F. C. (Francis Charles) Philips.

The dean and his daughter (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryF. C. (Francis Charles) PhilipsThe dean and his daughter (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


:> > >



►• »>


::?J>


> ^»




:>J>


;> >i


^> 3>




?i> j»


.> ■•;«:


> ->->


>


. >J>


JS> »


^ :-^


' > > a


if^


->^ >


^>




K


i-


v^


^^




^> .






>


>>




2jg> . <^


» .


^■^ .


' ^fcf.


» >


5


.^•A^


>!W^






S



:> :>>:> ^> )3 >>









o



,\"






m


r^


» ):)


g


i>


y>


»


Oj


JO


>.


V


>><
>>


^


»


:3f>


»




^^






ym^M'7^



MILTON,

Peterborouoh.




I B R_ARY
OF THL
UN IVER.SITY
or ILLINOIS

823

V.I



THE DEAlf AND HIS DAUGHTER



THE DEAN
AND HIS DAUGHTER.



F. C. PHILIPS,

AUTHOE OF "as I.V A LOOKIXG-SIASS," "a LUCKY TOO'G WOMaX,
"jack and THKEE JILLS," "SOCIAI, VICISSITUDES."



VOL. I.



LONDON :

WARD AND DOWNEY,

12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.

1887.
(All rights reserved.'^



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS,
CRYSTAL PALACE PKES8.



8£3

v. 1



TO

EDMUND YATES,



^ m RECOLLECTION OF MUCH KINDN]



h



i.



THE DEAI^ AND HIS DAUGHTER.



CHAPTEE I.

AVhen I look back to the earlier days of
my life, I wonder why I did not follow
the example of Bampfylde Moore Carew, and
run away with the gipsies. Many of them
came through our parish on their way back-
wards and forwards between the south, and
Exmoor and Dartmoor in the north.

Ossulston was, I think, the most miserable
village in all North Devon. For miles and
miles there was not a hedge — nothing but
heavy, squat, stone walls. The river ran
through the parish, and there was a mill,

VOL. I. B



t



TEi: DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTEB.



of course, and a mill-dam with trout in
it, which used to lie under the shadow of
the old stone bridge ; you could lean on
the parapet and watch them hanging lazily
about in the stream, each in its own especial
nook.

My father was the Vicar of Ossulston,
and I was his only child. The Vicarage
was a stone house of eight rooms, roofed
with stone roughly chipped into heavy slabs.
We kept a couple of cows, some pigs, and
of course poultry and ducks. I need scarcely
say we had an orchard, but the trees had
not been grafted for years, and were long
past their prime. We burned wood and
turf — being many miles from the nearest
railway station, and even from the canal.

Our roof was thickly covered with yellow
stonecrop, houseleek, and other such parasitic
plants. In the garden my father allowed



THE BEAN AND ETS DAUGHTER. 3

old gooseberry and currant trees to run to
waste, and there were a few wallflowers.
Once or twice a year my father went to
Exeter, coming back with clothes for him-
self, a supply of tobacco and spirits and rough
stuffs, flannel, calico, print, and serge, to be
made into garments for his daughter. He
used to bring back some ready-made boots
and a few other domestic necessaries, not
to be procured at the village shop.

Of myself, and my education, with the
exception of Greek and Latin which he
taught me more or less thoroughly, and of
anything that might concern me, he took no
heed whatever. Except that I had to go to
church twice on Sundays, I was as little
looked after as an Exmoor colt.

I was happy, however, in my own way.
For I could not even remember the loss of
my mother, and there was nobody to care

B 2



4 TBE DEAN AND HIS DAUGUTEF.

or trouble where I went or what I did.
When I was six years old, I recollect that
I used to steal the fresh eggs early in the
morning, make little holes in them with a
pin, suck out the contents, and carefully
pulverise and bury the shells.

My father often wondered why his hens
did not lay as regularly as they ought to
have done ; but he never seemed to trouble
himself as to how I got my breakfast, or,
indeed, whether I got any breakfast at all.

In summer there were apples and plums.
After dinner I could forage for myself in the
kitchen, for my father dined alone. Some-
times I did not see him for several days
together. When his own dinner was over,
he used to sit in an arm-chair in his room,
smoke a long clay pipe, and drink spirits
and water. When he had had enough tobacco
and enough spirits, he used to go to bed.



THE BEAN AXD HIS DAUGHTER. 5

His g^reat occasions were when a neio-li-
bouring farmer asked him to dinner. He
always accepted such invitations.

