Villa Rubein, and other stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 280 pages of information about Villa Rubein, and other stories.
with them to the happy hunting-grounds.  Freda would come—­noble animals are dogs!  She eats once a day—­a good large meal—­and requires much salt.  If you have animals of your own, sir, don’t forget—­all animals require salt.  I have no debts, thank God!  The money in my pockets would bury me decently—­not that there is any danger.  And I am ashamed to weary you with details—­the least a man can do is not to make a fuss—­and yet he must be found ready.—­Sir, with profound gratitude, your servant, “Roger Brune.”

Everything was as he had said.  The photograph on the stove was that of a young girl of nineteen or twenty, dressed in an old-fashioned style, with hair gathered backward in a knot.  The eyes gazed at you with a little frown, the lips were tightly closed; the expression of the face was eager, quick, wilful, and, above all, young.

The tin trunk was scented with dry fragments of some herb, the history of which in that trunk man knoweth not....  There were a few clothes, but very few, all older than those he usually wore.  Besides the Byron and Pilgrim’s Progress were Scott’s Quentin Durward, Captain Marryat’s Midshipman Easy, a pocket Testament, and a long and frightfully stiff book on the art of fortifying towns, much thumbed, and bearing date 1863.  By far the most interesting thing I found, however, was a diary, kept down to the preceding Christmas.  It was a pathetic document, full of calculations of the price of meals; resolutions to be careful over this or that; doubts whether he must not give up smoking; sentences of fear that Freda had not enough to eat.  It appeared that he had tried to live on ninety pounds a year, and send the other hundred pounds home to Lucy for the child; in this struggle he was always failing, having to send less than the amount-the entries showed that this was a nightmare to him.  The last words, written on Christmas Day, were these “What is the use of writing this, since it records nothing but failure!”

The landlady’s daughter and myself were at the funeral.  The same afternoon I went into the concert-room, where I had spoken to him first.  When I came out Freda was lying at the entrance, looking into the faces of every one that passed, and sniffing idly at their heels.  Close by the landlady’s daughter hovered, a biscuit in her hand, and a puzzled, sorry look on her face.

September 1900.

TO

MY BROTHER HUBERT GALSWORTHY

SALVATION OF A FORSYTE

I

Swithin Forsyte lay in bed.  The corners of his mouth under his white moustache drooped towards his double chin.  He panted: 

“My doctor says I’m in a bad way, James.”

His twin-brother placed his hand behind his ear.  “I can’t hear you.  They tell me I ought to take a cure.  There’s always a cure wanted for something.  Emily had a cure.”

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Project Gutenberg
Villa Rubein, and other stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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