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The Hillman   By: (1866-1946)

The Hillman by Edward Phillips Oppenheim

First Page:

THE HILLMAN

[Illustration: What followed came like a thunder clap. FRONTISPIECE. See page 304. ]

The Hillman

By E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM

Author of "The Kingdom of The Blind" "Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo," Etc.

[Illustration]

WITH FRONTISPIECE By GEORGE AVISON

A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers New York Published by Arrangement with LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY

Copyright, 1917 , BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.

All rights reserved

Published, January, 1917 Reprinted, January, 1917 (twice) February, 1917 (twice) March, 1917; April, 1917

THE HILLMAN

I

Louise, self engrossed, and with a pleasant sense of detachment from the prospective inconveniences of the moment, was leaning back among the cushions of the motionless car. Her eyes, lifted upward, traveled past the dimly lit hillside, with its patchwork of wall enclosed fields, up to where the leaning clouds and the unseen heights met in a misty sea of obscurity.

The moon had not yet risen, but a faint and luminous glow, spreading like a halo about the topmost peak of that ragged line of hills, heralded its approach. Louise sat with clasped hands, rapt and engrossed in the esthetic appreciation of a beauty which found its way but seldom into her town enslaved life. She listened to the sound of a distant sheepbell. Her eyes swept the hillsides, vainly yet without curiosity, for any sign of a human dwelling. The voices of her chauffeur and her maid, who stood talking heatedly together by the bonnet of the car, seemed to belong to another world. She had the air of one completely yet pleasantly detached from all material surroundings.

The maid, leaving her discomfited companion with a final burst of reproaches, came to the side of the car. Her voice, when she addressed her mistress, sank to a lower key, but her eyes still flashed with anger.

"But would madame believe it?" she exclaimed. "It is incredible! The man Charles there, who calls himself a chauffeur of experience, declares that we are what he calls 'hung up'! Something unexpected has happened to the magneto. There is no spark. Whose fault can that be, I ask, but the chauffeur's? And such a desert we have reached! We have searched the map together. We are thirty miles from any town, many miles from even a village. What a misfortune!"

Louise turned her head regretfully away from the mysterious spaces. She listened patiently, but without any sort of emotion, to her maid's flow of distressed words. She even smiled very faintly when the girl had finished.

"Something will happen," she remarked indifferently. "There is no need for you to distress yourself. There must be a farmhouse or shelter of some sort near. If the worst comes to the worst, we can spend the night in the car. We have plenty of furs and rugs. You are not a good traveler, Aline. You lose heart too soon."

The girl's face was a study.

" Madame speaks of spending the night in the car!" she exclaimed. "Why, one has not eaten since luncheon, and of all the country through which we have passed, this is the loneliest and dreariest spot."

Louise leaned forward and called to the chauffeur.

"Charles," she asked, "what has happened? Are we really stranded here?"

The man's head emerged from the bonnet. He came round to the side of the car.

"I am very sorry, madam," he reported, "but something has gone wrong with the magneto. I shall have to take it to pieces before I can tell exactly what is wrong. At present I can't get a spark of any sort... Continue reading book >>




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