Averil by Rosa Nouchette Carey Page 1 of 207


Mr. Harland was one of those enviable persons who invariably take a cheerful view of everything; in the favorite parlance of the day, he was an optimist. A good digestion, an easy-going temperament, and a conscious void of offense toward his fellow-creatures, all contributed to furnish him with a fine flow of spirits.

In this way he was a philosopher, and would discourse for a good half hour at a time on the folly of a man who permitted himself to be disturbed by any atmospheric changes; he thought it derogatory to the dignity of a human being to be depressed by a trifle more or less of fog.

No man delighted more than he did in the sunshine-a spring day moved him to exuberant animation; but, on the other hand, no pressure of London smoke, no damp, clinging fog, no scarifying east wind, no wearisome succession of wet days, ever evoked an impatient expression or brought him down to the dull level on which other people find themselves.

This made him a delightful companion, and when Mrs. Harland (who certainly matched her husband in good humor) once averred herself a fortunate woman, none of her friends contradicted her.

Mr. Harland had just reached his chambers in Lincoln's Inn one morning, and as he divested himself of his wet overcoat he hummed a little air in an undertone.

The surroundings would have looked dreary enough to any other person. It was difficult to recognize that May had actually arrived; the air had a February chill in it; and the heavy, leaden sky and ceaseless downpour of steady rain made the few passers-by shiver; now and then a lawyer's clerk hurried along, uttering a sort of dumb protest in his raised shoulders and turned-up collar.

In that quiet spot the drip of the water from the roofs was distinctly audible, alternating with the splash of the rain on the stone flags of the court. Mr. Harland glanced at the letters lying on his table, then he walked up to the fire-place, and spread his white, well-shaped hands over the cheerful blaze.

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