Wintersmoon - Hugh Walpole - ebook

Wintersmoon ebook

Hugh Walpole

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Beautiful, but affordable spelling. The characters, especially Janet, were incredibly versatile. They are well-rounded and sympathetically written, and each has its own natural conclusion, making for a very satisfactory ending. If you like a well-written, historical, adult novel with a definitively optimistic ending, then try Wintersmoon.

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Liczba stron: 757

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Contents

DEDICATORY LETTER

PART I

JANET AND ROSALIND

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

PART II

JANET AND WILDHERNE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

PART III

WILDHERNE AND HUMPHREY

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

PART IV

JANET, ROSALIND, AND WILDHERNE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

DEDICATORY LETTER

Dear Elizabeth

You told me once that you were bored with sequels, both in real life and in novels–this, if I remember correctly, was when I begged you to give us some more of Fraulein Schmidt’s history.

It would therefore be extremely impertinent of me to offer you a sequel–and this, in real life at least, I have hitherto succeeded in avoiding.

Now also I take no risk. This story of Janet Grandison, her marriage and her sister, is no sequel to anything save that it is, of course, like all of us, a sequel to everything. What I really mean is that you need read no other book before it in order properly to understand it.

But once upon a time, when I was young and credulous, I planned a Trilogy, called it “The Rising City” and published the first volume of it, “The Duchess of Wrexe.”

So many people, older and wiser than I, told me that I was a fool to meddle with Trilogies, that I fancied myself Balzac, that readers hated presumption, and that novelists must be modest or they are nothing.

Therefore I pretended to kill my Trilogy, hid my Rising City under a green mist, and went my way. Trilogies, however, cannot be killed like that; they are the most persistent things alive. The Trilogy has grown into an unending sequence. After “The Duchess of Wrexe” came “The Green Mirror” and after “The Green Mirror” “The Young Enchanted,” and now after “The Young Enchanted” this “Wintersmoon,” and after “Wintersmoon”–who knows?

Here, at any rate, in these four books, is my idea of some of the England of 1900 to 1927, and behind this there is also something else that holds them, in my fancy, together.

And there are my four heroines, Rachel Seddon, Katherine and Millie Trenchard and Janet Grandison. But, because an author sees a connection in these things and has the conceit to look on his four books as one continuous work no compulsion is offered to the reader. “Wintersmoon,” indeed, may be read as though it had no ancestors and intends no progeny.

Above all, no compulsion is offered to yourself, dear Elizabeth, who rightly resents anything of the sort, anything that sounds too long to be borne.

So, if you will read this book simply as a story about certain people who appear for an hour or two to be alive in their own world you will have done everything that your faithful friend, the author, asks of you.

Yours affectionately,

HUGH WALPOLE.

PART I

JANET AND ROSALIND

CHAPTER I

PARTY

“I am asking you again to marry me as I did a fortnight ago.”

Janet Grandison turned towards him and said:

“Yes. You’ve been very honest.”

“I believe,” he said, “honesty to be the only thing for us. From the beginning I have always known that you valued that–honesty I mean–more perhaps than anything. I value it too.”

She smiled.

“I believe you do. But we all do. We make a fetish of it. It seems to me sometimes almost the only good thing that has survived the war. Well,” she went on, “I have had the fortnight I begged for. A fortnight ago you asked me to marry you. You said you weren’t in love with me but that you liked and respected me, that you thought we would get on well together... You want me to be the mother of your children.”

“Yes,” he said. “I am not in love with you. I have been in love for a long while with somebody, somebody whom it is impossible for me to marry and someone who would not marry me even though it were possible. With the exception of this one person I would rather marry you than anyone in the world. I like you. I admire you. I think we could be good companions.”

Her face was grave. “I don’t know about that,” she said slowly. “I have been very little with men in my life. I don’t know how it would be. Giving you frankness for frankness the other day I told you that I did not love you in the least. But I like you. I would do all I could to make you happy if I married you. But my sister comes first–she will always come first. I loved my father–and I love my sister. Those have been the only two emotions in my life. Love her! I adore her. I am not exaggerating or using words without thinking about them when I say that I would die for her if it would give her what she wanted. And so if I marry you to give her what she wants, that isn’t perhaps surprising so long as I tell you exactly how things are. And the way things are can’t go on much longer. We’ve been alone now for ten years, she and I, and the last two have been–well, impossible. You promised me that if I married you she should always live with us. It should be her home.”

“Of course. That is part of the bargain.”

“Yes, it is a bargain, isn’t it? Not romantic. But all my romance is for my sister. And yours–” She broke off, hesitating.

“Yes, mine is as I have told you. But how many marriages ever remain romantic? It is a platitude that they do not. The best thing that comes of a happy marriage is companionship. That I believe we shall have.”

He hesitated, then went on:

“I want to put it all fairly before you. There isn’t very much money. It won’t be a gay life, you know, or a merry one. The place down in the country, although I love it, won’t seem very lively to you or to your sister, I’m afraid. It’s all in pieces, and I see no likelihood of my ever having money enough to do much to it. One day perhaps–for my son... And then I am not at all what I should be in the country. I moon about. I don’t do any of the things I ought to. I am an ass about affairs. And then so long as my father is alive we would have to be a good deal in London. We would have to stay in Halkin Street with them, and that, as you know, wouldn’t be very lively either. You know exactly what life in Halkin Street is like. They’ll be very glad–my father and my mother–if you’ll marry me. They like you so much. You belong to the family. Your mother was one of my mother’s greatest friends. But it will be no sort of escape for you–except for actual escape from money troubles. But we would all be kind to you and your sister. Everyone would be glad and would try to make you both happy.”

“It will surprise everyone very much,” Janet said slowly. “I have known you so little. You’ve been away so much.”

“Yes. But we can trust one another. I’m sure of that.”

“I believe we can.”

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