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  • THE

    CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD

    ROMANCE

    EDGAR FAWCETT

    AUTHOR OF "AN AMBITIOUS WOMAN," "TINKLING CYMBALS," "A GENTLEMAN

    OF LEISURE," " SOCIAL SILHOUETTES," " THE HOUSE

    AT HIGH BRIDGE," ETC.

    BOSTON

    TICKNOR AND COMPANY

    1887

  • Copyright, 1886, by EDGARFAWCETT; and 1887, by

    TICKNOR " COMPANY.

    All rights reserved.

    "L1CTROTTP"D AHD PRINTSD

    BY RAND AVBRY COMPANY.

    B03TOIC.

  • TO MY FRIEND,

    JULIAN HAWTHORNE,

    IN THE HOPE THAT ONE WHO HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO

    THE WORLD SO MUCH OP BRILLIANT IMAGINATION

    AND UNIQUE FANCY,

    MAY FIND AMID THE GLOOM AND TRAGEDY OF

    THIS TALE

    A SLENDER PARDON FOR ITS EXISTENCE

    AND A FAINT EXCUSE FOR ITS

    DEDICATION.

    2061732

  • THECONFESSIONS

    OFCLAUD

  • THE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD.

    I.

    MORE than thirty years ago, in a part of New-

    York which was then open field and is now

    densely-populated city, I, Otho Claud, first saw

    the light. My home was a square, prim cottage,

    guiltless of a single ornament. From its rear

    doorway, across rolling acres clad in the short

    verdure which isa sure

    token of barren or neg

    lected soil, you could see the waters of the Hud

    son, sparkling and spacious. Our house stood in

    a solitude ; hundreds of yards lay between our

    selves and the nearest neighbor. To the north

    wardrose masses

    of that abundant native rock

    whose bulky and rigid recurrences form so con

    tinual a feature of Manhattan Island, and whose

    stolid challenge against the expanding metropolis

    has met tardy but certain defiance.

    Oftenon winter nights I have watched that

    rocky mass from the window of my little bed

    chamber, looming black and jagged against the

    7

  • 8 TUE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD.

    brilliant stars. Child as I was, I soon realized

    it to be overhung with the doom of destruction.

    Slowly, like a devouring monster, I knew that

    the city crept every year closer to where we

    dwelt. So many of us look for romance only

    in the age of a great town " in its hoary cathe

    drals, its scholastic universities, its feudal towers.

    But the youth of a city,stretching its big, stronglimbs like an awakening giant, carelesslyand even

    lazily levelling a forest, quenching a stream or

    crushing a hill,has in this gradual birth of mightand prowess a sombre romance quite its own.

    I think that my early childhood must have

    shaped some thought like this. Each new yearbrought the sure advance closer. And it was the

    steadfast, pitilessmarch of a foe. Dull booms

    from blasting-works began to reach us throughthe more temperate seasons. Every spring weheard them a little more clearly. I knew what

    they meant ; I had learned ; I was now eight

    years old. We held our home by no legal right :we were mere squatters upon an unguarded terri

    tory, valueless when first found, but now gainingwith speed in worth and note. Soon we mustfare to other quarters. The fiat of dismissal

    might reach us to-morrow; it might be delayedfor many morrows yet.

    Inmy childish way I had grown to hate the

    enlarging city. It seemed to me like a dark and

    monstrous threat. I traced the shadow of it in

  • TUE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD. 9

    my parents' faces. It made me fear my father

    more, as it made me love my mother more. He

    was a German, she a Frenchwoman. Their mar

    riage had been a hasty and stolen one, and their

    voyage to America almost a flight. My motherhad been the petted daughter of a wealthy Breton

    bourgeois. Leopold Clauss had come to his farmin the capacity of a serving-man. He milked the

    cows, stalled the sheep, tossed the hay. Mymother, naturally delicate, had been most gentlyreared. Of keen intelligence, she had richlyprofited by the tutorship of an old erudite priest,whom her father held in devout esteem. She was

    good, beautiful, obedient ; there had been sometalk of giving her to the church. For her to lookwith tenderness upon a farm-servant like LeopoldClauss would have been deemed something abominable. But one night she fled with him. Sheloved him, and she fled with him.

    In a foreign land, beset with ills of want andtoil, facing a wholly new and often bitter modeof existence, she remained his clinging, uncom

    plaining wife. Nothing could alienate her affection. I have seen many good women since I first

    recognized her goodness, but no feminine naturehas ever touched mine with just the same chasteand sweet force.

