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No Hero von Hornung, E. W. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 11.08.2015
  • Verlag: OTB eBook publishing
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No Hero

Ernest William Hornung (7 June 1866 - 22 March 1921) was an eng author and poet known for writing the A. J. Raffles series of stories about a gentleman thief in late 19th-century London. Hornung was educated at Uppingham School, as a result of poor health he left the school in December 1883 to travel to Sydney, where he stayed for two years. He drew on his Australian experiences as a background when he began writing, initially short stories and later novels.After Hornung spent time in the trenches with the troops in France, he published Notes of a Camp-Follower on the Western Front in 1919, a detailed account of his time there. His other works include: Dead Men Tell No Tales (1899), The Black Mask (1901), No Hero (1903), A Thief in the Night: A Book of Raffles' Adventures (1905) and Mr. Justice Raffles (1909).

Produktinformationen

    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: none
    Seitenzahl: 107
    Erscheinungsdatum: 11.08.2015
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783956766718
    Verlag: OTB eBook publishing
    Größe: 326 kBytes
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No Hero

CHAPTER I

A PLENIPOTENTIARY

Has no writer ever dealt with the dramatic aspect of the unopened envelope? I cannot recall such a passage in any of my authors, and yet to my mind there is much matter for philosophy in what is always the expressionless shell of a boundless possibility. Your friend may run after you in the street, and you know at a glance whether his news is to be good, bad, or indifferent; but in his handwriting on the breakfast-table there is never a hint as to the nature of his communication. Whether he has sustained a loss or an addition to his family, whether he wants you to dine with him at the club or to lend him ten pounds, his handwriting at least will be the same, unless, indeed, he be offended, when he will generally indite your name with a studious precision and a distant grace quite foreign to his ordinary caligraphy.

These reflections, trite enough as I know, are nevertheless inevitable if one is to begin one's unheroic story in the modern manner, at the latest possible point. That is clearly the point at which a waiter brought me the fatal letter from Catherine Evers. Apart even from its immediate consequences, the letter had a prima facie interest, of no ordinary kind, as the first for years from a once constant correspondent. And so I sat studying the envelope with a curiosity too piquant not to be enjoyed. What in the world could so obsolete a friend find to say to one now? Six months earlier there had been a certain opportunity for an advance, which at that time could not possibly have been misconstrued; when they landed me, a few later, there was another and perhaps a better one. But this was the last summer of the late century, and already I was beginning to get about like a lamplighter on my two sticks. Now, young men about town, on two walking-sticks, in the year of grace 1900, meant only one thing. Quite a stimulating thing in the beginning, but even as I write, in this the next winter but one, a national irritation of which the name alone might prevent you from reading another word.

Catherine's handwriting, on the contrary, was still stimulating, if indeed I ever found it more so in the foolish past. It had not altered in the least. There was the same sweet pedantry of the Attic e , the same superiority to the most venial abbreviation, the same inconsistent forest of exclamatory notes, thick as poplars across the channel. The present plantation started after my own Christian name, to wit "Dear Duncan!!" Yet there was nothing Germanic in Catherine's ancestry; it was only her apologetic little way of addressing me as though nothing had ever happened, of asking whether she might. Her own old tact and charm were in that tentative burial of the past. In the first line she had all but won my entire forgiveness; but the very next interfered with the effect.

"You promised to do anything for me!"

I should be sorry to deny it, I am sure, for not to this day do I know what I did say on the occasion to which she evidently referred. But was it kind to break the silence of years with such a reference? Was it even quite decent in Catherine to ignore my existence until I could be of use to her, and then to ask the favour in her first breath? It was true, as she went on to remind me, that we were more or less connected after all, and at least conceivable that no one else could help her as I could, if I would. In any case, it was a certain satisfaction to hear that Catherine herself was of the last opinion. I read on. She was in a difficulty; but she did not say what the difficulty was. For one unworthy moment the thought of money entered my mind, to be ejected the next, as the Catherine of old came more and more into the mental focus. Pride was the last thing in which I had found her wanting, and her letter indicated no change in that respect.

"You may wonder," she wrote just at the end, "why I have never sent you a single wo

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