Some Sweet Finds Among the Free Kindle Books

we love free booksvintage illustration reading and smoking manBy Arthur Bartlett Maurice (1873–1946): According to Wikipedia, he was an American editor, born in Rahway, New Jersey, and educated at Richmond College (VA), and at Princeton. He served as an editor of the Woodbridge (NJ) Register in 1895, as city editor of the Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Herald in 1896, and as special writer for the New York Commercial Advertiser in 1897-98. Of The Bookman he was joint editor from 1899 to 1909 and editor thereafter. He contributed to the New International Encyclopædia and wrote New York in Fiction (1901) and History of the Nineteenth Century in Caricature (1904), with F. T. Cooper.

Fifth Avenue

A sort of a history of New York’s Fifth Ave, starting with the knickerbocker era, and ending somewhere before 1918, as that’s when it was first published. Excerpt:
The weekday life was in keeping with the Knickerbocker Sabbath. Home was the family castle, over which parental authority ruled with an iron hand. Hospitality was genuine and whole-hearted; but tempered by frugal moderation. Strict punctuality was demanded of every member of the household. The noon repast was the meal of the day. At the stroke of twelve old New York sat down to table. In the home there was variety and abundance, but the dinner was served as one course. Meats, poultry, vegetables, pies, puddings, fruits, and sweets were crowded together on the board. This adherence to the midday meal must have been the weak point in the armour in which the old order encased itself. For there the first breach was made. New Yorkers, returning from visits to Europe, hooted at the primitive noon repast of their youth. At first what were called the “foreign airs” of these would-be innovators were treated with derision. But they persisted, and by slow stages three o’clock became the extra fashionable hour for dinner. The old City Hotel was one of the first public places to fall into line.

The time was to come when a dining establishment, second to none of its day in social prestige and culinary excellence, was to stand on a corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street. But when those who dwelt on lower Fifth Avenue were still pioneers, dining out in public places meant a long and venturesome journey to the southward. The restaurants of that time—they were more generally called “eating houses,”—were almost all established in the business portions of the city. The midday dinner was the meal on which they depended for their main support. Then masculine New York left its shop or its counting house, hurried a block to the right, or a block to the left, and fell greedily on the succulent oyster, the slice of rare roast beef, or the sizzling English mutton chop. Conspicuous among the refectories of this type were the Auction Hotel, on Water Street, near Wall; the dining room of Clark and Brown, on Maiden Lane, near Liberty Street, one of the first of the so-called English chop-houses; the United States Hotel, which stood, until a few years ago, at the corner of Water and Fulton Streets, and which was the chosen home of the captains of the whaling ships from New London, Nantucket, New Bedford, and Sag Harbor; Downing’s, on Broad Street, famed for its Saddle Rocks and Blue Points, and its political patrons; and the basement on Park Row, a few doors from the old Park Theatre, presided over by one Edward Windust. This last was a rendezvous for actors, artists, musicians, newspaper-men—in short, the Bohemian set of that day—and its walls were covered with old play-bills, newspaper clippings, and portraits of tragedians and comedians of the past.

Also by Maurice: The Paris of the Novelists
Excerpt: In the beginning of “Une Double Famille’* Balzac
emphasized the darkness and unhealthiness of the region
about the old church of Saint-Merri. In that section
were the Rue des Lombards where Matifat presided
over the wholesale drug business; and the Rue Aubry
le Boucher, once the Rue des Cinq Diamants, where
Popinot of “Cesar Birotteau” had his shop. The
house described in “Une Double Famille” was in the
Rue Tourniquet-Saint- Jean, which was only five feet
wide at its broadest, and was cleaned only when it
rained.

But it is to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, now little
more than a name, that one turns for the shades of the
aristocratic women of the “Comedie Humaine.” There
was Rastignac’s relative, the Vicomtesse de Beauseaunt,
one of the queens of fashion, whose hotel was thought
to be the pleasantest in all the Faubourg, and where
one found the best-dressed women of the great world
of Paris — Lady Brandon, the Duchesse de Langeais, the
Comtesse de Kergarouet, the Comtesse Ferraud, Mme.
de Lanty, Mme. de Serizy, the Marquise de Listomere,
the Duchesse de Carigliano, the Marquise d’Aiglemont,
the Marquise d’Espard, Mme. Firmiani, and the Duch-
esse de Maufrigneuse, attended by the gilded and in-
solent youth of the period, the Maulincourts, Maximes
de Trailles, Ronquerolles, Ajuda-Pintos, and Van-
denesses. Even the tradition of the quarter has been
shaken by the Great War, and for years before August,
1914, little but tradition remained.

