Terence Denville

Author: Bret Harte

Chapter III.

Young Little WAS clever. At seven he had constructed a telescope; at nine, a flying-machine. At ten he saved a valuable life.

Norwood Park was the adjacent estate,—a lordly domain dotted with red deer and black trunks, but scrupulously kept with gravelled roads as hard and blue as steel. There Little was strolling one summer morning, meditating on a new top with concealed springs. At a little distance before him he saw the flutter of lace and ribbons. A young lady, a very young lady,—say of seven summers,— tricked out in the crying abominations of the present fashion, stood beside a low bush. Her nursery-maid was not present, possibly owing to the fact that John the footman was also absent.

Suddenly Little came towards her. "Excuse me, but do you know what those berries are?" He was pointing to the low bush filled with dark clusters of shining—suspiciously shining—fruit.

"Certainly; they are blueberries."

"Pardon me; you are mistaken. They belong to quite another family."

Miss Impudence drew herself up to her full height (exactly three feet nine and a half inches), and, curling an eight of an inch of scarlet lip, said, scornfully. "YOUR family, perhaps."

Faraday Little smiled in the superiority of boyhood over girlhood.

"I allude to the classification. That plant is the belladonna, or deadly nightshade. Its alkaloid is a narcotic poison."

Sauciness turned pale. "I—have—just—eaten—some!" And began to whimper. "O dear, what shall I do?" Then did it, i. e. wrung her small fingers and cried.

"Pardon me one moment." Little passed his arm around her neck, and with his thumb opened widely the patrician-veined lids of her sweet blue eyes. "Thank Heaven, there is yet no dilation of the pupil; it is not too late!" He cast a rapid glance around. The nozzle and about three feet of garden hose lay near him.

"Open your mouth, quick!"

It was a pretty, kissable mouth. But young Little meant business. He put the nozzle down her pink throat as far as it would go.

"Now, don’t move."

He wrapped his handkerchief around a hoopstick. Then he inserted both in the other end of the stiff hose. It fitted snugly. He shoved it in and then drew it back.

Nature abhors a vacuum. The young patrician was as amenable to this law as the child of the lowest peasant.

She succumbed. It was all over in a minute. Then she burst into a small fury.

"You nasty, bad—UGLY boy."

Young Little winced, but smiled.

"Stimulants," he whispered to the frightened nursery-maid who approached; "good evening." He was gone.


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Chicago: Bret Harte, "Chapter III.," Terence Denville, ed. Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926 in Terence Denville (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1920), Original Sources, accessed March 29, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L9VJ1UQA6X8I5YB.

MLA: Harte, Bret. "Chapter III." Terence Denville, edited by Davis, Charles Belmont, 1866-1926, in Terence Denville, Vol. 22, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1920, Original Sources. 29 Mar. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L9VJ1UQA6X8I5YB.

Harvard: Harte, B, 'Chapter III.' in Terence Denville, ed. . cited in 1920, Terence Denville, Doubleday, Page & Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 29 March 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L9VJ1UQA6X8I5YB.