
zine ^ December, 1911. 


weeks; I ought to be in Fortress Monroe day after tomorrow; 
you must take turns in writing to me, children." ^ 

2. To Advance the Plot 

The conversation is sometimes made an integral part 
of the plot structure, when at critical points in the story 
dialogue is used to voice a catastrophe, to reveal a mys- 
tery, to make, in some way, a turning-point. The dra- 
matic effect is rendered more vivid and forceful when a 
crisis is revealed by the spoken word. This has been very 
effectively done in "The Necklace," by Guy de Mau- 
passant, where the grand climax is presented in the form 
of the last speech by Mme. Forestier. 

Mme. Forestier stopped. 

"You say that you bought a diamond necklace to replace 

"Yes. You never noticed it, then! They were very like." 

And she smiled with a joy which was at once naive and proud. 

Mme. Forestier, strongly moved, took her two hands. 

"Oh, mypoorMathUde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was 
worth at most five hundred francs!" 

5. To Reveal Character 

Though Talleyrand said that language was given us in 
order to conceal our thoughts, such a misuse of the gift 
is not allowable in fiction. There, what a man thinks in 
his heart — which is what he is — must in some way be 
disclosed, and this can be skilfully done through his speech. 
Thus Ameera's mother, in Kipling's "Without Benefit of 
Clergy," lets us know that she is greedy and tricky and 

^ Kate Douglas Wiggin, Mother Careys Chickens, 


careless regaxding her daughter's death, by a word or two 
that she utters in response to the news, and that is far more 
effective than if the author had asserted those qualities in 
his own words. 

"Is she dead. sahibV 

"She is dead." 

"Then will I moum, and afterwards take an inventory of the 
furniture in this house. For that will be mine. The sahib does 
not mean to resume it? It is so little, so very little, sahibs and I 
am an old woman. I would like to lie softly." 

Questions to Ask Yourself About Dialogue 

Is it intrinsically interesting, and not merely true to life 
— is the talk really worth recording? 

Does every word of the dialogue serve some definite 
purpose in telling the story? 

Does each character talk thraughotU consistently with 
his own nature? 

Does the conversation perfectly fit the age, sex, nation- 
ality, education, station in life, mood, and present sur- 
roimdings of the character speaking? 

Is the dialogue well differentiated so as to distinguish 
one character from another? 

Do the characters talk like real people, or do they con- 
verse on stilts? 

Do the characters try to say ever3rthing, instead of using 
hints and — using the expression in a good sense — sug- 
gestive language? 

Is the dialogue accompanied by expressive actions and 
gestures so as to cut out needless talk? 

Is the dialogue well introduced? 


Is dialogue well interspersed with action and explana- 
tion, or crowded all in a lump? 

Is there enough dialogue? 

What is the specific purpose of the dialogue in this 

Finally, does the dialogue actually serve the purpose 
for which it is evidently intended? 


1 . From an examination of a number of magazine short- 
stories, make as large a list as you can of the different pur- 
poses which dialogue may serve in fiction; as, to convey 
information^ to ddineaie the character of the speaker ^ etc. 
In each instance, make a cutting of a short example and 
properly mark it for identification. 

2. What several purposes does dialogue serve in ^'The 

3. (a) Criticise minutely the dialogue in any short-story 
you choose, ifl) Alter the dialogue so as to improve it. 

4. Make a list of at least fifty past-participles which 
may be used in dialogue instead of "he said,^ or "she re- 
marked;" as, questioned, laughed, marvelled, stammered, 

5. Alter the dialogue in any magazine story you choose 
by substituting more minutely descriptive verbs as indi- 
cated in Question 4. 

6. (a) By coimting the lines (so many to a column), find 
out what proportion of several magazine short-stories is 
given to dialogue, (b) Would a greater or smaller propor- 
tion of dialogue improve or mar these stories? 


7. Re-write the first part of any magazine story you 
choose so as to tell the story almost entirely by dialogue. 

8. Write three brief dialogues, one designed to give 
information, one to advance the plot, and one to reveal 

9. Revise any of your own short-stories so as to im- 
prove its dialogue. 

10. Write a short-story having a simple plot, using a 
large proportion of dialogue. 

11. What types of stories demand a large proportion 
of dialogue? 

12. What sorts of stories may profitably use little? 

13. What difficulties do you find in reading conversa- 
tions in dialect? 

14. Try to find examples of dialect when words are 
©eedlessly misspelled, like iz for is, 

15. (a) Try to find examples in which characters talk 
in one style in one part of the story and in another style 
elsewhere, (b) Correct the fault. 

16. (a) Try to find examples in which characters talk 
unnaturally, (b) Correct the fault. 

17. What do you understand by colloquial speech? 

18. Illustrate by an original example how contractions 
and loose, easy speech may be allowed in fictional dialogue 
which would not be proper in a descriptive passage. 

19. Cut from a magazine an example (a) of dialogue in 
which the introducing or the explanatory expression (like 
"then he challenged") precedes the remark; (6) follows 
the remark; (c) is inserted between two parts of the re- 
mark; (d) where no explanatory expression accompanies 


the remark. Note the value of using a variety of styles in 
the same story. 

20. Find and correct an instance of misleading or of 
obscure dialogue in fiction. 

21. Can you think of a short-story or a novel in which 
the characters all talk alike, that is, not each ''in char- 
acter?" Note how important it is that the individuality 
of each character should be disclosed by the manner of his 
speech as well as by its matter. 

22. Write a brief short-story almost wholly in dialogue, 
somewhat in the style of one of Anthony Hope's "Dolly 
Dialogues," or Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd's "The Misde- 
meanors of Nancy." 

23. Write a paragraph criticizing, favorably or un- 
favorably, the dialogue in S. Weir Mitchell's "Dr. North 
and His Friends," or "Concerning Isabel Camaby," by 
Ellen Thomeycrof t Fowler. 



I cannot drop this topic without urging the student to study 
carefully the maturer work of O. Henry, who surpasses all writers 
past and present in his mastery of the direct dtoouement. What a 
host of his complications do not solve themselves until the last 
fifty words! — Walter B. Pitkin, The Art and Business of Story 

In a laige sense, the ending generally includes three 
parts: the full climax^ the denouement, and the actual 
conclusion. Though the short-story may open at the 
beginning, the middle, or the end, there is only one legiti- 
mate place for its dose, that is, immediately after the 
high-water-mark of greatest interest in the plot, known as 
the climax. 

" Climax," in the original Greek, meant a ladder, but as 
applied to narration it signifies the topmost rung of this 
ladder, or "the highest point of anything reached by 
gradual ascent."^ In the anecdote the time to stop is 
when you have made the "point," in the fable when you 
have illustrated the moral; so in the short-story the time 
to stop is when the story is told, the "point" is made, the 
climax is reached. Since, however, the short-story is a 
longer and more highly developed literary form than 
either the anecdote or the fable, a brief denouement is 
generally necessary. 

"Denouement" means the untying^ and the orthodox 

^ Murray's New English Dictionary. 


denouement is the final unravelling of the complications^ 
and its proper place is immediately following the climax. 
In some cases the climax and the denouement are identical, 
as in Maupassant's "The Necklace.'* In stories where 
the mystery is unsolved, as in Hawthorne's "The White 
Old Maid," the d&iouement is necessarily absent. 

After the denouement there may be a brief word of 
conclusion, to avoid the possibility of abruptness — the 
shock of a sudden leave-taking, as it were, on the part of 
the author. But it must be remembered that as a rule the 
story ends when the plot is complete, and that the denoue- 
ment and conclusion must move swiftly. 

The Happy Ending 

Long ago, the andent Greeks, in the best period of their 
art, refused to portray grief or suffering of any kind, be- 
cause they regarded these phases of life as abnormal and 
transient, and therefore not fit to be given permanent form. 

Today the modem Americans like happy endings to 
stories — they like the lovers to marry, and the sick folks 
to get well, and the poor ones to have their salaries raised, 
and young people of all ages to go on trips to Europe. So, 
man's instincts, in andent and modem times, seek happi- 
ness as the normal and usual condition, and tadtly dedde 
that to be unhappy is as unnatural as to be sick or 

The tragic ending is an effort to depict things as they 
are, rather than as they ought to be. Wise men have said 
that the great tragedies of human life are the result of 
some defect of character — hence, inevitable —^ and the 


thoughtful reader finds in them a certain satisfaction for 
his sense of justice. Where the tragedy is one of circum- 
stance rather than of character, as in Hawthorne's "The 
Ambitious Guest," the pleasure afforded to the reader 
will result from contrast, and from the welling-up of his 

But whether the story ends happily or imhappily, the 
writer must remember that he has to satisfy his reader — 
either by the contagious joyousness of the ending, or by a 
kind of intellectual satisfaction in its rigMness, or by the 
pleasure of an opportunity to overflow with s)anpathy. 


