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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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120 RICHARD BALDOCK

you may be quite satisfied, Sir Franklin, and I hope
you will let him accept the gun and say no more about
it."

"You are kindness itself," returned Sir Franklin.
" But if you will allow me I will give him the gun my-
self. I meant to give him one this year anyhow, and
I would rather he had his first gun from me. I should
have put off his shooting for a year if it had been as
I feared, for I could not have allowed such ingratitude
to pass."

So it was arranged, and also that Sir Franklin should
go out with the boys next day and give them their first
lesson himself. At dinner that night Laurence, now
entirely freed from apprehensions, was in the highest
spirits. Sir Franklin talked of moors and coverts and
stubbles and of his own introduction to the art of shoot-
ing many years before. Mrs. Moggeridge listened with
interest and threw in an observation now and then.
Richard was tacitly ignored and sat mute and miser-
able. When dinner was over he slipped away into the
schoolroom. The two guns lay on a table in their new
leather cases. Laurence had been examining his before
dinner, but Richard had let his lie. It gave him no
pleasure now, and he would willingly have been rid of
it and let his chances of shooting go by for ever if he
could have escaped the memory of his ungrateful re-
quest. It now seemed to him a shameful thing to have
done, and he longed to ask pardon of his aunt, but he
did not dare to do so. Laurence, of course, had escaped
all disagreeable consequences Laurence always did.
He did not know exactly how it had been done in this
instance, for Laurence had not been very communicative
on the subject, but he felt instinctively that he himself
must have suffered in order to bring about a result so



MRS. MOGGERIDGE MAKES PRESENTS 121

satisfactory to the other. He was very unhappy, too
unhappy to brood on the treachery or to realize it as
treachery. He longed for his home. No one seemed to
want him here. He had sat in the schoolroom, cold
and miserable, for half an hour, and no one had been
near him. He cried a little, and then went up to bed.
There was nothing to stay up for, and there was no
pleasure to look forward to on the morrow.



CHAPTER X

RICHARD'S RETURN

" I SHOULD like to consult with you, Sir Franklin," said
Mrs. Moggeridge when Laurence had gone to bed. " Let
me come and talk to you while you smoke your cigar."

The General was of course delighted, and found him-
self presently ensconced in a comfortable chair in front
of the smoking-room fire, prepared to listen to the con-
fidences of his hostess, who sat on the other side of the
hearth.

" I hope you will forgive an old friend," she said. " I
must speak plainly, and you must not take offence.
Laurence he is a charming boy. My heart goes out
to him. We drove together yesterday and he told me
something. I was pleased that he should confide in me.
My feelings towards him are maternal. He seemed
grievously disappointed well, I must come to it he
said that you had told him you could not afford to
carry out the plans you had formed for him Eton,
Cambridge the educational plans."

Sir Franklin leant forward in his chair and looked
into the fire. " It is perfectly true," he said. " I have
been unfortunate lately. I don't know why I should
hide it from a friend so kind as yourself that I have
been extravagant in past years damnably extravagant,
and my means are now precarious. Enough for my
own simple wants I have, but for the boy the extra
money has to be found well, in ways that I need not
particularize. And, in short, I have not been able to
find it."

122



RICHARD'S RETURN 123

" I quite understand," said Mrs. Moggeridge, who
did not in the least understand that the chances of
Laurence's education were dependent upon the turn of
a card or the pace of a horse. " Now, I have a pro-
posal to make to you. Let me bear the expense of
Laurence's education, until he has been through his
school and University time and after that we will see."
She held up her hand, expostulatory against an ex-
clamation of Sir Franklin's. " Wait," she said, " I am
rich and I have no children of my own. I feel towards
the boy as a mother might. It will give me the great-
est pleasure. Do not deprive me of it. And no one need
know."

" Your offer," said Sir Franklin, " is generosity it-
self, and I should not be so churlish as to refuse it off-
hand for the sake of petty pride pride which I should
indulge in at my boy's expense. But have you thought?
There is the other boy your nephew."

Mrs. Moggeridge's face darkened. " Richard does
not please me," she said. " He does not show up well
beside Laurence. One has only to see them together.
Take to-day's episode for instance. His coming to ask
me I do not wish to be unjust to the boy, and I had
certainly told them both to ask for anything they
wanted for their amusement, but well, tell me frankly
how you view the matter yourself."

" I made it clear, I think," returned Sir Franklin,
" that if Laurence had behaved in that way T should
have taken a serious view of his conduct. I should have
considered it the height of ingratitude after all that you
have done to make them happy. But the conditions are,
of course, different. Under the circumstances I do not
see that my young friend Richard is seriously to
blame,"



RICHARD BALDOCK

" How so? The two boys are on the same" footing
here."

"Hardly so, are they? Master Baldock looks upon
himself as your heir and the natural recipient of your
bounties."

" My heir ! Good heavens ! How do you know
that?"

" He told Laurence so."

" Can I believe my ears ? And I have never said one
word. Oh, the ingratitude and self-seeking of the world !
And in a child ! It is incredible monstrous. I will
have nothing more to do with him. I am shocked be-
yond measure."

" But, my dear lady," said Sir Franklin, " you must
consider. He must have been told this."

" Yes, and by that odious man, his father. My little
sister there was no one whom I loved more deeply
but her husband I always detested, and it is my belief
that he killed her. I have never forgiven him, though
it is years ago since she died. I did say something to
my sister about treating the child as my own son. I
remember it, and if it had been a definite promise I
should be the last woman in the world to go back from
my word. But I have never considered it so. Natu-
rally I must be allowed to see how the child turns out
before I can carry out my wishes my very ardent
wishes, for I loved my sister dearly. But her husband
I abhor, always have, and always shall; and when I see
the boy growing up like him, grasping, greedy, look-
ing forward to my death that he may spend my
money but he never shall I am quite estranged. I
see nothing of his mother in him. I dislike the
child. I will send him home. I will do nothing for
him,"



RICHARD'S RETURN 125

" You will send him, I suppose, to school and to
college."

" I shall not. His father may do that."

" It is not very much to do. Forgive my plain speak-
ing. It would hardly affect you. I believe the boy has
set his heart on going to Rugby and Oxford as much as
my Laurence wants to go to Eton. I should feel very
uncomfortable at the idea of a son of mine ousting your
own nephew."

" He would be doing nothing of the sort. As you
say, I am quite rich enough to make it a matter of
small concern to me whether I paid for one boy's edu-
cation, or two or twenty. What I want to do for
Laurence would in no way depend on my decision in
regard to Richard. You may leave that out of account,
but it is very generous of you to plead for him."

" I do not feel that in the least. I do not care for
the boy particularly. I do not think myself that he
compares favourably with my son, but his bringing up
has been very different, and from what you say his
father cannot be a very pleasant sort of gentleman to
meet. But he ought to have his start in life "

" Then let his father give it to him. He is his only
child, and he can deny himself. Left to myself my im-
pulses are generous. I do not wish to hoard my wealth
and spend it entirely on myself; but what angers me
now, and always, is when I suspect others of planning
to get hold of my money. I feel no kindness towards
them and can feel none."

Perhaps it was the warm glow of the fire that turned
Sir Franklin's cheeks a deeper red. " It is not my
affair, of course, to advise you as to your treatment of
your relations," he said, " and I will say no more.
With regard to Laurence, while thanking you from the



126 RICHARD BALDOCK

bottom of my heart for your most generous offer, I
think I must try to do what is necessary for the boy
myself or apply to his relations."

Then Mrs. Moggeridge, putting aside her almost hys-
terical irritation, pleaded with him earnestly. She had
set her heart on doing this for her favourite. She had
never met a boy who had so attracted her. She would
be grievously disappointed if she could not have the joy
of watching over his interests during his boyhood and
youth. She would feel widowed indeed, utterly lonely,
if her desire was taken from her. She must have some
young thing to take an interest in and to help on in the
world. And the end of it was that Sir Franklin capitu-
lated, gracefully, and with many heartfelt expressions
of gratitude, and Mrs. Moggeridge sought her couch
with the pleased feeling that she had got her own way
and that the opportunity of being of some use in the
world was not denied her.

Richard awoke the next morning, as is the blessed
habit of youth, disposed to brighter views than those
which had coloured his lying down. He no longer felt
disposed, as he had done the night before, to request his
aunt to take back his gun. He thought that, after all,
it would be of little use to her, while it would be one of
his own chief treasures. She had given it to him, and,
while he still felt a little ashamed of asking for it, still
she had told him to ask for what he wanted and he had
only taken her at her word. He thought that an addi-
tional warm expression of his gratitude for all the
pleasures she had provided for him would probably
balance accounts and leave him free to take advantage
of this new one with a clear conscience.

