Archibald Marshall.

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THE HALL AND THE GRANGE




BY THE SAME AUTHOR


THE HOUSE OF MERRILEES
RICHARD BALDOCK
EXTON MANOR
THE SQUIRE'S DAUGHTER
THE ELDEST SON
THE HONOUR OF THE CLINTONS
THE GREATEST OF THESE
THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH
WATERMEADS
UPSIDONIA
ABINGTON ABBEY
THE GRAFTONS
THE CLINTONS, AND OTHERS
SIR HARRY
MANY JUNES
A SPRING WALK IN PROVENCE
PEGGY IN TOYLAND
THE HALL AND THE GRANGE




THE HALL AND THE GRANGE

A NOVEL


BY
ARCHIBALD MARSHALL


[Illustration]


NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
1921




COPYRIGHT, 1921
BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.




TO
WILLIAM LYON PHELPS




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE
I THE HALL 1
II THE GRANGE 11
III NORMAN 23
IV PAMELA 40
V THE FAMILY 53
VI BARTON'S CLOSE 67
VII YOUNG PEOPLE 79
VIII WELLSBURY 92
IX LETTERS 108
X RECONCILIATION 122
XI A QUESTION OF LABOUR 139
XII NEW IDEAS 154
XIII DISCUSSION 169
XIV CHURCH AND AFTER 181
XV THE RIFT 197
XVI CRISIS 211
XVII HONOURS 221
XVIII FRED COMFREY 234
XIX INVESTIGATION 249
XX A QUESTION OF FINANCE 262
XXI PERSHORE CASTLE 271
XXII A SUMMER AFTERNOON 285
XXIII APPROACHES 302
XXIV ALMOST 316
XXV MISS BALDWIN LOOKS ON 328
XXVI BEFORE CHRISTMAS 343
XXVII TWO YOUNG MEN 353
XXVIII AND THE THIRD 366
XXIX THE NEW CHAPTER 378
XXX THE TRODDEN WAY 388
XXXI AN ENDING AND A BEGINNING 401




THE HALL AND THE GRANGE




CHAPTER I

THE HALL


Colonel Eldridge was enjoying an afternoon doze, or a series of dozes,
in the Sabbath peace of his garden. His enjoyment was positive, for he
had a prejudice against sleeping in the day-time, and sat upright in his
basket chair with no support to his head; so that when sleep began to
overtake him he nodded heavily and woke up again. If he had provided
himself with a cushion from one of the chairs or lounges by his side, he
would have slumbered blissfully, but would have been lost to the charm
of his surroundings.

These included a great expanse of lawn, mown and rolled and tended to a
sheeny perfection of soft rich colour; the deep shade of nobly branching
trees in their dark dress of mid-July; bright flower-beds; the terraced
front of a squarely built stone house of a comfortably established age.
These were for the eye to rest upon after one of those heavy nods, and
to carry their message of spacious seclusion and domestic well-being.
For the other senses there were messages that conveyed the same
meaning - the hot brooding peace of the July afternoon, tempered by the
soft stirring of flower-scented breezes, the drone of bees and of
insects less usefully employed, the occasional sweet pipe of birds still
mindful of earlier courtships, the grateful and secure absence of less
mundane sounds. The house was empty, except for servants, who obtruded
themselves neither on sight nor hearing. The tennis net on the levelled
space by the rose garden hung in idle curves. Colonel Eldridge had the
whole wide verdurous garden to himself, and the house, too, if he cared
to enter it. Though he liked to have his family around him as a general
rule, he found it pleasant to keep his own company thus for an hour or
so.

He was just approaching the time when one of those droops which
punctuated his light slumbers would wake him up to a more lively sense
of well-being, and he would take up the book that lay on his knee, when
his half-closed eyes took in a figure emerging from the trees among
which the lawn lost itself at the lower end of the garden. He aroused
himself and waved a welcoming hand, which meant among other things:
"Here you have a wide-awake man reading a book on Sunday afternoon, but
you need not be afraid of disturbing him." The grateful lassitude,
however, which enveloped his frame prevented his rising to greet his
brother, who came towards him with an answering wave of the hand, and
took a seat by his side.

