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Drolls From Shadowland   By: (1856-)

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First Page:

[Illustration: The Man who could talk with the Birds ]

DROLLS

FROM SHADOWLAND

BY

J. H. PEARCE

Author of "Esther Pentreath," "Inconsequent Lives," "Jaco Treloar," &c.

NEW YORK MACMILLAN AND CO. 1893.

All rights reserved.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

THE MAN WHO COINED HIS BLOOD INTO GOLD 1

AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY 15

THE MAN WHO COULD TALK WITH THE BIRDS 27

THE PURSUIT 39

A PLEASANT ENTERTAINMENT 49

THE MAN WHO DESIRED TO BE A TREE 61

THE MAN WHO HAD SEEN 73

THE UNCHRISTENED CHILD 85

THE MAN WHO MET HATE 95

THE HAUNTED HOUSE 109

GIFTS AND AWARDS 119

FRIEND OR FOE? 133

THE FIELDS OF AMARANTH 145

THE COMEDY OF A SOUL 155

THE MAN WHO COINED HIS BLOOD INTO GOLD.

THE yoke of Poverty galled him exceedingly, and he hated his taskmistress with a most rancorous hatred.

As he climbed up or down the dripping ladders, descending from sollar to sollar towards the level where he worked, he would set his teeth grimly that he might not curse aloud an oath underground being an invitation to the Evil One but in his heart the muffled curses were audible enough. And when he was at work in the dreary level, with the darkness lying on his shoulder like a hand, and the candles shining unsteadily through the gloom, like little evil winking eyes, he brooded so moodily over his bondage to Poverty, that he desired to break from it at any cost.

"I'd risk a lem for its weight in gowld: darned ef I wedn'!" he muttered savagely, as he dug at the stubborn rock with his pick.

He could hear the sounds of blasting in other levels the explosions travelling to him in a muffled boom and above him, for he was working beneath the bed of the ocean, he could faintly distinguish the grinding of the sea as the huge waves wallowed and roared across the beach.

"I'm sick to death o' this here life," he grumbled; "I'd give a haand or a' eye for a pot o' suvrins. Iss, I'd risk more than that," he added darkly: letting the words ooze out as if under his breath.

At that moment his pick detached a piece of rock which came crashing down on the floor of the level, splintering into great jagged fragments as it fell.

He started back with an exclamation of uncontrollable surprise. The falling rock had disclosed the interior of a cavern whose outlines were lost in impenetrable gloom, but which here and there in a vague fashion, as it caught the light of the candle flickering in his hat, seemed to sparkle as if its walls were crusted with silver.

"Lor' Jimmeny, this es bra' an' queer!" he gasped.

As he leaned on his pick, peering into the cavern with covetous eyes, but with a wildly leaping heart, he was aware of an odd movement among the shadows which were elusively outlined by the light of his dip.

It was almost as though some of them had an independent individuality, and could have detached themselves from their roots if they wished.

It was certain a squat, hump backed blotch, that was sprawling blackly beside a misshapen block, was either wriggling on the floor as if trying to stand upright . . . or else there was something wrong with his eyes.

He stared at the wavering gloom in the cavern, with its quaint, angular splashes of glister, where heads of quartz and patches of mundic caught the light from the unsteady flame of the candle, and presently he was certain that the shadows were alive.

Most of all he was sure that the little hump backed oddity had risen to its feet and was a veritable creature: an actual uncouth, shambling grotesque, instead of a mere flat blotch of shadow.

Up waddled the little hump back to the hole in the wall where Joel stood staring, leaning on his pick.

"What can I do for'ee, friend?" he asked huskily: his voice sounding faint, hoarse, and muffled, as if it were coming from an immense distance, or as if the squat little frame had merely borrowed it for the nonce... Continue reading book >>




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