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Greg Reads Books To You Greg Enright

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In this podcast, Greg will read books to you. Today, Tomorrow or the Next Day. Whenever you want a book read to you... Greg will read it.

    Cupid’s Understudy Part 3

    Cupid’s Understudy Part 3

    Chapter Five

    Our train left Grand Central Station at two o’clock next afternoon; it was bitter cold, I remember, and I drove to the station, smothered in furs. But our car was wonderfully cozy and comfortable, and it warmed my heart to see how proud Dad was of it: I must inspect the kitchen; this was my stateroom, did I like it? I mustn’t judge Amos by his appearance, but the way he could cook—he was a wonder at making griddle cakes. Did I still like griddle cakes? “And do look at the books and magazines Mr. Porter brought. And a box of chocolates, too. Wasn’t it kind of him?” Dear Dad! He was like a child with a new toy.

    I’m sure he enjoyed every minute of the trip. Mr. Porter played cribbage with him (Dad adores cribbage) by the hour; they talked railroads, and politics, and mining—I don’t think Dad had been so happy in years. I know I had never been so happy, for I was sure Mr. Porter loved me. I couldn’t help being sure; his heart was in his eyes every time he looked at me.

    When we started from New York, we were Mr. Middleton, and Mr. Porter, and Miss Middleton to one another; at Chicago, it was Tom, and Blakely, and Miss Middleton; I became Elizabeth in Utah (I made him call me that. And when we reached Nevada . . .

    It happened so naturally, so sweetly. Dad was taking a nap after luncheon, and Blakely and I were sitting on the rear platform of our car, the last car in the train. It was a heavenly day of blue sky and sunshine; the desert was fresh from recent rain. And then a few, dear, faltered words changed the desert into a garden that reached to the rim of the world.

    “I love you. I didn’t mean to tell you quite yet, but I . . . I . . .”

    “I know. And it makes me so happy.”

    You never saw anybody so delighted as Dad was when we told him. “This makes me glad clear through,” he said. “Blakely, boy, I couldn’t love you more if you were my own son. Elizabeth, girl, come and kiss your old Daddy.”

    “And you aren’t surprised, Dad?”

    “Not a bit.”

    “He’s known I’ve loved you, all along. Haven’t you, Tom?”

    “I may have suspected it.”

    “But I’m sure he never dreamed I could possibly care for you,” I said. And then, because I was too happy to do anything else, I went to my state-room, and had a good cry.

    I have read somewhere that Love would grow old were it not for the tears of happy women.

    Chapter Six

    When we flew down the grade into California, everything seemed settled; we were going to Santa Barbara where Dad was building a little palace for his Elizabeth as a grand surprise (Blakely’s mother was in Santa Barbara); we would take rooms at the same hotel; I would be presented to Mrs. Porter, and as soon as the palace on the hill was completed—a matter of two or three months—Blakely, and Dad, and I would move into it. Only, first, Blakely and I were going to San Bernardino on our wedding trip.

    Wasn’t that sweet of Blakely? When I told him about San Bernardino, and the livery-stable, and the cottage where Dad and I used to live, he said he’d rather spend our honeymoon there than any place in the world. Of course Dad had never sold the cottage, and it was touching to see how pleased he was with our plan.

    “You’ll find everything in first-class condition,” he said; “I go there often myself. I built a little house in one corner of the garden for the caretakers. You should see that gold-of-Ophir rose, Elizabeth; it has grown beyond belief.”

    When we reached Oakland—where our car had to be switched off and attached to a coast line, train—we found we had four hours to kill, so Dad and Blakely and I (it was Blakely’s idea) caught the boat across to San Francisco.

    What do you suppose that dear boy wanted us to go over there for? And where do you suppose he took us? He took us straight to Shreve’s, and he and Dad spent a beautiful

    • 14 min
    Cupid’s Understudy Part 2

    Cupid’s Understudy Part 2

    Chapter Three

    The nice young man did more than find my missing trunks; he found a custom-house officer, and, after asking me privately which trunks contained my most valuable possessions and how much I had thought of declaring, he succeeded in having them passed through on my own valuation without any undue exposure of their contents.

