Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 4, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 4

He took up one of the books and read a page or two; but the simple story
could not hold him, and he dropped the volume, and, leaning his head on
his sound arm, stared listlessly at the old-fashioned wall paper. But he
did not see the pattern; the panorama of his own life's story was
passing before him, and it was not at all a pleasing panorama. A life of
pleasure, of absolute uselessness, of unthinking selfishness. What a
dreary pilgrimage it seemed to him, as he lay in the little bedroom,
with the scent of Nell's flowers floating up to him from the garden
beneath, with the sound of the sea, flinging itself against the cliffs,
burring like a giant bumble bee in his ears. If any one had asked him
whether his life had been worth living, he would have answered with a
decided negative; and yet he was young, the gods had been exceeding good
to him in many ways, almost every way, and there was no great sorrow to
cast its shadow over him.

"Pity I didn't break my neck," he muttered. "No one would have
cared--unless it were Luce, and perhaps even she, now----"

He broke off the reverie with a short laugh that was more bitter than a
sigh, and turned his face to the wall.

Doctor Spence, when he paid his visit later in the day, found him thus,
and eyed him curiously.

"Arm's getting on all right, Mr. Vernon," he said; "but the rest of you
isn't improving. I think you'd better get up to-morrow and go
downstairs. I'd keep you here, of course; but lying in bed isn't a
bracing operation, especially when you think; and you think, don't you?"

"When I can't help it," replied Vernon, rather grimly. "I'm glad you
have given me permission to get up; though I dare say I should have got
up without it."

"I dare say," commented the old doctor. "Always have your own way, as a
rule, don't you?"

"Always," assented the patient listlessly.

"Ye-s; it's a bad thing for most men; a very bad thing for you, I should
say. By the way, if you should go downstairs, you must keep quiet----"

"Good heavens, you don't suppose I intend to dance or sing!" broke in
Vernon, with a smile, of irritation.

"No; I mean that you must sit still and avoid any exertion. You'll find
that you are not capable of much in the way of dancing or singing," he
added, with a short laugh. "Try and amuse yourself, and don't--worry."

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