The incomplete amorist

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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheIncompleteAmorist,byE Nesbit ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:TheIncompleteAmorist Author:E Nesbit Illustrator:ClarenceF Underwood PostingDate:March22,2013[EBook#9385] ReleaseDate:November,2005 FirstPosted:September28,2003 Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEINCOMPLETEAMORIST*** ProducedbyJulietSutherland,BethTrapagaandPG DistributedProofreaders amorist001.jpg(31K) To RichardReynoldsandJustusMilesForman "Fairenaitreundésir,lenourrir,ledévelopper,legrandir,lesatisfaire,c'estun poemetoutentier." —Balzac wfrontis.jpg(144K) CONTENTS BOOKI THEGIRL ChapterI TheInevitable ChapterII TheIrresistible ChapterIII Voluntary ChapterIV Involuntary ChapterV ThePrisoner ChapterVI TheCriminal ChapterVII TheEscape BOOKII THEMAN ChapterVIII TheOneandtheOther ChapterIX TheOpportunity ChapterX SeeingLife ChapterXI TheThought ChapterXII TheRescue ChapterXIII Contrasts ChapterXIV Renunciation BOOKIII THEOTHERWOMAN ChapterXV ChapterXVI ChapterXVII OnMountParnassus "LoveandTupper" Interventions ChapterXVIII TheTruth ChapterXIX TheTruthwithaVengeance ChapterXX Waking-upTime BOOKIV THEOTHERMAN ChapterXXI TheFlight ChapterXXII TeLunatic ChapterXXIII Temperatures ChapterXXIV TheConfessional ChapterXXV TheForest ChapterXXVI TheMiracle ChapterXXVII ThePinkSilkStory ChapterXXVIII "Andso—" PEOPLEOFTHESTORY EustaceVernon TheIncompleteAmorist BettyDesmond TheGirl TheRev CecilUnderwood HerStep-Father MissJuliaDesmond HerAunt RobertTemple TheOtherMan LadySt Craye TheOtherWoman MissVoscoe TheArtStudent MadameChevillon TheInn-KeeperatCrez PaulaConway ASoulinHell MimiChantal AModel VillageMatrons,Concierges,ArtStudents,Etc LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS "'Oh,whatapity,'saidBettyfromtheheart,'thatwearen't introducednow!'" "'Ah,don'tbecross!'shesaid." "Bettystaredathimcoldly." "Bettylookednervouslyaround—thescenewasagitatingly unfamiliar." "Unfinished,butadisquietinglikeness." "'No,thankyou:it'salldonenow.'" "Onthefurtherarmofthechairsat,laughingalso,avery prettyyoungwoman." "Thenextmorningbroughthimaletter." Book1.—TheGirl CHAPTERI THEINEVITABLE "No Thechemisesaren'tcutout Ihaven'thadtime Thereareenoughshirtsto goonwith,aren'tthere,Mrs James?"saidBetty "We can make for this afternoon, Miss, but the men they're getting blowed out with shirts It's the children's shifts as we can't make shift without much longer."Mrs James,habituallydoleful,punctuatedherspeechwithsniffs "That'sajoke,Mrs James,"saidBetty "Howcleveryouare!" "Itrytobewhat'sfitting,"saidMrs James,complacently "Talkoffitting,"saidBetty,"IfyoulikeI'llfitonthatblackbodiceforyou,Mrs Symes Iftheotherladiesdon'tmindwaitingforthereadingalittlebit." "I'd aslief talk asread,myself,"saidared-facedsandy-hairedwoman;"books ain'twhattheywasinmyyoungdays." "Ifit'sthesametoyou,Miss,"saidMrs Symesinathickrichvoice,"I'llnotbe triedonaforearoomfull Ifwearepoorwecanallbeclean'swhatIsay,andI keeps my unders as I keeps my outside But not before persons as has real imitationlaceontheirpetticoatbodies IseethemwhenIwasa-nursingherwith herfourth No,Miss,andthankingyoukindly,butbeggingyourpardonallthe same." "Don't mention it," said Betty absently "Oh, Mrs Smith, you can't have lost yourthimblealready Whywhat'sthatyou'vegotinyourmouth?" "So it is!" Mrs Smith's face beamed at the gratifying coincidence "It always wasmyhabit,fromachild,toputthingsthereforsafety." "Thesecheapthimblesain'tfittoputinyourmouth,nomorethancoppers,"said Mrs James,hermouthfullofpins "Oh, nothing hurts you if you like it," said Betty recklessly She had been readingtheworksofMr G.K Chesterton Ashockedmurmurarose "Oh, Miss, what about the publy kows?" said Mrs Symes heavily The others noddedacquiescence "Don'tyouthinkwemighthaveawindowopen?"saidBetty TheMaysunshine beatontheschoolroomwindows Theroom,crowdedwiththestoutmembersof the"Mother'sMeetingandMutualClothingClub,"wasstuffy,unbearable Amurmurarosefarmoreshockedthanthefirst "Iwasjusta-goin'tosaywhynotclosethedoor,thatbeingwhatdoorsismade for,afterall,"saidMrs Symes "Ifeelasortofdraughta-creepingupmylegsas itis." Thedoorwasshut "You can't be too careful," said the red-faced woman; "we never know what a chill mayn't bring forth My cousin's sister-in-law, she had twins, and her aunt comeinandsaysshe,'You'reabitstuffyhere,ain'tyou?'andwiththatsheopens the window a crack,—not meaning no harm, Miss,—as it might be you And withinayearthatpoorunfortunatewomanshepoppedoff,whenleastexpected Gasulsters,thedoctorsaid Whichit'swhatyoucallchills,ifyou'readoctorand can'tspeakplain." "Mypoorgrandmothercometoherendthesameway,"saidMrs Smith,"only withheritwastheBiblereaderasdidn'tshutthedoorthroughbeingsoseton shewingoffherreading Andmygranny,aclotofbloodwenttoherbrain,and herbrainwenttoherheadandshewasacorpseinsideoffiftyminutes." Everywomanintheroomwaswaiting,feverishlyalert,forthepausethatshould allowhertobeginherowndetailednarrativeofdisease Mrs Jameswaseasilyfirstinthecompetition "Them quick deaths," she said, "is sometimes a blessing in disguise to both partiesconcerned Mypoorhusband—yearsuponyearshelingered,andhehad a bad leg—talk of bad legs, I wish you could all have seen it," she added generously "Was it the kind that keeps all on a-breaking out?" asked Mrs Symes hastily, "becausemyyoungestbrotherhadalegthatnothingcouldn'tstop Breakoutit woulddowhattheymight I'msurethebandagesI'vetookoffhiminamorning —" Bettyclappedherhands Itwasthesignalthatthereadingwasgoingtobegin,andthematronslookedat herresentfully Whatcallhadpeopletostartreadingwhenthetalkwasflowing sofreeandpleasant? Betty, rather pale, began: "This is a story about a little boy called Wee Willie Winkie." "Icallthatasillysortofname,"whisperedMrs Smith "Didhemakeagoodend,Miss?"askedMrs Jamesplaintively "You'llsee,"saidBetty "Ilikeitbestwhentheydiesforgivingofeverybodyandsinginghymnstothe last." "And when they says, 'Mother, I shall meet you 'ereafter in the better land'— that'swhatmakesyoucrysopleasant." "Doyouwantmetoreadornot?"askedBettyindesperation "Yes,Miss,yes,"hummedthevoicesheavyandshrill "It's her hobby, poor young thing," whispered Mrs Smith, "we all 'as 'em My ownisalightcaketomytea,andalwayswas Ush." Bettyread Whenthemothershadwordilygone,shethrewopenthewindows,proppedthe doorwidewithachair,andwenttotea Shehaditalone "YourPa'souta-parishing,"saidLetitia,bumpingdownthetrayinfrontofher "That'salet-offanyhow,"saidBettytoherself,andsheproppedupaStevenson againstthetea-pot After tea parishioners strolled up by ones and twos and threes to change their booksattheVicaragelendinglibrary Thebookswerecoveredwithblackcalico, andsmeltofroomswhosewindowswereneveropened Whenshehadwashedthesmellofthebooksoff,shedidherhairverycarefully inanewwaythatseemedbecoming,andwentdowntosupper Her step-father only spoke once during the meal; he was luxuriating in the thought of the Summa Theologiae of Aquinas in leather still brown and beautiful,whichhehadprovidentiallydiscoveredinthewash-houseofanailing Parishioner Whenhedidspeakhesaid: "Howextremelyuntidyyourhairis,Lizzie Iwishyouwouldtakemorepains withyourappearance." When he had withdrawn to his books she covered three new volumes for the library:theblackcameoffonherhands,butanywayitwascleandirt Shewenttobedearly "Andthat'smylife,"shesaidassheblewoutthecandle SaidMrs JamestoMrs Symesoverthelastandstrongestcupoftea: "Miss Betty's ailing a bit, I fancy Looked a bit peaky, it seemed to me I shouldn'twonderifshewastogooffinadeclinelikeherfatherdid." "Itwasn'tnodecline,"saidMrs Symes,droppingherthickvoice,"'ewascutoff inthemidstofhiswickedcourses Ajudgmentifevertherewasone." 