    By this time Dad had grown very respectful. To see his little Elizabeth treated like a queen, while on all sides angry women were having their best gowns pawed over and mussed; was a most wholesome lesson. He paid the thousand and odd dollars duty like a little man.

    We’d been saved a lot of bother, and nobody hates a lot of bother more than Dad. So when the trunks were locked and strapped and ready to be sent to our hotel, Dad went up to the nice young man and said: “I’m Tom Middleton, from California, and this is my daughter Elizabeth. We’re both very grateful to you, and if you should ever happen to come to California, I hope you’ll look us up.”

    That’s Dad all over!

    I never saw anybody look so pleased as the young man: “My name’s Porter,” he said, “Blakely Porter. If my mother were in New York I would ask if she might call on Miss Middleton, but, as it happens, she’s in California, where I intend to join her, so I shall look forward to seeing you there.”

    Then Dad did just the right thing. “What’s the use of waiting till we get to California?” he said. “Why not dine with us to-night!”

    There are people, merely conventional people, who could never appreciate the fine directness and simplicity, of Dad’s nature—not if they lived to be a thousand years old. But Mr. Blakely Porter understood perfectly; I know he did, for he told me so afterwards. “It was the greatest compliment I ever had paid me in my life,” he said. “Your father knew nothing about me, absolutely nothing, yet he invited me to dine with him—and you. It was splendid, splendid!”

    The dear boy didn’t know, perhaps, that honesty shone in his eyes, that one could not look at him and deny he was a gentleman. And, of course, I didn’t enlighten him, for it is well for men, particularly, young men, to feel grateful, and the least bit humble; it keeps them from being spoiled.

    But to return to the dinner invitation: Mr. Porter accepted it eagerly. “It is more than kind of you,” he said. “My mother is away, and her house is closed. It is my first home-coming in four years, and I should have been lonely to-night.”

    And poor Dad, who has been lonely—oh, so lonely!—ever since Ninette died, shook hands with him, and said: “If my daughter and I can keep you from feeling lonely, we shall be so. glad. We are stopping at The Plaza, and we dine at half past seven.”

    Then Mr. Porter found us a taxi-cab, and away we went.

    It was good to be in America again. I made Dad stop the car, and have the top put back, even though it was freezing cold, for I had never been in New York before (when I’d gone to France, I had sailed from New Orleans) and I wanted to see everything. The tall buildings, the elevated, even the bad paving till we got to Fifth Avenue, interested me immensely, as they would any one to whom. Paris had been home, and New York a foreign city. Not that I had ever thought of Paris as my real home; home was, where my heart was- -with Dad. I tried to make him understand how, happy I was to be with him, how I had missed him, and California.

    “So you missed your old father; did you, girlie?”

    “Yes, Dad.”

    “And you’ll be glad to go to California?”

    “Oh, so glad!”

    “Then,” said Dad, “we’ll start tomorrow.”

    Our rooms at the hotel were perfect; there was a bed room and bath for me a bed room and bath for Dad, with a sitting room between, all facing the Park. And there were roses everywhere; huge American Beauties, dear, wee, pink roses, roses of f

    • 14 min
    Cupid’s Understudy Part 1

    Cupid’s Understudy Part 1

    By Edward Salisbury Field

    Chapter One

    If Dad had been a coal baron, like Mr. Tudor Carstairs, or a stock- watering captain of industry, like Mrs. Sanderson-Spear’s husband, or descended from a long line of whisky distillers, like Mrs. Carmichael Porter, why, then his little Elizabeth would have been allowed the to sit in seat of the scornful with the rest of the Four Hundred, and this story would never have been written. But Dad wasn’t any of these things; he was just an old love who had made seven million dollars by the luckiest fluke in the world.

