Under Two Flags eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 880 pages of information about Under Two Flags.
hands of a stranger; but no one among them ever thought that this was the inevitable end to which they surely drifted with blind and unthinking improvidence.  The old Viscount, haughtiest of haughty nobles, would never abate one jot of his accustomed magnificence; and his sons had but imbibed the teaching of all that surrounded them; they did but do in manhood what they had been unconsciously molded to do in boyhood, when they were set to Eton at ten with gold dressing-boxes to grace their Dame’s tables, embryo Dukes for their cofags, and tastes that already knew to a nicety the worth of the champagnes at the Christopher.  The old, old story—­how it repeats itself!  Boys grow up amid profuse prodigality, and are launched into a world where they can no more arrest themselves than the feather-weight can pull in the lightning stride of the two-year-old, who defies all check and takes the flat as he chooses.  They are brought up like young Dauphins, and tossed into the costly whirl to float as best they can—­on nothing.  Then, on the lives and deaths that follow; on the graves where a dishonored alien lies forgotten by the dark Austrian lakeside, or under the monastic shadow of some crumbling Spanish crypt; where a red cross chills the lonely traveler in the virgin solitudes of Amazonian forest aisles, or the wild scarlet creepers of Australia trail over a nameless mound above the trackless stretch of sun-warmed waters—­then at them the world “shoots out its lips with scorn.”  Not on them lies the blame.

A wintry, watery sun was shining on the terraces as Lord Royallieu paced up and down the morning after the Grand Military; his step and limbs excessively enfeebled, but the carriage of his head and the flash of his dark hawk’s eyes as proud and untamable as in his earliest years.  He never left his own apartments; and no one, save his favorite “little Berk,” ever went to him without his desire.  He was too sensitive a man to thrust his age and ailing health in among the young leaders of fashion, the wild men of pleasure, the good wits and the good shots of his son’s set; he knew very well that his own day was past; that they would have listened to him out of the patience of courtesy, but that they would have wished him away as “no end of a bore.”  He was too shrewd not to know this; but he was too quickly galled ever to bear to have it recalled to him.

He looked up suddenly and sharply:  coming toward him he saw the figure of the Guardsman.  For “Beauty” the Viscount had no love; indeed, well-nigh a hatred, for a reason never guessed by others, and never betrayed by him.

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Under Two Flags from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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