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Hard Cash   By: (1814-1884)

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[Prepared by James Rusk, jrusk@excite.com. Italics are indicated by underscores. The pound sign is indicated by L. No attempt has been made to transcribe Greek text or sheet music. Accent marks in foreign words are ignored.]

Hard Cash

by Charles Reade

PREFACE

"HARD CASH," like "The Cloister and the Hearth," is a matter of fact Romance that is, a fiction built on truths; and these truths have been gathered by long, severe, systematic labour, from a multitude of volumes, pamphlets, journals, reports, blue books, manuscript narratives, letters, and living people, whom I have sought out, examined, and cross examined, to get at the truth on each main topic I have striven to handle.

The madhouse scenes have been picked out by certain disinterested gentlemen, who keep private asylums, and periodicals to puff them; and have been met with bold denials of public facts, and with timid personalities, and a little easy cant about Sensation Novelists; but in reality those passages have been written on the same system as the nautical, legal, and other scenes: the best evidence has been ransacked; and a large portion of this evidence I shall be happy to show at my house to any brother writer who is disinterested, and really cares enough for truth and humanity to walk or ride a mile in pursuit of them.

CHARLES READE.

6 BOLTON ROW, MAYFAIR, December 5, 1868.

This slang term is not quite accurate as applied to me. Without sensation there can be no interest: but my plan is to mix a little character and a little philosophy with the sensational element.

HARD CASH

PROLOGUE

IN a snowy villa, with a sloping lawn, just outside the great commercial seaport, Barkington, there lived a few years ago a happy family. A lady, middle aged, but still charming; two young friends of hers; and a periodical visitor.

The lady was Mrs. Dodd; her occasional visitor was her husband; her friends were her son Edward, aged twenty, and her daughter Julia, nineteen, the fruit of a misalliance.

Mrs. Dodd was originally Miss Fountain, a young lady well born, high bred, and a denizen of the fashionable world. Under a strange concurrence of circumstances she coolly married the captain of an East Indiaman. The deed done, and with her eyes open, for she was not, to say, in love with him, she took a judicious line and kept it: no hankering after Mayfair, no talking about "Lord this" and "Lady that," to commercial gentlewomen; no amphibiousness. She accepted her place in society, reserving the right to embellish it with the graces she had gathered in a higher sphere. In her home, and in her person, she was little less elegant than a countess; yet nothing more than a merchant captain's wife; and she reared that commander's children in a suburban villa, with the manners which adorn a palace. When they happen to be there. She had a bugbear; Slang. Could not endure the smart technicalities current; their multitude did not overpower her distaste; she called them "jargon" "slang" was too coarse a word for her to apply to slang: she excluded many a good "racy idiom" along with the real offenders; and monosyllables in general ran some risk of' having to show their passports. If this was pedantry, it went no further; she was open, free, and youthful with her young pupils; and had the art to put herself on their level: often, when they were quite young, she would feign infantine ignorance, in order to hunt trite truth in couples with them, and detect, by joint experiment, that rainbows cannot, or else will not, be walked into, nor Jack o' lantern be gathered like a cowslip; and that, dissect we the vocal dog whose hair is so like a lamb's never so skilfully, no fragment of palpable bark, no sediment of tangible squeak, remains inside him to bless the inquisitive little operator, &c., &c. When they advanced from these elementary branches to Languages, History, Tapestry, and "What Not," she managed still to keep by their side learning with them, not just hearing them lessons down from the top of a high tower of maternity... Continue reading book >>




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