The Lord of the Sea - M.P. Shiel - ebook

The Lord of the Sea ebook

M. P. Shiel

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The story is of Richard Hogarth, a man of lofty spirit who on discovering a cache of giant diamonds inside a fallen meteor undertakes a bold project to re-shape the human condition on a global scale. He builds huge steel forts with his wealth, places diamonds at the cross-roads of the earth’s oceans to control all sea-traffic for tribute to benefit the citizens of his mammoth iron islands. „The Lord of the Sea (1901) develops a network of mid-19th-century motifs – incredible coincidences, swapped babies, hidden identities, chance-found incredible wealth, documents in a trunk, festering revenges, elaborate prison escapes, frustrated romance, Napoleonic megalomania – yet, though written to an aesthetic outdated for its time, in embodies that aesthetic with enormous elan and vitality.

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Liczba stron: 422

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Contents

I. THE EXODUS

II. THE FEZ

III. THE HUNTING-CROP

IV. THE SWOON

V. REID'S

VI. "PEARSON'S WEEKLY"

VII. THE ELM

VIII. THE METEOR

IX. HOGARTH'S GUNS

X. ISAAC

XI. WROXHAM BROAD

XII. THE ROSE

XIII. OUT OF THE WORLD

XIV. THE PRIEST

XV. MONSIGNOR

XVI. THE ROPE

XVII. OLD TOM'S LETTER

XVIII. CHLOROFORM

XIX. THE GREAT BELL

XX. THE INFIRMARY

XXI. IN THE DEEP

XXII. OLD TOM

XXIII. UNDER THE ELM

XXIV. FRANKL SEES THE METEORITE

XXV. CHURCH ARCHITECTURE

XXVI. FRANKL AND O'HARA

XXVII. THE BAG OF LIGHT

XXVIII. THE LETTER

XXIX. PRIORITY OF CLAIM

XXX. MR. BEECH

XXXI. THE HAMMERS

XXXII. WONDER

XXXIII. REEFS OF STEEL

XXXIV. THE "KAISER"

XXXV. THE CUP OF TREMBLING

XXXVI. THE "BOODAH" AND THE BATTLESHIPS

XXXVII. THE STRAITS

XXXVIII. THE MANIFESTO

XXXIX. THE "BOODAH'S" LOCK-UP

XL. THE WEDDING

XLI. THE VISIT

XLII. REBEKAH TELLS

XLIII. THE LAND BILL

XLIV. THE REGENCY

XLV. ESTRELLA, THE PROPHETESS

XLVI. THE ORDER IN COUNCIL

XLVII. THE EMIGRANTS

XLVIII. THE SEA-FORTS

XLIX. THE DÉBÂCLE

L. THE DECISION

LI. THE MODEL

I. THE EXODUS

In the Calle Las Gabias–one of those by-streets of Lisbon below St. Catherine–there occurred one New Year a little event in the Synagogue there worth a mention in this history of Richard, Lord of the Sea.

It was Kol Nidrè, eve of the Day of Atonement, and the little Beth-El, sweltering in a dingy air, was transacting the long-drawn liturgy, when, behind the curtain where the women sat, an old dame who had been gazing upward smote her palms together, and let slip a little scream: “The Day is coming...!”

She then fainted, and till near ten lay on her bed, lit by the Yom Kippur candle, with open eyes, but without speech, her sere face still beautiful, on each temple a little pyramid of plaits, with gold-and-coral ear-rings: a holy belle. About ten P.M. three women watching heard her murmur: “My child, Rebekah...!”

She was childless, and whom she meant was not known. However, soon afterwards there was a form at the amulet-guarded door, and Estrella sat up, saying: “Rebekah, my child...”

A young lady of twenty-two ran in and embraced her, saying: “I have been to Paris and Madrid with my father–just arrived, so flew to see you. We leave for London to-night”.

“No: I shall keep you seven days. Tell Frankl I say so. What jewels! You have grown into a rose of glory, the eyes are profounder and blacker, and that brow was made for high purpose. Tell me–have you a lover?”

“No, mamma Estrella”.

“Then, why the blush?”

“It is nothing at all,” Miss Frankl answered: “five years ago when at school in Bristol I thrice saw through a grating a young man with whom I was frivolous enough to speak. Happily, I do not know what has become of him–a wild, divine kind of creature, of whom I am well rid, and never likely to see again”.

The old lady mused. “What was he?”

“A sailor”.

“Not a common sailor?”

“I fancy so, mamma”.

“What name?”

“Hogarth–Richard”.

“A Jew?”

“An Englishman!”

She laughed, as the old lady’s eyes opened in sacred horror, and as she whispered: “Child!”

Within three months of that night, one midnight the people of Prague rose and massacred most of the Jewish residents; the next day the flame broke out in Buda-Pesth; and within a week had become a revolution.

On the twelfth morning one of two men in a City bank said to the other: “Come, Frankl, you cannot fail a man in this crisis–I only want 80,000 on all Westring–”

“No good to me, my lord,” answered Frankl, who, though a man of only forty–short, with broad shoulders,–already had his skin divided up like a dry leaf; in spite of which, he was handsome, with a nose ruled straight and long, a black beard on his breast.

But the telephone rattled and Frankl heard these words at the receiver: “Wire to hand from Wertheimer: Austrian Abgeordneten-haus passed a Resolution at noon virtually expelling Jewish Race...”

