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A Man Divided
     

A Man Divided

by W Olaf Stapledon
 
VICTOR HAD REFUSED his bride at the altar! That was the brute fact
which agitated the little party in the vestry. No amount of
explanation could mitigate it. As best man I had been in a good
position to observe events; and even I, who had formerly been fairly
intimate with Victor, was completely taken by surprise. True, I had
long suspected that

Overview

VICTOR HAD REFUSED his bride at the altar! That was the brute fact
which agitated the little party in the vestry. No amount of
explanation could mitigate it. As best man I had been in a good
position to observe events; and even I, who had formerly been fairly
intimate with Victor, was completely taken by surprise. True, I had
long suspected that there was something queer about him; but up to the
very moment of his quietly shattering remark, as he put the ring into
his pocket, I had no idea that anything serious was amiss.

James Victor Cadogan-Smith, later to be known as plain Victor Smith,
had seemed the ideal bridegroom. He was the son of a successful
colonial administrator who had climbed by his own ability from a very
lowly position, and had recently acquired a knighthood. The family had
been humble "Smiths" until Victor's father had married the only child
of a more aristocratic family, and had agreed to splice his wife's
name to his own.

The new "Cadogan-Smith" assured his friends that he had done this
mainly to please his father-in-law. But in later life he used to say,
"In those days my snobbery was unconscious."

His son Victor was born in 1890. He was now a bridegroom of thirty-
one, and certainly a catch for any girl. Looking at him in his wedding
clothes, one could not help using the cliché "every inch a gentleman.”
His financial prospects were excellent. He was already reputed to be
one of the most brilliant young business men of his city, and he was
well established as a junior partner in a great shipping firm. Victor
had come through the Great War, as we called it in those days,
undamaged and with a Military Cross; and now, in the brief period of
optimism that followed the war, it seemed that he had excellent
prospects of working out for himself a triumphant business career in
the phase of post-war recovery. To crown all, he had secured as his
bride the charming daughter of the head of his firm.

The wedding celebrations had been planned in appropriate style. The
only factor which was not in perfect harmony with the spirit of the
occasion, I fear, was the best man. I had been greatly flattered by
Victor's request that I should fill this office, but I could not help
wondering why he had not asked one of his many more presentable
friends. His subsequent behaviour toward me almost suggested that he
regretted his choice. Certainly I did not fit at all into the picture
of a smart wedding; and from the moment when I found that I should
have to hire a conventional wedding garment my heart had failed me.
Victor must have found me a very inefficient manager, for he had to
re-arrange almost everything that I had undertaken. I knew, of course,
that in one of his moods he had sometimes an almost obsessive passion
for correctness, but I had been surprised and exasperated by his
meticulous scrutiny of every detail of our clothing and of the time-
table of the honeymoon tour.

At the church, Victor's erect and perfectly tailored figure had seemed
the very pattern of orthodoxy; and Edith, I am sure, must have been
admired by the whole congregation as the ideal bride, so "radiant" was
she (yes, that is the fatally right word), and so expensively adorned.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013740570
Publisher:
WDS Publishing
Publication date:
01/06/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
203 KB

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