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The Storm Centre   By: (1850-1922)

The Storm Centre by Mary Noailles Murfree

First Page:

THE STORM CENTRE A NOVEL

BY CHARLES EGBERT CRADDOCK

AUTHOR OF "THE STORY OF OLD FORT LOUDON," "A SPECTRE OF POWER," "IN THE STRANGER PEOPLE'S COUNTRY," "THE PROPHET OF THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS," "WHERE THE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT," ETC.

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD. 1905

COPYRIGHT, 1905, By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1905.

Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co. Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

THE STORM CENTRE

CHAPTER I

The place reminded him then and later of the storm centre of a cyclone. Outside the tempests of Civil War raged. He could hear, as he sat in the quiet, book lined room, the turbulent drums fitfully beating in tented camps far down the Tennessee River. Through the broad, old fashioned window he saw the purple hills opposite begin to glow with a myriad of golden gleams, pulsing like fireflies, that told of thousands of troops in bivouac. He read the mystic message of the signal lights, shining with a different lustre, moving athwart the eminence, then back again, expunged in blackness as a fort across the river flashed out an answer. A military band was playing at headquarters, down in the night begloomed town, and now and again the great blare of the brasses came widely surging on the raw vernal gusts. In the shadowy grove in front of this suburban home his own battery of horse artillery was parked. It had earlier made its way over many an obstacle, and, oddly enough, through its agency he was recently enabled to penetrate the exclusive reserve of this Southern household, always hitherto coldly aloof and averse to the invader.

He had chanced to send a pencilled message on his card to the mansion. It merely expressed a warning to lift the sashes of the windows during the trial practice of a new gun, lest in the firing the glass be shattered by the concussion of the air. His name was unusual, and seeing it on the card recalled many pleasant reminiscences to the mind of old Judge Roscoe. Another "Fluellen Baynell" had been his college chum, and inquiry developed the fact that this Federal captain of artillery was the son of this ancient friend. An interchange of calls ensued. And here sat Captain Baynell in the storm centre, the quiet of evening closing in, the lamp on the table serenely aglow, the wood fire flashing on the high brass andirons and fender, the lion delineated on the velvet rug respectfully crouching beneath his feet. But in this suave environment he was beginning to feel somewhat embarrassed, for the old colored servant who had admitted him and replenished the fire, and whom he had politely greeted as "Uncle Ephraim," in deference to his age, now loitered, volubly criticising the unseen, unknown inmates of the house, who would probably overhear, for at any moment the big oak door might usher them into the room.

His excuses for his master's delay to appear absorbed but little time, and he assiduously brushed the polished stone hearth with a turkey wing to justify his lingering in conversation with the guest. Unexpected business had called Judge Roscoe to the town, thus preventing him from being present upon the arrival of Captain Baynell, invited to partake of tea en famille .

"But den, he 'lowed dat Miss Leonora dat's Mrs. Gwynn, his niece, a widder 'oman would be ready, but Marster mought hev' knowed dat Miss Leonora ain't never ready for nuffin till day arter ter morrow! Den dere's de ladies dey hes been dressin' fur ye fur better dan an hour. But shucks! de ladies is so vain dat dey is jus' ez liable ter keep on dressin' fur anodder hour yit!"

This was indubitably flattering information; but Captain Baynell, a blond man of thirty, of a military stiffness in his brilliant uniform, and of a most uncompromising dignity, glanced with an uneasy monition at the door, a trifle ajar... Continue reading book >>




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