The Bars of Iron - Ethel M. Dell - ebook

The Bars of Iron ebook

Ethel M. Dell

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Avery Denys, the novels heroine, lost her husband and her blind daughter. But in response to these tragic events, Avery simply reflects that she was „left with nothing to do”, and finds a job that allows her to act out the mother role she now misses. A rock to her female friends, Avery is rational yet caring, but also submissive in the face of her eventual second husband’s violence towards her and others. There are many characters with the usual misunderstandings that result in separation for the couple. Healing and reconciliation come with the intervention of two special friends and the children of the minister. „The Bars of Iron” (1916) is an excellent bestsellers book in the United States in 1916 for individuals who are looking for the best one to read. A contemporary classic. Full of passion and love.

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Contents

PROLOGUE

PART I

THE GATES OF BRASS

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER XXXVII

CHAPTER XXXVIII

PART II

THE PLACE OF TORMENT

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

PART III

THE OPEN HEAVEN

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE

“Fight? I’ll fight you with pleasure, but I shall probably kill you if I do. Do you want to be killed?” Brief and contemptuous the question fell. The speaker was a mere lad. He could not have been more than nineteen. But he held himself with the superb British assurance that has its root in the British public school and which, once planted, in certain soils is wholly ineradicable.

The man he faced was considerably his superior in height and build. He also was British, but he had none of the other’s careless ease of bearing. He stood like an angry bull, with glaring, bloodshot eyes.

He swore a terrific oath in answer to the scornful enquiry. “I’ll break every bone in your body!” he vowed. “You little, sneering bantam, I’ll smash your face in! I’ll thrash you to a pulp!”

The other threw up his head and laughed. He was sublimely unafraid. But his dark eyes shone red as he flung back the challenge. “All right, you drunken bully! Try!” he said.

They stood in the garish light of a Queensland bar, surrounded by an eager, gaping crowd of farmers, boundary-riders, sheep-shearers, who had come down to this township on the coast on business or pleasure at the end of the shearing season.

None of them knew how the young Englishman came to be among them. He seemed to have entered the drinking-saloon without any very definite object in view, unless he had been spurred thither by a spirit of adventure. And having entered, a boyish interest in the motley crowd, which was evidently new to him, had induced him to remain. He had sat in a corner, keenly observant but wholly unobtrusive, for the greater part of an hour, till in fact the attention of the great bully now confronting him had by some ill-chance been turned in his direction.

The man was three parts drunk, and for some reason, not very comprehensible, he had chosen to resent the presence of this clean-limbed, clean-featured English lad. Possibly he recognized in him a type which for its very cleanness he abhorred. Possibly his sodden brain was stirred by an envy which the Colonials round him were powerless to excite. For he also was British-born. And he still bore traces, albeit they were not very apparent at that moment, of the breed from which he had sprung.

Whatever the cause of his animosity, he had given it full and ready vent. A few coarse expressions aimed in the direction of the young stranger had done their work. The boy had risen to go, with disgust written openly upon his face, and instantly the action had been seized upon by the older man as a cause for offence.

He had not found his victim slow to respond. In fact his challenge had been flung back with an alacrity that had somewhat astonished the bystanders and rendered interference a matter of some difficulty.

But one of them did at this juncture make his voice heard in a word of admonition to the half-tipsy aggressor.

“You had better mind what you do, Samson. There will be a row if that young chap gets hurt.”

“Yes, he’d better get out of it,” said one or two.

But the young chap in question turned on them with a flash of his white teeth. “Don’t you worry yourselves!” he said. “If he wants to fight–let him!”

They muttered uneasily in answer. It was plain that Samson’s bull-strength was no allegory to them. But the boy’s confidence remained quite unimpaired. He faced his adversary with the lust of battle in his eyes.

“Come on, you slacker!” he said. “I like a good fight. Don’t keep me waiting!”

The bystanders began to laugh, and the man they called Samson turned purple with rage. He flung round furiously. “There’s a yard at the back,” he cried. “We’ll settle it there. I’ll teach you to use your spurs on me, my young game-cock!”

