Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Hilda A Story of Calcutta   By: (1861-1922)

Book cover

First Page:




Author of "A Social Departure," "An American Girl in London," "His Honour and a Lady," "A Voyage of Consolation," "Vernon's Aunt," "A Daughter of To day," etc.


Copyright, 1898 By Frederick A. Stokes Company



Miss Howe pushed the portière aside with a curved hand and gracefully separated fingers; it was a staccato movement, and her body followed it after an instant's poise of hesitation, head thrust a little forward, eyes inquiring, and a tentative smile, although she knew precisely who was there. You would have been aware at once that she was an actress. She entered the room with a little stride, and then crossed it quickly, the train of her morning gown it cried out of luxury with the cheapest voice taking folds of great audacity, as she bent her face in its loose mass of hair over Laura Filbert, sitting on the edge of a bamboo sofa, and said

"You poor thing! Oh, you poor thing!"

She took Laura's hand as she spoke, and tried to keep it; but the hand was neutral, and she let it go. "It is a hand," she said to herself, in one of those quick reflections that so often visited her ready made, "that turns the merely inquiring mind away. Nothing but passion could hold it."

Miss Filbert made the conventional effort to rise, but it came to nothing, or to a mere embarrassed accent of their greeting. Then her voice showed this feeling to be merely superficial, made nothing of it, pushed it to one side.

"I suppose you cannot see the foolishness of your pity," she said. "Oh, Miss Howe, I am happier than you are much happier." Her bare feet, as she spoke, nestled into the coarse Mirzapore rug on the floor, and her eye lingered approvingly upon an Owari vase three foot high, and thick with the gilded landscape of Japan which stood near it, in the cheap magnificence of the squalid room.

Hilda smiled. Her smile acquiesced in the world she had found, acquiesced with the gladness of an explorer in Laura Filbert as a feature of it.

"Don't be too sure," she cried; "I am very happy. It is such a pleasure to see you."

Her gaze embraced Miss Filbert as a person and Miss Filbert as a pictorial fact; but that was because she could not help it. Her eyes were really engaged only with the latter Miss Filbert.

"Much happier than you are," Laura repeated, slowly moving her head from side to side, as if to negative contradiction in advance. She smiled too; it was as if she had remembered a former habit, from politeness.

"Of course you are of course!" Miss Howe acknowledged. The words were mellow and vibrant; her voice seemed to dwell upon them with a kind of rich affection. Her face covered itself with serious sweetness. "I can imagine the beatitudes you feel by your clothes."

The girl drew her feet under her, and her hand went up to the only semi conventional item of her attire. It was a brooch that exclaimed in silver letters, "Glory to His Name!" "It is the dress of the Army in this country," she said; "I would not change it for the wardrobe of any queen."

"That's just what I mean." Miss Howe leaned back in her chair with her head among its cushions, and sent her words fluently across the room, straight and level with the glance from between her half closed eyelids. A fine sensuous appreciation of the indolence it was possible to enjoy in the East clung about her. "To live on a plane that lifts you up like that so that you can defy all criticism and all convention, and go about the streets like a mark of exclamation at the selfishness of the world there must be something very consummate in it or you couldn't go on. At least I couldn't."

"I suppose I do look odd to you." Her voice took a curious soft, uplifted note. "I wear three garments only the garments of my sisters who plant the young shoots in the rice fields, and carry bricks for the building of rich men's houses, and gather the dung of the roadways to burn for fuel... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books