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The Shadow of the Past   By:

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The Shadow of the Past By F.E. Mills Young Published by George H. Doran Company. This edition dated 1919.

The Shadow of the Past, by F.E. Mills Young.



On the strip of yellow sand in the curve of the wall which separates the beach at Three Anchor Bay from the roadway above it two men sat playing cards in the blaze of the morning sunshine, which beat with untempered violence upon their uncovered heads, upon the hot sand that sloped gently to the rocky shore, and upon the long blue waves rolling slowly in from the Atlantic with the semblance of a succession of hooded serpents, rearing themselves with languid grace and folding over reluctantly, throwing off a stream of spray from their crests like the tail of some gigantic comet. Far out the sea was aglitter, save where it touched the horizon and lay mirror clear in the sensuous warmth, reflecting the light and colour from the sky.

With the exception of the two card players the beach was deserted; they were alone with the riot of colour and sunlight and the beauty of the sea. Neither looked at the sea. The older man, sitting cross legged on the sand, had his back towards it; the younger, leaning, save when he dealt the cards, on his elbow, only lifted his eyes from the cards to fix them on his companion's face, which he did at infrequent intervals with an odd half admiring resentment in their expression.

He was a well made, good looking man of about twenty seven. His fair skin, caught by the strong salt air and daily exposure, was burnt to a brilliant brick, the pink stain travelling down his long throat and broad chest which, moist with perspiration, showed to the waist where the grey flannel shirt was unbuttoned; the sleeves also were rolled up above his elbows revealing a pair of muscular arms covered with fine golden hairs. Strength, indolence and amazing recklessness showed in this man's look and bearing. While giving the idea that physically he was capable of any effort of endurance, his manner conveyed also the impression that usually he would be discovered playing the passive part while others strove, that only some powerful inducement would rouse him to exert his strength: physical and mental qualities seemed here to be at variance.

His companion was altogether less noticeable; a shrewd, light eyed, slightly built man in the thirties; a man marked early in life for moderate success in most things. One of his successes was card playing, as his adversary was discovering; perhaps he was more successful in that than in anything. For days he had been steadily winning away from its owner the recently acquired wealth which a stroke of luck had brought him; and the loser, in the grip of the gambler's superstition, played on in the hope of winning back.

Their solitude was invaded by the sudden appearance of a girl with a collie dog. She approached unexpectedly from behind the wall within a foot or two of the players, who, flushed and intent, disregarded her in their silent concentration on the game. The girl surveyed their grouping in surprise; and the younger man, looking up involuntarily from the cards he held, paused in the act of taking one from his hand to return her curious look. She averted her eyes and walked on; and the man returned to the game, and forgot almost immediately in this greater interest that just for a moment he had been quite curiously impressed by the steady inquiring eyes which had looked into and held his with the odd intimacy and interest of their gaze.

The owner of the inquiring eyes walked leisurely down to the shore, where she paused to respond to the dog's excited invitation by throwing a stick she carried for the purpose into the sea for him to retrieve. Again and again, when the collie brought back the stick and laid it before her and barked for a repetition of the game, the girl stooped with swift grace, picked up the stick, and with a free side swing of the arm flung it far into the waves... Continue reading book >>

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