Jeanne of the Marshes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 296 pages of information about Jeanne of the Marshes.
custodian of the child of the great banker whom she had married late in life.  She endured calmly the threats, the entreaties, the bribes, of Jeanne’s own relations.  Jeanne, she was determined, should enter life under her wing, and hers only.  In the end she had her way.  Jeanne was entering life now, not through the respectable but somewhat bourgeois avenue by which her great monied relatives would have led her, but under the auspices of her stepmother, whose position as chaperon to a great heiress had already thrown open a great many doors which would have been permanently closed to her in any other guise.  The Princess herself was always consistent.  She assumed to herself an arrogant right to do as she pleased and live as she pleased.  She was of the House of Strurm, which had been noble for centuries, and had connections with royalty.  That was enough.  A few forgot her past and admitted her claim.  Those who did not she ignored....

Then there was Lord Ronald Engleton, an orphan brought up in Paris, a would-be decadent, a dabbler in all modern iniquities, redeemed from folly only by a certain not altogether wholesome cleverness, yet with a disposition which sometimes gained for him friends in most unlikely quarters.  He had excellent qualities, which he did his best to conceal; impulses which he was continually stifling.

By his side sat Forrest, the Sphynx, more than middle-aged, a man who had wandered all over the world, who had tried many things without ever achieving prosperity, and who was searching always, with tired eyes, for some new method of clothing and feeding himself upon an income of less than nothing a year.  He had met the Princess at Marienbad years ago, and silently took his place in her suite.  Why, no one seemed to know, not even at first the Princess herself, who thought him chic, and adored what she could not understand.  Curious flotsam and jetsam, these four, of society which had something of a Continental flavour; personages, every one of them, with claim to recognition, but without any noticeable hall-mark....

There remained the girl, Jeanne herself, half behind the curtain now, her head thrust forward, her beautiful eyes contracted with the effort to penetrate that veil of darkness.  One gift at least she seemed to have borrowed from the woman who gambled with life as easily and readily as with the cards which fell from her jewelled fingers.  In her face, although it was still the face of a child, there was the same inscrutable expression, the same calm languor of one who takes and receives what life offers with the indifference of the cynic, or the imperturbability of the philosopher.  There was little of the joy or the anticipation of youth there, and yet, behind the eyes, as they looked out into the darkness, there was something—­some such effort, perhaps, as one seeking to penetrate the darkness of life must needs show.  And as she looked, the white, living breakers gradually resolved them-selves out of the dark, thin filmy phosphorescence, and the roar of the lashed sea broke like thunder upon the pebbled beach.  She leaned a little more forward, carried away with her fancy—­that the shrill grinding of the pebbles was indeed the scream of human voices in pain!

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Jeanne of the Marshes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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