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True Tilda   By: (1863-1944)

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E text prepared by Lionel G. Sear A Lifetime Enthusiast of the British Inland Waterway System

Transcriber's note: This was one of the most enjoyable e texts that I have prepared but also one of the most difficult. Many of the characters use the working class slang and dialect of 100 years ago and the author sticks to this consistently throughout the book. At times there seems to be as many apostrophes as characters! The printers have spaced these out and I hope that I have joined them up acceptably for our purpose.

Chapter X of the original book contained a diagram of a tattoo, and another diagram appeared in Chapter XX. Text has been added to substitute for these diagrams.

TRUE TILDA

By "Q" (A.T. QUILLER COUCH)

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I AT THE SIGN OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

II HOW TRUE TILDA CAME TO DOLOROUS GARD

III A KIDNAPPING

IV IN WHICH CHILDE ARTHUR LOSES ONE MOTHER AND GAINS ANOTHER

V TEMPORARY EMBARRASSMENTS OF A THESPIAN

VI MR. MORTIMER'S ADVENTURE

VII IN WHICH MR. HUCKS TAKES A HAND

VIII FLIGHT

IX FREEDOM

X THE FOUR DIAMONDS.

XI THE "STRATFORD ON AVON"

XII PURSUED

XIII ADVENTURE OF THE FURRED COLLAR

XIV ADVENTURE OF THE PRIMROSE FETE

XV ADVENTURE OF THE FAT LADY

XVI ADVENTURES OF THE "FOUR ALLS" AND OF THE CELESTIAL CHEMIST

XVII BY WESTON WEIR

XVIII DOWN AVON

XIX THE S.S. EVAN EVANS

XX INISTOW FARM

XXI THE HUNTED STAG

XXII THE VOYAGE

XXIII THE ISLAND

XXIV GLASSON IN CHASE

XXV MISS SALLY BREAKS THE DOORS

XXVI THE RESCUE

EPILOGUE

CHAPTER I

AT THE SIGN OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

" That it may please Thee to preserve all that travel by land or by water . . . all sick persons, and young children. " THE LITANY.

"I love my love with a H'aitch, because he's 'andsome "

Tilda turned over on her right side she could do so now without pain and lifting herself a little, eyed the occupant of the next bed. The other six beds in the ward were empty.

"I 'ate 'im, because look 'ere, I don't believe you're listenin'?"

The figure in the next bed stirred feebly; the figure of a woman, straight and gaunt under the hospital bedclothes. A tress of her hair had come uncoiled and looped itself across the pillow reddish auburn hair, streaked with grey. She had been brought in, three nights ago, drenched, bedraggled, chattering in a high fever; a case of acute pneumonia. Her delirium had kept Tilda who was preternaturally sharp for her nine years awake and curious during the better part of two night watches. Thereafter, for a day and a night and half a day, the patient had lain somnolent, breathing hard, at intervals feebly conscious. In one of these intervals her eyes had wandered and found the child; and since then had painfully sought her a dozen times, and found her again and rested on her.

Tilda, meeting that look, had done her best. The code of the show folk, to whom she belonged, ruled that persons in trouble were to be helped. Moreover, the long whitewashed ward, with its seven oblong windows set high in the wall the smell of it, the solitude, the silence bored her inexpressibly. She had lain here three weeks with a hurt thigh bone bruised, but luckily not splintered, by the kick of a performing pony.

The ward reeked of yellow soap and iodoform. She would have exchanged these odours at the price of her soul but souls are not vendible, and besides she did not know she possessed one for the familiar redolences of naphtha and horse dung and trodden turf. These were far away: they had quite forsaken her, or at best floated idly across her dreams... Continue reading book >>




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