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The Christian A Story   By: (1853-1931)

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THE CHRISTIAN

A STORY

By Hall Caine

Author of The Manxman

The period of the story is the last quarter of the nineteenth century. No particular years are intended. The time occupied by the incidents of the first Book is about six months, of the Second Book about six months, of the Third Book about six months; then there is an interval of half a year, and the time occupied by the incidents of the Fourth Book is about six weeks. An Author's Note will be found at the end.

THE CHRISTIAN.

FIRST BOOK. THE OUTER WORLD .

I.

On the morning of the 9th of May, 18 , three persons important to this story stood among the passengers on the deck of the Isle of Man steamship Tynwald as she lay by the pier at Douglas getting up steam for the passage to Liverpool. One of these was an old clergyman of seventy, with a sweet, mellow, childlike face; another was a young man of thirty, also a clergyman; the third was a girl of twenty. The older clergyman wore a white neckcloth about his throat, and was dressed in rather threadbare black of a cut that had been more common twenty years before; the younger clergyman wore a Roman collar, a long clerical coat, and a stiff, broad brimmed hat with a cord and tassel. They stood amidships, and the captain, coming out of his room to mount the bridge, saluted them as he passed.

"Good morning, Mr. Storm."

The young clergyman returned the salutation with a slight bow and the lifting of his hat.

"Morning to you, Parson Quayle."

The old clergyman answered cheerily, "Oh, good morning, captain; good morning."

There was the usual inquiry about the weather outside, and drawing up to answer it, the captain came eye to eye with the girl.

"So this is the granddaughter, is it?"

"Yes, this is Glory," said Parson Quayle. "She's leaving the old grandfather at last, captain, and I'm over from Peel to set her off, you see."

"Well, the young lady has got the world before her at her feet, I ought to say. You're looking as bright and fresh as the morning, Miss Quayle."

The captain carried off his compliment with a breezy laugh, and went along to the bridge. The girl had heard him only in a momentary flash of consciousness, and she replied merely with a side glance and a smile. Both eyes and ears, and every sense and every faculty, seemed occupied with the scene before her.

It was a beautiful spring morning, not yet nine o'clock, but the sun stood high over Douglas Head, and the sunlight was glancing in the harbour from the little waves of the flowing tide. Oars were rattling up the pier, passengers were trooping down the gangways, and the decks fore and aft were becoming thronged.

"It's beautiful!" she was saying, not so much to her companions as to herself, and the old parson was laughing at her bursts of rapture over the commonplace scene, and dropping out in reply little driblets of simple talk sweet, pure nothings the innocent babble as of a mountain stream.

She was taller than the common, and had golden red hair, and magnificent dark gray eyes of great size. One of her eyes had a brown spot, which gave at the first glance the effect of a squint, at the next glance a coquettish expression, and ever after a sense of tremendous power and passion. But her most noticeable feature was her mouth, which was somewhat too large for beauty, and was always moving nervously. When she spoke, her voice startled you with its depth, which was a kind of soft hoarseness, but capable of every shade of colour. There was a playful and impetuous raillery in nearly all she said, and everything seemed to be expressed by mind and body at the same time. She moved her body restlessly, and while standing in the same place her feet were always shuffling. Her dress was homely almost poor and perhaps a little careless. She appeared to smile and laugh continually, and yet there were tears in her eyes sometimes... Continue reading book >>




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