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Man and Maid   By: (1858-1924)

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First Page:

MAN AND MAID

BY

E. NESBIT

[Illustration: Publisher's Logo]

LONDON T. FISHER UNWIN ADELPHI TERRACE

MCMVI

[ All rights reserved. ]

TO ADA BREAKELL MY DEAREST AND OLDEST FRIEND

MAN AND MAID

By the same Author.

Illustrated. Crown 8vo. Cloth, 6s.

The Treasure Seekers.

Five Children and It.

Nine Unlikely Tales for Children.

The Would be Goods.

New Treasure Seekers.

LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN

CONTENTS

PAGE

I. THE HAUNTED INHERITANCE 1

II. THE POWER OF DARKNESS 32

III. THE STRANGER WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN OBSERVED 60

IV. RACK AND THUMBSCREW 84

V. THE MILLIONAIRESS 103

VI. THE HERMIT OF "THE YEWS" 134

VII. THE AUNT AND THE EDITOR 158

VIII. MISS MOUSE 178

IX. THE OLD WIFE 201

X. THE HOUSE OF SILENCE 224

XI. THE GIRL AT THE TOBACCONIST'S 245

XII. WHILE IT IS YET DAY 268

XIII. ALCIBIADES 287

MAN AND MAID

I

THE HAUNTED INHERITANCE

The most extraordinary thing that ever happened to me was my going back to town on that day. I am a reasonable being; I do not do such things. I was on a bicycling tour with another man. We were far from the mean cares of an unremunerative profession; we were men not fettered by any given address, any pledged date, any preconcerted route. I went to bed weary and cheerful, fell asleep a mere animal a tired dog after a day's hunting and awoke at four in the morning that creature of nerves and fancies which is my other self, and which has driven me to all the follies I have ever kept company with. But even that second self of mine, whining beast and traitor as it is, has never played me such a trick as it played then. Indeed, something in the result of that day's rash act sets me wondering whether after all it could have been I, or even my other self, who moved in the adventure; whether it was not rather some power outside both of us ... but this is a speculation as idle in me as uninteresting to you, and so enough of it.

From four to seven I lay awake, the prey of a growing detestation of bicycling tours, friends, scenery, physical exertion, holidays. By seven o'clock I felt that I would rather perish than spend another day in the society of the other man an excellent fellow, by the way, and the best of company.

At half past seven the post came. I saw the postman through my window as I shaved. I went down to get my letters there were none, naturally.

At breakfast I said: "Edmundson, my dear fellow, I am extremely sorry; but my letters this morning compel me to return to town at once."

"But I thought," said Edmundson then he stopped, and I saw that he had perceived in time that this was no moment for reminding me that, having left no address, I could have had no letters.

He looked sympathetic, and gave me what there was left of the bacon. I suppose he thought that it was a love affair or some such folly. I let him think so; after all, no love affair but would have seemed wise compared with the blank idiocy of this sudden determination to cut short a delightful holiday and go back to those dusty, stuffy rooms in Gray's Inn.

After that first and almost pardonable lapse, Edmundson behaved beautifully. I caught the 9.17 train, and by half past eleven I was climbing my dirty staircase.

I let myself in and waded through a heap of envelopes and wrappered circulars that had drifted in through the letter box, as dead leaves drift into the areas of houses in squares... Continue reading book >>




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