Condensed Novels: New Burlesques

Author: Bret Harte

Book I

Golly Coyle was the only granddaughter of a vague and somewhat simple clergyman who existed, with an aunt, solely for Golly’s epistolary purposes. There was, of course, intermediate ancestry,— notably a dead mother who was French, and therefore responsible for any later naughtiness in Golly,—but they have no purpose here. They lived in the Isle of Man. Golly knew a good deal of Man, for even at the age of twelve she was in love with John Gale—only son of Lord Gale, who was connected with the Tempests. Gales, however, were frequent and remarkable along the coast, so that it was not singular that one day she found John "coming on" on a headland where she was sitting. His dog had "pointed" her. "It’s exceedingly impolite to point to anything you want," said Golly. Touched by this, and overcome by a strange emotion, John Gale turned away and went to Canada. Slight as the incident was, it showed that inborn chivalry to women, that desire for the Perfect Life, that intense eagerness to incarnate Christianity in modern society, which afterward distinguished him. Golly loved him! For all that, she still remained a "tomboy" as she was,—robbing orchards, mimicking tramps and policemen, buttering the stairs and the steps of houses, tying kettles to dogs’ tails, and marching in a white jersey, with the curate’s hat on, through the streets of the village. "Gol dern my skin!" said the dear old clergyman, as he tried to emerge from a surplice which Golly had stitched together; "what spirits the child DO have!" Yet everybody loved her! And when John Gale returned from Canada, and looked into her big blue eyes one day at church, small wonder that he immediately went off again to Paris, and an extended Continental sojourn, with a serious leaning to theology! Golly bore his absence meekly but characteristically; got a boat, disported like a duck in the water, attempted to elope with a boy appropriately named Drake, but encountered a half gale at sea and a whole Gale in John on a yacht, who rescued them both. Convinced now that there was but one way to escape from his Fate—Golly!—John Gale took holy orders and at once started for London. As he stood on the deck of the steamer he heard an imbecile chuckle in his ear. It was the simple old clergyman: "You are going to London to join the Church, John; Golly is going there, too, as hospital nurse. There’s a pair of you! He! he! Look after her, John, and protect her Manx simplicity." Before John could recover himself, Golly was at his side executing the final steps of a "cellar-door flap jig" to the light-hearted refrain:—

"We are a simple family—we are—we are—we are!"

And even as her pure young voice arose above the screams of the departure whistle, she threw a double back-somersault on the quarterdeck, cleverly alighting on the spikes of the wheel before the delighted captain.

"Jingle my electric bells," be said, looking at the bright young thing, "but you’re a regular minx—"

"I beg your pardon," interrupted John Gale, with a quick flush.

"I mean a regular MANX," said the captain hurriedly.

A singular paleness crossed the deeply religious face of John. As the vessel rose on the waves, he passed his hand hurriedly first across his brows and then over his high-buttoned clerical waistcoat, that visible sign of a devoted ascetic life! Then murmuring in his low, deep voice, "Brandy, steward," he disappeared below.


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Chicago: Bret Harte, "Book I," Condensed Novels: New Burlesques, ed. Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926 in Condensed Novels: New Burlesques (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1920), Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022,

MLA: Harte, Bret. "Book I." Condensed Novels: New Burlesques, edited by Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926, in Condensed Novels: New Burlesques, Vol. 22, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1920, Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Harte, B, 'Book I' in Condensed Novels: New Burlesques, ed. . cited in 1920, Condensed Novels: New Burlesques, Doubleday, Page & Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from