The Sea Tower - Hugh Walpole - ebook

The Sea Tower ebook

Hugh Walpole

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Opis

The story – the mother-in-law – the situation of the daughter-in-law, growing hatred, as motherhood possessions find disappointment. The final break looks like anti-climax. In the story, the story is reminiscent of „The Daughter of Mr. Despondency” by Anna Parrish, although Walpole dealt with his material more confidently, with great skill.

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Liczba stron: 398

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Contents

PART I

THE BRIDE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

PART II

THE MOTHER

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

PART I

THE BRIDE

CHAPTER I

THE WIND

Driven by the angry, threatening wind, they found the waiting-room. Christina stopped for a moment at the sight of its bleak ugly unfriendliness.

Joe kissed her.

“Don’t worry, darling. There’s no one to see. And if there were, it wouldn’t matter. After all, we’re married.’

He held her close against him, and she could feel the hard circle of his watch and the strong deep beat of his heart. The wind tore at her skirts.

They sat down on the bench and stared at a poster of a girl in a bright bathing-dress. She was little better than naked and as brown as an Indian. They both stared like children. A sulky little flame struggled to die in a wedge of sodden-looking coal. There was a torn newspaper inside the grate. A train whistled.

“Do you think the luggage will be all right?’

“Of course. I’ve known that porter almost since I was a baby. Cold, darling? Come closer.’

He pressed her to his side. His big hand cupped her breast. He kissed the back of her neck.

“I love you... I love you... I love you.’

She didn’t respond: she sat rigid, staring at the girl in the bathing-dress. She whispered, as though to the girl: “Someone may come in.’

“All right.... Just tell me–I don’t need to know–just tell me....’

She didn’t reply.

“Come on. Tell me....’

“You know. You don’t need telling.’

“No, I don’t–after last night.’ He burst out laughing and jumped to his feet. He began to dance about the waiting-room, making ridiculous steps, humming to himself. He was radiantly happy.

Her serious gaze turned from the poster to her husband. He was over six foot high, black hair, brown face and hands, his mouth large and boyish, his body broad, muscular, everything that the girl in the poster would like.

Christina knew, now that she had been married to him for a week, that his whole body was brown. Her mother said, at the very first, that he was just like an Italian. His family had been, however, English for centuries and centuries: yes, but there had perhaps been foreign blood once. Many ships had been wrecked on that Glebeshire coast. The Fields had lived at Scarlatt in unbroken succession for five hundred years.

Christina thought of these things and then suddenly she smiled: that quick shy smile, sprung in an unexpected moment from her gravity. He looked like a little boy, dancing.

“Got to dance to keep warm. Come and dance too.’

But she wouldn’t do that.

He sat down on the bench beside her again and once more put his arm around her.

She asked: “Do you think they’ll like me?’ (Dozens and dozens of times she had asked this.)

“Of course. Of course. You’re not frightened, are you?’

She spoke rather hurriedly.

“Yes, I am. You know I am. I can’t help being shy. You remember the first time you met me you said how shy I was.’

“No–the second time.’

“Well, the second time. You said “How shy you are!” and I said it was because I’d lived so much alone with father and mother.’

“Not forgetting sister Anne.’

“Oh yes–Anne. I’m glad they’ve got her. They won’t miss me. Sometimes I used to think they didn’t know whether I was there or not.’

“Your father’s a terrible dreamer.’

“Yes, he is, and it’s a good thing, because then he isn’t hurt or sorry about anything.’

He took her hand in his.

“Look here, Chris darling. You’re not to be frightened of anything. I’m there to look after you, aren’t I?’

“Oh, listen! there are the bells!’

Very faintly from behind the blurred dusty windows came the sweet rocking murmur of the Cathedral bells.

“Yes. All my life I’ve heard them.’ His voice was grave now. She was looking at him, as often in the last three months she had looked–seeing him again and again as though for the very first time. “Twenty years ago, when I was tiny, we’d come in with mother when she had to do a day’s shopping. We’d take that slow train–it isn’t altered, you’ll be in it yourself presently–stop at every little station. We knew them every one by heart–St. Luce, Ferney, Little Goswell, Gorton Sands, Perry Mount. Then there’d be the shopping, lunch at the George, and then a toy each from the Market-Place. Mother would give us anything.’ He laughed. “She still would and does!’

“She’s kind, then!’

“Kind–I should say so. Of course she likes to have her own way. We let her think she runs the lot of us. That keeps her happy.’

Christina held his hand more tightly.

“She must have been angry when she’d heard you’d married.’

“I expect she was for a moment. The very last thing any of them expected. I’m not like Congreve, though–I’ve flirted and that sort of thing. Mother must have expected me to marry one day.’

“Oh, I do hope she’ll like me!’

“Like you! She’ll adore you. Everyone will.’

“Congreve is a funny name for a man.’

“Yes–that was father. He used to read a lot in those days when we were babies. Congreve and Wycherley and all sorts of old boys.’

“Doesn’t he read any more now?’

“He thinks he does, but I’m afraid he’s frightfully lazy. Mother and I have spoiled him. I look after the place, and mother looks after the house.’

“And Congreve paints?’

“Yes–awful pictures I think they are.’

“Does he ever sell them?’

“He used to try to. He even had a show in London once. He doesn’t bother any more. As long as there’s a place to sleep and food to eat he’s all right.’

“And then there’s your aunt.’

“Aunt Matty. Yes, she helps mother. And then there’s the Captain.’

“Captain Green?’

“Yes–the Captain. We never call him anything else. As soon as you see him he’ll tell you he’s leaving next week. But he never does. He just hangs around.’

“Everyone seems very lazy.’

“Yes. I suppose they are. I never noticed it till I went up to London. Three months is the longest I’ve ever been away from home.’

None of this was new to her. She had asked about them all again and again. Only now, with every minute they were growing closer. An hour in the little train and they’d all be! She had feared the dentist in just this way as, her hand in her mother’s, her knees faltering, she had advanced up that threatening street, a hot, dry, heart-hammering panic and a relief that at last the long-dreaded climax was upon her!

How foolish though to feel this about Joe’s family, for Joe would be with her, always at her side: and, after all, it would not be for ever! Later, after a month or two, they would have a home of their own! This led her to say:

“If you manage the place and the others are all lazy, what will they do when we go away to live by ourselves?’

He kissed her.

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