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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCrome Yellow - Chapter XIII
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Crome Yellow - Chapter XIII Post by :johannes Category :Long Stories Author :Aldous Huxley Date :February 2011 Read :1285

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Crome Yellow - Chapter XIII

Henry Wimbush brought down with him to dinner a budget of printed
sheets loosely bound together in a cardboard portfolio.

"To-day," he said, exhibiting it with a certain solemnity, "to-
day I have finished the printing of my 'History of Crome'. I
helped to set up the type of the last page this evening."

"The famous History?" cried Anne. The writing and the printing
of this Magnum Opus had been going on as long as she could
remember. All her childhood long Uncle Henry's History had been
a vague and fabulous thing, often heard of and never seen.

"It has taken me nearly thirty years," said Mr. Wimbush.
"Twenty-five years of writing and nearly four of printing. And
now it's finished--the whole chronicle, from Sir Ferdinando
Lapith's birth to the death of my father William Wimbush--more
than three centuries and a half: a history of Crome, written at
Crome, and printed at Crome by my own press."

"Shall we be allowed to read it now it's finished?" asked Denis.

Mr. Wimbush nodded. "Certainly," he said. "And I hope you will
not find it uninteresting," he added modestly. "Our muniment
room is particularly rich in ancient records, and I have some
genuinely new light to throw on the introduction of the three-
pronged fork."

"And the people?" asked Gombauld. "Sir Ferdinando and the rest
of them--were they amusing? Were there any crimes or tragedies
in the family?"

"Let me see," Henry Wimbush rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I can
only think of two suicides, one violent death, four or perhaps
five broken hearts, and half a dozen little blots on the
scutcheon in the way of misalliances, seductions, natural
children, and the like. No, on the whole, it's a placid and
uneventful record."

"The Wimbushes and the Lapiths were always an unadventurous,
respectable crew," said Priscilla, with a note of scorn in her
voice. "If I were to write my family history now! Why, it would
be one long continuous blot from beginning to end." She laughed
jovially, and helped herself to another glass of wine.

"If I were to write mine," Mr. Scogan remarked, "it wouldn't
exist. After the second generation we Scogans are lost in the
mists of antiquity."

"After dinner," said Henry Wimbush, a little piqued by his wife's
disparaging comment on the masters of Crome, "I'll read you an
episode from my History that will make you admit that even the
Lapiths, in their own respectable way, had their tragedies and
strange adventures."

"I'm glad to hear it," said Priscilla.

"Glad to hear what?" asked Jenny, emerging suddenly from her
private interior world like a cuckoo from a clock. She received
an explanation, smiled, nodded, cuckooed at last "I see," and
popped back, clapping shut the door behind her.

Dinner was eaten; the party had adjourned to the drawing-room.

"Now," said Henry Wimbush, pulling up a chair to the lamp. He
put on his round pince-nez, rimmed with tortoise-shell, and began
cautiously to turn over the pages of his loose and still
fragmentary book. He found his place at last. "Shall I begin?"
he asked, looking up.

"Do," said Priscilla, yawning.

In the midst of an attentive silence Mr. Wimbush gave a little
preliminary cough and started to read.

"The infant who was destined to become the fourth baronet of the
name of Lapith was born in the year 1740. He was a very small
baby, weighing not more than three pounds at birth, but from the
first he was sturdy and healthy. In honour of his maternal
grandfather, Sir Hercules Occam of Bishop's Occam, he was
christened Hercules. His mother, like many other mothers, kept a
notebook, in which his progress from month to month was recorded.
He walked at ten months, and before his second year was out he
had learnt to speak a number of words. At three years he weighed
but twenty-four pounds, and at six, though he could read and
write perfectly and showed a remarkable aptitude for music, he
was no larger and heavier than a well-grown child of two.
Meanwhile, his mother had borne two other children, a boy and a
girl, one of whom died of croup during infancy, while the other
was carried off by smallpox before it reached the age of five.
Hercules remained the only surviving child.