1. From your own reading, say whether the happy end- 
ing is more frequent today than in "classic" short-stories, 
or if the reverse is true. 

2. What is your own preference, and why? 

3. Show how an imhappy ending may be a just ending. 

4. Define Tragedy. 

5. Clip from the magazines five short-story endings 
which will illustrate several different methods of con- 
cluding the stories, and point out the merits of each. 

6. Briefly outline the plot of any one of these stories and 
write out an original conclusion in two forms: (a) altering 
the denouement entirely, (b) retaining the denouement 
(as a part of the plot) but using your own language in 
narrating it. 

7. Find a short-story whose ending strikes you as being 
too long; re-write the closing sentences so as to condense 
it without marring the rfFcct of the story. 



8. Outline briefly the plot of an original st( 
write out the ending in full, using for the latter pi 
more than one hundred words. 

9. Cite three short-stories whose endings yjthor- 
oughly approve and say why. 

10. Criticise three endings of short-stories sel^ from 
any magazines or books, (b) Re-write one of tipings, 

11. What is the effect on the reader when 
of a story comes too early in the narration? 

12. How is it possible to disclose the d6tt<^t too 




A title that piques curiosity or suggests excitement or emotion 
will draw a crowd of readers the moment it appears, while a book 
soberly named must force its merits on the public. The former 
has all the merits of a pretty girl over a plain one; it is given an 
instantaneous chance to prove itself worth while. 

— Literary Chat, in Munsey's Magazine. 

"The title of the story," says somebody, "is like the 
smear of honey on the outside of the jar, a foretaste of the 
good things within." 

Since the title is the first thing we know about the story, 
it ought to be attractive enough to make us want to know 
more. For this reason it should not be too specific, as are 
many of the titles framed by beginners. "How Tom Won 
the Game," "Jenny's Surprise Party," or "An Unfortu- 
nate Choice," fairly thrust information upon us, telling 
so much that we hardly care to know any more. Similarly, 
the titles of a past generation sometimes sated ciuiosity 
m advance. "The Fair Jilt," "The Apparition of Mrs. 
Veal," "The Taking of the Redoubt," "Mrs. Perkins' 
Ball," are titles which half tell the tale. 

On the other hand, the title should not be so vague and 
indeterminate as to give no hint of what is to come. Who 
could guess from the title "Up the Coul6e" that the story 
is about two strongly contrasted characters; the whole 
interest of the title centers in what may be disclosed in that 
interesting locality. 


Nor should the title be too meager of information. 
Merely the name of the leading character is hardly enough 
to attract: "Editha,"." Monica," "Jim," "Henry Dun- 
bs./' are insufficient in themselves to allure; but "Editha's 
Burglar," " Molly Make-Believe," "Monica's Chief Engi- 
neer," and "Jim Lancey's Waterloo" may stimulate 
interest — though the last named is a rather old type. 
. There is a kind of ostentatiously simple title, impl)ang 
a frankness and honesty that disdains to represent things 
better than they are: "The Dull Miss Archinard," "Just 
Folks," "The Unsuccessful Alumnus," "The Man Who 
Failed," "The Homeliest Child" are titles which seem to 
reveal shortcomings and limitations with such candor that 
the reader scents a surprise — he knows these must be 
worth-while people, or their sponsors would not have dared 
to disparage them. 

A title which involves a piquant contradiction or in- 
congruity, such as "Her Dearest Foe," "The Madonna 
of the Tubs," "Cabbages and Kings," "The Blind Who 
See," can be counted on to arrest attention. 

Well-known quotations, too, are often effectively used 
as titles: "All Sorts and Conditions of Men," "The Fruit 
of the Tree," "When Half-Gods Go" and many others 
like these somehow lead us to expect a touch of novelty 
in the story. 

The suggestive, sjrmbolic title, that lures by a touch of 
mystery, that baffles yet attracts, will be to many readers 
irresistible. "The Opened Shutters," "At the Foot of the 
Rainbow," "Lavender and Old Lace," "Come and Find 
Me," "The Ship of Stars," "The Tree of Heaven," "The 


House of a Thousand Candles" — such titles as these will 
be nearly sure to pique a glance through the pages, to see 
what the story can possibly be about. 

