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A SAD STORY
My next-door neighbor has a rooster which set up to be the rival of mine. It is a strange thing that creatures living side by side, instead of cultivating friendship and good feelings, should become envious, jealous, and quarrelsome.
Well, at first the rival roosters were satisfied with trying to see which could crow the louder, and it really seemed as if they would split their throats in the contest. Then they began to try which should wake up and crow first in the morning, and in this strife they would often begin at two o'clock at night; and lest one should get advantage over the other, they kept crowing away till sunrise.
So long as things were confined to crowing, no serious evil followed, but from crows the rivals at last came to blows. One day, as they chanced to be pretty near together, they began crowing at each other. By and by my rooster got angry; so he mounted the fence which divides my yard from my neighbor's, flapped his wings, and crowed a most tremendous crow. Upon this the other gave him a regular challenge to fight. There was no police to stop them, and they went at it. It was no boy's play; wings, spurs, and beaks, all were put in action. They fought like tigers, and when neither could stand, they held on to each other's combs and lay panting on the ground. At last they got up. One marched one way and the other another.
My rooster was so nearly blind that he could not find the way to the henhouse. The best he could do was to get under a small cedar tree, and there he took lodgings for the night. But, alas! the weather was bitter cold, and the poor thing was found stiff as an icicle, his feathers torn, his comb destroyed, and the air of pride and triumph which once distinguished him, departed forever. My neighbor's rooster saw the poor fellow lying in the snow, so over the fence he flew and began a most furious assault upon the lifeless body. After beating it soundly for about five minutes, the creature paused, look contemptuously at the object of his wrath, drew himself up to his full height, and crowed. Then, with proud strides, he marched off to his flock of hens, who received him with three cheers, as the hero of all outdoors.
493. Read aloud the following bit of narrative until you can read it well. Then tell just why you like or dislike it.
The bear was coming on; he had, in fact, come on. I judged that he could see the whites of my eyes. All my subsequent reflections were confused. I raised the gun, covered the bear's breast with the sight, and let drive. Then I turned, and ran like a deer. I did not hear the bear pursuing. I looked back. The bear had stopped. He was lying down. I then remembered that the best thing to do after having fired your gun is to reload it. I slipped in a charge, keeping my eyes on the bear. He never stirred. I walked back suspiciously. There was a quiver in the hind-legs, but no other motion. Still he might be shamming: bears often sham. To make sure, I approached, and put a ball into his head. He didn't mind it now: he minded nothing. Death had come to him with a merciful suddenness. He was calm in death. In order that he might remain so, I blew his brains out, and then started for home. I had killed a bear! - C. D. WARNER.
494. Read the following narratives aloud and criticize (1) the introduction, (2) the order of events, (3) the ending.
INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP
You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:
A mile or so away,
On a little mound, Napoleon
Stood on our storming-day;
Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
Let once my army-leader Lannes
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
A rider, bound on bound
Then off there flung in smiling joy,
By just his horse's mane, a boy:
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon !
The Marshal's in the market-place,
To see your flag-bird flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.
The chief's eye flashed; but presently
A film the mother-eagle's eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes;
"You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride
"I'm killed, Sire!" And his chief beside,
“I say there, drop that!" cried Strong. "All right, sir, didn't know it was you," he added hastily, seeing it was Lieutenant Haines who had thrown back the flap of the tent, and let in a gust of wind and rain that threatened the most serious bronchial consequences to our discontented tallow dip.
"You're to bunk in here," said the lieutenant, speaking to some one outside. The some one stepped in, and Haines vanished in the darkness.
When Strong had succeeded in restoring the candle to consciousness, the light fell upon a tall, shy-looking man of about thirty-five, with long, hay-colored beard and mustache, upon which the raindrops stood in clusters, like the night dew on patches of cobweb in a meadow. It was an honest face, with unworldly blue eyes, that looked out from under the broad visor of the infantry cap. With a deferential glance towards us, the newcomer unstrapped his knapsack, spread his blanket over it, and sat down unobtrusively.
"Rather damp night out," remarked Blakely, whose strong hand was supposed to be conversation.
"Quite so," replied the stranger, not curtly, but pleasantly, with an air as if he had said all there was to be said about it.
"Come from the North recently?" inquired Blakely, after a pause. "Yes."
"From any place in particular?"
"People considerably stirred up down there?" continued Blakely, determined not to give up.
Blakely threw a puzzled look over the tent, and seeing Ned Strong on the broad grin, frowned severely. Strong instantly assumed an abstracted air, and began humming softly,
"I wish I was in Dixie."
"The State of Maine," observed Blakely, with a certain defiance of manner not at all necessary in discussing a geographical question, "is a pleasant State."
"In summer," suggested the stranger.
"In summer, I mean," returned Blakely with animation, thinking he had broken the ice. "Cold as blazes in winter, though — isn't it?"
The new recruit merely nodded.
Blakely eyed the man homicidally for a moment, and then, smiling one of those smiles of simulated gayety which the novelists inform`us are more tragic than tears, turned upon him with withering irony.
"Trust you left the old folks pretty comfortable?"
"The old folks dead!"
-T. B. ALDRICH, "Quite So," in "Marjorie Daw."
NOTE. In this combination of narrative and description, notice what an important part the conversation plays. Does the natural way in which the writer approaches the climax remind you of the telling of one of the anecdotes in this chapter?
157. The News Item. A good newspaper is likely to use almost all the important forms of prose. One of these forms - the news item merits special attention because of its importance and the opportunity it gives for practice in prose construction. The news item is an account of some current event. It may deal with practically any subject, but it must be clear, terse, forcible, and lively. It may be narrative, description, or exposition. Sometimes the writer may wish to make a "story" from few facts, but usually the "maximum of thought in the minimum of words" is the safest guide in composing a news item. This does not mean that it is to be nothing but a bare statement of facts. The circulation of a paper depends upon the interest its readers have in everyday things, and the paper must tell about these things in an interesting way. Practice in writing news items, even when we expect never to write for a newspaper, will be excellent training, especially in narrative composition.
The following items clipped from a newspaper should be examined carefully: