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The Nest, The White Pagoda, The Suicide, A Forsaken Temple, Miss Jones and The Masterpiece   By: (1873-1935)

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THE NEST

THE WHITE PAGODA

THE SUICIDE

A FORSAKEN TEMPLE

MISS JONES AND THE MASTERPIECE

BY ANNE DOUGLAS SEDGWICK

(MRS. BASIL DE S√ČLINCOURT)

AUTHOR OF "TANTE," "FRANKLIN WINSLOW KANE," "A FOUNTAIN SEALED," "THE SHADOW OF LIFE," ETC.

NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO. 1913

Copyright, 1902, 1904, 1912, 1913, by The Century Co.

Copyright, 1898, by Charles Scribner's Sons

Published, January, 1913

PREFACE

It seemed suitable, when making a selection of short stories for publication in book form, to include my first attempt with my last, and therefore the very juvenile production "Miss Jones and the Masterpiece" finds a place with the others.

My thanks are due to the Editors of the Century Magazine , Scribners' Magazine , and the English Review , for allowing me to republish the stories that appeared in their pages.

November, 1912.

CONTENTS

THE NEST

THE WHITE PAGODA

THE SUICIDE

A FORSAKEN TEMPLE

MISS JONES AND THE MASTERPIECE

THE NEST

CHAPTER I

He seemed to have had no time for thinking before he sank into a corner of the railway carriage and noted, with a satisfaction under the circumstances perhaps trivial, that he would have it to himself for the swift hour down to the country. Satisfactions of any sort seemed inappropriate, an appanage that he should have left behind him for ever on stepping from the great specialist's door in Wimpole Street two hours ago. When a man has but a month at most two months to live, small hopes and fears should drop from him: he should be stripped, as it were, for the last solitary wrestle in the arena of death.

But the drive, from the doctor's to the city and from there to Paddington, had seemed unusually full of life's solicitations. The soft, strained eyes of an over laden horse, appealing in patience from the shade of dusty blinkers; the dismal degradation of a music hall poster a funny man with reddened nose and drunken hat, as appealing in his slavery as the horse; the vaporous blue green silhouettes of the Park on a silvery sky; he had found himself responding to these with pity, repugnance and pleasure as normally as if they meant for him now what they always would have meant. That such impressions were so soon to cease must change all their meaning, at least, so one would have supposed; he began to think of that and to wonder a little over the apparent stoicism of those intervening hours; but, while the mood had lasted, the fact that he had come to the end of things, that there was a pit dug across his path, had done hardly more than skim on the outskirts of his alert yet calm receptivity. He seemed never to have noticed more, never to have been more conscious of the outer world and so little conscious of himself.

Now, in the train, the outer world, wraith like in a sudden summer shower, became the background as it sped on either side, and thoughts were in the foreground, thoughts of himself as doomed, and of the life that he had loved and worked in, as measured into one shallow cupful at his lips. Even yet it was almost absurd, the difficulty he found in realising it. The doomed figure detached itself, became that of a piteous, a curious alien, whom one watched respectfully and from a distance. From a safe shore he observed the tossing of the rapidly sinking skiff with its helpless occupant. It required a great pull, push, and effort of his whole being, like that of awakening from a half dream, in order to see, in order to say to himself, really believing it, that he was the man. Wonder, rather than dread or sorrow, was still the paramount feeling, though, oppressively, as if he picked his steps about the verge of an echoing cavern, turning away his eyes, there lurked behind all that he felt the sense of sudden emptiness and dark.

It was wonderful, immensely absorbing and interesting, this idea of being himself doomed. Self conscious, observant, sensitive as he was, he still thought more than felt. It was at last credible and indubitable that he was the man, and he was asking himself how he would take it; he was asking himself how he would bear it... Continue reading book >>




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