A good criterion for a good title would be to ask yoiurself 
whether it is one that would make you choose that story to 
read first when you saw the name in the ''Contents" page 
of a magazine. 


1. Write appropriate titles, three of each kind, for de- 
tective stories, adventure stories, psychological problem 
stories, love stories, and stories about children. 

2. Choose any story from a current magazine, and 
write six new titles for it. 

3. Write titles for six stories, making them as attract- 
ive as possible, and state in each case why you believe the 
title to be one adapted to win attention. 

4. Criticise the titles of three stories from a smgle issue 
of a magazine, having in mind the assertion that a title 
should fit the story, pique curiosity or interest, be brief, 
and not be misleading. 

5. Do you like sub-titles or alternate (" or ") titles? 

6. Make a list of ten short-story titles which attracted 
you in books or magazines. 



There is no royal road to authorship. It is fight, fight, and 
keep on fighting to the end. — ^Albert Bigelow Paine, in Prac- 
iical Authorship, by James ICnapp Reeve. 

J. The Work of Revision 

While the methods of authors vary as widely as do their 
personalities, it is safe to say that most successful writers 
compose rapidly and then revise at leisure. When inspira- 
tion is at its height, the first glowing product may need but 
little revision, but this is so rare an attainment that the 
young writer had far better count on the necessity of a 
careful, painstaking revision of all literary composition. 

The advantages of scrutinizing the first draft in a mood 
of coolness are obvious: the writer can then see his work 
through other eyes, he can carefully weigh the value of his 
own inventions, he can test the balance of the various parts 
of his story, he can see if he has succeeded in accomplish- 
ing his purpose, and he can decide which elements of the 
whole need retouching, which require rewriting, and which 
must be discarded and replaced by entirely new material. 

The importance of cultivating the habit of impartial 
self-criticism cannot be over-estimated.^ The greatest 

» In Dr. Frederic Taber Cooper's The Craftsmanship of Writing 
are two admirable chapters which the young writer would do well 
to read: "The Power of Self-Critidsm" and "The Gospel of 
Infinite Pains." 


authors sometimes find it necessary to rewrite many times, 
and always review and polish until the story cannot be 
bettered, from their viewpoint. Surely no beginner can 
afford to be content with less faithful effort. 

Points for Self-Criticism 

Is my plot clear, progressive, and natural? 

Is the complication (main crisis) a real one, or does it 
seem artificial? 

Is the outcome natural yet siuprising? 

Have I introduced any useless incidents? 

Does the plot proceed without needless delays and 
roundabout digressions? 

Are the chief characters brought out prominently? 

Is the dialogue bright and natural? 

Does the dialogue actually help to develop the story? 

Are the opening and closing passages well suited to tiie 
style of story-telling I have selected? 

Have I used any needless words? 

Have I repeated any words when synonjrms might 
better be used? 

Are my sentences dear and grammatically correct? 

Have I used a good variety of sentence forms? 

Does each paragraph stand out as a little composition 
in itself, leading up to a climax of its own, and does it both 
naturally follow the preceding paragraph and prepare for 
the succeeding one? 

Does the whole story drag at any point? 

Does the story leave precisely the impression I de- 
signed that it should? 

Is the story long enough to bring out the plot in a well- 
rounded manner? 


Is the story short enough to make it compellingly inter- 

2. Preparing the Manuscript 

Use white, heavy paper, size S}^ x 1 1 — letter size. 

Use a typewriter if it is at all possible. 

Never write a story in "single space"; double space is 
better than triple space, except for the first draft. 

Leave generous margins on all four sides of the paper. 

Do not use a cop)dng ribbon on your typewriter; it 
smudges readily. 

Never write on both sides of the paper. 

If you use a pen, do not write in a small hand and never 
crowd your lines. 

Study any good magazine as a model to see how con- 
versation is paragraphed and how quotation marks are 

Every new remark of a new speaker in dialogue must be 
regarded as the beginning of a new paragraph and as such 
set in at least an inch to the right of the usual margin of 
lines on the left side of the sheet. 

At the top of the first sheet of your manuscript place 
the following information: 

Submitted by 2500 words 

Henry L. Potter 
136 Drew St- , 
Binghamton, N.Y. 




