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Infelice   By: (1835-1909)

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E text prepared by Roy Brown




Author of "At the Mercy of Tiberius", "St. Elmo" Etc.


"The grace of God forbid We should be overbold to lay rough hands On any man's opinion. For opinions Are, certes, venerable properties, And those which show the most decrepitude Should have the gentlest handling." VANINI

London James Nisbet & Co. Limited 21 Berners Street



"Did you tell her that Dr. Hargrove is absent?"

"I did, ma'am; but she says she will wait."

"But, Hannah, it is very uncertain when he will return, and the night is so stormy he may remain in town until to morrow. Advise her to call again in the morning."

"I said as much at the door, but she gave me to understand she came a long way, and should not leave here without seeing the Doctor. She told the driver of the carriage to call for her in about two hours, as she did not wish to miss the railroad train."

"Where did you leave her? Not in that cold, dark parlour, I hope?"

"She sat down on one of the hall chairs, and I left her there."

"A hospitable parsonage reception! Do you wish her to freeze? Go and ask her into the library, to the fire."

As Hannah left the room, Mrs. Lindsay rose and added two sticks of oak wood to the mass of coals that glowed between the shining brass andirons; then carefully removed farther from the flame on the hearth a silver teapot and covered dish, which contained the pastor's supper.

"Walk in, madam. I promise you nobody shall interfere with you. Miss Elise, she says she wishes to see no one but the Doctor."

Hannah ushered the visitor in, and stood at the door, beckoning to her mistress, who paused irresolute, gazing curiously at the muffled form and veiled face of the stranger.

"Do not allow me to cause you any inconvenience, madam. My business is solely with Dr. Hargrove, and I do not fear the cold."

The voice of the visitor was very sweet though tremulous, and she would have retreated, but Mrs. Lindsay put her hand on the bolt of the door, partly closing it.

"Pray be seated. This room is at your disposal. Hannah, bring the tea things into the dining room, and then you need not wait longer; I will lock the doors after my brother comes in."

With an ugly furrow of discontent between her heavy brows, Hannah obeyed, and as she renewed the fire smouldering in the dining room, she slowly shook her grizzled head: "Many a time I have heard my father say, 'Mystery breeds misery,' and take my word for it, there is always something wrong when a woman shuns women folks, and hunts sympathy and advice from men."

"Hush, Hannah! Charity, charity; don't forget that you live in a parsonage, where 'sounding brass or tinkling cymbals' are not tolerated. All kinds of sorrow come here to be cured, and I fear that lady is in distress. Did you notice how her voice trembled?"

"Well, I only hope no silver will be missing to morrow. I must make up my buckwheat, and set it to rise. Good night, Miss Elise."

It was a tempestuous night in the latter part of January, and although the rain, which had fallen steadily all day, ceased at dark, the keen blast from the north shook the branches of the ancient trees encircling the parsonage, and dashed the drops in showers against the windows. Not a star was visible, and as the night wore on the wind increased in violence, roaring through leafless elm limbs, and whistling drearily around the corners of the old brick house, whose ivy mantled chimneys had battled with the storms of seventy years.

The hands of the china clock on the dining room mantlepiece pointed to nine, and Mrs. Lindsay expected to hear the clear sweet strokes of the pendulum, when other sounds startled her; the sharp, shrill bark of a dog, and impatient scratching of paws on the hall door. As she hurried forward and withdrew the inside bolt, a middle aged man entered, followed by a bluish grey Skye terrier... Continue reading book >>

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