The squire grimly gave him a couple of months to make it good.
Dorothy Beltham and my father were together for about an hour at Eckerthy’s farm. She let my father kiss her hand when he was bending to take his farewell of her, but held her face away. He was in manifest distress, hardly master of his voice, begged me to come to him soon, and bowing, with ‘God bless you, madam, my friend on earth!’ turned his heel, bearing his elastic frame lamentably. A sad or a culprit air did not befit him: one reckoned up his foibles and errors when seeing him under a partly beaten aspect. At least, I did; not my dear aunt, who was compassionate of him, however thoroughly she condemned his ruinous extravagance, and the shifts and evasions it put him to. She feared, that instead of mending the difficulty, he had postponed merely to exaggerate it in the squire’s mind; and she was now of opinion that the bringing him down to meet the squire was very bad policy, likely to result in danger to my happiness; for, if the money should not be forthcoming on the date named, all my father’s faults would be transferred to me as his accomplice, both in the original wastefulness and the subterfuges invented to conceal it. I recollected that a sum of money had really been sunk in Prince Ernest’s coal-mine. My aunt said she hoped for the best.
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?’