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Frivolous Cupid   By: (1863-1933)

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First Page:

FRIVOLOUS CUPID

BY

SIR ANTHONY HOPE HAWKINS

(ANTHONY HOPE, PSEUD.)

Cupid, I met thee yesterday With an empty quiver, Coming from Clarinda's house By the reedy river.

And I saw Clarinda stand Near the pansies, weeping, With her hands upon her breast All thine arrows keeping.

CONTENTS

I. RELUCTANCE II. WHY MEN DON'T MARRY III. A CHANGE OF HEART IV. A REPENTANT SINNER V. 'TWIXT WILL AND WILL NOT VI. WHICH SHALL IT BE? VII. MARRIAGE BY COMPULSION VIII. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

FRIVOLOUS CUPID.

I.

RELUCTANCE.

I.

Neither life nor the lawn tennis club was so full at Natterley that the news of Harry Sterling's return had not some importance.

He came back, moreover, to assume a position very different from his old one. He had left Harrow now, departing in the sweet aroma of a long score against Eton at Lord's, and was to go up to Oxford in October. Now between a schoolboy and a University man there is a gulf, indicated unmistakably by the cigarette which adorned Harry's mouth as he walked down the street with a newly acquiescent father, and thoroughly realized by his old playmates. The young men greeted him as an equal, the boys grudgingly accepted his superiority, and the girls received him much as though they had never met him before in their lives and were pressingly in need of an introduction. These features of his reappearance amused Mrs. Mortimer; she recollected him as an untidy, shy, pretty boy; but mind, working on matter, had so transformed him that she was doubtful enough about him to ask her husband if that were really Harry Sterling.

Mr. Mortimer, mopping his bald head after one of his energetic failures at lawn tennis, grunted assent, and remarked that a few years more would see a like development in their elder son, a remark which bordered on absurdity; for Johnny was but eight, and ten years are not a few years to a lady of twenty eight, whatever they may seem to a man of forty four.

Presently Harry, shaking himself free from an entangling group of the Vicarage girls, joined his father, and the two came across to Mrs. Mortimer.

She was a favorite of old Sterling's, and he was proud to present his handsome son to her. She listened graciously to his jocosities, stealing a glance at Harry when his father called him "a good boy." Harry blushed and assumed an air of indifference, tossing his hair back from his smooth forehead, and swinging his racket carelessly in his hand. The lady addressed some words of patronizing kindness to him, seeking to put him at his ease. She seemed to succeed to some extent, for he let his father and her husband go off together, and sat down by her on the bench, regardless of the fact that the Vicarage girls were waiting for him to make a fourth.

He said nothing, and Mrs. Mortimer looked at him from under her long lashes; in so doing she discovered that he was looking at her.

"Aren't you going to play any more, Mr. Sterling?" she asked.

"Why aren't you playing?" he rejoined.

"My husband says I play too badly."

"Oh, play with me! We shall make a good pair."

"Then you must be very good."

"Well, no one can play a hang here, you know. Besides I'm sure you're all right, really."

"You forget my weight of years."

He opened his blue eyes a little, and laughed. He was, in fact, astonished to find that she was quite a young woman. Remembering old Mortimer and the babies, he had thought of her as full middle aged. But she was not; nor had she that likeness to a suet pudding, which his newborn critical faculty cruelly detected in his old friends, the Vicarage girls.

There was one of them Maudie with whom he had flirted in his holidays; he wondered at that, especially when a relentless memory told him that Mrs. Mortimer must have been at the parties where the thing went on. He felt very much older, so much older that Mrs. Mortimer became at once a contemporary. Why, then, should she begin, as she now did, to talk to him, in quasi maternal fashion, about his prospects? Men don't have prospects, or, anyhow, are spared questionings thereon... Continue reading book >>




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