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ProjectGutenberg'sTheImaginaryMarriage,byHenrySt JohnCooper ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net Title:TheImaginaryMarriage Author:HenrySt JohnCooper ReleaseDate:February18,2005[EBook#15103] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEIMAGINARYMARRIAGE*** ProducedbyMichaelCiesielski,BeginnersProjects,MartinBarber andtheOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam THEIMAGINARYMARRIAGE HenrySt JohnCooper CONTENTS AMASTERFULWOMAN INWHICHHUGHBREAKSTHENEWS JOANMEREDYTH,TYPIST FACETOFACE "PERHAPSISHALLGOBACK" "THEONLYPOSSIBLETHING" MR SLOTMANARRIVESATA CHAPTERVII MISUNDERSTANDING CHAPTERVIII THEDREAMGIRL CHAPTERIX THEPEACEMAKER CHAPTERX "INSPITEOFEVERYTHING" CHAPTERXI THEGENERALCALLSONHUGH CHAPTERXII "ITAKENOTONEWORDBACK" CHAPTERXIII THEGENERALCONFESSES CHAPTERXIV THEBEGINNINGOFTHETRAIL CHAPTERXV "TOTHEMANNERBORN" CHAPTERXVI ELLICE CHAPTERXVII UNREST CHAPTERXVIII "UNGENEROUS" CHAPTERXIX THEINVESTIGATIONSOFMR SLOTMAN CHAPTERXX "WHENIAMNOTWITHYOU" CHAPTERXXI "ISHALLFORGETHER" CHAPTERXXII JEALOUSY CHAPTERXXIII "UNCERTAIN—COY" CHAPTERXXIV "—TOGAIN,ORLOSEITALL" CHAPTERXXV INTHEMIRE CHAPTERXXVI MR ALSTONCALLS CHAPTERXXVII THEWATCHER CHAPTERXXVIII "HEDOESNOTLOVEMENOW" CHAPTERI CHAPTERII CHAPTERIII CHAPTERIV CHAPTERV CHAPTERVI CHAPTERXXIX CHAPTERXXX CHAPTERXXXI CHAPTERXXXII CHAPTERXXXIII CHAPTERXXXIV CHAPTERXXXV CHAPTERXXXVI CHAPTER XXXVII CHAPTER XXXVIII CHAPTERXXXIX CHAPTERXL CHAPTERXLI CHAPTERXLII CHAPTERXLIII CHAPTERXLIV CHAPTERXLV CHAPTERXLVI CHAPTERXLVII CHAPTERXLVIII "WHYDOESSHETAKEHIMFROMME?" "WAITING" "IFYOUNEEDME" THESPY GONE "FORHERSAKE" CONNIEDECLARES "HEHASCOMEBACK" THEDROPPINGOFTHESCALES "HERCHAMPION" "THEPAYING" "ISITTHEEND?" MR RUNDLETAKESAHAND "WALLSWECANNOTBATTERDOWN" "NOTTILLTHENWILLIGIVEUPHOPE" POISON THEGUIDINGHAND "—SHEHASGIVEN!" "ASWEFORGIVE—" HERPRIDE'SLASTFIGHT CHAPTERI AMASTERFULWOMAN "Don't talktome,miss," saidher ladyship "Idon'twanttohearanynonsense fromyou!" The pretty, frightened girl who shared the drawing-room at this moment with Lady Linden of Cornbridge Manor House had not dared to open her lips But thatwasherladyship'sway,and"Don'ttalktome!"wasastockexpressionof hers Fewpeoplewerepermittedtotalkinherladyship'spresence InCornbridge theyspokeofherwithbatedbreathasa"raremasterfulwoman,"andtheyhad goodcause MasterfulanddomineeringwasLadyLindenofCornbridge,yetshewaskindhearted,thoughshetriedtodisguisethefact InCornbridgeshereignedsupreme,menandwomentrembledatherapproach She penetrated the homes of the cottagers, she tasted of their foods, she rated them on uncleanliness, drunkenness, and thriftlessness; she lectured them on cooking OnmanyaSaturdaynightsheraided,single-handed,thePloughInnanddrove forth the sheepish revellers, personally conducting them to their homes and wives TheyrespectedherinCornbridgeasthereigningsovereignofhersmallestate, andnonedidsherulemoreautocraticallyandcompletelythanherlittlenineteenyear-oldnieceMarjorie Apretty,timid,littlemaidwasMarjorie,withsoftyellowhair,asweetovalface, withlargepatheticblueeyesandatimid,uncertainlittlerosebudofamouth "Araresweetmaidherbe,"theysaidofherinthevillage,"butterribultim'rous, andIlayherladyshipdugivesheararetimeofit "Whichwastrue "Don'ttalktome,miss!"herladyshipsaidtothesilentgirl "Iknowwhatisbest for you; and I know, too, what you don't think I know—ha, ha!" Her ladyship laughed terribly "I know that you have been meeting that worthless young