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The Lion's Skin   By: (1875-1950)

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THE LION'S SKIN

By Rafael Sabatini

I. THE FANATIC

II. AT THE "ADAM AND EVE"

III. THE WITNESS

IV. Mr. GREEN

V. MOONSHINE

VI. HORTENSIA'S RETURN

VII. FATHER AND SON

VIII. TEMPTATION

IX. THE CHAMPION

X. SPURS TO THE RELUCTANT

XI. THE ASSAULT AT ARMS

XII. SUNSHINE AND SHADOW

XIII. THE FORLORN HOPE

XIV. LADY OSTERMORE

XV. LOVE AND RAGE

XVI. Mr. GREEN EXECUTES HIS WARRANT

XVII. AMID THE GRAVES

XVIII. THE GHOST OF THE PAST

XIX. THE END OF LORD OSTERMORE

XX. Mr. CARYLL'S IDENTITY

XXI. THE LION'S SKIN

XXII. THE HUNTERS

XXIII. THE LION

THE LION'S SKIN

CHAPTER I. THE FANATIC

Mr. Caryll, lately from Rome, stood by the window, looking out over the rainswept, steaming quays to Notre Dame on the island yonder. Overhead rolled and crackled the artillery of an April thunderstorm, and Mr. Caryll, looking out upon Paris in her shroud of rain, under her pall of thundercloud, felt himself at harmony with Nature. Over his heart, too, the gloom of storm was lowering, just as in his heart it was still little more than April time.

Behind him, in that chamber furnished in dark oak and leather of a reign or two ago, sat Sir Richard Everard at a vast writing table all a litter with books and papers; and Sir Richard watched his adoptive son with fierce, melancholy eyes, watched him until he grew impatient of this pause.

"Well?" demanded the old baronet harshly. "Will you undertake it, Justin, now that the chance has come?" And he added: "You'll never hesitate if you are the man I have sought to make you."

Mr. Caryll turned slowly. "It is because I am the man that you that God and you have made me that I do hesitate."

His voice was quiet and pleasantly modulated, and he spoke English with the faintest slur perceptible, perhaps, only to the keenest ear of a French accent. To ears less keen it would merely seem that he articulated with a precision so singular as to verge on pedantry.

The light falling full upon his profile revealed the rather singular countenance that was his own. It was not in any remarkable beauty that its distinction lay, for by the canons of beauty that prevail it was not beautiful. The features were irregular and inclined to harshness, the nose was too abruptly arched, the chin too long and square, the complexion too pallid. Yet a certain dignity haunted that youthful face, of such a quality as to stamp it upon the memory of the merest passer by. The mouth was difficult to read and full of contradictions; the lips were full and red, and you would declare them the lips of a sensualist but for the line of stern, almost grim, determination in which they met; and yet, somewhere behind that grimness, there appeared to lurk a haunting whimsicality; a smile seemed ever to impend, but whether sweet or bitter none could have told until it broke. The eyes were as remarkable; wide set and slow moving, as becomes the eyes of an observant man, they were of an almost greenish color, and so level in their ordinary glance as to seem imbued with an uncanny penetration. His hair he dared to wear his own, and clubbed it in a broad ribbon of watered silk was almost of the hue of bronze, with here and there a glint of gold, and as luxuriant as any wig.

For the rest, he was scarcely above the middle height, of an almost frail but very graceful slenderness, and very graceful, too, in all his movements. In dress he was supremely elegant, with the elegance of France, that in England would be accounted foppishness. He wore a suit of dark blue cloth, with white satin linings that were revealed when he moved; it was heavily laced with gold, and a ramiform pattern broidered in gold thread ran up the sides of his silk stockings of a paler blue. Jewels gleamed in the Brussels at his throat, and there were diamond buckles on his lacquered, red heeled shoes.

Sir Richard considered him with anxiety and some chagrin. "Justin!" he cried, a world of reproach in his voice. "What can you need to ponder?"

"Whatever it may be," said Mr... Continue reading book >>




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