" We must be all things to all men/'
he used to say solemnly. I fancy he gave
this precept a somewhat liberal interpreta-
tion, for I know now that the peculiar
condition in which he used to return homo
was due to strong waters, and that his late
hours the next morning, with his anxiety
for dry toast and w^eak te£i, had the same
explanation.

I have since heard that he was a dis-
appointed man. He ought to have taken
high honours at his university, but instead
of that he somehow failed to take a good
degree. He ought to have had a Fellow-
ship and a College living, but his claims
were passed over. As he got on in
life, or rather in years, his friends per-



6 THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER.

sistently gave him the cold shoulder. The
livings he had been positively promised, and
which had been given to other men, were
more numerous than the number of* pounds
in his own wretched stipend.

He once in desperation thought of writing
a book on the antiquities, county history,
and natural history of Devonshire, but he
never got further than ordering several
reams of foolscap and a big jar of ink, for
both of which he was ultimately sued in
the County Court, when an order was made
against him to liquidate the amount
by monthly instalments of four shillings
each.

My father was now perilously close upon
sixty years of age, but had a pleasant habit
of telling everybody that he was somewhere
between forty-six and fifty. Age had cer-
tainly put very few traces upon him. Like



THE BE AX AND HIS DAUGHTER.



all selfish men lie was thoroughly well pre
served, and if he had been a duke, with the
medical resources of a duke, with the culinary-
resources of a duke, and with ducal oppor
tunities for travel, change of climate, and
special attention to every minute detail of
comfort, might, perhaps, have lived on into
his tenth decade. With nothing to worry
you, and with plenty of money, it is per-
fectly possible to trifle with Providence up
to an immense age.

His own views of life and its arrange-
ments, so far as they concerned himself, were
simple enough. He had his income as Vicar
and his bit of glebe, which be prudently
let out. During the summer months, when
London was empty, he made a clear profit.
Some fashionable London preacher would
come down and take the Vicarage for three
months, undertaking all the responsibilities



8 TEE DEAN AND EIS DAUOHTEE.

of parochial service. Out of this temporary
transfer my father used to make a comfort-
able annual sum. In fact he farmed his
Vicarage, and the summer months in which
he let his house were the season of his fat
kine.

Always struggling to make both ends
meet, he somehow contrived to satisfy the
problem from his own point of view. For
my own part I know no more dull, wretched,
miserable being than a stupid man with a
few worthless and fourth-rate university cre-
dentials, on the strength of which he believes,
or has once believed, that he can take the
world by storm.

My father had forgotten all that he ever
knew, if, indeed, he had ever known any-
thing; and in the private bar-room of the
village inn he was, as I knew perfectly well,
the general butt of the company. They pre-



THE BE AX AND HIS DAUGRTER. 9

tended to listen to him, they treated him to

whiskey and water, and when the time came

«

for closing, he was, in consideration of his
position, sent home in charge of the stable-
boy.

That youth had a very fair alto voice,
in virtue of which he sang in the parish
choir. It was unpleasant to see him put
his tongue in his cheek when my unhappy
father stumbled through the words "mani-
fold sins."

These were a few of my youthful trials.
So the years slipped away until I was twenty.
I kept no account of time ; why should I
have done so ? There was nothing in the
past to which I could look back, nor any-
thing in the future to which I could look
forward.

Andromeda, chained up by her hands to the
rock, was not more helpless. But she had a



10 TEE BEAN AND EIS DAUGETEE,

chance whicli I had not. At any moment the
sea monster might put in an appearance and
devour her. I had no prospect of any such
sharp, sudden, and merciful end to my suffer-
ings. There I was — chained. Twenty years
from now I should be an old woman. And
the twenty years showed no hope, prospect, or
even chance of release. It was horrible.

One morningf there came a break in this
terrible monotony. My father received a
letter which evidently puzzled him. It could
not have been a County Court summons, for
he anticipated those and knew their contents
before their arrival. Neither was it an offer
of preferment, in which case he w^ould have
at once made his way to Pentridge, the
nearest railway station, and have done extra-
vagant things in telegraphy ; perhaps even
have borrowed a couple of pounds, on the
strength of the good news, from the land-



TEE BEAN AND EIS DAUGETER. 11

lord of the ''Bull Hotel" at Pentridge, and
so have hurried up to London, by way of
taking time by the forelock, and making
assurance doubly sure.

Evidently it was none of these thiogs.
Equally clear was it that it meant some-
thing, and as the something in question
could not possibly be for the worse, I was
content to wait.

