Castle Richmond, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XIII

Mr. Mollett Returns to South Main Street

I must now take my readers back to that very unsavoury public-house in South Main Street, Cork, in which, for the present, lived Mr. Matthew Mollett and his son Abraham.

I need hardly explain to a discerning public that Mr. Matthew Mollett was the gentleman who made that momentous call at Castle Richmond, and flurried all that household.

“Drat it!” said Mrs. Jones to herself on that day, as soon as she had regained the solitude of her own private apartment, after having taken a long look at Mr. Mollett in the hall. On that occasion she sat down on a low chair in the middle of the room, put her two hands down substantially on her two knees, gave a long sigh, and then made the above exclamation — “Drat it!”

Mrs. Jones was still thoroughly a Saxon, although she had lived for so many years among the Celts. But it was only when she was quite alone that she allowed herself the indulgence of so peculiarly Saxon a mode of expressing either her surprise or indignation.

“It’s the same man,” she said to herself, “as come that day, as sure as eggs;” and then for five minutes she maintained her position, cogitating. “And he’s like the other fellow too,” she continued. “Only, somehow he’s not like him.” And then another pause. “And yet he is; only it can’t be; and he ain’t just so tall, and he’s older like.” And then, still meditating, Mrs. Jones kept her position for full ten minutes longer; at the end of which time she got up and shook herself. She deserved to be bracketed with Lord Brougham and Professor Faraday, for she had kept her mind intent on her subject, and had come to a resolution. “I won’t say nothing to nobody, noways,” was the expression of her mind’s purpose. “Only I’ll tell missus as how he was the man as come to Wales.” And she did tell so much to her mistress — as we have before learned.

Mr. Mollett had gone down from Cork to Castle Richmond in one of those delightful Irish vehicles called a covered car. An inside-covered car is an equipage much given to shaking, seeing that it has a heavy top like a London cab, and that it runs on a pair of wheels. It is entered from behind, and slopes backwards. The sitter sits sideways, between a cracked window on one side and a cracked doorway on the other; and as a draught is always going in at the ear next the window, and out at the ear next the door, it is about as cold and comfortless a vehicle for winter as may be well imagined. Now the journey from Castle Richmond to Cork has to be made right across the Boggeragh Mountains. It is over twenty miles Irish; and the road is never very good. Mr. Mollett, therefore, was five hours in the covered car on his return journey; and as he had stopped for lunch at Kanturk, and had not hurried himself at that meal, it was very dark and very cold when he reached the house in South Main Street.

I think I have explained that Mr. Mollett senior was not absolutely a drunkard; but nevertheless, he was not averse to spirits in cold weather, and on this journey had warmed himself with whiskey once or twice on the road. He had found a shebeen house when he crossed the Nad river, and another on the mountaintop, and a third at the point where the road passes near the village of Blarney, and at all these convenient resting-spots Mr. Mollett had endeavoured to warm himself.

There are men who do not become absolutely drunk, but who do become absolutely cross when they drink more than is good for them; and of such men Mr. Mollett was one. What with the cold air, and what with the whisky, and what with the jolting, Mr. Mollett was very cross when he reached the Kanturk Hotel so that he only cursed the driver instead of giving him the experted gratuity.

“I’ll come to yer honour in the morning,” said the driver.

“You may go to the devil in the morning,” answered Mr. Mollett; and this was the first intimation of his return which reached the ears of his expectant son.

“There’s the governor,” said Aby, who was then flirting with Miss O’Dwyer in the bar. “Somebody’s been stroking him the wrong way of the ‘air.”

The charms of Miss O’Dwyer in these idle days had been too much for the prudence of Mr. Abraham Mollett; by far too much, considering that in his sterner moments his ambition led him to contemplate a match, with a young lady of much higher rank in life. But wine, which “inspires us” and fires us “With courage, love, and joy,” had inspired him with courage to forget his prudence, and with love for the lovely Fanny.

“Now, nonsense, Mr. Aby,” she had said to him a few minutes before the wheels of the covered car were heard in South Main Street. “You know you main nothing of the sort.”

“By ‘eavens, Fanny, I mean every word of it; may this drop be my poison if I don’t. This piece of business here keeps me and the governor hon and hoff like, and will do for some weeks perhaps; but when that’s done, honly say the word, and I’ll make you Mrs. M. Isn’t that fair, now?”

“But, Mr. Aby —”

“Never mind the mister, Fan, between friends.”

