Chandos: A Novel

Chandos: A Novel

Read FREE!

Chandos: A Novel

Chandos: A Novel

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Proem.

Two vows.

It was the sultry close of a midsummer night in the heart of London.

In all the narrow streets about Westminster, and stretching downward to the dens of the City or the banks of the river, there were the roar of traffic and the glare of midnight; the throngs were jostling each other, the unscreened gas-jets of the itinerant stalls were flaring yellow in the stillness of the air, the screaming of balladsingers pierced shrilly above the incessant noise of wheels, the shouting of coster-mongers, butchers, oyster-venders,. and fried-fish-sellers added its uproar to the pandemonium, and the steam and stench of hot drinks and of rotting vegetables blent with the heaviness of smoke borne down by the heat and the tempestuous oppression of the night. Above, the sky was dark, and little illumined by the crescent of a young and golden moon; but across the darkness now and then, across the narrow strip that piled roofs and towering spires and crushed-up walls alone gave sight of, a falling star shot swiftly down the clouds,β€”in fleeting memento and reminder of all the glorious world of forest and of lake, of rushing river and of deep fernglade, of leafy shelter lying cool in mountain-shadows, and of sea-waves breaking upon wet brown rocks, which lay beyond, and were forgotten here in the stress of trade, in the strife of crowds, in the cramped toil of poverty, and in the wealth of mingled nations. Few in town that night looked up at the shooting star as it flashed its fiery passage above the dull, leaden, noxious, gas-lit streets; none . . .

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