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The Wings of Icarus Being the Life of one Emilia Fletcher   By: (1865?-1940)

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THE WINGS OF ICARUS

BEING

THE LIFE OF ONE EMILIA FLETCHER

AS REVEALED BY HERSELF IN

I. THIRTY FIVE LETTERS

WRITTEN TO CONSTANCE NORRIS BETWEEN JULY 18TH, 188 , AND MARCH 26TH OF THE FOLLOWING YEAR

II. A FRAGMENTARY JOURNAL

III. A POSTSCRIPT

BY

LAURENCE ALMA TADEMA

New York

MACMILLAN AND COMPANY

AND LONDON

1894

THE WINGS OF ICARUS.

THE LETTERS.

LETTER I.

FLETCHER'S HALL, GRAYSMILL, July 18th.

Dear and Beloved Constance , What shall I say to you? Here I sit, in a strange room, in a strange land, and my life lies behind me. It is close upon midnight, and very dark. I can see nothing out of window. The air is hot and heavy, the moths flutter round my candle; I cannot save them all. I am trying to write you a letter do you understand? Oh, but I have no thoughts, only visions! Three there are that rise before me, sometimes separately, sometimes all together.

I see you, Mrs. Norris. We are standing on the platform, side by side; people leaning out of window in my night gown, watching the mists rise in the valley. The air is very sweet here in England; I see oceans of trees, great stretches of heath and meadow. Surely, surely one ought to be happy in this beautiful world! I shall dress quickly and go out. This letter, such as it is, shall go to you by the first post, and to night I shall write again, when I myself know something of my surroundings. Good bye then for the present, my best and dearest.

EMILIA.

LETTER II.

July 19.

It is just half past ten, my Constance; the two old ladies have gone to bed. I am getting on very well, on the whole, although I had the misfortune to keep them waiting three quarters of an hour for breakfast this morning. It was so beautiful out of doors, and I was so happy roaming in field and wood, happy with the happiness sunshine can lay atop of the greatest sorrow, that I stayed out till nearly ten o'clock. I had taken some milk and bread in the kitchen before starting, not realising that breakfast here is a solemn meal. Poor old souls! they were too polite to begin without me, and I found them positively drooping with hunger.

All the rancour that I had harboured in my heart this many a year against my father's stepmother has vanished into thin air. One glance at the old lady's delicate weak face, at her diffident eyes and nervous fingers, dispelled once and forever any preconceived idea that she might have helped him in his ardent difficult boyhood, stood between him and his father in his day of disgrace. Had she been a woman of mettle, I could never have forgiven her the neutral part she played; but she stands there cleared by her very impotence.

I think she was nervous of meeting me, last night; she said something confused about my poor papa, about her husband's severity, adding that she was sorry not to have known my mamma, but supposed I must be like her, as I looked quite the foreigner with my black eyes. Her whole manner towards me is almost painful in its humility; this morning she begged me to let her live with me, and die in this house, saying she did not care to go and live with her son; upon which I of course assured her that she must still consider everything her own, and the scene ended in kisses and a pocket handkerchief.

There is something very touching about an old woman's hand; I felt myself much more moved than the occasion warranted when she held me with her trembling fingers, moving them nervously up and down, so that I felt the small weak bones under the skin, all soft, full veined, and wrinkled.

Her sister, Caroline Seymour, is younger, probably not more than sixty, and very active. She has a bright, bird like face, over which flits from time to time a sad little gleam of lost beauty... Continue reading book >>




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