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The Prodigal Father   By: (1870-1944)

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The Prodigal Father

BY

J. STORER CLOUSTON

AUTHOR "THE LUNATIC AT LARGE," "A COUNTY FAMILY," ETC.

New York The Century Co. 1909

Copyright, 1909, by J. STORER CLOUSTON

Published, September, 1909

J. F. TAPLEY CO. NEW YORK

WITH GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT TO AN UNKNOWN CORRESPONDENT WHO ONCE MADE A CERTAIN SUGGESTION. IF HE READS THIS STORY HE PERHAPS WILL REMEMBER

J. S. C.

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

INTRODUCTORY

In one of the cable tramway cars which, at a reverential pace, perambulate the city of Edinburgh, two citizens conversed. The winds without blew gustily and filled the air with sounds like a stream in flood, the traffic clattered noisily over the causeway, the car itself thrummed and rattled; but the voices of the two were hushed. Said the one

"It's the most extraordinary thing ever I heard of."

"It's all that," said the other; "in fact, it's pairfectly incomprehensible."

"Mr. Walkingshaw of all people!"

"Of Walkingshaw and Gilliflower that's the thing that fair takes my breath away!" added the other; as though the firm was an even surer guarantee of respectability than the honored name of the senior partner.

They shook their heads ominously. It was clear this was no ordinary portent they were discussing.

"Do you think has he taken to ?"

The first citizen finished his question by a crooking of his upturned little finger, one of those many delicate symbols by which the north Briton indicates a failing not uncommon in his climate.

"It's a curious thing," replied his friend, "that I haven't heard that given as an explanation. Of course he's not a teetotaler "

"Oh, none ever insinuated that," put in the other, with the air of one who desired to do justice even to the most erring.

"On the other hand, he's ay had the name of being one of the most respectable men in the town, just an example, they've always told me."

"I knew him fine myself, in a business way, and that's just the expression I'd have used an Example."

"Respected by all."

"An elder, and what not."

"A fine business, he has."

"His daughter married a Ramornie of Pettigrew."

They shook their heads again, if possible more gravely than before.

"He must be going off his head."

"He must be gone, I'd say."

"Yon speech he made was an outrage to common sense and decency!"

"And about his son's marriage!"

"That's Andrew Walkingshaw his partner?"

"Aye."

"Oh, you've heard the story, then? I wonder is it true?"

"I had it on the best authority."

They pursed their lips solemnly.

"The man's mad!"

"But think of letting him loose to make a public exhibition of himself! It's an awfu' end to a respected career in fact, it's positively discouraging."

"You're right: you're right. If as respectable a liver as him ends that way well, well!"

In this strain and with such comments (exceedingly natural under the circumstances) did his fellow citizens discuss the remarkable thing that befell Mr. Walkingshaw. And yet they could see only the outward symptoms or manifestations of this thing. Now that the full circumstances are made public, it will be generally conceded that few well authenticated occurrences have ever at first sight seemed less probable. This has actually been advanced as an argument for their suppression; but since enough has already leaked out to whet the public curiosity, and indeed to lead to damaging misconceptions in a city so unused to phenomena other than meteorological, it is considered wisest that the unvarnished facts should be placed in the hands of a scrupulous editor and allowed to speak for themselves.

PART I

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

CHAPTER I

At a certain windy corner in the famous city of Edinburgh, a number of brass plates were affixed to the framework of a door. On the largest and brightest of them appeared the legend "Walkingshaw & Gilliflower, W.S."; and on no other sheet of brass in Scotland were more respectable names inscribed... Continue reading book >>




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