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The Prelude to Adventure   By: (1884-1941)

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Transcriber's Note: Errors found: A name is sometimes spelt 'Med. Tetloe' and sometimes 'Med Tetloe' & Cleopatre maybe wrong. So that just 7 bit text is used the accented & ligatured words are repeated here with numbers for codepages 437 & 850: Acute e 130 é: blasé, chasméd, Cléopatre, élite & unperturbéd i with 2 (or 3) dots 139 ï: daïs & daïs ea ligature 145 æ: mediæval u with 2 dots 129 ü: Dürer's 'The Hound of Heaven' poem, The letter to father and separate 'All things betray Thee Who betrayest Me.' quote are in a smaller font.

THE PRELUDE TO ADVENTURE

BY HUGH WALPOLE AUTHOR OF "MR. PERRIN AND MR. TRAILL"

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED, ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

New Edition September ,1919

TO MY FRIEND R. A. STREATFIELD

CONTENTS

CHAP. I. LAST CHAPTER

II. BUNNING

III. THE BODY COMES TO TOWN

IV. MARGARET CRAVEN

V. STONE ALTARS

VI. THE WATCHERS

VII. TERROR

VIII. REVELATION OF BUNNING (I)

IX. REVELATION OF BUNNING (II)

X. CRAVEN

XI. FIFTH OF NOVEMBER

XII. LOVE TO THE "VALSE TRISTE"

XIII. MRS. CRAVEN

XIV. GOD

XV. PRELUDE TO A JOURNEY

XVI. OLVA AND MARGARET

XVII. FIRST CHAPTER

Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.

The Hound of Heaven.

16 HALLAM STREET, October 11, 1911.

CHAPTER I

LAST CHAPTER

1

"There is a God after all." That was the immense conviction that faced him as he heard, slowly, softly, the leaves, the twigs, settle themselves after that first horrid crash which the clumsy body had made.

Olva Dune stood for an instant straight and stiff, his arms heavily at his side, and the dank, misty wood slipped back once more into silence. There was about him now the most absolute stillness: some trees dripped in the mist; far above him, on the top of the hill, the little path showed darkly below him, in the hollow, black masses of fern and weed lay heavily under the chill November air at his feet there was the body.

In that sudden after silence he had known beyond any question that might ever again arise, that there was now a God God had watched him.

With grave eyes, with hands that did not tremble, he surveyed and then, bending, touched the body. He knelt in the damp, heavy soil, tore open the waistcoat, the shirt; the flesh was yet warm to his touch the heart was still. Carfax was dead.

It had happened so instantly. First that great hulking figure in front of him, the sneering laugh, that last sentence, "Let her rot . . . my dear Dune, your chivalry does you credit." Then that black, blinding, surging rage and the blow that followed. He did not know what he had intended to do. It did not matter only in the force that there had been in his arm there had been the accumulated hatred of years, hatred that dated from that first term at school thirteen years ago when he had known Carfax for the dirty hypocrite that he was. He could not stay now to think of the many things that had led to this climax. He only knew that as he raised himself again from the body there was with him no feeling of repentance, no suggestion of fear, only a grim satisfaction that he had struck so hard, and, above all, that lightning certainty that he had had of God.

His brain was entirely alert. He did not doubt, as he stood there, that he would be caught and delivered and hanged. He, himself, would take no steps to prevent such a catastrophe. He would leave the body there as it was: to night, to morrow they would find it, the rest would follow. He was, indeed, acutely interested in his own sensations. Why was it that he felt no fear? Where was the terror that followed, as he had so often heard, upon murder? Why was it that the dominant feeling in him should be that at last he had justified his existence? In that furious blow there had leapt within him the creature that he had always been the creature subdued, restrained, but always there there through all this civilized existence; the creature that his father was, that his grandfather, that all his ancestors, had been... Continue reading book >>




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