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The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter I

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But at other times he had said to himself--with a shivering soul cowering within him--that this was only part of it all and was a beginning, perhaps, of religious monomania.

During the last week he had known what he was going to do-- he had made up his mind. This abject horror through which others had let themselves be dragged to madness or death he would not endure. The end should come quickly, and no one should be smitten aghast by seeing or knowing how it came. In the crowded shabbier streets of London there were lodging-houses where one, by taking precautions, could end his life in such a manner as would blot him out of any world where such a man as himself had been known. A pistol, properly managed, would obliterate resemblance to any human thing. Months ago through chance talk he had heard how it could be done--and done quickly. He could leave a misleading letter. He had planned what it should be-- the story it should tell of a disheartened mediocre venturer of his poor all returning bankrupt and humiliated from Australia, ending existence in such pennilessness that the parish must give him a pauper's grave. What did it matter where a man lay, so that he slept--slept-- slept? Surely with one's brains scattered one would sleep soundly anywhere.

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He had come to the house the night before, dressed shabbily with the pitiable respectability of a defeated man. He had entered droopingly with bent shoulders and hopeless hang of head. In his own sphere he was a man who held himself well. He had let fall a few dispirited sentences when he had engaged his back room from the woman of the house, and she had recognized him as one of the luckless. In fact, she had hesitated a moment before his unreliable look until he had taken out money from his pocket and paid his rent for a week in advance. She would have that at least for her trouble, he had said to himself. He should not occupy the room after to-morrow. In his own home some days would pass before his household began to make inquiries. He had told his servants that he was going over to Paris for a change. He would be safe and deep in his pauper's grave a week before they asked each other why they did not hear from him. All was in order. One of the mocking agonies was that living was done for. He had ceased to live. Work, pleasure, sun, moon, and stars had lost their meaning. He stood and looked at the most radiant loveliness of land and sky and sea and felt nothing. Success brought greater wealth each day without stirring a pulse of pleasure, even in triumph. There was nothing left but the awful days and awful nights to which he knew physicians could give their scientific name, but had no healing for. He had gone far enough. He would go no farther. To-morrow it would have been over long hours. And there would have been no public declaiming over the humiliating pitifulness of his end. And what did it matter?

How thick the fog was outside-- thick enough for a man to lose himself in it. The yellow mist which had crept in under the doors and through the crevices of the window-sashes gave a ghostly look to the room--a ghastly, abnormal look, he said to himself. The fire was smouldering instead of blazing. But what did it matter? He was going out. He had not bought the pistol last night--like a fool. Somehow his brain had been so tired and crowded that he had forgotten.

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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