“Come on then!” said the stranger. “P’r’aps I shall teach you something too! You’ll probably be killed, as I said before; but if you’ll take the risk I have no objection.”

Again the onlookers raised a laugh. They pressed round to see the face of the English boy who was so supremely unafraid. It was a very handsome face, but it was not wholly English. The eyes were too dark and too passionate, the straight brows too black, the features too finely regular. The mouth was mobile, and wayward as a woman’s, but the chin might have been modelled in stone–a fighting chin, aggressive, indomitable. There was something of the ancient Roman about the whole cast of his face which, combined with that high British bearing, made him undeniably remarkable. Those who looked at him once generally turned to look again.

One of the spectators–a burly Australian farmer–pushed forward from the throng and touched his arm. “Look here, my son!” he said in an undertone. “You’ve no business here, and no call to fight whatever. Clear out of it–quick! Savvy? I’ll cover your tracks.”

The boy drew himself up with a haughty movement. Plainly for the moment he resented the advice. But the next very suddenly he smiled.

“Thanks! Don’t trouble! I can hold my own and a bit over. There’s no great difficulty in downing a drunken brute like that.”

“Don’t you be too cock-sure!” the farmer warned him. “He’s a heavy weight, and he’s licked bigger men than you when he’s been in just the state he’s in now.”

But the English boy only laughed, and turned to follow his adversary.

Every man present pressed after him. A well-sustained fight, though an event of no uncommon occurrence, was a form of entertainment that never failed to attract. They crowded out to the back premises in a body, unhindered by any in authority.

A dingy backyard behind the house furnished ground for the fray. Here the spectators gathered in a ring around an arc of light thrown by a stable-lamp over the door, and the man they called Samson proceeded with savage energy to strip to the waist.

The young stranger’s face grew a shade more disdainful as he noted the action. He himself removed coat, waistcoat, and collar, all of which he handed to the farmer who had offered to assist him in making good his escape.

“Just look after these for a minute!” he said.

“You’re a cool hand,” said the other man admiringly. “I’ll see you don’t get bullied anyhow.”

The young man nodded his thanks. He looked down at his hands and slowly clenched and opened them again.

“Oh, I shan’t be bullied,” he said, in a tone of grim conviction.

And then the fight began.

It was obvious from the outset that it could not be a very prolonged one. Samson attacked with furious zest. He evidently expected to find his opponent very speedily at his mercy, and he made no attempt to husband his strength. But his blows went wide. The English lad avoided them with an agility that kept him practically unscathed. Had he been a hard hitter, he might have got in several blows himself, but he only landed one or two. His face was set and white as a marble mask in which only the eyes lived–eyes that watched with darting intensity for the chance to close. And when that chance came he took it so suddenly and so unexpectedly that not one of the hard-breathing, silent crowd around him saw exactly how he gained his hold. One moment he was avoiding a smashing, right-handed blow; the next he had his adversary locked in a grip of iron, the while he bent and strained for the mastery.

From then onwards an element that was terrible became apparent in the conflict. From a simple fisticuff it developed into a deadly struggle between skilled strength and strength that was merely brutal. Silently, with heaving, convulsive movements, the two struggling figures swayed to and fro. One of Samson’s arms was imprisoned in that unyielding clutch. The other rained blows upon his adversary’s head and shoulders that produced no further effect than if they had been bestowed upon cast-iron.

The grip of the boy’s arms only grew tighter and tighter with snake-like force, while a dreadful smile came into the young face and became stamped there, engraved in rigid lines. His lower lip was caught between his teeth, and a thin stream of blood ran from it over the smooth, clean-cut chin. It was the only sign he gave that he was putting forth the whole of his strength.

A murmur of surprise that had in it a note of uneasiness began to run through the ring of onlookers. They had seen many a fight before, but never a fight like this. Samson’s face had gone from red to purple. His eyes had begun to start. Quite plainly he also was taken by surprise. Desperately, with a streaming forehead, he changed his tactics. He had no skill. Until that day he had relied upon superior strength and weight to bring him victorious through every casual fray; and it had never before failed him. But that merciless, suffocating hold compelled him to abandon offensive measures to effect his escape. He stopped his wild and futile hammering and with his one free hand he grasped the back of his opponent’s neck.