At this point Mr. Bliss came into his room. He had
on the same suit as he had worn during their late expedi-



RICHARD'S RETURN 127

tion together, but his face was not so cheerful as it had
been on that occasion. Neither was there a hint in his
demeanour of the man and the juggler. All was butler,
of the most respectful and least approachable.

" You are to leave by the nine-thirty train, sir," he
said, " and I am to accompany you to town and see you
off from Watenoo. Breakfast will be ready in half an
hour, and if you will get up now I will send John to
pack your clothes."

Richard stared at him, his face suddenly pale. " See
me off at Waterloo? " he echoed. " Why? Am I going
home?"

" So Mrs. Moggeridge has informed me, sir," said
the butler, busying himself with Richard's bath.

" But why? " cried Richard. " I wasn't going home
for a long time. Has my father sent for me? "

" I am not aware, sir. At least no."

"Am I being sent away? Oh, why? What have I
done? Do tell me, Mr. Bliss." The poor child was in
great distress, ready to cry, lifting a piteous face that
would have melted the stoniest of butlers. Mr. Bliss
allowed himself a slight relaxation.

" There, sir, don't take on," he said ; " it's all right.
I'll explain when we get into the carriage. Now make
haste and dress and come down to breakfast. I've
ordered you an omelette."

Richard dressed himself hurriedly. He was terribly
upset. He had suffered harshness and injustice, but
never such treatment as this. His lip quivered, and only
a sense of his manhood kept back the tears which the
secrecy of night-time might have made permissible, but
not the hours of daylight. He was to be sent off
in disgrace, surely not for the crime of asking for a
present a crime that had already been condoned, if



128 RICHARD BALDOCK

somewhat grudgingly? Then why? He had committed
no other. He thought of asking to see his aunt, but he
felt instinctively that his request would be useless ; and
as instinctively he realized that Laurence was no friend
of his, and he would get no satisfaction in taking his
trouble to him. There was none of the free-masonry of
boyhood between them, and he would be ashamed to see
Laurence now while this disgrace hung over him. The
element of uncertainty in his trouble increased it. He
was deplorably unhappy, and his grief had something of
the intensity of manhood's sufferings, marking it off
from the easily digested trials of youth.

The morning was dull and leaden. He was driven
away from the house in the station brougham a for-
lorn little figure sitting alone in the carriage, for Mr.
Bliss shut him in and mounted the box beside the
coachman. But when the lodge gates were passed the
carriage drew up ; Mr. Bliss got down from the box,
opened the carriage door, stepped in without a word
and took his seat beside Richard. They drove on
again.

" Now there's one thing you've got to remember,"
said Mr. Bliss, impressively. " Whatever happens in
the future, whether the crawlings and shovings of those
anxious to creep into the place of others is successful or
not, you've got a friend in John Bliss. The necessities
of professional life do not always allow of its being
shown as much as could be wished, but the friendship's
there warm and faithful, and there it will remain, come
what will."

Richard felt agreeably consoled by this speech, the
intention of which he thoroughly understood, if its ex-
pression conveyed no very definite ideas to his mind, and
be ventured to slip his band into that of his companion.



RICHARD'S RETURN 129

Mr. Bliss gave it an encouraging pat and returned it to
him ; having no use for it as a permanent possession.

" As man to man," pursued Mr. Bliss, still with great
earnestness, " I can make certain disclosures to you
which, in other circumstances, must not part my lips,
knowing that confidences will be respected and not
brought up at times when it would be awkward so to do.
Do I make myself perfectly clear? "

" You mean," replied Richard, " that we always like
each other, but we keep it to ourselves when you're' on
duty."

" On duty," repeated Mr. Bliss ; " that's just the way
to express it. You've got a good and contriving brain,
and I can only say that if your liking for me is on a
footing with my liking for you we're friends for life,
always taking into consideration the differences of birth
and education. Now, knowing that it will go no farther,
I'll tell you this : You've been made a victim a victim
of two things. One is the wiles of self-seekers who
ought to be ashamed of their cunning ways of going on,
high up in the world though they be, and courageous in
a bodily sense, I make no doubt. The other is the
capriciousness of I won't say lady, because here I
must be cautious ; I won't say person, because that
would not be becoming the capriciousness of people
whose wealth and nature makes them so, and are readily
worked upon by designers. I've no doubt you take my
meanings."

