The Damned eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 118 pages of information about The Damned.

We were left delightfully to ourselves in this pretentious country mansion with the soul of a villa.  Frances took up her painting again, and, the weather being propitious, spent hours out of doors, sketching flowers, trees and nooks of woodland, garden, even the house itself where bits of it peered suggestively across the orchards.  Mrs. Franklyn seemed always busy about something or other, and never interfered with us except to propose motoring, tea in another part of the lawn, and so forth.  She flitted everywhere, preoccupied, yet apparently doing nothing.  The house engulfed her rather.  No visitor called.  For one thing, she was not supposed to be back from abroad yet; and for another, I think, the neighborhood—­her husband’s neighborhood—­was puzzled by her sudden cessation from good works.  Brigades and temperance societies did not ask to hold their meetings in the big hall, and the vicar arranged the school-treats in another’s field without explanation.  The full-length portrait in the dining room, and the presence of the housekeeper with the “burnt” back hair, indeed, were the only reminders of the man who once had lived here.  Mrs. Marsh retained her place in silence, well-paid sinecure as it doubtless was, yet with no hint of that suppressed disapproval one might have expected from her.  Indeed there was nothing positive to disapprove, since nothing “worldly” entered grounds or building.  In her master’s lifetime she had been another “brand snatched from the burning,” and it had then been her custom to give vociferous “testimony” at the revival meetings where he adorned the platform and led in streams of prayer.  I saw her sometimes on the stairs, hovering, wandering, half-watching and half-listening, and the idea came to me once that this woman somehow formed a link with the departed influence of her bigoted employer.  She, alone among us, belonged to the house, and looked at home there.  When I saw her talking —­oh, with such correct and respectful mien—­to Mrs. Franklyn, I had the feeling that for all her unaggressive attitude, she yet exerted some influence that sought to make her mistress stay in the building forever —­live there.  She would prevent her escape, prevent “getting it straight again,” thwart somehow her will to freedom, if she could.  The idea in me was of the most fleeting kind.  But another time, when I came down late at night to get a book from the library antechamber, and found her sitting in the hall—­alone—­the impression left upon me was the reverse of fleeting.  I can never forget the vivid, disagreeable effect it produced upon me.  What was she doing there at half-past eleven at night, all alone in the darkness?  She was sitting upright, stiff, in a big chair below the clock.  It gave me a turn.  It was so incongruous and odd.  She rose quietly as I turned the corner of the stairs, and asked me respectfully, her eyes cast down as usual, whether I had finished with the library, so that she might lock up.  There was no more to it than that; but the picture stayed with me—­unpleasantly.

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The Damned from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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