"On his twelfth birthday Hercules was still only three feet and
two inches in height. His head, which was very handsome and
nobly shaped, was too big for his body, but otherwise he was
exquisitely proportioned, and, for his size, of great strength
and agility. His parents, in the hope of making him grow,
consulted all the most eminent physicians of the time. Their
various prescriptions were followed to the letter, but in vain.
One ordered a very plentiful meat diet; another exercise; a third
constructed a little rack, modelled on those employed by the Holy
Inquisition, on which young Hercules was stretched, with
excruciating torments, for half an hour every morning and
evening. In the course of the next three years Hercules gained
perhaps two inches. After that his growth stopped completely,
and he remained for the rest of his life a pigmy of three feet
and four inches. His father, who had built the most extravagant
hopes upon his son, planning for him in his imagination a
military career equal to that of Marlborough, found himself a
disappointed man. 'I have brought an abortion into the world,'
he would say, and he took so violent a dislike to his son that
the boy dared scarcely come into his presence. His temper, which
had been serene, was turned by disappointment to moroseness and
savagery. He avoided all company (being, as he said, ashamed to
show himself, the father of a lusus naturae, among normal,
healthy human beings), and took to solitary drinking, which
carried him very rapidly to his grave; for the year before
Hercules came of age his father was taken off by an apoplexy.
His mother, whose love for him had increased with the growth of
his father's unkindness, did not long survive, but little more
than a year after her husband's death succumbed, after eating two
dozen of oysters, to an attack of typhoid fever.

"Hercules thus found himself at the age of twenty-one alone in
the world, and master of a considerable fortune, including the
estate and mansion of Crome. The beauty and intelligence of his
childhood had survived into his manly age, and, but for his
dwarfish stature, he would have taken his place among the
handsomest and most accomplished young men of his time. He was
well read in the Greek and Latin authors, as well as in all the
moderns of any merit who had written in English, French, or
Italian. He had a good ear for music, and was no indifferent
performer on the violin, which he used to play like a bass viol,
seated on a chair with the instrument between his legs. To the
music of the harpsichord and clavichord he was extremely partial,
but the smallness of his hands made it impossible for him ever to
perform upon these instruments. He had a small ivory flute made
for him, on which, whenever he was melancholy, he used to play a
simple country air or jig, affirming that this rustic music had
more power to clear and raise the spirits than the most
artificial productions of the masters. From an early age he
practised the composition of poetry, but, though conscious of his
great powers in this art, he would never publish any specimen of
his writing. 'My stature,' he would say, 'is reflected in my
verses; if the public were to read them it would not be because I
am a poet, but because I am a dwarf.' Several MS. books of Sir
Hercules's poems survive. A single specimen will suffice to
illustrate his qualities as a poet.

