The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son (From the New Testament, Luke XV)

The prodigal is a parable, spoken by Jesus in praise of forgiveness. It is one of the great stories of the world, and is justly regarded as a perfect model of the art of story-telling.

The present text is taken from the King James version. There is no title to the story in the original.

The Prodigal Son

And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods 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 wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks th

The History of Susanna

The History of Susanna (From The Apocrypha)

Susanna was originally a part of the Book of Daniel, but was set apart as apocryphal, because it “was not in Hebrew.” It is none the less a story of remarkable vividness, told with skill and dramatic power.

The text used here is that printed in Volume IV of Ancient Hebrew Literature, in Everyman’s Library, published in 1907 by J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here included.

The History of Susanna

There dwelt a man in Babylon, called Joakim: and he took a wife, whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, a very fair woman, and one that feared the Lord. Her parents also were righteous, and taught their daughter according to the law of Moses. Now Joakim was a great rich man, and had a fair garden joining unto his house: and to him resorted the Jews; because he was more honorable than all others. The same year were appointed two of the ancients of the people to be judges, su

Orpheus and Eurydice

Ovid (43 B.C.—18 A.D.?)

Publius Ovidius Naso, better known to readers of English as Ovid, was born not far from Rome, and spent the latter part of his life in exile. The Metamorphoses, his most ambitious work, is an attempt to reshape in metrical form the chief stories of Greek mythology, and several from Roman mythology. Orpheus and Eurydice, one of the most human of the legends of antiquity, is a graceful piece of writing. Its “point” is as clear and as cleverly turned as you will find in any ancient tale.

The present translation is based by the editors upon two early versions, the one very literal, the other a paraphrase. The story, which has no title in the original, appears in the Tenth Book of the Metamorphoses.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Thence Hymenaeus, clad in a saffron-colored robe, passed through the unmeasured spaces of the air and directed his course to the region of the Ciconians, and in vain was invoked by the voice of Orph

Phineus And The Harpies

Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd Century B.c.)

Although he was a late writer in the epic form, Apollonius treated ancient mythical material, but from the standpoint of a scholar and a literary stylist. He left his native land, Rhodes, and settled m Alexandria, then the centre of the cultured world. The tale of Phineus is not new, but the details which embellish it, and the verbal pyrotechnics which he lavished upon it, are highly characteristic of the decadent period in which it was written.

The present translation is that of R. C. Seaton, in the Loeb edition, William Heinemann, London, 1912. There is no title to the story in the original.

Phineus And The Harpies

There Phineus, son of Agenor, had his home by the sea, Phineus, who above all men endured most bitter woes because of the gift of prophecy which Leto’s son had granted him aforetime. And he reverenced not a whit even Zeus himself, for he foretold unerringly to men his sacred will. Whe

A Newyear’s Eve Confession part 4

“The devil!” exclaimed the old soldier in surprise; “then you were the cause of that touching farewell letter that Bianca sent me—in which she declared that she must give me up—although her heart would break? “Yes, I was the cause of it,” said his friend. “But listen, there is more to tell. I had thought to purchase peace with that money, but the peace did not come. The wild thoughts ran riot all the more madly in my brain. I buried myself in my work—it was just about that time that I was working out the plan of my book on the ‘Immortality of the Idea’—but still could not find peace.

And thus the year passed and New Year’s Eve came round again. Again we sat together here, she and I. You were at home this time, but you lay sleeping on the sofa in the next room. A merry Casino dinner had tired you. And as I sat beside her, and my eyes rested on her pale face, then memory came over me with irresistible power. Once more I would feel her head on my bre

A Newyear’s Eve Confession part 3

The old soldier murmured something and lit his pipe.

“No, she was as pure as God’s angels,” continued the other. “It is you and I who are the guilty ones. Listen to me. It is now forty-three years ago; you had just been ordered here as captain to Berlin, and I Wits teaching at the University. You were a gay bird then, as you know.”