6w_prettywoman.jpg(112K) "V'la cheri!" she said, and put one of the twin cherries in her mouth; then she leant over him laughing, and Vernon reached his head forward to take in his mouth the second cherry that dangled below her chin His mouth was on the cherry,andhiseyesintheblackeyesofthegirlinpink Bettybangedthedoor "Comeaway!"shesaidtoMissDesmond Andshe,whohadseen,too,thepink picture,cameaway,holdingBetty'sarmtight "I wonder," she said as they reached the bottom of the staircase, "I wonder he didn'tcomeafterusto—to—trytoexplain." "Ilockedthedoor,"saidBetty "Don'tspeaktome,please." Theywereinthetrainbeforeeitherbrokesilence Betty'sfacewaswhiteandshe lookedold—thirtyalmostherauntthought ItwasMissDesmondwhospoke "Betty,"shesaid,"Iknowhowyoufeel Butyou'reveryyoung IthinkIoughtto saythatthatgirl—" "Don't!"saidBetty "Imeanwhatwesawdoesn'tnecessarilymeanthathedoesn'tloveyou." "Perhapsnot,"saidBetty,fierceasawhiteflame "Anyhow,itmeansthatIdon't lovehim." Miss Desmond's tact, worn by three days of anxiety and agitation, broke suddenly,andshesaidwhatsheregrettedforsomemonths: "Oh,youdon'tlovehimnow?Well,theothermanwillconsoleyou." "Ihateyou,"saidBetty,"andIhatehim;andIhopeIshallneverseeamanagain aslongasIlive!" CHAPTERXXVIII "ANDSO—" The banging of his door, the locking of it, annoyed Vernon, yet interested him but little One's acquaintances have such queer notions of humour He had the excuse—andbygoodlucktherope—toexplorehiscelebratedroofs Mimiwas moreagitatedthanhe,sohedismissedherforthedaywithmanycompliments and a bunch of roses, and spent what was left of the light in painting in a backgroundtothesketchofBetty—thewarrenashissketch-bookhelpedhimto rememberit Perhapsheandshewouldgotheretogethersomeday Helookedwithextremecontentatthepictureontheeasel He had worked quickly and well The thing was coming splendidly Mimi had been right She could pose herself as no artist had ever posed her He would makeapictureofthethingafterall The next morning brought him a letter That he, who had hated letters, should have come to care for a letter more than for anything that could have come to himexceptagirl Hekissedtheletterbeforeheopenedit 7w_morning.jpg(94K) "Atlast,"hesaid "Oh,thisminutewasworthwaitingfor!" Heopenedtheenvelopewithasmilemingledoftriumphandsomethingbetter thantriumph—andread: "DearMr Vernon: "Ihopethatnothinginmymannerhasledyoutoexpectanyotheranswerthan the one I must give That answer is, of course, no Although thanking you sincerelyforyourflatteringoffer,IamobligedtosaythatIhaveneverthought ofyouexceptasafriend Iwasextremelysurprisedbyyourletter IhopeIhave notbeeninanywaytoblame Witheverywishforyourhappiness,andregrets thatthisshouldhavehappened,Iamyoursfaithfully, "ElizabethDesmond." Hereadtheletter,re-readit,raisedhiseyebrows Thenhetooktwoturnsacross thestudio,shruggedhisshouldersimpatiently,litamatchandwatchedtheletter burn Asthelastyellowmovingsparksdiedintheblackofitsash,hebithislip "Damn,"hesaid,"oh,damn!" NextdayhewenttoSpain Abunchofrosesbiggerandredderthananyroseshe hadeversenthercametoLadySt Crayewithhiscard—p.d.a inthecorner She, too, shrugged her shoulders, bit her lip and—arranged the roses in water Presently she tried to take up her life at the point where she had laid it down when,lastOctober,Vernonhadtakenitintohishands Succeedingasonedoes succeedinsuchenterprises It was May again when Vernon found himself once more sitting at one of the littletablesinfrontoftheCafédelaPaix "Sitherelongenough,"hesaid,"andyouseeeveryoneyouhaveeverknownor everwantedto know Lastyearitwasthejasminelady—andthatgirl—onthe sameoneandwonderfulday Thisyearit's—byJove!" Heroseandmovedamongthecloselysetchairsandtablestothepavement The sightlessstareoflight-blanchedspectaclesmethiseyes Agentlemanly-looking ladyinshortskirtsstoodawaitinghim "How are you?" she said "Yes, I know you didn't see me, but I thought you'd liketo." "Idoliketo,indeed MayIwalkwithyou—or—"heglancedbackatthetable wherehisVermouthstooduntasted "The impertinence of it! Frightfully improper to sit outside cafés, isn't it?