’I’ve got enough to think over. Hold him fast to stand up to me within forty-eight hours, present time; you know who I mean; I’ve got a question or two for him. How he treats his foreign princes and princesses don’t concern me. I’d say, like the Prevention-Cruelty-Animal’s man to the keeper of the menagerie, “Lecture ’em, wound their dignity, hurt their feelings, only don’t wop ’em.” I don’t wish any harm to them, but what the deuce they do here nosing after my grandson! . . . There, go; we shall be having it out ha’ done with to-morrow or next day. I’ve run the badger to earth, else I’m not fit to follow a scent.’
He grumbled at having to consume other than his Riversley bread, butter, beef, and ale for probably another fortnight. One of the boasts of Riversley was, that while the rest of the world ate and drank poison, the Grange lived on its own solid substance, defying malefactory Radical tricksters.
Temple was left to hear the rest. He had the sweetest of modest wishes for a re-introduction to Ottilia.
WE ARE ALL IN MY FATHER’S NET
Journeying down by the mail-train in the face of a great sunken sunset broken with cloud, I chanced to ask myself what it was that I seriously desired to have. My purpose to curb my father was sincere and good; but concerning my heart’s desires, whitherward did they point? I thought of Janet—she made me gasp for air; of Ottilia, and she made me long for earth. Sharp, as I write it, the distinction smote me. I might have been divided by an electrical shot into two halves, with such an equal force was I drawn this way and that, pointing nowhither. To strangle the thought of either one of them was like the pang of death; yet it did not strike me that I loved the two: they were apart in my mind, actually as if I had been divided. I passed the Riversley station under sombre sunset fires, saddened by the fancy that my old home and vivacious Janet were ashes, past hope. I came on the smell of salt air, and had that other spirit of woman around me, of whom the controlled seadeeps were an image, who spoke to my soul like starlight. Much wise counsel, and impatience of the wisdom, went on within me. I walked like a man with a yawning wound, and had to whip the sense of passion for a drug. Toward which one it strove I know not; it was blind and stormy as the night.
Not a boatman would take me across. The lights of the island lay like a crown on the water. I paced the ramparts, eyeing them, breathing the keen salt of thundering waves, until they were robbed of their magic by the coloured Fast.