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Red Fleece   By: (1878-1932)

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RED FLEECE

BY

WILL LEVINGTON COMFORT Author of "Midstream," "Down Among Men," "Fate Knocks At the Door," "Routledge Rides Alone," Etc., Etc.

1915,

TO THE HOUR WHEN TROOPS TURN HOME

CONTENTS

I. THE WOMAN AND THE EXILE

II. THE COURT OF EXECUTION

III. THE HOUSE OF AMPUTATIONS

IV. IN THE BOMB PROOF PIT

V. THE SKYLIGHT PRISON

VI. THE FIELD OF HELMETS

VII. THE GREEN OF CEDARS

I

THE WOMAN AND THE EXILE

Peter Mowbray first saw her at the corner of Palace Square nearest the river. He was not in the least the kind of young man who appraises passing women, very far from a starer. At the instant their eyes met, his thoughts had been occupied with work matters and the trickery of events. In fact, there was so much to do that he resented the intrusion, found himself hoping in the first flash that she would show some flaw to break the attraction.

It may have been that her eyes were called to the passer by just as his had been, without warning or volition. In any event their eyes met full, leisurely in that stirring silence before the consciousness of self, time, place and convention rushes in. ... Though she seemed very poor, there was something about her beyond reach in nobility. He was left with the impression of the whitest skin, the blackest hair and the reddest lips, but mainly of a gray eyed girl eyes that had become wider and wider, and had filled with sudden amazement (doubtless at her own answering look) before they turned away.

Desolation was abroad in Warsaw after this encounter. Mowbray thought of New York with loneliness, the zest gone from all present activity. Presently with curious grip his thoughts returned to a certain luncheon in New York with a tired literary man who had talked about women with the air of a connoisseur. The pith of the writer's observations was restored to his mind in this form:

"If I were to marry again it would be to a Latin woman French, Italian, even Spanish a close to nature woman born and bred in one of the Mediterranean countries. Not a blue blood, for that has to do with decadence, but a woman of the people. They are passionate but pure, as Poe would say. If they find a man of any value, he becomes their world. They are strong natural mothers mothering their children and their husband, too, and immune to common sicknesses. Given a little food, they know enough to prepare it with art. If a man has a bit of a dream left, such a woman will either make him forget it painlessly, or she will make it come true."

There was no apparent relation, and none that proved afterward. What he had seen at the corner of Palace Square nearest the Vistula was not the face of a Latin woman, nor was any looseness of common birth evident in it. The key might have had to do with the little hat she wore, just a hat for wearing on the head, a protection against sun and rain, and with the austerely simple black dress; but these weathered exteriors again were effective in contrast to the vivid freshness of her natural coloring. As for what remained of the literary man's picture of the ideal woman to marry, it was the last word of decadence the eminent selfishness of a man willing to accept the luxury of a woman who asks little to be happy. ... The next day at the same time and place Mowbray was there, and saw her coming from afar.

She seemed both afraid and angry, stopped abruptly and asked in Polish what he wanted. He was startled. It was a hard moment. He explained with difficulty that her language was as yet an inconvenient vehicle for him.

"You are not Russian?" she said in French.

He shook his head. She seemed to be relieved and he wondered why.

"What do you want?" she asked, though not quite with the original asperity.

"It did not occur to me you would notice," he said in the language she had ventured. "I saw you yesterday. You made me think of New York. As I was near to day, I hoped to see you again " "You are American?" She spoke now in English, and with a still softer intonation... Continue reading book >>




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