Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 10, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 10

All the way up to town Drake felt very depressed. It is strange that we
mortals never thoroughly appreciate a thing until we have lost it, or a
time until it has slipped past us; and Drake only realized, as the
express rushed along and took him farther and farther away from Shorne
Mills, how contented, and, yes, nearly happy, he had been there,
notwithstanding the pain and inconvenience of a broken limb.

As he leaned back and smoked, he thought of the little village in the
cleft of the cliffs, of the opaline sea, of the miniature jetty on which
he had so often sat and basked in the sunlight; but, more than all, he
thought of The Cottage, of the racketing, warm-hearted Dick, and--and of
Nell of Shorne Mills.

It seemed hard to realize, and not a little painful, that he should
never again sit in the parlor which now seemed to him so cozy, and
listen to the girl playing Chopin and Grieg; or ride beside her over the
yellow and purple moor; or lie coiled up at her feet as she sailed the
_Annie Laurie_.

He began to suspect that he had taken a greater interest in her than he
was aware of; he had grown accustomed to the sweet face, the musical
voice, the little tricks of manner and expression which went to make up
a charm which he now felt she certainly possessed. He looked round the
carriage and sighed as if he missed something, as if something had gone
out of his life.

They had been awfully good to him; they had in very truth played the
part of the good Samaritan; and in his mind he compared these simple
folk, buried in an out-of-the-way fishing village, with some of his
fashionable friends. Which of them would have nursed him as he had been
nursed at The Cottage, would have treated him as one of the family,
would have lavished upon him a regard nearly akin to affection? It was a
hollow world, he thought, and he wished to Heaven he had been born in
Shorne Mills, and got his living as a fisherman, putting in his spare
time by looking after, say, the _Annie Laurie_!

He had wired to his man, and he found his rooms all ready for him. He
wondered as he looked round the handsome and tastefully furnished
sitting room, while Sparling helped him off with his coat, whether he
should be able to afford to keep them up much longer.

"Any news, Sparling?" he asked. "Hope you've been all right," he added,
in the pleasant and friendly way with which he always addressed those
who did service for him.

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