That afternoon, my father, at an hour
earlier than usual, betook himself to the
room which he called his study. Let me
give the inventory of this apartment. There
were several battered volumes of Bohn's
Translations of the Classics ; there were
some odd volumes of South, Barrow, and
Tillotson. There was Stanley's *' Sinai and
Palestine," an old edition of the "Encyclo-
paedia Britannica," Alford's *' Greek Testa-
ment," Harold Browne on the Articles,



12 THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER.

Paley's *' Evidences," and a few stray novels
in yellow pasteboard ; " Barchester Towers,"
**Tlie Last Chronicles of Barset," "Dr.
Thorne," '^ Tom Jones," "Peter Simple," and
other such ecclesiastical and unecclesiastical
romances. On the mantelpiece was a tobacco
jar, and by it were one or two clay pipes ;
there was a shelf with bottles white and
black, most of them empty. On rails
against the wall, hung in various stages of
dilapidation, overcoats, leggings, and water-
proof garments. There was also an old
double-barrelled gun, a powder flask, and a
shot belt, for my father, being on terms
with the surrounding farmers, considered
rabbits a lawful part of the tithe of which
the State bad iniquitously despoiled him.

I entered this sanctum sanctorum with-
out terror. I was too old for my father
to smack me, and there was really nothing



THE DEAN AXD HIS I)AT7GETEB. 13

else of which I need be in the least degree
afraid. But I knew it was his habit to
transact important business in the study.
Unimportant business, such as the bill of
the butcher or of the baker, he used to
transact at the garden gate ; and so, when
summoned to the study, I knew that there
was something more important on hand than
the weekly accounts, or the prospects of the
potato patch, or the precise reasons why the
old brown Cochin hen should have left ofif
laying.

My father was in an old wooden arm-
chair, in which he looked almost venerable.
It was close to the table, which gave him
an appearance of having that very moment
abandoned his work. There must have been
in him, at some time or other, some vague
instincts of art, for the pose and the sur-
roundings were really clever. As I opened



U THE DEAN AND EIS DAUGHTER.

the door I almost seemed to hear a small
bell jingle for the rising of the curtain.

My parent arranged his necktie, and ran
his fingers through his hair ; then he twisted
his only ring round upon his little finger,
bringing the small brilliant diamond held in
its claws into prominent play. Then he
cleared his throat and beo;an.

" Take a seat, Miriam," he commenced.

Then, when I had obeyed, he proceeded
cheerily, and in a tone of assurance, as if
he possessed the secrets of the Universe,
and it lay with him only to hold up his
little finger and to at once stop the rota-
tion of the earth upon its axis.

"My dear friend, I may say my oldest
friend, for long years have not diminished
an affection w^hich w^as commenced at Rugby,
continued at Cambridge, and confirmed
and consolidated in riper life ; my dear



TEE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER. 15

friend, I say, Sir Henry Craven, is exhausted
by his manifold duties in town, and writes
to say that he wants a few days or weeks
of entire refst. Of course I have asked him
to share our humble roof; his wealth is
enormous, his influence immense. I believe
that to-morrow he could get me- made a
Bishop ; you may be sure I shall not lose
the chance, and you must use your wits to
nid me. He is a man of the world, and men
of the world are captivated at once by an
ingenue. You see, my dear, this place is
lonely, desolate, and remote. You have no
companions of your own age ; you have not
those pleasures and innocent enjoyments,
which it is the chief sorrow of my life that
I am unable to provide for you. And I too,"
here my father expanded his chest, and
assumed an appearance of intense responsi-
bility, "feel myself a labourer in the vine-



16 THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER.

yard whose allotted work has not yet come
to his hand. I am wasting my abilities and
my time in a small parish, when I ought
to be leading public opinion, warning against
the errors of the time, and pointing out
the true path to take among the many rocks,
shoals, gulfs, and quicksands that beset our
age. And so, my dear, we must be prac-
tical. Get the house in order ; get some
ammonia and sponge the grease spots out
of my Sunday suit ; see that my study is
put in order, and make the reception-room
look as pretty as you can. Juggins our
churchwarden has a greenhouse, and no
doubt Mrs. Juggins will lend you a few gera-
niums or calceolarias, or something of the
kind in pots. And if you have a muslin
dress — 1 believe you have — you had better
get it washed and ironed, for you'll have to
dine while Sir Henry is here ; and you



