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Wife in Name Only   By: (1836-1884)

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[Transcriber's Note: There were several words that appeared to be printers errors in this book. These have been changed; the changes are marked, and the original spellings are at the end of the text.]



Charlotte M. Braeme

(Bertha M. Clay)


By The Same Author In Uniform Style

Dora Thorne From Gloom to Sunlight Her Martyrdom Golden Heart Her Only Sin Lady Damer's Secret The Squire's Darling Her Mother's Sin Wife in Name Only Wedded and Parted Shadow of a Sin

Wife in Name Only

Chapter I.

It was the close Of an autumn day, and Dr. Stephen Letsom had been standing for some time at his window watching the sun go down. It faded slowly out of the western sky. There had been a golden flush with the sunset which changed into crimson, then into purple, and finally into dull gray tints that were forerunners of the shades of night. Dr. Stephen Letsom had watched it with sad, watchful eyes. The leaves on the trees had seemed to be dyed first in red, then in purple. The chrysanthemums changed color with every phase of the sunset; there was a wail in the autumn wind as though the trees and flowers were mourning over their coming fate. There was something of sadness in the whole aspect of nature.

The doctor evidently shared it. The face looking from the window was anything but a cheerful one. Perhaps it was not the most judicious manner in which the doctor could have spent his time above all, if he wished to give people an impression that he had a large practice. But Dr. Letsom had ceased to be particular in the matter of appearances. He was to all intents and purposes a disappointed man. Years before, when his eyes were bright with the fires of youth, and hope was strong in his heart, he had invested such money as he possessed in the purchase of a practice at Castledene, and it had proved to be a failure why, no one exactly knew.

Castledene was one of the prettiest little towns in Kent. It had a town hall, a market place, a weekly market, and the remains of a fine old castle; but it was principally distinguished for its races, a yearly event which brought a great influx of visitors to the town. It was half buried in foliage, surrounded by dense woods and green hills, with a clear, swift river running by. The inhabitants were divided into three distinct classes the poor, who gained a scanty livelihood by working in the fields, the shop keepers, and the gentry, the latter class consisting principally of old maids and widows, ladies of unblemished gentility and limited means. Among the latter Dr. Letsom was not popular. He had an unpleasant fashion of calling everything by its right name. If a lady would take a little more stimulant than was good for her he could not be persuaded to call her complaint "nervousness;" when idleness and ennui preyed upon a languid frame, he had a startling habit of rousing the patient by a mental cautery. The poor idolized him, but the ladies pronounced him coarse, abrupt; and when ladies decide against a doctor, fate frowns upon him.

How was he to get on in the world? Twenty years before he had thought less of getting on than of the interests of science or of doing good; now those ideas were gradually leaving him life had become a stern hand to hand fight with hard necessity. The poor seemed to be growing poorer the difficulty of getting a fee became greater the ladies seemed more and more determined to show their dislike and aversion.

Matters were growing desperate, thought Dr. Letsom on this autumn night, as he stood watching the chrysanthemums and the fading light in the western sky. Money was becoming a rare commodity with him. His housekeeper, Mrs. Galbraith had long been evincing signs of great discontent. She had not enough for her requirements she wanted money for a hundred different things, and the doctor had none to give her. The curtains were worn and shabby, the carpets full of holes, the furniture, though clean and well preserved, was totally insufficient... Continue reading book >>

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