Desperate Remedies. A Novel - Thomas Hardy - ebook

Desperate Remedies. A Novel ebook

Thomas Hardy

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Opis

Once upon a time there lived in the 19th century a charming young lady from a poor but proud family and a young ambitious gentleman in spirit, but not in origin. And now the boundaries of estates and welfare were ready to be erased under the pressure of the couple’s feelings and understanding of the girl’s parents that it’s not the age of her daughter to attract men and we need to work with what we have. However, the lady turned out to be capricious, fell into a hysteria and forced the family to rush off to hell, as soon as she heard about a marriage proposal from our hero.

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Liczba stron: 703

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Contents

PREFATORY NOTE

I. THE EVENTS OF THIRTY YEARS

II. THE EVENTS OF A FORTNIGHT

III. THE EVENTS OF EIGHT DAYS

IV. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY

V. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY

VI. THE EVENTS OF TWELVE HOURS

VII. THE EVENTS OF EIGHTEEN DAYS

VIII. THE EVENTS OF EIGHTEEN DAYS

IX. THE EVENTS OF TEN WEEKS

X. THE EVENTS OF A DAY AND NIGHT

XI. THE EVENTS OF FIVE DAYS

XII. THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS

XIII. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY

XIV. THE EVENTS OF FIVE WEEKS

XV. THE EVENTS OF THREE WEEKS

XVI. THE EVENTS OF ONE WEEK

XVII. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY

XVIII. THE EVENTS OF THREE DAYS

XIX. THE EVENTS OF A DAY AND NIGHT

XX. THE EVENTS OF THREE HOURS

XXI. THE EVENTS OF EIGHTEEN HOURS

SEQUEL

PREFATORY NOTE

The following story, the first published by the author, was written nineteen years ago, at a time when he was feeling his way to a method. The principles observed in its composition are, no doubt, too exclusively those in which mystery, entanglement, surprise, and moral obliquity are depended on for exciting interest; but some of the scenes, and at least one of the characters, have been deemed not unworthy of a little longer preservation; and as they could hardly be reproduced in a fragmentary form the novel is reissued complete–the more readily that it has for some considerable time been reprinted and widely circulated in America. January 1889.

To the foregoing note I have only to add that, in the present edition of “Desperate Remedies,’ some Wessex towns and other places that are common to the scenes of several of these stories have been called for the first time by the names under which they appear elsewhere, for the satisfaction of any reader who may care for consistency in such matters.

This is the only material change; for, as it happened that certain characteristics which provoked most discussion in my latest story were present in this my first–published in 1871, when there was no French name for them it has seemed best to let them stand unaltered.

T.H. February 1896.

I. THE EVENTS OF THIRTY YEARS

1. DECEMBER AND JANUARY, 1835-36

In the long and intricately inwrought chain of circumstance which renders worthy of record some experiences of Cytherea Graye, Edward Springrove, and others, the first event directly influencing the issue was a Christmas visit.

In the above-mentioned year, 1835, Ambrose Graye, a young architect who had just begun the practice of his profession in the midland town of Hocbridge, to the north of Christminster, went to London to spend the Christmas holidays with a friend who lived in Bloomsbury. They had gone up to Cambridge in the same year, and, after graduating together, Huntway, the friend, had taken orders.

Graye was handsome, frank, and gentle. He had a quality of thought which, exercised on homeliness, was humour; on nature, picturesqueness; on abstractions, poetry. Being, as a rule, broadcast, it was all three.

Of the wickedness of the world he was too forgetful. To discover evil in a new friend is to most people only an additional experience: to him it was ever a surprise.

While in London he became acquainted with a retired officer in the Navy named Bradleigh, who, with his wife and their daughter, lived in a street not far from Russell Square. Though they were in no more than comfortable circumstances, the captain’s wife came of an ancient family whose genealogical tree was interlaced with some of the most illustrious and well-known in the kingdom.

The young lady, their daughter, seemed to Graye by far the most beautiful and queenly being he had ever beheld. She was about nineteen or twenty, and her name was Cytherea. In truth she was not so very unlike country girls of that type of beauty, except in one respect. She was perfect in her manner and bearing, and they were not. A mere distinguishing peculiarity, by catching the eye, is often read as the pervading characteristic, and she appeared to him no less than perfection throughout–transcending her rural rivals in very nature. Graye did a thing the blissfulness of which was only eclipsed by its hazardousness. He loved her at first sight.

His introductions had led him into contact with Cytherea and her parents two or three times on the first week of his arrival in London, and accident and a lover’s contrivance brought them together as frequently the week following. The parents liked young Graye, and having few friends (for their equals in blood were their superiors in position), he was received on very generous terms. His passion for Cytherea grew not only strong, but ineffably exalted: she, without positively encouraging him, tacitly assented to his schemes for being near her. Her father and mother seemed to have lost all confidence in nobility of birth, without money to give effect to its presence, and looked upon the budding consequence of the young people’s reciprocal glances with placidity, if not actual favour.