There was not much difference in the age of the two brothers, which was
somewhere in the fifties. In appearance, also, they were something
alike, of the same height and build, and with the same air of wearing
their years well. Colonel Eldridge had the military caste impressed upon
him, with closely cropped hair underneath his straw hat, small grey
moustache, and a little net-work of wrinkles about his keen blue eyes.
His clothes were neat and unobtrusive, as of a man who gets the best
tailoring and leaves it at that.

Sir William Eldridge also, quite obviously, got the best tailoring. He
wore a suit of soft brown, with boots polished to an enviable pitch; the
narrow sleeves of his jacket, ornamented with four buttons, showed the
doubled-over cuffs of his blue flannel shirt, fastened with enamelled
links; a gay bandana tie heightened the agreeable contrast of blue and
brown; his soft felt hat was of light grey, with a black band. With a
new pair of chamois leather gloves he would have been beautifully
dressed for any occasion that did not demand a silk hat and whatever
should go with it. But he wore or carried no gloves for a walk of half a
mile across the fields, by the river, from Hayslope Grange, where he
lived, to Hayslope Hall, his brother's house. He had the same regularity
of feature as his brother; his hair was a shade or two greyer, but he
looked some years younger, with his fresh skin and his active figure.
There was almost an exuberance about him. If Colonel Eldridge had
allowed his hair to grow longer than convention demanded, it would only
have looked as if it wanted cutting. If Sir William had done so it would
have seemed natural to his type.

"Been having a little nap?" he said, as he dropped into a chair by his
brother's side.

Colonel Eldridge flinched ever so little. His strict regard for truth
forbade him to deny the charge, but it should not have been brought
against him. "Couldn't have much of a nap sitting up in a chair like
this," he said, rather brusquely.

Sir William ignored this. "How jolly and peaceful it is here," he said.
"Really, I don't know a more delicious garden than this anywhere. It
would take a hundred years to produce just this effect at the Grange,
though I've spent pots of money over the gardens there."

"Gardening with a golden spade," said his brother. "You can't do
everything with money."

"You can do a good deal. And if you've got big trees you can do
practically everything. The misfortune about the Grange is that there
are no big trees immediately around the house. If there had been I
should have aimed at something of this sort. I could have got the lawn
all right. It's the best sort of garden to look out on - an expanse of
lawn and shady trees - quiet and green and peaceful. You're quite right,
Edmund. With all I've done, and all I've spent on my garden, it's fussy
compared to this. You remember I wanted you to do certain things here,
when I first got keen on the game. Well, I'm glad you didn't. If you
had, I should have wanted you to undo them by this time."

Colonel Eldridge smiled, his momentary pique forgotten. "Oh, well,
people come miles to see your garden," he said. "It's worth seeing. But
on the whole I'd rather have this one to live in."

"Ah, that's it; you've just hit it. There's all the difference between a
garden to look at and a garden to live in. I've come to see that, and I
suppose you've always seen it. I generally do come around to your views
in the long run, old fellow. In this matter of a lawn shaded by trees,
I've come round so completely that I've got to have it, though I'm
afraid I can't have it to walk straight out of the house onto, and to
look at from my windows. But there's that four-acre field - Barton's
Close - down by the wood. I want to bring that in - I suppose you'll have
no objection. By thinning out a bit, so as to leave some of the bigger
trees isolated, and planting judiciously, I can get the effect there."

"Rather a pity to cut up old pasture, isn't it? And it must be half a
mile from the house."

"Oh, nothing like as much as that - not more than five hundred yards, I
should say. I wish it were nearer; but it will be effective to lead down
to it by a path through the corner of the wood. You'll come upon a
charming, restful, retired place that you hadn't been expecting. I only
wish the lake had been closer, so as to have brought that in; but I
think we could get a vista by cutting down a few trees. I might ask you
to consider that later on; but we'd better see how the lawn turns out
first."