The move was practically inevitable, but its effect was such as only one anticipated. That one was his adversary, who slowly bent under his weight as though overcome thereby, shifting his grip lower and lower till it almost looked as if he were about to collapse altogether. But just as the breaking-point seemed to be reached there came a change. He gathered himself together and with gigantic exertion began to straighten his bent muscles. Slowly but irresistibly he heaved his enemy upwards. There came a moment of desperate, confused struggle; and then, as the man lost his balance at last, he relaxed his grip quite suddenly, flinging him headlong over his shoulder.

It was a clean throw, contrived with masterly assurance, the result of deliberate and trained calculation. The bully pitched upon his head on the rough stones of the yard, and turned a complete somersault with the violence of his fall.

A shout of amazement went up from the spectators. This end of the struggle was totally unexpected.

The successful combatant remained standing with the sweat pouring from his face and the blood still running down his chin. He stretched out his arms with a slow, mechanical movement as if to test the condition of his muscles after the tremendous strain he had put upon them. Then, still as it were mechanically, he felt the torn collar-band of his shirt, with speculative fingers. Finally he whizzed round on the heels and stared at the huddled form of his fallen foe.

A shabby little man with thick, sandy eyebrows had gone to his assistance, but he lay quite motionless in a twisted, ungainly attitude. The flare of the lamp was reflected in his glassy, upturned eyes. Dumbly his conqueror stood staring down at him. He seemed to stand above them all in that his moment of dreadful victory.

He spoke at length, and through his voice there ran a curious tremor as of a man a little giddy, a little dazed by immense and appalling height.

“I thought I could do it!” he said. “I–thought I could!”

It was his moment of triumph, of irresistible elation. The devil in him had fought–and conquered.

It swayed him–and passed. He was left white to the lips and suddenly, terribly, afraid.

“What have I done to him?” he asked, and the tremor was gone from his voice; it was level, dead level. “I haven’t killed him really, have I?”

No one answered him. They were crowding round the fallen man, stooping over him with awe-struck whispering, straightening the crumpled, inert limbs, trying to place the heavy frame in a natural posture.

The boy pressed forward to look, but abruptly his supporter caught him by the shoulder and pulled him back.

“No, no!” he said in a sharp undertone. “You’re no good here. Get out of it! Put on your clothes and–go!”

He spoke urgently. The boy stared at him, suffering the compelling hand. All the fight had gone completely out of him. He was passive with the paralysis of a great horror.

The farmer helped him into his clothes, and himself removed the blood-stain from the lad’s dazed face. “Don’t be a fool!” he urged. “Pull yourself together and clear out! This thing was an accident. I’ll engineer it.”

“Accident!” The boy straightened himself sharply with the movement of one brought roughly to his senses. “I suppose the throw broke his neck,” he said. “But it was no accident. I did it on purpose. I told him I should probably kill him, but he would have it.” He turned and squarely faced the other. “I don’t know what I ought to do,” he said, speaking more collectedly. “But I’m certainly not going to bolt.”

The farmer nodded with brief comprehension. He had the steady eyes of a man accustomed to the wide spaces of the earth. “That’s all right,” he said, and took him firmly by the arm. “You come with me. My name is Crowther. We’ll have a talk outside. There’s more room there. You’ve got to listen to reason. Come!”

He almost dragged the boy away with the words. No one intercepted or spoke a word to delay them. Together they passed back through the empty drinking-saloon–the boy with his colourless face and set lips, the man with his resolute, far-seeing eyes–and so into the dim roadway beyond.

They left the lights of the reeking bar behind. The spacious night closed in upon them.

PART I

THE GATES OF BRASS

CHAPTER I

A JUG OF WATER

It was certainly not Caesar’s fault. Caesar was as well-meaning a Dalmatian as ever scampered in the wake of a cantering horse. And if Mike in his headlong Irish fashion chose to regard the scamper as a gross personal insult, that was surely not a matter for which he could reasonably be held responsible. And yet it was upon the luckless Caesar that the wrath of the gods descended as a consequence of Mike’s wrong-headed deductions.

