The room in which John Shorely edited the Weekly Sponge was not luxuriously furnished, but it was comfortable. A few pictures decorated the walls, mostly black and white drawings by artists who were so unfortunate as to be compelled to work for the Sponge on the cheap. Magazines and papers were littered all about, chiefly American in their origin, for Shorely had been brought up in the editorial school which teaches that it is cheaper to steal from a foreign publication than waste good money on original contributions. You clipped out the story;
Haziddin, the ambassador, stood at the door of his tent and gazed down upon the famous city of Baalbek, seeing it now for the first time. The night before, he had encamped on the heights to the south of Baalbek, and had sent forward to that city, messengers to the Prince, carrying greetings and acquainting him with the fact that an embassy from the Governor of Damascus awaited permission to enter the gates. The sun had not yet risen, but the splendour in the East, lighting the sky with wondrous colourings of gold and crimson and green, announced the speedy coming of that god which many of the inhabitants of Baalbek still worshipped.
Eugene Caspilier sat at one of the metal tables of the Cafe Egalite, allowing the water from the carafe to filter slowly through a lump of sugar and a perforated spoon into his glass of absinthe. It was not an expression of discontent that was to be seen on the face of Caspilier, but rather a fleeting shade of unhappiness which showed he was a man to whom the world was being unkind. On the opposite side of the little round table sat his friend and sympathising companion, Henri Lacour. He sipped his absinthe slowly, as absinthe should be sipped, and it was evident that he was deeply concerned with the problem that confronted his comrade.
The fifteen nobles, who formed the Council of State for the Moselle Valley, stood in little groups in the Rittersaal of Winneburg's Castle, situated on a hill-top in the Ender Valley, a league or so from the waters of the Moselle. The nobles spoke in low tones together, for a greater than they were present, no other than their over-lord, the Archbishop of Treves, who, in his stately robes of office, paced up and down the long room, glancing now and then through the narrow windows which gave a view down the Ender Valley.
Public opinion had been triumphantly vindicated. The insanity plea had broken down, and Albert Prior was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until he was dead, and might the Lord have mercy on his soul. Everybody agreed that it was a righteous verdict, but now that he was sentenced they added, "Poor fellow!" Albert Prior was a young man who had had more of his own way than was good for him.
It was in the days when drawing-rooms were dark, and filled with bric- a-brac. The darkness enabled the half-blinded visitor, coming in out of the bright light, to knock over gracefully a $200 vase that had come from Japan to meet disaster in New York. In a corner of the room was seated, in a deep and luxurious armchair, a most beautiful woman. She was the wife of the son of the richest man in America; she was young; her husband was devotedly fond of her; she was mistress of a palace; anything that money could buy was hers did she but express the wish;
The young naval officer came into this world with two eyes and two arms; he left it with but one of each--nevertheless the remaining eye was ever quick to see, and the remaining arm ever strong to seize. Even his blind eye became useful on one historic occasion. But the loss of eye or arm was as nothing to the continual loss of his heart, which often led him far afield in the finding of it. Vanquished when he met the women; invincible when he met the men; in truth, a most human hero, and so we all love Jack--the we, in this instant, as the old joke has it, embracing the women.
"The quick must haste to vengeance taste, For time is on his head; But he can wait at the door of fate, Though the stay be long and the hour be late-- The dead."
The Monarch in the Arabian story had an ointment which, put upon the right eye, enabled him to see through the walls of houses. If the Arabian despot had passed along a narrow street leading into a main thoroughfare of London, one night just before the clock struck twelve, he would have beheld, in a dingy back room of a large building, a very strange sight. He would have seen King Charles the First seated in friendly converse with none other than Oliver Cromwell.