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Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, author of the really delightful girls’ book Miss Hickory, about the adventures of a hickory nut doll left out one winter (do yourself a favour and read it- Miss Hickory is a tart and hard-headed delightful creature), also wrote these:

Wonder Stories The Best Myths for Boys and Girls
TOC
How the Myths Began
What Prometheus Did with a Bit of Clay
The Paradise of Children
What Became of the Giants
How Vulcan Made the Best of Things
How Orion Found His Sight
The Wonders Venus Wrought
Where the Labyrinth Led
How Perseus Conquered the Sea
Pegasus, the Horse Who Could Fly
How Mars Lost a Battle
How Minerva Built a City
Cadmus, the Alphabet King
The Picture Minerva Wove
The Hero with a Fairy Godmother
The Pygmies
The Horn of Plenty
The Wonder the Frogs Missed
When Phaeton’s Chariot Ran Away
When Apollo was Herdsman
How Jupiter Granted a Wish
How Hyacinthus Became a Flower
How King Midas Lost His Ears
How Mercury Gave up his Tricks
A Little Errand Girl’s New Dress
When Proserpine was Lost
The Ploughman who Brought Famine
The Bee Man of Arcadia
When Pomona Shared Her Apples
How Psyche Reached Mount Olympus
How Melampos Fed the Serpent
How a Huntress Became a Bear
The Adventure of Glaucus
The Winning of the Golden Fleece
Medea’s Cauldron
How a Golden Apple Caused a War
How a Wooden Horse Won a War
The Cyclops
Excerpt:

CADMUS, THE ALPHABET KING

There are many ways of building a city, and this is how Cadmus, in the days of the myths, built Thebes, the beautiful.

Cadmus was but a youth when he began his wanderings which took him from shore to shore of the earth, for he was descended from Neptune, the god of the sea, and had been born with the spirit of the restless tides in his heart. But Cadmus had a longing to search out and make for himself a home on land where he could gather the heroes about him and make temples and a market place and set up fair statues.

So he consulted the oracle of Apollo to know what country he should settle in, and a voice issued from that strange, deep cleft in the rock at Delphi saying that he would find a cow in a field, and should pursue her wherever she wandered. Where she stopped Cadmus also should stop and build a city which he was to call Thebes.

As soon as Cadmus left the cave of the oracle,[Pg 114] he was surprised to see a white cow wearing a garland of flowers about her neck and cropping in the grass nearby. She raised her head when Cadmus appeared, and walked slowly before him. So he followed her, and she went on until she came to a wide plain in the fertile land of Egypt. Here she stood still and lifted her broad forehead to the sky, filling the air with her lowings.
framable book quote She also wrote Boys and Girls of Colonial Days
Excerpt:

She leaned down from the saddle to touch Remember’s dark braids. The little girl had run out beside the horse and laid her cheek against his soft side. Her father was far away in Boston, attending to some important matters of shipping. Her mother’s going left Remember all alone. She repeated her question, “Shall I be alone for Thanksgiving Day, mother, dear?” she asked.

Her mother turned away that the little daughter might not see that her eyes, as well, were full of sorrow.

“I know not, Remember. I sent a letter this morning by the post carrier to Boston telling your father that I should wait for him at Neighbor Allison’s, and if I could leave the poor woman he could come home with me. I hope that we shall be here in time for Thanksgiving Day, but if it should happen, Remember, that you must be alone; take no thought of your loneliness. Think only of how much cause we have for being thankful in this free, fertile land of New England. And keep busy, dear child. You will find plenty to do in the house until my return.”

Throwing the girl a good-bye kiss, Mistress Biddle gave the horse a light touch with her riding whip and was off down the road, her long, dark cloak blowing like a gray cloud on the horizon in the chill November wind.

vintage typewriter
Mrs. Bailey also wrote; Tell Me Another Story The Book of Story Programs
HEre’s an excerpt:

THE GOOSE WHO TRIED TO KEEP THE SUMMER

There was once an old Wild Goose who had led the flock of other wild geese every fall for years and years on their way south. He had a thick coat of white feathers, he wore orange-colored boots, and his bill was like a gold trumpet when he opened it to call,

Honk, honk, honk!

