Saint's Progress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 367 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
the achievements of many more respectable ladies in her shoes.  At least she never bemoaned her “reduced circumstances,” and if her life was irregular and had at least three episodes, it was very human.  She bravely took the rough with the smooth, never lost the power of enjoying herself, and grew in sympathy with the hardships of others.  But she became deadly tired.  When the war broke out, remembering that she was a good nurse, she took her real name again and a change of occupation.  For one who liked to please men, and to be pleased by them, there was a certain attraction about that life in war-time; and after two years of it she could still appreciate the way her Tommies turned their heads to look at her when she passed their beds.  But in a hard school she had learned perfect self-control; and though the sour and puritanical perceived her attraction, they knew her to be forty-three.  Besides, the soldiers liked her; and there was little trouble in her wards.  The war moved her in simple ways; for she was patriotic in the direct fashion of her class.  Her father had been a sailor, her husbands an official and a soldier; the issue for her was uncomplicated by any abstract meditation.  The Country before everything!  And though she had tended during those two years so many young wrecked bodies, she had taken it as all in the a day’s work, lavishing her sympathy on the individual, without much general sense of pity and waste.  Yes, she had worked really hard, had “done her bit”; but of late she had felt rising within her the old vague craving for “life,” for pleasure, for something more than the mere negative admiration bestowed on her by her “Tommies.”  Those old letters—­to look them through them had been a sure sign of this vague craving—­had sharpened to poignancy the feeling that life was slipping away from her while she was still comely.  She had been long out of England, and so hard-worked since she came back that there were not many threads she could pick up suddenly.  Two letters out of that little budget of the past, with a far cry between them, had awakened within her certain sentimental longings.  “Dear lady of the starry flowers,

“Exiturus (sic) to saluto!  The tender carries you this message of good-bye.  Simply speaking, I hate leaving South Africa.  And of all my memories, the last will live the longest.  Grape harvest at Constantia, and you singing:  ’If I could be the falling dew:  If ever you and your husband come to England, do let me know, that I may try and repay a little the happiest five days I’ve spent out here.

“Your very faithful servant,
Timmy Fort.”

She remembered a very brown face, a tall slim figure, and something gallant about the whole of him.  What was he like after ten years?  Grizzled, married, with a large family?  An odious thing—­Time!  And Cousin Edward’s little yellow letter.

Good heavens!  Twenty-six years ago—­before he was a parson, or married or anything!  Such a good partner, really musical; a queer, dear fellow, devoted, absentminded, easily shocked, yet with flame burning in him somewhere.  ’Dear Leila,

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Saint's Progress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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