The Last Dawn of Reckoning

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She saw him flush as he realised the significance of the omission. As soon as they had gone she flung herself down on the carpet and knelt by the side of him with her cheek against his hand. She did not know what to say after that. She was almost crying, and a renewal of the cheering outside in the hall brought the tears swimming into her eyes.

If only Philip could have made them cheer like that! If only She exclaimed, passionately: "Oh, Philip, dear Philip, you mustn't worry about it—it doesn't matter—doesn't matter a tiny scrap—". He answered, stroking her hair gently: "Ah, but you know it d-does matter. And I know t-too. Stella, you think I've Mailed, don't you?

You're s-sorry for me, eh?

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I know I will. I won't be beaten. She flung her arms round his neck and drew his head down to hers. She stopped, seeing that he had turned very pale again. It was just like him, to be shy of telling her, and then, when she had told him, to be so calm about it. She added, half-sobbing "Didn't you ever wonder if I did? He nodded quaintly. Chassingford is an old town, less important to-day than formerly; it consists mainly of a single long street, fringed with old-fashioned houses and shops, and a fifteenth-century parish church with a crocketed spire.

There is also a famous old coaching inn, slowly winning back some of its former splendour, a village stocks, a market-place with cattle-pens, and a railway station where for some reason or other many important main-line trains make a halt.

Has London become too hot for you since the last hospital 'rag'? I saw your exploits photographed in all the picture papers, by the way. Ward shrugged his shoulders and smiled, his bright finely-set teeth gleaming healthfully. If ever a man seemed to radiate energy in the manner illustrated in patent medicine advertisements, that man was Ward, and Philip, tall, stooping, almost cadaverous, was a perfect foil to him. Ward's smile became a laugh. Then I—I got into touch with somebody who told me that I had a great-uncle living in Chassingford. The sun had disappeared behind the folds of heavy black clouds, and a few big drops of rain heralded the coming of an April shower.

He said that in a sudden burst of boyish enthusiasm that made him seem for the moment more like a happy, brown-faced youngster than a grown man. As he stood there on the Chassingford pavement he looked virility personified, and kindled by an affection that had just very shyly broken its bounds. But we can go in the Greyhound and chat, if you like. And perhaps, if you're not doing anything for lunch, you can walk with me up to the Hall when the shower's over. I'm sure my mother would be delighted to see you. He broke into a roar of happy laughter, laughter that by its cleansing, heartening quality seemed almost to push the clouds in the sky a little further off.

This notion of possessing a great-uncle amused him immeasurably, and even Philip, without perceiving exactly what the joke was, could not help joining in. Ward lowered his voice. Doctor Challis Probably you know him?

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Philip took the other affectionately by the arm and led the way into the hotel-lounge. Over beer and lemonade they discussed further, while the pavements and gutters outside hissed and swirled in the sudden downpour. He's getting too old to tackle all the work by himself. Of course, it wants thinking about, and I haven't quite made up my mind yet—that's why what I'm telling you is in confidence. You see—to put it frankly—I have to decide whether coming here wouldn't be—in a sort of way—burying myself alive.

On the other hand, Challis has a good practice, and a few years' general experience is a good qualification for a medical man if he wants to turn to specialisation afterwards. They stared at each other for a moment without speaking, and then at last Philip added: "Though so far I've been a rather humorous failure. Do you remember that time you cleared those drunken fellows out of my room?

The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Final Reckoning, by G. A. Henty

I simply don't know how to deal with people Last December, for instance, I made an awful fool of myself at a big political meeting up in Loamport He told him the whole story, without exaggeration or reticence. There was nobody else in the world except, perhaps, Stella with whom such a confession would have been even possible. When he had finished Ward made no comment, and for that Philip was grateful. By this time also the shower was over, and the clock in the tower of the parish church began the chiming of noon. Since the fiasco at Loamport Philip and Stella had been aware of a difference in their relationship, but exactly how far the difference extended neither of them could say.