It began with a rush and a snarl from the Vicarage gate and it had developed into a set and deadly battle almost before either of the combatants had fully realized the other.

The rider drew rein, yelling furiously; but his yells were about as effectual as the wail of an infant. Neither animal was so much as aware of his existence in those moments of delirious warfare. They were locked already in that silent, swaying grip which every fighting dog with any knowledge of the great game seeks to establish, to break which mere humans may put forth their utmost strength in vain.

The struggle was a desperate and a bloody one, and it speedily became apparent to the rider that he would have to dismount if he intended to put an end to it.

Fiercely he flung himself off his horse and threw the reins over the Vicarage gate-post. Then, riding-crop in hand, he approached the swaying fighting animals. It was like a ghastly wrestling-match. Both were on their feet, struggling to and fro, each with jaws hard gripped upon the other’s neck, each silent save for his spasmodic efforts to breathe.

“Stop it, damn you!” shouted the rider, slashing at them with the zeal of unrestrained fury. “Caesar, you infernal brute, stop it, will you? I’ll kill you if you don’t!”

But Caesar was deaf to all threats and quite unconscious of the fact that his master and not his enemy was responsible for the flail-like strokes of the whirling lash. They shifted from beneath it instinctively, but they fought deliriously on.

And at that the man with the whip completely lost his self-control. He set to work to thrash and thrash the fighting animals till one or other of them–or himself–should become exhausted.

It developed into a horrible competition organized and conducted by the man’s blind fury, and in what fashion it would have ended it would be hard to say. But, luckily for all three, there came at length an interruption. Someone–a woman–came swiftly out of the Vicarage garden carrying a bedroom jug. She advanced without a pause upon the seething, infuriated group.

“It’s no good beating them,” she said, in a voice which, though somewhat hurried, was one of clear command. “Get out of the way, and be ready to catch your dog when they come apart!”

The man glanced round for an instant, his face white with passion. “I’ll kill the brutes!” he declared.

“Indeed you won’t,” she returned promptly. “Stand away now or you will be drenched!”

As she spoke she raised her jug above the struggling animals. Her face also shone white in the wintry dusk, but her actions denoted unwavering resolution.

“Now!” she said; and, since he would not move, she flung the icy water without compunction over the dogs and him also.

“Damnation!” he cried violently. But she broke in upon him. “Quick! Quick! Now’s the time! Grab your dog! I’ll catch Mike!”

The urgency of the order compelled compliance. Almost in spite of himself he stooped to obey. And so it came to pass that five seconds later, Caesar was being mercilessly thrashed by his enraged master, while the real culprit was being dragged, cursing breathlessly, from the scene.

It was a brutal thrashing and wholly undeserved. Caesar, awaking to the horror of it, howled his anguish; but no amount of protest on his part made the smallest impression upon the wielder of the whip. It continued to descend upon his writhing body with crashing force till he rolled upon the ground in agony.

Even then the punishment would not have ceased, but for a second interruption. It was the woman from the Vicarage garden again; but she burst upon the scene this time with something of the effect of an avalanche. She literally whirled between the man and his victim. She caught his upraised arm.

“Oh, you brute!” she cried. “You brute!”

He stiffened in her hold. They stood face to face. Caesar crept whining and shivering to the side of the road.

Slowly the man’s arm fell to his side, still caught in that quivering grasp. He spoke in a voice that struggled boyishly between resentment and shame. “The dog’s my own.”

Her hold relaxed. “Even a dog has his rights,” she said. “Give me that whip, please!”

He looked at her oddly in the growing darkness. She was trembling as she stood, but she held her ground.

“Please!” she repeated with resolution.

With an abrupt movement he put the weapon into her hand. “Are you going to give me a taste?” he asked.

She uttered a queer little gasping laugh. “No. I–I’m not that sort. But–it’s horrible to see a man lose control of himself. And to thrash a dog–like that!”

She turned sharply from him and went to the Dalmatian who crouched quaking on the path. He wagged an ingratiating tail at her approach. It was evident that in her hand the whip had no terrors for him. He crept fawning to her feet.