—for women,Imean—andthisCaféinparticular Yes,I'lljoinyouwiththegreatest pleasure Coffeeplease." "It'sagessinceIsawyou,"hesaidamiably,"notsince—" "SinceIcalledonyouatyourhotel Howfrightenedyouwere!" "Notforlong,"heanswered,lookingatherwiththeeyessheloved,theeyesof someonewhowasnotVernon—"Ah,me,alotofwaterhasrun—" "Notunderthebridges,"shepleaded:"sayofftheumbrellas." "Since,"hepursued,"wehadthatgoodtalk Youremember,Iwantedtocallon youinLondonandyouwouldn'tletme Youmightletmenow." "Iwill,"shesaid "97CurzonStreet Youreyeshaven'tchangedcolourabit Nor yournature,Isuppose Yetsomethingaboutyou'schanged GotoverBettyyet?" "Quite, thanks," he said tranquilly "But last time we met, you remember we agreedthatIhadnointentions." "Wrong lead," she said, smiling frankly at him; "and besides I hold all the trumps Ace,King,Queen;andAce,KnaveandQueenofanothersuit." "Expound,Iimplore." "Acesequalgeneraldefiniteanddecisiveinformation KingandQueenofhearts equalBettyandtheotherman." "Therewasanothermanthen?" "Therealwaysis,isn'tthere?Knave—yourhonouredself Queen—whereisthe Queen, by the way,—the beautiful Queen with the sad eyes, blind, poor dear, quiteblindtoeverythingbuttheabominableKnave?" "Meaningme?" "It'snotanunbecomingcap,"shesaid,stirringhercoffee,"andyouwearitwith anair Where'stheQueenofyoursuit?" "IconfessI'matfault." "The odd trick is mine And the honours You may as well throw down your hand Yes I play whist Not bridge Where is your Queen—Lady St.—what is it?" "I haven't seen her," he said steadily, "since last June I left Paris on a sudden impulse,andIhadn'ttimetosaygood-byetoher." "Didn'tyouevenleaveacard?That'snotlikeyoureyes." "IthinkIsentatubofhydrangeasorsomething,pourdireadieu." "Thatwasdefinite Rememberthedate?" "No,"hesaid,rememberingperfectly "Nottheeleventh,wasit?ThatwasthedaywhenyouwouldgetBetty'sletterof rejection." "Itmayhavebeentheeleventh.—Infactitwas." "Ah,that'sbetter!Andthetenth—wholetyououtofyourstudioonthetenth? I'veoftenwondered." "I'veoftenwonderedwholockedmein Itcouldn'thavebeenyou,ofcourse?" "Asyousay ButIwasthere." "Itwasn't—?" "Butitwas Ithoughtyou'dguessthat Shegotyourletterandcameupreadyto fall into your arms—opened the door softly like any heroine of fiction—I told her to knock—but no: beheld the pink silk picture and fled the happy shore forever." "Damn!"hesaid "Idobegyourpardon,butreally—" "Don'twastethosereallyconvincingdamnsonancienthistory Itoldheritdidn't meanthatyoudidn'tloveher." "Thatwasclear-sightedofyou." "It was also quite futile She said it means she didn't love you at any rate I supposeshewroteandtoldyouso." Alongpause Then: "As you say," said Vernon, "it's ancient history But you said something about anotherman." "Oh,yes—yourfriendTemple.—Say'damn'againifit'stheslightestcomfortto you—I'veheardworsewords." "When?"askedVernon,andhesippedhisVermouth;"notstraightaway?" "Bless me, no! Months and months That picture in your studio gave her the distasteforallmenforquitealongtime Wetookherhome,herfatherandme: bytheway,heandshearetremendouschumsnow." "Well?" "Youdon'twantmetotellyouthesweetsecrettaleoftheirbetrothal?He just camedown—atChristmasitwas Shewasdecoratingthechurch Herfatherhad atransientgleamofcommonsenseandsenthimdowntoher 'Isityou?''Isit you?'—All was over! They returned to that Rectory an engaged couple They weremadeforeachother.