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VI. The White Blot Henry van Dyke

Section III.

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"Queer kinder fellow," said a wrinkled old bayman with whom I walked up the sandy road, "I seen him a good deal round here, but 'twan't like havin' any 'quaintance with him. He allus kep' himself to himself, pooty much. Used ter stay round 'Squire Ladoo's place most o' the time--keepin' comp'ny with the gal I guess. Larmone? Yaas, that's what THEY called it, but we don't go much on fancy names down here. No, the painter didn' 'zactly live there, but it 'mounted to the same thing. Las' summer they was all away, house shet up, painter hangin' round all the time, 's if he looked fur 'em to come back any minnit. Purfessed to be paintin', but I don' see's he did much. Lived up to Mort Halsey's; died there too; year ago this fall. Guess Mis' Halsey can tell ye most of any one 'bout him."

At the boarding-house (with wide, low verandas, now forsaken by the summer boarders), which did duty for a village inn, I found Mrs. Halsey; a notable housewife, with a strong taste for ancestry, and an uncultivated world of romance still brightening her soft brown eyes. She knew all the threads in the story that I was following; and the interest with which she spoke made it evident that she had often woven them together in the winter evenings on patterns of her own.

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Judge Ledoux had come to Quantock from the South during the war, and built a house there like the one he used to live in. There were three things he hated: slavery and war and society. But he always loved the South more than the North, and lived like a foreigner, polite enough, but very retired. His wife died after a few years, and left him alone with a little girl. Claire grew up as pretty as a picture, but very shy and delicate. About two years ago Mr. Falconer had come down from the city; he stayed at Larmone first, and then he came to the boarding-house, but he was over at the Ledoux' house almost all the time. He was a Southerner too, and a relative of the family; a real gentleman, and very proud though he was poor. It seemed strange that he should not live with them, but perhaps he felt more free over here. Every one thought he must be engaged to Claire, but he was not the kind of a man that you could ask questions about himself. A year ago last winter he had gone up to the city and taken all his things with him. He had never stayed away so long before. In the spring the Ledoux had gone to Europe; Claire seemed to be falling into a decline; her sight seemed to be failing, and her father said she must see a famous doctor and have a change of air.

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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