She stooped over him, fondling his head. “Oh, poor boy! Poor boy!” she said.

The dog’s master came and stood beside her. “He’ll be all right,” he said, in a tone of half-surly apology.

“I’m afraid Mike has bitten him,” she said. “See!” displaying a long, dark streak on Caesar’s neck.

“He’ll be all right,” repeated Caesar’s master. “I hope your dog is none the worse.”

“No, I don’t think so,” she said. “But don’t you think we ought to bathe this?”

“I’ll take him home,” he said. “They’ll see to him at the stables.”

She stood up, a slim, erect figure, the whip still firmly grasped in her hand. “You won’t thrash him any more, will you?” she said.

He gave a short laugh. “No, you have cooled me down quite effectually. I’m much obliged to you for interfering. And I’m sorry I used language, but as the circumstances were exceptional, I hope you will make allowances.”

His tone was boyish still, but all the resentment had gone out of it. There was a touch of arrogance in his bearing which was obviously natural to him, but his apology was none the less sincere.

The slim figure on the path made a slight movement of dismay. “But you must be drenched to the skin!” she said. “I was forgetting. Won’t you come in and get dry?”

He hunched his shoulders expressively. “No, thanks. It was my own fault, as you kindly omit to mention. I must be getting back to the Abbey. My grandfather is expecting me. He fidgets if I’m late.”

He raised a hand to his cap, and would have turned away, but she made a swift gesture of surprise, which arrested him. “Oh, you are young Mr. Evesham!–I beg your pardon–you are Mr. Evesham! I thought I must have seen you before!”

He stopped with a laugh. “I am commonly called ‘Master Piers’ in this neighbourhood. They won’t let me grow up. Rather a shame, what? I’m nearly twenty-five, and the head-keeper still refers to me in private as ‘that dratted boy.’”

She laughed for the first time. Possibly he had angled for that laugh. “Yes, it is a shame!” she agreed. “But then Sir Beverley is rather old, isn’t he? No doubt it’s the comparison that does it.”

“He isn’t old,” said Piers Evesham in sharp contradiction. “He’s only seventy-four. That’s not old for an Evesham. He’ll go for another twenty years. There’s a saying in our family that if we don’t die violently, we never die at all.” He pulled himself up abruptly. “I’ve given you my name and history. Won’t you tell me yours?”

She hesitated momentarily. “I am only the mother’s help at the Vicarage,” she said then.

“By Jove! I don’t envy you.” He looked at her with frank interest notwithstanding. “I suppose you do it for a living,” he remarked. “Personally, I’d sooner sweep a crossing than live in the same house with that mouthing parson.”

“Hush!” she said, but her lips smiled as she said it, a small smile that would not be denied. “I must go in now. Here you are!” She gave him back his whip. “Good-bye! Get home quick–and change!”

He turned half-reluctantly; then paused. “You might tell me your name anyway,” he said.

She had begun to move away, light-footed, swift as a bird. She also paused.

“My name is Denys,” she said.

He put his hand to his cap again. “Miss Denys?”

“No. Mrs. Denys. Good-bye!”

She was gone. He heard the light feet running up the wet gravel drive and then the quick opening of a door. It closed again immediately, with decision, and he stood alone in the wintry dusk.

Caesar crept to him and grovelled abjectly in the mud. The young man stood motionless, staring at the Vicarage gates, a slight frown between his brows. He was not tall, but he had the free pose of an athlete and the bearing of a prince.

Suddenly he glanced down at his cringing companion and broke into a laugh. “Get up, Caesar, you fool! And think yourself lucky that you’ve got any sound bones left! You’d have been reduced to a jelly by this time if I’d had my way.”

He bent with careless good-nature, and patted the miscreant; then turned towards his horse.

“Poor old Pompey! A shame to keep you standing! All that brute’s fault.” He swung himself into the saddle. “By Jove, though, she’s got some pluck!” he said. “I like a woman with pluck!”

