To Win the Love He Sought - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

To Win the Love He Sought ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

This third novel by Oppenheim was published in 1895. It was originally published under the title „A Daughter of the Marionis” and was reprinted several times. The story of a vendetta, makes a capital plot for the novelist who takes characters from Southern life for his story, and in Margharita, „a daughter of the Marionis,” we have a not impossible character. She does not appear till late in the story, but takes up the vendetta of her uncle with a will. Marionis himself is a fine figure, and the scene when, having been let out of prison an old man, he seeks to resume his scheme of vengeance, and visits the degenerate committee of the „White Hyacinth Society” is full of stern pathos. The struggle Margharita has between love and hatred is also well described, and the interest in the story is never allowed to flag, and it continues absorbing to the end.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 388

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

I. THE MEETING

II. "SHE IS A SINGER"

III. "BETTER THOU WERT DEAD BEFORE ME"

IV. "DOWN INTO HELL TO WIN THE LOVE HE SOUGHT"

V. TREACHERY

VI. "THE BITTER SPRINGS OF ANGER AND FEAR"

VII. COMFORT! COMFORT SCORNED OF DEVILS

VIII. "DEATH IN THE FACE, AND MURDER IN THE HEART"

IX. "AH! WHY SHOULD LOVE..."

X. A MARIONI'S OATH

XI. A MEETING OF THE ORDER

XII. "A FIGURE FROM A WORLD GONE BY"

XIII. BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH

XIV. AN EVERLASTING HATE

XV. THE COUNT'S SECOND VISITOR

XVI. A NEW MEMBER FOR THE ORDER

XVII. THE RETURN TO REASON

XVIII. "I HAVE A FEAR—A FOOLISH FEAR"

XIX. THE NEW GOVERNESS

XX. LORD LUMLEY AND MARGHARITA

XXI. A LAND THAT IS LONELIER THAN RUIN

XXII. LORD LUMLEY'S CONFESSION

XXIII. MARGHARITA'S DIARY—A CORRESPONDENCE

XXIV. "WHITE HYACINTHS"

XXV. AMONG THE PINE TREES

XXVI. STORMS

XXVII. A LIFE IN THE BALANCE

XXVIII. ONE DAY'S RESPITE

XXIX. THERE IS DEATH BEFORE US

XXX. THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE

XXXI. AN OLD MAN'S HATE

XXXII. THE KEEPING OF THE OATH

THE GREAT AWAKENING

I. THE MEETING

The soft mantle of a southern twilight had fallen upon land and sea, and the heart of the Palermitans was glad. Out they trooped into the scented darkness, strolling along the promenade in little groups, listening to the band, drinking in the cool night breeze from the sea, singling out friends, laughing, talking, flirting, and passing on. A long line of carriages was drawn up along the Marina, and many of the old Sicilian aristocracy were mingling with the crowd.

Palermo is like a night blossom which opens only with the first breath of evening. By day, it is parched and sleepy and stupid; by night, it is alive and joyous–the place itself becomes an al fresco paradise. It is night which draws the sweetness from the flowers. The air is heavy with the faint perfume of hyacinths and wild violets, and a breeze stirring among the orange groves wafts a delicious aromatic odor across the bay. Long rays of light from the little semi-circle of white-fronted villas flash across the slumbering waters of the harbor. Out of door restaurants are crowded; all is light and life and bustle; every one is glad to have seen the last of the broiling sun; every one is happy and light-hearted. The inborn gaiety of the south asserts itself. Women in graceful toilettes pass backward and forward along the broad parade, making the air sweeter still with the perfume of their floating draperies, and the light revelry of their musical laughter.

‘Tis a motley throng, and there is no respecting of persons. Townspeople, a sprinkling of the old nobility, and a few curious visitors follow in each other’s footsteps. By day, those who can, sleep; by night, they awake and don their daintiest clothing, and Palermo is gay.

The terrace of the Hotel de l’Europe extends to the very verge of the promenade, and, night by night, is crowded with men of all conditions and nations, who sit before little marble tables facing the sea, smoking and drinking coffee and liqueurs. At one of these, so close to the promenade that the dresses of the passers-by almost touched them, two men were seated.

