The Old Wives' Tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 811 pages of information about The Old Wives' Tale.
up to Bleakridge with his son.  Cyril did not like this in the least.  Still, it might be tried.  One evening they went, actually, in the new steam-car which had superseded the old horse-cars, and which travelled all the way to Longshaw, a place that Cyril had only heard of.  Samuel talked of the games played in the Five Towns in his day, of the Titanic sport of prison-bars, when the team of one ‘bank’ went forth to the challenge of another ‘bank,’ preceded by a drum-and-fife band, and when, in the heat of the chase, a man might jump into the canal to escape his pursuer; Samuel had never played at cricket.

Samuel, with a very young grandson of Fan (deceased), sat in dignity on the grass and watched his cricketer for an hour and a half (while Constance kept an eye on the shop and superintended its closing).  Samuel then conducted Cyril home again.  Two days later the father of his own accord offered to repeat the experience.  Cyril refused.  Disagreeable insinuations that he was a baby in arms had been made at school in the meantime.

Nevertheless, in other directions Cyril sometimes surprisingly conquered.  For instance, he came home one day with the information that a dog that was not a bull-terrier was not worth calling a dog.  Fan’s grandson had been carried off in earliest prime by a chicken-bone that had pierced his vitals, and Cyril did indeed persuade his father to buy a bull-terrier.  The animal was a superlative of forbidding ugliness, but father and son vied with each other in stern critical praise of his surpassing beauty, and Constance, from good nature, joined in the pretence.  He was called Lion, and the shop, after one or two untoward episodes, was absolutely closed to him.

But the most striking of Cyril’s successes had to do with the question of the annual holiday.  He spoke of the sea soon after becoming a schoolboy.  It appeared that his complete ignorance of the sea prejudicially affected him at school.  Further, he had always loved the sea; he had drawn hundreds of three-masted ships with studding-sails set, and knew the difference between a brig and a brigantine.  When he first said:  “I say, mother, why can’t we go to Llandudno instead of Buxton this year?” his mother thought he was out of his senses.  For the idea of going to any place other than Buxton was inconceivable!  Had they not always been to Buxton?  What would their landlady say?  How could they ever look her in the face again?  Besides ... well ...!  They went to Llandudno, rather scared, and hardly knowing how the change had come about.  But they went.  And it was the force of Cyril’s will, Cyril the theoretic cypher, that took them.


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The Old Wives' Tale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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