    Everybody in southern California knew it was a fluke, too, so the seven millions came in for all the respect that would otherwise have fallen to Dad. Of course we were celebrities, in a way, but in a very horrid way. Dad was Old Tom Middleton, who used to keep a livery-stable in San Bernardino, and I was Old Tom Middleton’s girl, “who actually used to live over a livery-stable, my dear!” It sounds fearfully sordid, doesn’t it?

    But it wasn’t sordid, really, for I never actually lived over a stable. Indeed, we had the sweetest cottage in all San Bernardino. I remember it so well: the long, cool porch, the wonderful gold-of- Ophir roses, the honeysuckle where the linnets nested, the mocking birds that sang all night long; the perfume of the jasmine, of the orange-blossoms, the pink flame of the peach trees in April, the ever-changing color of the mountains. And I remember Ninette, my little Creole mother, gay as a butterfly, carefree as a meadow-lark. ’Twas she who planted the jasmine.

    My little mother died when I was seven years old. Dad and I and my old black mammy, Rachel, stayed on in the cottage. The mocking-birds still sang, and the linnets still nested in the honeysuckle, but nothing was ever quite the same again. It was like a different world; it was a different world. There were gold-of-Ophir roses, and, peach blossoms in April, but there was no more jasmine; Dad had it all dug up. To this day he turns pale at the sight of it—poor Dad!

    When I was twelve years old, Dad sold out his hardware business, intending to put his money in an orange grove at Riverside, but the nicest livery-stable in San Bernardino happened to be for sale just then, so he bought that instead, for he was always crazy about horses.

    To see me trotting about in Paquin gowns and Doucet models, you’d never think I owed them to three owlish little burros, would you? But it’s a fact. When Dad took over the livery-stable, he found he was the proud possessor of three donkeys, as well as some twenty-odd horses, and a dozen or so buggies, buckboards and surries. The burros ate their solemn heads off all winter, but in May it had been the custom to send them to Strawberry Valley in charge of a Mexican who hired them out to the boarders at the summer hotel there. Luckily for us, when Fortune came stalking down the main street of San Bernardino to knock at the door of the Golden Eagle Stables, both dad and the burros were at home. If either had been out, we might be poor this very minute.

    It is generally understood that when Fortune goes a-visiting, she goes disguised, so it’s small wonder Dad didn’t recognize her at first. She wasn’t even a “her”; she was a he, a great, awkward Swede with mouse-colored hair and a Yon Yonsen accent—you know the kind— slow to anger; slow to everything, without “j” in his alphabet—by the name of Olaf Knutsen.

    Now Olaf was a dreamer. Not the conventional sort of a dreamer, who sees beauty in everything but an honest day’s work, but a brawny, pick-swinging dreamer who had dug holes in the ground at the end of many rainbows. That he had never yet uncovered the elusive pot of gold didn’t seem to bother him in the least; for him, that tender plant called Hope flowered perennially. And now he was bent on following another rainbow; a rain

    • 9 min
    The Turnip

    The Turnip

    Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grim

    There were two brothers who were both soldiers; the one was rich and the other poor. The poor man thought he would try to better himself; so, pulling off his red coat, he became a gardener, and dug his ground well, and sowed turnips.

    When the seed came up, there was one plant bigger than all the rest; and it kept getting larger and larger, and seemed as if it would never cease growing; so that it might have been called the prince of turnips for there never was such a one seen before, and never will again. At last it was so big that it filled a cart, and two oxen could hardly draw it; and the gardener knew not what in the world to do with it, nor whether it would be a blessing or a curse to him. One day he said to himself, ’What shall I do with it? if I sell it, it will bring no more than another; and for eating, the little turnips are better than this; the best thing perhaps is to carry it and give it to the king as a mark of respect.’

