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Charred wood


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Title:CharredWood
Author:MylesMuredach
Illustrator:J.ClintonShepherd
ReleaseDate:August23,2005[EBook#16585]
Language:English

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CHARREDWOOD
BY



MYLESMUREDACH

"O,DesignerInfinite,mustThou
thenCharthewoodbeforeThou
canstlimnwithit?"

ILLUSTRATEDBY

J.CLINTONSHEPHERD

GROSSET&DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS—-NEWYORK

MadeintheUnitedStatesofAmerica


Copyright,1917
by
TheReilly&BrittenCo.

PublishedOctober17,1917
ReprintedDecember10,1917
ReprintedOctober11,1918.

CharredWood


CONTENTS
I THELADYOFTHETREE
II MONSIGNORE
III UNDERSUSPICION
IV KILLIMAGA
V WITHEMPTYHANDS
VI WHOISRUTH?
VII BITTERBREAD
VIII FATHERMURRAYOFSIHASSET
IX THEBISHOP'SCONFESSION
X ATTHEMYSTERYTREE
XI THINICE


XII HISEXCELLENCYSUGGESTS
XIII THEABDUCTION
XIV THEINEXPLICABLE
XV "IAMNOTTHEDUCHESS!"
XVI HISEXCELLENCYISWORRIED
XVII THEOPENDOOR
XVIII SAUNDERSSCORES
XIX CAPITULATION
XX THE"DUCHESS"ABDICATES
XXI THEBECKONINGHAND
XXII RUTH'SCONFESSION
XXIII CHARREDWOOD


LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
OnKillimaga'sCliff.....Frontispiece
Somethingwhiteswishedquicklypasthimandhestared,
bewildered...Shehadsteppedoutofnowhere.
Saunderslookedlongandearnestlyathisface.
"He'stheman!"heannounced.
"Godresther,"FatherMurraysaidafterwhatseemed
anagetoMark;"itisnotRuth!"

[Transcriber's note: The Frontispiece and the "Something white…" illustration
weremissingfromthebook.]


CharredWood


CHAPTERI
THELADYOFTHETREE
The man lay in the tall grass. Behind him the wall of the Killimaga estate,
from its beginning some fifty yards to his left, stretched away to his right for
overathousandfeet.Alongtheroadwhichranalmostparallelwiththewallwas
theremnantofwhathadoncebeenagreatwoods;yearlythecountyauthorities
determinedtocutawayitsthickundergrowth—andyearlyleftitalone.Onthe
lefttheroadwasbareforsomedistancealongthebluff;then,bending,itagain
soughttheshelterofthetreesandmeanderedalonguntilitlostitselfinthemain
street of Sihasset, a village large enough to support three banks and, after a
fashion,eightsmallchurches.Infront,hadtheloungercaredtolook,hewould
haveseenthehugerockstoppingthebluffagainstwhichtheoceandasheditself
into angry foam. But the man didn't care to look—for in the little clearing
betweenthewallofKillimagaandthebluffroadwaspeacetooprofoundtobe
wantonlydisturbedbymotion.Andsohelaytherelazilysmokinghiscigar,his
longlengthconcealedbythetallgrass.
Hearing a slight click behind him and to his right, the man slowly, even
languidly, turned his head to peer through the grass. But his energy was
unrewarded,forhesawnothinghehadnotseenbefore—alongwall,itsrough
stoneshalfhiddenbycreepingvines,atitsbasearankgrowthofshrubsandwild
hedge;behindit,intheneardistance,thetowersofahousethat,inanotherland,
perched amid jutting crags, would have inspired visions of far-off days of
romance.EveninitsNewEnglandsettingthegreathouseheldaruggedcharm,
heightened by the big trees which gave it a setting of rich green. Some of the
trees had daringly advanced almost to the wall itself, while one—a veritable
giant—hadseeminglybeencaughtwhilejuststeppingthrough.
With a bored sigh, as if even so slight an effort were too great, the smoker
settled himself more comfortably and resumed his indolent musing. Then he
heardthesoundagain.Thistimehedidnottroubletolookaround.Something
white swished quickly past him and he stared, bewildered. It was a woman,
young,ifherfigureweretobetrusted.Hiscigardroppedinthegrass,andthere
heletitlie.Hisgazeneverleftherasshewalkedon;andhecouldscarcelybe


