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The Imperialist

By Duncan, Sara Jeannette

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Book Id: WPLBN0000151563
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 1.5 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: The Imperialist  
Author: Duncan, Sara Jeannette
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Literature, Literature & thought, Writing.
Collections: Classic Literature Collection
Historic
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Ebook Library

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Duncan, S. J. (n.d.). The Imperialist. Retrieved from http://cn.ebooklibrary.org/


Excerpt
It would have been idle to inquire into the antecedents, or even the circumstances, of old Mother Beggarlegs. She would never tell; the children, at all events, were convinced of that; and it was only the children, perhaps, who had the time and the inclination to speculate. Her occupation was clear; she presided like a venerable stooping hawk, over a stall in the covered part of the Elgin market-place, where she sold gingerbread horses and large round gingerbread cookies, and brown sticky squares of what was known in all circles in Elgin as taffy. She came, it was understood, with the dawn; with the night she vanished, spending the interval on a not improbable broomstick. Her gingerbread was better than anybody's; but there was no comfort in standing, first on one foot and then on the other, while you made up your mind—the horses were spirited and you could eat them a leg at a time, but there was more in the cookies—she bent such a look on you, so fierce and intolerant of vacillation. She belonged to the group of odd characters, rarer now than they used to be, etched upon the vague consciousness of small towns as in a way mysterious and uncanny; some said that Mother Beggarlegs was connected with the aristocracy and some that she had been let off being hanged. The alternative was allowed full swing, but in any case it was clear that such persons contributed little to the common good and, being reticent, were not entertaining. So you bought your gingerbread, concealing, as it were, your weapons, paying your copper coins with a neutral nervous eye, and made off to a safe distance, whence you turned to shout insultingly, if you were an untrounced young male of Elgin, Old Mother Beggarlegs! Old Mother Beggarlegs! And why Beggarlegs nobody in the world could tell you. It might have been a dateless waggery, or it might have been a corruption of some more dignified surname, but it was all she ever got. Serious, meticulous persons called her Mrs Beggarlegs, slightly lowering their voices and slurring it, however, it must be admitted. The name invested her with a graceless, anatomical interest, it penetrated her wizened black and derisively exposed her; her name went far indeed to make her dramatic. Lorne Murchison, when he was quite a little boy was affected by this and by the unfairness of the way it singled her out. Moved partly by the oppression of the feeling and partly by a desire for information he asked her sociably one day, in the act of purchase, why the gilt was generally off her gingerbread. He had been looking long, as a matter of fact, for gingerbread with the gilt on it, being accustomed to the phrase on the lips of his father in connection with small profits. Mother Beggarlegs, so unaccustomed to politeness that she could not instantly recognize it, answered him with an imprecation at which he, no doubt, retreated, suddenly thrown on the defensive hurling the usual taunt. One prefers to hope he didn't, with the invincible optimism one has for the behaviour of lovable people; but whether or not his kind attempt at colloquy is the first indication I can find of that active sympathy with the disabilities of his fellow-beings which stamped him later so intelligent a meliorist. Even in his boy's beginning he had a heart for the work; and Mother Beggarlegs, but for a hasty conclusion, might have made him a friend.

Table of Contents
· CHAPTER I · CHAPTER II · CHAPTER III · CHAPTER IV · CHAPTER V · CHAPTER VI · CHAPTER VII · CHAPTER VIII · CHAPTER IX · CHAPTER X · CHAPTER XI · CHAPTER XII · CHAPTER XIII · CHAPTER XIV · CHAPTER XV · CHAPTER XVI · CHAPTER XVII · CHAPTER XVIII · CHAPTER XIX · CHAPTER XX · CHAPTER XXI · CHAPTER XXII · CHAPTER XXIII · CHAPTER XXIV · CHAPTER XXV · CHAPTER XXVI · CHAPTER XXVII · CHAPTER XXVIII · CHAPTER XXIX · CHAPTER XXX · CHAPTER XXXI · CHAPTER XXXII · CHAPTER XXXIII 1

 
 



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