Opis

”We must judge people by their best qualities, not their worst; by their capabilities, and not by their limitations” – the protagonist of the novel had such an opinion. He sat at the hotel and wrote his next work. The next day, after rereading what he had written, he was surprised because he had already seen something like this somewhere with another professor. A large number of people show false love before the government and it excites the main character.

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Liczba stron: 368

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Contents

BOOK I

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

BOOK II

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

BOOK III

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

BOOK I

CHAPTER I

The little red-roofed town of Hayes lies in a furrow of the broad-backed Wiltshire Downs; it was once an important posting station, and you may still see there an eighteenth century inn, much too large for the present requirements of the place, and telling of the days when, three times a week, the coach from London used to pull up at its hospitable door, and wait there half-an-hour while its passengers dined. The inn is called the Grampound Arms, and you will find that inside the church many marble Grampounds recline on their tombs, or raise hands of prayer, while outside in the churchyard, weeping cherubs, with reversed torches, record other pious and later memories of the same family.

But almost opposite the Grampound Arms you will notice a much newer inn, where commercial gentlemen make merry, called the Aston Arms, and on reference to monumental evidence, you would also find that cherubs are shedding similar pious tears for a Sir James Aston, Bart., and his wife, and, thirty years later, for James Aston, first Lord Hayes, and his wife. But for the Astons, no marble knights keep watch on Gothic tombs.

The river Kennet, in its green wanderings, has already passed, before it reaches Hayes, two houses, one close down by the river, the other rather higher up and on the opposite bank. The smaller and older of the two is the residence of Mr. Grampound, the larger and newer of Lord Hayes. These trifling facts, which almost all the inhabitants of Hayes could tell you, will sufficiently indicate the mutual position of the two families in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Grampound House was a pretty, ivy-grown old place, with a lawn stretching southwards almost to the bank of the river, and shaded by a great cedar tree, redolent of ancestors and as monumental in its way as the marble, sleeping figures in the church. It was useful, however, as well as being ancestral, and at this moment Mrs. Grampound and her brother were having tea under it.

It was a still, hot day at the beginning of August, and through the broad, fan-like branches, stray sunbeams danced and twinkled, making little cores of light on the silver. Down one side of the lawn ran a terrace of grey stone, bordered by a broad gravel walk, and over the terrace pale monthly roses climbed and blossomed. Most of the windows in the house were darkened and eclipsed by Venetian blinds, to keep out the sun which still lingered on the face of it; and Mr. Martin, also–Mrs. Grampound’s brother–was in a state of eclipse for the time being, for he wore a broad-brimmed Panama hat, which concealed the upper part of his face, while a large harlequin tea-cup prevented any detailed examination of his mouth. Mrs. Grampound sat opposite him in a low, basket chair, and appeared to be thinking. It is a privilege peculiar to owners of very fine, dark grey eyes, to appear to be thinking whenever they are not talking.

Mr. Martin finished his tea, and lit a cigarette.

“They’ve begun cutting the corn,” he said; “it’s very early.”

Mrs. Grampound did not answer, and her brother, considering that he had made his sacrifice on the altar of conversation, relapsed into silence again.

Perhaps the obvious inference that the summer had been hot reminded her that the day was also hot, for in a minute or two she said,–

“Dear Eva! what a stifling journey she will have. She comes back to-night; she ought to be here by now.”

“Where has she been staying?”

“At the Brabizons. Lord Hayes was there. He comes home at the end of the week; his mother arrived yesterday.”

“The old witch,” murmured Mr. Martin.

“Yes, but very old,” said she, whose mind was apparently performing obligato variations on the theme of the conversation. “Haven’t you noticed–”

She broke off, and presumably continued the obligato variations.

Mr. Martin showed no indications of having noticed anything at all, and the faint sounds of the summer evening pursued their whisperings unchecked until the distant rumble of carriage wheels began to overscore the dim noises, and came to a long pause, after a big crescendo, before the front door.

“That will be Eva,” said her mother, filling up the teapot; “they will tell her we are here.”

A few minutes afterwards, the drawing-room window was opened from inside, and a girl began to descend the little flying staircase.

Apparently she was in no hurry, for she stooped to stroke a kitten that was investigating the nature of blind cord with an almost fanatical enthusiasm. The kitten was quite as eager to investigate the nature of the human hand, and flew at Eva’s outstretched fingers, all teeth and claws.

“You little brute!” she remarked, shaking it off. “Your claws want cutting. Oh! you are rather nice. Come, Kitty.”

But the kitten was indignant, and bounced down the stairs in front of her, sat down on the path at the bottom, and pretended to be unaware of her existence. Eva stopped to pluck a rose from a standard tree, and fastened it in her dress. Her foot was noiseless on the soft grass, and neither her uncle or mother heard her approaching.

“The brute scratched me,” she repeated as she neared them; “its claws want cutting.”

Mrs. Grampound was a little startled, and got up quickly.

“Oh, Eva, I didn’t hear you coming. I was just saying it was time you were here. How are you, and have you had a nice time?”

“Yes, quite nice; but the Brabizons are rather stupid people. Still, I enjoyed myself. I didn’t see you, Uncle Tom; anyhow, I can’t kiss you with that hat on.”

She touched the top of his Panama hat lightly with the tips of her fingers, and sat down in her mother’s chair, who was pouring her out a cup of tea.

“We had a tiresome journey,” she went on. “Why will people live in Lancashire? Is this your chair, mother?”

Mr. Martin got up.

“I’m going in,” he said; “you can have mine. At least, I’m going for a ride. Is the tea good, Eva?–it has been made for some time–or shall I tell them to send you out some more?”

“It seems to me very bad,” said Eva, sipping it. “Yes, I should like some more. Are you going for a ride? Perhaps I’ll come.”

“Yes, it’s cooler now,” said he. “Do come with me.”

“Will you order my horse, then, if you are going in? Perhaps you’d better tell them to have it ready only, and not to bring it round. I won’t come just yet, anyhow. If I’m not ready, start without me, and I daresay I’ll follow you, if you tell me where you are going.”

“I want to ride up to the Whitestones’–to see him.”

“Very well, I daresay I shall follow you.”

Mr. Martin stood looking rather like a servant receiving orders. Eva always managed to make other people assume subordinate positions.

“How long do you think you will be?” he asked.

“Perhaps half-an-hour. But don’t wait for me.”

Eva threw off her hat impatiently.

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