"'In ancient days, while yet the world was young,
Ere Abram fed his flocks or Homer sung;
When blacksmith Tubal tamed creative fire,
And Jabal dwelt in tents and Jubal struck the lyre;
Flesh grown corrupt brought forth a monstrous birth
And obscene giants trod the shrinking earth,
Till God, impatient of their sinful brood,
Gave rein to wrath and drown'd them in the Flood.
Teeming again, repeopled Tellus bore
The lubber Hero and the Man of War;
Huge towers of Brawn, topp'd with an empty Skull,
Witlessly bold, heroically dull.
Long ages pass'd and Man grown more refin'd,
Slighter in muscle but of vaster Mind,
Smiled at his grandsire's broadsword, bow and bill,
And learn'd to wield the Pencil and the Quill.
The glowing canvas and the written page
Immortaliz'd his name from age to age,
His name emblazon'd on Fame's temple wall;
For Art grew great as Humankind grew small.
Thus man's long progress step by step we trace;
The Giant dies, the hero takes his place;
The Giant vile, the dull heroic Block:
At one we shudder and at one we mock.
Man last appears. In him the Soul's pure flame
Burns brightlier in a not inord'nate frame.
Of old when Heroes fought and Giants swarmed,
Men were huge mounds of matter scarce inform'd;
Wearied by leavening so vast a mass,
The spirit slept and all the mind was crass.
The smaller carcase of these later days
Is soon inform'd; the Soul unwearied plays
And like a Pharos darts abroad her mental rays.
But can we think that Providence will stay
Man's footsteps here upon the upward way?
Mankind in understanding and in grace
Advanc'd so far beyond the Giants' race?
Hence impious thought! Still led by GOD'S own Hand,
Mankind proceeds towards the Promised Land.
A time will come (prophetic, I descry
Remoter dawns along the gloomy sky),
When happy mortals of a Golden Age
Will backward turn the dark historic page,
And in our vaunted race of Men behold
A form as gross, a Mind as dead and cold,
As we in Giants see, in warriors of old.
A time will come, wherein the soul shall be
From all superfluous matter wholly free;
When the light body, agile as a fawn's,
Shall sport with grace along the velvet lawns.
Nature's most delicate and final birth,
Mankind perfected shall possess the earth.
But ah, not yet! For still the Giants' race,
Huge, though diminish'd, tramps the Earth's fair face;
Gross and repulsive, yet perversely proud,
Men of their imperfections boast aloud.
Vain of their bulk, of all they still retain
Of giant ugliness absurdly vain;
At all that's small they point their stupid scorn
And, monsters, think themselves divinely born.
Sad is the Fate of those, ah, sad indeed,
The rare precursors of the nobler breed!
Who come man's golden glory to foretell,
But pointing Heav'nwards live themselves in Hell.'

"As soon as he came into the estate, Sir Hercules set about
remodelling his household. For though by no means ashamed of his
deformity--indeed, if we may judge from the poem quoted above, he
regarded himself as being in many ways superior to the ordinary
race of man--he found the presence of full-grown men and women
embarrassing. Realising, too, that he must abandon all ambitions
in the great world, he determined to retire absolutely from it
and to create, as it were, at Crome a private world of his own,
in which all should be proportionable to himself. Accordingly,
he discharged all the old servants of the house and replaced them
gradually, as he was able to find suitable successors, by others
of dwarfish stature. In the course of a few years he had
assembled about himself a numerous household, no member of which
was above four feet high and the smallest among them scarcely two
feet and six inches. His father's dogs, such as setters,
mastiffs, greyhounds, and a pack of beagles, he sold or gave away
as too large and too boisterous for his house, replacing them by
pugs and King Charles spaniels and whatever other breeds of dog
were the smallest. His father's stable was also sold. For his
own use, whether riding or driving, he had six black Shetland
ponies, with four very choice piebald animals of New Forest

