The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. Published: Categorie(s): Fiction, Short Stories. Source: ruthenpress.info 1. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. As all things do, it begins in the dark. EYES blink open. Blue eyes. The first thing they see is a WOMAN near The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. '1 can't say exactly who I am," the old man replied. '1 was only born a few hours ago. But I know my last name is Button.".
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1 Look at the words in italics at the top of the next page. Which of these sentences about Benjamin Button is correct, do you think? a He is an old man. b He is a. F. Scott Fitzgerald - The curious case of Benjamin ruthenpress.info - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or view presentation slides online. Download The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button free in PDF & EPUB format. Download F Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case Of Benjamin.
You're an impostor! Button," said the nurse severely. We're going to ask you to take him home with you as soon as possible—some time to—day. Button incredulously. We really can't, you know? With all this yelling and howling, I haven't been able to get a wink of sleep. I asked for something to eat"—here his voice rose to a shrill note of protest—"and they brought me a bottle of milk! Button, sank down upon a chair near his son and concealed his face in his hands.
What must I do? I can't," he moaned. People would stop to speak to him, and what was he going to say? He would have to introduce this—this septuagenarian: "This is my son, born early this morning.
Button wished passionately that his son was black—past the luxurious houses of the residential district, past the home for the aged Pull yourself together," commanded the nurse. This blanket itches. They might at least have given me a sheet. Keep it on! Button hurriedly. He turned to the nurse.
Button's son's voice followed him down into the: hall: "And a cane, father. I want to have a cane. Button banged the outer door savagely Button said nervously, to the clerk in the Chesapeake Dry Goods Company. Button, without due consideration. It's—he's an unusually large—size child. Exceptionally—ah large. Button, shifting his ground desperately. He felt that the clerk must surely scent his shameful secret. The notion of dressing his son in men's clothes was repugnant to him.
If, say, he could only find a very large boy's suit, he might cut off that long and awful beard, dye the white hair brown, and thus manage to conceal the worst, and to retain something of his own self—respect—not to mention his position in Baltimore society. But a frantic inspection of the boys' department revealed no suits to fit the new—born Button. He blamed the store, of course——in such cases it is the thing to blame the store. I thought you said six hours.
You'll find the youths' department in the next aisle. Button turned miserably away. Then he stopped, brightened, and pointed his finger toward a dressed dummy in the window display. At least it is, but it's for fancy dress. You could wear it yourself! Back at the hospital Mr. Button entered the nursery and almost threw the package at his son. The old man untied the package and viewed the contents with a quizzical eye. Button fiercely. Put them on—or I'll—or I'll spank you.
Just as you say. Button to start violently. Button regarded him with depression. The costume consisted of dotted socks, pink pants, and a belted blouse with a wide white collar. Over the latter waved the long whitish beard, drooping almost to the waist. The effect was not good.
Button seized a hospital shears and with three quick snaps amputated a large section of the beard. But even with this improvement the ensemble fell far short of perfection. The remaining brush of scraggly hair, the watery eyes, the ancient teeth, seemed oddly out of tone with the gaiety of the costume.
Button, however, was obdurate—he held out his hand. His son took the hand trustingly. Button grunted. Despite his aged stoop, Benjamin Button—for it was by this name they called him instead of by the appropriate but invidious Methuselah—was five feet eight inches tall.
His clothes did not conceal this, nor did the clipping and dyeing of his eyebrows disguise the fact that the eyes under—were faded and watery and tired.
In fact, the baby—nurse who had been engaged in advance left the house after one look, in a state of considerable indignation.
But Mr. Button persisted in his unwavering purpose. Benjamin was a baby, and a baby he should remain. At first he declared that if Benjamin didn't like warm milk he could go without food altogether, but he was finally prevailed upon to allow his son bread and butter, and even oatmeal by way of a compromise. One day he brought home a rattle and, giving it to Benjamin, insisted in no uncertain terms that he should "play with it," whereupon the old man took it with—a weary expression and could be heard jingling it obediently at intervals throughout the day.
There can be no doubt, though, that the rattle bored him, and that he found other and more soothing amusements when he was left alone. For instance, Mr. Button discovered one day that during the preceding week be had smoked more cigars than ever before—a phenomenon, which was explained a few days later when, entering the nursery unexpectedly, he found the room full of faint blue haze and Benjamin, with a guilty expression on his face, trying to conceal the butt of a dark Havana.
This, of course, called for a severe spanking, but Mr. Button found that he could not bring himself to administer it. He merely warned his son that he would "stunt his growth. He brought home lead soldiers, he brought toy trains, he brought large pleasant animals made of cotton, and, to perfect the illusion which he was creating—for himself at least—he passionately demanded of the clerk in the toy—store whether "the paint would come oft the pink duck if the baby put it in his mouth.
He would steal down the back stairs and return to the nursery with a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, over which he would pore through an afternoon, while his cotton cows and his Noah's ark were left neglected on the floor.
Against such a stubbornness Mr. Button's efforts were of little avail. The sensation created in Baltimore was, at first, prodigious. What the mishap would have cost the Buttons and their kinsfolk socially cannot be determined, for the outbreak of the Civil War drew the city's attention to other things.
