The Best British Short Stories of 1922

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The coat pockets were next examined: Blank. Still I dog-slept. The wrinkled lips were now working angrily, churning up two specks of foam that shone white in the corners of the mouth. The running eye rained tears of rage down her left cheek; and the other one glowed and dulled, a winking red spark in the gloom, as she looked quickly up and down the bed.

Her left hand hung down by her side, the arm tense. Then, as she slipped her right hand under the clothes in an effort to go over the rest of me, I gave a half turn and a low sleep moan to warn her off. At once the left hand shot up over my head, the lean fingers clutching a foot of lead pipe.

Again I tried to appear sound asleep. With eyes tight shut I lay still.

The Best British Short Stories of 1922 by VARIOUS read by David Wales Part 1/2 - Full Audio Book

I dared not move. One glimpse of that tortured face had shown me that I could hope for nothing; the utter folly of mercy or half measures was fully understood. Yet, effort was impossible. I was simply and completely afraid. The lead pipe did not, however, meet my skull. Hearing a slight scuffle, I peeped out to find that there were now two figures in the gloom. The Boss had crept up, seized the hag's left arm, and was pointing to the door.

She held back, and in silent pantomime showed that Mick had not been gone over yet. With her free hand she gathered her one skirt over her dirty, skinny knees and danced with rage by the side of my bed.

She looked like the parody of some carrion creature seen in the nightmare of a starving man. The most terrible thing about her was her amazing silence; the mad dance of her stockinged feet on the bare boards made no sound.

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The Boss loosened his hold on her wrist, but took away the lead pipe from her, and she slipped over to Mick. Again those skinny claws went through their evolutions with uncanny silence and effect, whilst I lay, every muscle taut, ready to spring up if occasion required.

My nerve had returned, and now that the piece of lead pipe was in the hands of the less fiendish partner of this strange concern, I was ready to wade in. But she found nothing, and Mick slept on. We were too poor to rob; but this only enraged her the more. Her fingers twisted themselves into the shawl at her breast, and she silently but vehemently spat at Mick's head as she moved away.

For half an hour I tried in vain to sleep, and then the Boss again appeared. This time he bore a huge bulk of patched and soiled canvas, part of an old sail, which he hung from the ceiling across the middle of the room, thus shutting off Twinetoes, Mick and myself from that part where was the door on to the stairs. He was not noisy, but he made no attempt to keep the previous death stillness of the house. As the Boss descended the stairs, a surprising thing happened--and Mick awoke.

Girlish laughter rippled up the stairs! Again it came, and with it the gurgling of the old woman. It was impossible and incredible, that mingling in the fetid air of those two sounds, as if the babble of clear spring water had suddenly broken into and merged with the turgid roll of a city sewer. Mick sat up.

We waited. Mick slipped out of bed, carefully opened his knife and made a few judicious slits in the veiling canvas. My senses had become abnormally acute. I seemed to hear every shade of sound within and without the house.

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I could sense, I imagined, the very positions in which sat the persons in the kitchen below. Even Twinetoes was affected by the tense atmosphere. He murmured in his sleep and seemed somewhat sobered, for his limbs took more natural positions on the bed. The darkness was no longer a bar to vision. By now I could see quite clearly; and so, I believe, could Mick.

The old woman was mumbling to the girl. W'll fix y'up aw ri'. The girl remained silent. The Boss, I could hear, walked up and down the kitchen, busy with some final work of the night. A confused murmur came from another corner; but I could not distinguish the words: The dock rats were apparently discussing something. Again that ripple of sound ascended the stairs, but this time there was an added note of apprehension. It broke very faintly but pitifully, before dying away to the sound of light footsteps.

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Half a dozen stairs were pressed, then came a stumble and a girlish "A-ah. Through the veiling canvas and the old walls I seemed to see the pair ascending. A few seconds more, and a slight farm rounded the jamb of the door. The girl's eyes blinked in the walled twilight of the room. She hesitated on the threshold, but only for a second.

The Best British Short Stories of 1922 by Edward J. O'Brien and John Cournos, editors

The touch of a following frame impelled her forward. Her uncertain foot caught against a bed leg and a white hand gripped the steadying rail. Long-nailed claws laced themselves in the fingers of her other hand and the old woman half drew, half twisted her into sitting down on the edge of the bed. They began to talk quietly. I examined them more closely Chapter previous. Chapter next.

But it is not fair that his memory should absorb you. It's--it's unnatural. You know I loved him. Yes, I know," she interrupted him. Surely" "You see I knew," she said, even more quietly than before. It was I who was with him. It was his last leave," she added thoughtfully. Enter the name of the series to add the book to it. Works can belong to more than one series. In some cases, as with Chronicles of Narnia , disagreements about order necessitate the creation of more than one series.

Tip: If the series has an order, add a number or other descriptor in parenthesis after the series title eg. By default, it sorts by the number, or alphabetically if there is no number. If you want to force a particular order, use the character to divide the number and the descriptor. So, " 0 prequel " sorts by 0 under the label "prequel. Series was designed to cover groups of books generally understood as such see Wikipedia: Book series. Like many concepts in the book world, "series" is a somewhat fluid and contested notion.

A good rule of thumb is that series have a conventional name and are intentional creations , on the part of the author or publisher.

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For now, avoid forcing the issue with mere "lists" of works possessing an arbitrary shared characteristic, such as relating to a particular place. Avoid series that cross authors, unless the authors were or became aware of the series identification eg. Also avoid publisher series, unless the publisher has a true monopoly over the "works" in question.