Richard thought that he did, and said so.

" Very well, then," continued Mr. Bliss. " Now, what
I want to say to you is this : Nothing you could have
done would have made things different, you being what
you are, an honest, straightforward young gentleman,
and not one to meet guile with guile. So, in the first



130 RICHARD BALDOCK

place, don't you blame yourself for what's happened,
and don't allow others to blame you when you're called
upon to explain things at the other end of your jour-
ney. You behaved quite right all through, and what's
come about isn't to be attributed to any fault of yours.
You take my advice and rest your mind on that."

This piece of advice was just what Richard wanted
to assuage the pangs of his wounded self-respect, and
his spirit rose under his adviser's commendation.

We're getting near the station," continued Mr.
Bliss ; " but I've one thing more to say to you. You've
seen me in my professional capacity, and if you go into
great houses later on in life you'll be forced to acknowl-
edge the truth that there's no man in my position and
I don't care who he is, or what training he's had who
beats me at it. And how do you think I began? I'll
tell you what no one else knows in this world, and I'll
tell you it because I believe it'll be a lesson to you, and
I know, as a friend, you'll respect my confidence. I
began in a workhouse. That's where I was born and
bred. And do you think that leads to positions of re-
sponsibility in noblemen's families, such as I've held,
before you're thirty? Not quite. But the career I set
before me that I followed out with only myself to de-
pend on, and I got to the top of the tree. Was I
content when I got there? No. I took up another
occupation in my spare hours an occupation that re-
quires perseverance and concentration above most, and

Well, you've seen for yourself whether I'm making
a success of it or not."

" I think you're wonderful at it," said Richard. " I
shouldn't think there's a cleverer juggler anywhere than
you."

Mr. Bliss's face took on an expression of pain. " Ob,



RICHARD'S RETURN 131

you mustn't say that," he expostulated. " There's
hours and days and perhaps years of application neces-
sary before I rise to the level of the highest, if I ever
do. Ambitious you must be, self-confident you will be
all the better for being, but you must never be self-
satisfied, not till the end of your career. And the appli-
cation of all this to you is, stand on your own feet.
Make up your mind early in life what you're going to
do, and rely on yourself for doing it. If accidents come,
such as riches might in your case, use them to further
your aims, but don't depend on them. It isn't riches
you want to make you happy in this world ; it's work
work with an object. No capriciousness nor no base
contrivings can take that away from you, and you'll be
all the better man for holding yourself loose from what
accident may or may not bring you, and depending on
yourself. Here we are at the station, and that's my
last word to you, carefully thought over, and the word
of a friend. Work with an object."

Richard thought this homily most remarkable, im-
pressed more by the force and earnestness with which it
was delivered than by its subject matter. But the
thoughtful manner in which it was summed up in a few
words which might abide by him, enabled him after-
wards to recall its main purpose, as a phrase is some-
times anchored to the memory by a word, or a word by a
single letter.

Mr. Bliss saw him off at Waterloo and furnished him
with mental provender for the journey in the shape of
numerous attractive journals and magazines, for which
the necessary payment was drawn by the promptings
of friendship from his own pocket. He also shook him
warmly by the hand as the train moved away, and said,
" I shan't forget you. Remember, work with an object.



152 RICHARD BALDOCK

Good-bye," and Richard felt considerably cheered by
his kindness, as well as fortified for the trial that still
awaited him.

He arrived at the station from which Beechurst was
situated some three or four miles early in the afternoon,
and found Job Wilding waiting for him in the shabby
old vicarage pony cart drawn by one of his own forest
ponies. Neither the appearance of the equipage nor of
its driver could compare in point of splendour with
those to which he had lately been accustomed, but his
heart gave a leap as he came out of the station-yard
and their home-like familiarity met his sight. His
home-coming was not of the most auspicious, but he felt
thankful for it all the same.

Job's mood appeared to be one of rather truculent
reticence. He gave Richard no greeting, but remarked
in an injured voice, " Train's nearly 'alf-hour late."