"I don't think I should want to cut down trees there, William. Whatever
distance Barton's Close may be from the Grange, the lake is certainly
over a mile. You can't turn the whole place into a garden. As it is,
it's overweighted. You've got to consider the future. It would have been
all right if poor Hugo had lived. He'd have succeeded me here, and I
suppose Norman would have gone on living at the Grange after you."

"Oh, I know, old fellow, but - "

"Let me finish. When I die, and you or Norman come here, Cynthia and the
girls will have to live at the Grange. It's much too big a place for
them already. I dare say you'd get a big rent for it; but that's not
what they'll want. They would have had enough to live on there as it
used to be; but with the way things are going now it'll be a place that
will want a lot of keeping up. It will want a good deal more keeping up
than this."

"Of course you're right to think about the future, old fellow." Sir
William spoke more slowly, leaning forward in his chair with his elbows
on his knees and tapping his stick on the turf. "I've thought about it a
good deal, too. Things are altered now - unfortunately. I come into it
more, don't I? - I and Norman."

"Oh, yes, of course. Still, I'm not an old man yet. And Cynthia.... It's
not out of the question.... But we needn't think of that. The chances
are you'll succeed me. But for a good many years yet - in the ordinary
way - I shall be here at Hayslope, and - "

He did not finish, and Sir William did not help him out. He frowned a
little as he sat looking down on the grass and tapping his stick, but
there was no alteration in the kindly tone of his speech when he said
after a time: "If Cynthia bears you another son, nobody will be more
pleased than I shall. Some people might think I didn't mean that, but
you know better. That's why we can talk over the future between us
without misunderstanding one another."

Colonel Eldridge stirred in his seat. "Oh, yes, Bill," he said. "You
don't want to step into my shoes yet a while. I know that well enough.
You will step into them sooner or later. I know that, too. We shan't
have any more children. And as for what's to come after us, Norman will
make a better squire of Hayslope than poor Hugo could have done. I
wouldn't say so to Cynthia - I don't know that I'd say it to anybody but
you - but I've come to see that the poor fellow had made too much of a
mess of things for us to have hoped that he'd ever pull up. I feel no
bitterness against him - God knows. I did; but that's all wiped out. I
loved him when he was a little fellow, and I never really left off
loving him, though he brought me a lot of trouble. Now I'm free to love
his memory. He did well at the end."

"Oh, yes. You can be proud of him. There was lots of good in him, and it
came out at the last. No need to think about all the rest. I haven't
thought about it for a long time."

"Well, I've got to think of it occasionally, I'm afraid. Things are
still difficult because of poor Hugo. But - "

"Look here, old fellow - why don't you let me wipe all that off? I can do
it without bothering myself in the least."

"Thanks, Bill, you're very good. But I'll bear my own burdens."

"Between you and me - what is there to quibble about? I've been lucky in
life. But you're a better man than I am, when all's said and done. And
you're the head of the family. We ought to stand together - 'specially
now, when I'm almost in the same position towards you as Hugo was, you
might say. Take it as done for Hayslope. In a way, I'm as much
interested in the place as you are."

"Thanks, William, but this is a personal matter. Most of my income comes
from the place, but I'm only tenant for life. I've got to make good on
my own account. It means a bit of skimping, but that's all. There's
enough for me and Cynthia and the girls, and I'll hand over Hayslope to
you, or whoever it may be, as I received it from our father."

"Well, I won't press you. But you know at any time that the money's
there if you want it, and you'll give me pleasure if you'll take it.
What's money between you and me? I've been in the way of making it and
you haven't. There you have it in a nutshell. But after all, I'm not a
money-grubber. I only care for it for what it will bring. It's at your
service any time, Edmund - five thousand, ten thousand - whatever you want
to clear off that old trouble. Take it from me, that you'll be doing me
a real pleasure if you'll ask for it at any time. Are you coming over to
tea? I promised Eleanor I'd get back. I think there'll be some people
from the Castle."

He rose from his seat. Colonel Eldridge retained his. "I don't think
I'll come, thanks," he said, with a slight frown. "I don't particularly
care about meeting people from the Castle."

