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Fan : the story of a young girl's life   By: (1841-1922)

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First Page:

Eric Eldred, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

FAN

THE STORY OF A YOUNG GIRL'S LIFE

BY HENRY HARFORD

(W.H. HUDSON)

NOTE

The novel Fan was originally published in 1892, under the pseudonym of "Henry Harford." It now makes its appearance under the name of W.H. Hudson for the first time.

This edition is limited to 498 copies of which 450 copies are for sale.

CHAPTER I

A Misty evening in mid October; a top room in one of the small dingy houses on the north side of Moon Street, its floor partially covered with pieces of drugget carpet trodden into rags; for furniture, an iron bed placed against the wall, a deal cupboard or wardrobe, a broken iron cot in a corner, a wooden box and three or four chairs, and a small square deal table; on the table one candle in a tin candlestick gave light to the two occupants of the room. One of these a woman sitting in a listless attitude before the grate, fireless now, although the evening was damp and chilly. She appeared strong, but just now was almost repulsive to look at as she sat there in her dirty ill fitting gown, with her feet thrust out before her, showing her broken muddy boots. Her features were regular, even handsome; that, however, was little in her favour when set against the hard red colour of her skin, which told of habitual intemperance, and the expression, half sullen and half reckless, of her dark eyes, as she sat there staring into the empty grate. There were no white threads yet in her thick long hair that had once been black and glossy, unkempt now, like everything about her, with a dusky dead look in it.

On the cot in the corner rested or crouched a girl not yet fifteen years old, the woman's only child: she was trying to keep herself warm there, sitting close against the wall with her knees drawn up to enable her to cover herself, head included, with a shawl and an old quilt. Both were silent: at intervals the girl would start up out of her wrappings and stare towards the door with a startled look on her face, apparently listening. From the street sounded the shrill animal like cries of children playing and quarrelling, and, further away, the low, dull, continuous roar of traffic in the Edgware Road. Then she would drop back again, to crouch against the wall, drawing the quilt about her, and remain motionless until a step on the stair or the banging of a door below would startle her once more.

Meanwhile her mother maintained her silence and passive attitude, only stirring when the light grew very dim; then she would turn half round, snuff the wick off with her fingers, and wipe them on her shabby dirty dress.

At length the girl started up, throwing her quilt quite off, and remained seated on the edge of her cot, the look of anxiety increasing every moment on her thin pale face. In the matter of dress she seemed even worse off than her mother, and wore an old tattered earth coloured gown, which came down to within three or four inches of her ankles, showing under it ragged stockings and shoes trodden down at heel, so much too large for her feet that they had evidently belonged to her mother. She looked tall for her years, but this was owing to her extreme thinness. Her arms were like sticks, and her sunken cheeks showed the bones of her face; but it was a pathetic face, both on account of the want and anxiety so plainly written on it and its promise of beauty. There was not a particle of colour in it, even the thin lips were almost white, but the eyes were of the purest grey, shaded by long dark lashes; while her hair, hanging uneven and disordered to her shoulders, was of a pure golden brown.

"Mother, he's coming!" said the girl.

"Let him come!" returned the other, without looking up or stirring.

Slowly the approaching footsteps came nearer, stumbling up the dark, narrow staircase; then the door was pushed open and a man entered a broad chested, broad faced rough looking man with stubbly whiskers, wearing the dress and rusty boots of a labourer... Continue reading book >>




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