“You are more to us than any one could be; Eustace shall see the thing rightly, and while you are good enough to make this our home, I promise you that no one shall be invited here but as you like.”
It was a bold promise, especially as it turned out that Eustace had been making large invitations to the Arghouse fishing to Dermot Tracy and some officer friends whom he had found at Biston, and who seemed to have made themselves very pleasant. I bade Harold never mind about that sort of invitation, as it need not affect Dora or me, since we could keep out of the way of it, being unconcerned with gentlemen’s parties. Miss Woolmer said I had done right, and gave us a general invitation to spend the evening with her if Eustace wished to entertain his friends, though she hinted, “Don’t be too ready to leave the coast clear. Remember that you are a wholesome check.”
Harold’s right hand healed quickly, and was free in a few days, but the left had to be kept for some time in a sling, and be daily attended to, though he heeded it but little, walking miles to look at horses and to try them, for he could manage them perfectly with one hand, and in this way he saw a good deal of Dermot Tracy, who exerted himself to find a horse to carry the mighty frame.
The catastrophe at the fair had gained him two friends, entirely unlike one another—Dermot, who thenceforward viewed him with unvarying hero-worship, and accepted Eustace as his appendage; and George Yolland, the very reverse of all Dermot’s high-bred form of Irishism, and careless, easy self-indulgence.
A rough-hewn, rugged young man, intensely in earnest, and therefore neither popular nor successful was that young partner of Dr. Kingston. Had Harold been squire, the resignation of the patient into his hands would have been less facile; but as a mere Australian visitor, he was no prize, and might follow his own taste if he preferred the practitioner to whom club, cottage, and union patients were abandoned.
By him Harold was let into those secrets of the lower stratum of society he had longed to understand. Attention to the poor boy who had been torn by the lion brought him into the great village of workmen’s huts, that had risen up round the Hydriot clay works on the Lerne.
These had been set up by a company about eighteen years before, much against all our wills. With Lord Erymanth at our head, we had opposed with all our might the breaking up of the beautiful moorland that ran right down into Mycening, and the defilement of our pure and rapid Lerne; but modern progress had been too strong for us. Huge brick inclosures with unpleasant smoky chimneys had arisen, and around them a whole colony of bare, ugly little houses, filled with squalid women and children, little the better for the men’s wages when they were high, and