" Yes, I know," replied Richard. " How are you,
Job?"

" None the better for setting 'ere in a east wind,
thanks to unpunctualness. Why can't people be punc-
tual? Gardeners' flesh and blood's the same as other
people's, an' poor folks' rheumatiz ain't no easier than
the gentry's."

" Well, it isn't my fault that the tram's late," said
Richard. " We'd better have the seat a bit forward,
I think."

Richard's effects were put in at the back of the cart,
Job grumbling all the time. " Jump in sharp," he said,
when they were ready to start. " We don't want to be
dawdling about here longer nor we can help."

Richard stood on the offside of the cart with his foot
on the step. " I'm going to drive, Job," he said.

"Eh?" replied Job, looking down on him.



RICHARD'S RETURN 133

y' s m y P on J '> I' m g m S t drive her," said the
boy.

" Oh, you can drive if you like," said Job, putting
the reins into his hands and sidling over on to the other
seat. " 'Tis all one to me. Glad enough to keep my
'ands a bit warm."

They drove off across a sandy heath, stretching in
ridge and hollow to right and left of them, its expanse
broken here and there by clusters of seedling firs, and
bounded by lines of the fast-budding forest trees in all
gradations of blue and purple. Richard drew a deep
breath of the familiar air, sweetened by mile upon mile
of arborescence. " There's no place like the forest,"
he said.

Job eyed him askance, " Got tired ov t'other place,
eh ! " he remarked. " Or t'other place got tired o'
you? "

Richard set his lips and made no reply.

" Well, it's what I expected," proceeded Job. " I
warned yer. You can't never say you went away un-
warned."

" I don't know what you're talking about," said the
boy. " Is father all right? "

" Hupset," replied Job, ironically. " Wonderful
hupset."

Richard received this piece of information in silence.
" Nat'rally," Job went on, " when the order was given
to meet the train, unexpected like, I was fur going into
the whys and wherefores. But he took me up sharp in
his Christian-like way, and told me to mind me own
business an' do what I was told. ' That's what I'm here
for,' I says ; ' but havin' the family welfare at 'eart I
make so bold as to inquire whether anything's amiss
with Master Richard,' I says. ' Master Richard will



134 RICHARD BALDOCK

answer to me for anything that's amiss,' says he, ' and
not to you,' he says. * And I hope Vll answer well,' I
says, ' for there ain't too much justice to be 'ad when
you're looking into things what displeases you.' He
didn't say nothink further, but went indoors looking
black, to write a sermon on brotherly love continuing,
I make no doubt."

" You ought not to speak of my father in that way,"
said Richard.

" That's what he says hisself," replied Job. " 'Tain't
respectful. Them as earns respeck gets it, I says.
Well, you won't find him in 'is most meek and mild
sperrits, and so I warn ye. If you've been and done
anything you didn't ought to 'ave, my advice to you is
to own up and make the best of what you'll get. But,
then, I dessay you 'aven't done nothing. I dessay the
contrariness of others is accountable for what's hap-
pened. Not knowing what that is I can't say."

"And you won 't be able to say," retorted Richard.
"You'd better take father's advice and mind your own
business."

" I'll know all in good time," replied Job, in no wise
put out.



CHAPTER XI

THE TWO DISPLEASURES

THEY drove into the stable-yard. Richard handed the
reins over to Job, jumped out of the cart, and walked
towards the house.

" Hi, Master Richard ! " Job called out after him.
" Here's this here baggage." He took no notice, but
walked straight in through the kitchen and the back
premises and knocked at the door of his father's study.
" Come in," said the Vicar's voice, and he entered, with
his head well up, and stood to attention.

John Baldock was seated at his writing-table. He
leant back in his chair and looked at his son with con-
tracted brow. " What is the meaning of this ? " he
asked. " You were to have stayed with your aunt an-
other fortnight. I get a telegram to say that she is
sending you home by such and such a train. What
have you done? "

" I didn't see Aunt Henrietta before I left," said
Richard, " but I was told to give you this letter."

The Vicar took the envelope that was handed to him
and laid it by his side. "I would rather hear first from
you, " he said.

" I don't know what I've done to be sent away in
disgrace, father," said Richard. " But I did one thing
I wish I hadn't, and I'll tell you about that. Aunt



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 9 of 29)