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A Perilous Secret   By: (1814-1884)

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First Page:

A PERILOUS SECRET

BY CHARLES READE

AUTHOR OF "HARD CASH" "PUT YOURSELF IN HIS PLACE" "GRIFFITH GAUNT" "IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND" ETC., ETC.

1884

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. THE POOR MAN'S CHILD

CHAPTER II. THE RICH MAN'S CHILD

CHAPTER III. THE TWO FATHERS

CHAPTER IV. AN OLD SERVANT

CHAPTER V. MARY'S PERIL

CHAPTER VI. SHARP PRACTICE

CHAPTER VII. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE

CHAPTER VIII. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE

CHAPTER IX. LOVERS PARTED

CHAPTER X. THE GORDIAN KNOT

CHAPTER XI. THE KNOT CUT. ANOTHER TIED

CHAPTER XII. THE CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE

CHAPTER XIII. THE SERPENT LET LOOSE

CHAPTER XIV. THE SERPENT

CHAPTER XV. THE SECRET IN DANGER

CHAPTER XVI. REMINISCENCES. THE FALSE ACCUSER. THE SECRET EXPLODED

CHAPTER XVII. LOVERS' QUARRELS

CHAPTER XVIII. APOLOGIES

CHAPTER XIX. A WOMAN OUTWITS TWO MEN

CHAPTER XX. CALAMITY

CHAPTER XXI. BURIED ALIVE

CHAPTER XXII. REMORSE

CHAPTER XXIII. BURIED ALIVE. THE THREE DEADLY PERILS

CHAPTER XXIV. STRANGE COMPLICATIONS

CHAPTER XXV. RETRIBUTION

CHAPTER XXVI. STRANGE TURNS

CHAPTER XXVII. CURTAIN

A PERILOUS SECRET.

CHAPTER I.

THE POOR MAN'S CHILD.

Two worn travellers, a young man and a fair girl about four years old, sat on the towing path by the side of the Trent.

The young man had his coat off, by which you might infer it was very hot; but no, it was a keen October day, and an east wind sweeping down the river. The coat was wrapped tightly round the little girl, so that only her fair face with blue eyes and golden hair peeped out; and the young father sat in his shirt sleeves, looking down on her with a loving but anxious look. Her mother, his wife, had died of consumption, and he was in mortal terror lest biting winds and scanty food should wither this sweet flower too, his one remaining joy.

William Hope was a man full of talent; self educated, and wonderfully quick at learning anything: he was a linguist, a mechanic, a mineralogist, a draughtsman, an inventor. Item, a bit of a farrier, and half a surgeon; could play the fiddle and the guitar; could draw and paint and drive a four in hand. Almost the only thing he could not do was to make money and keep it.

Versatility seldom pays. But, to tell the truth, luck was against him; and although in a long life every deserving man seems to get a chance, yet Fortune does baffle some meritorious men for a limited time. Generally, we think, good fortune and ill fortune succeed each other rapidly, like red cards and black; but to some ill luck comes in great long slices; and if they don't drink or despair, by and by good luck comes continuously, and everything turns to gold with him who has waited and deserved.

Well, for years Fortune was hard on William Hope. It never let him get his head above water. If he got a good place, the employer died or sold his business. If he patented an invention, and exhausted his savings to pay the fees, no capitalist would work it, or some other inventor proved he had invented something so like it that there was no basis for a monopoly.

At last there fell on him the heaviest blow of all. He had accumulated £50 as a merchant's clerk, and was in negotiation for a small independent business, when his wife, whom he loved tenderly, sickened.

For eight months he was distracted with hopes and fears. These gave way to dismal certainty. She died, and left him broken hearted and poor, impoverished by the doctors, and pauperized by the undertaker. Then his crushed heart had but one desire to fly from the home that had lost its sunshine, and the very country which had been calamitous to him.

He had one stanch friend, who had lately returned rich from New Zealand, and had offered to send him out as his agent, and to lend him money in the colony. Hope had declined, and his friend had taken the huff, and had not written to him since. But Hope knew he was settled in Hull, and too good hearted at bottom to go from his word in his friend's present sad condition... Continue reading book >>




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