“La! I couldn’t call you Aby without it; could I?”

“Try, my darling.”

“Well — Aby — there now. It does sound so uppish, don’t it? But tell me this now; what is the business that you and the old gentleman is about down at Kanturk?”

Abraham Mollett hereupon had put one finger to his nose, and then winked his eye.

“If you care about me, as you say you do, you wouldn’t be shy of just telling me as much as that.”

“That’s business, Fan; and business and love don’t hamalgamate like whisky and sugar.”

“Then I’ll tell you what it is, Mr. Aby; I don’t want to have anything to do with a man who won’t show his rispect by telling me his sacrets.”

“That’s it, is it, Fan?”

“I suppose you think I can’t keep a sacret. You think I’d be telling father, I suppose.”

“Well, it’s about some money that’s due to him down there.”

“Who from?”

“He expects to get it from some of those Fitzgerald people.”

In saying so much Mr. Mollett the younger had not utterly abandoned all prudence. He knew very well that the car-driver and others would be aware that his father had been to Castle Richmond; and that it was more than probable that either he or his father would have to make further visits there. Indeed, he had almost determined that he would go down to the baronet himself. Under these circumstances it might be well that some pretext for these visits should be given.

“Which Fitzgerald, Mr. Aby? Is it the Hap House young man?”

“Hap House. I never heard of such a place. These people live at Castle Richmond.”

“Oh — h — h! If Mr. Mollett have money due there, sure he have a good mark to go upon. Why, Sir Thomas is about the richest man in these parts.”

“And who is this other man; at ‘Appy — what is it you call his place?”

“Hap House. Oh, it’s he is the thorough-going young gentleman. Only they say he’s a leetle too fast. To my mind, Mr. Owen is the finest-looking man to be seen anywheres in the county Cork.”

“He’s a flame of yours, is he, Fan?”

“I don’t know what you main by a flame. But there’s not a girl in Cork but what likes the glance of his eye. They do say that he’d have Lady Clara Desmond; only there ain’t no money.”

“And what’s he to these other people?”

“Cousin, I believe; or hardly so much as that, I’m thinking. But all the same if anything was to happen to young Mr. Herbert, it would all go to him.”

“It would, would it?”

“So people say.”

“Mr. ‘Erbert is the son of the old cock at Castle Richmond, isn’t he?”

“Just so. He’s the young cock; he, he, he!”

“And if he was to be — nowhere like; not his father’s son at all, for instance, it would all go to this ‘andsome ‘Appy ‘Ouse man; would it?”

“Every shilling, they say; house, title, and all.”

“Hum,” said Mr. Abraham Mollett; and he began again to calculate his family chances. Perhaps, after all, this handsome young man who was at present too poor to marry his noble lady love might be the more liberal man to deal with. But then any dealings with him would kill the golden goose at once. All would depend on the size of the one egg which might be extracted.

He certainly felt, however, that this Fitzgerald family arrangement was one which it was beneficial that he should know; but he felt also that it would be by no means necessary at present to communicate the information to his father. He put it by in his mind, regarding it as a fund on which he might draw if occasion should require. It might perhaps be pleasant for him to make the acquaintance of this ‘andsome young Fitzgerald of ‘Appy ‘Ouse.

“And now, Fan, my darling, give us a kiss,” said he, getting up from his seat.

“‘Deed and I won’t,” said Fan, withdrawing herself among the bottles and glasses.

“‘Deed and you shall, my love,” said Aby, pertinaciously, as he prepared to follow her through the brittle ware.

“Hu — sh — be aisy now. There’s Tom. He’s ears for everything, and eyes like a cat.”

“What do I care for Tom?”

“And father’ll be coming in. Be aisy, I tell you. I won’t now, Mr. Aby; and that’s enough. You’ll break the bottle.”

“D—-the bottle. That’s smashed hany way. Come, Fan, what’s a kiss among friends?”

“Cock you up with kisses, indeed! how bad you are for dainties! There; do you hear that? That’s the old gentleman;” and then, as the voice of Mr. Mollett senior was heard abusing the car-driver, Miss O’Dwyer smoothed her apron, put her hands to her side hair, and removed the debris of the broken bottle.

“Well, governor,” said Aby, “how goes it?”

“How goes it, indeed! It goes pretty well, I dare say, in here, where you can sit drinking toddy all the evening, and doing nothing.”

“Why, what on hearth would you have me be doing? Better here than paddling about in the streets, isn’t it?”

