A Dark Night's Work eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 246 pages of information about A Dark Night's Work.
was a brilliant talker, a man to be listened to and admired even by wandering London statesmen, professional diners-out, or any great authors who might find themselves visitors in a —–­shire country-house.  What she would have had him share from the pride of her heart, she should have warned him to avoid from the temptations to sinful extravagance which it led him into.  He had begun to spend more than he ought, not in intellectual—­though that would have been wrong—­but in purely sensual things.  His wines, his table, should be such as no squire’s purse or palate could command.  His dinner-parties—­small in number, the viands rare and delicate in quality, and sent up to table by an Italian cook—­should be such as even the London stars should notice with admiration.  He would have Lettice dressed in the richest materials, the most delicate lace; jewellery, he said, was beyond their means; glancing with proud humility at the diamonds of the elder ladies, and the alloyed gold of the younger.  But he managed to spend as much on his wife’s lace as would have bought many a set of inferior jewellery.  Lettice well became it all.  If as people said, her father had been nothing but a French adventurer, she bore traces of her nature in her grace, her delicacy, her fascinating and elegant ways of doing all things.  She was made for society; and yet she hated it.  And one day she went out of it altogether and for evermore.  She had been well in the morning when Edward went down to his office in Hamley.  At noon he was sent for by hurried trembling messengers.  When he got home breathless and uncomprehending, she was past speech.  One glance from her lovely loving black eyes showed that she recognised him with the passionate yearning that had been one of the characteristics of her love through life.  There was no word passed between them.  He could not speak, any more than could she.  He knelt down by her.  She was dying; she was dead; and he knelt on immovable.  They brought him his eldest child, Ellinor, in utter despair what to do in order to rouse him.  They had no thought as to the effect on her, hitherto shut up in the nursery during this busy day of confusion and alarm.  The child had no idea of death, and her father, kneeling and tearless, was far less an object of surprise or interest to her than her mother, lying still and white, and not turning her head to smile at her darling.

“Mamma! mamma!” cried the child, in shapeless terror.  But the mother never stirred; and the father hid his face yet deeper in the bedclothes, to stifle a cry as if a sharp knife had pierced his heart.  The child forced her impetuous way from her attendants, and rushed to the bed.  Undeterred by deadly cold or stony immobility, she kissed the lips and stroked the glossy raven hair, murmuring sweet words of wild love, such as had passed between the mother and child often and often when no witnesses were by; and altogether seemed so nearly beside herself

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A Dark Night's Work from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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