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The Leavenworth Case

23. The Story Of A Charming Woman
"Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."
--Old Song.
"I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted."
--Measure for Measure.
"YOU have never heard, then, the particulars of Mr. Leavenworth's marriage?"
It was my partner who spoke. I had been asking him to explain to me Mr. Leavenworth's
well-known antipathy to the English race.
"No."
"If you had, you would not need to come to me for this explanation. But it is not strange
you are ignorant of the matter. I doubt if there are half a dozen persons in existence who
could tell you where Horatio Leavenworth found the lovely woman who afterwards
became his wife, much less give you any details of the circumstances which led to his
marriage."
"I am very fortunate, then, in being in the confidence of one who can. What were those
circumstances, Mr. Veeley?"
"It will aid you but little to hear. Horatio Leavenworth, when a young man, was very
ambitious; so much so, that at one time he aspired to marry a wealthy lady of Providence.
But, chancing to go to England, he there met a young woman whose grace and charm had
such an effect upon him that he relinquished all thought of the Providence lady, though it
was some time before he could face the prospect of marrying the one who had so greatly
interested him; as she was not only in humble circumstances, but was encumbered with a
child concerning whose parentage the neighbors professed ignorance, and she had
nothing to say. But, as is very apt to be the case in an affair like this, love and admiration
soon got the better of worldly wisdom. Taking his future in his hands, he offered himself
as her husband, when she immediately proved herself worthy of his regard by entering at
once into those explanations he was too much of a gentleman to demand. The story she
told was pitiful. She proved to be an American by birth, her father having been a well-
known merchant of Chicago. While he lived, her home was one of luxury, but just as she
was emerging into womanhood he died. It was at his funeral she met the man destined to
be her ruin. How he came there she never knew; he was not a friend of her father's. It is
enough he was there, and saw her, and that in three weeks--don't shudder, she was such a
child--they were married. In twenty-four hours she knew what that word meant for her; it
meant blows. Everett, I am telling no fanciful story. In twenty-four hours after that girl
was married, her husband, coming drunk into the house, found her in his way, and
knocked her down. It was but the beginning. Her father's estate, on being settled up,
proving to be less than expected, he carried her off to England, where he did not wait to
 
 
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