The Dark Flower eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about The Dark Flower.
He wanted to see more colour in her cheeks, wanted to see her laugh.  He had an invitation to his old regiment’s drag, where the champagne was sure to be good.  And he was so proud of her—­would not have missed those young fellows’ admiration of her for the world; though to take a lady amongst them was, in fact, against the rules.  It was not, then, till the second race was due to start that they made their way into the paddock.  Here the Derby horses were being led solemnly, attended each by a little posse of persons, looking up their legs and down their ribs to see whether they were worthy of support, together with a few who liked to see a whole horse at a time.  Presently they found the animal which had been recommended to the Colonel.  It was a chestnut, with a starred forehead, parading in a far corner.  The Colonel, who really loved a horse, was deep in admiration.  He liked its head and he liked its hocks; above all, he liked its eye.  A fine creature, all sense and fire—­perhaps just a little straight in the shoulder for coming down the hill!  And in the midst of his examination he found himself staring at his niece.  What breeding the child showed, with her delicate arched brows, little ears, and fine, close nostrils; and the way she moved—­so sure and springy.  She was too pretty to suffer!  A shame!  If she hadn’t been so pretty that young fellow wouldn’t have fallen in love with her.  If she weren’t so pretty—­that husband of hers wouldn’t—!  And the Colonel dropped his gaze, startled by the discovery he had stumbled on.  If she hadn’t been so pretty!  Was that the meaning of it all?  The cynicism of his own reflection struck him between wind and water.  And yet something in himself seemed to confirm it somehow.  What then?  Was he to let them tear her in two between them, destroying her, because she was so pretty?  And somehow this discovery of his—­that passion springs from worship of beauty and warmth, of form and colour—­disturbed him horribly, for he had no habit of philosophy.  The thought seemed to him strangely crude, even immoral.  That she should be thus between two ravening desires—­a bird between two hawks, a fruit between two mouths!  It was a way of looking at things that had never before occurred to him.  The idea of a husband clutching at his wife, the idea of that young man who looked so gentle, swooping down on her; and the idea that if she faded, lost her looks, went off, their greed, indeed, any man’s, would die away—­all these horrible ideas hurt him the more for the remarkable suddenness with which they had come to him.  A tragic business!  Dolly had said so.  Queer and quick—­were women!  But his resolution that the day was to be jolly soon recurred to him, and he hastily resumed inspection of his fancy.  Perhaps they ought to have a ten-pound note on it, and they had better get back to the Stand!  And as they went the Colonel saw, standing beneath a tree at a little distance, a young man that he could have
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The Dark Flower from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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