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Coquette   By: (1884-1982)

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E text prepared by Annie McGuire

COQUETTE

THE NOVELS OF FRANK SWINNERTON

THE HAPPY FAMILY ON THE STAIRCASE THE CHASTE WIFE SHOPS AND HOUSES NOCTURNE SEPTEMBER COQUETTE

COQUETTE

FRANK SWINNERTON

BY FRANK SWINNERTON

COQUETTE SEPTEMBER SHOPS AND HOUSES NOCTURNE THE CHASTE WIFE ON THE STAIRCASE THE HAPPY FAMILY THE CASEMENT THE YOUNG IDEA THE MERRY HEART GEORGE GISSING A Critical Study R. L. STEVENSON A Critical Study

COQUETTE

by

FRANK SWINNERTON

Author of "September," "Shops and Houses," "Nocturne," Etc.

New York George H. Doran Company

Copyright, 1921, by George H. Doran Company

CONTENTS

PAGE

BOOK ONE

TOBY 9

BOOK TWO

GAGA 89

BOOK THREE

CONSEQUENCES 209

BOOK ONE: TOBY

i

It was Saturday night a winter night in which the wind hummed through every draughty crevice between the windows and under the doors and down the chimneys. Outside, in the Hornsey Road, horse omnibuses rattled by and the shops that were still open at eleven o'clock glistened with light. Up the road, at the butcher's just below the Plough public house, a small crowd lingered, turning over scraps of meat, while the butcher himself, chanting "Lovely, lovely, lovely!" in a kind of ecstasy, plunged again into a fresh piece of meat the attractive legend, "Oh, mother, look! Three ha'pence a pound!" Just over the way, at the Supply Stores, they had begun to roll down the heavy shutter, hiding the bright windows, and leaving only a narrow doorway, through which light streamed and made rainbow colours on the pavement outside. The noise of the street was a racketting roar, hardly lower now than it had been all the evening. Sally crouched at the window of the first floor flat, looking down at the black roadway, and watching the stragglers from the Supply Stores.

In the flat above there was the sound of one who sang, vamping an accompaniment upon the piano and emphasising the simple time of his carol by a dully stamped foot upon the floor. His foot making in soft slippers a dead "dump dump dump" shook the ceiling of the Mintos' flat. They could hear his dry voice huskily roaring, "There you are, there you are, there you ain't ain't ain't." They had heard it a thousand times, always with the familiar stamp. It was very gay. Old Perce, as he was called, was a carver in a City restaurant. It was he who received orders from the knowing; and in return for apparent tit bits he received acknowledgments in coin twopence or threepence a time. Therefore, when he reached home each evening, nicely cheery and about a quarter drunk, his first act after having tea was to withdraw from his pockets a paper bag or two such as those supplied by banks for the carriage of silver which he would empty of greasy coppers. He piled these coppers in mounds of twelve, and counted them over several times. He then smoked his pipe, went into his front room, and played, "There you are, there you are, there you ain't ain't ain't." Sally did not remember ever having heard him sing anything else. He was singing it: now with customary gusto. Sally thought he must be a very rich man. Old Perce's wife, who let her practise on their piano, hinted as much. His wages were low, she said, but in a week his tips often came to three or four pounds. Three or four pounds! Whew! Sally's father only made thirty five shillings in a week, everything included. Mrs. Perce told Sally many other things, which Sally shrewdly treasured in memory... Continue reading book >>




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