Taken Alive eBook

Edward Payson Roe
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 425 pages of information about Taken Alive.

“The harm has come already, Jack.  I’m hit hard.  She showed me a mirage of happiness that has made my present world a desert.  I am reckless; I’m desperate.  You may think it is weak and unmanly, but you don’t know anything about it.  Time or the fever may cure me, but now I am bankrupt in all that gives value to life.  A woman with an art so consummate that it seemed artless, deliberately evoked the best there was in me, then threw it away as indifferently as a cast-off glove.”

“Tell me how it came about.”

“How can I tell you?  How can I in cold blood recall glances, words, intonations, the pressure of a hand that seemed alive with reciprocal feeling?  In addition to her beauty she had the irresistible charm of fascination.  I was wary at first, but she angled for me with a skill that would have disarmed any man who did not believe in the inherent falseness of woman.  The children in the house idolized her, and I have great faith in a child’s intuitions.”

“Oh, that was only a part of her guile,” said Ackland, frowningly.

“Probably; at any rate she has taken all the color and zest out of my life.  I wish some one could pay her back in her own coin.  I don’t suppose she has a heart; but I wish her vanity might be wounded in a way that would teach her a lesson never to be forgotten.”

“It certainly would be a well-deserved retribution,” said Ackland, musingly.

“Jack, you are the one, of all the world, to administer the punishment.  I don’t believe a woman’s smiles ever quickened your pulse one beat.”

“You are right, Will, it is my cold-bloodedness—­to put your thought in plain English—­that will prove your best ally.”

“I only hope that I am not leading you into danger.  You will need an Indian’s stoicism.”

“Bah!  I may fail ignominiously, and find her vanity invulnerable, but I pledge you my word that I will avenge you if it be within the compass of my skill.  My cousin, Mrs. Alston, may prove a useful ally.  I think you wrote me that the name of this siren was Eva Van Tyne?”

“Yes; I only wish she had the rudiments of a heart, so that she might feel in a faint, far-off way a little of the pain she has inflicted on me.  Don’t let her make you falter or grow remorseful, Jack.  Remember that you have given a pledge to one who may be dead before you can fulfil it.”

Ackland said farewell to his friend with the fear that he might never see him again, and a few days later found himself at a New England seaside resort, with a relentless purpose lurking in his dark eyes.  Mrs. Alston did unconsciously prove a useful ally, for her wealth and elegance gave her unusual prestige in the house, and in joining her party Ackland achieved immediately all the social recognition he desired.

Project Gutenberg
Taken Alive from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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