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قراءة كتاب The Invisible Foe A Story Adapted from the Play by Walter Hackett

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‏اللغة: English
The Invisible Foe
A Story Adapted from the Play by Walter Hackett

The Invisible Foe A Story Adapted from the Play by Walter Hackett

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 1























Copyright, 1918, 1920, by

Frederick A. Stokes Company

All rights reserved

Blind, blind, blind


BOOK I The Children  
BOOK II The Dark  
BOOK III The Quest  
BOOK IV The Light  

Transcriber’s Notes can be found at the end of this eBook.




Stephen lay on his stomach, one sharp elbow comfortable in a velvet bed of moss, his chin cupped in his palm, his beautifully shaped head thrown back, his alert face lifted to the sky, his eager eyes following hungrily the flight of a bird.

Hugh, crunched up against the big oak tree, was making a chain of blossoms, and making it awkwardly enough, with many a restless boy-sigh, many a destruction of delicate spring wild flower.

Helen was playing by herself.

Nothing could have been more characteristic of the three children than their occupations of the moment.

Stephen usually was watching birds fly, when he was out of doors, and birds were to be seen. And the only time his uncle Richard had ever laid a hand (except in rare caress or in approbation) on the orphan boy, had been when Stephen, three months after his arrival at Deep Dale, had opened its cage, and lost Helen her pet canary—all because he “wanted to see just how he flies.”

“And I did see, too,” he had told Hugh an hour after his stoically endured caning. “It was worth more than a few smacks. Bet I can fly too, some day. You wait.”

Hugh had said nothing. He was used to Stephen and Stephen’s vivid ambitions. And he was stolid.

Stephen had suffered his slight chastisement proudly—if not quite gladly—but with each faltering fall of his uncle’s cane a seed of bitterness had entered the child’s soul. He never had felt the same to “Uncle Dick” since—which was no small pity, for the orphan boy was love-hungry, and Richard Bransby his best friend.

The small punishment bred deceit but worked no cure. The men in the fowl-yard could have told sad tales of staid hens aggravated to indignant, fluttering flight, and the old gardener of peacocks goaded to rise from their self-glorified strutting and preening to fly stiff and screaming the few spaces which were their farthest. But neither the farm hands nor the gardener told. Why—it is not easy to say. They did not particularly like Stephen—few people did. But they feared him. He mastered their wills. A solitary child, not half so happy as childhood has every right to be, the boy met few he did not influence sharply. His was a masterful nature. Little altogether escaped his subtle dominance.

Stephen was not essentially cruel. His cruelty was corollary and accessory to his passion—a passion for power and for the secrets of aerial skill. He bore the birds no ill-will. He simply was obsessed to see their flight, and to study it, garnering up in his odd, isolated, accretive child’s mind—and heart—every vibrant curve and beat of their wings, every angle and bend of their bodies.

Stephen usually was watching the flight of a bird, or scheming some mechanical imitation of it.

Hugh usually was doing something for wee Helen, doing it with perspiring and sighful awkwardness and for scant thanks—or for none.

Helen usually was playing by herself, and pretending, as now, to be sharing the sport of some playfellow, perfectly tangible to her, but invisible, non-existent to the boys—a form of persistent “make believe” which greatly amused Hugh and as greatly irritated Stephen.

“Don’t pretend like that; it’s a simpleton way of going on,” the older boy called to her now, without moving his head or his eyes.

“It’s nothing of the kind,” the girl replied scornfully. “You’re blind, that’s what’s the matter—blinder’n a bat, both of you.” And she continued to laugh and chat with her “make-believe” playmates.

An elfin child herself, the children of her own delicate myth did seem the more suitable fellows for her dainty frolic than either queer Stephen or stolid, clumsy Hugh.

The little girl was very pretty, a queenly little head heavy with vivid waves of gold-red hair, curved red lips eloquent of the history of centuries of womanhood, wide blue eyes, and the prettiest hands and arms that even feminine babyhood (and English babyhood, Celtic-dashed at that) had ever yet achieved; every pink-tipped finger a miracle, and each soft, beautifully molded elbow, dimpled and dented with witching chinks that simply clamored for kisses—and often got them; a sunny, docile child, yielding but unafraid, quiet and reserved, but hiding under its rose and snow robe of provocatively pretty flesh, a will that never swerved: the strongest will at Deep Dale—and that says everything of it—for both Stephen Pryde, fourteen years old, and his uncle, nearing fifty, had stronger wills than often fall to us weak mortals of drift and vacillation. These two masculine strengths of will lay rough and prominent on the surface and also sank soul-deep. The uncle’s never abated. Circumstances and youth curbed the boy’s, at times—but neither chilled nor softened it. Helen’s will lay deep and still. Her pretty, smiling surface never showed it by so much as a gentle ripple. She kept it as a sort of spiritual