    Then he yoked his oxen, and drew the turnip to the court, and gave it to the king. ’What a wonderful thing!’ said the king; ’I have seen many strange things, but such a monster as this I never saw. Where did you get the seed? or is it only your good luck? If so, you are a true child of fortune.’ ’Ah, no!’ answered the gardener, ’I am no child of fortune; I am a poor soldier, who never could get enough to live upon; so I laid aside my red coat, and set to work, tilling the ground. I have a brother, who is rich, and your majesty knows him well, and all the world knows him; but because I am poor, everybody forgets me.’

    The king then took pity on him, and said, ’You shall be poor no longer. I will give you so much that you shall be even richer than your brother.’ Then he gave him gold and lands and flocks, and made him so rich that his brother’s fortune could not at all be compared with his.

    When the brother heard of all this, and how a turnip had made the gardener so rich, he envied him sorely, and bethought himself how he could contrive to get the same good fortune for himself. However, he determined to manage more cleverly than his brother, and got together a rich present of gold and fine horses for the king; and thought he must have a much larger gift in return; for if his brother had received so much for only a turnip, what must his present be wroth?

    The king took the gift very graciously, and said he knew not what to give in return more valuable and wonderful than the great turnip; so the soldier was forced to put it into a cart, and drag it home with him. When he reached home, he knew not upon whom to vent his rage and spite; and at length wicked thoughts came into his head, and he resolved to kill his brother.

    So he hired some villains to murder him; and having shown them where to lie in ambush, he went to his brother, and said, ’Dear brother, I have found a hidden treasure; let us go and dig it up, and share it between us.’ The other had no suspicions of his roguery: so they went out together, and as they were travelling along, the murderers rushed out upon him, bound him, and were going to hang him on a tree.

    But whilst they were getting all ready, they heard the trampling of a horse at a distance, which so frightened them that they pushed their prisoner neck and shoulders together into a sack, and swung him up by a cord to the tree, where they left him dangling, and ran away. Meantime he worked and worked away, till he made a hole large enough to put out his head.

    When the horseman came up, he proved to be a student, a merry fellow, who was journeying along on his nag, and singing as he went. As soon as the man in the sack saw him passing under the tree, he cried out, ’Good morning! good morning to thee, my friend!’ The student looked about everywhere; and seeing no one, and not knowing where the voice came from,

    • 7 min
    The Blue Light

    The Blue Light

    Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grim

    There was once upon a time a soldier who for many years had served the king faithfully, but when the war came to an end could serve no longer because of the many wounds which he had received. The king said to him: ’You may return to your home, I need you no longer, and you will not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me service for them.’ Then the soldier did not know how to earn a living, went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the evening he entered a forest. When darkness came on, he saw a light, which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch. ’Do give me one night’s lodging, and a little to eat and drink,’ said he to her, ’or I shall starve.’ ’Oho!’ she answered, ’who gives anything to a run-away soldier? Yet will I be compassionate, and take you in, if you will do what I wish.’ ’What do you wish?’ said the soldier. ’That you should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow.’ The soldier consented, and next day laboured with all his strength, but could not finish it by the evening. ’I see well enough,’ said the witch, ’that you can do no more today, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must tomorrow chop me a load of wood, and chop it small.’ The soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch proposed that he should stay one night more. ’Tomorrow, you shall only do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes out, and you shall bring it up again.’ Next day the old woman took him to the well, and let him down in a basket. He found the blue light, and made her a signal to draw him up again. She did draw him up, but when he came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the blue light away from him. ’No,’ said he, perceiving her evil intention, ’I will not give you the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground.’ The witch fell into a passion, let him fall again into the well, and went away.

