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Not Pretty, but Precious   By: (1826-1906)

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[Illustration: "My uncle followed his words with a brightening face, and when they grew particularly mixed, he would exclaim, softly, 'It is a great gift! a great gift!'"

The Victims of Dreams. Page 34.]



John Hay, Clara F. Guernsey, Margaret Hosmer, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Lucy Hamilton Hooper, Etc.




Not Pretty, but Precious, Margret Field . The Victims of Dreams, Margaret Hosmer . The Cold Hand, Clara F. Guernsey . The Blood Seedling, John Hay . The Marquis, Chauncey Hickox . Under False Colors, Lucy Hamilton Hooper . The Hungry Heart, J.W. De Forrest . "How Mother Did It," J.R. Hadermann . The Red Fox, Clara F. Guernsey . Louie, Harriet Prescott Spofford . Old Sadler'S Resurrection, R.D. Minor .

Not Pretty, But Precious.

Mille modi veneris!

Part I.

Mr. Norval: It is now four weeks since your accident. I have made inquiry of your physician whether news or business communications, however important, brought to your attention, would be detrimental to you, cause an accession of feverish symptoms or otherwise harm you. He assures me, On the contrary, he is sure you have not been for years so free from disease of any sort, with the sole exception of the broken bones, as now. This being so, I venture to approach you upon a subject which I doubt not you are quite as willing to have definitely arranged, and at once, as myself. I can say what I mean, and as I mean it, so much better on paper than in conversation as I have so little self possession, and am so readily put out in the matter of argument that I have determined to write to you, thinking thus to be better able to make you understand and appreciate my reasons and motives, since you can read them when and how you choose.

I have been your wife three weeks. The horrible strangeness of these words is quite beyond me to compass; nevertheless, realize it or not, it is a fact. I am your wife you, my husband. Why I am your wife I wish simply to rehearse here. Not that we do not both know why, but that we may know it in the same way. You, a handsome, cultivated man, whose dictum is considered law in the world of fashion in which you move and reign, with an assured social position, a handsome fortune, and a popularity that would have obtained for you the hand of any beautiful or wealthy woman whom you sought, have deliberately chosen to make me, a poor, plain, brown faced little school teacher, your wife. Not because you wanted me , not because you thought or cared about me , one way or the other, but simply because, in a time of urgent necessity, I was literally the only available woman near you. It chanced, from many points of view and by a chain of circumstances, that I was particularly available. So you married me. The reasons for such a sacrifice of yourself were you had behaved badly, very badly, to a lady, compromising her name and causing a separation between herself and her husband. Within a few months, her husband having died, both herself and her father had determined to force you to make her reparation by marriage. Going to work very warily, they had taken an opportunity, after a very luxuriant and fast opera supper, when you were excited by your surroundings and flushed by the wine you had been drinking, your head very light, your judgment very heavy, to draw from you a promise of marriage at the expiration of the year of mourning for her husband. As soon as you became aware of what you had done, you ignominiously fled, and after a Western tour were about to sail for Europe when this unfortunate accident overtook you. Your narrow escape from death, upon having been thrown from the carriage of a distinguished gentleman while driving with him behind a pair of celebrated racers, gave such publicity to your adventure that your amorata was at once aware of your whereabouts. The fear of this had taken possession of you as soon as you were able to think of anything, and the dread that she would follow and marry you while you lay helpless was made a certainty by this telegram from an intimate friend in New York, received the sixth day of your illness:

"It's all up with you, old fellow... Continue reading book >>

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