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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 475 pages of information about The Nether World.

‘Haven’t you given Mr. Kirkwood any supper?’ he asked of Jane, looking at the table.

‘I really forgot all about it, grandfather,’ was the laughing reply.

Then Snowdon laughed, and Sidney joined in the merriment; but he would not be persuaded to stay longer.

CHAPTER XVII

CLEM MAKES A DISCLOSURE

When Miss Peckover suggested to her affianced that their wedding might as well take place at the registry-office, seeing that there would then be no need to go to expense in the article of costume, Mr. Snowdon readily assented; at the same time it gave him new matter for speculation.  Clem was not exactly the kind of girl to relinquish without good reason that public ceremony which is the dearest of all possible ceremonies to women least capable of reverencing its significance.  Every day made it more obvious that the Peckovers desired to keep this marriage a secret until it was accomplished.  In one way only could Joseph James account for the mystery running through the whole affair; it must be that Miss Peckover had indiscretions to conceal, certain points in her history with which she feared lest her bridegroom should be made acquainted by envious neighbours.  The thought had no effect upon Mr. Snowdon save to excite his mirth; his attitude with regard to such possibilities was that of a philosopher.  The views with which he was entering upon this alliance were so beautifully simple that he really did not find it worth while to puzzle further as soon as the plausible solution of his difficulties had presented itself.  Should he hereafter discover that something unforeseen perturbed the smooth flow of life to which he looked forward, nothing could be easier than his remedy; the world is wide, and a cosmopolitan does not attach undue importance to a marriage contracted in one of its somewhat numerous parishes.  In any case he would have found the temporary harbour of refuge which stress of weather had made necessary.  He surrendered himself to the pleasant tickling of his vanity which was an immediate result of the adventure.  For, whatever Clem might be hiding, it seemed to him beyond doubt that she was genuinely attracted by his personal qualities.  Her demonstrations were not extravagant, but in one noteworthy respect she seemed to give evidence of a sensibility so little in keeping with her general character that it was only to be explained as the result of a strong passion.  In conversing with him she at times displayed a singular timidity, a nervousness, a self-subdual surprisingly unlike anything that could be expected from her.  It was true that at other moments her lover caught a gleam in her eyes, a movement of her lips, expressive of anything rather than diffidence, and tending to confirm his view of her as a cunning as well as fierce animal, but the look and tone of subjugation came often enough to make their impression predominant.  One would have said that she suffered from jealous fears which for some reason she did not venture to utter.  Now and then he surprised her gazing at him as if in troubled apprehension, the effect of which upon Mr. Snowdon was perhaps more flattering than any other look.

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