Colonel Quaritch, V.C. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 363 pages of information about Colonel Quaritch, V.C..
her had for a while stayed the corruption of his heart because he grew to love her.  And then he married Belle by foul means, and the woman rose up in his path again, and he learnt that his wife hated him with all the energy of her passionate heart.  Then came degradation after degradation, and the abandonment of principle after principle, replaced only by a fierce craving for respectability and rest, a long, long struggle, which ever ended in new lapses from the right, till at length he saw himself a hardened schemer, remorselessly pursued by a fury from whom there was no escape.  And yet he knew that under other circumstances he might have been a good and happy man—­ leading an honourable life.  But now all hope had gone, that which he was he must be till the end.  He leaned his head upon the stone railing in front of him and wept, wept in the anguish of his soul, praying to heaven for deliverance from the burden of his sins, well knowing that he had none to hope for.

For his chance was gone and his fate fixed.

CHAPTER XVII

THE TIGRESS IN HER DEN

Presently a hansom cab came rattling down the street and pulled up at the door.

“Now for it,” said Mr. Quest to himself as he metaphorically shook himself together.

Next minute he heard a voice, which he knew only too well, a loud high voice say from the cab, “Well, open the door, stupid, can’t you?”

“Certainly, my lady fair,” replied another voice—­a coarse, somewhat husky male voice—­“adored Edithia, in one moment.”

“Come stow that and let me out,” replied the adored Edithia sharply; and in another moment a large man in evening clothes, a horrible vulgar, carnal-looking man with red cheeks and a hanging under-lip, emerged into the lamp-light and turned to hand the lady out.  As he did so the woman Ellen advanced from the doorway, and going to the cab door whispered something to its occupant.

“Hullo, Johnnie,” said the lady, as she descended from the cab, so loudly that Mr. Quest on the balcony could hear every word, “you must be off; Mr. d’Aubigne has turned up, and perhaps he won’t think three good company, so you had just best take this cab back again, my son, and that will save me the trouble of paying it.  Come, cut.”

“D’Aubigne,” growled the flashy man with an oath, “what do I care about d’Aubigne?  Advance, d’Aubigne, and all’s well!  You needn’t be jealous of me, I’m——­”

“Now stop that noise and be off.  He’s a lawyer and he might not freeze on to you; don’t you understand?”

“Well I’m a lawyer too and a pretty sharp one—­arcades ambo,” said Johnnie with a coarse laugh; “and I tell you what it is, Edith, it ain’t good enough to cart a fellow down in this howling wilderness and then send him away without a drink; lend us another fiver at any rate.  It ain’t good enough, I say.”

“Good enough or not you’ll have to go and you don’t get any fivers out of me to-night.  Now pack sharp, or I’ll know the reason why,” and she pointed towards the cab in a fashion that seemed to cow her companion, for without another word he got into it.

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Colonel Quaritch, V.C. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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