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Richard Baldock: an account of some episodes in his childhood, youth, and early manhood, and of the advice that was freely offered to him. by Archibald Marshall online

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



RICHARD BALDOCK



AN ACCOUNT OF SOME EPISODES IN
HIS CHILDHOOD, YOUTH, AND EARLY
MANHOOD, AND OF THE ADVICE
THAT WAS FREELY OFFERED TO HIM





NEW YORK

DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
1919



COPYRIGHT 1918
By DODD, MKAD AiSD COMPANY IMO.



6,6$

/13-fr



TO
MRS. R. C. LEHMANN



868301



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGB

I AT BEECHURST VICARAGE ... 1

II AN ENTRY AND A DEPARTURE . . 16

III FRIENDS AND OCCUPATIONS ... 22

IV RICHARD LEARNS His LETTERS . . 35
V MRS. HEARING'S SCHOOL ... 49

VI RICHES INNUMERABLE ... 62

VII RICHARD PAYS A VISIT ... 76

VIII AT PARADINE PARK 4. . . . 93

IX MRS. MOGGERIDGE MAKE.5 PRESENTS . 108

X RICHARD'S RETURN . * . . . 122

XI THE Two DISPLEASURES . . . 135

XII A DISAPPOINTMENT . . . .146

XIII RICHARD MEETS AN OLD FRIEND . 159

XIV MEAKING COMES HOME . . . 172

XV RICHARD READS AND RIDES . . . 190

XVI A FAIRY OF THE FOREST . . . 205

XVII THE SQUIRE AND THE VICAR . 218

M

XVIII AT BEECHURST HALL .... 233

XIX THE SQUIRE TALKS . . . .246

XX A COUNTESS AND A CONJURER . . 258

XXI RICHARD MAKES A DECISION . . 275

XXII How THE DECISION WAS RECEIVED . 291

XXIII MEAKING'S PROPOSAL .... 303

XXIV DISCUSSIONS 318

XXV Two SIDES OF A QUESTION . , . 334

y



VI



CONTENTS



CHAPTER

XXVI THE THIRD SIDE .

XXVII A NEW LIGHT .

XXVIII THE END OF THE MATTER

XXIX TEN YEARS LATER

XXX IN CURZON STREET

XXXI TROUBLED DAYS .

XXXII THE END OF THE STORY



PASK

343
357
368
383
397
409
421



RICHARD BALDOCK



CHAPTER I
AT BEECHURST VICARAGE

" MY dear ! " said Mrs. Moggeridge, decisively, " I've
brought her, and there's an end of it. If there is
any difficulty about putting her up in the house but
I don't see how there can be with all these rooms
she can go to the inn if there is a respectable inn
in this out-of-the-way place. But a maid I must have
to help me into my clothes."

She spread her voluminous silk skirts over the sofa
in her sister's drawing-room, patted the smooth
plaits of her elaborate chignon, and looked about her.
The room was a charming one, long and low and
oak-raftered, with broad latticed windows looking on
to the greenest of gardens, but it was furnished
sparsely with a rosewood suite upholstered in crimson,
an old cottage piano, a round table upon which
were displayed a set of ivory chessmen and a dozen
books symmetrically disposed, and very little else.
The walls were panelled and painted white. A few
chalk drawings of heads and impossible landscapes
hung upon them. There was a finely carved mantel-
piece and a deep hearth with iron dogs and an elaborate
fire-back.

" My dear Jessica," pursued Mrs. Moggeridge, wav-
ing a green-gloved hand around her, " I should turn
this room completely inside out if it were mine. I

I



8 RICHARD BALDOCK

should have those ugly wooden beams prpperly ceiled
in, strip the woodwork off the walls, and cover them
with maroon silk finished off with a gold beading, put
jn a white marble mantelpiece with a steel and ormolu
grate, and have a French window instead of those
ridiculous diamond-paned things. The furniture I gave
you as a wedding-present is good, but more is
wanted. I think I will give you a gilt console
table. But you cannot do much with a room like
this. The best furniture you could buy would hardly
make it habitable. As it is at present it is absurdly
old-fashioned, grotesque. Yes, gilt is badly wanted,
and a green carpet with ferns and roses. I flatter
myself that I know at a glance how to set any room
right."

" Dear Henrietta, you are very generous," said her
sister. " But I like the old room. I sometimes think
that it was a mistake to turn out all the old-fashioned
furniture that belonged to John's grandfather, although
it was certainly shabby and had not been looked after
properly."

