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The Tower of Oblivion   By: (1873-1961)

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First Page:

THE TOWER OF OBLIVION

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 Tower of Oblivion

BY

OLIVER ONIONS

AUTHOR OF "A CASE IN CAMERA," ETC.

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1921

All rights reserved

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY OLIVER ONIONS

Set up and printed. Published November, 1921.

Press of J. J. Little & Ives Company New York, U. S. A.

To

NIGEL PLAYFAIR and the Ladies and Gentlemen of "THE BEGGAR'S OPERA COMPANY" (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, June 5th, 1920)

who were so constantly his "pleasure and soft repose" while the following pages were writing, this book is dedicated

by

their friend and well wisher

THE AUTHOR

Kensington 1921

Contents

England Page THE SIDE SLIP 1 THE STERN CHASE 57 THE STRAPHANGER 91 THE DOUBLE CROSS 129 THE PIVOT 181

FRANCE

THE LONG SPLICE 207 THE EVEN KEEL 261 THE CUT OUT 327 THE DESERT ISLAND 371 THE HOME STRETCH 407

ENGLAND

PART I

THE SIDESTEP

THE TOWER OF OBLIVION

I

I think it is Edgar Allan Poe who says that while a plain thing may on occasion be told with a certain amount of elaboration of style, one that is unusual in its very nature is best related in the simplest terms possible. I shall adopt the second of these methods in telling this story of my friend, Derwent Rose. And I will begin straight away with that afternoon of the spring of last year when, with my own eyes, I first saw, or fancied I saw, the beginning of the change in him.

The Lyonnesse Club meets in an electric lighted basement suite a little way off the Strand, and as I descended the stairs I saw him in the narrow passage. He was standing almost immediately under an incandescent lamp that projected on its curved petiole from the wall. The light shone brilliantly on his hair, where hardly a hint of grey or trace of thinness yet showed, and his handsome brow and straight nose were in full illumination and the rest of his face in sharp shadow. He wore a dark blue suit with an exquisitely pinned soft white silk collar, to which, as I watched, his fingers moved once; and he was examining with deep attention a print that hung on the buff washed wall.

I spoke behind him. "Hello, Derry! One doesn't often see your face here."

Quietly as I spoke, he started. Ordinarily he had very straight and steady grey blue eyes, alert and receptive, but for some seconds they looked from me to the print and from the print to me, irresolutely and with equally divided attention. One would almost have thought that he had heard his name called from a great distance. Then his eyes settled finally on the print, and he repeated my last words over his shoulder.

"My face? Here?... No."

"What's the picture? Anything special?"

Still without moving his eyes from it he replied, "The picture? You ought to know more about it than I it's your Club, not mine "

And he continued his absorbed scrutiny.

Now I had passed that picture scores of times before and had never found it worth a glance. It was a common collotype reproduction of a stodgy night effect, a full moon in a black leaded sky with reflections in water to match price perhaps five shillings. Then suddenly, looking over his shoulder, I realised where his interest in it lay... Continue reading book >>




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