admin Comment(0) The Painted Veil. Identifier Views. 1 Favorite. DOWNLOAD OPTIONS Public Library of India. eBooks and Texts. Set in England and Hong Kong in the s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband. Set in England and Hong Kong in the s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Maugham's last major novel, The Razor's Edge.

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Page 1. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. More at or ImagineFX Presents - H. Project Gutenberg Canada ebook # This ebook " the painted veil which those who live call Life." .. Oh, how hateful it was that she wasn't free, that they both weren't free! .. She put down Kitty's failure to stupidity. Read, download, borrow W. Somerset Maugham's novels free. Please click the book covers to download/borrow/read. . The Painted Veil Heinemann.

Also available as: Not in United States? Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love. The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.

How unfortunate to be called Dorothy! It dated you. She was thirty-eight at least. But Charlie never spoke of her. Of course he didn't care for her; she bored him to death. But he was a gentleman. Kitty smiled with affectionate irony: She was a tallish woman, taller than Kitty, neither stout nor thin, with a good deal of pale brown hair; she could never have been pretty with anything but the prettiness of youth; her features were good enough without being remarkable and her blue eyes were cold.

She had a skin that you would never look at twice and no colour in her cheeks. And she dressed like--well, like what she was, the wife of the Assistant Colonial Secretary at Tching-Yen. Kitty smiled and gave her shoulders a faint shrug. Of course no one could deny that Dorothy Townsend had a pleasant voice. She was a wonderful mother, Charlie always said that of her, and she was what Kitty's mother called a gentlewoman. But Kitty did not like her. She did not like her casual manner; and the politeness with which she treated you when you went there, to tea or dinner, was exasperating because you could not but feel how little interest she took in you.

The fact was, Kitty supposed, that she cared for nothing but her children: Her face was a mask. She smiled and in her pleasant, well-mannered way said the things that were expected of her; but for all her cordiality held you at a distance. She had a few intimate friends in the Colony and they greatly admired her. Kitty wondered whether Mrs. Townsend thought her a little common. She flushed. After all there was no reason for her to put on airs.

It was true that her father had been a Colonial Governor and of course it was very grand while it lasted--every one stood up when you entered a room and men took off their hats to you as you passed in your car--but what could be more insignificant than a Colonial Governor when he had retired? Dorothy Townsend's father lived on a pension in a small house at Earl's Court. Kitty's mother would think it a dreadful bore if she asked her to call. Kitty's father, Bernard Garstin, was a K.

Anyhow they lived in South Kensington. Kitty, coming to Tching-Yen on her marriage, had found it hard to reconcile herself to the fact that her social position was determined by her husband's occupation. Of course every one had been very kind and for two or three months they had gone out to parties almost every night; when they dined at Government House the Governor took her in as a bride; but she had understood quickly that as the wife of the Government bacteriologist she was of no particular consequence.

It made her angry. Mother wouldn't dream of asking any of them to dine at our house. Perhaps he saw the reproach behind her lightness of manner, for he took her hand and shyly pressed it. It couldn't have been Walter that afternoon. It must have been one of the servants and after all they didn't matter. Chinese servants knew everything anyway. But they held their tongues. Her heart beat a little faster as she remembered the way in which that white china knob slowly turned. They mustn't take risks like that again.

It was better to go to the curio shop. No one who saw her go in would think anything of it, and they were absolutely safe there. The owner of the shop knew who Charlie was and he was not such a fool as to put up the back of the Assistant Colonial Secretary. What did anything matter really but that Charlie loved her?

She turned away from the verandah and went back into her sitting-room. She threw herself down on the sofa and stretched out her hand to get a cigarette.


Her eye caught sight of a note lying on the top of a book. She opened it. It was written in pencil. Then it had been Walter. She rang up the Colonial Secretary's Office at once and asked for Charlie. She told him what she had just learned.

There was a pause before he answered.