Sir William looked away. There was a slight frown on his face now, but
not of annoyance. "I know it's rather difficult for you," he said. "But
wouldn't it be better to face it? You must meet them sooner or later.
And as far as they are concerned, it's all over. There'd be no real
awkwardness. As a matter of fact I don't think that the Crowboroughs are
coming themselves. It's the Branchleys - who are staying with them. If
they do come, there'd be more or less of a crowd - with all the young
people. You'd get over the first meeting, and then it would all be
buried."

"I know I've got to meet them some time or other. I know that
Crowborough did have cause for complaint against Hugo. But he went much
too far, and I can never forget it, now the poor boy's dead."

"You couldn't have forgotten it if he hadn't taken back the worst of
what he accused Hugo of. I admit that. But he did take it back, didn't
he?"

"Well, did he? That's what I'm not so sure about. I've got to behave as
if he did - I know that. If we were to have it out together again,
there's likely to be such a row that we should be enemies for life. I
don't want that, for the sake of Cynthia and the girls. I suppose he
doesn't want it, either, or he wouldn't have tried to mend the row we
did have."

"But, surely - "

"I know what you're going to say. He wrote and said he'd never intended
to accuse Hugo of swindling young Horsham. It was the way I'd taken what
he did say that made him lose his temper and go farther than he'd meant
to. That's all very well. But he didn't withdraw the charge."

There was a look of perplexity on Sir William's face as he stood by his
brother, preparing to leave him, but not to leave the discussion into
which they had so lightly drifted with a ragged edge of uncertainty.
"Poor Hugo!" he said. "He made trouble for you, Edmund - for all of us.
It's all forgiven and ought to be forgotten. But where it remains alive
it ought to be faced, oughtn't it? He did lead Jim Horsham into bad
ways. You've admitted as much as that."

"Yes, I did admit it. It was bad enough. But to lay that a son of mine
cheated a brother officer out of a large sum of money - ! That was the
accusation."

"Crowborough made it when he was worked up about what he had discovered,
and he withdrew it."

It was Colonel Eldridge who ended the discussion, and allowed his
brother to go free. "Well, that's what we began with," he said. "I'm
ready to act on the supposition that he did withdraw it. But I don't
feel inclined to meet him this afternoon, William. Thanks all the same."

Sir William took his departure. His brother watched his smart, alert
figure crossing the lawn, until it was lost among the trees at the
bottom of the garden. Then he rose and sauntered slowly towards the
house, and his face was thoughtful and disturbed - more disturbed than
the previous conversation might have seemed to warrant.




CHAPTER II

THE GRANGE


Sir William Eldridge, with a step wonderfully light and quick for a man
of his years and weight, came out of his brother's garden by a gate that
led to a woodland path, and so down a long slope under the thick shade
of trees, till the wood gave place to an open meadow bordered by a
placid-flowing stream - almost a river. The meadow sloped up to the high
woods which enclosed it in a long crescent, but on the other side of the
stream was open grass-land, with lines of willows here and there, dykes,
and little bits of wooden fences. Cattle were dotted all over it,
feeding peacefully in the hot afternoon sunshine, or recumbent on the
rich turf. In the distance were more woods, and where the river took a
turn and followed the contour of the hill in front, it was seen to be
flowing towards a lake of considerable size, to judge by the growth of
the trees which encircled and hid all but the nearer end of it.

The river path continued for a quarter of a mile or so, and then once
more became a woodland path, turning sharply to the left and rising more
steeply than it had dropped in the other wood. The exit there had been
by a stile, not as firm as it might have been under the weight of a big
man. But this entrance was by a closely fitting gate, and a new solid
fence ran away to right and left of it, gate and fence alike carrying
an elaborate wire defence against rabbits.

Sir William climbed the steep path, slowly, but not, apparently, because
of any necessity to save his breath. He looked to right and left of him
with interest at the plantings of shrubs and flowers and ferns that had
been made in clearings under the trees. On the outside this was a thick
wood, as the other had been; but once through the gate it was seen to be
a garden, full of interest and surprise. Little winding paths led off
from the main ascent, and Sir William followed one or two of these to
look at some treasure that he had established, and lingered over it as
if his chief interest in life were the planting and the growth of
flowers.