Mrs. Moggeridge held up hands of horror. " Jes-
sica ! " she exclaimed. " You are a Goth a Vandal.
That rubbish! When you wrote and gave me a de-
scription of it, I ordered the carriage and drove
straight to Willows*. ' A suite of drawing-room furni-
ture at once,' I cried, l suitable for the drawing-room of
a country rectory, to be occupied by a lady of refine-
ment. Details may be left for the future, but the suite
must go off to-day without fail.' And this is the result.
You have got something that you need not be ashamed
of asking your friends to sit down upon. But I am not
satisfied, Jessica. I must do more for you. You are
my only sister and I am rich. A gilt console table you



AT BEECHURST VICARAGE 3

shall have. There is one in the breakfast room at Para-
dine Park that will do. I can replace it. And a chan-
delier. Ah, but you have no gas. What deprivations
you suffer, my darling ! Jessica, dearest, do you think
you were wise? Love is a great thing, and I know you
were in love. / never was, I own it to you. But look
what I have got, and what you have to put up with.
My pretty little Jessica! And you might have mar-
ried "

" Please don't, Etta, dear," pleaded her sister. " I
do not regret anything. My husband is wise and good,
and "

" Yes, I know," broke in the other. " But a poor
country clergyman ! Well, you have made your choice.
But is he everything you thought him? Men so sel-
dom are. Is he severe? From your letter I thought
he was severe."

" He is wise and good," repeated her sister. " I look
up to him, and it is my duty and my pleasure too to
obey him. Dear Henrietta, I wish you had done what
I asked you and left Foster behind. He made such a
point of it, and I fear he will be displeased. He is not
accustomed to have his wishes set aside. He does not
express them without careful thought, and you know I
told you his reasons."

" And very ridiculous reasons they were," said Mrs.
Moggeridge. " It is not to be supposed that I wish
to put anybody to expense on my account. The man
might have known that, or if not you could have told
him. You know what I am. When it was first sug-
gested that I should come here I fully intended to pay
my way. Neither you nor your husband shall be loser
by me; but naturally under these circumstances I can-
not consent to be dictated to as to how I am to travel,



4 RICHARD BALDOCK

and the notion of my travelling anywhere without Fos-
ter is absurd."

" Indeed, Henrietta," replied the other, with some
spirit, " if you care to come and visit me you come
as my guest mine and my husband's. You would give
him very great offence if you suggested paying your
entertainment. I accept your presents because I know
you have always loved me, and we have been very much
to each other. But you must not look upon us as your
pensioners."

" My darling child," said the fashionable woman,
speaking with great tenderness, " you must not take
amiss what I say. I speak my mind, to you and every-
body. But the chief thing is that we are to be together
for a time, just as we used to be when I was a tall
girl and you were a little tiny thing, in the old home.
I would cheerfully eat bread and drink water to be with
you, and I should expect Foster to do the same. Noth-
ing shall come between us. And now tell me, my pre-
cious one, you have everything you want, you are quite
prepared, you are not dreading the time that is com-
ing to you ? "

The pale face of the younger woman flushed and her
eyes shone. " It will be the greatest happiness," she
said. " I dream of it night and day."

" Ah," said the other, her gentleness of voice con-
trasting strangely with her former sharp and decisive
speech. " If I had only had a child ! I should have
loved it, perhaps as much, dear, as I loved you when
you were a baby. Perhaps more, though I do not think

that possible. But one's own child ! I should have

had someone to spend my riches on. I sometimes grow
tired of spending them on myself." She recovered her
sprightly tone after a short pause. " Well, that's over



AT BEECHURST VICARAGE 5

and done with," she said. " I shall certainly never
marry again, and I get a great deal of fun out of my
money. There will be plenty left for your child, Jes-
sica. He shall have most of it when I'm gone though
I hope he will have to wait some time for it yet. And
he shall go to Rugby papa was a Rugby and to
Oxford, the same college as papa's. I decided that my
boy should do that if I ever had one, and I will do the
same for yours. I pledge myself to that."

Her sister smiled faintly. " Perhaps it will not be
a boy," she said.

" If not," replied Mrs. Moggeridge, " it will be all the
better in this case. / wanted a boy because I made up
my mind that Joseph should have a baronetcy pos-
sibly a peerage as he no doubt would have done if he
had lived and I wished for an heir. But a girl! a
baby girl is the sweetest plaything. And when she
grows up I will take her about, and I will see to it that
she, at any rate, does not marry a poor country clergy-
man."

Mrs. Moggeridge had not observed the door open be-
hind her as she made this last speech. " A poor coun-
try clergyman ! " echoed a deep voice by her side.
" Here is one who bids you welcome to whatever his
house can afford."

