Jewel Weed

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 6 days ago
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CHAPTER I

A LIGHT FROM THE FAR EAST

In the mists of the infinite, events poise invisible, awaiting their opportunity to incarnate themselves. They fasten, each after his kind, on these human lives of ours, as germs find the culture soil they love; so it follows that to the commonplace comes a life of dull routine, foolish happenings seek out the sentimentalist, sordid events seek the sordid and on the mystic dawns the mysterious. Calamities wait there, too, until Fate points out a weak spot in character on which they may pounce relentless with the temptation that pierces it. As there are certain things that would scarcely dare to happen to certain people, so other greater events would hardly condescend to those whom they recognize as being their own inferiors.

Once in a while, particularly when a man is young or beginning a new phase of life, there come times when the things that are to be seem almost tangible. They press until he feels them crowd, while he waits with tense expectation for them to become visible to the crude eye of outer experience.

Perhaps it was due to a certain occultism in the atmosphere that Ellery Norris felt this pressure of the future on the afternoon of Mr. Early’s reception to Ram Juna. Norris was a new young man in a new young city, and he had come West to live. However short and futile life may look to the old, it appears a big and long thing to twenty-three. Here in St. Etienne he was to work and work hard; among these people, now all strangers, he was to find the friends of his lifetime; here were to come all the experiences of struggle, failure, success, perhaps of love.

He turned and glanced with a little sense of relief at Richard Percival seated beside him. Dick was the one stanch thing out of his past; Dick he had known and loved at college; Dick was even now showing himself a friend; and all these other folk were but the ghosts of things to come. Then he laughed lightly at himself for his own fantasy, and returned to the survey of his surroundings.

The vast new hall in which they sat, a hall young in years but old Gothic in pretense, might have suggested a possessor of the stately and knightly type rather than a little cockatoo like Mr. Early; but man has this advantage over the snail, that, whereas, the snail is obliged to construct a home around its slimy little body, man may build his habitation to match his imagination and ambition. In the West, moreover, it is the custom to leave the low-vaulted past and build more stately mansions as fast as the increasing purse will permit.

The great room was cool, even on a glowing summer day. Its heavy walls shut out the heat and its narrow windows gave but a creeping light which lost itself in the vaulted spaces above. It was archaic in a modern fashion, too archaic to be quite convincing when combined with present-day ornaments and luxuries, too splendid to belong to any one except Mr. Early, and yet, withal, a satisfying place, dim and fragrant on this July afternoon. The pale summery gowns of the women and the sprinkling of dark coats of the few men present modified its gorgeousness....