I'm afraid I can't talk to you now. My advice to you is to sit tight. She put down the receiver. She understood that he was not alone and she was impatient with his business. She sat down again, at a desk, and resting her face in her hands sought to think out the situation. Of course Walter might merely have thought she was sleeping: She tried to remember if they had been talking. Certainly they had not been talking loud. And there was the hat. It was maddening of Charlie to have left it downstairs.

But it was no use blaming him for that, it was natural enough, and there was nothing to tell that Walter had noticed it. He was probably in a hurry and had just left the book and the note on his way to some appointment connected with his work. The strange thing was that he should have tried the door and then the two windows. If he thought she was asleep it was unlike him to disturb her.

What a fool she had been! She shook herself a little and again she felt that sweet pain in her heart which she always felt when she thought of Charlie. It had been worth it. He had said that he would stand by her, and if the worse came to the worst, well Let Walter kick up a row if he chose.

She had Charlie; what did she care? Perhaps it would be the best thing for him to know. She had never cared for Walter and since she had loved Charlie Townsend it had irked and bored her to submit to her husband's caresses. She wanted to have nothing more to do with him.

She didn't see how he could prove anything. If he accused her she would deny, and if it came to pass that she could deny no longer, well, she would fling the truth in his teeth, and he could do what he chose.

Within three months of her marriage she knew that she had made a mistake; but it had been her mother's fault even more than hers. There was a photograph of her mother in the room and Kitty's harassed eyes fell on it.

She did not know why she kept it there, for she was not very fond of her mother; there was one of her father too, but that was downstairs on the grand piano.

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It had been done when he took silk and it represented him in wig and gown. Even they could not make him imposing; he was a little, wizened man, with tired eyes, a long upper lip, and a thin mouth: It was on this account, for as a rule the downturned corners of his mouth and the dejection of his eyes gave him an air of mild depression, that Mrs.

Garstin, thinking it made him look judicial, had chosen it from among the proofs. But her own photograph showed her in the dress in which she had gone to Court when her husband was made a King's Counsel. She was very grand in the velvet gown, the long train so disposed as to show to advantage, with feathers in her hair and flowers in her hand. She held herself erect. She was a woman of fifty, thin and flat-chested, with prominent cheek-bones and a large, well-shaped nose.

She had a great quantity of very smooth black hair and Kitty had always suspected that, if not dyed, it was at least touched up.

Her fine black eyes were never still and this was the most noticeable thing about her; for when she was talking to you it was disconcerting to see those restless eyes in that impassive, unlined and yellow face.

They moved from one part of you to another, to other persons in the room, and then back to you; you felt that she was criticising you, summing you up, watchful meanwhile of all that went on around her, and that the words she spoke had no connection with her thoughts.

Garstin was a hard, cruel, managing, ambitious, parsimonious and stupid woman. She was the daughter, one of five, of a solicitor in Liverpool and Bernard Garstin had met her when he was on the Northern Circuit. He had seemed then a young man of promise and her father said he would go far. He hadn't. He was painstaking, industrious and capable, but he had not the will to advance himself.

Garstin despised him. But she recognised, though with bitterness, that she could only achieve success through him, and she set herself to drive him on the way she desired to go. She nagged him without mercy. She discovered that if she wanted him to do something which his sensitiveness revolted against she had only to give him no peace and eventually, exhausted, he would yield. On her side she set herself to cultivate the people who might be useful.

She flattered the solicitors who would send her husband briefs and was familiar with their wives. She was obsequious to the judges and their ladies. She made much of promising politicians. In twenty-five years Mrs. Garstin never invited any one to dine at her house because she liked him. She gave large dinner parties at regular intervals. But parsimony was as strong in her as ambition.

She hated to spend money. She flattered herself that she could make as much show as any one else at half the price. Her dinners were long and elaborate, but thrifty, and she could never persuade herself that people when they were eating and talking knew what they drank. She wrapped sparkling Moselle in a napkin and thought her guests took it for champagne. Bernard Garstin had a fair, though not a large practice. Men who had been called after him had long outstripped him. Garstin made him stand for Parliament.

