Mounting the heaths, we looked back on the long yellow road, where the carriage conveying my father to the railway-station was visible, and talked of him, and of the elements of antique tragedy in his history, which were at that period, let me say, precisely what my incessant mental efforts were strained to expel from the idea of our human life. The individual’s freedom was my tenet of faith; but pity pleaded for him that he was well-nigh irresponsible, was shamefully sinned against at his birth, one who could charge the Gods with vindictiveness, and complain of the persecution of natal Furies. My aunt Dorothy advised me to take him under my charge, and sell his house and furniture, make him live in bachelor chambers with his faithful waiting-woman and a single manservant.
‘He will want money even to do that,’ I remarked.
She murmured, ‘Is there not some annual income paid to him?’
Her quick delicacy made her redden in alluding so closely to his personal affairs, and I loved her for the nice feeling. ‘It was not much,’ I said. The miserable attempt to repair the wrongs done to him with this small annuity angered me—and I remembered, little pleased, the foolish expectations he founded on this secret acknowledgement of the justice of his claims. ‘We won’t talk of it,’ I pursued. ’I wish he had never touched it. I shall interdict him.’
‘You would let him pay his debts with it, Harry?’
’I am not sure, aunty, that he does not incur a greater debt by accepting it.’
‘One’s wish would be, that he might not ever be in need of it.’
‘Ay, or never be caring to find the key of it.’
‘That must be waste of time,’ she said.
I meant something else, but it was useless to tell her so.
Commencement of the splendours
and perplexities of my father’s
Janet, in reply to our inquiries as to the condition of the squire’s temper, pointed out in the newspaper a notification of a grand public Ball to be given by my father, the first of a series of three, and said that the squire had seen it and shrugged. She thought there was no positive cause for alarm, even though my father should fail of his word; but expressed her view decidedly, that it was an unfortunate move to bring him between the squire and me, and so she blamed Captain Bulsted. This was partly for the reason that the captain and his wife, charmed by my father, were for advocating his merits at the squire’s table: our ingenuity was ludicrously taxed to mystify him on the subject of their extravagant eulogies. They told him they had been invited, and were going to the great London Balls.
‘Subscription Balls?’ asked the squire.
‘No, sir,’ rejoined the captain.
‘Tradesmen’s Balls, d’ ye call ’em, then?’