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The Preliminaries And Other Stories   By:

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[Transcriber's notes]

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book.

Obvious spelling or typographical errors have been corrected. "Inventive" and contemporary spelling is unchanged. For example, the insertion of a space in contractions is preserved, as in "has n't".

[End transcriber's notes]

THE PRELIMINARIES

And Other Stories

BY

CORNELIA A. P. COMER

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

The Riverside press Cambridge

1912

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY CORNELIA A. P. COMER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published September 1912

CONTENTS

THE PRELIMINARIES 1

THE LONG INHERITANCE 51

CLARISSA'S OWN CHILD 127

{1}

THE PRELIMINARIES

{2}

{3}

THE PRELIMINARIES

I

Young Oliver Pickersgill was in love with Peter Lannithorne's daughter. Peter Lannithorne was serving a six year term in the penitentiary for embezzlement.

It seemed to Ollie that there was only one right minded way of looking at these basal facts of his situation. But this simple view of the matter was destined to receive several shocks in the course of his negotiations for Ruth Lannithorne's hand. I say negotiations advisedly. Most young men in love have only to secure the consent of the girl and find enough money to go to housekeeping. It is quite otherwise when you wish to marry into a royal {4} family, or to ally yourself with a criminal's daughter. The preliminaries are more complicated.

Ollie thought a man ought to marry the girl he loves, and prejudices be hanged! In the deeps of his soul, he probably knew this to be the magnanimous, manly attitude, but certainly there was no condescension in his outward bearing when he asked Ruth Lannithorne to be his wife. Yet she turned on him fiercely, bristling with pride and tense with overwrought nerves.

"I will never marry any one," she declared, "who does n't respect my father as I do!"

If Oliver's jaw fell, it is hardly surprising. He had expected her to say she would never marry into a family where she was not welcome. He had planned to get around the natural {5} objections of his parents somehow the details of this were vague in his mind and then he meant to reassure her warmly, and tell her that personal merit was the only thing that counted with him or his. He may have visualized himself as wiping away her tears and gently raising her to share the safe social pedestal whereon the Pickersgills were firmly planted. The young do have these visions not infrequently. But to be asked to respect Peter Lannithorne, about whom he knew practically nothing save his present address!

"I don't remember that I ever saw your father, Ruth," he faltered.

"He was the best man," said the girl excitedly, "the kindest, the most indulgent that's another thing, Ollie. I will never marry an indulgent man, nor one who will let his wife manage {6} him. If it had n't been for mother " She broke off abruptly.

Ollie tried to look sympathetic and not too intelligent. He had heard that Mrs. Lannithorne was considered difficult.

"I ought n't to say it, but can't explain father unless I do. Mother nagged; she wanted more money than there was; she made him feel her illnesses, and our failings, and the overdone beefsteak, and the underdone bread, everything that went wrong, always, was his fault. His fault because he did n't make more money. We were on the edge of things, and she wanted to be in the middle, as she was used to being. Of course, she really has n't been well, but I think it's mostly nerves," said Ruth, with the terrible hardness of the young. "Anyhow, she might just as well have stuck {7} knives into him as to say the things she did. It hurt him like knives. I could see him wince and try harder and get discouraged and then, at last " The girl burst into a passion of tears.

Oliver tried to soothe her. Secretly he was appalled at these squalid revelations of discordant family life... Continue reading book >>




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