Number all sheets consecutively. 
Do not fasten the sheets with a permanent fastener. 
Fold the sheets no more than once or twice. 
Never roll a manuscript — it annoys an editor to have 
to take time to straighten it for reading. 

3. Marketing the Manuscript 

Do not send a manuscript to any periodical without 
being absolutely sure that it is suited to it in length, general 
character, and grade of literary merit. A study of your 
market is just as necessary in disposing of manuscripts as 
it is in trying to sell any commodity. Writing is an art; 
but manuscript selling is a business, and your competitors 
will observe the conditions of the market even if you do 

Never send out an untidy manuscript — it gives the 
impression of haying been often rejected by editors. If 
you do not respect your work enough to recopy it neatly 
when once it is soiled, how can you expect an editor to give 
it a respectful reading? 

Always address your manuscript to the magazine or 
paper and not to the editor or a member of the staff per- 

Do not write long letters to a busy editor — he is not 
interested in what you think of your work; he will judge 
the work itself. No letter is necessary; but if you write, 
let it be only a line or two. 

Do not try to exact a high price for your manuscript — 
the editor may return it unread if you name a rate higher 
than the regular rate paid by that periodical. 


Always enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, 
but do not put your manuscript in the return en- 

Be sure to afl&x enough stamps to both envelopes. Sharp 
practice in saving postage is sure to impress your judge 

Cheap envelopes are poor economy and often result in a 
marred manuscript. 

Be sure to write your name and address on the upper left 
comer of the "going" envelope. 

Be careful to send your manuscript to the correct ad- 
dress. Every day, stories are addressed to magazines in 
cities where they were never located. 

"Influence" with the editor will not seciure for your 
manuscript any more careful reading than its real merits 
will warrant. 

Send "timely" material at least four months before the 
date when you hope to have it appear. Six months is even 

Do not be impatient for a report on your manuscript. 
Most magazines pass upon all submitted material within 
two weeks, but occasionally a longer time is required, for 
sometimes manuscripts come in in unusually large num- 
bers, or sickness or vacations may cause work to accvunu- 
late. Furthermore, a manuscript may be held for more 
careful consideration. If you do not receive a report 
within a month, it will do no harm to write a courteous re- 
quest for a report, but brusque letters can serve no good 
purpose even when editors are disregardfid of the writer's 
convenience — and this is rarely the case. 


Every time your manuscript comes back, go over it 
carefully to see if you can discover why it was rejected. 

Keep a manuscript record so that you may know at all 
times where your story is, when it went there, and when it 
came back. This will save you the embarrassment and 
needless expense of re-submitting a story. 

Do not be discouraged with one, two, or even ten rejec- 
tions. The "big" magazines are extremely hard to sell to 
because their standards are high and you must compete 
with the ablest and most experienced writers. Remember 
that there are literally hundreds, of places to sell manu- 
scripts, and not merely the score or more of periodicals 
with which you are familiar.^ 

* Where and How to Sell Manuscripts, compiled by William 
B. McCourtie, published by The Home Corresponden-ce 
School, gives over 5300 classified addresses of all sorts of 
periodicals, with detailed information regarding their par- 
ticular needs. Price, $2 50. 


Names of authors whose words or titles are quoted, are 
in capitals; titles of books and stories appear in italics; 
while general topics and persons referred to are set in 
plain, or "roman," type. The authors and titles referred 
to in the chapter on Tides are not included in this index. 

Baring-Gould, Stephen, 


Barrett, Charles Ray- 
mond, 144. 

Barton, George A., 41, 

Bemvtdfy 94. 

Berenice, 103, 

Bible, 28, 39-49- 

Biblical World, The, 29. 

Blue Flower, The, 53. 

BocxTAcao, Giovanni, 60, 
61-7, 68. 

Book, The, 36. 

Book of the Short Story, The, 


Brown, Alice, $4, 170. 
Bungay, George, 18. 
BuNYAN, John, 43, 52. 

Canby, Henry Seidel, 6, 

8, 104. 
Canterbury Tales, The, 180. 
Carryl, Guy Wetmore, 

Cask of Amontillado, The, 


Ade, George, 34, 35. 
Advance News, 23. 
iEsop, 27, 28, 30, 31. 
Albright, Evelyn May, 

144, 152, 164, 185. 
Ambitious Guest, The, 107, 

American Short-Story, The, 

Andersen, Hans, 31. 
Anecdote, The, 11-24. 
Anecdote vs. Fable, 27. 
Examples of anecdote, 14, 

17, 18. 
Antidote for Order, An, 98- 


Arabian Nights Entertain- 
ment, 60. 

