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Captain Dieppe   By: (1863-1933)

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Captain Dieppe

By

Anthony Hope

Author of "The Prisoner of Zenda," "Rupert of Hentzau," etc., etc.

Doubleday, Page & Co.

New York

1906

Copyright, 1899, by ANTHONY HOPE HAWKINS.

Copyright, 1899, by CURTIS PUBLISHING CO.

Copyright, 1900, by ANTHONY HOPE HAWKINS.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. THE HOUSE ON THE BLUFF II. THE MAN BY THE STREAM III. THE LADY IN THE GARDEN IV. THE INN IN THE VILLAGE V. THE RENDEZVOUS BY THE CROSS VI. THE HUT IN THE HOLLOW VII. THE FLOOD ON THE RIVER VIII. THE CARRIAGE AT THE FORD IX. THE STRAW IN THE CORNER X. THE JOURNEY TO ROME XI. THE LUCK OF THE CAPTAIN

Captain Dieppe

CHAPTER I

THE HOUSE ON THE BLUFF

To the eye of an onlooker Captain Dieppe's circumstances afforded high spirits no opportunity, and made ordinary cheerfulness a virtue which a stoic would not have disdained to own. Fresh from the failure of important plans; if not exactly a fugitive, still a man to whom recognition would be inconvenient and perhaps dangerous; with fifty francs in his pocket, and his spare wardrobe in a knapsack on his back; without immediate prospect of future employment or a replenishment of his purse; yet by no means in his first youth or of an age when men love to begin the world utterly afresh; in few words, with none of those inner comforts of the mind which make external hardships no more than a pleasurable contrast, he marched up a long steep hill in the growing dusk of a stormy evening, his best hope to find, before he was soaked to the skin, some poor inn or poorer cottage where he might get food and beg shelter from the severity of the wind and rain that swept across the high ground and swooped down on the deep valleys, seeming to assail with a peculiar, conscious malice the human figure which faced them with unflinching front and the buoyant step of strength and confidence.

But the Captain was an alchemist, and the dross of outer events turned to gold in the marvellous crucible of his mind. Fortune should have known this and abandoned the vain attempt to torment him. He had failed, but no other man could have come so near success. He was alone, therefore free: poor, therefore independent; desirous of hiding, therefore of importance: in a foreign land, therefore well placed for novel and pleasing accidents. The rain was a drop and the wind a puff: if he were wet, it would be delightful to get dry; since he was hungry, no inn could be too humble and no fare too rough. Fortune should indeed have set him on high, and turned her wasted malice on folk more penetrable by its stings.

The Captain whistled and sang. What a fright he had given the Ministers, how nearly he had brought back the Prince, what an uncommon and intimate satisfaction of soul came from carrying, under his wet coat, lists of names, letters, and what not all capable of causing tremors in high quarters, and of revealing in spheres of activity hitherto unsuspected gentlemen aye, and ladies of the loftiest position; all of whom (the Captain was piling up his causes of self congratulation) owed their present safety, and directed their present anxieties, to him, Jean Dieppe, and to nobody else in the world. He broke off his whistling to observe aloud:

"Mark this, it is to very few that there comes a life so interesting as mine"; and his tune began again with an almost rollicking vigour.

What he said was perhaps true enough, if interest consists (as many hold) in uncertainty; in his case uncertainty both of life and of all that life gives, except that one best thing which he had pursued activity. Of fame he had gained little, peace he had never tasted; of wealth he had never thought, of love ah, of love now? His smile and the roguish shake of his head and pull at his long black moustache betrayed no dissatisfaction on that score. And as a fact (a thing which must at the very beginning be distinguished from an impression of the Captain's), people were in the habit of loving him: he never expected exactly this, although he had much self confidence... Continue reading book >>




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