“Him,” remarked the host, raising his trembling old hand to his mustache.
“There was a beautiful actress with great black eyes and little white teeth—do you remember?”

“Do I? Bianca was her name,” answered the other as a faded smile flashed over his weather beaten, self indulgent face. Those little white teeth could bite, I can tell you.”

“You deceived your wife, and she suspected it. But she said nothing and suffered in silence. She was the first woman who had come into my life since my mother’s death. She came into it like a shining star, and I gazed up to her in adoration as one m

A Newyear’s Eve Confession part 2

My two old gentlemen sat half in the shadow of the green lampshade, moldering ruins both, from long past days, bowed and trembling, gazing before them with the dull glance of the dimming eyes of age. One, the host, is evidently an old officer, as you would recognize at once from his carefully wound cravat, his pointed, sharply cut mustache, and his martial eyebrows. He sits holding the handle of his roller chair like a crutch tightly clasped in both hands. He is motionless except for his jaws, which move up and down ceaselessly with the motion of chewing.

The other, who sits near him on the sofa, a tall, spare figure, his narrow shoulders crowned by the high domed head of a thinker, draws occasional thin puffs of smoke from a long pipe which is just about to go out. Among the myriad wrinkles of his smooth shaven, dried up face, framed in a wreath of snow white curls, there lurked a quiet, gentle smile, a smile which the peace of resignation alone can bring to the face of

A Newyear’s Eve Confession part 1

Hermann Sudermann (1857 – 1928)

Sudermann was born in East Prussia in 1857, and educated at the Universities of Konigsberg and Berlin. He was one of the foremost leaders of the dramatic movement of the nineties, though today he is regarded as definitely belonging to the past. But his stories of East Prussian and Lithuanian life, and his novels, are written with a fine imaginative power, and are still read both in Germany and abroad.

The present version, translated by Grace I. Colbron, is reprinted by permission of the publisher, from Short Story Classics, published and copyright by P. F. Collier’s Sons, New York, 1907.

A New year’s Eve Confession

Thanks be to God, dear Lady, that I may once more sit beside you for a peaceful chat. The holiday tumult is past, and you have a little leisure for me again.

Oh, this Christmas season! I believe that it was invented by some rail demon expressly to annoy us poor bachelors, to show

The Story of Serapion part 9

“He then related a regular romance, with a plot and incidents such as only the most imaginative poet could have constructed. The characters and events stood out with such a vivid, plastic relief, that it was impossible—carried away as one was by the magic spell of them—to help believing, as if in a species of dream, that Serapion had actually witnessed them from the hilltop. This romance was succeeded by another, and that by another, by which time the sun stood high above us in the noontide sky. Serapion then rose from his seat, and looking into the distance, said: ‘Yonder comes my brother Hilarion, who, in his overstrictness, always blames me for being too much given to the society of strangers.’

“I understood the hint, and took my leave, asking if I should be allowed to pay him another visit. Serapion answered with a gentle smile, ‘My friend, I thought you would be eager to get away from this wilderness, so little adapted to your mode of life. But if it is

The Story of Serapion part 8

I have no dread of the terror of the deepest solitude. It is only there that a life like this can dawn upon the pious soul.’

“Serapion, who had spoken with genuine priestly unction, raised, in silence, his eyes to Heaven with an expression of blissful gratitude. How could I feel otherwise than awestruck! A madman,, congratulating himself on his condition, looking upon it as a priceless gift from Heaven, and, from the depths of his heart, wishing me a similar fate!

“I was on the point of leaving him, but he began in an altered tone, saying:

“ ‘You would, probably, scarcely suppose that this wild inhospitable desert is often almost too full of the noise and bustle of life to be suitable for my silent meditations. Every day I receive visits from the most remarkable people of the most diverse kinds. Ariosto was here yesterday, and Dante and Petrarch afterwards. And this evening I expect Evagrus, the celebrated father, with whom I shall discuss the