One was of an order and race easily to be distinguished in any quarter of the globe–an English country gentleman. There was no possibility of any mistake about him. Saxon was written in his face, in the cut of his clothes; even his attitude betrayed it. He was tall and handsome, and young enough not to have outlived enthusiasm, for he was looking out upon the gay scene with keen interest. His features were well cut, his eyes were blue, and his bronze face was smooth, save for a slight, well-formed moustache. He wore a brown tweed coat and waistcoat, flannel trousers, a straw hat tilted over his eyes, and he was smoking a briar pipe, with his hands in his pockets, and his feet resting upon the stone work.

His companion was of a different type. He was of medium height only, and thin; his complexion was sallow, and his eyes and hair were black. His features, though not altogether pleasing, were regular, and almost classical in outline. His clothes displayed him to the worst possible advantage. He wore black trousers and a dark frock coat, tightly fitting, which accentuated the narrowness of his shoulders. The only relief to the sombreness of his attire consisted in a white flower carefully fastened in his button-hole. He, too, had been smoking, but his cigarette had gone out, and he was watching the stream of people pass and repass, with a fixed, searching gaze. Though young, his face was worn and troubled. He had none of the sang froid or the pleasure-seeking carelessness of the Englishman who sat by his side. His whole appearance was that of a man with a steadfast definite purpose in life–of a man who had tasted early the sweets and bitters of existence, joy and sorrow, passion and grief.

They were only acquaintances, these two men; chance had brought them together for some evil purpose of her own. When the Englishman, who, unlike most of his compatriots, was a young man of a sociable turn of mind, and detested solitude, had come across him a few minutes ago in the long, low dining-room of the hotel, and had proposed their sharing a table and their coffee outside, the other would have refused if he could have done so with courtesy. As that had been impossible, he had yielded, however, and they had become for a while companions, albeit silent ones.

The Englishman was in far too good a humor with himself, the place, and his surroundings, to hold his peace for long. He exchanged his pipe for a Havana, and commenced to talk.

“I say, this is an awfully jolly place! No idea it was anything like it. I’m glad I came!”

His vis-à-vis bowed in a courteous but abstracted manner. He had no wish to encourage the conversation, so he made no reply. But the Englishman, having made up his mind to talk, was not easily repulsed.

“You don’t live here, do you?” he asked.

The Sicilian shook his head.

“No! It happens that I was born here, but my home was on the other side of the island. It is many years since I visited it.”

He had made a longer speech than he had intended, and he paid the penalty for it. The Englishman drew his chair a little nearer, and continued with an air of increasing familiarity.

“It’s very stupid of me, but, do you know, I’ve quite forgotten your name for the moment. I remember my cousin, Cis Davenport, introducing us at Rome, and I knew you again directly I saw you. But I’m hanged if I can think of your name! I always had a precious bad memory.”

The Sicilian looked none too well pleased at the implied request. He glanced uneasily around, and then bent forward, leaning his elbow upon the table so that the heads of the two men almost touched. When they had come into the place, he had carefully chosen a position as far away from the flaming lights as possible, but they were still within hearing of many of the chattering groups around.

“I do not object to telling you my name,” he said in a low tone, sunk almost to a whisper, “but you will pardon me if I make a request which may appear somewhat singular to you. I do not wish you to address me by it here, or to mention it. To be frank, there are reasons for wishing my presence in this neighborhood not to be known. You are a gentleman, and you will understand.”

“Oh, perfectly,” the Englishman answered him, in a tone of blank bewilderment.

What did it all mean? Had he run off with some one else’s wife, or was he in debt? One of the two seemed to be the natural conclusion. Anyhow, he did not want to know the fellow’s name. He had only asked out of politeness, and if he were in any sort of scrape, perhaps it would be better not to know it.