    Memory yields to me her image now, with tintsthat seem to live, with lines that hold a vital

    grace. She had great, dark, shining eyes, that

  • 10 TIIE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD.

    appeared equally to express a controlled melan

    choly and a profound patience. Her black hair,of a charming wave and gloss, was so plenteousthat it seemed to overburden the slim support

    of her frail white throat. Especially when she

    drooped under fatigue I would observe this effect ;it was then that the fragilityof her body made

    her resemble some plant whose crest of bloom too

    heavily weights the stem. Her brow had a sort

    of holy arch, and the curving lashes cast a faint

    little shade upon her pale cheek. She was devot

    edly fond of me. And I, if I had been more like

    her, should probably have cared for her less. Asit was, she inspired in me something like wonder.She seemed as secure above all the baser gusts of

    passion as the white top of an alp is above ordi

    nary tempest. I used to ask myself, after I grewolder, what she had given me, if she had given me

    any thing. It is true that she had dropped somesort of leaven into my nature. I will not only

    grant this ; I will assert more. By heredity I hadreceived from her a distinct set of good impulses,and by education she had nurtured these into firmif not hardy growth. The heritage from my fatherhad been of darker and sterner stuff. I was not

    to know in full,until a still later day, of the evilflaws which he had transmitted to me.

    He was a man of great physical beauty. Frommy earliest recollection he had cultivated a vegetable-garden lying near our plain abode, and I

  • THE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD. 11

    had often admiringly watched the supple movements of his commanding frame, the fine play ofhis massive yet just limbs, the careless gold curlsgleaming from the rough hat which surmounted aface of chiselled symmetry. It was this beautythat had won my mother's headstrong and im

    politic passion ; perhaps it was this beauty that

    now kept her unfailingly constant. He had a

    light-blueeye, as cold as steel,as expressionless asice. I always shrank from that eye of his ; I had

    seen it glittercruelly,and I had soon in a vagueyet secure way determined that a coarse brain laybehind it,a hard heart below. He ignored me forsix good days in the week, and would accept meas a fact, so to speak, on the seventh. But it wasnot as a pleasant fact ; it was, on the contrary, as

    a mouth to feed, a form to clothe. I was alwaysin dread lest he should strike me ; I had seen our

    neighbors strike their children and send them

    screaming or limping into the squalid huts that

    were their dreary homes. But though sometimesharsh of order and epithet,my father always refrained from dealing me a blow. He did not hate

    me ; he did not in any sense cherish me. He was

    simply indifferent to my needs, aims, hopes, joysor ills. He completely lacked the paternal instinct ; he had begotten me, and there was an end.Most Germans tenderly love their children. I donot know that I should call him brutal for not

    loving me, since there are many brutes that will

  • 12 THE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD.

    face death for their offspring. And moreover,there was a distinct reason that such a strange

    man as he should regard me precisely as he did.

    That reason was the lavish affection of my mother.

    I think that if I had been anyone except her

    son " and her son by his own fatherhood " he

    would never have forgiven her for the enduringworship she paid me. It would have seemed tohim intolerable that another than himself could so

    engross her thought, her life. He was often rude

    in speech to her ; he would show her by act and

    phrase the fret and hurt of his struggles againstneed ; lie would upbraid and reproach and satirizeher ; but beneath all his curt or even savage de

    portment slept for her an immense and fervent

    fondness. I have seen his cold eye melt as it met

    hers ; I have seen his big,shapely frame tremble

    as he took her own slight one in his embrace.

    Here he was indeed brutal, for he loved as a brute

    may love, and he compassed the object of his idolatry with a rampart of suspicious hates. This in

    cessant and alert jealousy was an experience thathad for me no real beginning ; its stormy horizondipped into the haze of infancy ; I could neverremember any time when my father had not had a

    grudge against somebody or something because oftoo much regard for his wife. The bounds of madness are hard to draw; human nature foreverstalks abroad with greeds and prejudices that ifcolored a trifle more vividly would tempt the cell

  • THE CONFESSIONS OF CLAUD. 13

    and the chain. I believe that my father, in this

    one headlong and insensate trait of his, was irre

    sponsibly mad ; and the pages which I now mean

    to write shall most pitiablyhave missed their purport if I do not win some few converts to mysombre theory. I have known him to kill a pooroutcast dog becau