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Once Aboard the Lugger

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236 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Once Aboard The Lugger by Arthur Stuart-Menteth HutchinsonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country beforedownloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom ofthis file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. Youcan also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: Once Aboard The LuggerAuthor: Arthur Stuart-Menteth HutchinsonRelease Date: September, 2004 [EBook #6410] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file wasfirst posted on December 8, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ONCE ABOARD THE LUGGER ***Produced by Skip Doughty, Charles Aldarondo and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.ONCE ABOARD THE LUGGER—THE HISTORY OF GEORGE AND HIS MARYByA. S. M. HUTCHINSONCONTENTS.The Author's Advertisement Of His ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Once Aboard The Lugger by Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the header without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****
Title: Once Aboard The Lugger
Author: Arthur Stuart-Menteth Hutchinson
Release Date: September, 2004 [EBook #6410] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on December 8, 2002] Edition: 10 Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ONCE ABOARD THE LUGGER ***
Produced by Skip Doughty, Charles Aldarondo and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
ONCE ABOARD THE LUGGER—
THEHISTORYOFGEORGEAND HIS MARY
By
A. S. M. HUTCHINSON
CONTENTS.
The Author's Advertisement Of His Novel
BOOK I.
Of George. I. Excursions In A Garden II. Excursions In Melancholy III. Upon Modesty In Art: And Should Be Skipped IV. Excursions In A Hospital V. Upon Life: And May Be Missed VI. Magnificent Arrival Of A Heroine VII. Moving Passages With A Heroine VIII. Astonishing After-Effects Of A Heroine
BOOK II.
Of his Mary.
I. Excursions In The Memory Of A Heroine II. Excursions In Vulgarity III. Excursions In The Mind Of A Heroine IV. Excursions In A Nursery V. Excursions At A Dinner-Table
BOOK III.
Of Glimpses at a Period of this History: Of Love and of War.
I. Notes On The Building Of Bridges II. Excursions Beneath The Bridge III. Excursions In Love IV. Events And Sentiment Mixed In A Letter V. Beefsteak For 14 Palace Gardens VI. A Cab For 14 Palace Gardens
BOOK IV.
In which this History begins to rattle.
I. The Author Meanders Upon The Enduring Hills; And The Reader Will Lose Nothing By Not Accompanying Him II. An Exquisite Balcony Scene; And Something About Sausages III. Alarums And Excursions By Night IV. Mr. Marrapit Takes A Nice Warm Bath V. Miss Porter Swallows A Particularly Large Sweet VI. The Girl Comes Near The Lugger
BOOK V.
Of Mr. Marrapit upon the Rack: Of George in Torment.
I. Prosiness Upon Events: So Uneventful That It Should Be Skipped II. Margaret Fishes; Mary Prays III. Barley Water For Mr. Marrapit IV. The Rape Of The Rose V. Horror At Herons' Holt VI. A Detective At Herons' Holt VII. Terror At Dippleford Admiral VIII. Panic At Dippleford Admiral IX. Disaster At Temple Colney
BOOK VI.
Of Paradise Lost and Found.
I. Mrs. Major Bids For Paradise II. Mrs. Major Finds The Lock III. Mrs. Major Gets The Key IV. George Has A Shot At Paradise V. Of Twin Cats: Of Ananias And Of Sapphira VI. Agony In Meath Street VII. Mr. William Wyvern In Meath Street VIII. Abishag The Shunamite In Meath Street IX. Excursions In A Newspaper Office X. A Perfectly Splendid Chapter
Last Shots from the Bridge
THE AUTHOR'S ADVERTISEMENT OF HIS NOVEL.
This book has its title from that dashing sentiment, "Once aboard the lugger and the girl is mine!" It is not to be read by those who in their novels would have the entertainment of characters that are brilliant or wealthy, noble of birth or admirable of spirit. Such have no place in this history. There is a single canon of novel-writing that we have sedulously kept before us in making this history, and that is the law which instructs the novelist to treat only of the manner of persons with whom he is well acquainted. Hence our characters are commonplace folks. We have the acquaintance of none other than commonplace persons, because none other than commonplace persons will have acquaintance with us.