That was the signal for the others to rise from the meadows and the marshes. He flew at their head, and the rest followed, one line on one side and one line on the other. He thought himself most important.

Over the woods and the fields and the waters, every one looked for the old Wild Goose in the fall.

Honk, honk, honk!

That was the Wild Goose telling them that it was time to get ready for the winter in the woods,[147] and in the fields, and over the waters. He knew they waited for him, so he had grown to feel very proud of himself. He lived in a marsh that was sheltered on both sides by trees and was comfortable, even if there was a frost now and then. A robin had once stayed in those trees all winter and he sang proudly about it.

“Why do I trouble to go south?” the old Wild Goose thought to himself. “The weather here will not grow cold if I stay. Honk, honk; I shall not trouble myself to migrate this fall and then we shall see what will happen! Very likely I shall keep the summer!”

elizabeth shippen green perdita's books

From Charles James Lever: Charles O’Malley, The Irish Dragoon, Volume 1

Charles O’Malley, The Irish Dragoon, Volume 2

Here’s an excerpt from the first of them: DALY’S CLUB-HOUSE.
The rain was dashing in torrents against the window-panes, and the wind sweeping in heavy and fitful gusts along the dreary and deserted streets, as a party of three persons sat over their wine, in that stately old pile which once formed the resort of the Irish Members, in College Green, Dublin, and went by the name of Daly’s Club-House. The clatter of falling tiles and chimney-pots, the jarring of the window-frames, and howling of the storm without seemed little to affect the spirits of those within as they drew closer to a blazing fire before which stood a small table covered with the remains of a dessert, and an abundant supply of bottles, whose characteristic length of neck indicated the rarest wines of France and Germany; while the portly magnum of claret—the wine par excellence of every Irish gentleman of the day—passed rapidly from hand to hand, the conversation did not languish, and many a deep and hearty laugh followed the stories which every now and then were told, as some reminiscence of early days was recalled, or some trait of a former companion remembered.
One of the party, however, was apparently engrossed by other thoughts than those of the mirth and merriment around; for in the midst of all he would turn suddenly from the others, and devote himself to a number of scattered sheets of paper, upon which he had written some lines, but whose crossed and blotted sentences attested how little success had waited upon his literary labors. This individual was a short, plethoric-looking, white-haired man of about fifty, with a deep, round voice, and a chuckling, smothering laugh, which, whenever he indulged not only shook his own ample person, but generally created a petty earthquake on every side of him. For the present, I shall not stop to particularize him more closely; but when I add that the person in question was a well-known member of the Irish House of Commons, whose acute understanding and practical good sense were veiled under an affected and well-dissembled habit of blundering that did far more for his party than the most violent and pointed attacks of his more accurate associates, some of my readers may anticipate me in pronouncing him to be Sir Harry Boyle. Upon his left sat a figure the most unlike him possible. He was a tall, thin, bony man, with a bolt-upright air and a most saturnine expression; his eyes were covered by a deep green shade, which fell far over his face, but failed to conceal a blue scar that crossing his cheek ended in the angle of his mouth, and imparted to that feature, when he spoke, an apparently abortive attempt to extend towards his eyebrow; his upper lip was covered with a grizzly and ill-trimmed mustache, which added much to the ferocity of his look, while a thin and pointed beard on his chin gave an apparent length to the whole face that completed its rueful character. His dress was a single-breasted, tightly buttoned frock, in one button-hole of which a yellow ribbon was fastened, the decoration of a foreign service, which conferred upon its wearer the title of count; and though Billy Considine, as he was familiarly called by his friends, was a thorough Irishman in all his feelings and affections, yet he had no objection to the designation he had gained in the Austrian army. The Count was certainly no beauty, but somehow, very few men of his day had a fancy for telling him so. A deadlier hand and a steadier eye never covered his man in the Phoenix; and though he never had a seat in the House, he was always regarded as one of the government party, who more than once had damped the ardor of an opposition member by the very significant threat of “setting Billy at him.” The third figure of the group was a large, powerfully built, and handsome man, older than either of the others, but not betraying in his voice or carriage any touch of time. He was attired in the green coat and buff vest which formed the livery of the club; and in his tall, ample forehead, clear, well-set eye, and still handsome mouth, bore evidence that no great flattery was necessary at the time which called Godfrey O’Malley the handsomest man in Ireland.
“Upon my conscience,” said Sir Harry, throwing down his pen with an air of ill-temper, “I can make nothing of it! I have got into such an infernal habit of making bulls, that I can’t write sense when I want it!”
“Come, come,” said O’Malley, “try again, my dear fellow. If you can’t succeed, I’m sure Billy and I have no chance.”
“What have you written? Let us see,” said Considine, drawing the paper towards him, and holding it to the light. “Why, what the devil is all this? You have made him ‘drop down dead after dinner of a lingering illness brought on by the debate of yesterday.'”
“Oh, impossible!”
“Well, read it yourself; there it is. And, as if to make the thing less credible, you talk of his ‘Bill for the Better Recovery of Small Debts.’ I’m sure, O’Malley, your last moments were not employed in that manner.”
“Come, now,” said Sir Harry, “I’ll set all to rights with a postscript. ‘Any one who questions the above statement is politely requested to call on Mr. Considine, 16 Kildare Street, who will feel happy to afford him every satisfaction upon Mr. O’Malley’s decease, or upon miscellaneous matters.”
“Worse and worse,” said O’Malley. “Killing another man will never persuade the world that I’m dead.”
“But we’ll wake you, and have a glorious funeral.”
“And if any man doubt the statement, I’ll call him out,” said the Count.
“Or, better still,” said Sir Harry, “O’Malley has his action at law for defamation.”