“I tell you what,” the Englishman explained, in the midst of the other’s hesitating pause, “don’t tell it me! I can call you anything you like for this evening. I daresay we I sha’n’t meet afterwards, and if you want to keep it dark about your being here, why, then, I sha’n’t be able to give you away–by accident, of course. Come, I’ll call you anything you like. Choose your name for the night!”

The Sicilian shook his head slowly.

“You have been told my name when I had the honor of being presented to you at Rome,” he said, “and at any chance mention you might recall it. I prefer to tell it to you, and rely upon your honor.”

“As you like.”

“My name is Leonardo di Marioni!”

“By Jove! of course it is!” the Englishman exclaimed. “I should have thought of it in a moment. I remember Davenport made me laugh when he introduced us. His pronunciation’s so queer, you know, and he’s only been at Rome about a month, so he hasn’t had time to pick it up. Good old Cis! he was always a dunce! I suppose his uncle got him in at the Embassy.”

“No doubt,” the Sicilian answered politely. “I have only had the pleasure of meeting your cousin once or twice, and I know him but slightly. You will not forget my request, and if you have occasion to address me, perhaps you will be so good as to do so by the name of ‘Cortegi.’ It is the name by which I am known here, and to which I have some right.”

The Englishman nodded.

“All right. I’ll remember. By the bye,” he went on, “I had the pleasure of meeting your sister in Naples, I believe. She is engaged to marry Martin Briscoe, isn’t she?”

The Sicilian’s face darkened into a scowl; the thin lips were tightly compressed, and his eyes flashed with angry light.

“I was not aware of it,” he answered haughtily.

The other raised his eyebrows.

“Fact, I assure you,” he continued suavely, not noticing the Sicilian’s change of countenance. “Martin told me about it himself. I should have thought that you would have known all about it. Briscoe isn’t half a bad fellow,” he went on meditatively. “Of course, it isn’t altogether pleasant to have a father who makes pickles, and who won’t leave off, although he must have made a fine pot of money. But Martin stands it very well. He isn’t half a bad fellow.”

The Sicilian rose from his chair with a sudden impetuous movement. The moonlight fell upon his white, furious face and black eyes, ablaze with passion. He was in a towering rage.

“I repeat, sir, that I know of no such engagement!” he exclaimed, in a voice necessarily subdued, but none the less fierce and angry. “I do not understand your nation, which admits into the society of nobles such men. It is infamous! In Sicily we do not do these things. For such a man to think of an alliance with a Marioni is more than presumption–it is blasphemy!”

“That’s all very well, but I only know what I was told,” the Englishman answered bluntly.

“It’s no affair of mine. I’m sorry I mentioned it.”

The Sicilian stood quite still for a moment; a shade of sadness stole into his marble face, and his tone, when he spoke again, was more mournful than angry.

“It may be as you say, Signor. I have been traveling, and for many months I have seen nothing of my sister. I have heard such rumors as you allude to, but I have not heeded them. The affair is between us two. I will say no more. Only this. While I am alive, that marriage will not take place!”

He resumed his seat, and conversation languished between the two men. The Englishman sat with knitted eyebrows, watching the people pass backward and forward, with an absent, puzzled look in his blue eyes. He had an indistinct recollection of having been told something interesting about this man at the time of their introduction. He was notorious for something. What was it? His memory seemed utterly to fail him. He could only remember that, for some reason or other, Leonardo di Marioni had been considered a very interesting figure in Roman society during his brief stay at the capital, and that he had vanished from it quite suddenly.

The Sicilian, too, was watching the people pass to and fro, but more with the intent gaze of one who awaits an expected arrival than with the idle regard of his companion. Once the latter caught his anxious, expectant look, and at the same time noticed that the slim fingers which held his cigarette were trembling nervously.

“Evidently looking out for some one,” he thought. “Seems a queer fish anyhow. Is it a man or a woman, I wonder?”

Soon he knew.

II. “SHE IS A SINGER”

There was a brief lull in the stream of promenaders. The Englishman turned round with a yawn, and ordered another cup of coffee. From his altered position he had a full view of the Sicilian’s face, and became suddenly aware of an extraordinary change in it. The restlessness was gone; the watching seemed to be at an end. The fire of a deep passion was blazing in his dark eyes, and the light of a great wistful joy shone in his face. The Englishman, almost involuntarily, turned in his chair, and glanced round to see what had wrought the change.

