Linnet. A Romance - Grant Allen - ebook
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Originally published in 1900, „Linnet. A Romance” is a classic romance novel by noted author Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen. Two young English tourists come to a little mountain village Tyrol where they find the Tyrolese in all their native simplicity; the young men, with the pride and aspirations of the hunter, who dance wildly and make love fiercely, and the maidens of easy virtue who tend their cows in the summer and serve a master in the village through the long winter. One of these is Linnet, the heroine, an innocent, modest girl among her bold associates, who possesses a marvelous voice. Both tourists are charmed with the lovely singer, but while one is selfish and conceited and pays her meaningless compliments, the other, who is quiet and undemonstrative really wins her love. The love story is told with much charm and grace, and when the scene changes to London the contrast in character and national traits between that city and the land of the Tyrol is strikingly shown.

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Liczba stron: 707

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Contents

CHAPTER I. “TO INTRODUCE MR FLORIAN WOOD”

CHAPTER II. A FRESH ACQUAINTANCE

CHAPTER III. ITHIN SIGHT OF A HEROINE

CHAPTER IV. ENTER LINNET

CHAPTER V. THE WIRTH’S THEORY

CHAPTER VI. THE ROBBLER

CHAPTER VII. WAGER OF BATTLE

CHAPTER VIII. THE HUMAN HEART

CHAPTER IX. THE MAN OF THE WORLD

CHAPTER X. HAIL, COLUMBIA!

CHAPTER XI. PRIVATE INQUIRY

CHAPTER XII. THE MADDING CROWD

CHAPTER XIII. A FIRST NIGHT

CHAPTER XIV. AND IF FOR EVER

CHAPTER XV. A CRITICAL EVENING

CHAPTER XVI. SCHLOSS TYROL

CHAPTER XVII. CAUGHT OUT

CHAPTER XVIII. TAKEN BY SURPRISE

CHAPTER XIX. SPIRITUAL WEAPONS

CHAPTER XX. FLORIAN ON MATRIMONY

CHAPTER XXI. FORTUNE’S WHEEL

CHAPTER XXII. A WOMAN’S STRATAGEM

CHAPTER XXIII. A PROPHET INDEED!

CHAPTER XXIV. THE ART OF PROPHESYING

CHAPTER XXV. A DRAMATIC VENTURE

CHAPTER XXVI. A WOMAN’S HEART

CHAPTER XXVII. AULD LANG SYNE

CHAPTER XXVIII. SIGNORA CASALMONTE

CHAPTER XXIX. FROM LINNET’S STANDPOINT

CHAPTER XXX. AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR

CHAPTER XXXI. WHEN GREEK MEETS GREEK

CHAPTER XXXII. WEDDED FELICITY

CHAPTER XXXIII. PLAYING WITH FIRE

CHAPTER XXXIV. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

CHAPTER XXXV. GOLDEN HOPES

CHAPTER XXXVI. AN ECCLESIASTICAL QUESTION

CHAPTER XXXVII. BEGINNINGS OF EVIL

CHAPTER XXXVIII. HUSBAND OR LOVER?

CHAPTER XXXIX. DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

CHAPTER XL. OPEN WAR

CHAPTER XLI. GOD’S LAW⁠—⁠OR MAN’S?

CHAPTER XLII. PRUDENCE

CHAPTER XLIII. LINNET’S RIVAL

CHAPTER XLIV. AND WILL’S

CHAPTER XLV. BY AUTHORITY

CHAPTER XLVI. HOME AGAIN!

CHAPTER XLVII. SEEMINGLY UNCONNECTED

CHAPTER XLVIII. THE BUBBLE BURSTS

CHAPTER XLIX. THE PIGEON FLIES HOME

CHAPTER L. ANDREAS HAUSBERGER PAYS

CHAPTER LI. EXIT FRANZ LINDNER

CHAPTER LII. A CONFESSION OF FAITH

CHAPTER I

“TO INTRODUCE MR FLORIAN WOOD”

’Twas at Zell in the Zillerthal.

