Young Oliver, as soon as Harry was convalescent, discussed this vehemently with him. Harry, weak with illness, took it passively. He was destined for the Navy. To him already the sea meant everything: as a child of three, on his voyage home in the Mogul East Indiaman, he had caught the infection of it; on it, as offering the only career fit for a grown man, his young thoughts brooded, and these annoyances were to him but as chimney-pots and pantiles falling about the heads of folks ashore. But he agreed that Di’s conduct needed explaining. She had taken a demure turn, and was not remonstrating with her parents as she ought—not playing fair, in short. “It must be pretty difficult for her,” said Harry. “I don’t see,” said Oliver.
The two boys went back to Westminster together. They spent the Christmas holidays with their Uncle Frederick, the barrister, who practised very little at the law either in court or in chambers, hut dwelt somewhat luxuriously in the Inner Temple and lived the life of a man-about-town. Their summer vacation was to be spent at Carwithiel; but, as it happened, they were not to see Carwithiel again, for before summer came news of their father’s death at Calcutta. He had amassed a fortune which, translated out of rupees, amounted to 400,000 pounds. To his widow, in addition to her jointure, he left a life interest of a thousand pounds per annum; a sum of 20,000 pounds was set aside for Harry, to accumulate until his twenty-first birthday; while the magnificent residue in like manner accumulated for young Oliver, the heir.
Lady Jane returned to England, to live in decent affluence at Bath; and at Bath, of course, Oliver and Harry spent their subsequent holidays, while their Uncle Frederick continued by occasional dinners and gifts of pocket money, by outings down the river to Greenwich, by seats at the theatre or at state shows and pageants, to mitigate the rigours of school. Had it occurred to Oliver Vyell in later life to set down his “Reflections” in the style of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he might have begun them in some such words as these: “From my mother, Lady Jane Vyell, I learned to be proud of good birth, to esteem myself a gentleman, and to regulate my actions by a code proper to my station in life. This code she reconciled with the Gospels, and indeed, she rested it on the rock of Holy Scripture. From my Uncle Frederick I learned that self-interest was the key of life; that the teachings of the priest-hood were more or less conscious humbug; that all men could be bought; that their god was vanity, and the Great Revolution the noblest event in English history. . . .”
The sane infusion of Father Neptune in Master Harry’s blood preserved him from these doctrines, and before long indeed removed him out of the way of hearing them. Soon after his fifteenth birthday he sailed to learn his profession shipping (by a fiction of the service), as “cabin boy” under his mother’s brother. Lord Robert Soules, then commanding the Merope frigate.