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A Modern Chronicle — Volume 02 by Churchill

Produced by David Widger


By Winston Churchill


Volume 2.



Lying back in the chair of the Pullman and gazing over the wide Hudson shining in the afternoon sun, Honora's imagination ran riot until the seeming possibilities of life became infinite. At every click of the rails she was drawing nearer to that great world of which she had dreamed, a world of country houses inhabited by an Olympian order. To be sure, Susan, who sat reading in the chair behind her, was but a humble representative of that order--but Providence sometimes makes use of such instruments. The picture of the tall and brilliant Ethel Wing standing behind the brass rail of the platform of the car was continually recurring to Honora as emblematic: of Ethel, in a blue tailor-made gown trimmed with buff braid, and which fitted her slender figure with military exactness. Her hair, the colour of the yellowest of gold, in the manner of its finish seemed somehow to give the impression of that metal; and the militant effect of the costume had been heightened by a small colonial cocked hat. If the truth be told, Honora had secretly idealized Miss Wing, and had found her insouciance, frankness, and tendency to ridicule delightful. Militant--that was indeed Ethel's note--militant and positive.

"You're not going home with Susan!" she had exclaimed, making a little face when Honora had told her. "They say that Silverdale is as slow as a nunnery--and you're on your knees all the time. You ought to have come to Newport with me."

It was characteristic of Miss Wing that she seemed to have taken no account of the fact that she had neglected to issue this alluring invitation. Life at Silverdale slow! How could it be slow amidst such beauty and magnificence?

The train was stopping at a new little station on which hung the legend, in gold letters, "Sutton." The sun was well on his journey towards the western hills. Susan had touched her on the shoulder.

"Here we are, Honora," she said, and added, with an unusual tremor in her voice, "at last!"

On the far side of the platform a yellow, two-seated wagon was waiting, and away they drove through the village, with its old houses and its sleepy streets and its orchards, and its ancient tavern dating from stage-coach days. Just outside of it, on the tree-dotted slope of a long hill, was a modern brick building, exceedingly practical in appearance, surrounded by spacious grounds enclosed in a paling fence. That, Susan said, was the Sutton Home.

"Your mother's charity?"

A light came into the girl's eyes.

"So you have heard of it? Yes, it is the, thing that interests mother more than anything else in the world."

"Oh," said Honora, "I hope she will let me go through it."

"I'm sure she will want to take you there to-morrow," answered Susan, and she smiled.

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