Arnold, Sir Edwin, 16. 

Atlantic Monthly, 166, 167, 


Balance of Power, The, 169. 

Balzac, Honor£ de, 103. 

Bank Fraud, A, 180. 

Barbour, Ralph Henry, 
The Dub, 114-131, 176. 




Century Magazine, The, 
i66y i68, 169. 

Chapin, Anna Alice, i68. 

Characters, The, 178^-184; 
preeminent character, 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, i8o. 

Chips from a German Work- 
shop, 30. 

Climax, 21, 152, 192. 

Clowes, J., 41. 

CoATES, Florence Earle, 

Cody, Sherwin, 50. 
Complication, The, and its 

solution, 108. 
Coombs, Elizabeth 

Maury, 98-101. 
Cooper, Frederic Taber, 

Coppee, Francois, 107. 
Conclusion, The, 193. 
Conversation, 185-191. 
Coward, A, 180. 
Craftsmanship of Writing, 

The, 199, 
Crisis, 147-151, 157; minor 

crises, 150-151. 
Critique on Hawthorne, 104. 

Daskam', Josephine 

Dodge, 35, 36. 
Davis, Kichard Harding, 

Dawson, W. J. and C. W., 

Deland, Margaret, 178. 
Denouement, 151-192. 

Descent into the Maelstrom, 

A, 165. 
Dial, The, 11. 
Dialogue, Questions on, 

Direct characterization, 

"Ddc, Dorothy," 35. 
Doctor Lavendar, 178. 
Dominant incident, 107. 
Dreams, 54. 

Dress of characters, i8a-i. 
Dub, The, 114-131, 176. , 

Edwards, Taylor, 22. 
Emotions, The, 136. 
Ending, The, 21, 192-195. 
England, George Allan, 

EsENWEiN, J. Berg, 7, 8, 

144, 149. 
Evolution of Literature, The, 

8, 60. 
Euripides, 26. 
Everybody's Magazine, 54. 

Fable, The, 25-38; An- 
cient, 27; Modem, 30; 
Slang, 34, 35; Society, 35; 
Examplesof, 28,32,35-37. 

Fables for the Fair, 35, 36. 

Fables for the Frivolous, 35. 

Fables in Slang, 34, 35. 

Fables in Song, 31. 

Fables of the Elite, 35. 

Falcon of Ser Federigo, The, 



FaU of the House of Usher, 
The, 175. 

Far££LL, Joseph, 46. 

First Steps in Human Prog- 
ress, 28. 

Foreword to Teachers, rx. 

Forms of narration, 4. 

Forms of Prose Literature, 

Forty Modern Fables, 34. 

Fox, John, 137. 
Freeman, Mary E. Wil- 

KINS, 137. 

Frog in the WeU, The, 171. 

GalliennE; Richard le, 

Gardiner, J. H., 173. 
Garland, Hamlin, 137. 
Caspar Becerra, 137. 
GU Bias, 60. 

Gilmer, Elizabeth M., 35. 
GiLMORE, Inez Haynes, 

Gold Bug, The, 107, 
Golden Baby, 54. 
Golden Legend, The, 94, 
Grasshopper and the Ant, 

The, 3S. 
Great English Short-Story 

Writers, The, 113. 
Great Stone Face, The, 55, 

S7f 179- 

GUERBER, H. A., 92. 

Gulliver^ s Travels, 12. 


Half-told Tales, 53. 
Happy ending, 193. 

Hare and the Tortoise, The, 

Harper, George McLean, 

Harper's Magazine, $4, 

166, 167, 168, i7o> 171, 

Harte, FRANas Bret, 108, 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 

3> SS-S7, 107, 179, 193, 

Henderson, Rose, 167. 
Henry, O., 137, 139. 
Herrice, Robert, 168. 
History vs. story, 3, 
Homeliest Child, The, 171. 
HowELLS, William Dean, 


How to Get the Best out of 

Books, 134. 
Humphrey, Zelphine, 


Indirect characterization, 

Information speeches, 185. 
Irving, Washington, 70, 

71-88, 164. 

