The Scarlet Feather
95 Pages

The Scarlet Feather


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Published 08 December 2010
Reads 26
Language English
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Scarlet Feather, by Houghton Townley This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: The Scarlet Feather Author: Houghton Townley Illustrator: Will Grefé Release Date: February 19, 2009 [EBook #28123] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SCARLET FEATHER *** Produced by Roger Frank, Darleen Dove and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at Transcriber’s Notes: Spelling and punctuation have been preserved as printed except as indicated in the text by a dotted line under the change. Hover the mouse over the word and the original text will appear. A list of these changes can be found here. The following words were found in variable forms in the original text and both versions have been retained: armchair/arm-chair; byword/by-word; hearthrug/hearth-rug; housekeeping/house-keeping; sky pilot/sky-pilot; stockbroker/stock-broker. The illustration on Page 260 has been moved so that the illustration is not in the middle of a paragraph. THE SCARLET FEATHER THERE WAS SOMETHING MAGNETIC ABOUT THIS MAN WHOM SHE FEARED AND TRIED TO HATE.—Page 201 THE SCARLET FEATHER BY HOUGHTON TOWNLEY Author of “The Bishop's Emeralds” ILLUSTRATIONS BY WILL GREFÉ N E W Y O R K G R O S S E T T P U B L I S H E R S COPYRIGHT, 1909 BY W. J. WATT & COMPANY Published June, 1909 Contents CHAPTER PAGE I The Sheriff’s Writ II The Check 9 21 III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII XXVIII XXIX XXX XXXI XXXII XXXIII The Dinner at the Club Dora Dundas Debts A Kinship Something Less Than Kind Good-bye A Tiresome Patient Herresford is Told Hearts Ache and Ache Yet Do Not Break A House of Sorrow A Difficult Position Dick’s Heroism Mrs. Swinton Confesses Colonel Dundas Speaks His Mind Mr. Trimmer Comes Home Mrs. Swinton Goes Home A Second Proposal An Unexpected Telegram The Wedding Day Arranged Dick’s Return The Blight of Fear Dora Sees Herresford Dick Explains to Dora Tracked Mrs. Swinton Hears the Truth Ormsby Refuses The Will A Public Confession Flight Dora Decides Home Again The Scarlet Feather 33 39 50 66 82 89 93 102 117 125 135 147 168 173 190 195 204 221 226 237 249 262 280 288 297 307 320 333 340 348 353 THE SCARLET FEATHER THE SCARLET FEATHER CHAPTER I THE SHERIFF’S WRIT 9 The residence of the Reverend John Swinton was on Riverside Drive, although the parish of which he was the rector lay miles away, down in the heart of the East Side. It was thus that he compromised between his own burning desire to aid in the cleansing of the city’s slums and the social aspirations of his wife. The house stood on a corner, within grounds of its own, at the back of which were the stables and the carriagehouse. A driveway and a spacious walk led to the front of the mansion; from the side street, a narrow path reached to the rear entrance. A visitor to-night chose this latter humble manner of approach, for the simple reason that this part of the grounds lay unlighted, and he hoped, therefore, to pass unobserved through the shadows. The warm, red light that streamed from an uncurtained French window on the ground floor only deepened the uncertainty of everything. The man stepped warily, closing the gate behind him with stealthy care, and crept forward on tiptoe to lessen the sound of the crunching gravel beneath his heavy shoes. It was an undignified entry for an officer of the law who carried his authorization in his hand; but courage was not this man’s strong point. His fear was lest he should meet tall, stalwart Dick Swinton, who, on a previous occasion of a similar character, had forcibly resented what he deemed an unwarrantable intrusion on the part of a shabby rascal. The uncurtained window now attracted the attention of the sheriff’s officer, and he peered in. It was the rector’s 10 study. The rector himself was seated with his back toward the window, at his desk, upon which were piled accountbooks and papers in hopeless confusion. A shaded lamp stood upon the centre of the table, and threw a circle of light which included the clergyman’s silver-gray hair, his books, and a figure by the fireside—a handsome woman resplendent in jewels and wearing a low-cut, white evening gown—Mary Swinton, the rector’s wife. The room was paneled, and the shadows were deep, relieved by the glint of gilt on the bindings of the books that filled the shelves on the three sides. The fireplace was surmounted by a carved mantel, upon which stood two gilt candelabra and a black statuette. The walls were burdened by scarce a single picture, and the red curtains at the windows were only half-drawn. On looking in, the impression given was one of luxury and of artistic refinement, an ideal room for a winter’s night, a place for retirement, peace and repose. Mrs. Swinton sat in her own particular chair by the fireside—a most comfortable tub of a chair—and reclined with her feet outstretched upon a stool, smoking a cigarette. Her graceful head was thrown back, and, as she toyed with the cigarette, displaying the arm of a girl and a figure slim and youthful, it was difficult to believe that this woman could be the mother of a grown son and daughter. Her brown hair, which had a glint of gold in it, was carefully dressed, and crowned with a thin circlet of diamonds. Her shapely little head was poised upon a long, white throat rising from queenly shoulders. She looked very tall as she lounged thus with her feet extended and her head thrown back, watching the smoke curl from her full, red lips. Opposite her, deep in an armchair, and scarcely visible behind a large fashion journal, sat Netty Swinton, her daughter, a girl of nineteen, a mere slip of a woman. The pet name for Netty was, “The Persian,” because she somewhat resembled a Persian cat in her ways, always choosing the warmest and most comfortable chairs, and curling up on sofas, quite content to be quiet, only asking to be left alone and caressed at rare intervals by highly-esteemed persons. From the ladies’ gowns, it was obvious that they were going somewhere; and, by the rector’s ruffled hair and shabby smoking-jacket, that he would be staying at home, busy over money affairs—the eternal worry of this household. The rector was even now struggling