He touched his animal with the spur, and in a moment they were speeding through the gathering dark at a brisk canter. Pompey was as anxious to get home as was his master, and he needed no second urging. He scarcely waited to get within the gates of the Park before he gathered himself together and went like the wind. His rider lay forward in the saddle and yelled encouragement like a wild Indian. Caesar raced behind them like a hare.

The mad trio went like a flash past old Marshall the head-keeper who stood gun on shoulder at the gate of his lodge and looked after them with stern disapproval.

“Drat the boy! What’s he want to ride hell-for-leather like that for?” he grumbled. “He’ll go and kill himself one of these days as his father did before him.”

It was just twenty-five years since Piers’ father had been carried dead into Marshall’s cottage, and Marshall had stumped up the long avenue to bear the news to Sir Beverley. Piers was about the same age now as that other Piers had been, and Marshall had no mind to take part in a similar tragedy. It had been a bitter task, that of telling Sir Beverley that his only son was dead; but to have borne him ill tidings of his grandson would have been infinitely harder. For Sir Beverley had never loved his son through the whole of his brief, tempestuous life; but his grandson was the very core of his existence, as everyone knew, despite his strenuous efforts to disguise the fact.

No, emphatically Marshall had not the faintest desire to have to inform the old man that harm had befallen Master Piers, and his frown deepened as he trudged up his little garden and heard the yelling voice and galloping hoofs grow faint in the distance.

“The boy is madder even than his father was,” he muttered darkly. “Bad stock! Bad stock!”

He shook his head over the words, and went within. He was the only man left on the estate who could remember the beautiful young Italian bride whom Sir Beverley had once upon a time brought to reign there. It had been a short, short reign, and no one spoke of it now,–least of all the old, bent man who ruled like a feudal lord at Rodding Abbey, and of whom even the redoubtable Marshall himself stood in awe.

But Marshall remembered her well, and it was upon that dazzling memory that his thoughts dwelt when he gave utterance to his mysterious verdict. For was not Master Piers the living image of her? Had he not the same imperial bearing and regal turn of the head? Did not the Evesham blood run the hotter in his veins for that passionate Southern strain that mingled with it?

Marshall sometimes wondered how Sir Beverley with his harsh intolerance brooked the living likeness of the boy to the woman in whose bitter memory he hated all women. It was scarcely possible that he blinded himself to it. It was too vividly apparent for that. “A perpetual eyesore,” Marshall termed it in private. But then there was no accounting for the ways of folk in high places. Marshall did not pretend to understand them. He was, in his own grumpy fashion, sincerely attached to his master, and he never presumed to criticize his doings. He only wondered at them.

As for Master Piers, he had been an unmitigated nuisance to him personally ever since he had learned to walk alone. Marshall had always disapproved of him, and he hated Victor, the French valet, who had brought him up from his cradle. Yet deep in his surly old heart there lurked a certain grudging affection for him notwithstanding. The boy had a winning way with him, and but for his hatred of Victor, who was soft and womanish, but extremely tenacious, Marshall would have liked to have had a hand in his upbringing. As it was, he could only look on from afar and condemn the vagaries of “that dratted boy,” prophesying disaster whenever he saw him and hoping that Sir Beverley might not live to see it. Certainly it seemed as if Piers bore a charmed life, for, like his father before him, he risked it practically every day. With sublime self-confidence, he laughed at caution, ever choosing the shortest cut, whatever it might entail; and it was remarkably seldom that he came to grief.

As he clattered into the stable-yard on that dark November evening, his face was sparkling with excitement as though he had drunk strong wine. The animal he rode was covered with foam, and danced a springy war-dance on the stones. Caesar trotted in behind them with tail erect and a large smile of satisfaction on his spotty face despite the gory streak upon his neck.

“Confound it! I’m late!” said Piers, throwing his leg over his horse’s neck. “It’s all that brute’s fault. Look at him grinning! Better wash him one of you! He can’t come in in that state.” He slipped to the ground and stamped his sodden feet. “I’m not much better off myself. What a beastly night, to be sure!”

“Yes, you’re wet, sir!” remarked the groom at Pompey’s head. “Had a tumble, sir?”

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