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The Man Between, an International Romance   By: (1831-1919)

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An International Romance

By Amelia E. Barr




THE thing that I know least about is my beginning. For it is possible to introduce Ethel Rawdon in so many picturesque ways that the choice is embarrassing, and forces me to the conclusion that the actual circumstances, though commonplace, may be the most suitable. Certainly the events that shape our lives are seldom ushered in with pomp or ceremony; they steal upon us unannounced, and begin their work without giving any premonition of their importance.

Consequently Ethel had no idea when she returned home one night from a rather stupid entertainment that she was about to open a new and important chapter of her life. Hitherto that life had been one of the sweetest and simplest character the lessons and sports of childhood and girlhood had claimed her nineteen years; and Ethel was just at that wonderful age when, the brook and the river having met, she was feeling the first swell of those irresistible tides which would carry her day by day to the haven of all days.

It was Saturday night in the January of 1900, verging toward twelve o'clock. When she entered her room, she saw that one of the windows was open, and she stood a moment or two at it, looking across the straight miles of white lights, in whose illumined shadows thousands of sleepers were holding their lives in pause.

"It is not New York at all," she whispered, "it is some magical city that I have seen, but have never trod. It will vanish about six o'clock in the morning, and there will be only common streets, full of common people. Of course," and here she closed the window and leisurely removed her opera cloak, "of course, this is only dreaming, but to dream waking, or to dream sleeping, is very pleasant. In dreams we can have men as we like them, and women as we want them, and make all the world happy and beautiful."

She was in no hurry of feeling or movement. She had been in a crowd for some hours, and was glad to be quite alone and talk to herself a little. It was also so restful to gradually relinquish all the restraining gauds of fashionable attire, and as she leisurely performed these duties, she entered into conversation with her own heart talked over with it the events of the past week, and decided that its fretless days, full of good things, had been, from the beginning to the end, sweet as a cup of new milk. For a woman's heart is very talkative, and requires little to make it eloquent in its own way.

In the midst of this intimate companionship she turned her head, and saw two letters lying upon a table. She rose and lifted them. One was an invitation to a studio reception, and she let it flutter indeterminately from her hand; the other was both familiar and appealing; none of her correspondents but Dora Denning used that peculiar shade of blue paper, and she instantly began to wonder why Dora had written to her.

"I saw her yesterday afternoon," she reflected, "and she told me everything she had to tell and what does she mean by such a tantalizing message as this? 'Dearest Ethel: I have the most extraordinary news. Come to me immediately. Dora.' How exactly like Dora!" she commented. "Come to me im mediately whether you are in bed or asleep whether you are sick or well whether it is midnight or high noon come to me immediately. Well, Dora, I am going to sleep now, and to morrow is Sunday, and I never know what view father is going to take of Sunday. He may ask me to go to church with him, and he may not. He may want me to drive in the afternoon, and again he may not; but Sunday is father's home day, and Ruth and I make a point of obliging him in regard to it. That is one of our family principles; and a girl ought to have a few principles of conduct involving self denial. Aunt Ruth says, 'Life cannot stand erect without self denial,' and aunt is usually right but I do wonder what Dora wants! I cannot imagine what extraordinary news has come... Continue reading book >>

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