‘She thinks she is marriageable,’ said I; and walked away, leaving loud laughter behind me.
But laughter did not console me for the public aspersion of him I loved. I walked off the grounds, and thought to myself it was quite time I should be moving. Wherever I stayed for any length of time I was certain to hear abuse of my father. Why not wander over the country with Kiomi, go to sea, mount the Andes, enlist in a Prussian regiment, and hear the soldiers tell tales of Frederick the Great? I walked over Kiomi’s heath till dark, when one of our grooms on horseback overtook me, saying that the squire begged me to jump on the horse and ride home as quick as possible. Two other lads and the coachman were out scouring the country to find me, and the squire was anxious, it appeared. I rode home like a wounded man made to feel proud by victory, but with no one to stop the bleeding of his wounds: and the more my pride rose, the more I suffered pain. There at home sat my grandfather, dejected, telling me that the loss of me a second time would kill him, begging me to overlook his roughness, calling me his little Harry and his heir, his brave-spirited boy; yet I was too sure that a word of my father to him would have brought him very near another ejaculation concerning Beltham buttons.
‘You’re a fiery young fellow, I suspect,’ he said, when he had recovered his natural temper. ’I like you for it; pluck’s Beltham. Have a will of your own. Sweat out the bad blood. Here, drink my health, Harry. You’re three parts Beltham, at least, and it’ll go hard if you’re not all Beltham before I die. Old blood always wins that race, I swear. We ’re the oldest in the county.
Damn the mixing. My father never let any of his daughters marry, if he could help it, nor’ll I, bar rascals.
Here’s to you, young Squire Beltham. Harry Lepel Beltham—does that suit ye? Anon, anon, as they say in the play. Take my name, and drop the Richmond no, drop the subject: we’ll talk of it by-and-by.’
So he wrestled to express his hatred of my father without offending me; and I studied him coldly, thinking that the sight of my father in beggar’s clothes, raising a hand for me to follow his steps, would draw me forth, though Riversley should beseech me to remain clad in wealth.
AN EVENING WITH CAPTAIN BULSTED
A dream that my father lay like a wax figure in a bed gave me thoughts of dying. I was ill and did not know it, and imagined that my despair at the foot of the stairs of ever reaching my room to lie down peacefully was the sign of death. My aunt Dorothy nursed me for a week: none but she and my dogs entered the room. I had only two faint wishes left in me: one that the squire should be kept out of my sight, the other that she would speak to me of my mother’s love for my father. She happened to say, musing, ‘Harry, you have your mother’s heart.’