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The Call of the Blood   By: (1864-1950)

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First Page:

THE CALL OF THE BLOOD

by

ROBERT HICHENS

Author of "The Garden of Allah" Etc.

Illustrated by Orson Lowell

[Illustration: See p. 399 "HE STOOD STILL, GAZING AT THEM AS THEY PRAYED"]

New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers MCMVI Copyright, 1905, 1906, by Harper & Brothers. All rights reserved. Published October, 1906.

ILLUSTRATIONS

"HE STOOD STILL, GAZING AT THEM AS THEY PRAYED" Frontispiece

"'SPACE SEEMS TO LIBERATE THE SOUL,' SHE SAID" Facing p. 38

"HE ... LOOKED DOWN AT THE LIGHT SHINING IN THE HOUSE OF THE SIRENS" " 78

"HER HEAD WAS THROWN BACK, AS IF SHE WERE DRINKING IN THE BREEZE" " 120

"'I AM CONTENT WITHOUT ANYTHING, SIGNORINO,' SHE SAID" " 280

"HE KEPT HIS HAND ON HERS AND HELD IT ON THE WARM GROUND" " 302

"'BUT I SOON LEARNED TO DELIGHT IN IN MY SICILIAN,' SHE SAID, TENDERLY" " 366

"SHE COULD SEE VAGUELY THE SHORE BY THE CAVES WHERE THE FISHERMEN HAD SLEPT IN THE DAWN" " 420

THE CALL OF THE BLOOD

I

On a dreary afternoon of November, when London was closely wrapped in a yellow fog, Hermione Lester was sitting by the fire in her house in Eaton Place reading a bundle of letters, which she had just taken out of her writing table drawer. She was expecting a visit from the writer of the letters, Emile Artois, who had wired to her on the previous day that he was coming over from Paris by the night train and boat.

Miss Lester was a woman of thirty four, five feet ten in height, flat, thin, but strongly built, with a large waist and limbs which, though vigorous, were rather unwieldy. Her face was plain: rather square and harsh in outline, with blunt, almost coarse features, but a good complexion, clear and healthy, and large, interesting, and slightly prominent brown eyes, full of kindness, sympathy, and brightness, full, too, of eager intelligence and of energy, eyes of a woman who was intensely alive both in body and in mind. The look of swiftness, a look most attractive in either human being or in animal, was absent from her body but was present in her eyes, which showed forth the spirit in her with a glorious frankness and a keen intensity. Nevertheless, despite these eyes and her thickly growing, warm colored, and wavy brown hair, she was a plain, almost an ugly woman, whose attractive force issued from within, inviting inquiry and advance, as the flame of a fire does, playing on the blurred glass of a window with many flaws in it.

Hermione was, in fact, found very attractive by a great many people of varying temperaments and abilities, who were captured by her spirit and by her intellect, the soul of the woman and the brains, and who, while seeing clearly and acknowledging frankly the plainness of her face and the almost masculine ruggedness of her form, said, with a good deal of truth, that "somehow they didn't seem to matter in Hermione." Whether Hermione herself was of this opinion not many knew. Her general popularity, perhaps, made the world incurious about the subject.

The room in which Hermione was reading the letters of Artois was small and crammed with books. There were books in cases uncovered by glass from floor to ceiling, some in beautiful bindings, but many in tattered paper covers, books that looked as if they had been very much read. On several tables, among photographs and vases of flowers, were more books and many magazines, both English and foreign. A large writing table was littered with notes and letters. An upright grand piano stood open, with a quantity of music upon it. On the thick Persian carpet before the fire was stretched a very large St... Continue reading book >>




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