And there are no problems in this history, nor is the reader to be tickled by any risks taken with nice deportment. This history may be kept upon shelves that are easily accessible. It is true that you will be invited to spend something of a night in a lady's bedroom, but the matter is carried through with circumspection and dispatch. There shall not be a blush.
Now, it is our purpose in this advertisement so clearly to give you the manner of our novel that without further waste of time you may forego the task of reading so little as a single chapter if you consider that manner likely to distress you. Hence something must be said touching the style.
We cannot see (to make a start) that the listener or the reader of a story should alone have the right to fidget as he listens or reads; to come and go at his pleasure; to interrupt at his convenience. Something of these privileges should be shared by the narrator; and in this history we have taken them. You may swing your legs or divert your attention as you read; but we too must be permitted to swing our legs and slide off upon matters that interest us, and that indirectly are relevant to the history. Life is not compounded solely of action. One cannot rush breathless from hour to hour. And, since the novel aims to ape life, the reader, if the aim be true, cannot rush breathless from page to page. We can at least warrant him he will not here.
These are the limitations of our history; and we admit them to be considerable. Upon the other hand, the print is beautifully clear. * * * * * As touching the title we have chosen, this was not come by at the cost of any labour. Taken, as we have told, from that dashing sentiment, "Once aboard the lugger and the girl is mine!" it is a label that might be applied to all novels. It is a generic title for all modern novels, since there is not one of these but in this form or that sets out the pursuit of his mistress by a man or his treatment of her when he has clapped her beneath hatches. This is a notable matter. The novelist writes under the influences and within the limitations of his age, and the modern novelist correctly mirrors modern life when he presents woman as for man's pursuit till he has her, and for what treatment he may will when he captures her. The position is deplorable, is productive of a million wrongs, and, happily, is slowly changing; but that it exists is clear upon the face of our social existence, and is even advertised between the sexes in love: "You are mine" the man says, and means it. "I am yours" the woman declares, and, fruit of generations of dependence, freely, almost involuntarily, gives herself.
But of this problem (upon which we could bore you to distraction) we are nothing concerned in our novel. Truly we offer you the pursuit of a girl; but my Mary would neither comprehend this matter nor wish to be other than her George's. From page 57 she waves to us; let us hurry along.
…. Who so will stake his lot,  Impelled thereto by nescience or whim,  Cupidity or innocence or not,  On Chance's colours, let men pray for him.  RALPH HODGSON.
BOOK I. Of George.
CHAPTER I. Excursions In A Garden.
I.
Mr. Christopher Marrapit is dozing in a chair upon the lawn; his darling cat, the Rose of Sharon, is sleeping on his lap; stiffly beside him sits Mrs. Major, his companion—that masterly woman.
As we approach to be introduced, it is well we should know something of Mr. Marrapit. The nervous business of adventuring into an assembly of strangers is considerably modified by having some knowledge of the first we shall meet. We feel more at home; do not rush upon subjects which are distasteful to that person, or of which he is ignorant; absorb something of the atmosphere of the party during our exchange of pleasantries with him; and, warmed by this feeling, with our most attractive charm of manner are able to push among the remainder of our new friends.
Unhappily, the friendly chatter of the neighbourhood, which should supply us with something of the character of a resident, is quite lacking at Paltley Hill in regard to Mr. Marrapit. Mr. Marrapit rarely moves out beyond the fine wall that encircles Herons' Holt, his residence; with Paltley Hill society rarely mixes. The vicar, with something of a frown, might tell us that to his divers parochial subscription lists Mr. Marrapit has consistently, and churlishly, refused to give a shilling. Professor Wyvern's son, Mr. William Wyvern, has been heard to say that Mr. Marrapit always reminded him "of one of the minor prophets—shaved." Beyond this—and how little helpful it is!—Paltley Hill society can give us nothing.
