Monthly Archives: March 2013
Lord Francis Onslow lifted his cap. The action was an instinctive one, for he was face to face with a lady; but he was half dazed with the unexpected meeting, and could not collect his thoughts. He only remembered that when he had last seen his wife she was opening the door of her chamber to De Murger. For weeks he had been schooling himself for such a meeting, for he knew that on his return such might at any time occur; but now, when the moment had come, and unexpectedly, the old pain of his shame overwhelmed him anew. His face grew white-white till it seemed to Fenella that it was of the pallor of death. She knew that she had been so far guilty of what had happened that the murder had been the outcome of her previous acts. She knew also that her husband was ignorant of his part in the deed-and her horror of the man, blood-guilty in such a way, was fined down by the sense of her own partial guilt. The trial, with all its consequent pain to a proud and sensitive woman, had softened her, and she grasped at any hope. The sight of Frank, his gaunt cheeks, which told their tale of suffering, and now the deadly pallor, awoke all the protective feeling which is a part of a woman’s love. It was with her whole soul in her voice that she said again:
“Frank!” His voice was stern as well as sad as he answered her:
“What is it?” Her heart went cold, but she persevered.
“Frank, I must have a word with you-I must. For God’s sake, for Ronny’s sake, do not deny me.” She did not know that as yet Frank Onslow was in ignorance of De Murger’s death; and when his answer came it seemed more hard than even he intended:
“Do you wish to speak of that night?” In a faint voice she answered:
“I do.” Then looking in his eyes and seeing the hard look becoming harder still-for a man is seldom generous with a woman where his honour is concerned, she added:
“O Heaven! Frank! You do not think me guilty! No, no, not you! not you! That would be too cruel!”
Frank Onslow paused and said:
“Fenella, God help me! but I do,” and he turned away his head. His wife, of course, thought that he alluded to the murder, and not to her sin against him as he saw it, and with a low moan she turned away and hid her face in her hands. Then with an effort she drew herself up, and without a word or a single movement to show that she even recognized his presence, she passed on up the street.
Frank Onslow stood for a few moments watching her retreating figure, and then went across the street and turned the next corner on his way to the post-office, for which he had been inquiring when he met his wife. At the door he was stopped by a cheery voice and an outstretched hand:
“Castleton! The two men shook hands warmly.
“I see you did not get my telegram,” said Lord Castleton. “It is waiting for you at the post-office.”
“To tell you that I was on my way here from London. I went in your interest, old fellow. I thought you would like full particulars-the newspapers are so vague.”
“What papers? My interest? Tell me all. I am ignorant of all that has passed for the last six weeks.” A vague, shadowy fear began to creep over his spirits. Castleton’s voice was full of sympathy as he answered:
“Then you have not heard of-but stay. It is a long story. Come back to the yacht. I was just going to join you there. We shall be all alone, and I can tell you all. I have the newspapers here for you.” He motioned to a roll under his arm.
To read the rest of this story visit:
The Fate of Fenella at bramstoker.org
Bis Dat Qui Non Cito Dat.
There was joy in the house of Bubb.
For ten long years had Ephraim and Sophonisba Bubb mourned in vain the loneliness of their life. Unavailingly had they gazed into the emporia of baby-linen, and fixed their searching glances on the basket-makers’ warehouses where the cradles hung in tempting rows. In vain had they prayed, and sighed, and groaned, and wished, and waited, and wept, but never had even a ray of hope been held out by the family physician.
But now at last the wished-for moment had arrived. Month after month had flown by on leaden wings, and the destined days had slowly measured their course. The months had become weeks; the weeks had dwindled down to days; the days had been attenuated to hours; the hours had lapsed into minutes, the minutes had slowly died away, and but seconds remained.
Ephraim Bubb sat cowering on the stairs, and tried with high-strung ears to catch the strain of blissful music from the lips of his first-born. There was silence in the house-silence as of the deadly calm before the cyclone. Ah! Ephra Bubb, little thinkest thou that another moment may for ever destroy the peaceful, happy course of thy life, and open to thy too craving eyes the portals of that wondrous land where Childhood reigns supreme, and where the tyrant infant with the wave of his tiny hand and the imperious treble of his tiny voice sentences his parent to the deadly vault beneath the castle moat. As the thought strikes thee thou becomest pale. How thou tremblest as thou findest thyself upon the brink of the abyss! Wouldst that thou could recall the past!
But hark! the die is cast for good or ill. The long years of praying and hoping have found an end at last. From the chamber within comes a sharp cry, which shortly after is repeated. Ah! Ephraim, that cry is the feeble effort of childish lips as yet unused to the rough, worldly form of speech to frame the word Father. In the glow of thy transport all doubts are forgotten; and when the doctor cometh forth as the harbinger of joy he findeth thee radiant with new found delight.
“My dear sir, allow me to congratulate you-to offer twofold felicitations. Mr. Bubb, sir, you are the father of Twins!”
The twins were the finest children that ever were seen-so at least said the cognoscenti, and the parents were not slow to believe. The nurse’s opinion was in itself a proof.
It was not, ma’am, that they was fine for twins, but they was fine for singles, and she had ought to know, for she had nussed a many in her time, both twins and singles. All they wanted was to have their dear little legs cut off and little wings on their dear little shoulders, for to be put one on each side of a white marble tombstone, cut beautiful, sacred to the relic of Ephraim Bubb, that they might, sir, if so be that missus was to survive the father of two such lovely twins-although she would make bold to say, and no offence intended, that a handsome gentleman, though a trifle or two older than his good lady, though for the matter of that she heerd that gentlemen was never too old at all, and for her own part she liked them the better for it: not like bits of boys that didn’t know their own minds-that a gentleman what was the father of two such ‘eavenly twins (God bless them!) couldn’t be called anything but a boy; though for the matter of that she never knowed in her experience-which it was much-of a boy as had such twins, or any twins at all so much for the matter of that.