A few people who were unfailingly polite racked their brains for compliments to give to the parents—and finally hit upon the ingenious device of declaring that the baby resembled his grandfather, a fact which, due to the standard state of decay common to all men of seventy, could not be denied.
Roger Button were not pleased, and Benjamin's grandfather was furiously insulted. Benjamin, once he left the hospital, took life as he found it. Several small boys were brought to see him, and he spent a stiff—jointed afternoon trying to work up an interest in tops and marbles—he even managed, quite accidentally, to break a kitchen window with a stone from a sling shot, a feat which secretly delighted his father.
Thereafter Benjamin contrived to break something every day, but he did these things only because they were expected of him, and because he was by nature obliging.
When his grandfather's initial antagonism wore off, Benjamin and that gentleman took enormous pleasure in one another's company. They would sit for hours, these two, so far apart in age and experience, and, like old cronies, discuss with tireless monotony the slow events of the day. Benjamin felt more at ease in his grandfather's presence than in his parents'—they seemed always somewhat in awe of him and, despite the dictatorial authority they exercised over him, frequently addressed him as "Mr.
He read up on it in the medical journal, but found that no such case had been previously recorded. At his father's urging he made an honest attempt to play with other boys, and frequently he joined in the milder games—football shook him up too much, and he feared that in case of a fracture his ancient bones would refuse to knit.
When he was five he was sent to kindergarten, where he initiated into the art of pasting green paper on orange paper, of weaving coloured maps and manufacturing eternal cardboard necklaces. He was inclined to drowse off to sleep in the middle of these tasks, a habit which both irritated and frightened his young teacher. To his relief she complained to his parents, and he was removed from the school. The Roger Buttons told their friends that they felt he was too young.
By the time he was twelve years old his parents had grown used to him. Indeed, so strong is the force of custom that they no longer felt that he was different from any other child—except when some curious anomaly reminded them of the fact.
But one day a few weeks after his twelfth birthday, while looking in the mirror, Benjamin made, or thought he made, an astonishing discovery. Did his eyes deceive him, or had his hair turned in the dozen years of his life from white to iron—gray under its concealing dye? Was the network of wrinkles on his face becoming less pronounced? Was his skin healthier and firmer, with even a touch of ruddy winter colour? He could not tell. He knew that he no longer stooped, and that his physical condition had improved since the early days of his life.
He went to his father. Fourteen is the age for putting on long trousers—and you are only twelve. Finally a compromise was reached. Benjamin was to continue to dye his hair. He was to make a better attempt to play with boys of his own age.
He was not to wear his spectacles or carry a cane in the street. In return for these concessions he was allowed his first suit of long trousers Suffice to record that they were years of normal ungrowth.
When Benjamin was eighteen he was erect as a man of fifty; he had more hair and it was of a dark gray; his step was firm, his voice had lost its cracked quaver and descended to a healthy baritone. So his father sent him up to Connecticut to take examinations for entrance to Yale College. Benjamin passed his examination and became a member of the freshman class.
On the third day following his matriculation he received a notification from Mr. Hart, the college registrar, to call at his office and arrange his schedule.
Benjamin, glancing in the mirror, decided that his hair needed a new application of its brown dye, but an anxious inspection of his bureau drawer disclosed that the dye bottle was not there. Then he remembered—he had emptied it the day before and thrown it away. He was in a dilemma. He was due at the registrar's in five minutes. There seemed to be no help for it—he must go as he was. He did. Hart cut him off.
I'm expecting your son here any minute. Benjamin Button's age down here as eighteen. The registrar eyed him wearily. Button, you don't expect me to believe that. The registrar pointed sternly to the door. You are a dangerous lunatic. Hart opened the door.
Eighteen years old, are you? Well, I'll give you eighteen minutes to get out of town. When he had gone a little way he turned around, faced the infuriated registrar, who was still standing in the door—way, and repeated in a firm voice: "I am eighteen years old. But he was not fated to escape so easily.
On his melancholy walk to the railroad station he found that he was being followed by a group, then by a swarm, and finally by a dense mass of undergraduates. The word had gone around that a lunatic had passed the entrance examinations for Yale and attempted to palm himself off as a youth of eighteen. A fever of excitement permeated the college. Men ran hatless out of classes, the football team abandoned its practice and joined the mob, professors' wives with bonnets awry and bustles out of position, ran shouting after the procession, from which proceeded a continual succession of remarks aimed at the tender sensibilities of Benjamin Button.
He would show them! He would go to Harvard, and then they would regret these ill—considered taunts! Safely on board the train for Baltimore, he put his head from the window. It was in that same year that he began "going out socially"—that is, his father insisted on taking him to several fashionable dances. Roger Button was now fifty, and he and his son were more and more companionable—in fact, since Benjamin had ceased to dye his hair which was still grayish they appeared about the same age, and could have passed for brothers.
One night in August they got into the phaeton attired in their full—dress suits and drove out to a dance at the Shevlins' country house, situated just outside of Baltimore. It was a gorgeous evening. A full moon drenched the road to the lustreless colour of platinum, and late—blooming harvest flowers breathed into the motionless air aromas that were like low, half—heard laughter.
