“That is so true, Sir Bale; one never cares if one is not in a hurry. That’s what Martin thinks—don’t we, Martin?—And then, you know, coming home is the time you are in a hurry—when you are thinking of your cup of tea and the children; and then, you know, you have the fall of the ground all in your favour.”
“It’s well to have anything in your favour in this place. And so there are children?”
“A good many,” said Mrs. Bedel, with a proud and mysterious smile, and a nod; “you wouldn’t guess how many.”
“Not I; I only wonder you did not bring them all.”
“That’s very good-natured of you, Sir Bale, but all could not come at one bout; there are—tell him, Martin—ha, ha, ha! there are eleven.”
“It must be very cheerful down at the vicarage,” said Sir Bale graciously; and turning to the vicar he added, “But how unequally blessings are divided! You have eleven, and I not one—that I’m aware of.”
“And then, in that direction straight before you, you have the lake, and then the fells; and five miles from the foot of the mountain at the other side, before you reach Fottrell—and that is twenty-five miles by the road——”
“Dear me! how far apart they are set! My gardener told me this morning that asparagus grows very thinly in this part of the world. How thinly clergymen grow also down here—in one sense,” he added politely, for the vicar was stout.
“We were looking out of the window—we amused ourselves that way before you came—and your view is certainly the very best anywhere round this side; your view of the lake and the fells—what mountains they are, Sir Bale!”
“’Pon my soul, they are! I wish I could blow them asunder with a charge of duck-shot, and I shouldn’t be stifled by them long. But I suppose, as we can’t get rid of them, the next best thing is to admire them. We are pretty well married to them, and there is no use in quarrelling.”
“I know you don’t think so, Sir Bale, ha, ha, ha! You wouldn’t take a good deal and spoil Mardykes Hall.”
“You can’t get a mouthful or air, or see the sun of a morning, for those frightful mountains,” he said with a peevish frown at them.
“Well, the lake at all events—that you must admire, Sir Bale?”
“No ma’am, I don’t admire the lake. I’d drain the lake if I could—I hate the lake. There’s nothing so gloomy as a lake pent up among barren mountains. I can’t conceive what possessed my people to build our house down here, at the edge of a lake; unless it was the fish, and precious fish it is—pike! I don’t know how people digest it—I can’t. I’d as soon think of eating a watchman’s pike.”
“I thought that having travelled so much abroad, you would have acquired a great liking for that kind of scenery, Sir Bale; there is a great deal of it on the Continent, ain’t there?” said Mrs. Bedel. “And the boating.”