A Broken Memory - Fred M. White - ebook

A Broken Memory ebook

Fred M White

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Fred M. White gives us the opportunity to plunge into the past of Gladys Brooke. The book begins with the perfect life of Gladys in a small town. Then we come back three years ago, where we find out that she has a brother. And they, too, then lived well, but in another place. The main character begins to notice the strange behavior of her brother. At one point, a calm and perfect life ends.

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Liczba stron: 236

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER I

The girl with hair the colour of heather honey came out of the cottage into the thin, spring sunshine and paused before a bed of daffodils nodding in the breeze. Behind her, a fitting background for beauty garbed in a cotton sun bonnet, the low house with its ancient thatch tanned to a dull brown by fifty years of storm and sunshine. In front the garden in which Gladys Brooke took such a pride and delight. A typical old world cottage garden in which was set the house which dated back to the days of the Merrie Monarch. Beyond that a sort of broad lane fringed by tall elms which straggled along until it reached the village street. A shop here and there, a public house in black and white, the smithy, and again the church, with the vicarage under its shadow fronting the Georgian residence of the doctor and again the entrance to the squire’s domain.

It was not always that Gladys Brooke had lived in that ideal spot, remote even from the rush and fret of motors and sightseers. Three years before, she had been just the fortunate type of young woman with money to spend and no heed, save for herself and her own recreation. She and her brother, Wilfred, had been left alone in the world with more than sufficient for their wants, which had been modest enough, so far as Gladys was concerned. For she was essentially an open-air girl, keen on sport and quite content to spend a few days in town occasionally, with now and then a dance and dinner. And so it had gone on until the time came when Wilfred, who was three years her junior, began to cause her considerable anxiety.

Wilfred was not an idler, exactly, but headstrong and impatient of advice, going his own way and gradually getting into a fast, monied set, with the inevitable consequences. He had been wise enough to retain his position in a great mercantile house where his father had placed him before he died, but beyond that, he showed little sign of self-reliance and a proper sense of responsibility. It was some time before Gladys found out that Wilfred was spending a great deal more than he could afford in following the fortunes of the turf. She had no idea, until the crash came, how deeply he was involved in that insidious form of gambling, though there were occasions when he had borrowed money from her, which she considered that he had no right to do. With his salary and private income of some three hundred a year and sharing a flat with her in London, he ought to have been happy and comfortable enough and, no doubt, would have been but for his passion for horseflesh.

And then, like a bolt from the blue came the tragedy. Gladys was still thinking of it then, as she stood in the sunshine watching a bed of nodding daffodils and the narcissi that filled the air with fragrance. She could see it all as she stood there–the sullen look on that white, handsome face of Wilfred’s, and the words that came from his lips as he told her of his shame. He had come back from the office early so that she had been surprised to see him in the sitting room of the flat. Wilfred had been dismissed and that in ignominy and disgrace by a kindly employer, who had told him that he had only retained Wilfred’s services so long out of respect for the boy’s dead father. And even he, the head of the firm, would be powerless to prevent a prosecution unless restitution was made.

“How–how much?” Gladys had ventured with pallid lips. It was characteristic of her that she uttered no reproach. “What is it that you have to find?”

“Six thousand pounds,” Wilfred confessed sullenly.

“But your own money?” Gladys asked.

“Gone long ago,” Wilfred said recklessly. “Not a penny of that left. If you only knew what infernal luck I have had you wouldn’t look at me like that. If things had gone well I should have made a fortune, and now I don’t know where to turn.”

“We have got to face this,” Gladys said steadily. “If I understand correctly, you will be prosecuted by the directors unless this sum is forthcoming.”

“That is about what it comes to,” Wilfred confessed. “I have until the end of the week and perhaps you––”

He paused and looked almost imploringly at his sister.

“Go on,” Gladys interrupted with a touch of hardness. “You might just as well say it as leave it to me. I am to find the money to save our name from disgrace and keep you outside of a jail. Very well, I will do it.”

“You always were a brick,” Wilfred murmured.

“Oh, please don’t,” Gladys replied. “I don’t want to do it, but I must, and you see that I must. You came back this afternoon on purpose to ask me to find it. Now, don’t deny it. The money shall be found, and, when it is, I shall have little more than a few hundreds left. That means that I must find some way of getting a living and I dare say I shall manage that because I have always been told that I could turn my talent of painting to advantage. But there is one condition, Wilfred. If I get you out of this mess, you must leave England.”

“Oh, come, I say!” Wilfred protested.

“On no other condition,” Gladys said firmly. “So long us you stay in London and mix with the reckless lot who have helped to ruin you, it will always be the same. I will go round to-morrow morning and see Mr. Trevor. He seems to have behaved very well to you, and, for the sake of our own good name, I am grateful, and perhaps, with his connections all over the world he may be able to find you something to do somewhere. For the moment there is nothing more to be said.”

So Gladys had gone to the head of the great firm in Billiter street and had found in him a kindly and sympathetic friend.

“Do I understand you will find this money?” he asked.

“Every penny of it,” Gladys said. “I dare not go to relatives and I cannot see my brother disgraced.”

“I am afraid this will cripple you,” the great man said.

“It will take practically all I have,” Gladys said quietly. “Not that I mind that, much, because, after all, mine is rather a selfish sort of life. On the whole, I think I should be happier getting my own living.”

“And how do you propose to do that?”

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