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The Grey Lady   By: (1862-1903)

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This eBook was produced by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.

THE GREY LADY BY HENRY SETON MERRIMAN.

"The dog that snapt the shadow, dropt the bone."

CONTENTS

BOOK THE FIRST

I. TWO IN THE FIELD. II. A MAN DOWN. III. A SEA DOG. IV. PURGATORIO. V. THE VALLEY OF REPOSE. VI. AN ACTOR PASSES OFF THE STAGE. VII. IN THE STREET OF THE PEACE. VIII. THE DEAL. IX. CUT FOR PARTNERS. X. THE GAME OPENS. XI. SHIPS UPON THE SEA. XII. A SHUFFLE. XIII. A CHOICE. XIV. A QUATRE. XV. DON QUIXOTE. XVI. BROKEN.

BOOK THE SECOND

I. BITS OF LIFE. II. A COMPACT. III. BAFFLED. IV. FOR THE HIGHEST BIDDER. V. THE TEAR ON THE SWORD. VI. THE COUNT STANDS BY. VII. A VOYAGE. VIII. A GREAT FIGHT. IX. THE EDITOR'S ROOM. X. THE CURTAIN LOWERS. XI. "MILKSOP". XII. THE END OF THE "CROONAH." XIII. AT D'ERRAHA AGAIN. XIV. THE COUNT'S STORY.

BOOK THE FIRST.

CHAPTER I. TWO IN THE FIELD.

Qui n'accepte pas le regret n'accepte pas la vie.

The train technically known as the "Flying Dutchman," tearing through the plains of Taunton, and in a first class carriage by themselves, facing each other, two boys.

One of these boys remembers the moment to this day. A journey accomplished with Care for a travelling companion usually adheres to the wheels of memory until those wheels are still. Grim Care was with these boys in the railway carriage. A great catastrophe had come to them. A FitzHenry had failed to pass into her Majesty's Navy. Back and back through the generations back to the days when England had no navy she had always been served at sea by a FitzHenry. Moreover, there had always been a Henry of that name on the books. Henry, the son of Henry, had, as a matter of course, gone down to the sea in a ship, had done his country's business in the great waters.

There was, if they could have looked at it from a racial point of view, one small grain of consolation. The record was not even now snapped for Henry had succeeded, Luke it was who had failed.

Henry sat with his back to the engine, looking out over the flat meadow land, with some moisture remarkably like a tear in either eye. The eyes were blue, deep, and dark like the eastern horizon when the sun is setting over the sea. The face was brown, and oval, and still. It looked like a face that belonged to a race, something that had been handed down with the inherent love of blue water. It is probable that many centuries ago, a man with features such as these, with eyes such as these, and crisp, closely curling hair, had leaped ashore from his open Viking boat, shouting defiance to the Briton.

This son of countless Henrys sat and thought the world was hollow, with no joy in it, and no hope, because Luke had failed.

We are told that there shall be two in the field, that the one shall be taken and the other left. But we have yet to learn why, in our limited vision, the choice seems invariably to be mistaken. We have yet to learn why he who is doing good work is called from the field, leaving there the man whose tastes are urban.

Except for the sake of the record and we cannot really be expected in these busy times to live for generations past or yet unborn except for the record it would have been more expedient that Henry should fail and Luke succeed. Everybody knew this. It was the common talk on board the Britannia. Even the examiners knew it. Luke himself was aware of it. But there had always been a fatality about Luke.

And now, when it was quite apparent that Luke was a sailor and nothing else, the Navy would have none of him. Those who knew him his kindly old captain and others averred that, with a strict and unquestionable discipline, Luke FitzHenry could be made a first class officer and a brilliant sailor. No one quite understood him, not even his brother Henry, usually known as Fitz. Fitz did not understand him now; he had not understood him since the fatal notice had been posted on the broad mainmast, of which some may wot... Continue reading book >>




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