Jerome K. Jerome: The Dancing Partner

May 29, 2009

I must have read this long ago, but, unlike other stories, I realised the fact only after I was a little while through it.

A bunch of young girls talk about the scarcity of dancing partners and the affectedness and the utter stupidity of some of them that they have encountered.

They wish that they had had an ideal dancing partner who won’t complain.

This is overheard by the father of one of the girls. A maker of mechanical toys, he sets out to create Lt. Fritz, answering to the the girls’ desideratum.

And with what results – or consequences?

Find the story here:


Charlie Fish: Death by Scrabble

May 28, 2009

A short story that I read today for the first time and one that is available online.

A husband and wife play a Scrabble game at home.

The husband, who hates his wife, goes through a welter of emotions as he places tiles on the board.

As the game proceeds, it takes a weird turn.

Is there a mysterious power behind the game?

Read it and write your thoughts.



Charles-Louis Philippe: The Match

May 27, 2009

I reread this today is in a book of  short stories collected under the title Adventure. 

Hardly four pages in length, it’s about a traveller. Having arrived in Zurich, he checks into a hotel  and goes to bed in his room.

He lights a cigarette and throws the match on the floor. Seized with an anxiety that it may not have burnt out and may cause a fire, he bends down to look at it when –

When a hand hidden under the bed emerges, and puts out the match!

There is a man under the bed!

From then on it’s a breath-taking narration.

When I read this story decades ago I had not realised this was a French author. Today I learnt it from Google. The book didn’t mention it and didn’t give the translator’s name.


At first our brain appreciates only what our eyes have indicated to it.

Fitz-James O’Brien: What was it?

May 26, 2009

I read this story for the first time this morning.

I am yet to google the author’s name.

This a ghost story but with a difference. Quite readable.

The narrator comes to know of a house that is said to be haunted. The landlady of the boarding house, of which he is a member, decides to move to this very place so that she can be nearer the centre of the town. The intrepid among the lodgers agree to go with her. There, in the eerie house,  the narrator one night encounters – what was it?



“I do not, even at this hour, realize the situation in which I found myself. I cannot recall the astounding incident thoroughly. Imagination in vain tries to compass the awful paradox.”

PS: When reading it online, please click on the numbers at the bottom of any page to move from page to page – don’t click on the big arrows at either side of the page.

Mark Twain: The Stolen White Elephant

May 25, 2009

Today let’s have a humorous story. It’s an old one and so it is available online.

An elephant, while being transported from India to Britain, arrives in New Jersey for a stopover. But before the journey could be resumed, it is stolen. The owner requests the police to trace it out. A massive hunt follows and a horde of detectives are despatched in different directions to look for the lost pachyderm. The reports that they send to the Hq. are hilarious.

Was the elephant found? If so, where? And in what condition?

And why do you think the author chose a white elephant? 

As we read this story, we must remember that it is set in a previous era quite different from the one in which we live.

At times you might find it preposterous, but have fun!



“I am not given to boasting, it is not my habit; but – we shall find the elephant.”


Nicolas Bentley: The Case of the Sharp-eyed Jeweller

May 23, 2009

A shop assistant in a jewellery shop shows precious antique rings to a prospective customer, an American, when one of the jewels goes missing. The customer’s trouser turn-ups are checked and he ie even taken to an inner room for a more thorough search. But it is not found. Another customer – this time a woman – walks in and after some casual inquiry she turns to depart when the salseman asks her to stop. The missing property is found on her person.

In this detective story, the detective is not “an extraordinary person, extraordinarily favoured by fortune” but “just an ordinary man who uses his eyes and his common sense to the full”.

There are clues very cleverly laid in the course of the stroy so you too can be a detective if you so wish. So when the shop assistant explains to his grateful employer how he detected the crime, it does not totally surprise us. But did we anticipate him? Well, it depends on how carefully we followed the leads.

Nicolas Bentley is the brother of E. C. Bentley, creator of the clerihew and also the author of a single famous detective story “Trent’s Last Case.”  That’s a good one but long.

Erskine Caldwell: Molly Cottontail

May 21, 2009

This  beautiful story by an American author puts you in a happy mood.

I read it for the first time today in a voluminous book titled The Children’s Treasury of Literature, ed. by Bryna and Louis Untermeyer (Paul Hamlyn, London) after rummaging it from my library.

To nine-year-old Johnny’s home there comes a visitor, Aunt Nellie. He overhears her telling his mom whether he likes to hunt. When told that he did not, she declares: “I am disappointed in having a nephew who is not a real Southern gentleman.”

Johnny, touched to the quick,  goes into a room and taking his father’s shotgun and some shells, strolls out. Soon he comes across a grey-furred rabbit sitting on the bank of a creek. He takes aim and shoots…

Despite Aunt Nellie and her notions of Southern gentlemen,   there are fresh ways of looking at things.