Best American Humorous Short Stories HTML version
"I hope, therefore, my dear Mrs. Prue," I continue to say to my wife, who looks up from
her work regarding me with pleased pride, as if I were such an irresistible humorist, "you
will allow me to believe that the depth may be calm although the surface is dancing. If
you tell me that Aurelia is but a giddy girl, I shall believe that you think so. But I shall
know, all the while, what profound dignity, and sweetness, and peace lie at the
foundation of her character."
I say such things to Titbottom during the dull season at the office. And I have known him
sometimes to reply with a kind of dry, sad humor, not as if he enjoyed the joke, but as if
the joke must be made, that he saw no reason why I should be dull because the season
"And what do I know of Aurelia or any other girl?" he says to me with that abstracted air.
"I, whose Aurelias were of another century and another zone."
Then he falls into a silence which it seems quite profane to interrupt. But as we sit upon
our high stools at the desk opposite each other, I leaning upon my elbows and looking at
him; he, with sidelong face, glancing out of the window, as if it commanded a boundless
landscape, instead of a dim, dingy office court, I cannot refrain from saying:
He turns slowly, and I go chatting on--a little too loquacious, perhaps, about those young
girls. But I know that Titbottom regards such an excess as venial, for his sadness is so
sweet that you could believe it the reflection of a smile from long, long years ago.
One day, after I had been talking for a long time, and we had put up our books, and were
preparing to leave, he stood for some time by the window, gazing with a drooping
intentness, as if he really saw something more than the dark court, and said slowly:
"Perhaps you would have different impressions of things if you saw them through my
There was no change in his expression. He still looked from the window, and I said:
"Titbottom, I did not know that you used glasses. I have never seen you wearing
"No, I don't often wear them. I am not very fond of looking through them. But sometimes
an irresistible necessity compels me to put them on, and I cannot help seeing." Titbottom
"Is it so grievous a fate, to see?" inquired I.
"Yes; through my spectacles," he said, turning slowly and looking at me with wan