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The Solitary Farm   By: (1859-1932)

The Solitary Farm by Fergus Hume

First Page:

The Solitary Farm

BY FERGUS HUME

AUTHOR OF "THE MYSTERY OF A HANSOM CAB," "THE SACRED HERB," "THE SEALED MESSAGE," "THE GREEN MUMMY," "THE OPAL SERPENT," "THE RED WINDOW," "THE YELLOW HOLLY," ETC., ETC., ETC.

G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Copyright 1909 by G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

The Solitary Farm

[Illustration: AS BELLA RAN INTO HIS ARMS HE DRAGGED HER INTO THE STANDING CORN.]

CONTENTS

I. THE DOMAIN OF CERES

II. THE WOOIN' O'T

III. THE TARDY LOVER

IV. SUDDEN DEATH

V. A MYSTERIOUS CRIME

VI. THE INQUEST

VII. CYRIL AND BELLA

VIII. THE WITCH WIFE

IX. THE COMING OF DURGO

X. A LOVER'S MEETING

XI. A RECOGNITION

XII. CYRIL'S STORY

XIII. MRS. TUNKS' DISCOVERY

XIV. WHAT SILAS PENCE KNEW

XV. DURGO, THE DETECTIVE

XVI. THE PAPERS

XVII. A CONFESSION

XVIII. THE GHOST

XIX. AN AWKWARD POSITION

XX. THE MASTER MAGICIAN

XXI. A DESPERATE ATTEMPT

XXII. MRS. VAND'S REPENTANCE

XXIII. WHAT LUKE TUNKS SAW

XXIV. A REMARKABLE DISCOVERY

XXV. RUN TO EARTH

THE SOLITARY FARM

CHAPTER I

THE DOMAIN OF CERES

"S' y' want t' merry m' gel, Bella!" remarked Captain Huxham, rubbing his stout knees slowly, and repeating the exact words of the clerical suitor. "S' thet she may be yer handmaiden, an' yer spouse, and yer sealed fountain, es y' put it in yer flowery pulpit lingo. Jus' so! Jus' so!" and shifting the quid which bulged his weather beaten cheek, he stared with hard blue eyes. "Jus' so, Mr. Pence!"

The young minister and the elderly skipper discussed the subject of marriage in a shabby antique room of small size, which had the appearance of having been used to more aristocratic company. The dark oak panelled walls, the grotesquely carved ceiling beams, the Dutch tiled fire place, with its ungainly brass dogs, and the deep slanting embrasure of the lozenge paned casement, suggested Georgian beaux and belles dancing buckram minutes, or at least hard riding country squires plotting Jacobite restoration. But these happenings were in the long ago, but this stately Essex manor house had declined woefully from its high estate, and now sheltered a rough and ready mariner, who camped, rather than dwelt, under its roof.

Captain Huxham, seated on the broad, low window sill, thrust his hands into the pockets of his brass buttoned pea jacket, and swung his short, sturdy legs, which were enveloped in wide blue cloth trousers. He was a squat man, with lengthy arms and aggressively square shoulders, and his large, flat face was as the winter sun for redness. Clean shaven, save for a fringe of white hair which curved under his stubborn chin from one large ear to the other, his tough skin was seamed with innumerable wrinkles, accumulating particularly thickly about his eyes. He had gold rings in his ears, and plenteous grey hair hung like seaweed from under a peaked cap, pushed back from his lined forehead. He looked what he truly was a rough, uneducated, imperious old sea dog, whose knowledge of strong drink and stronger language was only exceeded by his strenuous grip of the purse which held the savings of many rapacious years. In this romantic room he looked entirely out of place. Nevertheless it was his own property, and while considering his answer to Mr. Pence, he examined it mechanically.

To the left he beheld a large open fire place, which gaped under an ornate oak mantel piece, carved with the crest and motto of the dispossessed family. A door appeared on the right, leading to the entrance hall, and this also was elaborately carved with wreaths of fruit and flowers, and with fat, foolish Cupids, entangled in knots of ribbon. The fourth wall was unbroken, and faced the window, but against it stood a common deal table covered incongruously with an embroidered Indian cloth. Above this, and leaning forward, was a round convex mirror, surmounted by a Napoleonic eagle... Continue reading book >>




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