blamed, for he was still under thirty-five and feminine early twenties has an
interest to masculine full youth. He had never seen anyone quite so charming.
Andsohewatchedtheladyasshewalkedtotheedgeofthebluffoverlooking
thesea,andturnedtothelefttogoalongthepathwaytowardthevillage.
Five hundred yards away she was met by a tall man wearing a long black
coat. Was it the priest he had noticed that morning at the door of the Catholic
churchinthevillage?Yes,therewasnodoubtaboutthat;itwasthepriest.He
hadjustliftedhishattotheladyandwasnowturningtowalkbackwithherby
the way he had come. They evidently knew each other well; and the man
watchingthemalmostlaughedathimselfwhenherealizedthathewasslightly
piquedattheclergyman'sdaringtoknowherwhilehedidnot.Hewatchedthe
pair until they disappeared around the bend of the bluff path. Then he settled
back to look for his cigar. But he did not find it, for other matters quickly
absorbedhisattention.
From out a clump of bushes on his left, where they evidently had been
hiding,twomenappeared.Herecognizedthemboth.Onewasabookagentwho
was stopping at the hotel in the village; the other was the local constable. The
bookagenthadapaperinhishand.
"Thather?"heasked.
"Yaas,sir!"—theconstablewassurelyanativeNewEnglander—"Iseedher
faceplain."
"Ididn't,"saidtheagent,withannoyance."Ihaveneverseenherwithoutthat
confounded veil. This is the first time she's had it thrown back. But the
descriptionisright?Lookatit."
Heshowedthepapertotheconstable,tappingitasheread.
"'Brownhair,blueeyes'—didyouseehereyes?"
"Isuredid,"answeredtheconstable;"andtheywuzblue."
"Allright,then.'Blueeyes,regularfeatures'—howaboutthat?"
"Reg'larenough,"saidtheconstable."She'dnopugnose,Ikintellyathat."


"'Regular features,' then, is right. 'Five feet four inches tall'—that's right.
'Smallhandsandfeet'—that'sright.'Abouttwenty-threeyearsold;goodfigure.'"
"She sure hez all them," vouchsafed the wearer of the star. "I knowed her
rightaway,andI'veseedheroften.She'sbeeninSihassetwellnighonamonth."
"But where—" the agent turned to look at the unbroken wall—"where in
thunderdidshecomefrom?"
Theconstable,pushingbackhishelmet,scratchedhishead.
"Damfino," he said. "That's the rub. There's no gate on this side of
Killimaga."
"Killimaga?"
"A rich old Irishman built it and put a wall around it, too. We folks of
Sihassetdon'tlikethat;itshutsofftheviewofthehouseandlawn.Lawn'swhat
makesthingspurty.Hewuzaqueeroldmug—wantedtoshuthisselfup."
"Buthowdidshegetout?"insistedtheagent,comingbacktotheissue.
"Search me," offered the constable. He looked toward the top of the wall.
"Clumbthefence,mebbe."
"Withherdresslookingasitdoes?"
"There'snootherway.Idunno."
The agent was puzzled. "I want a closer inspection of that wall. We'll walk
alongthisside."
Both agent and constable started off, keeping well behind the wild hedge
alongthewallsothattheymightnotbeseenfromthebluffroad.
The man lying in the grass was more puzzled than the agent. Why a book
agent and a constable should be so anxious about a lady who was—well, just
charming—but who had herself stepped out of nowhere to join a priest in his
walk,wasaproblemforsomestudy.Hegotupandwalkedtthehearttotellyouthetruth.Ineedyou
now,andthen,perhaps,thosegreaterthanI.Youmaystaybutaverylittlewhile.
CometomeimmediatelyafterChristmas."

The flame-colored message went to its kind amid the great logs of the
fireplace. Father Murray picked up his book again, turned its pages, and read
softlytohimself:

"Ah!isThyloveindeed
Aweed,albeitanamaranthineweed,
Sufferingnoflowersexceptitsowntomount?
Ah!must—
DesignerInfinite—
Ah!mustThoucharthewoodereThoucanstlimnwithit?"


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