The expense of the election was borne by the party, but here again her parsimony balked her ambition, and she could not bring herself to spend enough money to nurse the constituency. The subscriptions Bernard Garstin made to the innumerable funds a candidate is expected to contribute to, were always just a little less than adequate.

He was beaten. Though it would have pleased Mrs. Garstin to be a member's wife she bore her disappointment with fortitude. The fact of her husband's standing had brought her in contact with a number of prominent persons and she appreciated the addition to her social consequence. She knew that Bernard would never make his mark in the House. She wanted him to be a member only that he might have a claim on the gratitude of his party and surely to fight two or three losing seats would give him that.

But he was still a junior and many younger men than he had already taken silk. It was necessary that he should too, not only because otherwise he could scarcely hope to be made a judge, but on her account also: But here she encountered in her husband an obstinacy which she had not for years been accustomed to.

He was afraid that as a K. A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, he told her, to which she retorted that a proverb was the last refuge of the mentally destitute. He suggested to her the possibility that his income would be halved and he knew that there was no argument which could have greater weight with her.

She would not listen. She called him pusillanimous. She gave him no peace and at last, as always, he yielded. He applied for silk and it was promptly awarded him. His misgivings were justified. He made no headway as a leader and his briefs were few. But he concealed any disappointment he may have felt, and if he reproached his wife it was in his heart. He grew perhaps a little more silent, but he had always been silent at home, and no one in his family noticed a change in him.

His daughters had never looked upon him as anything but a source of income; it had always seemed perfectly natural that he should lead a dog's life in order to provide them with board and lodging, clothes, holiday and money for odds and ends; and now, understanding that through his fault money was less plentiful, the indifference they had felt for him was tinged with an exasperated contempt.

It never occurred to them to ask themselves what were the feelings of the subdued little man who went out early in the morning and came home at night only in time to dress for dinner. He was a stranger to them, but because he was their father they took it for granted that he should love and cherish them.

But there was a quality of courage in Mrs. Garstin which in itself was admirable. She let no one in her immediate circle, which to her was the world, see how mortified she was by the frustration of her hopes.

She made no change in her style of living. By careful management she was able to give as showy dinners as she had done before, and she met her friends with the same bright gaiety which she had so long cultivated. She had a hard and facile fund of chit-chat which in the society she moved in passed for conversation.

She was a useful guest among persons to whom small talk did not come easily, for she was never at a loss with a new topic and could be trusted immediately to break an awkward silence with a suitable observation.

It was unlikely now that Bernard Garstin would ever be made a judge of the High Court, but he might still hope for a County Court judgeship or at the worst an appointment in the Colonies. Meanwhile she had the satisfaction of seeing him appointed Recorder of a Welsh town. But it was on her daughters that she set her hopes. By arranging good marriages for them she expected to make up for all the disappointments of her career.

There were two, Kitty and Doris. Doris gave no sign of good looks, her nose was too long and her figure was lumpy; so that Mrs.

Garstin could hope no more for her than that she should marry a young man who was well off and in a suitable profession. But Kitty was a beauty. She gave promise of being so when she was still a child, for she had large, dark eyes, liquid and vivacious, brown, curling hair in which there was a reddish tint, exquisite teeth and a lovely skin.

Her features would never be very good, for her chin was too square and her nose, though not so long as Doris's, too big. Her beauty depended a good deal on her youth, and Mrs. Garstin realised that she must marry in the first flush of her maidenhood. When she came out she was dazzling: She had a charming gaiety and the desire to please. Garstin bestowed upon her all the affection, a harsh, competent, calculating affection, of which she was capable; she dreamed ambitious dreams; it was not a good marriage she aimed at for her daughter, but a brilliant one.

Kitty had been brought up with the knowledge that she was going to be a beautiful woman and she more than suspected her mother's ambition.

It accorded with her own desires. She was launched upon the world and Mrs. Garstin performed prodigies in getting herself invited to dances where her daughter might meet eligible men.

