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Mark Hurdlestone Or, The Two Brothers   By: (1803-1885)

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MARK HURDLESTONE:

OR,

THE TWO BROTHERS.

BY MRS. MOODIE,

( Sister of Agnes Strickland. )

AUTHOR OF "ROUGHING IT IN THE BUSH," "ENTHUSIASM," ETC

The fire burns low, these winter nights are cold; I'd fain to bed, and take my usual rest, But duty cries, "There's work for thee to do; Stir up the embers, fetch another log, To cheer the empty hearth. This is the hour When fancy calls to life her busy train, And thou must note the vision ere it flies."

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.

THIRD EDITION.

NEW YORK:

DE WITT & DAVENPORT, PUBLISHERS,

162 NASSAU STREET.

MARK HURDLESTONE;

OR,

THE TWO BROTHERS.

CHAPTER I.

Say, who art thou thou lean and haggard wretch! Thou living satire on the name of man! Thou that hast made a god of sordid gold, And to thine idol offered up thy soul? Oh, how I pity thee thy wasted years: Age without comfort youth that had no prime. To thy dull gaze the earth was never green; The face of nature wore no cheering smile, For ever groping, groping in the dark; Making the soulless object of thy search The grave of all enjoyment. S.M.

Towards the close of the last century, there lived in the extensive parish of Ashton, in the county of , a hard hearted, eccentric old man, called Mark Hurdlestone, the lord of the manor, the wealthy owner of Oak Hall and its wide demesne, the richest commoner in England, the celebrated miser.

Mark Hurdlestone was the wonder of the place; people were never tired of talking about him of describing his strange appearance, his odd ways and penurious habits. He formed a lasting theme of conversation to the gossips of the village, with whom the great man at the Hall enjoyed no enviable notoriety. That Mark Hurdlestone was an object of curiosity, fear, and hatred, to his humble dependents, created no feeling of surprise in those who were acquainted with him, and had studied the repulsive features of his singular character.

There was not a drop of the milk of human kindness in his composition. Regardless of his own physical wants, he despised the same wants in others. Charity sued to him in vain, and the tear of sorrow made no impression on his stony heart. Passion he had felt cruel, ungovernable passion. Tenderness was foreign to his nature the sweet influences of the social virtues he had never known.

Mark Hurdlestone hated society, and never mingled in festive scenes. To his neighbors he was a stranger; and he had no friends. With power to command, and wealth to purchase enjoyment, he had never travelled a hundred miles beyond the smoke of his own chimneys; and was as much a stranger to the world and its usages as a savage, born and brought up in the wilderness. There were very few persons in his native place with whom he had exchanged a friendly greeting; and though his person was as well known as the village spire or the town pump, no one could boast that he had shaken hands with him.

One passion, for the last fifty years of his unhonored life, had absorbed every faculty of his mind, and, like Aaron's serpent, had swallowed all the rest. His money chest was his world; there the gold he worshipped so devoutly was enshrined; and his heart, if ever he possessed one, was buried with it: waking or sleeping, his spirit for ever hovered around this mysterious spot. There nightly he knelt, but not to pray: prayer had never enlightened the darkened soul of the gold worshipper. Favored by the solitude and silence of the night, he stole thither, to gloat over his hidden treasure. There, during the day, he sat for hours entranced, gazing upon the enormous mass of useless metal, which he had accumulated through a long worthless life, to wish it more, and to lay fresh schemes for its increase. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," saith the preacher; but this hoarding of money is the very madness of vanity.

Mark Hurdlestone's remarkable person would have formed a good subject for a painter it was both singular and striking... Continue reading book >>




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