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The Carissima: a Modern Grotesque . Malet, Lucas, 1852–1931.
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THE CARISSIMA A MODERN GROTESQUE

BY

LUCAS MALET

AUTHOR OF “THE WAGES OF SIN” “COLONEL ENDERBY'S WIFE” ETC. ETC.

METHUEN & CO. 36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
LONDON

1896

NOTE

THIS story was originally named “The Power of the Dog.” Last year my attention was called to the fact that this title had been appropriated. I altered the name of my story to that which it now bears. I have, however, retained the phrase in Leversedge's letter in the last chapter; which, I may add, was written and submitted to Messrs. Methuen & Co. long before I had heard of book now bearing the title I had originally chosen.

LUCAS MALET.

KENSINGTON, W., August 1896.
  • “We are no other than a moving row
  • Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
  • Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
  • In Midnight by the Master of the Show;
  • But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
  • Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
  • Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
  • And one by one back in the Closet lays.”

OMAR KHAYYAM.

THE CARISSIMA

PROLOGUE

ANTONY HAMMOND told me this story one wet afternoon sitting in the smoking-room of a certain country-house. Everyone else had gone out, regardless of weather, to tramp across the sodden park, walk down to the home farm, or up to the rectory. I observe, when it rains hard some members of a house-party are invariably taken up to tea at the rectory. But neither the plashy grass, nor the manorial pig-styes, nor the clerical teapot seemed to exercise any wild fascination over us; so, with an agreeable conviction of having chosen the better, and dryer, part, we remained a at home.

Hammond recounts very well when he is in the vein. He also possesses the gift of pronouncing a larger number of words in a limited space of time than any other person of my acquaintance. We had talked of many things. Discussed that chief page: 2 wonder of the age, the modern young woman; who differs as much from all bygone types of womanhood as our modern modes of locomotion do from those obtaining in the days of Abraham.

“For,” said Hammond, “broadly speaking, is she not to her mother, as is the Orient Express to a string of camels?”

He added that, compared with even a superficial comprehension of the intricacies of her thought and conduct, the mastery of the Chinese language would supply an airy pastime, the study of the higher mathematics a gentle sedative.

“You may take her,” he declared, “as a single or, in conjunction with man as a double, acrostic. In either case she is past finding out.”

Then the conversation wandered on to the heroines of modern fiction; and brought up, by chance, against the lady to whom is given the title-rôle in that penetrating little tale of Daudet's, La menteuse.

Here Hammond became didactic.

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