"Having thus settled his household entirely to his own
satisfaction, it only remained for him to find some suitable
companion with whom to share his paradise. Sir Hercules had a
susceptible heart, and had more than once, between the ages of
sixteen and twenty, felt what it was to love. But here his
deformity had been a source of the most bitter humiliation, for,
having once dared to declare himself to a young lady of his
choice, he had been received with laughter. On his persisting,
she had picked him up and shaken him like an importunate child,
telling him to run away and plague her no more. The story soon
got about--indeed, the young lady herself used to tell it as a
particularly pleasant anecdote--and the taunts and mockery it
occasioned were a source of the most acute distress to Hercules.
From the poems written at this period we gather that he meditated
taking his own life. In course of time, however, he lived down
this humiliation; but never again, though he often fell in love,
and that very passionately, did he dare to make any advances to
those in whom he was interested. After coming to the estate and
finding that he was in a position to create his own world as he
desired it, he saw that, if he was to have a wife--which he very
much desired, being of an affectionate and, indeed, amorous
temper--he must choose her as he had chosen his servants--from
among the race of dwarfs. But to find a suitable wife was, he
found, a matter of some difficulty; for he would marry none who
was not distinguished by beauty and gentle birth. The dwarfish
daughter of Lord Bemboro he refused on the ground that besides
being a pigmy she was hunchbacked; while another young lady, an
orphan belonging to a very good family in Hampshire, was rejected
by him because her face, like that of so many dwarfs, was wizened
and repulsive. Finally, when he was almost despairing of
success, he heard from a reliable source that Count Titimalo, a
Venetian nobleman, possessed a daughter of exquisite beauty and
great accomplishments, who was by three feet in height. Setting
out at once for Venice, he went immediately on his arrival to pay
his respects to the count, whom he found living with his wife and
five children in a very mean apartment in one of the poorer
quarters of the town. Indeed, the count was so far reduced in
his circumstances that he was even then negotiating (so it was
rumoured) with a travelling company of clowns and acrobats, who
had had the misfortune to lose their performing dwarf, for the
sale of his diminutive daughter Filomena. Sir Hercules arrived
in time to save her from this untoward fate, for he was so much
charmed by Filomena's grace and beauty, that at the end of three
days' courtship he made her a formal offer of marriage, which was
accepted by her no less joyfully than by her father, who
perceived in an English son-in-law a rich and unfailing source of
revenue. After an unostentatious marriage, at which the English
ambassador acted as one of the witnesses, Sir Hercules and his
bride returned by sea to England, where they settled down, as it
proved, to a life of uneventful happiness.

"Crome and its household of dwarfs delighted Filomena, who felt
herself now for the first time to be a free woman living among
her equals in a friendly world. She had many tastes in common
with her husband, especially that of music. She had a beautiful
voice, of a power surprising in one so small, and could touch A
in alt without effort. Accompanied by her husband on his fine
Cremona fiddle, which he played, as we have noted before, as one
plays a bass viol, she would sing all the liveliest and tenderest
airs from the operas and cantatas of her native country. Seated
together at the harpsichord, they found that they could with
their four hands play all the music written for two hands of
ordinary size, a circumstance which gave Sir Hercules unfailing

"When they were not making music or reading together, which they
often did, both in English and Italian, they spent their time in
healthful outdoor exercises, sometimes rowing in a little boat on
the lake, but more often riding or driving, occupations in which,
because they were entirely new to her, Filomena especially
delighted. When she had become a perfectly proficient rider,
Filomena and her husband used often to go hunting in the park, at
that time very much more extensive than it is now. They hunted
not foxes nor hares, but rabbits, using a pack of about thirty
black and fawn-coloured pugs, a kind of dog which, when not
overfed, can course a rabbit as well as any of the smaller
breeds. Four dwarf grooms, dressed in scarlet liveries and
mounted on white Exmoor ponies, hunted the pack, while their
master and mistress, in green habits, followed either on the
black Shetlands or on the piebald New Forest ponies. A picture
of the whole hunt--dogs, horses, grooms, and masters--was painted
by William Stubbs, whose work Sir Hercules admired so much that
he invited him, though a man of ordinary stature, to come and
stay at the mansion for the purpose of executing this picture.
Stubbs likewise painted a portrait of Sir Hercules and his lady
driving in their green enamelled calash drawn by four black
Shetlands. Sir Hercules wears a plum-coloured velvet coat and
white breeches; Filomena is dressed in flowered muslin and a very
large hat with pink feathers. The two figures in their gay
carriage stand out sharply against a dark background of trees;
but to the left of the picture the trees fall away and disappear,
so that the four black ponies are seen against a pale and
strangely lurid sky that has the golden-brown colour of thunder-
clouds lighted up by the sun.

"In this way four years passed happily by. At the end of that
time Filomena found herself great with child. Sir Hercules was
overjoyed. 'If God is good,' he wrote in his day-book, 'the name
of Lapith will be preserved and our rarer and more delicate race
transmitted through the generations until in the fullness of time
the world shall recognise the superiority of those beings whom
now it uses to make mock of.' On his wife's being brought to bed
of a son he wrote a poem to the same effect. The child was
christened Ferdinando in memory of the builder of the house.