“If you could do a stroke of work now and then to earn your bread, it might be better.” Now Aby knew from experience that whenever his father talked to him about earning his bread, he was half drunk and whole cross. So he made no immediate reply on that point.

“You are cold, I suppose, governor, and had better get a bit of something to eat, and a little tea.”

“And put my feet in hot water, and tallow my nose, and go to bed, hadn’t I? Miss O’Dwyer, I’ll trouble you to mix me a glass of brandy-punch. Of all the roads I ever travelled, that’s the longest and hardest to get over. Dashed, if I didn’t begin to think I’d never be here.” And so saying he flung himself into a chair, and put up his feet on the two hobs.

There was a kettle on one of them, which the young lady pushed a little nearer to the hot coals, in order to show that the water should be boiling; and as she did so Aby gave her a wink over his father’s shoulder, by way of conveying to her an intimation that “the governor was a little cut,” or in other language tipsy, and that the brandy-punch should be brewed with a discreet view to past events of the same description. All which Miss O’Dwyer perfectly understood.

It may easily be conceived that Aby was especially anxious to receive tidings of what had been done this day down in the Kanturk neighbourhood. He had given his views to his father, as will be remembered; and though Mr. Mollett senior had not professed himself as absolutely agreeing with them, he had nevertheless owned that he was imbued with the necessity of taking some great step. He had gone down to take this great step, and Aby was very anxious to know how it had been taken.

When the father and son were both sober, or when the son was tipsy, or when the father was absolutely drunk — an accident which would occur occasionally, the spirit and pluck of the son was in the ascendant. He at such times was the more masterful of the two, and generally contrived, either by persuasion or bullying, to govern his governor. But when it did happen that Mollett pere was half drunk and cross with drink, then, at such moments, Mollett fils had to acknowledge to himself that his governor was not to be governed.

And, indeed, at such moments his governor could be very disagreeable — could say nasty, bitter things, showing very little parental affection, and make himself altogether bad society, not only to his son, but to his son’s companions also. Now it appeared to Aby that his father was at present in this condition.

He had only to egg him on to further drinking, and the respectable gentleman would become stupid, noisy, soft, and affectionate. But then, when in that state, he would blab terribly. It was much with the view of keeping him from that state, that under the present circumstances the son remained with the father. To do the father justice, it may be asserted that he knew his own weakness, and that, knowing it, he had abstained from heavy drinking since he had taken in hand this great piece of diplomacy.

“But you must be hungry, governor; won’t you take a bit of something?”

“Shall we get you a steek, Mr. Mollett?” asked Miss O’Dwyer, hospitably, “or just a bit of bacon with a couple of eggs or so? It wouldn’t be a minute, you know?”

“Your eggs are all addled and bad,” said Mr. Mollett; “and as for a beef-steak, it’s my belief there isn’t such a thing in all Ireland.” After which civil speech, Miss O’Dwyer winked at Aby, as much as to say, “You see what a state he’s in.”

“Have a bit of buttered toast and a cup of tea, governor,” suggested the son.

“I’m d —-if I do,” replied the father. “You’re become uncommon fond of tea of late — that is, for other people. I don’t see you take much of it yourself.”

“A cup of tay is the thing to warm one afther such a journey as you’ve had; that’s certain, Mr. Mollett,” said Fanny.

“Them’s your ideas about warming, are they, my dear?” said the elderly gentleman. “Do you come and sit down on my knee here for a few minutes or so, and that’d warm me better than all the ‘tay’ in the world.”

Aby showed by his face that he was immeasurably disgusted by the iniquitous coarseness of this overture. Miss O’Dwyer, however, looking at the gentleman’s age, and his state as regarded liquor, passed it over as of no moment whatsoever. So that when, in the later part of the evening, Aby expressed to that young lady his deep disgust, she merely said, “Oh, bother; what matters an old man like that?”

And then, when they were at this pass, Mr. Dwyer came in. He did not interfere much with his daughter in the bar room, but he would occasionally take a dandy of punch there, and ask how things were going on indoors. He was a fat, thickset man, with a good-humoured face, a flattened nose, and a great aptitude for stable occupations. He was part owner of the Kanturk car, as has been before said, and was the proprietor of sundry other cars, open cars and covered cars, plying for hire in the streets of Cork.

“I hope the mare took your honour well down Kanturk and back again,” said he, addressing his elder customer with a chuck of his head intended for a bow.

“I don’t know what you call well,” said Mr. Mollett “She hadn’t a leg to stand upon for the last three hours.”

