The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Wisdom of Father Brown



Download 1.08 Mb.
Page1/19
Date conversion12.06.2018
Size1.08 Mb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   19
***The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Wisdom of Father Brown***

**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*These Etexts Prepared By Hundreds of Volunteers and Donations*


Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get Etexts, and

further information is included below. We need your donations.

The Wisdom of Father Brown
by G. K. Chesterton
February, 1995 Etext #223
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Wisdom of Father Brown by Chesterton

*****This file should be named wifrb10.txt or wifrb10.zip******


Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a new NUMBER, wifrb11.txt.

VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, wifrb10a.txt.


This etext was proofread by Martin Ward.
If you find an error in this edition, please contact Martin Ward,

Martin.Ward@durham.ac.uk


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)
We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work. The

fifty hours is one conservative estimate for how long it we take

to get any etext selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright

searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc. This

projected audience is one hundred million readers. If our value

per text is nominally estimated at one dollar, then we produce 2

million dollars per hour this year we will have to do four text

files per month: thus upping our productivity from one million.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext

Files by the December 31, 2001. [10,000 x 100,000,000=Trillion]

This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,

which is 10% of the expected number of computer users by the end

of the year 2001.

We need your donations more than ever!
All donations should be made to "Project Gutenberg/IBC", and are

tax deductible to the extent allowable by law ("IBC" is Illinois

Benedictine College). (Subscriptions to our paper newsletter go

to IBC, too)


For these and other matters, please mail to:
David Turner, Project Gutenberg

Illinois Benedictine College

5700 College Road

Lisle, IL 60532-0900


Phone: 1-708-960-1500 (x3014)
General information: Internet: dircompg@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu
or
Internet: chipmonk@eagle.ibc.edu (David Turner)

Compuserve: >INTERNET: chipmonk@eagle.ibc.edu (David Turner)

Attmail: internet!chipmonk@eagle.ibc.edu (David Turner)

MCImail: (David Turner)

ADDRESS TYPE: MCI / EMS: INTERNET / MBX:chipmonk@eagle.ibc.edu
When all other email fails try our Michael S. Hart, Executive Director:

hart@vmd.cso.uiuc.edu (internet) hart@uiucvmd (bitnet)


We would prefer to send you this information by email

(Internet, Bitnet, Compuserve, ATTMAIL or MCImail).


******

If you have an FTP program (or emulator), please

FTP directly to the Project Gutenberg archives:

[Mac users, do NOT point and click. . .type]


ftp mrcnext.cso.uiuc.edu

login: anonymous

password: your@login

cd etext/etext91

or cd etext92

or cd etext93 [for new books] [now also in cd etext/etext93]

or cd etext/articles [get suggest gut for more information]

dir [to see files]

get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]

GET 0INDEX.GUT

for a list of books

and

GET NEW GUT for general information

and


MGET GUT* for newsletters.
**Information prepared by the Project Gutenberg legal advisor**

(Three Pages)

***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS**START***

Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.

They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with

your copy of this etext, even if you got it for free from

someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our

fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement

disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how

you can distribute copies of this etext if you want to.


*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS ETEXT

By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm

etext, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept

this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive

a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this etext by

sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person

you got it from. If you received this etext on a physical

medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM ETEXTS

This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-

tm etexts, is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor

Michael S. Hart through the Project Gutenberg Association at

Illinois Benedictine College (the "Project"). Among other

things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright

on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and

distribute it in the United States without permission and

without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth

below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this etext

under the Project's "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

To create these etexts, the Project expends considerable

efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain

works. Despite these efforts, the Project's etexts and any

medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other

things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or

corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other

intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged

disk or other etext medium, a computer virus, or computer

codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.
LIMTED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES

But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,

[1] the Project (and any other party you may receive this

etext from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext) disclaims all

liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including

legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR

UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,

INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE

OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE

POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.


If you discover a Defect in this etext within 90 days of

receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)

you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that

time to the person you received it from. If you received it

on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and

such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement

copy. If you received it electronically, such person may

choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to

receive it electronically.

THIS ETEXT IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS". NO OTHER

WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS

TO THE ETEXT OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT

LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A

PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or

the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the

above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you

may have other legal rights.


INDEMNITY

You will indemnify and hold the Project, its directors,

officers, members and agents harmless from all liability, cost

and expense, including legal fees, that arise directly or

indirectly from any of the following that you do or cause:

[1] distribution of this etext, [2] alteration, modification,

or addition to the etext, or [3] any Defect.
DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"

You may distribute copies of this etext electronically, or by

disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this

"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,

or:
[1] Only give exact copies of it. Among other things, this

requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the

etext or this "small print!" statement. You may however,

if you wish, distribute this etext in machine readable

binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,

including any form resulting from conversion by word pro-

cessing or hypertext software, but only so long as

*EITHER*:


[*] The etext, when displayed, is clearly readable, and

does *not* contain characters other than those

intended by the author of the work, although tilde

(~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may

be used to convey punctuation intended by the

author, and additional characters may be used to

indicate hypertext links; OR

[*] The etext may be readily converted by the reader at

no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent

form by the program that displays the etext (as is

the case, for instance, with most word processors);

OR

[*] You provide, or agree to also provide on request at

no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the

etext in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC

or other equivalent proprietary form).


[2] Honor the etext refund and replacement provisions of this

"Small Print!" statement.


[3] Pay a trademark license fee to the Project of 20% of the

net profits you derive calculated using the method you

already use to calculate your applicable taxes. If you

don't derive profits, no royalty is due. Royalties are

payable to "Project Gutenberg Association / Illinois

Benedictine College" within the 60 days following each

date you prepare (or were legally required to prepare)

your annual (or equivalent periodic) tax return.


WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?

The Project gratefully accepts contributions in money, time,

scanning machines, OCR software, public domain etexts, royalty

free copyright licenses, and every other sort of contribution

you can think of. Money should be paid to "Project Gutenberg

Association / Illinois Benedictine College".


This "Small Print!" by Charles B. Kramer, Attorney

Internet (72600.2026@compuserve.com); TEL: (212-254-5093)

*END*THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS*Ver.04.29.93*END*

The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Wisdom of Father Brown by Chesterton

G. K. CHESTERTON

THE WISDOM

OF FATHER BROWN

To
LUCIAN OLDERSHAW


CONTENTS

1. The Absence of Mr Glass

2. The Paradise of Thieves

3. The Duel of Dr Hirsch

4. The Man in the Passage

5. The Mistake of the Machine

6. The Head of Caesar

7. The Purple Wig

8. The Perishing of the Pendragons

9. The God of the Gongs

10. The Salad of Colonel Cray

11. The Strange Crime of John Boulnois

12. The Fairy Tale of Father Brown


ONE


The Absence of Mr Glass

THE consulting-rooms of Dr Orion Hood, the eminent criminologist

and specialist in certain moral disorders, lay along the sea-front

at Scarborough, in a series of very large and well-lighted french windows,

which showed the North Sea like one endless outer wall of blue-green marble.

In such a place the sea had something of the monotony of a blue-green dado:

for the chambers themselves were ruled throughout by a terrible tidiness

not unlike the terrible tidiness of the sea. It must not be supposed

that Dr Hood's apartments excluded luxury, or even poetry.

These things were there, in their place; but one felt that

they were never allowed out of their place. Luxury was there:

there stood upon a special table eight or ten boxes of the best cigars;

but they were built upon a plan so that the strongest were always

nearest the wall and the mildest nearest the window. A tantalum

containing three kinds of spirit, all of a liqueur excellence,

stood always on this table of luxury; but the fanciful have asserted

that the whisky, brandy, and rum seemed always to stand at the same level.

Poetry was there: the left-hand corner of the room was lined with

as complete a set of English classics as the right hand could show

of English and foreign physiologists. But if one took a volume

of Chaucer or Shelley from that rank, its absence irritated the mind

like a gap in a man's front teeth. One could not say the books

were never read; probably they were, but there was a sense of their

being chained to their places, like the Bibles in the old churches.

Dr Hood treated his private book-shelf as if it were a public library.