That curious incident in the ante room of the Loamport Town Hall had brought them face to face with the reality of their own affections, but afterwards Philip, from very shyness, had seemed unwilling to define the matter further. When, how ever, Stella hinted at the change in their relationship, he surprised her by saying: "But, Stella—I thought—I thought it was all settled.

I love you, and I want to marry you, but I can't till I'm successful. She felt she wanted to spring upwards and throw her arms round his neck and kiss him. She had to fight down the desire, because—well, because he was Philip, and different from other men. It was not that he was cold or unfeeling, nor even that he was passionless; it was rather a kind of over-refinement that made him shy of love-making, or of any demonstrative affection. Really the only thing in the world she was afraid of was that look of his, puzzled, doubtful, and with just the merest hint of reproach in it—the look that came into his eyes whenever she did something he did not quite approve.

She had invented a strange little parlour game though it was just as pleasant to play it under the verandah in fine weather , designed to help Philip in his public-speaking. Philip delivered his speeches to her, and whenever the opportunity occurred she would interrupt, as awkwardly and as impertinently as possible.

By dealing with so many interjections it was intended that Philip should improve and perfect his armour against even the most pertinacious heckler. Ward, therefore, arriving at Chassingford Hall at a few minutes to one on the day following his meeting with Philip, and ringing twice at the front door without getting an answer, had not strolled very far in the direction of the garden before the sound of voices came to his ears.

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He could not help listening, and what he heard was the following duologue:. Male Voice: "—but I say, on the contrary, that the policy of my opponents has been absolutely detrimental to the best interests of the workers of this country, as well as—". Female Voice now unmistakably Stella's : "Philip, my dear little innocent, people are silly enough to ask anything at political meetings. And the only thing to do is to reply to a silly question by a silly answer.

For instance, in reply to the question 'What did Lloyd George say in nineteen-ten? Male Voice: "But I should hate to reply like that. It's cheap. And besides, supposing the man asked me what Columbus did say—". At this point Ward came through the shrubbery and provided a more effective interruption than even Stella could have thought of. Later in the afternoon Stella told Philip she had finally decided that she did not like Ward. I don't like him.

Dawn Of Reckoning - 02. When A Man Becomes Beast

He—he makes me uncomfortable. I hope—I hope he doesn't come here often. Philip looked serious. I assure you I know him, and he's a splendid fellow—".

The Dawn of Reckoning

But—but he makes me uncomfortable. He did the first time I met him, and he did the same again this afternoon. He was laugh ing at us, too—about you making your speeches and me interrupting you. He laughs at anything—everything When some men at Cambridge got drunk and messed up my rooms he turned them out—that was how I first got to know him, by the way—but the next morning he was laughing about the whole business.

I shall never forget his words, because I felt indignant at the time that he should treat the matter so lightly. Stella went on: "Well, anyway, I don't like him. I—yes, I'm quite certain of it—I fear him. I don't know why or in what way, but I do. He told me just before he went that he had finally decided to be Doctor Challis's assistant.

So I'm afraid it's rather—inevitable—that you should meet him occasionally. After a long pause she answered thoughtfully: "When I come to think about it I don't know that I dislike him—him personally—at all. But I dislike the—the feeling I have—inside me—when he's near Perhaps that's it. Or perhaps not. Any way, what does it matter? You're conquering your nervousness, you'll soon get into Parliament, then you'll marry me, and then—" Her eyes sparkled deliciously, and she whispered: "Would you mind very much if I kissed you, Philip?

She sprang forward and kissed him very prettily on the lips. He started back, flushing slightly, and then smiled at her with that strange, half-puzzled smile she knew so well. She burst into a sudden ripple of laughter. And she did it again. A strange daring infected her. Her fear of him, and of that curious puzzled look that came into his eyes, was gone—for the time being at any rate.

Something had driven it away. Aubrey Ward came to Chassingford a fortnight afterwards, and within a week he was the talk of the little market town. It seemed incomprehensible that the old and respected Doctor Challis could have chosen such a wild and romantic-looking youth to be his second in command.