By the author of “Three Men in a Boat,” “Three Men on the Bummel,” “Diary of a Pilgrimage,” “Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow,” “Stage-Land,” “Paul Kelver,” etc. First published 1907.
Three fantasies, a serious emotional piece, and two light amusing tales with a moral. “Passing of the Third Floor Back” and “The Soul of Nicholas Snyders” were adapted as plays.
“Passing of the Third Floor Back”: an angelic visitor brings out the best in the disagreeable inhabitants of a boarding-house.
“The Philosopher’s Joke”: three middle-aged couples agree to a “time displacement” in hopes of attaining happier lives.
“The Soul of Nicholas Snyders”: a cold-hearted miserly old man exchanges souls with a poor and struggling but happy young man.
“The Love of Ulrich Nebendahl”: he loved his small village and its people above all else.
“Mrs. Korner Sins Her Mercies”; “The Cost of Kindness”: Two different women discover that their well-meant beliefs can have undesireable results.
[Mrs. Pennycoop, with the best of intentions, wishes to bid farewell to the departing vicar, a man detested by the entire congregation]
Mrs. Pennycoop had had her speech ready to her tongue. It was just what it should have been, and no more. ... The chilling attitude of the Rev. Augustus scattered that carefully-rehearsed speech to the winds. It left Mrs. Pennycoop nothing but to retire in choking silence, or to fling herself upon the inspiration of the moment and make up something new. She choose the latter alternative.
At first the words came halting. Her husband, man-like, had deserted her in her hour of utmost need and was fumbling with the door-knob. The steely stare with which the Rev. Cracklethorpe regarded her, instead of chilling her, acted upon her as a spur. It put her on her mettle. He should listen to her. She would make him understand her kindly feeling towards him if she had to take him by the shoulders and shake it into him. At the end of five minutes the Rev. Augustus Cracklethorpe, without knowing it, was looking pleased. At the end of another five Mrs. Pennycoop stopped, not for want of words, but for want of breath. The Rev. Augustus Cracklethorpe replied in a voice that, to his own surprise, was trembling with emotion. Mrs. Pennycoop had made his task harder for him. He had thought to leave Wychwood-on-the-Heath without a regret. The knowledge he now possessed, that at all events one member of his congregation understood him, as Mrs. Pennycoop had proved to him she understood him, sympathized with him—the knowledge that at least one heart, and that heart Mrs. Pennycoop’s, had warmed to him, would transform what he had looked forward to as a blessed relief into a lasting grief.
Mr. Pennycoop, carried away by his wife’s eloquence, added a few halting words of his own. It appeared from Mr. Pennycoop’s remarks that he had always regarded the Rev. Augustus Cracklethorpe as the vicar of his dreams, but misunderstandings in some unaccountable way will arise. The Rev. Augustus Cracklethorpe, it appeared, had always secretly respected Mr. Pennycoop. If at any time his spoken words might have conveyed the contrary impression, that must have arisen from the poverty of our language, which does not lend itself to subtle meanings.
Then following the suggestion of tea, Miss Cracklethorpe, sister to the Rev. Augustus — a lady whose likeness to her brother in all respects was startling, the only difference between them being that while he was clean-shaven she wore a slight moustache — was called down to grace the board. The visit was ended by Mrs. Pennycoop’s remembrance that it was Wilhelmina’s night for a hot bath.
Again, no illustrations. You can choose small Drop-caps or the simple Large-cap version.
Some of these stories are a little different than most of Jerome's earlier work - give it a read, and see what you think.
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