And if this strict scientific intangibility steeped even the shelves

laden with lyrics and ballads and the tables laden with drink and tobacco,

it goes without saying that yet more of such heathen holiness

protected the other shelves that held the specialist's library,

and the other tables that sustained the frail and even fairylike

instruments of chemistry or mechanics.

Dr Hood paced the length of his string of apartments, bounded--

as the boys' geographies say--on the east by the North Sea and on the west

by the serried ranks of his sociological and criminologist library.

He was clad in an artist's velvet, but with none of an artist's negligence;

his hair was heavily shot with grey, but growing thick and healthy;

his face was lean, but sanguine and expectant. Everything about him

and his room indicated something at once rigid and restless,

like that great northern sea by which (on pure principles of hygiene)

he had built his home.
Fate, being in a funny mood, pushed the door open and

introduced into those long, strict, sea-flanked apartments

one who was perhaps the most startling opposite of them and their master.

In answer to a curt but civil summons, the door opened inwards

and there shambled into the room a shapeless little figure,

which seemed to find its own hat and umbrella as unmanageable as

a mass of luggage. The umbrella was a black and prosaic bundle

long past repair; the hat was a broad-curved black hat, clerical

but not common in England; the man was the very embodiment of all

that is homely and helpless.

The doctor regarded the new-comer with a restrained astonishment,

not unlike that he would have shown if some huge but obviously

harmless sea-beast had crawled into his room. The new-comer

regarded the doctor with that beaming but breathless geniality

which characterizes a corpulent charwoman who has just managed

to stuff herself into an omnibus. It is a rich confusion of

social self-congratulation and bodily disarray. His hat tumbled

to the carpet, his heavy umbrella slipped between his knees with a thud;

he reached after the one and ducked after the other, but with

an unimpaired smile on his round face spoke simultaneously as follows:

"My name is Brown. Pray excuse me. I've come about

that business of the MacNabs. I have heard, you often help people

out of such troubles. Pray excuse me if I am wrong."
By this time he had sprawlingly recovered the hat, and made

an odd little bobbing bow over it, as if setting everything quite right.


"I hardly understand you," replied the scientist, with

a cold intensity of manner. "I fear you have mistaken the chambers.

I am Dr Hood, and my work is almost entirely literary and educational.

It is true that I have sometimes been consulted by the police

in cases of peculiar difficulty and importance, but--"
"Oh, this is of the greatest importance," broke in the little man

called Brown. "Why, her mother won't let them get engaged."

And he leaned back in his chair in radiant rationality.
The brows of Dr Hood were drawn down darkly, but the eyes

under them were bright with something that might be anger or

might be amusement. "And still," he said, "I do not quite understand."
"You see, they want to get married," said the man with the

clerical hat. "Maggie MacNab and young Todhunter want to get married.

Now, what can be more important than that?"
The great Orion Hood's scientific triumphs had deprived him

of many things--some said of his health, others of his God;

but they had not wholly despoiled him of his sense of the absurd.

At the last plea of the ingenuous priest a chuckle broke out of him

from inside, and he threw himself into an arm-chair in an ironical attitude

of the consulting physician.

"Mr Brown," he said gravely, "it is quite fourteen and a half years

since I was personally asked to test a personal problem: then it was

the case of an attempt to poison the French President at

a Lord Mayor's Banquet. It is now, I understand, a question of whether

some friend of yours called Maggie is a suitable fiancee for some friend

of hers called Todhunter. Well, Mr Brown, I am a sportsman.

I will take it on. I will give the MacNab family my best advice,

as good as I gave the French Republic and the King of England--no, better:

fourteen years better. I have nothing else to do this afternoon.

Tell me your story."

The little clergyman called Brown thanked him with

unquestionable warmth, but still with a queer kind of simplicity.

It was rather as if he were thanking a stranger in a smoking-room

for some trouble in passing the matches, than as if he were (as he was)

practically thanking the Curator of Kew Gardens for coming with him

into a field to find a four-leaved clover. With scarcely a semi-colon

after his hearty thanks, the little man began his recital:
"I told you my name was Brown; well, that's the fact,

and I'm the priest of the little Catholic Church I dare say you've seen

beyond those straggly streets, where the town ends towards the north.

