The Half-Hearted eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about The Half-Hearted.

Lord Beauregard nodded.  “Tell me more about your friend Haystoun.”

Wratislaw’s face relaxed, and he became communicative.

“He is a Scots laird, rather well off, and, as I have said, uncommonly clever.  He lives at a place called Etterick in the Gled valley.”

“I saw Merkland to-day, and he spoke his farewell to politics.  The Whips told me about it yesterday.”

“Merkland!  But he always raised that scare!”

“He is serious this time.  He has sold his town house.”

“Then that settles it.  Lewis shall stand in his place.”

“Good,” said the great man.  “We want experts.  He would strengthen your feeble hands and confirm your tottering knees, Tommy.”

“If he gets in; but he will have a fight for it.  Our dear friend Albert Stocks has been nursing the seat, and the Manorwaters and scores of Lewie’s friends will help him.  That young man has a knack of confining his affections to members of the opposite party.”

“What was Merkland’s majority?  Two-fifty or something like that?”

“There or about.  But he was an old and well-liked country laird, whereas Lewie is a very young gentleman with nothing to his credit except an Oxford reputation and a book of travels, neither of which will appeal to the Gledsmuir weavers.”

“But he is popular?”

“Where he is known—­adored.  But his name does not carry confidence to those who do not know the man, for his family were weak-kneed gentry.”

“Yes, I knew his father.  Able, but crotchety and impossible!  Tommy, this young man must get the seat, for we cannot afford to throw away a single chance.  You say he knows the place,” and he jerked his head to indicate that East to which his thoughts were ever turning.  “Some time in the next two years there will be the devil’s own mess in that happy land.  Then your troubles will begin, my friend, and I can wish nothing better for you than the support of some man in the Commons who knows that Bardur is not quite so pastoral as Hampshire.  He may relieve you of some of the popular odium you are courting, and at the worst he can be sent out.”

Wratislaw whistled long and low.  “I think not,” he said.  “He is too good to throw away.  But he must get in, and as there is nothing in the world for me to do I shall go up to Ettorick tomorrow and talk to him.  He will do as I tell him, and we can put our back into the fight.  Besides, I want to see Stocks again.  That man is the joy of my heart!”

“Lucky beggar!” said the Minister.  “Oh, go by all means and enjoy yourself, while I swelter here for another three weeks over meaningless telegrams enlivened by the idiot diplomatist.  Good-bye and good luck, and bring the young man to a sense of his own value.”



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The Half-Hearted from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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