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A Woman's Burden   By: (1859-1932)

A Woman's Burden by Fergus Hume

First Page:

A WOMAN'S BURDEN

A NOVEL

BY FERGUS HUME

Author of "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab," "The Expedition of Captain Flick," "The Mystery of Landy Court," "The Lone Inn," etc.

THIRD EDITION

LONDON

JARROLD & SONS, 10 & 11, WARWICK LANE, E.C.

[ All Rights Reserved ]

CONTENTS.

PROLOGUE.

I. A QUEER ADVENTURE

II. A STRANGE ARRANGEMENT

PART I.

I. MRS. DACRE DARROW

II. A RED RAG TO A BULL

III. POVERTY HALL

IV. MR. BARTON'S VISITOR

V. BEHIND THE SCENES

VI. MRS. DARROW'S BOMBSHELL

VII. IN THE WOODS

VIII. SHORTY

IX. THE SHADOW

X. THE SQUIRE'S SECRET

XI. UNMASKED

XII. MIRIAM KEEPS AN APPOINTMENT

XIII. MRS. DARROW BECOMES REFRACTORY

XIV. ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT

XV. A NINE DAYS' WONDER

XVI. A LITTLE FEMININE DIPLOMACY

XVII. A ROMAN FATHER

XVIII. THE REWARD OF MIRIAM

PART II.

I. 5A, ROSARY MANSIONS

II. JABEZ REDIVIVUS

III. MRS. PARSLEY'S PROTÉGÉ

IV. DICKY'S DISCOVERY

V. JUST IN TIME

VI. SOME MUTUAL COMPLIMENTS AND A CONFESSION

VII. MRS. DARROW SYMPATHISES

VIII. MRS. PARSLEY SEES A GHOST

IX. MORE TROUBLE

X. THE MAJOR'S POINT OF VIEW

XI. IN THE DEPTHS

XII. JABEZ SEEKS AN OLD FRIEND

XIII. THE END OF GERALD ARKEL

XIV. A QUEER STORY QUEERLY TOLD

EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE.

CHAPTER I.

A QUEER ADVENTURE.

It was midnight midnight on Waterloo Bridge. A plague was over the city the concentrated vomit of a million and more chimneys wrapped all in an Egyptian darkness.

The miracle of Moses could not have produced a deeper gloom an atmosphere more impenetrable. It clung to the skin, it even pressed against the eyeballs. It might in truth have been that very outer darkness which we are taught is reserved for those amongst us who are sinners.

Big Ben and his brethren of the steeples struck a muffled twelve, seeming to insist upon their strokes the more as if they knew their dials were hidden from all sight. The very gas lamps entered into rivalry, some looming out mere splotches of dirty yellow light, while here and there one more modern than its fellows managed successfully to penetrate the gloom. The bridge leapt across the river from fog bank to fog bank, like the bridge in Mira's vision, and if the chill mist lifted a trifle toward the centre, it was but a matter of a few feet. And above it all presumably there shone the stars and moon in their spacious firmament, they and their kindly influence shut out, it might be for ever, by the relentless pall.

And in the darkness on the bridge, there crawled and lurked and squatted the noisome creatures of the night. They could hear the sullen lapping of the unseen river against the piles, as it swept full tide from the sea. To their ears, sharpened by hunger and misery, the waters were all articulate, inviting them to exchange their stony resting place for its softer bed below. And they pondered greatly at the invitation. Were it not better to accept it, and let their half starved bodies drift seaward with the morning ebb? Nothing, they thought, and truly, could be worse than their present plight. Were it not better to end existence now and for all time? Yet so does the mind of man shrink from the unknown revolt against the almighty plunge from light to darkness, that of all those hungry miserable creatures, not one got further than the pondering not one was there who would brave the momentary wrench which should part him from this earthly wretchedness, and give him peace, oblivion even, and that because he did not know, and dared not solve the problem.

So the waters surged on ruthlessly through the arches into the heart of the land, and the fog grew thicker, colder, and more clammy over the city.

Yet humdrum respectability had its representative here withal; and that in the person of an elderly, genteel, moneyed, and apparently unexceptionable gentleman, who should surely rather have been tucked away between blankets, than abroad at such a time and on such a night... Continue reading book >>




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