Jacobs, W, W., 150. 
Jerome, Jerome K., 53. 
Jessup, Alexander, 6. 
Jongleurs, 60. 
Jotham, Trees Choosing a 

King, The, 28. 
Jungle Stories, The, 31. 



King Harfiy 60. 
King WiUafs Drinking 

Ham, 91. 
Kipling, Rudyard, 26, 27, 
31, 178, 180, 187. 
La Fontaine, 26, 27, 31, 

Lady of the Garden, The, 


Lanigan, George T., 35. 

Lark, The, 94, 95. 

Lectures by a Certain Pro- 
fessor, 46. 

Leeds, Arthur, 144, 149. 

Lepevre, Edward, 54. 

Legend, The, 91-96. 

Legend of Saint Christopher, 
The, 92, 93. 

Legends of the Middle Ages, 


Life of Johnson, i6. 
Life of Sir Walter Scott, 17- 
LiNN, James Weber, 108. 
Lion and the Mouse, The, 

Lippincott's Magazine, 22, 

23, 166, 178. 
Lives of the Saints, 92. 
Locality, 137. 
LocKHART, J. G., 17. 
Long, William, 29. 
Longfellow, Henry 

Wadsworth, 91, 137, 

Lost Sheep, The, 43, 45, 46. 
Loti, Pierre, 174. 

Lytton, Lord, 31. 

Mabie,Hamilton Wright, 

Si-2, S4- 
McClure^s Magazine, 31. 
Mackenzie, A. S., 8, 60. 
Magazine Writing, 103. 
Man Who Failed, The, 169. 
Man Who Wanted to be Safe, 

The, S4. 
Marketing the manuscript, 

Markheim, 108.^ 
Mary Felicia, 170. 
Mateo Falcone, 103. 
Matthews, Brander, 7, 

9, 2S> S9, 104, 105. 
Maupassant, Guy de, 107, 

109-10, 139, 150, 180, 

187, 193. 
Maurice, F. D., 12. 
Maxcy, Carroll Lewis, 9. 
Memories and Portraits, 61. 
Men as characters, 136; 
Men and women, 138. 
Merim£e, Prosper, 103. 
Merivale, Charles, 12. 
Minnesingers, 60. 
Miracle, The, i68. 
Monkey's Paw, The, 150, 
Moor's Legacy, The, 71-88. 
Moral and Metaphysical 

Philosophy, 12. 
More Fables, 34. 
Mornings in Florence, 15- 
Morte d' Arthur, 94. 
Mother Carey's Chickens, 




Mrs. Knollys, 107. 
MuLLER, Max, 30. 
Mulvaney, Terence, 178. 
IILyih, vs, legend, 92. 

Names, 181. 
Narration, Beginnings of, 

Narrative, Uses of, 2; 

Forms of, 4. 
Necklace, The, 107, 109- 

iio, ISO, 187, 193. 
Nettleton, George 

Henry, 7. 
Nevinson, Henry W., 167. 
Newspaper cuttings, 139. 
Niebelungenliedy 94. 
North American Review, 12. 
Oak and the Reed, The, 32. 
Opening, The, 20, 164-172. 
Ormsbee, Helen, 169. 
Other Wise Man, The, 53. 
Old of the Agony, 51-2. 
Outcasts of Poker Flat, The, 

Outlook, The, 14. 

Parable, The, 39-58; An- 
cient, 39; Complex, 44- 
S ; Compound, 46-8 ; 
Essentials of, 41; Mod- 
em, so; Simple, 44. 

Parables of Jesus Explained, 
The, 41. 

Parables of Life, 54. 

Parables of Our Lord^ The, 
29i 39-41. 

Pearls of the Faith, 16. 
Peck, Harry Thurston, 

27i 31. 

Perry, Bliss, i, 8. 

Pleasures of Literature, i. 

Plutarch, 16, 17, 

PhiBdrus, 30. 

Phillips, Henry Albert, 
9, II, 107, 144. 

Philosophy and Religion, 

Philosophy of the Short- 
story, The, 9. 

Pier, Florida, 169. 

Pilgrim^s Progress, The, 52. 

Pitkin, Walter B., 144, 

Plot, 106-7, 142-163; Ar- 
rangement of, 105; 
Events of, 144; Plot- 
germ, IS2. 