"With the passage of the months a certain sense of disquiet began
to invade the minds of Sir Hercules and his lady. For the child
was growing with an extraordinary rapidity. At a year he weighed
as much as Hercules had weighed when he was three. 'Ferdinando
goes crescendo,' wrote Filomena in her diary. 'It seems not
natural.' At eighteen months the baby was almost as tall as
their smallest jockey, who was a man of thirty-six. Could it be
that Ferdinando was destined to become a man of the normal,
gigantic dimensions? It was a thought to which neither of his
parents dared yet give open utterance, but in the secrecy of
their respective diaries they brooded over it in terror and

"On his third birthday Ferdinando was taller than his mother and
not more than a couple of inches short of his father's height.
'To-day for the first time' wrote Sir Hercules, 'we discussed the
situation. The hideous truth can be concealed no longer:
Ferdinando is not one of us. On this, his third birthday, a day
when we should have been rejoicing at the health, the strength,
and beauty of our child, we wept together over the ruin of our
happiness. God give us strength to bear this cross.'

"At the age of eight Ferdinando was so large and so exuberantly
healthy that his parents decided, though reluctantly, to send him
to school. He was packed off to Eton at the beginning of the
next half. A profound peace settled upon the house. Ferdinando
returned for the summer holidays larger and stronger than ever.
One day he knocked down the butler and broke his arm. 'He is
rough, inconsiderate, unamenable to persuasion,' wrote his
father. 'The only thing that will teach him manners is corporal
chastisement.' Ferdinando, who at this age was already seventeen
inches taller than his father, received no corporal chastisement.

"One summer holidays about three years later Ferdinando returned
to Crome accompanied by a very large mastiff dog. He had bought
it from an old man at Windsor who had found the beast too
expensive to feed. It was a savage, unreliable animal; hardly
had it entered the house when it attacked one of Sir Hercules's
favourite pugs, seizing the creature in its jaws and shaking it
till it was nearly dead. Extremely put out by this occurrence,
Sir Hercules ordered that the beast should be chained up in the
stable-yard. Ferdinando sullenly answered that the dog was his,
and he would keep it where he pleased. His father, growing
angry, bade him take the animal out of the house at once, on pain
of his utmost displeasure. Ferdinando refused to move. His
mother at this moment coming into the room, the dog flew at her,
knocked her down, and in a twinkling had very severely mauled her
arm and shoulder; in another instant it must infallibly have had
her by the throat, had not Sir Hercules drawn his sword and
stabbed the animal to the heart. Turning on his son, he ordered
him to leave the room immediately, as being unfit to remain in
the same place with the mother whom he had nearly murdered. So
awe-inspiring was the spectacle of Sir Hercules standing with one
foot on the carcase of the gigantic dog, his sword drawn and
still bloody, so commanding were his voice, his gestures, and the
expression of his face that Ferdinando slunk out of the room in
terror and behaved himself for all the rest of the vacation in an
entirely exemplary fashion. His mother soon recovered from the
bites of the mastiff, but the effect on her mind of this
adventure was ineradicable; from that time forth she lived always
among imaginary terrors.

"The two years which Ferdinando spent on the Continent, making
the Grand Tour, were a period of happy repose for his parents.
But even now the thought of the future haunted them; nor were
they able to solace themselves with all the diversions of their
younger days. The Lady Filomena had lost her voice and Sir
Hercules was grown too rheumatical to play the violin. He, it is
true, still rode after his pugs, but his wife felt herself too
old and, since the episode of the mastiff, too nervous for such
sports. At most, to please her husband, she would follow the
hunt at a distance in a little gig drawn by the safest and oldest
of the Shetlands.

"The day fixed for Ferdinando's return came round. Filomena,
sick with vague dreads and presentiments, retired to her chamber
and her bed. Sir Hercules received his son alone. A giant in a
brown travelling-suit entered the room. 'Welcome home, my son,'
said Sir Hercules in a voice that trembled a little.