Kitty was a success. She was amusing as well as beautiful, and very soon she had a dozen men in love with her. But none was suitable, and Kitty, charming and friendly with all, took care to commit herself with none. The drawing-room in South Kensington was filled on Sunday afternoons with amorous youth, but Mrs.

Garstin observed, with a grim smile of approval, that it needed no effort on her part to keep them at a distance from Kitty. Kitty was prepared to flirt with them, and it diverted her to play one off against the other, but when they proposed to her, as none failed to do, she refused them with tact but decision. Her first season passed without the perfect suitor presenting himself, and the second also; but she was young and could afford to wait.

Garstin told her friends that she thought it a pity for a girl to marry till she was twenty-one. But a third year passed and then a fourth. Two or three of her old admirers proposed again, but they were still penniless, one or two boys younger than herself proposed; a retired Indian Civilian, a K.

Kitty still danced a great deal, she went to Wimbledon and Lord's, to Ascot and Henley; she was thoroughly enjoying herself; but still no one whose position and income were satisfactory asked her to marry him. Garstin began to grow uneasy. She noticed that Kitty was beginning to attract men of forty and over.

She reminded her that she would not be any longer so pretty in a year or two and that young girls were coming out all the time.

Garstin did not mince her words in the domestic circle and she warned her daughter tartly that she would miss her market. Kitty shrugged her shoulders. She thought herself as pretty as ever, prettier perhaps, for she had learnt how to dress in the last four years, and she had plenty of time.

If she wanted to marry just to be married there were a dozen boys who would jump at the chance. Surely the right man would come along sooner or later.

But Mrs. Garstin judged the situation more shrewdly: She turned back to the professional class at which she had sneered in her pride and looked about for a young lawyer or a business man whose future inspired her with confidence. Kitty reached the age of twenty-five and was still unmarried.

Garstin was exasperated and she did not hesitate often to give Kitty a piece of her very unpleasant mind. She asked her how much longer she expected her father to support her. He had spent sums he could ill afford in order to give her a chance and she had not taken it. It never struck Mrs.

Garstin that perhaps her own hard affability had frightened the men, sons of wealthy fathers or heirs to a title, whose visits she had too cordially encouraged. She put down Kitty's failure to stupidity. Then Doris came out. She had a long nose still, and a poor figure, and she danced badly. In her first season she became engaged to Geoffrey Dennison. He was the only son of a prosperous surgeon who had been given a baronetcy during the war.

Geoffrey would inherit a title--it is not very grand to be a medical baronet, but a title, thank God, is still a title--and a very comfortable fortune. She had known him but a little while and had never taken much notice of him. She had no idea when or where they had first met till after their engagement he told her that it was at a dance to which some friends had brought him. She certainly paid no attention to him then and if she danced with him it was because she was good-natured and was glad to dance with any one who asked her.

She didn't know him from Adam when a day or two later at another dance he came up and spoke to her. Then she remarked that he was at every dance she went to. I shouldn't be at all surprised if you hadn't the ghost of an idea what mine was. She was faintly amused; she wondered why he thought it could in the least interest her; but she liked to please, so she looked at him with that dazzling smile of hers, and her beautiful eyes, dewy ponds under forest trees, held an enchanting kindness.

She did not know why he came to dances, he did not dance very well, and he seemed to know few people.

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She had a passing thought that he was in love with her; but she dismissed it with a shrug of the shoulders: But she gave Walter Fane just a little more of her attention. He certainly did not behave like any of the other youths who had been in love with her. Most of them told her so frankly and wanted to kiss her: But Walter Fane never talked of her and very little of himself.

He was rather silent; she did not mind that because she had plenty to say and it pleased her to see him laugh when she made a facetious remark: He was evidently shy. It appeared that he lived in the East and was home on leave. One Sunday afternoon he appeared at their house in South Kensington.