—Sametastes,samesentiments Theylovethesame things—gardens scenery, the simple life, lofty ideals, cathedrals and Walt Whitman." "Andwhenaretheytobemarried?" "Theyaremarried 'Whatarewewaitingfor,youandI?'No,Idon'tknowwhich ofthemsaidit TheyweremarriedatEaster:Sunday-schoolchildrenthrowing cowslips—quite idyllic All the old ladies from the Mother's Mutual Twaddle Clubcameandshedfattears Theypresentedatea-set;maroonwithblueroses —most'ighclassandselect." "Easter?" said Vernon, refusing interest to the maroon and blue tea-cups "She mustindeedhavebeenextravagantlyfondofme." "Notshe!Shewantedtobeinlove Wealldo,youknow Andyouwerethefirst Butshe'dneverhavesuitedyou I'veneverknownbuttwowomenwhowould." "Two?"hesaid "Which?" "Myselfforone,savingyourpresence."Shelaughedandfinishedhercoffee "If I'dhappenedtomeetyouwhenIwasyoung—andnotbad-looking It'sonlymy agethatkeepsyoufromfallinginlovewithme Theotherone'stheQueenof yoursuit,poorlady,thatyousentthehaystackofsunflowersto Well—Goodbye Comeandseemewhenyou'reintown—97CurzonStreet;don'tforget." "Ishan'tforget,"hesaid;"andifIthoughtyouwouldcondescendtolookatme, itisn'twhatyoucallyouragethatwouldkeepmefromfallinginlovewithyou." "Heavendefendme!"shecried "Aurevoir." When Vernon had finished his Vermouth, he strolled along to the street where lastyearLadySt Crayehadhadaflat Yes—Madameretainedstilltheapartment Itwasto-daythatMadamereceived But the last of the friends of Madame had departed Monsieur would find Madamealone MonsieurfoundMadamealone,andreading Shelaidthebookfacedownwards on the table and held out the hand he had always loved—slender, and loosely made,thatonefeltonecouldsoeasilycrushinone'sown "How time flies," she said "It seems only yesterday that you were here How sweetyouweretomewhenIhadinfluenza Howareyou?Youlookverytired." "Iamtired,"hesaid "IhavebeeninSpain AndinItaly AndinAlgiers." "Veryfatiguingcountries,Iunderstand Andwhatisyourbestnews?" Hestoodonthehearth-rug,lookingdownather "BettyDesmond'smarried,"hesaid "Yes," she answered, "to that nice boy Temple, too I saw it in the paper Dreadfulisn'tit?Hereto-dayandgoneto-morrow!" "I'll tell you why she married him," said Vernon, letting himself down into a chair, "if you'd like me to At least I'll tell you why she didn't marry me But perhapsthesubjecthasceasedtointerestyou?" "Notatall,"sheansweredwithextremepoliteness Sohetoldher "Yes,Isupposeitwouldbelikethat Itmusthaveannoyedyouverymuch It's leftmarksonyourface,Eustace Youlooktiredtodeath." "Thatsortofthingdoesleavemarks." "Thatgirltaughtyousomething,Eustace;somethingthat'sstuck." "Itisnotimpossible,Isuppose,"hesaidandthenverycarelessly,asoneleading thetalktolighterthings,headded:"Isupposeyouwouldn'tcaretomarryme?" "Candidly," she answered, calling all her powers of deception to her aid, "candidly,Idon'tthinkIshould." "Iknewit,"saidVernon,smiling;"myhearttoldmeso." "She,"saidLadySt Craye,"was frightenedawayfrom herlife'shappiness,as theycallit,byseeingyouratherneartoapinksilkmodel IsupposeyouthinkI shouldn'tmindsuchthings?" "You forget," said Vernon demurely "Such things never happen after one is married." "No,"shesaid,"ofcoursetheydon't Iforgotthat." "You might as well marry me," he said, and the look of youth had come back suddenly,asit'swaywas,tohisface "Imightverymuchbetternot." Theylookedateachothersteadily Shesawinhiseyesalittleofwhatitwasthat Bettyhadtaughthim Sheneverknewwhathesawinhers,forallinamomenthewaskneelingbeside her;hisarmwasacrossthebackofherchair,hisheadwasonhershoulderand hisfacewaslaidagainstherneck,asthefaceofachild,tiredwithalongplayday,islaidagainsttheneckofitsmother "Ah,benicetome!"hesaid "Iamverytired." 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ChapterXXV The Forest ChapterXXVI The Miracle ChapterXXVII The PinkSilkStory ChapterXXVIII "Andso—" PEOPLEOF THE STORY EustaceVernon The Incomplete Amorist BettyDesmond The Girl The Rev... ChapterVIII The Oneand the Other ChapterIX The Opportunity ChapterX SeeingLife ChapterXI The Thought ChapterXII The Rescue ChapterXIII Contrasts ChapterXIV Renunciation BOOKIII THE OTHERWOMAN
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