" Lord bless the man ! " she exclaimed, turning round
in a flurry, but not apparently discomposed in her
mind. " You gave me quite a start. And so you are
the Reverend John Baldock. Well, you've got the
greatest treasure I ever had or ever shall have, with all
my riches, and I don't know that you should have had
her if I had been at home to prevent it. I hope you
value her and treat her tenderly."

The man who stood before her, regarding her with



6 RICHARD BALDOCK

dark serious eyes in which, in spite of his words of
welcome, there appeared no hint of indulgence towards
her freedom of speech, could have been little accustomed
to such a form of address. His face was set in a stern
mould. The bones were prominent, the rather thin
lips, pressed together, the eyes deep set, direct and
searching. To his wife, looking anxiously at him and
then at her sister, came a sense of crisis. These two
characters by her explored to their depths but to each
other unknown, how would they adjust themselves to a
common measure of agreement? There must be opposi-
tion. The light cement of social complacency would
hardly hold against the pull of their natures, that of
the one authoritative, dominating, that of the other
fearlessly asserting a wayward independence.

John Baldock turned to his wife. His eyes softened.
" You have not regretted giving your life to a poor
country clergyman, Jessica," he said ; and then, taking
her hand, " We find our happiness in a common hope
and a common pursuit. We do not desire worldly
riches. We have enough and are content. You will for-
give our inability to provide for the maidservant you
proposed to bring with you. The simplicity of our
lives and our domestic arrangements would make such
an addition to our household inexpedient. We shall
hope to make the loss of her services of no account to
you."

" Oh, but I've brought her," said Mrs. Moggeridge,
lightly. " As I told Jessica, I cannot possibly be with-
out Foster. If you cannot do with her in the house
and that is a matter for you to decide she must find
some sort of lodging for herself. She is quite capable
of doing that, or ought to be, for she is forty-five years
old if r, day, and has been jilted by a postman."



If Mrs. Moggeridge had any idea that the last piece
of information, airily thrown out, would relax the
obvious tension she was mistaken. There were storrn
signals out on John Baldock's brow, and he regarded
her as if he could hardly believe his ears. Then he
threw a look at his wife and his face cleared a little.

" We could not consent to that," he said, courteously.
" I have no doubt that her accommodation can be ar-
ranged for, as you have " he hesitated, and then

out it came with a flash of the eye " disregarded my
wishes in the matter."

" My dear John," said Mrs. Moggeridge, not at all
abashed " I shall call you John and you must call me
Henrietta when your wishes are so unreasonable you
must expect them to be disregarded. Foster will give
no trouble not half as much as I shall and anybody
who wants the pleasure of my society must put up with
her. Let us now set the subject aside altogether. You
have had your say and I have had mine, and, having
come to a compromise like sensible people, we shall no
doubt be all the better friends."

John Baldock's view of the compromise, if he felt any
inclination to express it, was cut short by the entrance
of an old servant, who announced with singular abrupt-
ness that tea had been on the table for ten minutes and
would get cold if not consumed at once, and then took
her departure.

They went into the dining-room ; where a very plain
meal was set out on a round table. The room was
larger than the one they had left. It was panelled, and
the mantelpiece carved in oak. The most part of the
furniture was old and not very well cared for, but its
fitness to the room was so marked in comparison with
the incongruities they had left behind them that it



8 HICHARD BALDOCK

struck even the eye of Mrs. Moggeridge, attuned to
the fashions of the time.

" There is an air of repose about these old-fashioned
rooms," she remarked as she entered, " that is not al-
together unpleasing. If you had a fine mahogany
suite here, and the walls hung with oil-paintings in mas-
sive frames, the room would at once become impossible.
Perhaps it is better as it is. The incongruity is less
startling. When they were new these pieces of furni-
ture were no doubt considered very handsome. And
they are well made, although, of course, hopelessly out
of date."

John Baldock waited until she had finished, and then
bent his head devoutly and repeated a long grace, saying
the words as if he meant them. When this came to an
end and they had taken their seats, he said :

" All the furniture in the house, with the exception
of what you were kind enough to give to Jessica, was
left to me by my grandfather. No doubt it is old-
fashioned, but it serves our needs, and I think nothing
of such things."

" Oh, but you should think something of them," re-
plied Mrs. Moggeridge ; " the eye should be cultivated
as well as the mind. For my part I think a pretty
room and bright colours make a deal of difference to
your outlook in life. With them you are cheerful and
gay. In a dull, old-fashioned room you are gloomy,
morose. At least, it is so with me."