Now, whoever knows the Alps, knows the Zillerthal well as the centre of all that is most Tyrolese in the Tyrol. From that beautiful green valley, softly smiling below, majestically grand and ice-clad in its upper forks and branches, issue forth from time to time all the itinerant zither-players and picturesquely-clad singers who pervade every capital and every spa in Europe. Born and bred among the rich lawns of their upland villages, they come down in due time, with a feather in their hats and a jodel in their throats, true modern troubadours, setting out on the untried ocean of the outer world⁠–⁠their voice for their fortune⁠–in search of wealth and adventures. Guitar on back and green braces on shoulders, they start blithely from home with a few copper kreuzers in their leather belts, and return again after a year or two, changed men to behold, their pockets full to bursting with dollars or louis or good English sovereigns.

Not that you must expect to see the Tyrolese peasant of sober reality masquerading about in that extremely operatic and brigand-like costume in the upper Zillerthal. The Alpine minstrel in the sugar-loaf hat, much-gartered as to the legs, and clad in a Joseph’s coat of many colours, with whom we are all so familiar in cosmopolitan concert-halls, has donned his romantic polychromatic costume as an integral part of the business, and would be regarded with surprise, not unmixed with contempt, were he to appear in it among the pastures of his native valley. The ladies in corset-bodices and loose white lawn sleeves, who trill out startling notes from the back attics of their larynx, or elicit sweet harmonies from mediæval-looking mandolines in Kursaals and Alcazars, have purchased their Tyrolese dress direct from some Parisian costumier. The real cowherds and milkmaids of the actual Zillerthal are much more prosaic, not to say commonplace, creatures. A green string for a hat-band, with a blackcock’s plume stuck jauntily or saucily at the back of the hat, and a dirty red lappel to the threadbare coat, is all that distinguishes the Tyrolese mountaineer of solid fact from the universal peasant of European Christendom. Indeed, is it not true, after all, that the stage has led us to expect far too much⁠–in costume and otherwise⁠–from the tillers of the soil everywhere? Is it not true that the agricultural and pastoral classes all the world over, in spite of Theocritus and Thomas Hardy, are apt, when one observes them impartially in the flesh, to be earthy, grimy, dull-eyed, and unintelligent?

Florian Wood didn’t think so, however, or affected not to think so⁠–which in his case was probably very much the same thing; for what he really thought about anything on earth, affectation aside, it would have puzzled even himself not a little to determine. He was a tiny man of elegant proportions: so tiny, so elegant, that one felt inclined to put him under a glass case and stick him on a mantelpiece. He leant his small arms upon the parapet of a wall as they were approaching Zell, shifted the knapsack on his back with sylph-like grace, and murmured ecstatically, with a side glance at the stalwart peasant-women carrying basketfuls of fodder in huge creels on their backs in the field close by, “How delicious! How charming! How essentially picturesque! How characteristically Tyrolean!”

His companion scanned him up and down with an air of some passing amusement. “Why, I didn’t know you’d ever been in the Tyrol before,” he objected, bluntly. And, in point of fact, when they started together from Munich that morning on their autumn tour, Florian Wood had never yet crossed the Austrian frontier. But what of that? He had got out of the train some five hours back at Jenbach station, and walked the sixteen miles from there to Zell; and in the course of the tramp he had matured his views on the characteristics of the Tyrol.

But he waved one lily-white hand over the earth none the less with airy dismissal of his friend’s implied criticism. “How often shall I have to tell you, my dear Deverill,” he said blandly, in his lofty didactic tone⁠–the tone which, as often happens with very small men, came most familiarly of all to him⁠–“that you unduly subordinate the ideal to the real, where you ought rather to subordinate the real to the ideal. This, you say, is the Tyrol⁠–the solid, uncompromising, geographically definite Tyrol of the tax-gatherer, the post-master, and the commercial traveller⁠–⁠bounded on the north by Bavaria, on the south by Italy, on the east by the rude Carinthian boor, and on the west by the collection of hotels and pensions marked down on the map as the Swiss Republic. Very well then; let me see if there’s anything Tyrolese at all to be found in it. I have instinctive within me a picture of the true, the ideal Tyrol. I know well its green pastures, its upland slopes, its innocent peasantry, its fearless chamois-hunters, its beautiful, guileless, fair-haired maidens. Arriving by rail to-day in this its prosaic prototype⁠–⁠cast up, as it were, from the train on the sea-coast of this Bohemia⁠–⁠I turn my eyes with interest upon the imitation Tyrol of real life, and strive earnestly to discover some faint points of resemblance, if such there be, with the genuine article as immediately revealed to me.”

