Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

A Woman-Hater   By: (1814-1884)

Book cover

First Page:


by Charles Reade


"THE Golden Star," Homburg, was a humble hotel, not used by gay gamblers, but by modest travelers.

At two o'clock, one fine day in June, there were two strangers in the salle a' manger, seated at small tables a long way apart, and wholly absorbed in their own business.

One was a lady about twenty four years old, who, in the present repose of her features, looked comely, sedate, and womanly, but not the remarkable person she really was. Her forehead high and white, but a little broader than sculptors affect; her long hair, coiled tight, in a great many smooth snakes, upon her snowy nape, was almost flaxen, yet her eyebrows and long lashes not pale but a reddish brown; her gray eyes large and profound; her mouth rather large, beautifully shaped, amiable, and expressive, but full of resolution; her chin a little broad; her neck and hands admirably white and polished. She was an Anglo Dane her father English.

If you ask me what she was doing, why hunting; and had been, for some days, in all the inns of Homburg. She had the visitors' book, and was going through the names of the whole year, and studying each to see whether it looked real or assumed. Interspersed were flippant comments, and verses adapted to draw a smile of amusement or contempt; but this hunter passed them all over as nullities: the steady pose of her head, the glint of her deep eye, and the set of her fine lips showed a soul not to be diverted from its object.

The traveler at her back had a map of the district and blank telegrams, one of which he filled in every now and then, and scribbled a hasty letter to the same address. He was a sharp faced middle aged man of business; Joseph Ashmead, operatic and theatrical agent at his wits' end; a female singer at the Homburg Opera had fallen really ill; he was commissioned to replace her, and had only thirty hours to do it in. So he was hunting a singer. What the lady was hunting can never be known, unless she should choose to reveal it.

Karl, the waiter, felt bound to rouse these abstracted guests, and stimulate their appetites. He affected, therefore, to look on them as people who had not yet breakfasted, and tripped up to Mr. Ashmead with a bill of fare, rather scanty.

The busiest Englishman can eat, and Ashmead had no objection to snatch a mouthful; he gave his order in German with an English accent. But the lady, when appealed to, said softly, in pure German, "I will wait for the table d'hote."

"The table d'hote! It wants four hours to that."

The lady looked Karl full in the face, and said, slowly, and very distinctly, "Then, I will wait four hours."

These simple words, articulated firmly, and in a contralto voice of singular volume and sweetness, sent Karl skipping; but their effect on Mr. Ashmead was more remarkable. He started up from his chair with an exclamation, and bent his eyes eagerly on the melodious speaker. He could only see her back hair and her figure; but, apparently, this quick eared gentleman had also quick eyes, for he said aloud, in English, "Her hair, too it must be;" and he came hurriedly toward her. She caught a word or two, and turned and saw him. "Ah!" said she, and rose; but the points of her fingers still rested on the book.

"It is!" cried Ashmead. "It is!"

"Yes, Mr. Ashmead," said the lady, coloring a little, but in pure English, and with a composure not easily disturbed; "it is Ina Klosking."

"What a pleasure," cried Ashmead; and what a surprise! Ah, madam, I never hoped to see you again. When I heard you had left the Munich Opera so sudden, I said, 'There goes one more bright star quenched forever.' And you to desert us you, the risingest singer in Germany!"

"Mr. Ashmead!"

"You can't deny it. You know you were."

The lady, thus made her own judge, seemed to reflect a moment, and said, "I was a well grounded musician, thanks to my parents; I was a very hard working singer; and I had the advantage of being supported, in my early career, by a gentleman of judgment and spirit, who was a manager at first, and brought me forward, afterward a popular agent, and talked managers into a good opinion of me... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books