The steep path became a rocky staircase, which emerged from the wood
into an elaborate rock garden, so artfully constructed that it seemed
almost a natural outcrop from the leafy soil. On the further side the
trees closed in on it again, but they had been still further thinned out
here and did not conceal the artificially flat expanse of tennis and
croquet lawn upon which the path came somewhat too suddenly. Immediately
beyond the lawn was a house - a long rambling structure of many-gabled
red brick and tile, with rose-covered verandas, loggias, pergolas, and
all the paraphernalia of a rich man's country cottage. The original
house, of a date somewhere about the seventies, was ugly enough, and had
never pretended to be a cottage; and the additions, though in much
better architectural taste, were incongruous to it. But it might have
been supposed, even from an outside view, that everything about this
house would be of the highest possible convenience for a life of country
pleasure, and that if anything should occur to its occupants that would
improve its amenities in this respect it would promptly be supplied.

Four young people were playing lawn tennis, and four older people were
playing croquet, as Sir William came within sight of the lawn, and on
the broad pillared veranda which finished off the house at this end
other people were sitting, and servants were arranging tea-tables. House
and garden seemed to be fulfiling their purpose with these groups of
people laughing and talking and playing games in the summer afternoon,
and everything at hand to enhance their enjoyment. Sir William's face
lightened as he waved his greetings. He loved these lively gatherings of
the summer time. He had something to offer at Hayslope Grange that
people found it worth while to seek out and enjoy. There was more coming
and going between the Grange and Pershore Castle, the Earl of
Crowborough's seat five miles away, than between the Castle and Hayslope
Hall, although the two families had run neck and neck in this part of
the country for generations, and intimacy had established itself between
their two houses almost to the exclusion of others.

It was with Lord Crowborough that Sir William walked down to the meadow
which he wanted to bring into his garden, while the rest of the party
were still busy round the tea-tables. Lord Crowborough was a man of
sixty, heavy in bulk and somewhat heavy in demeanour, though with a
kindly expression of face and of speech that relieved him of the charge
of pomposity. He was disturbed, it appeared, at the coolness that had
arisen between him and his old friend and neighbour, Edmund Eldridge,
and wanted a word about it alone with Sir William. "Such old friends!"
was the burden of his regrets. And he enlarged on it: "Surely such old
friends ought to be able to speak freely to one another - even lose their
tempers; we both did that, but surely - "

Sir William was more silent under the complaints than would have seemed
to be natural to him. "It was the charge of swindling," he said rather
shortly.

"Oh, I know," said Lord Crowborough. "After all your kindness, one
doesn't want - "

"Never mind about that," Sir William interrupted him almost
peremptorily. There was a hint in his manner that spoke of another man
than the one who grew his flowers and welcomed his friends at Hayslope
Grange. Lord Crowborough, some years older, and of greater apparent
importance, seemed to bow to it. "I know it was never to be mentioned,"
he said, apologetically. "Very well. But really, you know, William - !
Well, the poor fellow's dead; but he was an out and out wrong 'un. I did
do my best to hush it all up. Edmund must know that. If it had come out
he'd have been kicked out of the regiment. I should think he must know
that, too, if he thinks straight about it at all."

"Perhaps he doesn't think quite straight about it, poor old chap! You
can hardly blame him. As far as I'm concerned I'm going to do all I can
to encourage him to think that Hugo was just sowing his wild oats, and
that he'd have settled down to be a credit to his name. I'm afraid it
isn't true, but surely it's a good thing if Edmund can think so."

"Oh, yes, I quite agree. Poor old fellow! I'll ask him to dine. I
remember him quite well as a little fellow - you too, of course. I
believe I was even a sort of hero of his when I was a big boy and he was
a little one."

Sir William laughed. "Of course you were," he said. "I think that's the
line to go on, you know. Old times, and all that. At least, I shouldn't
mention the affair again, if I were you. Treat him with - well,
affection. I know you feel that for him. The row will pass over. He's



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