“And you find none?” Deverill put in, smiling.

Florian waved that dainty Dresden china hand expansively once more over the landscape before him, as if it belonged to him. “Pardon me,” he said, sententiously; “in many things, I admit, the reality might be improved upon. The mountains, for example, should be higher, their forms more varied, their peaks more jagged, their sides more precipitous; the snow should drape them with more uniform white, regardless of the petty restrictions of gravity; the river should tear down far rockier ravines, in more visible cataracts. But Nature has sometimes her happy moments, too. And I call this one of them! Those women, now, so Millet-like in their patient toil⁠–⁠how sympathetic! how charming! A less primitive society, a less idyllic folk, would have imposed such burdens upon a horse or a donkey. The Tyrol knows better. It is more naïve, more picturesque⁠–⁠in one word, more original. It imposes them on the willing neck of beautiful woman!”

“It’s terribly hard work for them,” Deverill answered, observing them with half a sigh.

“For them? Ah, yes, I admit it, of course, poor souls!⁠–⁠but for me, my dear fellow⁠–⁠for me, just consider! It gives me a thrill of the intensest sensibility. In the first place, the picture is a beautiful one in itself⁠–⁠the figures, the baskets, the frame, the setting. In the second place, it suggests to the observant mind an Arcadian life, a true Dorian simplicity. In the third place⁠–⁠which is perhaps the most important of all⁠–⁠it affords me an opportunity for the luxury of sympathy. What is the trifling inconvenience of a heavy load on their backs to these poor ignorant creatures, compared with the refined and artistic pleasure⁠–⁠of an altruistic kind⁠–⁠which I derive from pitying them?”

“Florian!” his friend said, surveying him comically from head to foot, “you really are impayable. It’s no use arguing with you; it only flatters you. You know very well in your heart you never mean a word of anything you say; so stop your nonsense and put yourself in marching order again. Let’s get on to Zell, and see what sort of quarters we can find in the village.”

Florian Wood came down at once from his epicurean clouds, and strode out with his little legs in the direction of their resting-place. In spite of his tininess, he was a capital walker. If Nature, as he averred, has sometimes her happy moments, she certainly had one when she created her critic. Florian Wood was a young man of a delicate habit of mind and body⁠–⁠a just and pleasing compromise between a philosopher and a butterfly. His figure was small but extremely graceful; his limbs were dainty but well-knit and gazelle-like; his face, though small-featured, was very intelligent, and distinctly good-humoured; his voice was melodious and exquisitely modulated. And what Nature had left undone, his godfathers and godmothers did for him at his baptism when they christened him Florian. As plain John Wood, to be sure, he would have been nobody at all; as William or Thomas or Henry or George, he would have been lost in the multitudinous deep sea of London. But his parents had the glorious inspiration of dubbing him Florian, and it acted like a charm: all went well in life with him. A baronetcy would have been a far less valuable social passport⁠–⁠for there are many baronets, but only one Florian. Before the romantic rarity of that unique Christian name, the need for a surname paled and faded away into utter nothingness. Nobody ever dreamt of calling him “Wood”: they spoke of Florian as they once spoke of “Randolph.” On this somewhat illogical but very natural ground, he became from his schooldays upward the spoiled child of society. He was a toy⁠–⁠a plaything. Clubs hung on his clear voice; women petted and made much of him. When you talk of a man always by his Christian name alone, depend upon it, he becomes in the end as one of the family: mere association of ideas begets in you at last a friendly⁠–⁠nay, almost a fraternal feeling towards him.