Plot of the Short Story, The, 
9, II, 107, 144. 

PoE, Edgar Allen, 103, 
104, 105, 107, 142, 164, 

i6s, 175- 
Points for Self-Critidsm, 

Preparing the Manuscript, 

Procopius, 12. 
Purloined Letter, The, 164. 
Pushkin, Alexander, 103. 

Questions and Exercises, 
10, 21, 29, 37, 48, sSi 68, 
IS9# 172, i77> i89> 198- 



Race and Country, 136. 

Reason Why, The, 54. 

Reeds and the Oak, The, 32. 

Reid, F., 178. 

Reminders for Character- 
drawing, 182. 

Rentin' Hens, 169. 

Return of the Charm, The, 

Revision of manuscript, 

Rhetorical Principles of 
Narration, The, 9. 

Rip Van Winkle, 165. 

RusKiN, John, 15, 

ScHiNz, Albert, ii. 

School of the Woods, 29. 

ScHREiNER, Olive, 54. 

Scion of Adam, A, 167. 

Scribner^s Magazine, 166. 

Scott, John Reed, 169. 

Sentimental Tommy, 148. 

Setting, The, 166, 173-177. 

Shakespeare, 39. 

Ship that Found Herself, 
The, 31. 

Short-Story, The, 25, 59, 
144, 152, 164, 185. 

Short-Story, The essentials 
of, 103-112. 

Short-Story in English, The, 

Short-Story Masterpieces, 8. 

Short-Story, The: Specimens 
Illustrating Its Develop- 
ment, 7. 

Short-Story Writing, 144. 

Sinbad the Sailor, 105. 

Singleness of impression, 

Sketch, The, 97-101. 

Sketch vs. Story, 97-8. 

Slosson, Annie Trum- 
bull, Story-Tell Lib, 54. 

Smith, C. Alphonso, 165. 

Socrates, 30. 

Solitude, The, 175. 

Song of Roland, g4. 

Sower, The, 45, 46. 

Special Reading List, 6. 

Specimens of the Short- 
Story, 7. 

Springer, Fleta Camp- 
bell, 175. 

Starr, Frederick, 28. 

Stevenson, Robert Louis, 
61, 97, 108. 

Stimson, H. J., Mrs. 
KnoUys, 107. 

Stories, uses and influence 
of, 2. 

Story, definition of, 3. 

Study of Prose Fiction, A, 
I, 8. 

Studying the Short-Story, 7. 

Substitute, The, 107. 

Swift, Dean, 12. 

Story-TeU Lib, 54. 

Taine, H., 26. 
Tale, the, sg-go; Early, 

59; Modem, 70. 
Tale vs. L^end, 94. 



Tales of a Traveler y 70. 

Talleyrand, 187. 

Temperance Anecdotes, 18. 

Tennessee's Partner, 108. 

Thanet, Octave, 139. 

Theme, The, 134-141; For- 
bidden themes, 135; 
Sources of themes, 136; 
Theme of anecdotes, 19. 

Things that Interest You, 

Thompson-Seton, Ernest, 

Title of Story, The, 196- 

Tito Melema, 148. 
Tolstoi, Leo, 36, S3, 57" 

Tragic ending, 193-4. 
Transformation Scene ^ A, 

Trees Choosing a King, The, 

Trench R. C, 29, 39, 41. 
Troubadours, 60. 
Tybout, Ella Middleton, 



Unknown Quantity, The, 

Unsuccessful Alumnus, The, 

Up the Coulee, 196. 

VaUima Letters, 97. 

Van Dyke, Henry, 53, 186. 

Visit of King Louis to 

Brother Giles of the Friars' 

Minor, 14. 
Voices of the Nighl, Prelude 

to, 138. 


Wendell, Barrett, 29. 
Where Love is There God is 

Also, S3, 57-58. 
White Man vs. Indian, 22. 
White Old Maid, The, 193. 
WiGGiN, Kate Douglas, 


WiLLMOTT, R. A., I. 

Without Benefit of Clergy, 


Wolf and the Fox, The, 36. 
Wolf and the Lamb, The, 

Woman Who Talked WeU, 

The, 36. 
Work and play, 136. 
World's Greatest Short- 

Stories, The, 50. 
Writing the Photoplay, 144, 

Writing the Short-^tory, 9. 


Yale Studies in English, 6. 
Yourself, 138.