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The Testing of Diana Mallory   By: (1851-1920)

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First Page:

THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY

by

MRS. HUMPHRY WARD

Illustrated by W. Hatherell, R.I.

1908

[Illustration: "THERE SHE WAITED WHILE THE DAWN STOLE UPON THE NIGHT"]

BOOKS BY MRS. HUMPHRY WARD

THE TESTING OF DIANA MALLORY. Ill'd ... $1.50

LADY ROSE'S DAUGHTER. Illustrated ... 1.50 Two volume edition ... 3.00

THE MARRIAGE OF WILLIAM ASHE. Ill'd ... 1.50 Two volume Autograph edition ... net 4.00

FENWICK'S CAREER. Illustrated ... 1.50 De Luxe edition, two volumes ... net 5.00

ELEANOR ... 1.50

LIFE OF W. T. ARNOLD ... net 1.50

TO MY KIND HOSTS BEYOND THE ATLANTIC

FROM

A GRATEFUL TRAVELLER

JULY, 1908

Illustrations

"THERE SHE WAITED WHILE THE DAWN STOLE UPON THE NIGHT". . . Frontispiece

"THE MAN'S PULSES LEAPED ANEW". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

"YOU NEEDN'T BE CROSS WITH ME, DIANA" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174

"'DEAR LADY,' HE SAID, GENTLY, 'I THINK YOU OUGHT TO GIVE WAY!'". . . 256

"ALICIA, UPRIGHT IN HER CORNER OLIVER, DEEP IN HIS ARMCHAIR" . . . . 332

"SIR JAMES PLAYED DIANA'S GAME WITH PERFECT DISCRETION" . . . . . . . 462

"SIR JAMES MADE HIMSELF DELIGHTFUL TO THEM" . . . . . . . . . . . . . 492

"ROUGHSEDGE STOOD NEAR, RELUCTANTLY WAITING". . . . . . . . . . . . . 514

Part I

"Action is transitory a step, a blow, The motion of a muscle this way or that 'Tis done, and in the after vacancy We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed: Suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark, And shares the nature of infinity ." THE BORDERERS.

The Testing of Diana Mallory

CHAPTER I

The clock in the tower of the village church had just struck the quarter. In the southeast a pale dawn light was beginning to show above the curving hollow of the down wherein the village lay enfolded; but the face of the down itself was still in darkness. Farther to the south, in a stretch of clear night sky hardly touched by the mounting dawn, Venus shone enthroned, so large and brilliant, so near to earth and the spectator, that she held, she pervaded the whole dusky scene, the shadowed fields and wintry woods, as though she were their very soul and voice.

"The Star of Bethlehem! and Christmas Day!"

Diana Mallory had just drawn back the curtain of her bedroom. Her voice, as she murmured the words, was full of a joyous delight; eagerness and yearning expressed themselves in her bending attitude, her parted lips and eyes intent upon the star.

The panelled room behind her was dimly lit by a solitary candle, just kindled. The faint dawn in front, the flickering candle light behind, illumined Diana's tall figure, wrapped in a white dressing gown, her small head and slender neck, the tumbling masses of her dark hair, and the hand holding the curtain. It was a kind and poetic light; but her youth and grace needed no softening.

After the striking of the quarter, the church bell began to ring, with a gentle, yet insistent note which gradually filled the hollows of the village, and echoed along the side of the down. Once or twice the sound was effaced by the rush and roar of a distant train; and once the call of an owl from a wood, a call melancholy and prolonged, was raised as though in rivalry. But the bell held Diana's strained ear throughout its course, till its mild clangor passed into the deeper note of the clock striking the hour, and then all sounds alike died into a profound yet listening silence.

"Eight o'clock! That was for early service," she thought; and there flashed into her mind an image of the old parish church, dimly lit for the Christmas Eucharist, its walls and pillars decorated with ivy and holly, yet austere and cold through all its adornings, with its bare walls and pale windows. She shivered a little, for her youth had been accustomed to churches all color and lights and furnishings churches of another type and faith... Continue reading book >>




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