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Comedies of Courtship   By: (1863-1933)

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By Anthony Hope

"It is a familiar fact that the intensity of a passion varies with the proximity of the appropriate object." Mr. Leslie Stephen, 'Science of Ethics'

"How the devil is it that fresh features Have such a charm for us poor human creatures?" Lord Byron, 'Don Juan'

Charles Scribner's Sons New York 1896

Copyright, 1896 Charles Scribner's Sons

Copyright, 1894, 1896, by Anthony Hope


"The Wheel of Love," published in Scribner's Magazine during the past year, and "The Lady of the Pool," both protected by American copyright, are here printed for the first time in book form. The four other stories appeared without their author's consent or knowledge, with their titles changed beyond recognition, and combined with other unauthorized material, in a small volume printed by an American firm. They are here given for the first time in their proper form and by my authority.

Anthony Hope.


The Wheel of Love The Lady of the Pool The Curate of Poltons A Three Volume Novel The Philosopher in the Apple Orchard The Decree of Duke Deodonato




AT first sight they had as little reason for being unhappy as it is possible to have in a world half full of sorrow. They were young and healthy; half a dozen times they had each declared the other more than common good looking; they both had, and never knew what it was not to have, money enough for comfort and, in addition that divine little superfluity wherefrom joys are born. The house was good to look at and good to live in; there were horses to ride, the river to go a rowing on, and a big box from Mudie's every week. No one worried them; Miss Bussey was generally visiting the poor; or, as was the case at this moment, asleep in her arm chair, with Paul, the terrier, in his basket beside her, and the cat on her lap. Lastly, they were plighted lovers, and John was staying with Miss Bussey for the express purpose of delighting and being delighted by his fiancée, Mary Travers. For these and all their mercies certainly they should have been truly thankful.

However the heart of man is wicked. This fact alone can explain why Mary sat sadly in the drawing room, feeling a letter that was tucked inside her waistband and John strode moodily up and down the gravel walk, a cigar, badly bitten, between his teeth, and his hand over and again covertly stealing toward his breast pocket and pressing a scented note that lay there. In the course of every turn John would pass the window of the drawing room; then Mary would look up with a smile and blow him a kiss, and he nodded and laughed and returned the salute. But, the window passed, both sighed deeply and returned to lingering those hidden missives.

"Poor little girl! I must keep it up," said John.

"Dear good John! He must never know," thought Mary.

And the two fell to thinking just what was remarked a few lines back, namely, that the human heart is very wicked; they were shocked at themselves; the young often are.

Miss Bussey awoke, sat up, evicted the cat, and found her spectacles.

"Where are those children?" said she. "Billing and cooing somewhere, I suppose. Bless me, why don't they get tired of it?"

They had not indeed of billing and cooing in general, for no one at their age does or ought to get tired of that but of billing and cooing with one another.

It will be observed that the situation promised well for a tragedy. Nevertheless this is not the story of an unhappy marriage.

If there be one thing which Government should forbid, it is a secret engagement. Engagements should be advertised as marriages are; but unless we happen to be persons of social importance, or considerable notoriety, no such precautions are taken. Of course there are engagement rings; but a man never knows one when he sees it on a lady's hand it would indeed be impertinent to look too closely and when he goes out alone he generally puts his in his pocket, considering that the evening will thus be rendered more enjoyable... Continue reading book >>

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