The Altar Steps eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 477 pages of information about The Altar Steps.
in any way you think right.  I hope that the boy will reward your confidence more amply than he has rewarded mine.  I need not allude to the Pomeroy business to you, for notwithstanding your public denials I cannot but consider that you were as deeply implicated in that disgraceful affair as he was.  I note what you say about the admiration you had for my brother.  I wish I could honestly say that I shared that admiration.  But my brother and I were not on good terms, for which state of affairs he was entirely responsible.  I am more ready to surrender to you all my authority over Mark because I am only too well aware how during the last year you have consistently undermined that authority and encouraged my nephew’s rebellious spirit.  I have had a great experience of boys during thirty-five years of schoolmastering, and I can assure you that I have never had to deal with a boy so utterly insensible to kindness as my nephew.  His conduct toward his aunt I can only characterize as callous.  Of his conduct towards me I prefer to say no more.  I came forward at a moment when he was likely to be sunk in the most abject poverty, and my reward has been ingratitude.  I pray that his dark and stubborn temperament may not turn to vice and folly as he grows older, but I have little hope of its not doing so.  I confess that to me his future seems dismally black.  You may have acquired some kind of influence over his emotions, if he has any emotions, but I am not inclined to suppose that it will endure.
On hearing from you that you persist in your offer to assume complete responsibility for my nephew, I will hand him over to your care at once.  I cannot pretend that I shall be sorry to see the last of him, for I am not a hypocrite.  I may add that his clothes are in rather a sorry state.  I had intended to equip him upon his entering the office of my old friend Mr. Hitchcock and with that intention I have been letting him wear out what he has.  This, I may say, he has done most effectually.

     I am, Sir,

     Yours faithfully,

     Henry Lidderdale.

To which Mr. Ogilvie replied: 

     The Vicarage,

     Meade Cantorum,


     Jan. 16.

     Dear Mr. Lidderdale,

I accept full responsibility for Mark and for Mark’s money.  Send both of them along whenever you like.  I’m not going to embark on another controversy about the “rights” of boys.  I’ve exhausted every argument on this subject since Mark involved me in his drastic measures of a month ago.  But please let me assure you that I will do my best for him and that I am convinced he will do his best for me.

     Yours truly,

     Stephen Ogilvie.



Mark rarely visited his uncle and aunt after he went to live at Meade Cantorum; and the break was made complete soon afterward when the living of Wych-on-the-Wold was accepted by Mr. Ogilvie, so complete indeed that he never saw his relations again.  Uncle Henry died five years later; Aunt Helen went to live at St. Leonard’s, where she took up palmistry and became indispensable to the success of charitable bazaars in East Sussex.

Project Gutenberg
The Altar Steps from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.