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An Old Chester Secret   By: (1857-1945)

An Old Chester Secret by Margaret Wade Campbell Deland

First Page:

AN OLD CHESTER SECRET

[Illustration]

BOOKS BY

MARGARET DELAND

AN OLD CHESTER SECRET THE PROMISES OF ALICE THE AWAKENING OF HELENA RICHIE THE RISING TIDE AROUND OLD CHESTER THE HANDS OF ESAU OLD CHESTER TALES AN ENCORE DR. LAVENDAR'S PEOPLE PARTNERS THE IRON WOMAN THE VOICE WHERE THE LABORERS ARE FEW

HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK ESTABLISHED 1817

[Illustration: [See p. 18

"WHAT! INSULT THIS LADY BY ASKING FOR A 'PROMISE'?"]

AN OLD CHESTER SECRET

By MARGARET DELAND

Author of "OLD CHESTER TALES" "THE IRON WOMAN" "AROUND OLD CHESTER" ETC.

Illustrations by F. WALTER TAYLOR

[Illustration]

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON

AN OLD CHESTER SECRET Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America Published October, 1920

To Lorin for this book, too, is his.

Kennebunkport August 12, 1920

ILLUSTRATIONS

"WHAT! INSULT THIS LADY BY ASKING FOR A 'PROMISE'?" Frontispiece

"I WILL NOT GIVE ANY OF MY APPLES BACK. THEY'RE MINE" Facing p. 32

"IF I SAW HIM ONCE I MIGHT WANT TO SEE HIM AGAIN" " 56

"HEARTS DON'T ANSWER WHEN REASON WHISTLES TO THEM," HE SAID " 104

AN OLD CHESTER SECRET

CHAPTER I

THERE was not a person in Old Chester less tainted by the vulgarity of secretiveness than Miss Lydia Sampson. She had no more reticence than sunshine or wind, or any other elemental thing. How much of this was due to conditions it would be hard to say; certainly there was no "reticence" in her silence as to her neighbors' affairs; she simply didn't know them! Nobody ever dreamed of confiding in Lydia Sampson! And she could not be reticent about her own affairs because they were inherently public. When she was a girl she broke her engagement to Mr. William Rives two weeks before the day fixed for the wedding and the invitations were all out! So of course everybody knew that . To be sure, she never said why she broke it, but all Old Chester knew she hated meanness, and felt sure that she had given her William the choice of being generous or being jilted and he chose the latter. As she grew older the joyous, untidy makeshifts of a poverty which was always hospitable and never attempted to be genteel, stared you in the face the minute you entered the house; so everybody knew she was poor. Years later, her renewed engagement to Mr. Rives, and his flight some ten minutes before the marriage ceremony, were known to everybody because we had all been invited to the wedding, which cost (as we happened to know, because we had presented her with just exactly that amount) a hundred dollars ! At the sight of such extravagance the thrifty William turned tail and ran, and we gave thanks and said he was a scoundrel to make us thankful, though, with the exception of Doctor Lavendar, we deplored the extravagance as much as he did! As for Doctor Lavendar, he said that it was a case of the grasshopper and the ant; "but Lydia is a gambling grasshopper," said Doctor Lavendar; "she took tremendous chances, for suppose the party hadn't scared William off?"

So, obviously, anything which was personal to Miss Lydia was public property. She simply couldn't be secretive.

Then, suddenly, and in the open (so to speak) of her innocent candor, a Secret pounced upon her! At first Old Chester didn't know that there was a secret. We merely knew that on a rainy December day (this was about eight months after William had turned tail) she was seen to get into the Mercer stage, carrying a carpetbag in one hand and a bandbox in the other... Continue reading book >>




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