" One's thoughts should be set on higher things," re-
plied the clergyman. " With the eye of the mind fixed
on eternities worldly surroundings sink into nothing-
ness."

" My dear John," said Mrs. Moggeridge, earnestly,
" may I beg of you, as long as I remain an inmate of



AT BEECHURST VICARAGE 9

your house, to treat me as one of the family and not as
a person to be preached at. Such a speech as that,
excellent as it would be in the pulpit, is surely out of
place at the tea-table. Religion by all means. But
there is a time for everything."

John Baldock accepted the challenge. " I must tell
you at once," he said, " that in this household we do not
relegate our religion to fixed hours and places. We
make it our chief thought, and strive to bring it into
everything we say or do. We should be unfaithful to
our calling if we did otherwise."

"Well," replied Mrs. Moggeridge, "every man's
house is his castle, and if you prefer to treat yours as
a church I suppose you have a right to. You must do
as you please. Only I must say that, fond as I am of
church on a Sunday morning and occasionally on Sun-
day afternoon, I should not care to spend every hour of
every day there, and I hope you will remember that."

John Baldock made no reply, but the set of his mouth
and his eyes bent steadily on his plate showed his dis-
approval, and soon afterwards he retired to his study,
leaving the sisters together.

" Will you come upstairs ? " said Jessica, shyly, " I
should like to show you. But you won't be scornful,
Etta, dear. Everything is so different to what it would
have been in your case. You know we are not rich, and
John thinks it wrong to spend more than we are obliged
on ourselves."

Mrs. Moggeridge kissed her warmly. " My pet," she
said, " you know you have only to come to me for any-
thing you want."

They went upstairs to a pleasant room facing west
towards the now setting sun. There was a little old
cradle in the corner. " It was the one in which John



10 RICHARD BALDOCK

was rocked as a baby," said Jessica. " He would not
let me have a pretty cot."

" Oh, my darling, this is dreadful ! " exclaimed her
sister. " You can never use that old thing. I will
write to London at once for a cot and something nice
to cover it."

" Thank you, dear," said the other, quietly. " But I
will do with this. John likes to have it so."

She went to an old tallboy chest of drawers and drew
from it the little garments, of all others so full of
meaning. Not a stitch in them but tells of a hope or
a fear or an impulse of love towards the new life that is
coming into the world.

They were very plain but beautifully made. She
put them into her sister's hand. Some true impulse
from the depth of things caused the older woman to
refrain from an easy offer to better them. " Ah, the
sweet little soul ! " she said.

Tears came in a sudden gush from the other. She
dried them quickly and tried to smile. " I can't help
it," she said. " It is because I am so happy."

" Oh, no," said Henrietta, concernedly. " You are
not happy. You didn't cry because you were happy.
What is it, Jessica dearest my little sister? "

" I suppose it is because I am afraid."

" Oh, no," she said again, wisely. " You are not
afraid. You are not afraid. At least, you are not
afraid of what is coming to you. Are you afraid of
anything else ? "

Jessica turned from her almost petulantly, and busied
herself about the drawers. " No, of course not," she
said. " Henrietta, you must make allowances for me.
I cry for nothing at all."

The old woman who had announced tea an hour be-



AT BEECHURST VICARAGE IT

fore came into the room. She did not knock, or
apologize for her intrusion. Neither did she retire
quickly, but went to a cupboard in another corner of
the room and began turning over household linen.

There was a pause. Mrs. Moggeridge looked at her
sister, and saw her disturbed, her eyes cast down. She
drew herself up sharply. " Do you think you could
make it convenient to leave the room at once? " she said.

The old woman turned round with a folded sheet in
her hand. She seemed completely nonplussed, and stood
staring, her face a mottled red.

" Your mistress and I are talking," said Mrs. Mog-
geridge, " and you came in as if the place belonged to
you, without a with your leave or by your leave. If
a servant of mine behaved in that way she shouldn't
sleep a night longer in my house."

Mrs. Baldock looked up. " Sarah is accustomed
to come in and out like that," she said.

M I am not accustomed to it," replied her sister ;
" and I beg that she won't do it so long as I am in
the house."

The old woman bridled up and found her tongue.
" I nursed the master in these arms," she said, trembling
a little, " and I've been with him ever since he was an
infant. I wish to be respectful to my betters, ma'am,
as becomes a professing Christian, but "

" Will you kindly leave the room? " interrupted Mrs.
Moggeridge, relentlessly. " Your mistress and I are
engaged. Show your respect and your Christianity
by doing what you're told."

