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The Return of the Prodigal   By: (1863-1946)

The Return of the Prodigal by May Sinclair

First Page:

THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., Limited

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.

TORONTO

THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL

BY MAY SINCLAIR

AUTHOR OF "THE DIVINE FIRE," ETC.

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1914

Copyright, 1914

By MAY SINCLAIR

Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1914.

CONTENTS

PAGE

THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL 1

THE GIFT 25

THE FAULT 59

WILKINSON'S WIFE 81

MISS TARRANT'S TEMPERAMENT 97

APPEARANCES 153

THE WRACKHAM MEMOIRS 177

THE COSMOPOLITAN 221

THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL

I

"Stephen K. Lepper, Pork Packing Prince, from Chicago, U. S. A., by White Star Line, for Liverpool." Such was the announcement with which the Chicago Central Advertiser made beautiful its list of arrivals and departures.

It was not exactly a definition of him. To be sure, if you had caught sight of him anywhere down the sumptuous vista of the first class sleeping saloon of the New York and Chicago Express, you would have judged it adequate and inquired no more. You might even have put him down for a Yankee.

But if, following him on this side of the Atlantic, you had found yourself boxed up with him in a third class compartment on the London and North western Railway, your curiosity would have been aroused. The first thing you would have noticed was that everything about him, from his gray traveling hat to the gold monogram on his portmanteau, was brilliantly and conspicuously new. Accompanied by a lady, it would have suggested matrimony and the grand tour. But there was nothing else to distract you from him. He let himself be looked at; he sat there in his corner seat, superbly, opulently still. And somehow it dawned on you that, in spite of some Americanisms he let fall, he was not, and never could have been, a Yankee. He had evidently forged ahead at a tremendous speed, but it was weight, not steam, that did it. He belonged to the race that bundles out on the uphill grade and puts its shoulders to the wheel, and on the down grade tucks its feet in, sits tight, and lets the thing fly, trusting twenty stone to multiply the velocity.

Then it would occur to you that he must have been sitting still for a considerable period. He was not stout you might even have called him slender; but the muscles about his cheeks and chin hung a little loose from the bony framework, and his figure, shapely enough when he stood upright, yielded in a sitting posture to the pressure of the railway cushions. That indicated muscular tissue, once developed by outdoor exercise, and subsequently deteriorated by sedentary pursuits. The lines on his forehead suggested that he was now a brain worker of sorts.

Other lines showed plainly that, though his accessories were new, the man, unlike his portmanteau, had knocked about the world, and had got a good deal damaged in the process. The index and middle fingers of the left hand were wanting. You argued, then, that he had changed his trade more than once; while from the presence of two vertical creases on either side of a large and rather fleshy mouth, worn as it were by the pull of a bit, you further inferred that the energy he must have displayed somewhere was a thing of will rather than of temperament. He was a paradox, a rolling stone that had unaccountably contrived to gather moss.

And then you fell to wondering how so magnificently mossy a person came to be traveling third class in his native country.

To all these problems, which did actually perplex the clergyman, his fellow passenger, he himself provided the answer... Continue reading book >>




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