Ravenshoe, by Henry Kingsley

Chapter 16.

Marston’s Arrival.

The night after the terrible lexicon quarrel, which, you will observe, arose entirely from Charles’s good resolution to set to work reading — whereby we should take warning not to be too sanguine of good resolutions, taken late, bringing forth good fruit — the very evening I say after this fracas, Charles, his father, and Mary, were sitting in the library together. Of course Densil had heard nothing of the disturbance, and was, good old gentleman, as happy as you please; all his elements of pleasure were there. Father Mackworth was absent. Father Tiernay was throwing his whole hearty soul into a splendid copy of Bewick’s birds, date 1799. Cuthbert was before the upper fireplace, beyond the pillar, poring over goodness only knows what monkish lore; while close to him was bird Mary sewing, and Charles leading aloud a book, very often quoted in everyday life, unconsciously.

Charles read how Mr. Quilp begged Mr. Brass would take particular care of himself, or he would never forgive him; how there was a dog in the lane who had killed a boy on Tuesday, and bitten a man on Friday; how the og lived on the right hand side, but generally lurked on the left, ready for a spring: and they were laughing over Mr. Brass’s horror, when there came a noise of wheels on the gravel.

“That is Marston, father, for a thousand pounds,” said Charles.

He hurried into the hall, as the men were undoing the door; Mary, dropping her work, went after him; and Densil, taking his stick, came too. Cuthbert looked up from the further end of the room, and then bent his head over his book again. Father Tiernay looked up, inquisitive and interested, but sat still. They who followed into the hall saw this.

Charles stood in front of the hall door, and out of the winter’s darkness came a man, with whom, as Mary once playfully said, she had fallen in love at once. It was Marston.

Charles went up to him quickly with both hands out, and said —

“We are so glad.”

“It is very kind of you. God bless you; how did you know it?”

“We know nothing, my dear Marston, except that you are welcome. Now put me out of my pain.”

“Why, well,” said the other, “I don’t know how it has happened; but I have got my double first.”

Charles gave a wild cheer, and the others were all on him directly — Densil, Tiernay, Cuthbert, and all. Never was such a welcome; not one of them, save Charles, had ver seen him before, yet they welcomed him as an old friend.

“You have not been to Ranford then?” said Charles.

“Why, no. I did not feel inclined for it after so much work. I must take it on my way back.”

Lord Saltire’s gout was better tonight, and he was down stairs. He proceeded to remark that, having been n; well, he wouldn’t shock Miss Corby by saying here — for a day or so, he had suddenly, through no merit of his own, got promoted back into purgatory. That, having fought against the blue devils, and come down stairs, for the sole purpose of making himself disagreeable, he had been rewarded, for that display of personal energy and self-sacrifice, by most unexpectedly meeting a son of his old friend, Jackdaw Marston. He begged to welcome his old friend’s son, and to say that, by Jove, he was proud of him. His young friend’s father had not been a brilliant scholar, as his young friend was; but had been one of the first whist-players in England. His young friend had turned his attention to scholastic honours, in preference to whist, which might or might not be a mistake: though he believed he was committing no breach of trust in saying that the position had been thrust on his young friend from pecuniary motives. Property had an infernal trick of deteriorating. His own property had not happened to deteriorate (none knew why, for he had given it every chance); but the property of his young friend’s father having eteriorated in a confounded rapid sort of way, he must say that it was exceedingly creditable in his young friend to have made such a decided step towards bringing matters right again as he had.”

“My father’s son, my Lord, thanks you for your kind remembrance of his father. I have always desired to see and meet my father’s old friends, of whom you, Mr. Ravenshoe, were among the kindest. We have given up the greater vices lately, my Lord, but we do our best among the smaller ones.”

There was a quiet supper, at which Lord Saltire consented to stay, provided no one used the expression “cheese; ” in which case he said he should have to retire. There wasn’t cheese on the table, but there was more than cheese; there was scolloped cockles, and Lord Saltire ate some. He said at the time that they would have the same effect on him as swallowing the flreshovel. But, to relieve your mind at once, I may tell you that they didn’t do him any harm at all, and he was as well as ever next morning.

Father Tiernay said grace; and, when the meal was half over, in came Father Mackworth. Densil said, “Father Mackworth, Mr. Marston;” and Marston said, after a moment’s glance at him, “How do you do, sir?”

Possibly a more courteous form of speaking to a new acquaintance might have been used. But Marston had his opinions about Father Mackworth, and had no objection that the holy father should know them.

“We got, Mary,” said Cuthbert suddenly, “more cocks than pheasants today. Charles killed five couple, and I four. I was very vexed at being beaten by Charles, because I am so much the better shot.”

Charles looked up and met his eyes — a look he never forgot. Accompanying the apparent petulance of the remark was a look of love and pity and sorrow. It pleased him, above everything, during the events which were to come, to recall that look, and say, “Well, he liked me once.”

That evening Charles and Marston retired to Charles’s study (a deal of study had been carried on there, you may depend), and had a long talk over future prospects. Charles began by telling him all about Madam Adelaide, and Marston said, “Oh, indeed! what are you going to do, Charley, boy, to keep her? She comes out of an extravagant house, you know.”

“I must get called to the bar.”

“Hard work for nothing, for many years, you know.”

“I know. But I won’t go into the Church; and what else is there?”

“Nothing I know of, except billiard marking and steeple-chase riding.”

“Then, you approve of it?”

“I do, most heartily. The work will be good for you. You have worked before, and can do it again, remember how well you got on at Shrewsbury.”

Then Charles told him about the relations between imself and Father Mackworth, and what had happened that day.

“Yon and he have had disgraceful scenes like this before, haven’t yon?”

“Yes, but never so bad as this.

“He is a very passionate man, isn’t he? You took utterly wrong grounds for what you did today. Don’t you see that you have no earthly grounds for what you said, except your own suspicions? The girl’s own account of the matter seems natural enough. That she was walking with your most saint-like brother, and the priest found them, and sent them to the right-about with fleas in their ears.”

“I believe that man to be a gre’at villain,” said Charles.

“So may I,” said the other, “but I shan’t tell him so till I can prove it. As for that quarrel between William and Ms sister the night you came home, that proves nothing, except that she has been going too far with some one. But who? What have you been doing that empowers him to say that he will crush you like a moth?”

“Oh, bravado, I take it! You should have seen how mad he looked when he said it.”

“I am glad I did not. Let us talk no more about him. Is that sweet little bird Mary Corby?”

“You know it is.”

“Well, so I do know, but I wanted an excuse for saying the name over again. Charles, you are a. fool.”

“That is such a very novel discovery of yours,” said Charles, laughing. “What have I been a-doing on now?”

“Why didn’t you fall in love with Mary Corby instead of Madam Adelaide?”

“I am sure I don’t know. Why, I never thought of such a thing as that.”

“Then you ought to have done so. Now go to bed.”


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56