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   Chapter 14 END OF A SIMPLE SOUL

Anna of the Five Towns By Arnold Bennett Characters: 7909

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The next morning, at half-past seven, Anna was standing in the garden-doorway of the Priory. The sun had just risen, the air was cold; roof and pavement were damp; rain had fallen, and more was to fall. A door opened higher up the street, and Willie Price came out, carrying a small bag. He turned to speak to some person within the house, and then stepped forward. As he passed Anna she sprang forth.

'Oh!' she cried, 'I had just come up here to see if the workmen had locked up properly. We have some of our new furniture in the house, you know.' She was as red as the sun over Hillport.

He glanced at her. 'Have you heard?' he asked simply.

'About what?' she whispered.

'About my poor old father.'

'Yes. I was hoping-hoping you would never know.'

By a common impulse they went into the garden of the Priory, and he shut the door.

'Never know?' he repeated. 'Oh! they took care to tell me.'

A silence followed.

'Is that your luggage?' she inquired. He lifted up the handbag, and nodded.

'All of it?'

'Yes,' he said. 'I'm only an emigrant.'

'I've got a note here for you,' she said. 'I should have posted it to the steamer; but now you can take it yourself. I want you not to read it till you get to Melbourne.'

'Very well,' he said, and crumpled the proffered envelope into his pocket. He was not thinking of the note at all. Presently he asked: 'Why didn't you tell me about my father? If I had to hear it, I'd sooner have heard it from you.'

'You must try to forget it,' she urged him. 'You are not your father.'

'I wish I had never been born,' he said. 'I wish I'd gone to prison.'

Now was the moment when, if ever, the mother's influence should be exerted.

'Be a man,' she said softly. 'I did the best I could for you. I shall always think of you, in Australia, getting on.'

She put a hand on his shoulder. 'Yes,' she said again, passionately: 'I shall always remember you-always.'

The hand with which he touched her arm shook like an old man's hand. As their eyes met in an intense and painful gaze, to her, at least, it was revealed that they were lovers. What he had learnt in that instant can only be guessed from his next action....

Anna ran out of the garden into the street, and so home, never looking behind to see if he pursued his way to the station.

Some may argue that Anna, knowing she loved another man, ought not to have married Mynors. But she did not reason thus; such a notion never even occurred to her. She had promised to marry Mynors, and she married him. Nothing else was possible. She who had never failed in duty did not fail then. She who had always submitted and bowed the head, submitted and bowed the head then. She had sucked in with her mother's milk the profound truth that a woman's life is always a renunciation, greater or less. Hers by chance was greater. Facing the future calmly and genially, she took oath with herself to be a good wife to the man whom, with all his excellences, she had never loved. Her thoughts often dwelt lovingly on Willie Price, whom she deemed to be pursuing in Australia an honourable and successful career, quickened at the outset by her hundred pounds. This vision of him was her stay. But neither she nor anyone in the Five Towns or elsewhere ever heard of Willie Price again. And well might none hear! The abandoned pitshaft does not deliver up its secret. And so-the Bank of England is the richer by a hundred pounds unclaimed, and the world the poorer by a simple and meek soul stung to revolt only in its last hour.

Jamieson & Munro, Ltd., Printers, Stirling.

