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Aunt Rachel A Rustic Sentimental Comedy   By: (1847-1907)

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AUNT RACHEL

By David Christie Murray

Author Of "First Person Singular" "Rainbow Gold" Etc.

1880

PREFACE.

A critic, otherwise almost altogether friendly, protests, in reviewing a recent book of mine, that no rustics ever would, could, or will talk in real life as the rustics in that work are made to talk by me. Since this criticism might apply still more pointedly, if it were true, to "Aunt Rachel" than to "Rainbow Gold," I desire to say a word or two in self defence. A little, a very little, of the average rustic would go a long way in fiction. But I do not profess to deal with the average rustic. I deal, and love to deal, with the rustic exceptional, the village notable and wiseacre. Observant readers will have noticed that the date of one story is 1853, and that the epoch of the other is remoter by a dozen years. In my boyhood, in the Staffordshire Black Country, the rustic people were saturated with the speech of the Bible, the Church Service, and the "Pilgrim's Progress." It is otherwise to day, and their English, when it pretends at all to a literary flavor, is the English of the local weekly paper. The gravity, the slow sententiousness, and purposed wisdom of the utterances of more than one or two knots of habitual companions whom I can recall, were outside the chances of exaggeration. Often these people were really wise and witty. They were the makers of the local proverbial philosophy, and many of their phrases are alive today. I recall and could set down here a score of the quaintest bits of humor and good sense, and one or two things genuinely poetical, which were spoken in my childish hearing. But I refrain myself easily from this temptation, because I have not written my last Black Country story, and prefer to put these things in a form as near their own as I can achieve. I only desire to say that I have not exaggerated, but have fallen short of the characteristics I have had to deal with.

D. Christie Murray.

Rochefort, Belgium, December, 1885.

AUNT RACHEL.

A Rustic Sentimental Comedy.

CHAPTER I.

A quartette party three violins and a 'cello sat in summer evening weather in a garden. This garden was full of bloom and odor, and was shut in by high walls of ripe old brick. Here and there were large sized plaster casts Venus, Minerva, Mercury, a goat hoofed Pan with his pipes, a Silence with a finger at her lips. They were all sylvan green and crumbled with exposure to the weather, so that, in spite of cheapness, they gave the place a certain Old world and stately aspect to an observer who was disposed to think so and did not care to look at them too curiously. A square deal table with bare top and painted legs was set on the grass plot beneath a gnarled apple tree whose branches were thick with green fruit, and the quartette party sat about this table, each player with his music spread out before him on a portable little folding stand.

Three of the players were old, stout, gray, and spectacled. The fourth was young and handsome, with dreamy gray blue eyes and a mass of chestnut colored hair. There was an audience of two an old man and a girl. The old man stood at the back of the chair of the youngest player, turning his music for him, and beating time with one foot upon the grass. The girl, with twined fingers, leaned both palms on the trunk of the apple tree, and reposed a clear colored cheek on her rounded arm, looking downward with a listening air. The youngest player never glanced at the sheets which the old man so assiduously turned for him, but looked straight forward at the girl, his eyes brightening or dreaming at the music. The three seniors ploughed away business like, with intent frownings, and the man who played the 'cello counted beneath his breath, "One, two, three, four one, two, three, four," inhaling his breath on one set of figures and blowing on the next.

The movement closed, and the three seniors looked at each other like men who were satisfied with themselves and their companions... Continue reading book >>




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