scamp,TomArundel!" "Oh,aunt,heisnotworthless—" "Financiallyheisn'tworthasou—andthat'swhatImean,anddon'tinterrupt I amyourguardian,youareentirelyinmycharge,anduntilyouarriveattheage oftwenty-fiveIcanwithholdyourfortunefromyouifyoumarryinopposition tomeandmywishes Butyouwon't—youwon'tdoanythingofthekind You willmarrythemanIselectforyou,themanIhavealreadyselected—whatdid yousay,miss? "Andnow,notanotherword HughAlstonisthemanIhaveselectedforyou He isinlovewithyou,thereisn'tafinerladliving Hehaseightthousandayear, and Hurst Dormer is one of the best old properties in Sussex So that's quite enough,andIdon'twanttohearanymorenonsenseaboutTomArundel Isay nothing against him personally Colonel Arundel is a gentleman, of course, otherwise I would not permit you to know his son; but the Arundels haven't a pennypiece to fly with and—and now—Now I see Hugh coming up the drive Leaveme Iwanttotalktohim Gointothegarden,andwaitbythelily-pond In allprobabilityHughwillhavesomethingtosaytoyoubeforelong." "Oh,aunt,I—" "Shutup!"saidherladyshipbriefly Marjorie went out, with hanging head and bursting heart She believed herself themostunhappygirlinEngland Sheloved;whocouldhelplovinghappy-golucky,handsomeTomArundel,whowell-nighworshippedthegroundherlittle feettrodupon?Itwasthefirstloveandtheonlyloveofherlife,andofnights she lay awake picturing his bright, young boyish face, hearing again all the things he had said to her till her heart was well-nigh bursting with love and longingforhim ButshedidnothateHugh WhocouldhateHughAlston,withhischeerysmile, hisringingvoice,hisbiggenerousheart,andhisfinemanliness?Notshe!But fromthedepthsofherheartshewishedHughAlstonagreatdistanceawayfrom Cornbridge "Hello,Hugh!"saidherladyship Hehadcomein,amanoftwo-and-thirty,big andbroad,withsuntannedfaceandeyesasblueasthetear-dimmedeyesofthe girlwhohadgonemiserablydowntothelily-pond FairhairedwasHugh,ruddyofcheek,withnoparticularbeautytoboastof,save thewholesomenessandcleanlinessofhisyoungmanhood Heseemedtobring into the room a scent of the open country, of the good brown earth and of the cleanwindofheaven "Hello,Hugh!"saidLadyLinden "Hello, my lady," said he, and kissed her It had been his habit from boyhood, alsoithadbeenhislifelonghabittoloveandrespecttheolddame,andtofeel nottheslightestfearofher Inthishewassingular,andbecausehewastheone personwhodidnotfearhershepreferredhimtoanyoneelse "Hugh," she said—she went straight to the point, she always did; as a hunter goesatahedge,soherladyshipwithoutprevaricationwentatthemattershehad inhand—"IhavebeentalkingtoMarjorieaboutTomArundel—" Hischeeryfacegrewalittlegrave "Yes?" "Well,itisabsurd—yourealisethat?" "Isupposeso,but—"Hepaused "Itischildishfolly!" "Do you think so? Do you think that she—" Again he paused, with a nervousnessanddiffidenceusuallyforeigntohim "She'sonlyagel,"saidherladyship HerladyshipwasSussexborn,andtalked Sussexwhenshebecameexcited "She'sonlyagel,andgelshavetheirfancies I hadmyown—butblessyou,theydon'tlast Shedon'tknowherownmind." "He'sagoodfellow,"saidHughgenerously "Anicelad,buthewon'tsuitmeforMarjorie'shusband Hugh,thegel'sinthe garden, she is sitting by the lily-pond and believes her heart is broken, but it isn't!Goandproveitisn't;gonow!" Hemethereyesandflushedred "I'llgoandhaveatalktoMarjorie,"hesaid "Youhaven'tbeen—tooroughwithher,haveyou?" "Rough!Iknowhowtodealwithgels ItoldherthatIhadthecommandofher money, her four hundred a year till she was twenty-five, and not a bob of it shouldshetouchifshemarriedagainstmywish Nowgoandtalktoher—and