In the last and straggliest of those streets which runs along the sea

like a sea-wall there is a very honest but rather sharp-tempered

member of my flock, a widow called MacNab. She has one daughter,

and she lets lodgings, and between her and the daughter,

and between her and the lodgers--well, I dare say there is a great deal

to be said on both sides. At present she has only one lodger,

the young man called Todhunter; but he has given more trouble

than all the rest, for he wants to marry the young woman of the house."
"And the young woman of the house," asked Dr Hood, with huge and

silent amusement, "what does she want?"


"Why, she wants to marry him," cried Father Brown, sitting up eagerly.

"That is just the awful complication."


"It is indeed a hideous enigma," said Dr Hood.

"This young James Todhunter," continued the cleric,

"is a very decent man so far as I know; but then nobody knows very much.

He is a bright, brownish little fellow, agile like a monkey,

clean-shaven like an actor, and obliging like a born courtier.

He seems to have quite a pocketful of money, but nobody knows what

his trade is. Mrs MacNab, therefore (being of a pessimistic turn),

is quite sure it is something dreadful, and probably connected with dynamite.

The dynamite must be of a shy and noiseless sort, for the poor fellow

only shuts himself up for several hours of the day and studies something

behind a locked door. He declares his privacy is temporary and justified,

and promises to explain before the wedding. That is all that anyone knows

for certain, but Mrs MacNab will tell you a great deal more than

even she is certain of. You know how the tales grow like grass on

such a patch of ignorance as that. There are tales of two voices

heard talking in the room; though, when the door is opened,

Todhunter is always found alone. There are tales of a mysterious

tall man in a silk hat, who once came out of the sea-mists and

apparently out of the sea, stepping softly across the sandy fields and

through the small back garden at twilight, till he was heard

talking to the lodger at his open window. The colloquy seemed to end

in a quarrel. Todhunter dashed down his window with violence,

and the man in the high hat melted into the sea-fog again.

This story is told by the family with the fiercest mystification;

but I really think Mrs MacNab prefers her own original tale:

that the Other Man (or whatever it is) crawls out every night from the

big box in the corner, which is kept locked all day. You see,

therefore, how this sealed door of Todhunter's is treated as the gate

of all the fancies and monstrosities of the `Thousand and One Nights'.

And yet there is the little fellow in his respectable black jacket,

as punctual and innocent as a parlour clock. He pays his rent to the tick;

he is practically a teetotaller; he is tirelessly kind with

the younger children, and can keep them amused for a day on end; and,

last and most urgent of all, he has made himself equally popular with

the eldest daughter, who is ready to go to church with him tomorrow."


A man warmly concerned with any large theories has always

a relish for applying them to any triviality. The great specialist

having condescended to the priest's simplicity, condescended expansively.

He settled himself with comfort in his arm-chair and began to talk in

the tone of a somewhat absent-minded lecturer:
"Even in a minute instance, it is best to look first to

the main tendencies of Nature. A particular flower may not be dead

in early winter, but the flowers are dying; a particular pebble

may never be wetted with the tide, but the tide is coming in.

To the scientific eye all human history is a series of collective movements,

destructions or migrations, like the massacre of flies in winter

or the return of birds in spring. Now the root fact in all history is Race.

Race produces religion; Race produces legal and ethical wars.

There is no stronger case than that of the wild, unworldly and

perishing stock which we commonly call the Celts, of whom your friends

the MacNabs are specimens. Small, swarthy, and of this dreamy and

drifting blood, they accept easily the superstitious explanation of

any incidents, just as they still accept (you will excuse me for saying)

that superstitious explanation of all incidents which you

and your Church represent. It is not remarkable that such people,

with the sea moaning behind them and the Church (excuse me again)

droning in front of them, should put fantastic features into what are

probably plain events. You, with your small parochial responsibilities,

see only this particular Mrs MacNab, terrified with this particular tale

of two voices and a tall man out of the sea. But the man with

the scientific imagination sees, as it were, the whole clans of MacNab




  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   19


The database is protected by copyright ©hestories.info 2017
send message

    Main page