"'I hope I see you well, sir.' Ferdinando bent down to shake
hands, then straightened himself up again. The top of his
father's head reached to the level of his hip.

"Ferdinando had not come alone. Two friends of his own age
accompanied him, and each of the young men had brought a servant.
Not for thirty years had Crome been desecrated by the presence of
so many members of the common race of men. Sir Hercules was
appalled and indignant, but the laws of hospitality had to be
obeyed. He received the young gentlemen with grave politeness
and sent the servants to the kitchen, with orders that they
should be well cared for.

"The old family dining-table was dragged out into the light and
dusted (Sir Hercules and his lady were accustomed to dine at a
small table twenty inches high). Simon, the aged butler, who
could only just look over the edge of the big table, was helped
at supper by the three servants brought by Ferdinando and his

"Sir Hercules presided, and with his usual grace supported a
conversation on the pleasures of foreign travel, the beauties of
art and nature to be met with abroad, the opera at Venice, the
singing of the orphans in the churches of the same city, and on
other topics of a similar nature. The young men were not
particularly attentive to his discourses; they were occupied in
watching the efforts of the butler to change the plates and
replenish the glasses. They covered their laughter by violent
and repeated fits of coughing or choking. Sir Hercules affected
not to notice, but changed the subject of the conversation to
sport. Upon this one of the young men asked whether it was true,
as he had heard, that he used to hunt the rabbit with a pack of
pug dogs. Sir Hercules replied that it was, and proceeded to
describe the chase in some detail. The young men roared with

"When supper was over, Sir Hercules climbed down from his chair
and, giving as his excuse that he must see how his lady did, bade
them good-night. The sound of laughter followed him up the
stairs. Filomena was not asleep; she had been lying on her bed
listening to the sound of enormous laughter and the tread of
strangely heavy feet on the stairs and along the corridors. Sir
Hercules drew a chair to her bedside and sat there for a long
time in silence, holding his wife's hand and sometimes gently
squeezing it. At about ten o'clock they were startled by a
violent noise. There was a breaking of glass, a stamping of
feet, with an outburst of shouts and laughter. The uproar
continuing for several minutes, Sir Hercules rose to his feet
and, in spite of his wife's entreaties, prepared to go and see
what was happening. There was no light on the staircase, and Sir
Hercules groped his way down cautiously, lowering himself from
stair to stair and standing for a moment on each tread before
adventuring on a new step. The noise was louder here; the
shouting articulated itself into recognisable words and phrases.
A line of light was visible under the dining-room door. Sir
Hercules tiptoed across the hall towards it. Just as he
approached the door there was another terrific crash of breaking
glass and jangled metal. What could they be doing? Standing on
tiptoe he managed to look through the keyhole. In the middle of
the ravaged table old Simon, the butler, so primed with drink
that he could scarcely keep his balance, was dancing a jig. His
feet crunched and tinkled among the broken glass, and his shoes
were wet with spilt wine. The three young men sat round,
thumping the table with their hands or with the empty wine
bottles, shouting and laughing encouragement. The three servants
leaning against the wall laughed too. Ferdinando suddenly threw
a handful of walnuts at the dancer's head, which so dazed and
surprised the little man that he staggered and fell down on his
back, upsetting a decanter and several glasses. They raised him
up, gave him some brandy to drink, thumped him on the back. The
old man smiled and hiccoughed. 'To-morrow,' said Ferdinando,
'we'll have a concerted ballet of the whole household.' 'With
father Hercules wearing his club and lion-skin,' added one of his
companions, and all three roared with laughter.

"Sir Hercules would look and listen no further. He crossed the
hall once more and began to climb the stairs, lifting his knees
painfully high at each degree. This was the end; there was no
place for him now in the world, no place for him and Ferdinando

"His wife was still awake; to her questioning glance he answered,
'They are making mock of old Simon. To-morrow it will be our
turn.' They were silent for a time.

"At last Filomena said, 'I do not want to see to-morrow.'

"'It is better not,' said Sir Hercules. Going into his closet he
wrote in his day-book a full and particular account of all the
events of the evening. While he was still engaged in this task
he rang for a servant and ordered hot water and a bath to be made
ready for him at eleven o'clock. When he had finished writing he
went into his wife's room, and preparing a dose of opium twenty
times as strong as that which she was accustomed to take when she
could not sleep, he brought it to her, saying, 'Here is your

"Filomena took the glass and lay for a little time, but did not
drink immediately. The tears came into her eyes. 'Do you
remember the songs we used to sing, sitting out there sulla
terrazza in the summer-time?' She began singing softly in her
ghost of a cracked voice a few bars from Stradella's 'Amor amor,
non dormir piu.' 'And you playing on the violin, it seems such a
short time ago, and yet so long, long, long. Addio, amore, a
rivederti.' She drank off the draught and, lying back on the
pillow, closed her eyes. Sir Hercules kissed her hand and
tiptoed away, as though he were afraid of waking her. He
returned to his closet, and having recorded his wife's last words
to him, he poured into his bath the water that had been brought
up in accordance with his orders. The water being too hot for
him to get into the bath at once, he took down from the shelf his
copy of Suetonius. He wished to read how Seneca had died. He
opened the book at random. 'But dwarfs,' he read, 'he held in
abhorrence as being lusus naturae and of evil omen.' He winced
as though he had been struck. This same Augustus, he remembered,
had exhibited in the amphitheatre a young man called Lucius, of
good family, who was not quite two feet in height and weighed
seventeen pounds, but had a stentorian voice. He turned over the
pages. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero: it was a tale of
growing horror. 'Seneca his preceptor, he forced to kill
himself.' And there was Petronius, who had called his friends
about him at the last, bidding them talk to him, not of the
consolations of philosophy, but of love and gallantry, while the
life was ebbing away through his opened veins. Dipping his pen
once more in the ink he wrote on the last page of his diary: 'He
died a Roman death.' Then, putting the toes of one foot into the
water and finding that it was not too hot, he threw off his
dressing-gown and, taking a razor in his hand, sat down in the
bath. With one deep cut he severed the artery in his left wrist,
then lay back and composed his mind to meditation. The blood
oozed out, floating through the water in dissolving wreaths and
spirals. In a little while the whole bath was tinged with pink.
The colour deepened; Sir Hercules felt himself mastered by an
invincible drowsiness; he was sinking from vague dream to dream.
Soon he was sound asleep. There was not much blood in his small

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Crome Yellow - Chapter XIV Crome Yellow - Chapter XIV

Crome Yellow - Chapter XIV
For their after-luncheon coffee the party generally adjourned tothe library. Its windows looked east, and at this hour of theday it was the coolest place in the whole house. It was a largeroom, fitted, during the eighteenth century, with white paintedshelves of an elegant design. In the middle of one wall a door,ingeniously upholstered with rows of dummy books, gave access toa deep cupboard , among a pile of letter-files and oldnewspapers, the mummy-case of an Egyptian lady, brought back bythe second Sir Ferdinando on his return from the Grand Tour,mouldered in the darkness. From ten yards

Crome Yellow - Chapter XII Crome Yellow - Chapter XII

Crome Yellow - Chapter XII
Blight, Mildew, and Smut..." Mary was puzzled and distressed.Perhaps her ears had played her false. Perhaps what he hadreally said was, "Squire, Binyon, and Shanks," or "Childe,Blunden, and Earp," or even "Abercrombie, Drinkwater, andRabindranath Tagore." Perhaps. But then her ears never did playher false. "Blight, Mildew, and Smut." The impression wasdistinct and ineffaceable. "Blight, Mildew..." she was forced tothe conclusion, reluctantly, that Denis had indeed pronouncedthose improbable words. He had deliberately repelled herattempts to open a serious discussion. That was horrible. A manwho would not talk seriously to a woman just