The open country, carpeted for rods around with bright wheat, was translucent as in the day. It was almost impossible not to be affected by the sheer beauty of the sky—almost. He was not a spiritual man—his aesthetic sense was rudimentary. They pulled up behind a handsome brougham whose passengers were disembarking at the door. A lady got out, then an elderly gentleman, then another young lady, beautiful as sin. Benjamin started; an almost chemical change seemed to dissolve and recompose the very elements of his body.
A rigour passed over him, blood rose into his cheeks, his forehead, and there was a steady thumping in his ears. It was first love. The girl was slender and frail, with hair that was ashen under the moon and honey—coloured under the sputtering gas—lamps of the porch.
Over her shoulders was thrown a Spanish mantilla of softest yellow, butterflied in black; her feet were glittering buttons at the hem of her bustled dress.
Roger Button leaned over to his son. But when the negro boy had led the buggy away, he added: "Dad, you might introduce me to her. Reared in the old tradition, she curtsied low before Benjamin. Yes, he might have a dance. He thanked her and walked away—staggered away. The interval until the time for his turn should arrive dragged itself out interminably. He stood close to the wall, silent, inscrutable, watching with murderous eyes the young bloods of Baltimore as they eddied around Hildegarde Moncrief, passionate admiration in their faces.
How obnoxious they seemed to Benjamin; how intolerably rosy! Their curling brown whiskers aroused in him a feeling equivalent to indigestion.
But when his own time came, and he drifted with her out upon the changing floor to the music of the latest waltz from Paris, his jealousies and anxieties melted from him like a mantle of snow. Blind with enchantment, he felt that life was just beginning. Benjamin hesitated.
If she took him for his father's brother, would it be best to enlighten her? He remembered his experience at Yale, so he decided against it. It would be rude to contradict a lady; it would be criminal to mar this exquisite occasion with the grotesque story of his origin. Later, perhaps.
So he nodded, smiled, listened, was happy. They tell me how much champagne they drink at college, and how much money they lose playing cards.
Men of your age know how to appreciate women. Twenty—five is too wordly—wise; thirty is apt to be pale from overwork; forty is the age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is—oh, sixty is too near seventy; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty. He longed passionately to be fifty. Hildegarde gave him two more dances, and they discovered that they were marvellously in accord on all the questions of the day.
She was to go driving with him on the following Sunday, and then they would discuss all these questions further.
Going home in the phaeton just before the crack of dawn, when the first bees were humming and the fading moon glimmered in the cool dew, Benjamin knew vaguely that his father was discussing wholesale hardware. And what do you think should merit our biggest attention after hammers and nails?
Benjamin Button was made known I say "made known," for General Moncrief declared he would rather fall upon his sword than announce it , the excitement in Baltimore society reached a feverish pitch. The almost forgotten story of Benjamin's birth was remembered and sent out upon the winds of scandal in picaresque and incredible forms. It was said that Benjamin was really the father of Roger Button, that he was his brother who had been in prison for forty years, that he was John Wilkes Booth in disguise—and, finally, that he had two small conical horns sprouting from his head.
The Sunday supplements of the New York papers played up the case with fascinating sketches which showed the head of Benjamin Button attached to a fish, to a snake, and, finally, to a body of solid brass. He became known, journalistically, as the Mystery Man of Maryland. But the true story, as is usually the case, had a very small circulation.
However, every one agreed with General Moncrief that it was "criminal" for a lovely girl who could have married any beau in Baltimore to throw herself into the arms of a man who was assuredly fifty.
In vain Mr. Roger Button published Us son's birth certificate in large type in the Baltimore Blaze. No one believed it. You had only to look at Benjamin and see. On the part of the two people most concerned there was no wavering.
In vain General Moncrief pointed out to her the high mortality among men of fifty—or, at least, among men who looked fifty; in vain he told her of the instability of the wholesale hardware business. Hildegarde had chosen to marry for mellowness, and marry she did The wholesale hardware business prospered amazingly. In the fifteen years between Benjamin Button's marriage in and his father's retirement in , the family fortune was doubled—and this was due largely to the younger member of the firm.
Needless to say, Baltimore eventually received the couple to its bosom. Even old General Moncrief became reconciled to his son—in—law when Benjamin gave him the money to bring out his History of the Civil War in twenty volumes, which had been refused by nine prominent publishers. In Benjamin himself fifteen years had wrought many changes. It seemed to him that the blood flowed with new vigour through his veins. It began to be a pleasure to rise in the morning, to walk with an active step along the busy, sunny street, to work untiringly with his shipments of hammers and his cargoes of nails.
It was in that he executed his famous business coup: he brought up the suggestion that all nails used in nailing up the boxes in which nails are shipped are the property of the shippee, a proposal which became a statute, was approved by Chief Justice Fossile, and saved Roger Button and Company, Wholesale Hardware, more than six hundred nails every year.
In addition, Benjamin discovered that he was becoming more and more attracted by the gay side of life. It was typical of his growing enthusiasm for pleasure that he was the first man in the city of Baltimore to own and run an automobile.
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