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A Laodicean: a Story of To-day   By: (1840-1928)

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A LAODICEAN: A STORY OF TO DAY

By Thomas Hardy

CONTENTS.

PREFACE CHAPTERS BOOK THE FIRST. GEORGE SOMERSET. I XV. BOOK THE SECOND. DARE AND HAVILL. I VII. BOOK THE THIRD. DE STANCY. I XI. BOOK THE FOURTH. SOMERSET, DARE, AND DE STANCY. I V. BOOK THE FIFTH. DE STANCY AND PAULA. I XIV. BOOK THE SIXTH. PAULA. I V.

PREFACE.

The changing of the old order in country manors and mansions may be slow or sudden, may have many issues romantic or otherwise, its romantic issues being not necessarily restricted to a change back to the original order; though this admissible instance appears to have been the only romance formerly recognized by novelists as possible in the case. Whether the following production be a picture of other possibilities or not, its incidents may be taken to be fairly well supported by evidence every day forthcoming in most counties.

The writing of the tale was rendered memorable to two persons, at least, by a tedious illness of five months that laid hold of the author soon after the story was begun in a well known magazine; during which period the narrative had to be strenuously continued by dictation to a predetermined cheerful ending.

As some of these novels of Wessex life address themselves more especially to readers into whose souls the iron has entered, and whose years have less pleasure in them now than heretofore, so "A Laodicean" may perhaps help to while away an idle afternoon of the comfortable ones whose lines have fallen to them in pleasant places; above all, of that large and happy section of the reading public which has not yet reached ripeness of years; those to whom marriage is the pilgrim's Eternal City, and not a milestone on the way. T.H.

January 1896.

BOOK THE FIRST. GEORGE SOMERSET.

I.

The sun blazed down and down, till it was within half an hour of its setting; but the sketcher still lingered at his occupation of measuring and copying the chevroned doorway a bold and quaint example of a transitional style of architecture, which formed the tower entrance to an English village church. The graveyard being quite open on its western side, the tweed clad figure of the young draughtsman, and the tall mass of antique masonry which rose above him to a battlemented parapet, were fired to a great brightness by the solar rays, that crossed the neighbouring mead like a warp of gold threads, in whose mazes groups of equally lustrous gnats danced and wailed incessantly.

He was so absorbed in his pursuit that he did not mark the brilliant chromatic effect of which he composed the central feature, till it was brought home to his intelligence by the warmth of the moulded stonework under his touch when measuring; which led him at length to turn his head and gaze on its cause.

There are few in whom the sight of a sunset does not beget as much meditative melancholy as contemplative pleasure, the human decline and death that it illustrates being too obvious to escape the notice of the simplest observer. The sketcher, as if he had been brought to this reflection many hundreds of times before by the same spectacle, showed that he did not wish to pursue it just now, by turning away his face after a few moments, to resume his architectural studies.

He took his measurements carefully, and as if he reverenced the old workers whose trick he was endeavouring to acquire six hundred years after the original performance had ceased and the performers passed into the unseen. By means of a strip of lead called a leaden tape, which he pressed around and into the fillets and hollows with his finger and thumb, he transferred the exact contour of each moulding to his drawing, that lay on a sketching stool a few feet distant; where were also a sketching block, a small T square, a bow pencil, and other mathematical instruments. When he had marked down the line thus fixed, he returned to the doorway to copy another as before... Continue reading book >>




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