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The Guests Of Hercules   By: (1869-1933)

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First Page:

THE GUESTS OF HERCULES

BOOKS BY C. N. and A. M. WILLIAMSON

The Golden Silence The Motor Maid Lord Loveland Discovers America Set in Silver The Lightning Conductor The Princess Passes My Friend the Chauffeur Lady Betty Across the Water Rosemary in Search of a Father The Princess Virginia The Car of Destiny The Chaperon

[Illustration: "MARY WAS A GODDESS ON A GOLDEN PINNACLE. THIS WAS LIFE; THE WINE OF LIFE"]

The Guests of Hercules

BY C. N. and A. M. WILLIAMSON

ILLUSTRATED BY M. LEONE BRACKER & ARTHUR H. BUCKLAND

GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1912

Copyright, 1912, by C. N. & A. M. WILLIAMSON

All rights reserved, including that of translation into Foreign Languages, including the Scandinavian

TO THE LORD OF THE GARDEN

ILLUSTRATIONS

"Mary was a goddess on a golden pinnacle. This was life; the wine of life" . . . . . . . Frontispiece

Mary Grant . . . . . . . . FACING PAGE 22

"'I can't promise!' she exclaimed. 'I've never wanted to marry.'" . 286

"'It was Fate brought you to give you to me. Do you regret it?'" . 398

I

THE GUESTS OF HERCULES

Long shadows of late afternoon lay straight and thin across the garden path; shadows of beech trees that ranged themselves in an undeviating line, like an inner wall within the convent wall of brick; and the soaring trees were very old, as old perhaps as the convent itself, whose stone had the same soft tints of faded red and brown as the autumn leaves which sparsely jewelled the beeches' silver.

A tall girl in the habit of a novice walked the path alone, moving slowly across the stripes of sunlight and shadow which inlaid the gravel with equal bars of black and reddish gold. There was a smell of autumn on the windless air, bitter yet sweet; the scent of dying leaves, and fading flowers loth to perish, of rose berries that had usurped the place of roses, of chrysanthemums chilled by frost, of moist earth deprived of sun, and of the green moss like film overgrowing all the trunks of the old beech trees. The novice was saying goodbye to the convent garden, and the long straight path under the wall, where every day for many years she had walked, spring and summer, autumn and winter; days of rain, days of sun, days of boisterous wind, days of white feathery snow all the days through which she had passed, on her way from childhood to womanhood. Best of all, she had loved the garden and her favourite path in spring, when vague hopes like dreams stirred in her blood, when it seemed that she could hear the whisper of the sap in the veins of the trees, and the crisp stir of the buds as they unfolded. She wished that she could have been going out of the garden in the brightness and fragrance of spring. The young beauty of the world would have been a good omen for the happiness of her new life. The sorrowful incense of Nature in decay cast a spell of sadness over her, even of fear, lest after all she were doing a wrong thing, making a mistake which could never be amended.

The spirit of the past laid a hand upon her heart. Ghosts of sweet days gone long ago beckoned her back to the land of vanished hours. The garden was the garden of the past; for here, within the high walls draped in flowering creepers and ivy old as history, past, present, and future were all as one, and had been so for many a tranquil generation of calm faced, dark veiled women... Continue reading book >>




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