There were a dozen people there, and he sat for some time, somewhat ill at ease, and then went away. Her mother asked her later who he was. He said he'd seen you at various dances. I said I was always at home on Sundays. Garstin did not answer. Her silence was heavy with displeasure. Kitty flushed: During the next week she met him at three dances and now, his shyness perhaps wearing off a little, he was somewhat more communicative. He was a doctor, certainly, but he did not practice; he was a bacteriologist Kitty had only a very vague idea what that meant and he had a job at Tching-Yen.

He was going back in the autumn. He talked a good deal about China. She made it a practice to appear interested in whatever people talked to her of, but indeed the life in Tching-Yen sounded quite jolly; there were clubs and tennis and racing and polo and golf.

She wondered whether he told her these things with a motive. He seemed to like her society, but never by a pressure of the hand, by a glance or by a word, did he give the smallest indication that he looked upon her as anything but a girl whom you met and danced with. On the following Sunday he came again to their house.

Her father happened to come in, it was raining and he had not been able to play golf, and he and Walter Fane had a long chat. She asked her father afterwards what they had talked of. The Chief Justice is an old friend of mine at the Bar. He seems an unusually intelligent young man. She knew that her father was as a rule bored to death by the young people whom for her sake and now her sister's he had been forced for years to entertain.

He was not her type at all. He was short, but not thick-set, slight rather and thin; dark and clean-shaven, with very regular, clear-cut features. His eyes were almost black, but not large, they were not very mobile and they rested on objects with a singular persistence; they were curious, but not very pleasant eyes. With his straight, delicate nose, his fine brow and well-shaped mouth he ought to have been good-looking. But surprisingly enough he was not.

When Kitty began to think of him at all she was surprised that he should have such good features when you took them one by one and yet be so far from handsome. His face was cold. His expression was slightly sarcastic and now that Kitty knew him better she realised that she was not quite at ease with him. He had no gaiety. By the time the season drew to its end they had seen a good deal of one another, but he had remained as aloof and impenetrable as ever.

He was not exactly shy with her, but embarrassed; his conversation remained strangely impersonal. Kitty came to the conclusion that he was not in the least in love with her. He liked her and found her easy to talk to, but when he returned to Tching-Yen in November he would not think of her again. She thought it not impossible that he was engaged all the time to some nurse in a hospital at Tching-Yen, the daughter of a clergyman, dull, plain, flat-footed and strenuous; that was the wife that would exactly suit him.

Then came the announcement of Doris's engagement to Geoffrey Dennison. Doris, at eighteen, was making quite a good marriage, and she was twenty-five and single. Supposing she did not marry at all?

That season the only person who had proposed to her was a boy of twenty who was still at Oxford: She had made a hash of things. Last year she had refused a widowed Knight of the Bath with three children.

She almost wished she hadn't. Mother would be horrible now, and Doris, Doris who had always been sacrificed because she, Kitty, was expected to make the brilliant match, would not fail to crow over her.

Kitty's heart sank. But one afternoon when she was walking home from Harrod's she chanced to meet Walter Fane in the Brompton Road.

The Painted Veil

He stopped and talked to her. Then, casually, he asked her if she would not take a turn with him in the Park.

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She had no particular wish to go home: They strolled along, talking as they always talked, of casual things, and he asked her where she was going for the summer. You see, father is exhausted after the term's work and we just go to the quietest place we can find. Kitty spoke with her tongue in her cheek, for she knew quite well that her father had not nearly enough work to tire him and even if he had his convenience would never have been consulted in the choice of a holiday.

But a quiet place was a cheap place. But when they were seated he seemed to grow strangely abstracted. He was an odd creature. She chattered on, however, gaily enough and wondered why he had asked her to walk with him in the Park. Perhaps he was going to confide in her his passion for the flat-footed nurse in Tching-Yen.

Suddenly he turned to her, interrupting her in the middle of a sentence, so that she could not but see that he had not been listening, and his face was chalk white. She looked at him quickly and she saw that his eyes were filled with a painful anxiety.

His voice was strained, low and not quite steady.

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But before she could ask herself what this agitation meant he spoke again. I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.

Her heart began to beat a little more quickly. She had been proposed to often before, but gaily or sentimentally, and she had answered in the same fashion.

No one had ever asked her to marry him in a manner which was so abrupt and yet strangely tragic. I wanted to ask you before, but I could never bring myself to it. She was glad to have an opportunity to laugh a little, for on that fine, sunny day the air about them seemed on a sudden heavy with foreboding.

He frowned darkly. I didn't want to lose hope. But now you're going away and in the autumn I have to go back to China.

He said nothing more. He looked down on the grass sullenly. He was a very odd creature. But now that he had told her she felt in some mysterious way that his love was something she had never met before. She was a little frightened, but she was elated also. His impassivity was vaguely impressive. Still he did not say anything. He did not stir. Did he mean to keep her there till she had decided? That was absurd. She must talk it over with her mother.

She ought to have got up when she spoke, she had waited thinking he would answer, and now, she did not know why, she found it difficult to make a movement. She did not look at him, but she was conscious of his appearance; she had never seen herself marrying a man so little taller than herself. When you sat close to him you saw how good his features were, and how cold his face.

It was strange when you couldn't help being conscious of the devastating passion which was in his heart. He gave her a look and she felt her eyes drawn to his. They had a tenderness which she had never seen in them before, but there was something beseeching in them, like a dog's that has been whipped, which slightly exasperated her.

It was certainly the oddest proposal she had ever had. And even now it seemed to her that they were saying to one another the last things you would have expected on such an occasion. She was not in the least in love with him. She did not know why she hesitated to refuse him at once. Now that was odd too, for inexplicably enough it touched her; he wasn't really cold, of course, it was his manner that was unfortunate: Doris was to be married in November. He would be on his way to China then and if she married him she would be with him.

It wouldn't be very nice to be a bridesmaid at Doris's wedding. She would be glad to escape that. And then Doris as a married woman and herself still single!

Every one knew how young Doris was and it would make her seem older. It would put her on the shelf. It wouldn't be a very good marriage for her, but it was a marriage, and the fact that she would live in China made it easier. She was afraid of her mother's bitter tongue. Why, all the girls who had come out with her were married long ago and most of them had children; she was tired of going to see them and gushing over their babies.

Walter Fane offered her a new life. She turned to him with a smile which she well knew the effect of. That would save her from spending the summer in a country vicarage, hired at five guineas a week, with her father and mother. In a flash she saw in her mind's eye the announcement in the Morning Post that, the bridegroom having to return to the East, the wedding would take place at once. She knew her mother well enough, she could be counted on to make a splash; for the moment at least Doris would be in the background and when Doris's much grander wedding took place she would be far away.

She knew him very little then, and now, though they had been married for nearly two years, she knew him but little more. At first she had been touched by his kindness and flattered, though surprised, by his passion. He was extremely considerate; he was very attentive to her comfort; she never expressed the slightest wish without his hastening to gratify it. He was constantly giving her little presents. When she happened to feel ill no one could have been kinder or more thoughtful.

She seemed to do him a favour when she gave him the opportunity of doing something tiresome for her. And he was always exceedingly polite.

He rose to his feet when she entered a room, he gave her his hand to help her out of a car, if he chanced to meet her in the street he took off his hat, he was solicitous to open the door for her when she left a room, he never came into her bedroom or her boudoir without a knock. He treated her not as Kitty had seen most men treat their wives, but as though she were a fellow-guest in a country house.

It was pleasing and yet a trifle comic. She would have felt more at home with him if he had been more casual. Not in United States?

Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. Set in England and Hong Kong in the s, this beautifully written character study is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane, who marries for money rather than love. When her husband, a quiet doctor, discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

There, stripped of the British society of her youth and overwhelmed by the desolation around her, Kitty's conscience begins to awaken. As she takes up work with children at a convent and experiences some of the burden her husband has taken on, she and her husband begin to rediscover each other in a new light. When her husband is tragically killed, Kitty is forced to return to England to raise her unborn child. Though it is too late for her marriage, she has learned humility, independence, and at last, how to love.

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