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The Invader A Novel   By: (1856-1945)

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The Invader



Margaret L. Woods

New York and London

Harper & Brothers Publishers


Copyright, 1907, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

Published May, 1907.


Hilda Greaves




Dinner was over and the ladies had just risen, when the Professor had begged to introduce them to the new comer on his walls. The Invader, it might almost have been called, this full length, life size portrait, which, in the illumination of a lamp turned full upon it, seemed to take possession of the small room, to dominate at the end of the polished oak table, where the light of shaded candles fell on old blue plates, old Venetian glass, a bit of old Italian brocade, and chrysanthemums in a china bowl coveted by collectors. Every detail spoke of the connoisseurship, the refined and personal taste characteristic of Oxford in the eighties. The authority on art put up his eye glasses and fingered his tiny forked beard uneasily.

"There's no doubt it's a good thing, Fletcher," he said, presently "really quite good. But it's too like Romney to be Raeburn, and too like Raeburn to be Romney. You ought to be able to find out the painter, if, as you say, it's a portrait of your own great grandmother "

"He did say so!" broke in Sanderson, exultantly. "He said it was an ancestress. Fletcher, you're a vulgar fraud. You've got no ancestress. You bought her. There's a sale ticket still on the frame under the projection at the right hand lower corner. I saw it."

Sanderson was a small man and walked about perpetually, except when taking food: sometimes then. He was a licensed insulter of his friends, and now stood before the picture in a belligerent attitude. The Professor stroked his amber beard and smiled down on Sanderson.

"True, O Sanderson; and at the same time untrue. I did buy the picture, and the lady was my great grandmother once, but she did not like the position and soon gave it up. This picture must have been done after she had given it up."

"Is this a conundrum or blather, invented to hide your ignominy in a cloud of words?" asked Sanderson.

"It's a hors d'oeuvre before the story," interposed Ian Stewart, throwing back his tall dark head and looking up at the picture through his eye glasses, his handsome face alive with interest. "'Tak' awa' the kickshaws,' Fletcher, 'and bring us the cauf.'"

The Professor gathered his full beard in one hand and smiled deprecatingly.

"I don't know how the ladies will like my ex great grandmother's story. It was a bit of a scandal at the time."

"Never mind, Mr. Fletcher," cried a young married woman, with a face like a seraph, "we're all educated now, and scandal about a lady with her waist under her arms becomes simply classical."

"Not so bad as that, Mrs. Shaw, I assure you," returned the Professor; "but I dare say you all know as much as I do about my great grandmother, for she was the well known Lady Hammerton."

There were sounds of interest and surprise, for most of the party knew her name, and were curious to learn how she came to be Professor Fletcher's great grandmother. Mr. Fletcher explained:

"My great grandfather was a distinguished professor in Edinburgh a hundred years ago. When he was a widower of forty with a family, he was silly enough to fall in love with a little miss of sixteen. He taught her Latin and Greek which was all very well and married her, which was distinctly unwise. She had one son my grandfather and then ran away with an actor from London... Continue reading book >>

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