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Major Frank

By

A. L. G. Bosboom Toussaint

Author of "The English in Rome," etc.

Translated from the Dutch

By

James Akeroyd

London

T Fisher Unwin

26 Paternoster Square

1885

MAJOR FRANK.

CHAPTER I.

A Letter from Sir Leopold van Zonshoven to Mr. William Verheyst at A .

The Hague, March, 1865.

Dear Friend, If you are not too deeply absorbed in some lawsuit or other, come to me by the first express you can catch from your little provincial town. Something wonderful has happened, and I have great need of a friend to whom I can confide my secret. Imagine Leopold van Zonshoven, who seemed destined from his infancy to figure in this world as a poor gentleman imagine your friend Leopold suddenly come into an immense fortune.

An old aunt of my mother's, of whom I had never heard, and who it seems had quarrelled with all her relations, has hit upon the sublime idea of playing the "Fairy Godmother" to me. By her will I am made sole heir to all the property she died possessed of. I, who with the strictest economy and self control have barely managed to keep out of debt; I, who have never given way to youthful follies or run into excess, now see a million thrown at my head. This is contrary to the ideas of the romancing novelist, who as a rule reforms and rewards the wildest youth. I almost knocked over the lamp on opening the letter which contained this incredible news; fortunately my landlady caught it, for she was waiting for the eighteenpence which the messenger demanded for his services, and she has since confessed to me she thought that it was a case of "baliffs." I got rid of her as quickly as possible and bolted the door behind her. I felt an irresistible desire to be alone, and to convince myself that the news was real, and not a page out of the "Arabian Nights."

After having satisfied myself of the reality of the affair, I was assailed by an indescribable confusion of ideas and impressions. My heart beat as if it would burst; I felt a rising in my throat as if I should choke; and the first profit which I derived from my new fortune was a severe headache. I am not a stoic, and I have never attempted to appear in that character. Lately all my thoughts have been fixed on some method of changing the miserable position in which I have thus far vegetated, and there seemed but one hope left me: a reconciliation with my uncle, the Cabinet Minister, who could get me an appointment as attaché to one of the embassies. But this would be a difficult task, for his Excellency has forbidden me his house because of some articles that I wrote in an opposition paper. How I regretted not having been able to complete my studies and take a degree, the lack of which has shut me out from so many posts open to my fellow students.

At the age of twenty nine it is a losing game to compete with younger men in possession of a degree; and whilst I sat brooding over my misfortunes, suddenly the news reaches me that I am a rich landed proprietor. I ask you, cool headed man of the law as you are, whether that is not enough to turn the brain of a simple mortal like myself? Do come, then, as soon as possible to talk the matter over with me, especially as there is one point on which I must have your advice before entering into possession of my estates. Possibly your judicial eye will make light of it, but for me it is a conscientious question, or at least a question of delicacy, which may cause my mountain of gold to crumble to dust. I will decide nothing before consulting you. In the meantime I have given my lawyer power of attorney under reserve. Here I have many acquaintances, but not one trusted friend to whom I can reveal the secrets of my bosom without the fear of being misunderstood or made ridiculous... Continue reading book >>




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