The twins were the idols of their parents, and at the same time their pleasure and their pain. Did Zerubbabel cough, Ephraim would start from his balmy slumbers with an agonised cry of consternation, for visions of innumerable twins black in the face from croup haunted his nightly pillow. Did Zacariah rail at aethereal expansion, Sophonisba with pallid hue and dishevelled locks would fly to the cradle of her offspring. Did pins torture or strings afflict, or flannel or flies tickle, or light dazzle, or darkness affright, or hunger or thirst assail the synchronous productions, the household of Bubb would be roused from quiet slumbers or the current of its manifold workings changed.
The twins grew apace; were weaned; teethed; and at length arrived at the stage of three years!
“They grew in beauty side by side,
They filled one home,” etc.
To read the rest of this story visit:
The Dualitists at bramstoker.org
We spoke of it as our New House simply because we thought of it as such and not from any claim to the title, for it was just about as old and as ricketty as a house supposed to be habitable could well be. It was only new to us. Indeed with the exception of the house there was nothing new about us. Neither my wife nor myself was, in any sense of the word, old, and we were still, comparatively speaking, new to each other.
It had been my habit, for the few years I had been in Somerset House, to take my holidays at Littlehampton, partly because I liked the place, and partly – and chiefly, because it was cheap. I used to have lodgings in the house of a widow, Mrs. Compton, in a quiet street off the sea frontage. I had this year, on my summer holiday, met there my fate in the person of Mrs. Compton’s daughter Mary, just home from school. I returned to London engaged. There was no reason why we should wait, for I had few friends and no near relatives living, and Mary had the consent of her mother. I was told that her father, who was a merchant captain, had gone to sea shortly after her birth, but had never been heard of since, and had consequently been long ago reckoned as “with the majority.” I never met any of my new relatives; indeed, there was not the family opportunity afforded by marriage under conventional social conditions. We were married in the early morning at the church at Littlehampton, and, without any formal wedding breakfast, came straight away in the train. As I had to attend to my duties at Somerset House, the preliminaries were all arranged by Mrs. Compton at Littlehampton, and Mary gave the required notice of residency. We were all in a hurry to be off, as we feared missing the train; indeed, whilst Mary was signing the registry I was settling the fees and tipping the verger.
When we began to look about for a house, we settled on one which was vacant in a small street near Sloane Square. There was absolutely nothing to recommend the place except the smallness of the rent – but this was everything to us. The landlord, Mr. Gradder, was the very hardest man I ever came across. He did not even go through the form of civility in his dealing.
“There is the house,” he said, “and you can either take it or leave it. I have painted the outside, and you must paint the inside. Or, if you like it as it is, you can have it so; only you must paint and paper it before you give it up to me again – be it in one year or more.”
I was pretty much of a handy man, and felt equal to doing the work myself; so, having looked over the place carefully, we determined to take it. It was, however, in such a terribly neglected condition that I could not help asking my ironclad lessor as to who had been the former tenant, and what kind of person he had been to have been content with such a dwelling.
His answer was vague. “Who he was I don’t know. I never knew more than his name. He was a regular oddity. Had this house and another of mine near here, and used to live in them both, and all by himself. Think he was afraid of being murdered or robbed. Never knew which he was in. Dead lately. Had to bury him – worse luck. Expenses swallowed up value of all he’d got.”
We signed an agreement to take out a lease, and when, in a few days, I had put in order two rooms and a kitchen, my wife and I moved in. I worked hard every morning before I went to my office, and every evening after I got home, so I got the place in a couple of weeks in a state of comparative order. We had, in fact, arrived so far on our way to perfection that we had seriously begun to consider dispensing with the services of our charwoman and getting a regular servant.
One evening my landlord called on me. It was about nine o’clock, and, as our temporary servant had gone home, I opened the door myself. I was somewhat astonished at recognising my visitor, and not a little alarmed, for he was so brutally simple in dealing with me that I rather dreaded any kind of interview. To my astonishment he began to speak in what he evidently meant for a hearty manner.
“Well, how are you getting on with your touching up?”
“Pretty well,” I answered, “but ‘touching up’ is rather a queer name for it. Why, the place was like an old ash heap. The very walls seemed pulled about.”
“Indeed !” he said quickly.
I went on, “It is getting into something like order, however. There is only one more room to do, and then we shall be all right.”
“Do you know,” he said, “that I have been thinking it is hardly fair that you should have to do all this yourself.”
I must say that I was astonished as well as pleased, and found myself forming a resolution not to condemn ever again anyone for hardness until I had come to know something about his real nature. I felt somewhat guilty as I answered, “You are very kind, Mr. Gradder. I shall let you know what it all costs me, and then you can repay me a part as you think fair.”
“Oh, I don’t mean that at all.” This was said very quickly.
“Then what do you mean,” I asked.
“That I should do some of it in my own way, at my own cost.”
To read the rest of this story visit:
Our New House at bramstoker.org
Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving was Bram Stoker’s third book of nonfiction. The book is a biography of the English stage actor Henry Irving (February 6, 1838 – October 13, 1905). It was first published in 1906 in the UK as a two volume set.
To read this book visit:
Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving at bramstoker.org