Graye’s whole impassioned dream terminated in a sad and unaccountable episode. After passing through three weeks of sweet experience, he had arrived at the last stage–a kind of moral Gaza–before plunging into an emotional desert. The second week in January had come round, and it was necessary for the young architect to leave town.

Throughout his acquaintanceship with the lady of his heart there had been this marked peculiarity in her love: she had delighted in his presence as a sweetheart should do, yet from first to last she had repressed all recognition of the true nature of the thread which drew them together, blinding herself to its meaning and only natural tendency, and appearing to dread his announcement of them. The present seemed enough for her without cumulative hope: usually, even if love is in itself an end, it must be regarded as a beginning to be enjoyed.

In spite of evasions as an obstacle, and in consequence of them as a spur, he would put the matter off no longer. It was evening. He took her into a little conservatory on the landing, and there among the evergreens, by the light of a few tiny lamps, infinitely enhancing the freshness and beauty of the leaves, he made the declaration of a love as fresh and beautiful as they.

“My love–my darling, be my wife!’

She seemed like one just awakened. “Ah–we must part now!’ she faltered, in a voice of anguish. “I will write to you.’ She loosened her hand and rushed away.

In a wild fever Graye went home and watched for the next morning. Who shall express his misery and wonder when a note containing these words was put into his hand?

“Good-bye; good-bye for ever. As recognized lovers something divides us eternally. Forgive me–I should have told you before; but your love was sweet! Never mention me.’

That very day, and as it seemed, to put an end to a painful condition of things, daughter and parents left London to pay off a promised visit to a relative in a western county. No message or letter of entreaty could wring from her any explanation. She begged him not to follow her, and the most bewildering point was that her father and mother appeared, from the tone of a letter Graye received from them, as vexed and sad as he at this sudden renunciation. One thing was plain: without admitting her reason as valid, they knew what that reason was, and did not intend to reveal it.

A week from that day Ambrose Graye left his friend Huntway’s house and saw no more of the Love he mourned. From time to time his friend answered any inquiry Graye made by letter respecting her. But very poor food to a lover is intelligence of a mistress filtered through a friend. Huntway could tell nothing definitely. He said he believed there had been some prior flirtation between Cytherea and her cousin, an officer of the line, two or three years before Graye met her, which had suddenly been terminated by the cousin’s departure for India, and the young lady’s travelling on the Continent with her parents the whole of the ensuing summer, on account of delicate health. Eventually Huntway said that circumstances had rendered Graye’s attachment more hopeless still. Cytherea’s mother had unexpectedly inherited a large fortune and estates in the west of England by the rapid fall of some intervening lives. This had caused their removal from the small house in Bloomsbury, and, as it appeared, a renunciation of their old friends in that quarter.

Young Graye concluded that his Cytherea had forgotten him and his love. But he could not forget her.

2. FROM 1843 TO 1861

Eight years later, feeling lonely and depressed–a man without relatives, with many acquaintances but no friends–Ambrose Graye met a young lady of a different kind, fairly endowed with money and good gifts. As to caring very deeply for another woman after the loss of Cytherea, it was an absolute impossibility with him. With all, the beautiful things of the earth become more dear as they elude pursuit; but with some natures utter elusion is the one special event which will make a passing love permanent for ever.

This second young lady and Graye were married. That he did not, first or last, love his wife as he should have done, was known to all; but few knew that his unmanageable heart could never be weaned from useless repining at the loss of its first idol.

His character to some extent deteriorated, as emotional constitutions will under the long sense of disappointment at having missed their imagined destiny. And thus, though naturally of a gentle and pleasant disposition, he grew to be not so tenderly regarded by his acquaintances as it is the lot of some of those persons to be. The winning and sanguine receptivity of his early life developed by degrees a moody nervousness, and when not picturing prospects drawn from baseless hope he was the victim of indescribable depression. The practical issue of such a condition was improvidence, originally almost an unconscious improvidence, for every debt incurred had been mentally paid off with a religious exactness from the treasures of expectation before mentioned. But as years revolved, the same course was continued from the lack of spirit sufficient for shifting out of an old groove when it has been found to lead to disaster.

In the year 1861 his wife died, leaving him a widower with two children. The elder, a son named Owen, now just turned seventeen, was taken from school, and initiated as pupil to the profession of architect in his father’s office. The remaining child was a daughter, and Owen’s junior by a year.

Her christian name was Cytherea, and it is easy to guess why.

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