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Lady Good-for-Nothing   By: (1863-1944)

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E text prepared by Lionel Sear

LADY GOOD FOR NOTHING

A Man's Portrait of a Woman

by

ARTHUR THOMAS QUILLER COUCH ('Q')

First Published in 1910.

This story originally appeared in the weekly edition of the "Times," and is now issued in book form by arrangement with the Proprietors of that Journal.

TO My Commodore and old Friend Edward Atkinson, Esq. of Rosebank, Mixtow by Fowey.

NOTE

Some years ago an unknown American friend proposed my writing a story on the loves and adventures of Sir Harry Frankland, Collector of the Port of Boston in the mid eighteenth century, and Agnes Surriage, daughter of a poor Marble head fisherman. The theme attracted me as it has attracted other writers and notably Oliver Wendell Holmes, who built a poem on it. But while their efforts seemed to leave room for another, I was no match for them in knowledge of the facts or of local details; and, moreover, these facts and details cramped my story. I repented, therefore and, taking the theme, altered the locality and the characters who, by the way, in the writing have become real enough to me, albeit in a different sense. Thus (I hope) no violence has been offered to historical truth, while I have been able to tell the tale in my own fashion.

"Q."

CONTENTS.

BOOK I. PORT NASSAU.

I. THE BEACH.

II. PORT NASSAU.

III. TWO GUINEAS.

IV. FATHER AND SON.

V. RUTH.

VI. PARENTHETICAL OF THE FAMILY OF VYELL.

VII. A SABBATH BREAKER.

VIII. ANOTHER SABBATH BREAKER.

IX. THE SCOURGE.

X. THE BENCH.

XI. THE STOCKS.

XII. THE HUT BY THE BEACH.

XIII. RUTH SETS OUT.

BOOK II. PROBATION.

I. AFTER TWO YEARS.

II. MR. SILK.

III. MR. HICHENS.

IV. VASHTI.

V. SIR OLIVER'S HEALTH.

VI. CAPTAIN HARRY AND MR. HANMER.

VII. FIRST OFFER.

VIII. CONCERNING MARGARET.

IX. THE PROSPECT.

X. THREE LADIES.

XI. THE ESPIAL.

XII. LADY CAROLINE.

XIII. DIANA VYELL.

XIV. MR. SILK PROPOSES.

XV. THE CHOOSING.

BOOK III. THE BRIDALS.

I. BETROTHED.

II. THE RETURN.

III. NESTING.

IV. THE BRIDEGROOM.

V. RUTH'S WEDDING DAY.

VI. "YET HE WILL COME ".

VII. HOUSEKEEPING.

VIII. HOME COMING.

BOOK IV. LADY GOOD FOR NOTHING.

I. BATTY LANGTON, CHRONICLER.

II. SIR OLIVER SAILS.

III. MISCALCULATING WRATH.

IV. THE TERRACE.

V. A PROLOGUE TO NOTHING.

VI. CHILDLESS MOTHER.

BOOK V. LISBON AND AFTER.

I. ACT OF FAITH.

II. DONNA MARIA.

III. EARTHQUAKE.

IV. THE SEARCH.

V. THE FINDING.

VI. DOCUMENTS.

VII. THE LAST OFFER.

EPILOGUE

"An innocent life, yet far astray." Wordsworth's Ruth .

BOOK I.

PORT NASSAU.

Chapter I.

THE BEACH.

A coach and six, as a rule, may be called an impressive Object. But something depends on where you see it.

Viewed from the tall cliffs along the base of which, on a strip of beach two hundred feet below, it crawled between the American continent and the Atlantic Ocean Captain Oliver Vyell's coach and six resembled nothing so nearly as a black beetle.

For that matter the cliffs themselves, swept by the spray and humming with the roar of the beach even the bald headland towards which they curved as to the visible bourne of all things terrestrial shrank in comparison with the waste void beyond, where sky and ocean weltered together after the wrestle of a two days' storm; and in comparison with the thought that this rolling sky and heaving water stretched all the way to Europe. Not a sail showed, not a wing anywhere under the leaden clouds that still dropped their rain in patches, smurring out the horizon. The wind had died down, but the ships kept their harbours and the sea birds their inland shelters. Alone of animate things, Captain Vyell's coach and six crept forth and along the beach, as though tempted by the promise of a wintry gleam to landward.

A god if we may suppose one of the old careless Olympians seated there on the cliff top, nursing his knees must have enjoyed the comedy of it, and laughed to think that this pert beetle, edging its way along the sand amid the eternal forces of nature, was here to take seizin of them yes, actually to take seizin and exact tribute... Continue reading book >>




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