The Altar Steps eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 477 pages of information about The Altar Steps.

“You,” he exclaimed.  “You here!”

By the way he quickly looked behind him as if to intercept a prying glance Mark knew that, whatever the relationship between Esther and the squire had been in the past, it had been a relationship in which secrecy had played a part.  In that moment between him and Will Starling there was enmity.

“You couldn’t have expected him to make a great fuss about a boy,” said Esther brutally on their way back to the Rectory.

“I suppose you think that’s the reason why I don’t like him,” said Mark.  “I don’t want him to take any notice of me, but I think it’s very odd that you shouldn’t have said a word about knowing him even to his housekeeper.”

“It was a whim of mine,” she murmured.  “Besides, I don’t know him very well.  We met at Eastbourne once when I was staying there with Mother.”

“Well, why didn’t he say ‘How do you do, Miss Ogilvie?’ instead of breathing out ‘you’ like that?”

Esther turned furiously upon Mark.

“What has it got to do with you?”

“Nothing whatever to do with me,” he said deliberately.  “But if you think you’re going to make a fool of me, you’re not.  Are you going to tell your brother you knew him?”

Esther would not answer, and separated by several yards they walked sullenly back to the Rectory.



Mark tried next day to make up his difference with Esther; but she repulsed his advances, and the friendship that had blossomed after the Pomeroy affair faded and died.  There was no apparent dislike on either side, nothing more than a coolness as of people too well used to each other’s company.  In a way this was an advantage for Mark, who was having to apply himself earnestly to the amount of study necessary to win a scholarship at Oxford.  Companionship with Esther would have meant considerable disturbance of his work, for she was a woman who depended on the inspiration of the moment for her pastimes and pleasures, who was impatient of any postponement and always avowedly contemptuous of Mark’s serious side.  His classical education at Haverton House had made little of the material bequeathed to him by his grandfather’s tuition at Nancepean.  None of his masters had been enough of a scholar or enough of a gentleman (and to teach Latin and Greek well one must be one or the other) to educate his taste.  The result was an assortment of grammatical facts to which he was incapable of giving life.  If the Rector of Wych-on-the-Wold was not a great scholar, he was at least able to repair the neglect of, more than the neglect of, the positive damage done to Mark’s education by the meanness of Haverton House; moreover, after Mark had been reading with him six months he did find a really first-class scholar in Mr. Ford, the Vicar of Little Fairfield.  Mark worked steadily, and existence in Oxfordshire went by without any great

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