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The Judgment of Eve   By: (1863-1946)

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Author of "The Divine Fire"


[Illustration: "Arthur lay at her feet and read aloud to her"]

New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers MCMVIII Copyright, 1907, by Harper & Brothers. All rights reserved. Published March, 1908.


"Arthur lay at her feet and read aloud to her"

"'John,' she said, suddenly, 'did you ever kill a pig?'"

"Over their cocoa he developed his theory of life"

"'Quack, quack!' said Arthur, and it made the baby nearly choke with laughter"

"She listened without a scruple, justified by her motherhood"

"'Now, isn't it a pity for you to be going, dearie?'"

"'There isn't an unsweet, unsound spot in one of them'"

"Thoughts came to him, terrible thoughts"


"'I saw a ship a sailing, a sailing on the sea'" Nursery Rhyme .


It was market day in Queningford. Aggie Purcell was wondering whether Mr. Hurst would look in that afternoon at the Laurels as he had looked in on other market days. Supposing he did, and supposing Mr. Gatty were to look in, too, why then, Aggie said, it would be rather awkward. But whether awkward for herself, or for Mr. Gatty, or Mr. Hurst, or for all three of them together, Aggie was unable to explain to her own satisfaction or her mother's.

In Queningford there were not many suitors for a young lady to choose from, but it was understood that, such as there were, Aggie Purcell would have her pick of them. The other young ladies were happy enough if they could get her leavings. Miss Purcell of the Laurels was by common consent the prettiest, the best dressed, and the best mannered of them all. To be sure, she could only be judged by Queningford standards; and, as the railway nearest to Queningford is a terminus that leaves the small gray town stranded on the borders of the unknown, Queningford standards are not progressive. Neither are they imitative; for imitation implies a certain nearness, and between the young ladies of Queningford and the daughters of the county there is an immeasurable void.

The absence of any effective rivalry made courtship a rather tame and uninteresting affair to Miss Purcell. She had only to make up her mind whether she would take the wine merchant's son, or the lawyer's nephew, or the doctor's assistant, or, perhaps, it would be one of those mysterious enthusiasts who sometimes came into the neighborhood to study agriculture. Anyhow, it was a foregone conclusion that each of these doomed young men must pass through Miss Purcell's door before he knocked at any other.

Pretty Aggie was rather a long time in making up her mind. It could only be done by a slow process of elimination, till the embarrassing train of her adorers was finally reduced to two. At the age of five and twenty (five and twenty is not young in Queningford), she had only to solve the comparatively simple problem: whether it would be Mr. John Hurst or Mr. Arthur Gatty. Mr. John Hurst was a young farmer just home from Australia, who had bought High Farm, one of the biggest sheep farming lands in the Cotswolds. Mr. Arthur Gatty was a young clerk in a solicitor's office in London; he was down at Queningford on his Easter holiday, staying with cousins at the County Bank. Both had the merit of being young men whom Miss Purcell had never seen before. She was so tired of all the young men whom she had seen.

Not that pretty Aggie was a flirt and a jilt and a heartless breaker of hearts. She wouldn't have broken anybody's heart for the whole world; it would have hurt her own too much. She had never jilted anybody, because she had never permitted herself to become engaged to any of those young men. As for flirting, pretty Aggie couldn't have flirted if she had tried. The manners of Queningford are not cultivated to that delicate pitch when flirtation becomes a decorative art, and Aggie would have esteemed it vulgar. But Aggie was very superior and fastidious. She wanted things that no young man in Queningford would ever be able to offer her... Continue reading book >>

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