vintage b&w bookshelf books and owl commonroom

For some light entertainment, try The Best American Humorous Short Stories

Reader review from Amazon: This fascinating anthology dates from the 1920s. Most of the authors are long forgotten and others are represented by less familiar works, so there’s the possibility of discovering something unusual. Kindle’s free sample consists only of Alexander Jessup’s introduction, which surveys the development of humorous fiction in the United States and explains why several celebrated writers are excluded from this collection. There is no chapter access, so in order to access a particular story, the reader can search on the author’s name, or refer to the location numbers I’ve listed below, and use Kindle’s cumbersome “go to location” feature to skip to the corresponding page. One hopes that this kind of offering from Kindle will prove popular enough that the folks at Amazon will see fit to provide chapter access in the future. Despite the inconvenience, this is a welcome window on what was considered funny in 19th and early 20th century America.

564 Table of Contents
619 George Pope Morris– The Little Frenchman And His Water Lots (1839)
738 Edgar Allan Poe– The Angel of the Odd (1844)
917 Caroline M. S. Kirkland– The Schoolmaster’s Progress (1844)
1174 Eliza Leslie– The Watkinson– Evening (1846)
1491 George William Curtis– Titbottom’s Spectacles (1854)
1874 Edward Everett Hale– My Double: And How He Undid Me (1859)
2173 Oliver Wendell Holmes– A Visit To the Asylum For Aged And Decayed Punsters (1861)
2341 Mark Twain– The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (1865)
2455 Harry Stillwell Edwards– Elder Brown’s Backslide (1885)
2779 Malcolm Johnston– The Hotel Experience of Mr. Pink Fluker (1886)
2995 Henry Cuyler Bunner– The Nice People (1890)
3178 Frank Stockton– The Buller-Podingham Compact (1897)
3527 Bret Harte– Colonel Starbottle For The Plaintiff (1901)
4035 O. Henry– The Duplicity of Hargraves (1902)
4281 George Randolph Chester– Bargain Day At Tutt House (1905)
4725 Grace MacGowan Cooke– A CAll (1906)
4982 William James Lampton– How The Widow Won The Deacon (1911)
5108 Wells Hastings– Gideon (1914)
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The Story of a New York House
by Henry Bunner, who helped edit the previous book.
Excerpt:

