“Gad, sir,” the latter assured him, “you’re heartily welcome to the damn little hole, as far as I’m concerned, if you have the bad taste to fancy it. I suppose I ought to speak to my son Oxley about this just as a matter of form. Not that I apprehend Oxley will raise any difficulties as to entail—you need not fear that. We shall let you off easy enough—only too happy to oblige you. But I warn you, Verity, you may drop money buying the present tenant out. If half my agent tells me is true, the fellow must be a most confounded blackguard, up to the eyes in all manner of ungodly traffic. By rights we ought to have kicked him out years ago. But,” his lordship chuckled—“I scruple to be hard on any man. We’re none of us perfect, live and let live, you know. Only my dear fellow, I’m bound to put you on your guard; for he’ll stick to the place like a leech and blood-suck you like a leech too, as long as there’s a chance of getting an extra guinea out of you by fair means or foul.”
To which process of blood-sucking Mr. Verity was, in fact, rather scandalously subjected before Tandy’s Castle passed into his possession. But pass into his possession it finally did, whereupon he fell joyously to the work of reconstructive redemption.
First of all he ordered the entrance of the underground passage, leading to the river foreshore, to be securely walled up; and, with a fine disregard of possible unhealthy consequences in the shape of choke-damp, the doorways of certain ill-reputed vaults and cellars to be filled with solid masonry. Neither harborage of contraband, cruel laughter of man, or yell of tortured beast, should again defile the under-world of Tandy’s!—Next he had the roof of the main building raised, and given a less mean and meagre angle. He added a wing on the left containing pleasant bed-chambers upstairs, and good offices below; and, as crowning act of redemption, caused three large ground-floor rooms, backed by a wide corridor, to be built on the right in which to house his library and collections. This lateral extension of the house, constructed according to his own plans, was, like its designer, somewhat eccentric in character. The three rooms were semicircular, all window on the southern garden front, veritable sun-traps, with a low sloped roofing of grey-green slate to them, set fan-wise.
Such was the house at Deadham Hard when Mr. Verity’s labours were completed. And such did it remain until a good eighty years later, when it was visited by a youthful namesake and great-great nephew, under circumstances not altogether unworthy of record.
Enter A young scholar and gentleman of A happy disposition and good prospects
The four-twenty down train rumbled into Marychurch station, and Tom Verity stepped out of a rather frousty first-class carriage on to the platform. There hot still September sunshine, tempered by a freshness off the sea, met him. The effect was pleasurable, adding delicate zest to the enjoyment of living which already possessed him. Coming from inland, the near neighbourhood of the sea, the sea with its eternal invitation, stirred his blood.