“Not a leg to stand upon! Faix, then, and it’s she’d have the four good legs if she travelled every inch of the way from Donagh-a-Dee to Ti-vora,” to which distance Mr. O’Dwyer specially referred as being supposed to be the longest known in Ireland.

“She may be able to do that; but I’m blessed if she’s fit to go to Kanturk and back.”

“She’s done the work, anyhow,” said Mr. O’Dwyer, who evidently thought that this last argument was conclusive.

“And a precious time she’s been about it. Why, my goodness, it would have been better for me to have walked it. As Sir Thomas said to me —”

“What! did you see Sir Thomas Fitzgerald?”

Hereupon Aby gave his father a nudge; but the father either did not appreciate the nudge, or did not choose to obey it.

“Yes; I did see him. Why shouldn’t I?”

“Only they do say he’s hard to get to speak to now-a-days. He’s not over well, you know, these years back.”

“Well or ill he’ll see me, I take it, when I go that distance to ask him. There’s no doubt about that; is there, Aby?”

“Can’t say, I’m sure, not knowing the gentleman,” said Aby.

“We holds land from Sir Thomas, we do; that is, me and my brother Mick, and a better landlord ain’t nowhere,” said Mr. O’Dwyer.

“Oh, you’re one of the tenants, are you? The rents are paid pretty well, ain’t they?”

“To the day,” said Mr. O’Dwyer, proudly.

“What would you think, now —” Mr. Mollett was continuing; but Aby interrupted him somewhat violently.

“Hold your confounded stupid tongue, will you, you old jolterhead;” and on this occasion he put his hand on his father’s shoulder and shook him.

“Who are you calling jolterhead? Who do you dare to speak to in that way? you impudent young cub you. Am I to ask your leave when I want to open my mouth?”

Aby had well known that his father in his present mood would not stand the manner in which the interruption was attempted. Nor did he wish to quarrel before the publican and his daughter. But anything was better than allowing his father to continue in the strain in which he was talking.

“You are talking of things which you don’t hunderstand, and about people you don’t know,” said Aby. “You’ve had a drop too much on the road too, and you ‘ad better go to bed.”

Old Mollett turned round to strike at his son; but even in his present state he was somewhat quelled by Aby’s eye. Aby was keenly alive to the necessity for prudence on his father’s part, though he was by no means able to be prudent himself.

“Talking of things which I don’t understand, am I?” said the old man. “That’s all you know about it. Give me another glass of that brandy toddy, my dear.”

But Aby’s look had quelled, or at any rate silenced him; and though he did advance another stage in tipsiness before they succeeded in getting him off to bed, he said no more about Sir Thomas Fitzgerald or his Castle Richmond secrets.

Nevertheless, he had said enough to cause suspicion. One would not have imagined, on looking at Mr. O’Dwyer, that he was a very crafty person, or one of whose finesse in affairs of the world it would be necessary to stand much in awe. He seemed to be thick, and stolid, and incapable of deep inquiry; but, nevertheless, he was as fond of his neighbour’s affairs as another, and knew as much about the affairs of his neighbours at Kanturk as any man in the county Cork.

He himself was a Kanturk man, and his wife had been a Kanturk woman; no less a person, indeed, than the sister of Father Bernard M’Carthy, rest her soul; — for it was now at peace, let us all hope. She had been dead these ten years; but he did not the less keep up his connection with the old town, or with his brother-inlaw the priest, or with the affairs of the persons there adjacent; especially, we may say, those of his landlord, Sir Thomas Fitzgerald, under whom he still held a small farm, in conjunction with his brother Mick, the publican at Kanturk.

“What’s all that about Sir Thomas?” said he to his daughter in a low voice as soon as the Molletts had left the bar.

“Well, I don’t just know,” said Fanny. She was a good daughter, and loved her father, whose indoor affairs she kept tight enough for him. But she had hardly made up her mind as yet whether or no it would suit her to be Mrs. Abraham Mollett. Should such be her destiny, it might be as well for her not to talk about her husband’s matters.

“Is it true that the old man did see Sir Thomas today?”

“You heard what passed, father; but I suppose it is true.”

“And the young ’un has been down to Kanturk two or three times. What can the like of them have to do with Sir Thomas?”

To this Fanny could only say that she knew nothing about it, which in the main was true. Aby, indeed, had said that his father had gone down to collect money that was due to him; but then Fanny did not believe all that Aby said.

