Hence he was the more inclined to propose a departure from the Hall if it could possibly be arranged satisfactorily in a pecuniary point of view. The pecuniary point of view, however, in which Henry was compelled to look at the subject, was an important and a troublesome one.
We have already hinted at the very peculiar state of the finances of the family; and, in fact, although the income derivable from various sources ought to have been amply sufficient to provide Henry, and those who were dependent upon him, with a respectable livelihood, yet it was nearly all swallowed up by the payment of regular instalments upon family debts incurred by his father. And the creditors took great credit to themselves that they allowed of such an arrangement, instead of sweeping off all before them, and leaving the family to starve.
The question, therefore, or, at all events, one of the questions, now was, how far would a departure from the Hall of him, Henry, and the other branches of the family, act upon that arrangement?
During a very few minutes’ consideration, Henry, with the frank and candid disposition which was so strong a characteristic of his character, made up his mind to explain all this fully to Charles Holland and his uncle.
When once he formed such a determination he was not likely to be slow in carrying it into effect, and no sooner, then, were the whole of them seated in the small oaken parlour than he made an explicit statement of his circumstances.
“But,” said Mr. Marchdale, when he had done, “I cannot see what right your creditors have to complain of where you live, so long as you perform your contract to them.”
“True; but they always expected me, I knew, to remain at the Hall, and if they chose, why, of course, at any time, they could sell off the whole property for what it would fetch, and pay themselves as far as the proceeds would go. At all events, I am quite certain there could be nothing at all left for me.”
“I cannot imagine,” added Mr. Marchdale, “that any men could be so unreasonable.”
“It is scarcely to be borne,” remarked Charles Holland, with more impatience than he usually displayed, “that a whole family are to be put to the necessity of leaving their home for no other reason than the being pestered by such a neighbour as Sir Francis Varney. It makes one impatient and angry to reflect upon such a state of things.”
“And yet they are lamentably true,” said Henry. “What can we do?”
“Surely there must be some sort of remedy.”
“There is but one that I can imagine, and that is one we all alike revolt from. We might kill him.”
“That is out of the question.”
“Of course my impression is that he bears the same name really as myself, and that he is my ancestor, from whom was painted the portrait on the panel.”
“Have circumstances really so far pressed upon you,” said Charles Holland, “as at length to convince you that this man is really the horrible creature we surmise he may be?”