* * *

Uniform with this Volume

36 De Profundis Oscar Wilde

37 Lord Arthur Savile's Crime Oscar Wilde

38 Selected Poems Oscar Wilde

39 An Ideal Husband Oscar Wilde

40 Intentions Oscar Wilde

41 Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde

42 Charmides and other Poems Oscar Wilde

43 Harvest Home E. V. Lucas

44 A Little of Everythi

ng E. V. Lucas

45 Vallima Letters Robert Louis Stevenson

46 Hills and the Sea Hilaire Belloc

47 The Blue Bird Maurice Maeterlinck

50 Charles Dickens G. K. Chesterton

53 Letters from Self-Made Merchant to his Son George Horace Larimer

54 The Life of John Ruskin W. G. Collingwood

57 Sevastopol and other Stories Leo Tolstoy

58 The Lore of the Honey-Bee Tickner Edwardes

60 From Midshipman to Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood

63 Oscar Wilde Arthur Ransome

64 The Vicar of Morwenstow S. Baring-Gould

65 Old Country Life S. Baring-Gould

76 Home Life in France M. Betham-Edwards

77 Selected Prose Oscar Wilde

78 The Best of Lamb E. V. Lucas

80 Selected Letters Robert Louis Stevenson

83 Reason and Belief Sir Oliver Lodge

85 The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde

91 Social Evils and their Remedy Leo Tolstoy

93 The Substance of Faith Sir Oliver Lodge

94 All Things Considered G. K. Chesterton

95 The Mirror of the Sea Joseph Conrad

96 A Picked Company Hilaire Belloc

116 The Survival of Man Sir Oliver Lodge

126 Science from an Easy Chair Sir Ray Lankester

141 Variety Lane E. V. Lucas

144 A Shilling for my Thoughts G. K. Chesterton

146 A Woman of No Importance Oscar Wilde

149 A Shepherd's Life W. H. Hudson

193 On Nothing Hilaire Belloc

300 Jane Austen and her Times G. E. Mitton

114 Select Essays Maurice Maeterlinck

218 R. L. S. Francis Watt

223 Two Generations Leo Tolstoy

126 On Everything Hilaire Belloc

934 Records and Reminiscences Sir Francis Burnand

253 My Childhood and Boyhood Leo Tolstoy

254 On Something Hilaire Belloc

A Selection only.

* * *

Uniform with this Volume

1 The Mighty Atom Marie Corelli

2 Jane Marie Corelli

3 Boy Marie Corelli

4 Spanish Gold G. A. Birmingham

5 The Search Party G. A. Birmingham

6 Teresa of Watling Street Arnold Bennett

9 The Unofficial Honeymoon Dolf Wyllarde

12 The Demon C. N. and A. M. Williamson

17 Joseph Frank Danby

18 Round the Red Lamp Sir A. Conan Doyle

20 Light Freights W. W. Jacobs

22 The Long Road John Oxenham

71 The Gates of Wrath Arnold Bennett

72 Short Cruises W. W. Jacobs

81 The Card Arnold Bennett

87 Lalage's Lovers G. A. Birmingham

93 White Fang Jack London

105 The Wallet of Kai Lung Ernest Bramah

108 The Adventures of Dr. Whitty G. A. Birmingham

113 Lavender and Old Lace Myrtle Reed

115 Old Rose and Silver Myrtle Reed

122 The Double Life of Mr. Alfred Burton E. Phillips Oppenheim

125 The Regent Arnold Bennett

127 Sally Dorothea Conyers

129 The Lodger Mrs. Belloc Lowndes

135 A Spinner In the Sun Myrtle Reed

137 The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu Sax Rohmer

139 The Golden Centipede Louise Gerard

140 The Love Pirate C. N. and A. M. Williamson

143 The Way of these Women E. Phillips Oppenheim

143 Sandy Married Dorothea Conyers

145 Chance Joseph Conrad

148 Flower of the Dusk Myrtle Reed

150 The Gentleman Adventurer H. C. Bailey

154 The Hyena of Kallu Louise Gerard

190 The Happy Hunting Ground Mrs. Alice Perrin

191 My Lady of Shadows John Oxenham

211 Max Carrados Ernest Bramah

212 Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad

213 The Kloof Bride Ernest Glanville

215 Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo E. Phillips Oppenheim

216 The Wonder of Love E. M. Albanesi

217 A Weaver of Dreams Myrtle Reed

219 The Family Elinor Mordaunt

220 A Heritage of Peril A. W. Marchmont

221 The Kinsman Mrs. Sidgwick

222 Emmanuel Burden Hilaire Belloc

224 Broken Shackles John Oxenham

225 A Knight of Spain Marjorie Bowen

227 Byeways Robert Hichens

228 Gossamer G. A. Birmingham

230 The Salving of a Derelict Maurice Drake

231 Cameos Marie Corelli

232 The Happy Valley B. M. Croker

245 The Shop Girl C. N. and A. M. Williamson

250 The Lost Regiment Ernest Glanville

261 Tarzan of the Apes Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Selection only.

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