TEE BEAN AND EIS DAUGETEE. 17

will want a little blue ribbon round your
waist, and some velvet, or something, round
your neck. Here is a two-shilling piece.
And now pray be as quick as you can, for
money in travelling expenses is no object
to Sir Henry. He thinks nothing of ten
shillings for a fly. It is odd that the good
things of this world should be so unevenly
divided. And he may be here very shortly.
He must on no account find us unprepared."
And herewith my excellent parent strolled
away down the village to visit his senior
churchwarden, intimating that he wished
me to accompany him. By a singular and
happy coincidence it was one o'clock. Mr.
Thacker, a prosperous blacksmith and wheel-
wright, was just about to dine off bacon
and broad beans, with a treacle dumpling
to follow. The call of the Vicar was posi-
tively opportune. My father and I stayed

VOL. I. c



18 TEI] BEAN AND HIS DAUGBTEB.

to dinner, and after it he smoked a pipe
with Mr. Thacker, over which they dis-
cussed the present average prices of market
produce. He also intimated the name and
rank of his expected visitor, whereat Mr.
Thacker put aside the tobacco jar, and pro-
duced a box of cigars, together with a choice
bottle of old Hollands.

" He had always himself," said the church-
warden, " been a hard-working man who
had paid his own way, every farthing of it>
and had never been beholden to anybody for
anything."

This was a home-thrust which made my
father gulp his Hollands at the temporary
risk of suffocation.

Mr. Thacker added that good men were
scarce, and he, for his part, should like to
see my father made a Bishop, or a Canon at
least.



THE BEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER. 19

" What does it matter, Mr. St. Aubyn ? "
he profoundly observed. '' Some of us ride
to the hounds in pink, and some in black.
'Tisn't those who ride in pink that are always
in at the death. Give me a man who knows
the country. Look there, the Hollands are
your way. It's only April now. Wait till
the hunting season. I shall see you in gaiters
long before you'll see me in my old tops.
When you've got the gaiters you must re-
member an old friend, and let me have a
good Cathedral lease. I never like to trouble
a friend, especially a gentleman and a reverend
gentleman like yourself, and that little matter
of three pound ten last Michaelmas may
stand over as long as you like. Here's my
hand upon it."

To forego a very doubtful debt of seventy
shillings for the prospect, however remote,
of an advantageous lease, is not, as things

c 2



20 THE DEAN AND HTS DAUGHTER.

go, a bad speculation. Evidently Mr. Thacker
did not think so ; for, as his Vicar left, he
pressed a sovereign upon him, with some
incoherent remarks about the number of
turnpikes upon the road. He must have
forgotten, in his excitement, that his reverend
visitor had been a foot passenger, and did
not live more than half a mile away.

The gold in his waistcoat pocket imparted
elasticity to my father's tread. He hummed
operatic airs as we walked back. He had
been, in his younger days, one of the leading
spirits of a musical club. His head was
erect, and his chest expanded like that of
a pouter pigeon. Indeed, his enthusiasm was
positively infectious, and I began to picture
myself the proud possessor of a silk dress,
a sewing machine, and a complete set of
Tennyson's poems, inaccessible luxuries for
which I had often yearned when sitting alone



TEE BEAN AND HIS DAUGHTEB. 21

in the twilight upon the kitchen hearth,
knitting mittens and stockings for the winter,
and sorely puzzled over the stockings in the
matter of heel.

I held a brief council of war that night
with Mrs. Peel, our only domestic, in which
we rehearsed the household stores, and went
into a number of minute economic details.

There is an infinite amount of trouble
involved in such small matters as linen, the
best china tea service, and the temporary
reproduction of almost forgotten household
treasures that are resting in lavender and must
be furbished up for this special occasion. But
my father did not interfere with us, and so
upon the whole we settled matters more
expeditiously than might have been antici-
pated.



CHAPTEE 11.

Two days later the great man himself arrived
somewhat late in the afternoon, and while the
swallows were still flying high.

He was the sole occupant of a pair-horse
fly, the front seat of which was littered with
newspapers and other light baggage. A
second and humbler vehicle conveyed his valet
with a portmanteau, a fur overcoat, rugs, and
other necessaries of travel all charmingly
strapped together in the most delightful
order.

Before the first fly had stopped the valet
was waiting at our porch to let down the



THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER 23

steps, open the door, and assist his master
out. It must have been many years since
our village had witnessed so imposing an
arrival.

My father received the old gentleman
in his most courtly style with marked
cordiality, but w^ithout effusion. Sir Henry,
after shaking hands, looked round and
pleasantly remarked that it was a pretty place,
but that it would be, he should imagine, rather
dull in winter. My father answered with a
bit of Latin which 1 had heard him quote so
often that I knew it by heart. It was :
fortunati nimium, sua si bona norint,
Agricolse ! And he wagged his head as
much as to say, " a Dean should always be a
learned man. Look how I have kept up my
classics."