“I don’t like that young ’un at all,” continued Mr. O’Dwyer. “He’s a nasty, sneaking fellow, as cares for no one but his own belly. I’m not over fond of the old ’un neither.”

“They is both free enough with their money, father,” said the prudent daughter.

“Oh, they is welcome in the way of business, in course. But look here, Fan; don’t you have nothing to say to that Aby; do you hear me?”

“Who? I? ha, ha, ha!”

“It’s all very well laughing; but mind what I says, for I won’t have it. He is a nasty, sneaking, good-for-nothing fellow, besides being a heretic. What’d your uncle Bernard say?”

“Oh! for the matter of that, if I took a liking to a fellow I shouldn’t ask Uncle Bernard what he had to say. If he didn’t like it, I suppose he might do the other thing.”

“Well, I won’t have it. Do you hear that?”

“Laws, father, what nonsense you do talk. Who’s thinking about the man? He comes here for what he wants to ate and dhrink, and I suppose the house is free to him as another. If not we’d betther just shut up the front door.” After which she tossed herself up and began to wipe her glasses in a rather dignified manner.

Mr. O’Dwyer sat smoking his pipe and chewing the cud of his reflections. “They ain’t afther no good, I’m sure of that.” In saying which, however, he referred to the doings of the Molletts down at Kanturk, rather than to any amatory proceedings which might have taken place between the young man and his daughter.

On the following morning Mr. Mollett senior awoke with a racking headache. My belief is, that when men pay this penalty for drinking, they are partly absolved from other penalties. The penalties on drink are various. I mean those which affect the body, exclusive of those which affect the mind. There are great red swollen noses, very disagreeable both to the wearer and his acquaintances; there are morning headaches, awful to be thought of; there are sick stomachs, by which means the offender escapes through a speedy purgatory; there are sallow cheeks, sunken eyes, and shaking shoulders; there are very big bellies, and no bellies at all; and there is delirium tremens. For the most part a man escapes with one of these penalties. If he have a racking headache, his general health does not usually suffer so much as though he had endured no such immediate vengeance from violated nature. Young Aby when he drank had no headaches; but his eye was bloodshot, his cheek bloated, and his hand shook. His father, on the other hand, could not raise his head after a debauch; but when that was gone, all ill results of his imprudence seemed to have vanished.

At about noon on that day Aby was sitting by his father’s bedside. Up to that time it had been quite impossible to induce him to speak a word. He could only groan, swallow soda-water with “hairs of the dog that bit him” in it and lay with his head between his arms. But soon after noon Aby did induce him to say a word or two. The door of the room was closely shut, the little table was strewed with soda-water bottles and last drops of small goes of brandy. Aby himself had a cigar in his mouth, and on the floor near the bed-foot was a plate with a cold, greasy mutton chop, Aby having endeavoured in vain to induce his father to fortify exhausted nature by eating. The appearance of the room and the air within it would not have been pleasant to fastidious people. But then the Molletts were not fastidious.

“You did see Sir Thomas, then?”

“Yes, I did see him. I wish, Aby, you’d let me lie just for another hour or so. I’d be all right then. The jolting of that confounded car has nearly shaken my head to pieces.”

But Aby was by no means inclined to be so merciful. The probability was that he would be able to pump his father more thoroughly in his present weak state than he might do in a later part of the afternoon; so he persevered.

“But, governor, it’s so important we should know what we’re about. Did you see any one else except himself?”

“I saw them all, I believe, except her. I was told she never showed in the morning; but I’m blessed if I don’t think I saw the skirt of her dress through an open door. I’ll tell you what, Aby, I could not stand that.”

“Perhaps, father, after hall it’ll be better I should manage the business down there.”

“I believe there won’t be much more to manage. But, Aby, do leave me now, there’s a good fellow; then in another hour or so I’ll get up, and we’ll have it all out.”

“When you’re out in the open air and comfortable, it won’t be fair to be bothering you with business. Come, governor, ten minutes will tell the whole of it if you’ll only mind your eye. How did you begin with Sir Thomas?” And then Aby went to the door, opened it very gently, and satisfied himself that there was nobody listening on the landing-place.

Mr. Mollett sighed wearily, but he knew that his only hope was to get this job of talking over. “What was it you were saying, Aby?”

“How did you begin with Sir Thomas?”

“How did I begin with him? Let me see. Oh! I just told him who I was; and then he turned away and looked down under the fire like, and I thought he was going to make a faint of it.”