talksense—"Shepaused "YouknowwhatImean—sense!" Averyprettypicture,theslenderwhite-clad,droopingfigurewithitscrownof golden hair made, sitting on the bench beside the lily-pond Her hands were clasped,hereyesfixedonthestagnantgreenwateroverwhichthedragon-flies skimmed Comingacrossthesoundlessturf,hestoodforamomenttolookather HurstDormerwasafineoldplace,yetoflatetohimithadgrownsingularlydull andcheerless Hehadloveditallhislife,butlatterlyhehadrealisedthatthere was something missing, something without which the old house could not be hometohim,andinhisdreamswakingandsleepinghehadseenthissamelittle white-cladfigureseatedatthefootofthegreattableinthedining-hall Hehadseenherinhismind'seyedoingthoselittlehousewifelydutiesthatthe mistresses of Hurst Dormer had always loved to do, her slender fingers busy withtherareanddelicateoldchina,orthelavender-scentedlinen,orelseinthe wonderfuloldgarden,thegraciouslittlemistressofallandofhisheart And now she sat drooping like a wilted lily beside the green pond, because of herloveforanotherman,andhishonestheartachedthatitshouldbeso "Marjorie!"hesaid Sheliftedatear-stainedfaceandheldoutherhand'tohimsilently Hepattedherhandgently,asonepatsthehandofachild "Is—isitsobad,little girl?Doyoucareforhimsomuch?" "Betterthanmylife!"shesaid "Oh,ifyouknew!" "Isee,"hesaidquietly Hesatstaringatthegreenwaters,stirrednowandagain by the fin of a lazy carp He realised that there would be no sweet girlish, golden-haired little mistress for Hurst Dormer, and the realisation hurt him badly The girl seemed to have crept a little closer to him, as for comfort and protection "Shehasmadeupher mind,andnothingwill changeit Shewants youto—to marryme She'stoldmesoahundredtimes Shewon'tlistentoanythingelse; shesaysyou—youcareforme,Hugh." "Supposing I care so much, little girl, that I want your happiness above everything in this world Supposing—I clear out?" he said—"clear right away, gotoAfrica,orsomewhereorother?" "She would make me wait till you came back, and you'd have to come back, Hugh,becausethereisalwaysHurstDormer There'snowayoutforme,none If only—onlyyouweremarried;thatistheonlythingthatwouldhavesavedme!" "ButI'mnot!" Shesighed "Ifonlyyouwere,ifonlyyoucouldsaytoher,'Ican'taskMarjorie tomarryme,becauseIamalreadymarried!'Itsoundsrubbish,doesn'tit,Hugh; butifitwereonlytrue!" "Supposing—Ididsayit?" "Oh,Hugh,but—"Shelookedupathimquickly "Butitwouldbealie!" "Iknow,butliesaren'talwaystheawfulthingstheyaresupposedtobe—ifone toldalietohelpafriend,forinstance,suchaliemightbeforgiven,eh?" "But—"Shewastrembling;shelookedeagerlyintohiseyes,intohercheekshad comeaflush,intohereyesthebrightnessofanew,thoughasyetvague,hope "It—itsoundssoimpossible!" "Nothingisactuallyimpossible Listen,littlemaid Shesentmeheretoyouto talksense,assheputit Thatmeantshesentmeheretoaskyoutomarryme, andImeanttodoit Ithinkperhapsyouknowwhy"—heliftedherhandtohis lipsandkissedit—"butIshan'tnow,Inevershall Littlegirl,we'regoingtobe whatwe'vealwaysbeen,thebestandtruestoffriends,andI'vegottofindaway tohelpyouandTom—" "Hugh, if you told her that you were married, and not free, she wouldn't give another thought to opposing Tom and me—it is only because she wants me to marry you that she opposes Tom! Oh, Hugh, if—if—if you could, if it were possible!"Shewastremblingwithexcitement,andthesweetcolourwascoming andgoinginhercheeks "SupposingIdidit?"hesaid,andspokehisthoughtsaloud "Ofcourseitwould beashocktoher,perhapsshewouldn'tbelieve!"
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