Title: The Lady of Big Shanty
Author: Frank Berkeley Smith
Release Date: July 22, 2004 [EBook #12989]
Character set encoding: ASCII
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The Lady of Big Shanty
F. BERKELEY SMITH
TO THE READER
This story, written by a man who has passed many years of his life in the Adirondack woods, strikes a note not often sounded—the power of the primeval over the human mind.
Once abandoned in the wilderness, wholly dependent upon what can be wrested from its clutch to prolong existence, all the ordinary standards and ambitions of life become as naught: for neither love, hatred, revenge, honour, money, jewels, or social success will bring a cup of water, a handful of corn or a coal of fire. Under this torture Nature once more becomes king and man again an atom; his judgment clarified, his heart stripped naked, his soul turned inside out. The untamed, mighty, irresistible primitive is now to be reckoned with, and a lie will no longer serve.
Such is the power of the primeval, and for the unique way in which it has been treated between these covers, the father takes off his hat to the son.
F. Hopkinson Smith.
THE LADY OF BIG SHANTY
It was the luncheon hour, and The Players was crowded with its members; not only actors, but men of every profession, from the tall, robust architect to the quiet surgeon tucked away among the cushions of the corner divan. In the hall—giving sound advice, perhaps, to a newly fledged tragedian—sat some dear, gray-haired old gentleman in white socks who puffed silently at a long cigar, while from out the low-ceiled, black-oak dining room, resplendent in pewter and hazy with tobacco smoke, came intermittent outbursts of laughter. It was the hour when idlers and workers alike throw off the labours of the day for a quiet chat with their fellows.
Only one man in the group was restless. This was a young fellow who kept watch at the window overlooking the Park. That he was greatly worried was evident from the two tense furrows in his brow, and from the way his eyes scanned the street below.
“The devil!” he grumbled. “I wonder if Billy’s missed his train—another Adirondack express late, I suppose.” He flicked the ashes from his cigarette and, wheeling sharply, touched a bell.