    The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue light went on burning, but of what use was that to him? He saw very well that he could not escape death. He sat for a while very sorrowfully, then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full. ’This shall be my last pleasure,’ thought he, pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little black dwarf stood before him, and said: ’Lord, what are your commands?’ ’What my commands are?’ replied the soldier, quite astonished. ’I must do everything you bid me,’ said the little man. ’Good,’ said the soldier; ’then in the first place help me out of this well.’ The little man took him by the hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget to take the blue light with him. On the way the dwarf showed him the treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above, he said to the little man: ’Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before the judge.’ In a short time she came by like the wind, riding on a wild tom-cat and screaming frightfully. Nor was it long before the little man reappeared. ’It is all done,’ said he, ’and the witch is already hanging on the gallows. What further commands has my lord?’ inquired the dwarf. ’At this moment, none,’ answered the soldier; ’you can return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon you.’ ’Nothing more is needed than that you should light your pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before you at once.’ Thereupon he vanished from his sight.

    The soldie

    • 10 min
    The Pink

    The Pink

    There was once upon a time a queen to whom God had given no children. Every morning she went into the garden and prayed to God in heaven to bestow on her a son or a daughter. Then an angel from heaven came to her and said: ’Be at rest, you shall have a son with the power of wishing, so that whatsoever in the world he wishes for, that shall he have.’ Then she went to the king, and told him the joyful tidings, and when the time was come she gave birth to a son, and the king was filled with gladness.

    Every morning she went with the child to the garden where the wild beasts were kept, and washed herself there in a clear stream. It happened once when the child was a little older, that it was lying in her arms and she fell asleep. Then came the old cook, who knew that the child had the power of wishing, and stole it away, and he took a hen, and cut it in pieces, and dropped some of its blood on the queen’s apron and on her dress. Then he carried the child away to a secret place, where a nurse was obliged to suckle it, and he ran to the king and accused the queen of having allowed her child to be taken from her by the wild beasts. When the king saw the blood on her apron, he believed this, fell into such a passion that he ordered a high tower to be built, in which neither sun nor moon could be seen and had his wife put into it, and walled up. Here she was to stay for seven years without meat or drink, and die of hunger. But God sent two angels from heaven in the shape of white doves, which flew to her twice a day, and carried her food until the seven years were over.

    The cook, however, thought to himself: ’If the child has the power of wishing, and I am here, he might very easily get me into trouble.’ So he left the palace and went to the boy, who was already big enough to speak, and said to him: ’Wish for a beautiful palace for yourself with a garden, and all else that pertains to it.’ Scarcely were the words out of the boy’s mouth, when everything was there that he had wished for. After a while the cook said to him: ’It is not well for you to be so alone, wish for a pretty girl as a companion.’ Then the king’s son wished for one, and she immediately stood before him, and was more beautiful than any painter could have painted her. The two played together, and loved each other with all their hearts, and the old cook went out hunting like a nobleman. The thought occurred to him, however, that the king’s son might some day wish to be with his father, and thus bring him into great peril. So he went out and took the maiden aside, and said: ’Tonight when the boy is asleep, go to his bed and plunge this knife into his heart, and bring me his heart and tongue, and if you do not do it, you shall lose your life.’ Thereupon he went away, and when he returned next day she had not done it, and said: ’Why should I shed the blood of an innocent boy who has never harmed anyone?’ The cook once more said: ’If you do not do it, it shall cost you your own life.’ When he had gone away, she had a little hind brought to her, and ordered her to be killed, and took her heart and tongue, and laid them on a plate, and when she saw the old man coming, she said to the boy: ’Lie down in your bed, and draw the clothes over you.’ Then the wicked wretch came in and said: ’Where are the boy’s heart and tongue?’ The girl reached the plate to him, but the king’s son threw off the quilt, and said: ’You old sinner, why did you want to kill me? Now will I pronounce thy sentence. You shall become a black poodle and have a gold collar round your neck, and shall eat burning coals, till the flames burst forth from your throat.’ And when he had spoken these words, the old man was changed into a poodle dog, and had a gold collar round his neck, and the cooks were ordered to bring up some live coals, and these he ate, until

    • 10 min

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