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The Queen of Sheba & My Cousin the Colonel   By: (1836-1907)

Book cover

First Page:

THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

THE QUEEN OF SHEBA, AND MY COUSIN THE COLONEL

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

1907

CONTENTS

I. MARY

II. IN WHICH THERE IS A FAMILY JAR

III. IN WHICH MARY TAKES A NEW DEPARTURE

IV. THE ODD ADVENTURE WHICH BEFELL YOUNG LYNDE IN THE HILL COUNTRY

V. CINDERELLA'S SLIPPER

VI. BEYOND THE SEA

VII. THE DENHAMS

VIII. FROM GENEVA TO CHAMOUNI

IX. MONTANVERT

X. IN THE SHADOW OF MONT BLANC

XI. FROM CHAMOUNI TO GENEVA

MY COUSIN THE COLONEL

"FOR BRAVERY ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE"

THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

I

MARY

In the month of June, 1872, Mr. Edward Lynde, the assistant cashier and bookkeeper of the Nautilus Bank at Rivermouth, found himself in a position to execute a plan which he had long meditated in secret.

A statement like this at the present time, when integrity in a place of trust has become almost an anomaly, immediately suggests a defalcation; but Mr. Lynde's plan involved nothing more criminal than a horseback excursion through the northern part of the State of New Hampshire. A leave of absence of three weeks, which had been accorded him in recognition of several years' conscientious service, offered young Lynde the opportunity he had desired. These three weeks, as already hinted, fell in the month of June, when Nature in New Hampshire is in her most ravishing toilet; she has put away her winter ermine, which sometimes serves her quite into spring; she has thrown a green mantle over her brown shoulders, and is not above the coquetry of wearing a great variety of wild flowers on her bosom. With her sassafras and her sweet brier she is in her best mood, as a woman in a fresh and becoming costume is apt to be, and almost any one might mistake her laugh for the music of falling water, and the agreeable rustle of her garments for the wind blowing through the pine forests.

As Edward Lynde rode out of Rivermouth one morning, an hour or two before anybody worth mention was moving, he was very well contented with this world, though he had his grievances, too, if he had chosen to think of them.

Masses of dark cloud still crowded the zenith, but along the eastern horizon, against the increasing blue, lay a city of golden spires and mosques and minarets an Oriental city, indeed, such as is inhabited by poets and dreamers and other speculative persons fond of investing their small capital in such unreal estate. Young Lynde, in spite of his prosaic profession of bookkeeper, had an opulent though as yet unworked vein of romance running through his composition, and he said to himself as he gave a slight twitch to the reins, "I'll put up there to night at the sign of the Golden Fleece, or may be I'll quarter myself on one of those rich old merchants who used to do business with the bank in the colonial days." Before he had finished speaking the city was destroyed by a general conflagration; the round red sun rose slowly above the pearl gray ruins, and it was morning.

In his three years' residence at Rivermouth, Edward Lynde had never chanced to see the town at so early an hour. The cobble paved street through which he was riding was a commercial street; but now the shops had their wooden eyelids shut tight, and were snoozing away as comfortably and innocently as if they were not at all alive to a sharp stroke of business in their wakeful hours. There was a charm to Lynde in this novel phase of a thoroughfare so familiar to him, and then the morning was perfect. The street ran parallel with the river, the glittering harebell blue of which could be seen across a vacant lot here and there, or now and then at the end of a narrow lane running up from the wharves. The atmosphere had that indescribable sparkle and bloom which last only an hour or so after daybreak, and was charged with fine sea flavors and the delicate breath of dewy meadow land. Everything appeared to exhale a fragrance; even the weather beaten sign of "J. Tibbets & Son, West India Goods & Groceries," it seemed to Lynde, emitted an elusive spicy odor... Continue reading book >>




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