In a lower social grade of the district, however, much might be learned. In the kitchens, the cottages, and the bar-parlours of Paltley Hill, Mr. Marrapit is considerably discussed. Nicely mannered as we are, servants' gossip concerning one in our own station of life is naturally distasteful to us. At the same time it is essential to our ease on being introduced that we should know something of this gentleman. Assuring ourselves, therefore, that we shall not be prejudiced by cheap chatter, let us hear what the kitchens, the cottages, and the bar-parlours have to say.
Let it, at least, be written down; we shall know how to value such stuff.
Material for this gossip, then, is brought into the kitchens, the cottages, and the bar-parlours by Mr. Marrapit's domestic staff.
Mrs. Armitage, his cook, has given tales of his "grimness" to the cottages where her comfortable presence is welcomed on Sunday and Thursday afternoons. She believes, however, that he must be a "religious gentleman," because (so she says) "he talks like out of the Bible."
This would seem to bear out Mr. William Wyvern's allusion to the minor prophet element of his character.
It is the habit of Clara and Ada, his maids, squeezing at the gate from positions dangerous to modesty into which their ardent young men have thrust them—it is their habit, thus placed, to excuse themselves from indelicate embraces by telling alarming tales of Mr. Marrapit's "carrying on" should they be late. He is a "fair old terror," they say.
The testimony of Mr. Fletcher, his gardener, gloomy over his beer in the bar-parlours, seems to support the "stinginess" that the vicar has determined in Mr. Marrapit's character. Mr. Fletcher, for example, has lugubriously shown what has to be put up with when in the service of a man who had every inch of the grounds searched because a threepenny bit had been dropped. "It's 'ard—damn 'ard," Mr Fletcher said on that occasion. "I'm a gardener, I am; not a treasure-'unter." Murmurs of sympathy chorused endorsement of this view.
Finally there are the words of Frederick, son of Mrs. Armitage, and assistant to Fletcher, whose pleasure it is to set on end the touzled hair of the youth of Paltley Hill by obviously exaggerated stories of Mr. Marrapit's grim rule.
"'E's a tryant," Frederick has said.
Such is an epitome of the kitchen gossip concerning Mr. Marrapit; it is wholesome to be away from such tattling, and personally to approach the lawn whereon its subject sits.
II.
This lawn, a delectable sight on this fine July afternoon, is set about with wire netting to a height of some six feet. By the energies of Mr. Fletcher and Frederick the sward is exquisitely trimmed and rolled; and their labours join with the wire netting to make the lawn a safe and pleasant exercise ground for Mr. Marrapit's cats.
Back in the days of Mr. Marrapit's first occupancy of Herons' Holt, this man was a mighty amateur breeder of cats, and a rare army of cats possessed. Regal cats he had, queenly cats, imperial neuter cats; blue cats, grey cats, orange cats, and white cats—cats for which nothing was too good, upon which too much money could not be spent nor too much love be lavished. Latterly, with tremendous wrenchings of the heart, he had disbanded this galaxy of
cats. Changes in his household were partly the cause of this step. The coming of his nephew, George, had seriously upset the peaceful routine of existence which it was his delight to lead; and a reason even more compelling was the gradual alteration in his attitude towards his hobby. This man perceived that the fancier's eye with which he regarded his darlings was becoming so powerful as to render his lover's eye in danger of being atrophied. The fancier's eye was lit by the brain—delighted only in "points," in perfection of specimen; the lover's eye was fed by the heart— glowed, not with pride over breed, but with affection for cats as cats. And Mr. Marrapit realised that for affection he was coming to substitute pride—that he was outraging the animals he loved by neglecting the less admirable specimens for those perfectly moulded; that even these perfect types he was abusing by his growing craze for breeding; polygamy in cats, he came to believe, desecrated and eventually destroyed their finer feelings.
Therefore—and the coming of his nephew George quickened his determination—Mr. Marrapit dispersed his stud (the word had become abhorrent to him), keeping only four exquisite favourites, of which the Rose of Sharon—that perfect orange cat, listed when shown at the prohibitive figure of 1000 pounds, envy and despair of every cat-lover in Great Britain and America—was apple of his eye, joy of his existence.