They walked along briskly in the direction of Zell, Florian humming as he went a few stray snatches of Tyrolese songs (or what pass in the world for such), by way of putting himself in emotional harmony with the environment. For Florian was modern, intensely modern. He played with science as he played with everything else; and he could talk of the environment by the hour with the best of them, in his airy style, as if environments and he had been lifelong companions. But Zell itself, when they got to it, failed somehow to come up to either of their expectations. Florian would have made the valley narrower, or transplanted the village three hundred feet higher up the slope of the hill. As for Will Deverill, less critical of Nature’s handicraft, he found the inns over-civilised; the Post and the Bräu were too fine for his taste: they had come thus far in search of solitude and Alpine wilds, and they lighted instead on a sort of miniature Grindelwald, with half-a-dozen inns, a respectable café, experienced (or in other words extortionate) guides, and a regular tourist-trap for the sale of chamois-horns and carved models of châlets. “This will never do!” Will Deverill exclaimed, gazing round him in disgust at the Greiderer Hotel and the comfortable Welschwirth. “This is pure civilisation!”

And Florian, looking down instinctively at his dust-encumbered boots, murmured with a faint sigh, “A perfect Bond Street!” For Florian loved to do everything “consummately,”⁠–⁠’twas his own pet adverb; he aimed at universality, but he aimed quite as much at perfection in detail of the most Pharisaical description. In Piccadilly, he went clad in a faultless miniature frock-coat, surmounted by the silken sheen of Lincoln and Bennet’s glossiest; but if he made up his mind to Alps and snow-fields, then Alps he would have, pure, simple, and unadulterated. No half-way houses for him! He would commune at first hand with the eternal hills; he would behold the free life of the mountain folk in all its unsophisticated and primitive simplicity.

So he gazed at his Tom Thumb boots with a regretful eye, and murmured pensively once more, “A perfect Bond Street!”

“What shall we do now?” Will Deverill asked, stopping short and glancing ahead towards the glaciers that close the valley.

“See that village on the left there,” Florian answered, in a rapt tone of sudden inspiration, seizing his arm theatrically; “⁠–⁠no, not the lower one on the edge of the level, but that high-perched group of little wooden houses with the green steeple by the edge of the ravine: what a magnificent view of the snow-fields to the south! From there, one must look at a single glance over all the spreading fingers and ramifications of the valley.”

“Perhaps there’s no inn there,” Will responded, dubiously.

“No inn! You prate to me of inns?” Florian exclaimed, striking an attitude. “In full view of these virgin peaks, you venture to raise a question of mere earthly bedrooms⁠–⁠landlord, waiter, chambermaid! Who cares where he sleeps⁠–⁠or whether he sleeps at all⁠–⁠in such a village as that?” He struck his stick on the ground hard to enforce and emphasise the absoluteness of his determination. “The die is cast,” he cried, with the Caesaric firmness of five-feet-nothing. “We cross the stream at once, and we make for the village!”

“Well, there’s probably somewhere we can put up for the night and reconnoitre the neighbourhood,” Will Deverill answered, as he followed his friend’s lead. “If the worst comes to the worst, we can fall back upon Zell; but the priest will most likely find us a lodging.”

No sooner said than done. They mounted the steep slope, and rose by gentle zig-zags towards the upland hamlet. At each step they took, the view over the glacier-bound peaks that close the glen to southward, opened wider and wider. Near an Alpine farmhouse they paused for breath. It was built of brown wood, toned and darkened by age, with projecting eaves and basking southern front, where endless cobs of Indian corn in treble tiers and rows hung out drying in the sunshine. Florian drank in the pretty picture with the intense enjoyment of youth and health and a rich sensuous nature. There was a human element, too, giving life to the foreground. Three Tyrolese children, a boy and two girls, in costumes more obtrusively national than they had yet observed, stood playing with one another on the platform in front of the farmhouse. Florian beamed on them, enchanted. “What innocence!” he cried, ecstatically. “What untrammelled forms! What freedom of limb! What Hellenic suppleness! How different from the cramped motions of our London-bred children! You can see in a moment those vigorous young muscles have strengthened themselves from the cradle in the bracing air of the mountains⁠–⁠so fresh they are, so lithe, so gracious, so lissom! I recognise there at once the true note of the Tyrol.”

As he spoke, the younger girl, playing roughly with the boy, gave him a violent push which nearly sent him over into a neighbouring puddle. At that, the elder sister clutched her hard by the wrist and gave her a good shaking, observing at the same time in very familiar accents:

“Naow then, Mariar-Ann, if you do like that to ‘Arry agin, I’ll tike you stright in, an’ tell your mother.”

It was the genuine unmistakable Cockney dialect!

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