The young men wore trousers, or pantaloons, as they mostly called them, strapped under their varnished boots. Their coats were[52] cut like our dress-coats, if you can fancy them with a wild amplitude of collar and lapel. They wore large cravats and gaudy waistcoats, and two or three of them who had been too much in England came with shawls or rugs around their shoulders.
They were a fashionable lot of people, and this was a late dinner, so they sat down at six o’clock in the great dining-room—not the little breakfast-room—with old Jacob Dolph at one end of the table and young Jacob Dolph at the other.
It was a pleasant dinner, and the wine was good, and the company duly appreciative, although individually critical.
Old Jacob Dolph had on his right an agreeable French count, just arrived in New York, who was creating a furor; and on his left was Mr. Philip Waters, the oldest of the young men, who, being thirty-five, had a certain consideration for old age. But old Jacob Dolph was not quite at his ease. He did not understand the remarkable decorum of the young men. He himself belonged to the age of “bumpers and no heel taps,” and nobody at[53] his board to-night seemed to care about drinking bumpers, even out of the poor, little, newfangled claret-glasses, that held only a thimbleful apiece. He had never known a lot of gentlemen, all by themselves, to be so discreet. Before the evening was over he became aware of the fact that he was the only man who was proposing toasts, and then he proposed them no more.
Things had changed since he was a young buck, and gave bachelor parties. Why, he could remember seeing his own good father—an irreproachable gentleman, surely—lock the door of his dining-room on the inside—ay, at just such a dinner as this—and swear that no guest of his should go out of that room sober. And his word had been kept. Times were changing. He thought, somehow, that these young men needed more good port in their veins.

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From the pen of Emile Gaboriau (Gaboriau was born in the small town of Saujon, Charente-Maritime. He became a secretary to Paul Féval, and after publishing some novels and miscellaneous writings, found his real gift in L’Affaire Lerouge (1866).
The book, which was Gaboriau’s first detective novel, introduced an amateur detective. It also introduced a young police officer named Monsieur Lecoq, who was the hero in three of Gaboriau’s later detective novels. The character of Lecoq was based on a real-life thief turned police officer, Eugène François Vidocq (1775–1857), whose own memoirs, Les Vrais Mémoires de Vidocq, mixed fiction and fact. It may also have been influenced by the villainous Monsieur Lecoq, one of the main protagonists of Féval’s Les Habits Noirs book series.
The book was published in “Le Siècle” and at once made his reputation. Gaboriau gained a huge following, but when Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, Monsieur Lecoq’s international fame declined. The story was produced on the stage in 1872. A long series of novels dealing with the annals of the police court followed, and proved very popular.):
Monsieur Lecoq
Mystery story from the golden age. Excerpt:
At about eleven o’clock in the evening of the 20th of February, 186—, which chanced to be Shrove Sunday, a party of detectives left the police station near the old Barriere d’Italie to the direct south of Paris. Their mission was to explore the district extending on the one hand between the highroad to Fontainebleau and the Seine, and on the other between the outer boulevards and the fortifications.
This quarter of the city had at that time anything but an enviable reputation. To venture there at night was considered so dangerous that the soldiers from the outlying forts who came in to Paris with permission to go to the theatre, were ordered to halt at the barriere, and not to pass through the perilous district excepting in parties of three or four.
After midnight, these gloomy, narrow streets became the haunt of numerous homeless vagabonds, and escaped criminals and malefactors, moreover, made the quarter their rendezvous. If the day had been a lucky one, they made merry over their spoils, and when sleep overtook them, hid in doorways or among the rubbish in deserted houses. Every effort had been made to dislodge these dangerous guests, but the most energetic measures had failed to prove successful. Watched, hunted, and in imminent danger of arrest though they were, they always returned with idiotic obstinacy, obeying, as one might suppose, some mysterious law of attraction. Hence, the district was for the police an immense trap, constantly baited, and to which the game came of their own accord to be caught.
The result of a tour of inspection of this locality was so certain, that the officer in charge of the police post called to the squad as they departed: “I will prepare lodgings for our guests. Good luck to you and much pleasure!”
This last wish was pure irony, for the weather was the most disagreeable that could be imagined. A very heavy snow storm had prevailed for several days. It was now beginning to thaw, and on all the frequented thoroughfares the slush was ankle-deep. It was still cold, however; a damp chill filled the air, and penetrated to the very marrow of one’s bones. Besides, there was a dense fog, so dense that one could not see one’s hands before one’s face.

also: The Widow Lerouge

File No. 113

Other People’s Money
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All links are affiliate links, bringing us a small percentage of your purchase price.  4% of 0 is, of course, 0. =)  However, if you buy something else and actually spend some real change while you’re at Amazon, we’ll get a small percentage of that, for which we thank you.  Happy reading!

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