The Jolly Corner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 42 pages of information about The Jolly Corner.
had been “treatment,” of the consummate sort, in his every shade and salience.  The revulsion, for our friend, had become, before he knew it, immense—­this drop, in the act of apprehension, to the sense of his adversary’s inscrutable manoeuvre.  That meaning at least, while he gaped, it offered him; for he could but gape at his other self in this other anguish, gape as a proof that he, standing there for the achieved, the enjoyed, the triumphant life, couldn’t be faced in his triumph.  Wasn’t the proof in the splendid covering hands, strong and completely spread?—­so spread and so intentional that, in spite of a special verity that surpassed every other, the fact that one of these hands had lost two fingers, which were reduced to stumps, as if accidentally shot away, the face was effectually guarded and saved.

“Saved,” though, would it be?—­Brydon breathed his wonder till the very impunity of his attitude and the very insistence of his eyes produced, as he felt, a sudden stir which showed the next instant as a deeper portent, while the head raised itself, the betrayal of a braver purpose.  The hands, as he looked, began to move, to open; then, as if deciding in a flash, dropped from the face and left it uncovered and presented.  Horror, with the sight, had leaped into Brydon’s throat, gasping there in a sound he couldn’t utter; for the bared identity was too hideous as his, and his glare was the passion of his protest.  The face, that face, Spencer Brydon’s?—­he searched it still, but looking away from it in dismay and denial, falling straight from his height of sublimity.  It was unknown, inconceivable, awful, disconnected from any possibility!—­He had been “sold,” he inwardly moaned, stalking such game as this:  the presence before him was a presence, the horror within him a horror, but the waste of his nights had been only grotesque and the success of his adventure an irony.  Such an identity fitted his at no point, made its alternative monstrous.  A thousand times yes, as it came upon him nearer now, the face was the face of a stranger.  It came upon him nearer now, quite as one of those expanding fantastic images projected by the magic lantern of childhood; for the stranger, whoever he might be, evil, odious, blatant, vulgar, had advanced as for aggression, and he knew himself give ground.  Then harder pressed still, sick with the force of his shock, and falling back as under the hot breath and the roused passion of a life larger than his own, a rage of personality before which his own collapsed, he felt the whole vision turn to darkness and his very feet give way.  His head went round; he was going; he had gone.

CHAPTER III

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The Jolly Corner from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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