The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.

Miltoun, bending to kiss her, murmured: 

“Thanks, I’m all right.”

“Nonsense,” replied Lady Casterley.  “They don’t look after you.  Was your mother in the House?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Exactly.  And what is Barbara about?  She ought to be seeing to you.”

“Barbara is down with Uncle Dennis.”

Lady Casterley set her jaw; then looking her grandson through and through, said: 

“I shall take you down there this very day.  I shall have the sea to you.  What do you say, Clifton?”

“His lordship does look pale.”

“Have the carriage, and we’ll go from Clapham Junction.  Thomas can go in and fetch you some clothes.  Or, better, though I dislike them, we can telephone to your mother for a car.  It’s very hot for trains.  Arrange that, please, Clifton!”

To this project Miltoun raised no objection.  And all through the drive he remained sunk in an indifference and lassitude which to Lady Casterley seemed in the highest degree ominous.  For lassitude, to her, was the strange, the unpardonable, state.  The little great lady—­casket of the aristocratic principle—­was permeated to the very backbone with the instinct of artificial energy, of that alert vigour which those who have nothing socially to hope for are forced to develop, lest they should decay and be again obliged to hope.  To speak honest truth, she could not forbear an itch to run some sharp and foreign substance into her grandson, to rouse him somehow, for she knew the reason of his state, and was temperamentally out of patience with such a cause for backsliding.  Had it been any other of her grandchildren she would not have hesitated, but there was that in Miltoun which held even Lady Casterley in check, and only once during the four hours of travel did she attempt to break down his reserve.  She did it in a manner very soft for her—­was he not of all living things the hope and pride of her heart?  Tucking her little thin sharp hand under his arm, she said quietly: 

“My dear, don’t brood over it.  That will never do.”

But Miltoun removed her hand gently, and laid it back on the dust rug, nor did he answer, or show other sign of having heard.

And Lady Casterley, deeply wounded, pressed her faded lips together, and said sharply: 

“Slower, please, Frith!”


It was to Barbara that Miltoun unfolded, if but little, the trouble of his spirit, lying that same afternoon under a ragged tamarisk hedge with the tide far out.  He could never have done this if there had not been between them the accidental revelation of that night at Monkland; nor even then perhaps had he not felt in this young sister of his the warmth of life for which he was yearning.  In such a matter as love Barbara was the elder of these two.  For, besides the motherly knowledge of the heart peculiar to most

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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