“I didn’t suppose he would be very glad to see you, governor.”

“When I saw how badly he took it, and how wretched he seemed, I almost made up my mind to go away and never trouble him any more.”

“You did, did you?”

“And just to take what he’d choose to give me.”

“Oh, them’s your hideas, hare they? Then I tell you what; I shall just take the matter into my own hands hentirely. You have no more ’eart than a chicken.”

“Ah, that’s very well, Aby; but you did not see him.”

“Do you think that would make hany difference? When a man’s a job of work to do, ‘e should do it. Them’s my notions. Do you think a man like that is to go and hact in that way, and then not pay for it? Whose wife is she, I’d like to know?”

There was a tone of injured justice about Aby which almost roused the father to participate in the son’s indignation. “Well; I did my best, though the old gentleman was in such a taking,” said he.

“And what was your best? Come, out with it at once.”

“I— m-m. I— just told him who I was, you know.”

“I guess he understood that quite well.”

“And then I said things weren’t going exactly well with me.”

“You shouldn’t have said that at all. What matters that to him? What you hask for you hask for because you’re able to demand it. That’s the ground for hus to take, and by —-I’ll take it too. There shall be no ‘alf-measures with me.”

“And then I told him — just what we were agreed, you know.”

“That we’d go snacks in the whole concern?”

“I didn’t exactly say that.”

“Then what the devil did you say?”

“Why, I told him that, looking at what the property was, twelve hundred pounds wasn’t much.”

“I should think not either.”

“And that if his son was to be allowed to have it all —”

“A bastard, you know, keeping it away from the proper heir.” It may almost be doubted whether, in so speaking, Aby did not almost think that he himself had a legitimate right to inherit the property at Castle Richmond.

“He must look to pay up handsome.”

“But did you say what ‘andsome meant?”

“Well, I didn’t — not then. He fell about upon the table like, and I wasn’t quite sure he wouldn’t make a die of it; and then heaven knows what might have happened to me.”

“Psha; you ‘as no pluck, governor.”

“I’ll tell you what it is, Aby, I ain’t so sure you’d have such an uncommon deal of pluck yourself.”

“Well, I’ll try, at any rate.”

“It isn’t such a pleasant thing to see an old gentleman in that state. And what would happen if he chose to ring the bell and order the police to take me? Have you ever thought of that?”

“Gammon.”

“But it isn’t gammon. A word from him would put me into quod, and there I should be for the rest of my days. But what would you care for that?” And poor Mr. Mollett senior shook under the bedclothes as his attention became turned to this very dreary aspect of his affairs. “Pluck, indeed! I’ll tell you what it is, Aby, I often wonder at my own pluck.”

“Psha! Would’nt a word from you split upon him, and upon her, and upon the young ’un, and ruin ’em? Or a word from me either, for the matter of that?”

Mr. Mollett senior shook again. He repented now, as he had already done twenty times, that he had taken that son of his into his confidence.

“And what on hearth did you say to him?” continued Aby.

“Well, not much more then; at least, not very much more. There was a good deal of words, but they didn’t seem to lead to much, except this, just to make him understand that he must come down handsome.”

“And there was nothing done about Hemmiline?”

“No,” said the father, rather shortly.

“If that was settled, that would be the clincher. There would be no further trouble to nobody then. It would be all smooth sailing for your life, governor, and lots of tin.”

“I tell you what it is, Aby, you may just drop that, for I won’t have the young lady bothered about it, nor yet the young lady’s father.”

“You won’t, won’t you?”

“No, I won’t; so there’s an end of it.”

“I suppose I may pay my distresses to any young lady if I think fitting.”

“And have yourself kicked into the ditch.”

“I know too much for kicking, governor.”

“They shall know as much as you do, and more too, if you go on with that. There’s a measure in all things. I won’t have it done, so I tell you.” And the father turned his face round to the wall.

This was by no means the end of the conversation, though we need not verbatim go through any more of it. It appeared that old Mollett had told Sir Thomas that his permanent silence could be purchased by nothing short of a settled “genteel” income for himself and his son, no absolute sum having been mentioned; and that Sir Thomas had required a fortnight for his answer, which answer was to be conveyed to Mr. Mollett verbally at the end of that time. It was agreed that Mr. Mollett should repeat his visit to Castle Richmond on that day fortnight.

“In the mean time I’ll go down and freshen the old gentleman up a bit,” said Aby, as he left his father’s bedroom.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43