The old woman retired with black looks, directed
chiefly towards her mistress.

" What an intolerable old creature ! " exclaimed Mrs.
Moggeridge, when th door had closed behind her.



12 RICHARD BALDOOK

" My dear Jessica, the fact is you are choked up with
religion in this house. I have always found religion a
most dangerous acquirement for the lower orders, and
for servants especially so. They do not understand
it as you and I do, and it turns their heads. If I were
you I should get rid of that woman instantly."

Mrs. Baldock laughed rather drearily. " I think if
I were to suggest that to John he would never recover
from the shock," she said. " And I doubt if she would
go even if he told her to."

" But, my dearest Jessica, you do not mean that
you allow your husband to dictate to you in domestic
matters? Why, when Joseph was alive, autocratic as
he was, he would never have thought of interfering in
such things. He did once inquire after a housemaid I
had dismissed for rouging her cheeks. He said he
missed her bright face about the house. The hussy!
But that was the only occasion. I should not have
stood it if it had been otherwise. You really must
put your foot down about such things, Jessica, if your
life is to be a satisfactory one."

Her sister made no reply. She was sitting by the
open window. She looked out on to the green world
of summer, and her look was patient and sad.

Mrs. Moggeridge sat down on the opposite side of
the table which stood in the window. " Jessica," she
said, " your face ought not to be like that. You have
a great happiness coming to you. Tell me what it is
that is troubling you."

" A great happiness ! " she repeated. " I cannot
grasp it. I feel that there is a great change coming
over my life, but nothing tells me that I shall gain
happiness by it. And I want happiness, Etta. I am
young, and I want happiness."



IS

" But, dearest, when I had your first letter at Luxor,
two years ago, you were happy really happy, and
looking forward to your quiet life here. I saw that it
was so, and it made up to me for what I thought you
were missing. For I will not disguise from you that I
had greater things in view for my only sister than
a marriage such as you announced to me. What has
occurred to change you so? "

" I don't think I have changed, except that I am
older. Oh, much older. I said that I was young and
wanted happiness. But I am not young any longer.
And yet I still want happiness."

" Then you have not got it. That is very plain. And
you ought to have it. You have been only two years
married. Time knocks the bloom off every romance,
but not so quickly as that if there is a strong founda-
tion for it. Jessica, you are disappointed in your
husband."

The younger woman threw out her hands.

" Oh, Etta," she said, " do not say that. Indeed,
you must not. It is myself I am disappointed in. You
drag everything out of me. I should not have told you,
but I cannot allow you to blame John. He is good and
wise. I told you so."

" Yes. You have repeated that phrase. You cling
to it. Is it the only thing you have to cling to, after
two years of married life? Good! Of course he is
good in one sense a clergyman! Is he good to you?
Does he value your qualities? Is he humble in the face
of your goodness? Is he thankful for it? Or is he try-
ing all the time to bring you into subjection to some
absurd religious standard of his own ? "

" Henrietta, you have a sharp tongue. You distort
things."



14 RICHARD BALDOCK

" You have to gee things before you can distort
them."

" I knew what his views were before I married him.
I believed in them. I thought they were noble, and I
thought that with his help I should be able to live up
to his high ideals. I have failed and I am miserable.
And now you have the truth."

" He makes you miserable."

" No, it is not that. Do not say so."

" I do say so. I know what you were at home-.
Sweet and unselfish, always smiling smiling out of a
pure, kind heart never an unworthy thought. Oh, I
have eyes to see beauty of character though I don't
possess it. I wish I did. I'm endowed with riches and
an easy, selfish good-nature instead and penetration
yes, certainly penetration. Your husband is not wise
if he is blind to your goodness or good. He is most
wickedly foolish in trying to run your nature into hia
own harsh mould."

" I will not talk of him in that way. He is not like
that. He has shown his trust in me by asking me to
live on his high level. He believed that I could do it,
and I thought so too. But now I know that I cannot.
I am losing heart. I cry as often as I smile when I
think of my little child that is coming. At first perhaps
a great joy but oh, I am not even sure of that. May
I pour out my love on my tiny helpless little baby?
Or must I stifle it as I am taught to stifle other im-
pulses I thought natural and even good ? "

" Jessica, dearest, you frighten me. The man must
be a monster of bigoted cruelty."

" No. But I must go on, now that I have revealed



Online LibraryArchibald MarshallRichard Baldock: an account of some episodes in his childhood, youth, and early manhood, and of the advice that was freely offered to him. by Archibald Marshall → online text (page 1 of 29)