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The Early Short Fiction of Edith Wharton — Part 1   By: (1862-1937)

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THE EARLY SHORT FICTION OF EDITH WHARTON

By Edith Wharton

A Ten Volume Collection

Volume One

Contents of Volume One

Stories KERFOL.........................March 1916 MRS. MANSTEY'S VIEW............July 1891 THE BOLTED DOOR................March 1909 THE DILETTANTE.................December 1903 THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD HAND.....August 1904

The following works not included in the present eBook:

Verse THE PARTING DAY................February 1880 AEROPAGUS......................March 1880 A FAILURE......................April 1880 PATIENCE.......................April 1880 WANTS..........................May 1880 THE LAST GIUSTIANINI...........October 1889 EURYALUS.......................December 1889 HAPPINESS......................December 1889

Bibliography

EDITH WHARTON BIBLIOGRAPHY: SHORT STORIES AND POEMS........Judy Boss

KERFOL

As first published in Scribner's Magazine, March 1916

I

"You ought to buy it," said my host; "it's just the place for a solitary minded devil like you. And it would be rather worth while to own the most romantic house in Brittany. The present people are dead broke, and it's going for a song you ought to buy it."

It was not with the least idea of living up to the character my friend Lanrivain ascribed to me (as a matter of fact, under my unsociable exterior I have always had secret yearnings for domesticity) that I took his hint one autumn afternoon and went to Kerfol. My friend was motoring over to Quimper on business: he dropped me on the way, at a cross road on a heath, and said: "First turn to the right and second to the left. Then straight ahead till you see an avenue. If you meet any peasants, don't ask your way. They don't understand French, and they would pretend they did and mix you up. I'll be back for you here by sunset and don't forget the tombs in the chapel."

I followed Lanrivain's directions with the hesitation occasioned by the usual difficulty of remembering whether he had said the first turn to the right and second to the left, or the contrary. If I had met a peasant I should certainly have asked, and probably been sent astray; but I had the desert landscape to myself, and so stumbled on the right turn and walked on across the heath till I came to an avenue. It was so unlike any other avenue I have ever seen that I instantly knew it must be THE avenue. The grey trunked trees sprang up straight to a great height and then interwove their pale grey branches in a long tunnel through which the autumn light fell faintly. I know most trees by name, but I haven't to this day been able to decide what those trees were. They had the tall curve of elms, the tenuity of poplars, the ashen colour of olives under a rainy sky; and they stretched ahead of me for half a mile or more without a break in their arch. If ever I saw an avenue that unmistakably led to something, it was the avenue at Kerfol. My heart beat a little as I began to walk down it.

Presently the trees ended and I came to a fortified gate in a long wall. Between me and the wall was an open space of grass, with other grey avenues radiating from it. Behind the wall were tall slate roofs mossed with silver, a chapel belfry, the top of a keep. A moat filled with wild shrubs and brambles surrounded the place; the drawbridge had been replaced by a stone arch, and the portcullis by an iron gate. I stood for a long time on the hither side of the moat, gazing about me, and letting the influence of the place sink in. I said to myself: "If I wait long enough, the guardian will turn up and show me the tombs " and I rather hoped he wouldn't turn up too soon.

I sat down on a stone and lit a cigarette... Continue reading book >>


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