I 111 1 1 I I 1 1 ,. ' ' ^*^^
B CKKEIK T
"A Family Affair"
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S the tale which I am about to
tell is my own : as I myself
am the hero a pitiful enough
hero of these pages, I shall,
by-and-by, be forced to say so much about
my own affairs that I may well begin by
sparing a few lines to those of another man,
a man on whose grave the grass has been
growing for many a long year.
His name was Julian Loraine. His home,
from the day when first I knew him to the
day of his death, was Herstal Abbey, a fine
old house in that part of wooded Somerset-
shire where railways have not yet come.
2 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
Although Mr. Loraine was a man of
wealth, and moreover by education and,
I believe, family fully entitled to take a high
social position, Herstal Abbey was not his
ancestral home. He had acquired it by
simple right of purchase ; having bought
out an old, improvident, but popular county
family bought it out so completely, that if
he did not literally step into its shoes, he sat
in its very chairs and used its very tables.
Such a wholesale buying up of one of their
own class by an unknown man always annoys,
perhaps frightens, county people, and Julian
Loraine's neighbours for some time looked
at him askance. He took none of those steps
by which a new comer may occasionally gain
access to the magic county circle. He brought
no introductions. He gave no large subscrip-
tion to the hunt indeed, there was not much
hunting in that part. He did not, in a covert
way, let his willingness to give grand enter-
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 3
tainment be known. He simply completed
the purchase of Herstal Abbey and its con-
tents; took up his abode in the old house,
and troubled nothing about his neighbours,
which no doubt annoyed them all the more.
Little Julian Loraine cared for this. The
truth is he was one of the most unsociable
men alive, and his cynicism, if distributed
through the county, would have made Somer-
setshire a region in which life would have
been unbearable, He was I pen the words
reluctantly an utter disbeliever in humanity.
Perhaps the life which he had hitherto led
brought him to this state of mind.
For in a very short time his neighbours
found out that he was by no means the un-
known man they thought him. People who
knew London life had much to say about this
Julian Loraine. It was soon made clear to
the countryside that the new man's social
claims to the right hand of fellowship were
4 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
indisputable ; but other things were also made
Loraine had led a terrible life the very
fastest of the fast. The wonder was that he
had survived even greater wonder that he
was still wealthy. At one time it was thought
he had run through everything, for he had
disappeared, and no one saw anything of him
for years. But it turned out he had only been
leading a roving life in far countries. Repent-
ing, let us hope. No ; Julian Loraine was
not a nice man.
But, nice or not, no one had any longer
the wish to keep Mr. Loraine at arm's
length. Had he cared for it, he might have
enjoyed mixing with the pick of county
society. But he treated civility almost as
he treated coldness, with complete indiffer-
ence ; and it soon became understood that
the owner of Herstal Abbey was a man who
no longer cared to mix with his kind.
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 5
It was, of course, incomprehensible that
anyone should buy a fine property and settle
down to the life of a recluse : the more so,
as the man was still in the prime of life,
handsome, and wealthy. But Julian Loraine
was an incomprehensible man. I, for one,
have never been able to determine his true
character. Perhaps I have shunned investi-
gating it. Perhaps, had I tried, I should
have been unable to gather trustworthy
information as to his true nature, from the
fact that the tales afloat concerning his
early life would reach me last of all.
When he bought Herstal Abbey he was a
widower with one son, a boy of seven. This
boy he petted and neglected alternately.
There were days when the child was with
him from morn to eve; there were weeks
in which he never saw him from Sunday
morning to Saturday night ; there were
months during which Mr. Loraine went
6 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
wandering off, heaven knows where, leaving
the child to the care of servants.
Whether at home or abroad, he kept up his
establishment in a lavish, wasteful manner.
He threw his money about in a cynical way,
as one who cared not how it went. He
expected his servants would rob him no
doubt they did. This he considered but
human nature, and troubled nothing about
it; but woe to the man or woman who
in the slightest degree neglected anything
which his comfort or whim demanded ! His
dependants soon understood their master's
peculiarities, and by the exercise of due care
managed to keep their places for years and
years, and no doubt grew rich upon the
money he wasted.
As will soon be seen, I have related all, or
the greater part of the above, from hearsay.
The following incident in Mr. Loraine's life I
can vouch for, as I heard it from his own lips.
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 7
In the year 1853 he was returning from
Australia. He did not tell me what had
taken him there, but I suspect he went in
search of health. He was in a sailing vessel
the Black Swan was her name. There
were other passengers men, women, and
children. One night there was a crash, a
horrible grinding sound, a recoil, and the
Black Swan quietly settled down to the
bottom of the ocean. Whether the disaster
was due to a collision or to a sunken rock
was never known. All was over in five
minutes, and Julian Loraine found himself
swimming for life, yet without a hope of
In swimming, as indeed in every manly
exercise, Loraine was all but unrivalled ;
but even his great strength was gone when
he felt a hand on his collar and was pulled
all but insensible into a small boat, which, it
appeared, was the only one that had been
8 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
lowered or, at any rate, had succeeded in
getting away from the wreck.
The sea, fortunately, was comparatively
smooth, or the tiny boat could not have out-
lived the night. When the morning broke,
Julian Loraine saw all that survived of the
ship and her freight.
Himself, four sailors, three women, and a
baby in arms !
The sailors were pulling, not from the hope
of reaching land, but to keep the boat's head
to the waves. The mother, with her child
clasped to her breast, and the two other
women were crouching in the stern sheets.
In the boat were a dozen biscuits and a
small keg of water.
With the light, all turned to Loraine for
advice and aid. He was a man of command-
ing presence, to whom people of a lower
organization would naturally turn in difficul-
ties. He assumed the responsibility.
SLINGS AND ARROWS. Q
He told the men to step the mast and
hoist what sail they thought safe, and then
to steer as close to the wind as possible. He
assured them that land was not far off. His
only reason, he informed me, for taking this
course was that he hated the labour of row-
ing. Any hope of their lives being saved he
However, before nightfall, they did reach
land a bare rock, but land.
By this time one of the women was lying
in the bottom of the boat, moaning, like one
in agony. Her companions of the same sex
were exchanging frightened glances. The
poor thing was carried ashore, and the true
state of affairs communicated to the men.
A tent or screen was by the aid of the sail
and the oars hastily rigged up, and in an
hour's time there were ten human beings
instead of nine on that barren rock.
But not for long. Before the morning the
IO SLINGS AND ARROWS.
number was the same as when they landed,
only that the place of one of the women was
taken by a crying prematurely-born infant.
The rough men and women did what they
could for the poor little wretch. The woman
with the nursing baby gave it a portion of
what was rightfully her own child's.
This, in Julian Loraine's opinion, was the
most rash and misplaced expression of false
sentiment he had ever met with.
Towards the evening of that day they
scraped a grave for the mother. They did
not fill it up at once, thinking that by-and-by
the child must be laid in her arms.
At one time it seemed that it must be
so. The sailors and the women, no doubt,
thinking that a gentleman is nearer heaven
than themselves, brought the poor little
wailing atom to Loraine, and asked him to
With death so close at hand to all, it was
SLINGS AND ARROWS. II
not worth while making any demur; but
I can fancy the man's cynical smile, as he
sprinkled water from a large shell on the
child's head. He, Julian Loraine, doing a
priest's duty, and doing it for the pleasure
of other people !
However, so far as he knew how, he bap-
tised the child, and thinking that a name
was indispensable, with a kind of grim
humour, christened him, for it was a boy,
After all, no one else died, not even the
strangely-born baby. The next day a sail
hove in sight. Such signals as the ship-
wrecked party could make were seen, and
men, women and babies were soon in safety
on board a homeward-bound ship.
No one, not even her fellow-passengers,
knew the name or anything about the woman
who had died. Her clothes, such as she
wore, bore no mark. Her husband, if on
12 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
board, had gone down in the Black Swan.
What was to become of the child ?
Loraine settled this. Perhaps he thought
the child had a certain ridiculous claim upon
him. He was no niggard with his money.
He told someone he would not have taken
the trouble to see about it himself to find a
comfortable home for the child, and to apply
to him when money was wanted. Then he
went his way, and lived for years as he chose.
Every now and then, when her paymaster
was in town, the woman who had charge
of the child ventured to bring him to see
his benefactor. Sometimes the benefactor
scowled, sometimes smiled his cynical smile
and took notice of the little boy, who was
called by his baptismal name, Master Julian.
When the boy was seven years of age, Julian
Loraine sent instructions that he was to be
forwarded to Herstal Abbey, Somersetshire.
Having been told by the good people about
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 13
him that the grand gentleman he now and
again saw was his father, he addressed him
by that endearing term. Julian Loraine,
no doubt, stared and laughed, but he said
nothing forbidding the appellation being
used. So to himself and the world the boy
was Master Julian, only son of Julian Loraine,
of Herstal Abbey.
What strange freak induced the man to
present a nameless child, of humble and
unknown parents, to the world as his son I
shall never know. I have tried to think it
was from affection towards the child from
the need even his own nature felt of some-
thing he could love and call his own ; but
I cannot think so. It may have been pure
cynicism. He may some day have wanted
to turn round and say, " What is birth ?
See, I take this lowborn brat, bring him up
as a gentleman, and everyone thinks him
born to the station ! ' It may have been a
14 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
baser motive, that of revenge. I shall never
The boy grew up. He passed from the
stage of Master Julian to that of Mr. Julian,
or young Mr. Loraine ; yet his reputed father
kept the secret kept it until the boy was
nineteen, and, like many other boys of that
age who are only sons of rich fathers, began
to give himself airs. Then one summer's
evening, when the man and the boy were
sitting over their claret, Julian Loraine
thought fit to relate, even more fully than I
have given it above, the story of the wreck
and the history of the child born on that
And I for I was the boy to whom he told
it turned deadly pale and gasped for breath.
I believe I had never really loved the man
whom I supposed to be my father ; his was
not a lovable nature. Often and often I had
reproached myself for my lack of filial affec-
SLINGS AND ARROWS.
tion. But now, as I turned my dazed eyes
to his face, and saw the satirical smile with
which he regarded me, I all but hated him.
I rose unsteadily.
" I mifst go and think all this over," I
" Certainly, go and think it over.'' 5
He spoke carelessly and returned to his
claret, whilst I rushed wildly from the room.
SLINGS AND ARROWS.
*'2>e flfcortuie nil ntel ffionum."
T was not until late in the
afternoon of the next day
that I could bring myself to
meet again the man whom
I had always believed to be my father.
During the time whilst I held myself aloof
from him I passed through many stages of
sorrow, but I believe my anger was even
greater than my grief. I was but nineteen
years of age, but I fancy that my thoughts
and ideas were in advance of my years.
The curious, almost solitary, life which I
had led for many years at Herstal Abbey
no doubt conduced to making rne older
than I really was. Till the time came for
me to go to Oxford, I saw little of anyone
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 17
save my supposed father, my tutor, and the
servants of the house.
But latterly all had changed for the better.
I had been two terms at the University. I
had made many friends. Life was just
opening to me ; a new, fresh life, full of
pleasure and excitement. I found myself
fairly popular with my fellows. I was well
supplied with money. I was looked upon
as an only son, and heir to a fine property.
In short, my lot seemed to be one in ten
And that moment Mr. Loraine had chosen
to reveal to me the secret of my lowly birth.
To dash me from the pedestal upon which
he had placed me. To show me that I had
no claim upon him that, instead of being
young Mr. Loraine of Herstal Abbey, I was
no one !
I remember how, shortly before he told
me the tale of the shipwreck, I had been
l8 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
discoursing in a somewhat arrogant, self-
satisfied, and glib manner as to the duties
incumbent on old families and landed gentry;
asserting that the existence of the aristocracy
was an unmitigated blessing to the land. In
fact, I was giving my supposed father a
hash-up of a speech which I had heard
at the Union. I thought my sentiments
gave him satisfaction. He smiled and
looked amused. No dc abt he was amused,
so amused that the demon of sarcasm rose
within him, and hurried on the revelation
which he may or may not have intended
should be made. The temptation to prick
the bladder inflated by my youthful arrogance
must have been irresistible to Mr. Loraine.
From a child I had noted this cruel trait in
his character. I had noticed it with servants,
such acquaintances as he had, and with my-
self. The way of listening, of even leading
one on to talk, and then suddenly, by a
SLINGS AND ARROWS. IQ
biting piece of sarcasm, crushing the unlucky
speaker. It was from this and kindred
actions that, even whilst I thought him my
father, I did not love the man.
Nor did he love me. Had he loved
me ever so little, he would have kept the
secret, and spared me my present humilia-
tion. So, in spite of all he had done for me,
my anger rose and burned against Julian
I may have been wrong ; but, as will be
soon discovered, I was full of faults. Per-
haps the very association, more or less,
during twelve years with a man of Mr.
Loraine's stamp must develop faults
There ! Let me write no more to his
detriment. He worked me evil, and he
worked me good. He is dead. As I raise
my eyes from my paper and glance through
my window, I can almost see his grave.
In the afternoon I went in search of him,
20 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
I found him reading in the library. He
nodded as I entered, then returned to his
book and finished the paragraph.
" Well, Julian ? " he said, as a signal that
he was at my service.
" I have been thinking over what you told
me last night, Mr. Loraine."
