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A Great Success by Mrs. Humphry Ward

Produced by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland, Maria Khomenko and PG Distributed Proofreaders

[Illustration: "Look there, Doris--you see that path? Let's go on to the moor a little."]

A Great Success

By

Mrs. Humphry Ward Author of "Eltham House," "Delia Blanchflower," etc.

New York Hearst's International Library Co. 1916

PART I

CHAPTER I

"Arthur,--what did you give the man?"

"Half a crown, my dear! Now don't make a fuss. I know exactly what you're going to say!"

"_Half a crown!_" said Doris Meadows, in consternation. "The fare was one and twopence. Of course he thought you mad. But I'll get it back!"

And she ran to the open window, crying "Hi!" to the driver of a taxi-cab, who, having put down his fares, was just on the point of starting from the door of the small semi-detached house in a South Kensington street, which owned Arthur and Doris Meadows for its master and mistress.

The driver turned at her call.

"Hi!--Stop! You've been over-paid!"

The man grinned all over, made her a low bow, and made off as fast as he could.

Arthur Meadows, behind her, went into a fit of laughter, and as his wife, discomfited, turned back into the room he threw a triumphant arm around her.

"I had to give him half a crown, dear, or burst. Just look at these letters--and you know what a post we had this morning! Now don't bother about the taxi! What does it matter? Come and open the post."

Whereupon Doris Meadows felt herself forcibly drawn down to a seat on the sofa beside her husband, who threw a bundle of letters upon his wife's lap, and then turned eagerly to open others with which his own hands were full.

"H'm!--Two more publishers' letters, asking for the book--don't they wish they may get it! But I could have made a far better bargain if I'd only waited a fortnight. Just my luck! One--two--four--autograph fiends! The last--a lady, of course!--wants a page of the first lecture. Calm! Invitations from the Scottish Athenaeum--the Newcastle Academy--the Birmingham Literary Guild--the Glasgow Poetic Society--the 'British Philosophers'--the Dublin Dilettanti!--Heavens!--how many more! None of them offering cash, as far as I can see--only fame--pure and undefiled! Hullo!--that's a compliment!--the Parnassians have put me on their Council. And last year, I was told, I couldn't even get in as an ordinary member. Dash their impudence!... This is really astounding! What are yours, darling?"

And tumbling all his opened letters on the sofa, Arthur Meadows rose--in sheer excitement--and confronted his wife, with a flushed countenance. He was a tall, broadly built, loose-limbed fellow, with a fine shaggy head, whereof various black locks were apt to fall forward over his eyes, needing to be constantly thrown back by a picturesque action of the hand. The features were large and regular, the complexion dark, the eyes a pale blue, under bushy brows. The whole aspect of the man, indeed, was not unworthy of the adjective "Olympian," already freely applied to it by some of the enthusiastic women students attending his now famous lectures. One girl artist learned in classical archaeology, and a haunter of the British Museum, had made a charcoal study of a well-known archaistic "Diespiter" of the Augustan period, on the same sheet with a rapid sketch of Meadows when lecturing; a performance which had been much handed about in the lecture-room, though always just avoiding--strangely enough--the eyes of the lecturer.... The expression of slumbrous power, the mingling of dream and energy in the Olympian countenance, had been, in the opinion of the majority, extremely well caught. Only Doris Meadows, the lecturer's wife, herself an artist, and a much better one than the author of the drawing, had smiled a little queerly on being allowed a sight of it.


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