Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- The American Senator - 11/115 -
The Paragon was not in the least afraid of his American visitor, nor, as far as the comforts of his house were concerned, of his grandmother. Of the beauty, and her mother he did stand in awe;-- but he had two days in which to look to things before they would come. The train reached the Dillsborough Station at half-past three, and the two carriages were there to meet them. "You will understand, Mr. Gotobed," said the old lady, "that my grandson has nothing of his own established here as yet." This little excuse was produced by certain patches and tears in the cushions and linings of the carriages. Mr. Gotobed smiled and bowed and declared that everything was "fixed convenient" Then the Senator followed the old lady into one carriage; Mr. Morton followed alone into the other; and they were driven away to Bragton.
When Mrs. Hopkins had taken the old lady up to her room Mr. Morton asked the Senator to walk round the grounds. Mr. Gotobed, lighting an enormous cigar of which he put half down his throat for more commodious and quick consumption, walked on to the middle of the drive, and turning back looked up at the house, "Quite a pile," he said, observing that the offices and outhouses extended a long way to the left till they almost joined other buildings in which were the stables and coach-house.
"It's a good-sized house;"--said the owner; "nothing very particular, as houses are built now-a-days."
"Damp; I should say?"
"I think not. I have never lived here much myself; but I have not heard that it is considered so."
"I guess it's damp. Very lonely;--isn't it?"
"We like to have our society inside, among ourselves, in the country."
"Keep a sort of hotel-like?" suggested Mr. Gotobed. "Well, I don't dislike hotel life, especially when there are no charges. How many servants do you want to keep up such a house as that?"
Mr. Morton explained that at present he knew very little about it himself, then led him away by the path over the bridge, and turning to the left showed him the building which had once been the kennels of the Rufford hounds, "All that for dogs!" exclaimed Mr. Gotobed.
"All for dogs," said Morton. "Hounds, we generally call them."
"Hounds are they? Well; I'll remember; though 'dogs' seems to me more civil. How many used there to be?"
"About fifty couple, I think."
"A hundred dogs! No wonder your country gentlemen burst up so often. Wouldn't half-a-dozen do as well,--except for the show of the thing?"
"Half-a-dozen hounds couldn't hunt a fox, Mr. Gotobed."
"I guess half-a-dozen would do just as well, only for the show. What strikes me, Mr. Morton, on visiting this old country is that so much is done for show."
"What do you say to New York, Mr. Gotobed?"
"There certainly are a couple of hundred fools in New York, who, having more money than brains, amuse themselves by imitating European follies. But you won't find that through the country, Mr. Morton. You won't find a hundred dogs at an American planter's house when ten or twelve would do as well."
"Hunting is not one of your amusements."
"Yes it is. I've been a hunter myself. I've had nothing to eat but what I killed for a month together. That's more than any of your hunters can say. A hundred dogs to kill one fox!"
"Not all at the same time, Mr. Gotobed."
"And you have got none now?"
"I don't hunt myself."
"And does nobody hunt the foxes about here at present?" Then Morton explained that on the Saturday following the U.R.U. hounds, under the mastership of that celebrated sportsman Captain Glomax, would meet at eleven o'clock exactly at the spot on which they were then standing, and that if Mr. Gotobed would walk out after breakfast he should see the whole paraphernalia, including about half a hundred "dogs," and perhaps a couple of hundred men on horseback. "I shall be delighted to see any institution of this great country," said Mr. Gotobed, "however much opposed it may be to my opinion either of utility or rational recreation." Then, having nearly eaten up one cigar, he lit another preparatory to eating it, and sauntered back to the house.
Before dinner that evening there were a few words between the Paragon and his grandmother. "I'm afraid you won't like my American friend," he said.
"He is all very well, John. Of course an American member of Congress can't be an English gentleman. You, in your position, have to be civil to such people. I dare say I shall get on very well with Mr. Gotobed."
"I must get somebody to meet him."
"Lady Augustus and her daughter are coming."
"They knew each other in Washington. And there will be so many ladies."
"You could ask the Coopers from Mallingham," suggested the lady.
"I don't think they would dine out. He's getting very old."
"And I'm told the Mainwarings at Dillsborough are very nice people," said Mrs. Morton, who knew that Mr. Mainwaring at any rate came from a good family.
"I suppose they ought to call first. I never saw them in my life. Reginald Morton, you know, is living at Hoppet Hall in Dillsborough."
"You don't mean to say you wish to ask him to this house?"
"I think I ought. Why should I take upon myself to quarrel with a man I have not seen since I was a child, and who certainly is my cousin?"
"I do not know that he is your cousin; nor do you."
John Morton passed by the calumny which he had heard before, and which he knew that it was no good for him to attempt to subvert. "He was received here as one of the family, ma'am."
"I know he was; and with what result?"
"I don't think that I ought to turn my back upon him because my great-grandfather left property away from me to him. It would give me a bad name in the county. It would be against me when I settle down to live here. I think quarrelling is the most foolish thing a man can do,--especially with his own relations."
"I can only say this, John;--let me know if he is coming, so that I may not be called upon to meet him. I will not eat at table with Reginald Morton." So saying the old lady, in a stately fashion, stalked out of the room.
The Old Kennels
On the next morning Mrs. Morton asked her grandson what he meant to do with reference to his suggested invitation to Reginald. "As you will not meet him of course I have given up the idea," he said. The "of course" had been far from true. He had debated the matter very much with himself. He was an obstinate man, with something of independence in his spirit. He liked money, but he liked having his own way too. The old lady looked as though she might live to be a hundred,--and though she might last only for ten years longer, was it worth his while to be a slave for that time? And he was by no means sure of her money, though he should be a slave. He almost made up his mind that he would ask Reginald Morton. But then the old lady would be in her tantrums, and there would be the disagreeable necessity of making an explanation to that inquisitive gentleman Mr. Elias Gotobed.
"I couldn't have met him, John; I couldn't indeed. I remember so well all that occurred when your poor infatuated great-grandfather would have that woman into the house! I was forced to have my meals in my bedroom, and to get myself taken away as soon as I could get a carriage and horses. After all that I ought not to be asked to meet the child."
"I was thinking of asking old Mr. Cooper on Monday. I know she doesn't go out. And perhaps Mr. Mainwaring wouldn't take it amiss. Mr. Puttock, I know, isn't at home; but if he were, he couldn't come." Mr. Puttock was the rector of Bragton, a very rich living, but was unfortunately afflicted with asthma.
"Poor man. I heard of that; and he's only been here about six years. I don't see why Mr. Mainwaring should take it amiss at all. You can explain that you are only here a few days. I like to meet clergymen. I think that it is the duty of a country gentleman to ask them to his house. It shows a proper regard for religion. By-the-bye, John, I hope that you'll see that they have a fire in the church on Sunday." The Honourable Mrs. Morton always went to church, and had no doubt of her own sincerity when she reiterated her prayer that as she forgave others their trespasses, so might she be forgiven hers. As Reginald Morton had certainly never trespassed against her perhaps there was no reason why her thoughts should be carried to the necessity of forgiving him.
The Paragon wrote two very diplomatic notes, explaining his temporary residence and expressing his great desire to become
Previous Page Next Page
1 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 115
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything