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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 100, April 11, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 100.

April 11, 1891.

MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.

NO. XVI. GERMFOOD.

( BY MARY MORALLY, AUTHOR OF "GINBITTERS!" "ARDART," &C., &C. )

[The MS. of this remarkable novel was tied round with scarlet ribbons, and arrived in a case which had been once used for the packing of bottles of rum, or some other potent spirit. It is dedicated in highly uncomplimentary terms to " Messieurs les Marronneurs glacés de Paris ." With it came a most extraordinary letter, from which we make, without permission, the following startling extracts. "Ha! Ha! likewise Fe Fo Fum. I smell blood, galloping, panting, whirling, hurling, throbbing, maddened blood. My brain is on fire, my pen is a flash of lightning. I see stars, three stars, that is to say, one of the best brands plucked from the burning. I'm going to make your flesh creep. I'll give you fits, paralytic fits, epileptic fits, and fits of hysteria, all at the same time. Have I ever been in Paris? Never. Do I know the taste of absinthe? How dare you ask me such a question? Am I a woman? Ask me another. Ugh! it's coming, the demon is upon me. I must write three murderous volumes. I must, I must! What was that shriek? and that? and that? Unhand me, snakes! Oh!!!! M.M."]

CHAPTER I.

[Illustration]

I was asleep and dreaming dreaming dreadful, horrible, soul shattering dreams dreams that flung me head first out of bed, and then flung me back into bed off the uncarpeted floor of my chamber. But I did not wake why should I? it was unnecessary I wanted to dream I had to dream and therefore I dreamt. I was walking home from a cheap restaurant in one of the poorer quarters of Paris. "Poorer quarters" is a nice vague term. There are many poorer quarters in a large city. This was one of them. Let that suffice to the critical pedants who clamour for accuracy and local colour. Accuracy! pah! Shall the soaring soul of a three volumer be restrained by the debasing fetters of a grovelling exactitude? Never! I will tell you what. If I choose, I who speak to you, moi qui vous parle , the Seine shall run red with the blood of murdered priests, and there shall be a tide in it where no tide ever was before, close to Paris itself, the home of the Marrons Glacés , and into the river I shall plunge a corpse with upturned face and glassy, staring, haunting, dreadful eyes, and the tide shall turn, the tide that never was on earth, or sky, or sea, it shall turn in my second volume for one night only, and carry the corpse of my victim back, back, back under bridges innumerable, back into the heart of Paris. Dreadful, isn't it? Allons, mon ami. Qu'est ce qu'il y a. Je ne sais quoi. Mon Dieu! There's idiomatic French for you, all sprinkled out of a cayenne pepper pot to make the local colour hot and strong. Bah! let us return to our muttons!

CHAPTER II.

What was that? Something yellow, and spotted something sinuous and lithe, with crawling, catlike motion. No, no! Yes, yes!! A leopard of the forest had issued from a side street, a cul de sac , as the frivolous sons of Paris, the Queen of Vice, call it. It was moving with me, stopping when I stopped, galloping when I galloped, turning somersaults when I turned them. And then it spoke to me spoke, yes, spoke, this thing of the desert this wild phantasm of a brain distraught by over indulgence in marrons glacés , the curse of ma patrie , and its speech was as the scent of scarlet poppies, plucked from the grave of a discarded mistress.

"Thou shalt write," it said, "for it is thine to reform the world." I shuddered. The conversational "thou" is fearful at all times; but, ah, how true to nature, even the nature of a leopard of the forest. The beast continued "But thou shalt write in English."

"Spare me!" I ventured to interpose.

"In English," it went on, inexorably "in hysterical, sad, mad, bad English. And the tale shall be of France France, where the ladies always leave the dinner table before the men... Continue reading book >>


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