Sir Henry's answer was vague but re-
assuring, and evidently intended to be kindly.



24 TBE BEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER.

He said : " Exactly so. AVhat I have always
felt myself. Poor Peel used to say that every
man should know his Horace by heart ; hut
I never really had the time." And with this
we all went indoors.

We had dinner at seven, and it went off
better than might have been expected. There
were freshly caught trout with melted butter,
a pair of broiled chickens with vegetables, an
apple pie with clotted cream, and some cheese
and salad.

Sir Henry had with forethought brought
down a supply of wine and liqueurs, partly,
no doubt, out of kindness, and partly with
due regard for his own comfort. The valet,
Mr. Watson, waited upon us with a solemnity
that almost chilled my veins. He had an
eye that seemed to be perpetually occupied
with estimates and measurements. I am sure
before the dinner was over he had thoroughly



TEE BEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER. 25

satisfied himself that the carpet had been
turned a second time, and that it had not
been originally planned for the room.

Dinner over, Mr. AVatson produced fresh
wines and the liqueurs, and somehow I
found myself drinking a glass of claret.
It was the first time I had ever tasted
claret in my life, and I frankly confess that
I did not like it. He then with deliberation
placed on the table a large box of cigars and
a small silver spirit-lamp. I took this as a
signal for my departure, and after exchanging
glances with my father and returning Sir
Henry's bow, acted upon it. I was not sorry
to get away, for Sir Henry, although he did
not stare at me, eyed me, as it were, round
the corner, and with such persistency as to
make me extremely uncomfortable.

Mr. AVatson with many apologies begged
me to permit him to make the cofi"ee himself.



26 THE DEAN AND UIS DAUGHTER.

as he knew exactly liow Sir Henry liked it.
He performed the task to a marvel, and
returned from the dining-room with the
welcome intimation that my father desired me
to be told that I need not sit up. This was
but too pleasant news for me, and I hurried
oflf to bed, Mr. Watson handing me my candle
with the most profound gravity, and asking
me if a cio-ar in the servants' hall would be
against the rules of what he called " The
Eectory." I reassured him on this point, and
in a very few minutes was sound asleep.

Early next morning I was up and about.
The sitting-room, where we had banqueted the
night before, had to be arranged and decorated
with fresh flowers. Of these I managed to
get tos^ether a sufficient allowance. Mrs.
Juggins had been very liberal, and so had the
Thackers. I also scalded a bowl of milk, and



THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTEE. 27

made some fresh clotted cream in tlie most
approved Devonshire fashion.

The delicate sulphur-tinted primrose was
thick on every hedge bank, and I adorned the
table with its blossom, and with some violets
which grew^ in a treasured nook of my
own.

This exhausted my own resources. From
Mrs. Juggins and Mrs. Thacker I procured
a few more flowers, and what was far more
important, a young duckling and some early
potatoes not much larger than big walnuts, to
the preparation of which articles for the first
dejeuner our Vicarage had ever witnessed,
I at once addressed myself, only too glad
to have anything to keep my mind employed.

My father w^as later than usual. He was
dressed with scrupulous care, and had an
indescribable air about him of one who was
artistically accommodating himself to an



28 THE BEAN AND HIS DAUGHTER.

amusing situation, an air which might almost
have fitted the Grand Monarque at the Petit
Trianon. He looked radiant, and positively
many years younger than his actual age.

Sir Henry, of course, was about three-
quarters of an hour late, but was also most
carefully arrayed. The same age as my
father, as nearly as might be, he looked about
fifteen years younger. He was slightly bald,
but not a gray hair was visible upon his
head or in his daintily trimmed whiskers.
His single-breasted morning- coat fitted his
well-preserved figure to perfection, and his
Parisian boots were as resplendent as if
cut out of solid jet.

I could not help in a kind of way
admiring him. He was beyond doubt
a fine and handsome man, or at any
rate had once been so, and he had that



THE DEAN AND HIS DAUGHTEE. 29

ease and charm of manner which means
nothiDg in itself, but can only be acquired
at Courts.

I understood this secret soon after, when
I found out that he had been successively
at Eton, a Queen's page, a cornet in the Blues,
and ultimately military attache, and after


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryF. C. (Francis Charles) PhilipsThe dean and his daughter (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 9)