It was the resolve to keep but these four exquisite creatures that encompassed the arrival in Mr. Marrapit's household of Mrs. Major, now seated beside him upon the lawn—that masterly woman. The fine cat- house was pulled down, the attendant dismissed. A room upon the ground floor, having a southern aspect, was set apart as bed-chamber and exclusive apartment for the four favourites, and Mr. Marrapit sought about for some excellent person into whose care they might be entrusted. Their feeding, their grooming, constant attention to their wants and the sole care of their chamber, should be this person's duties, and it was not until a point some way distant in this history that Mr. Marrapit ceased daily to congratulate himself upon his selection.
Mrs. Major, that masterly woman, was a distressed gentlewoman. The death of her husband, a warehouse clerk, by acute alcoholic poisoning, seems to have given her her first chance of displaying those strong qualities which ultimately became her chief characteristic. And she was of those to whom plan of action comes instantly upon the arrival of opportunity. With lightning rapidity this woman welded chance and action; with unflagging energy and with dauntless perseverance used the powerful weapon thus contrived.
The case of her husband's death may be instanced. Her hysterical distress on the day of the funeral (a matter that would have considerably surprised the late Mr. Major) was exchanged on the following morning for acute physical distress resulting from the means by which, overnight, she had tried to assuage her grief. Noticing, as she dressed, the subdued and martyrlike air that her face wore, noticing also her landlady's evident sympathy with the gentle voice and manner which her racking head caused her to adopt, Mrs. Major saw at once the valuable aid to her future which the permanent wearing of these characteristics might be. From that moment she took up the role of distressed gentlewoman—advertised by tight-fitting black, by little sighs, and by precise, subdued voice,—and in this guise sought employment at an Agency. The agency sent her to be interviewed by Mr. Marrapit. Ushered into the study, she, in a moment of masterly inspiration, murmured "The sweet! Ah, the sweet!" when viciously scratched by the Rose of Sharon, and upon those words walked directly in to Mr. Marrapit's heart.
He required a lady—alady(Mrs. Major smiled deprecatingly) who should devote herself to his cats. Did Mrs. Major like cats? Ah, sir, she adored cats; her late husband—Words, at the recollection, failed her. She faltered; touched an eye with her handkerchief; wanly smiled with the resigned martyrdom of a true gentlewoman.
As so-often in this life, the unspoken word was more powerful than mightiest eloquence. Mr. Marrapit is not to be blamed for the inference he drew. He pictured the dead Mr. Major a gentleman sharing with his wife a passion for cats; by memory of which fond trait his widow's devotion to the species would be yet further enhanced, would be hallowed.
There is the further thought in this connection that once more, as so often in this life, the unspoken word had saved the lie direct. Once only, in point of fact, had Mrs. Major seen her late husband directly occupied with a cat, and the occasion had been the cause of their vacating their lodgings in Shepherd's Bush precisely thirty minutes later. Mr. Major, under influence of his unfortunate malady, with savage foot had sped the landlady's cat down a flight of stairs; and the landlady had taken the matter in peculiarly harsh spirit.
All this, however, lay deeply hidden beneath Mrs. Major's unspoken word. The vision of a gentle Mr. Major that Mr. Marrapit conjured sealed the liking he had immediately taken to Mrs. Major, and thus was she installed.
The masterly woman, upon this July afternoon, desisted from her crocheting; observed in the dozing figure beside her signs of movement; turned to it, ready for speech.
This she saw. From the reluctant rays of a passing sun a white silk handkerchief protected a nicely polished head—a little bumpy, fringed with soft white hair. Beneath the head a long face, sallow of hue; in either cheek a pit; between them a dominating nose carrying eyeglasses. A long, spare body in an alpaca coat; long thin legs; brown morocco slippers without heels—upon the lap the peerless Rose of Sharon.
"Time for the Rose to go in," Mrs. Major softly suggested.
"The Rose," said Mr. Marrapit, passing a hand gently over the creature's exquisite form, "is, I fear, still ailing. Her sleep is troubled; she shivers. Her appetite?"
"It is still poorly." The expression was that of a true distressed gentlewoman.
"She has need," Mr. Marrapit said, "of the most careful attention, of the most careful dieting. Tend her. Tempt her. Take her."