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The Cottage of Delight A Novel   By: (1858-1919)

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THE COTTAGE OF DELIGHT

BOOKS BY WILL N. HARBEN

THE COTTAGE OF DELIGHT THE HILLS OF REFUGE THE TRIUMPH ABNER DANIEL ANN BOYD THE DESIRED WOMAN DIXIE HART THE GEORGIANS GILBERT NEAL THE INNER LAW JANE DAWSON KENNETH GALT MAM' LINDA THE NEW CLARION PAUL RUNDEL POLE BAKER SECOND CHOICE THE SUBSTITUTE WESTERFELT

HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK [ESTABLISHED 1817]

[Illustration]

THE COTTAGE OF DELIGHT

A NOVEL

BY

WILL N. HARBEN

Author of "Ann Boyd," "Abner Daniel," "The Triumph," "The Hills of Judgment," etc.

[Illustration]

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON

Copyright 1919, by Harper & Brothers

PART I

CHAPTER I

John Trott waked that morning at five o'clock. Whether it was due to the mere habit of a working man or the blowing of the hoarse and mellow whistle at the great cotton mills beyond the low, undulating hills half a mile away he did not know, but for several years the whistle had been his summons from a state of dead slumber to a day of toil. The morning was cloudy and dark, so he lighted a dingy oil lamp with a cracked and smoked chimney, and in its dim glow drew on his coarse lime and mortar splotched shirt and overalls. The cheap cotton socks he put on had holes at the heels and toes; his leather belt had broken and was tied with a piece of twine; his shoes were quite new and furnished an odd contrast to the rest of his attire.

He was young, under twenty, and rather tall. He was slender, but his frame was sinewy. He had no beard as yet, and his tanned face was covered with down. His hair was coarse and had a tendency to stand erect and awry. He had blue eyes, a mouth inclined to harshness, a manner somewhat brusk and impatient. To many he appeared absent minded.

Suddenly, as he sat tying his shoes, he heard a clatter of pans in the kitchen down stairs, and he paused to listen. "I wonder," he thought, "if that brat is cooking breakfast again. She must be, for neither one of those women would be out of bed as early as this. It was three o'clock when they came in."

Blowing out his light, he groped from the room into the dark passage outside, and descended the old creaking stairs to the hall below. The front door was open, and he sniffed angrily. "They didn't even lock it. They must have been drunk again. Well, that's their business, not mine."

The kitchen was at the far end of the hall and he turned into it. It was almost filled with smoke. A little girl stood at the old fashioned range, putting sticks of wood in at the door. She was about nine years of age, wore a cast off dress, woman's size, and was barefooted. She had good features, her eyes were blue, her hair abundant and golden, her hands, now splotched with smut, were small and slender. She was not a relative of John's, being the orphaned niece of Miss Jane Holder, who shared the house with John's mother, who was a widow.

The child's name was Dora Boyles, and she smiled in chagrin as he stared down on her in the lamplight and demanded:

"Say, say, what's this trying to smoke us to death?"

"I made a mistake," the child faltered. "The damper in the pipe was turned wrong, and while I was on the back porch, mixing the biscuit dough, it smoked before I knew it. It will stop now. You see it is drawing all right."

With an impatient snort, he threw open the two windows in the room and opened the outer door, standing aside and watching the blue smoke trail out, cross the porch floor, and dissolve in the grayish light of dawn.

"The biscuits are about done," Dora said. "The coffee water has boiled and I'm going to fry the eggs and meat. The pan is hot and it won't take long."

"I was going to get a bite at the restaurant," he answered, in a mollified tone.

"But you said the coffee was bad down there and the bread stale," Dora argued, as she dropped some slices of bacon into the pan... Continue reading book >>




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