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   Chapter 2 A RENCOUNTER

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 3385

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

As Winnifred Clair passed down the stairway leading from the Lawyer's office, a figure appeared before her in the corridor, blocking the way. It was that of a tall, aristocratic-looking man, whose features wore that peculiarly saturnine appearance seen only in the English nobility. The face, while entirely gentlemanly in its general aspect, was stamped with all the worst passions of mankind.

Had the innocent girl but known it, the face was that of Lord Wynchgate, one of the most contemptible of the greater nobility of Britain, and the figure was his too.

"Ha!" exclaimed the dissolute Aristocrat, "whom have we here? Stay, pretty one, and let me see the fair countenance that I divine behind your veil."

"Sir," said Winnifred, drawing herself up proudly, "let me pass, I pray."

"Not so," cried Wynchgate, reaching out and seizing his intended victim by the wrist, "not till I have at least seen the colour of those eyes and imprinted a kiss upon those fair lips."

With a brutal laugh, he drew the struggling girl towards him.

In another moment the aristocratic villain would have succeeded in lifting the veil of the unhappy girl, when suddenly a ringing voice cried, "Hold! stop! desist! begone! lay to! cut it out!"

With these words a tall, athletic young man, attracted doubtless by the girl's cries, leapt into the corridor from the street without. His figure was that, more or less, of a Greek god, while his face, although at the moment inflamed with anger, was of an entirely moral and permissible configuration.

"Save me! save me!" cried Winnifred.

"I will," cried the Stranger, rushing towards Lord Wynchgate with uplifted cane.

But the cowardly A

ristocrat did not await the onslaught of the unknown.

"You shall yet be mine!" he hissed in Winnifred's ear, and, releasing his grasp, he rushed with a bound past the rescuer into the street.

"Oh, sir," said Winnifred, clasping her hands and falling on her knees in gratitude. "I am only a poor inadequate girl, but if the prayers of one who can offer naught but her prayers to her benefactor can avail to the advantage of one who appears to have every conceivable advantage already, let him know that they are his."

"Nay," said the stranger, as he aided the blushing girl to rise, "kneel not to me, I beseech. If I have done aught to deserve the gratitude of one who, whoever she is, will remain for ever present as a bright memory in the breast of one in whose breast such memories are all too few, he is all too richly repaid. If she does that, he is blessed indeed."

"She does. He is!" cried Winnifred, deeply moved. "Here on her knees she blesses him. And now," she added, "we must part. Seek not to follow me. One who has aided a poor girl in the hour of need will respect her wish when she tells him that, alone and buffeted by the world, her one prayer is that he will leave her."

"He will!" cried the Unknown. "He will. He does."

"Leave me, yes, leave me," exclaimed Winnifred.

"I will," said the Unknown.

"Do, do," sobbed the distraught girl. "Yet stay, one moment more. Let she, who has received so much from her benefactor, at least know his name."

"He cannot! He must not!" exclaimed the Indistinguishable. "His birth is such-but enough!"

He tore his hand from the girl's detaining clasp and rushed forth from the place.

Winnifred Clair was alone.

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