He looked into the eyes of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. A flood of silver moonlight lay upon the Marina, glancing away across the dark blue waters of the bay, and the soft dazzling light gently touched her hair, and gleamed in her dark, sweet eyes. She was tall, and clad in white flowing draperies clinging softly around her slim, girlish figure, and giving to her appearance an inexpressible daintiness, as though they were indeed emblematic of the spotless purity of that fair young being. Was it the chastened light, or was there indeed something spiritual, something more than humanly beautiful in the delicate oval face–perfect in its outline, perfect in its faint coloring and stately poise? She was walking slowly, her every movement full of a distinctive and deliberate grace, and her head a little upturned, as though her thoughts were far away among the softly burning stars, rather than concerned with the fashionable and picturesque crowd which thronged around her. A remark from her companion, a girl of somewhat slighter stature and darker complexion, caused her to lower her eyes, and in doing so they fell upon the eager, impassioned gaze of the young Englishman.

Afterwards he was never ashamed to confess that that moment brought with it a peculiar lingering sweetness which never altogether died away. It was the birth of a new sensation, the most poignant of all sensations, although philosophers deny and materialists scoff at it. After all, there is something more than refined sensuality in love which has so sudden a dawning; there is a certain innate spirituality which sublimates and purifies it, so that the flame burns softly but brightly still through joy and grief, mocking at satiety, surviving the sorrow of gray hairs, triumphing over the desolation of old age, and sweetening the passage to the grave. He was a headstrong, chivalrous young man, passionate, loyal, and faithful, among all his faults. That first love of his never grew cold, never lessened. It lasted forever. For some men it is not possible to give the better part of themselves up to the worship of a pure woman; selfishness forbids it. But this young Englishman who sat there spellbound, absorbed in the consciousness of this new and sweet emotion, was not one of these.

Suddenly she withdrew her eyes with a faint, conscious blush, and as she did so she saw for the first time the Sicilian. Her whole aspect swiftly changed. A terrified shudder swept across her features, and her lips parted with fear. She looked into a face but a moment before, at her first appearance, all aglow with passionate love, now black with suppressed anger and fierce jealousy. His eyes fascinated her, but it was the fascination of dread; and, indeed, his appearance was not pleasant to look upon. His thin form seemed dilated with nervous passion, and his eyes were on fire. Suddenly he conquered himself, and, with the swiftness of lightning across the water, the fierceness died out of his face, leaving it pale almost to ghastliness in the moonlight. He half rose from his seat, and, lifting his hat, bowed low.

She answered his salutation timidly, and touched her companion on the arm. She, too, started as she saw that dark, thin figure gazing so steadfastly upon them, and her first impulse seemed to be to approach him. She stopped short on the promenade, and though there was a certain amount of apprehension in her dark eyes, there was also some pleasure, and her lips were parted in a half-welcoming, half-inviting smile. But he did not make any advance toward her; on the contrary, with a slight and almost imperceptible gesture, he motioned them to proceed. With a little wave of the hand, she obeyed him, and he resumed his seat, drawing his hat over his eyes, and no longer watching the stream of promenaders.

The Englishman, absorbed in his own sudden passion, had seen nothing out of the common in the brief interchange of glances between the trio. All that he noticed was that his companion had saluted the taller of the two girls, and that she had acknowledged the salutation. It was quite enough for him.

He leaned over the low palisade, watching her until she disappeared among the crowd, scarcely daring to hope that she might look back, and yet determined to lose no opportunity of a farewell glance should she do so. When she was finally out of sight, he drew a long breath and turned toward his companion.

“Who is she?” he asked abruptly.

“I fear that I do not quite understand you,” he said quietly, although his voice and limbs were trembling with passion; “to whom do you allude?”

“The girl in white who passed just now. You knew her! Tell me her name!”

“Why should I?”

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.