The Dark Flower eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Dark Flower.

He was out before eight o’clock, a thin upright figure in hard straw hat and grey flannel clothes, walking with the indescribable loose poise of the soldier Englishman, with that air, different from the French, German, what not, because of shoulders ever asserting, through their drill, the right to put on mufti; with that perfectly quiet and modest air of knowing that, whatever might be said, there was only one way of wearing clothes and moving legs.  And, as he walked, he smoothed his drooping grey moustache, considering how best to take his niece out of herself.  He passed along by the Terrace, and stood for a moment looking down at the sea beyond the pigeon-shooting ground.  Then he moved on round under the Casino into the gardens at the back.  A beautiful spot!  Wonderful care they had taken with the plants!  It made him think a little of Tushawore, where his old friend the Rajah—­precious old rascal!—­had gardens to his palace rather like these.  He paced again to the front.  It was nice and quiet in the early mornings, with the sea down there, and nobody trying to get the better of anybody else.  There were fellows never happy unless they were doing someone in the eye.  He had known men who would ride at the devil himself, make it a point of honour to swindle a friend out of a few pounds!  Odd place this ’Monte’—­sort of a Garden of Eden gone wrong.  And all the real, but quite inarticulate love of Nature, which had supported the Colonel through deserts and jungles, on transports at sea, and in mountain camps, awoke in the sweetness of these gardens.  His dear mother!  He had never forgotten the words with which she had shown him the sunset through the coppice down at old Withes Norton, when he was nine years old:  “That is beauty, Jack!  Do you feel it, darling?” He had not felt it at the time—­not he; a thick-headed, scampering youngster.  Even when he first went to India he had had no eye for a sunset.  The rising generation were different.  That young couple, for instance, under the pepper-tree, sitting there without a word, just looking at the trees.  How long, he wondered, had they been sitting like that?  And suddenly something in the Colonel leaped; his steel-coloured eyes took on their look of out-facing death.  Choking down a cough, he faced about, back to where he had stood above the pigeon-shooting ground. . . .  Olive and that young fellow!  An assignation!  At this time in the morning!  The earth reeled.  His brother’s child—­his favourite niece!  The woman whom he most admired—­the woman for whom his heart was softest.  Leaning over the stone parapet, no longer seeing either the smooth green of the pigeon-shooting ground, or the smooth blue of the sea beyond, he was moved, distressed, bewildered beyond words.  Before breakfast!  That was the devil of it!  Confession, as it were, of everything.  Moreover, he had seen their hands touching on the seat.  The blood rushed up to his face; he had seen, spied out, what was not intended

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The Dark Flower from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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