When Frankl turned again he had already resolved to possess Westring Vale, and was saying to himself: “Within six months the value of English land should be–doubled”.

The bargain was soon made now: and within one week the foresight of Frankl began to be justified.

Austria, during those days, was a nation of vengeful hearts: for the Jews had acquired half its land, and had mortgages on the other half: peasant, therefore, and nobleman flamed alike. And this fury was contagious: now Germany–now France had it–Anti-Semite laws–like the old May-Laws–but harsher still; and streaming they came, from the Leopoldstadt, from Bukowina, from the Sixteen Provinces, from all Galicia, from the Nicolas Colonies, from Lisbon, with wandering foot and weary breast–the Heines, Cohens, Oppenheimers–Sephardim, Aschkenasim. And Dover was the new Elim.

With alarm Britain saw them come! but before she could do anything, the wave had overflowed it; and by the time it was finished there was no desire to do anything: for within eight months such a tide of prosperity was floating England as has hardly been known in a country.

The reason of this was the increased number of hands–each making more things than its owner could consume himself, and so making every other richer.

There came, however, a change–almost suddenly–due to the new demand for land, the “owners” determining to await still further rises, before letting. This checked industry: for now people, debarred from the land, had only air.

In Westring Vale, as everywhere, times were hard. It was now the property of Baruch Frankl: for at the first failure of Lord Westring to meet terms, Frankl had struck.

Now, one of the yeomen of Westring was a certain Richard Hogarth.

II. THE FEZ

Frankl took up residence at Westring in September, and by November every ale-house, market, and hiring in Westring had become a scene of discussion.

The cause was this: Frankl had sent out to his tenants a Circular containing the words:

„...tenants to use for wear in the Vale a fez with tassel as the Livery of the Manor...the will of the Lord of the Manor...no exception...”

But though intense, the excitement was not loud: for want was in many a home; though after three weeks there were still six farmers who resisted.

And it happened one day that five of these at the Martinmas “Mop,” or hiring, were discussing the matter, when they spied the sixth boring his way, and one exclaimed: “Yonder goes Hogarth! Let’s hear what he’s got to say!” and set to calling.

Hogarth twisted, and came winning his way, taller than the crowd, with “What’s up? Hullo, Clinton–not a moment to spare to-day–”

“We were a-talking about that Circular–!” cried one.

At that moment two other men joined the group: one a dark-skinned Jew of the Moghrabîm; the other a young man–an English author–on tour. And these two heard what passed.

Hogarth stood suspended, finding no words, till one cried: “Do you mean to put the cap on?”

He laughed a little now. “I! The whip! The whip!”–he showed his hunting-crop, and was gone.

His manner of speech was rapid, and he had a hoarse sort of voice, almost as of sore-throat.

Of the two not farmers, one–the author–enquired as to his name, and farm; the other man–the Moghrabîm Jew–that evening recounted to Frankl the words which he had heard.

*     *

*

One afternoon, two weeks later, Loveday, the author, was leaning upon a stile, talking to Margaret Hogarth; and he said: “I love you! If you could deign–”

“Truth is,” she said, “you are in love with my brother, Dick, and you think it is me!”

She was a woman of twenty-five, large and buxom, though neat-waisted, her face beautifully fresh and wholesome, and he of middle-size, with a lazy ease of carriage, small eyes set far apart, a blue-velvet jacket, duck trousers very dirty, held up by a belt, a red shirt, an old cloth hat, a careless carle, greatly famed.

“But it isn’t of your brother, but of you, that I am wanting to speak! Tell me–”

“No–I can’t. I am a frivolous old woman to be talking to you about such things at all! But, since it is as you say, wait, perhaps I may be able–But I must be going now–”

There was embarrassment in her now: and suddenly she walked away, going to meet–another man.

She passed through stubble-wheat, disappeared in a pine-wood, and came out upon the Waveney towing-path. On the towing-path came Frankl to meet her.

He took her hand, holding his head sideward with a cajoling fondness, wearing the flowing caftan, and a velvet cap which widened out a-top, with puckers.

“Well, sweetheart...” he said.

“But, you know, I begged you not to use such words to me!”–from her.

“What, and I who am such a sweetheart of yours?”–his speech very foreign, yet slangily correct, being, in fact, all slang.

“No,” she said, “you spoke different at first, and that is why–But this must be the last, unless you say out clearly now what it is you mean–”

“Now, you are too hard. You know I am wild in love with you. And so are you with me–”

“I?”–with shrinking modesty in her under-looking eyes. “Oh, no–don’t have any delusions like that about me, please! You said that you liked me: and as I am in the habit of speaking the truth myself, I thought that–perhaps–But my meeting you, to be frank with you, was for the sake of my brother”.

“Well, you are as candid as they make them,” he said, eyeing her with his mild eye. “But what’s the matter with your brother? Hard up?”

“He’s worried about something”. “He must have some harvest-money put away?”

“He has something in Reid’s Bank at Yarmouth, I believe”.

“Well, shall I tell you what’s the matter with him? He’s afraid, your brother. He has refused to wear the cap, and he thinks that I shall be down upon him like a thousand of bricks...But suppose I exempt him, and you and I be friends? That’s fair”.

“What do you mean?”

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