He raised his dark eyebrows as he heard
me address him in this wise. Till now I
had generally used the old-fashioned "sir; '
sometimes, not often, " father."
" I hate changes, Julian," he said. " As
you know, the old landed gentry are rooted
to old customs."
Even at that moment he could not forego
his sarcasm." My cheek flushed.
" See how you have changed life for me ! '
I said, hotly.
" Ah ! yes ; greatly, no doubt. I wonder
what you would have been now ? '
" Tell me what I am now."
SLINGS AND ARROWS.
" So far as I know, a young man of
nineteen, thoroughly well educated, good-
looking, full of Church and State principles.
Why, the rector stopped me yesterday, and
assured me you were one of the finest young
fellows he ever knew ; quite a credit to the
This banter seemed to stab me. "Tell
me, sir," I said, " ought I to thank you for
what you have done for me ? '
" Personally, I hate expressions of grati-
tude ; but if it gives you any satisfaction,
thank me by all means."
" No ; I do not thank you. Had you
placed me in some humble position suited to
my birth, and let me make my way in the
world, I could have thanked you. But for
years to let me be called your son : why
did you do it, sir ? '
' I had some reason at the time. I almost
22 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
Mr. Loraine, I have thought it all
" So you told me, Julian. Go on."
" You may laugh at me, but I consider
that I have a great claim upon you."
He simply raised his eyebrows, but did not
deny my assertion.
"You have kept me in ignorance for years,"
I continued, speaking quickly. " You have
brought me up, and let me go out in the
world under false colours. Now just as I
enter upon manhood you tell me who I am,
or rather who I am not. Why you did this,
you alone know. You had some reason for
it. In return, I have a right to demand
"Demand! Aright! Nevermind; goon."
I had expected an outburst of rage. His
calm encouraged me.
" Yes, sir ; I ask that I may be allowed to
finish my course at Oxford. Then, when I
SLINGS AND ARROWS.
have taken my degree, I will go and earn my
own living as best I can. I shall, of course,
now call myself by some other name. Can
you suggest one ? '
Mr. Loraine laughed his curious laugh.
" I like fellows who demand, better than
those who beg," he said. " Go back to
college by all means. As to a name, is not
Julian Loraine good enough for you ? You
are perfectly welcome to use it."
" But it is riot mine."
" Never mind ; use it. I choose that you
shall use it so long as you are dependent on
me. I also choose you to be thought my
son. No' he saw me about to speak " I
will give no reasons ; perhaps I have none.
You may be sure that it will be no hindrance
to your future, being thought a rich man's
son. Besides, I hate changes. Now, don't
talk any more. You have demanded ; I
have acceded. Go awav.'
24 SLIN-GS AND ARROWS.
Puzzled and dissatisfied, I left him. I had
fully persuaded myself that I had a right to
claim what I had claimed from him. It was
also not hard for me to learn to think that if
it was Mr. Loraine's wish that I should still
pass as his son and bear his name, it was
my duty to do so. Besides remember, I
was but a boy, and so need not be ashamed
of the truth with all my assumed independ-
ence, the thought of proclaiming my humble
and unknown parentage to my friends was
gall and wormwood to me. To sink from
the position which I held as Mr. Loraine's
son to that of no one at all was a change
greater than I could picture to myself with
equanimity. So I objected no more ; and
as Mr. Loraine sternly forbade the subjects
being reopened, my life, in spite of its
clouded future, went on in its accustomed
Here, to avoid any misleading, I may say
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 25
that all I ever learnt about my true parent-
age was what Mr. Loraine told me. Who
and what was my ill-fated mother, I know
no more than I know for what reason my
reputed father allowed me to be brought up
as his son.
The terms and the vacations went by. I
did not, during the latter, see a great deal
of Mr. Loraine ; nor did he press me to
spend the time at Herstal Abbey. But a
certain feeling, if not of gratitude, of what
seemed right and proper, induced me to stay
there on several occasions. There was really
little apparent change in the relations be-
tween Mr. Loraine and myself. What
change there might be was perhaps for the
better. I was accepting his benefits, but
accepting them because I considered I had
a right to them. Moreover, I was deter-
mined that, when the time came, I would
be quite independent of his favour. I en-
26 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
deavoured now and again to show him my
feelings on this point ; and, in spite of the
mocking smile with which he received my
hints, I do not think he liked me the less.
I am not sure but in time a sincere friend-
ship might have sprung up between us ; for,
whatever may have been Julian Loraine's
inner nature, when he chose to meet anyone
on terms of equality and companionship, he
could make himself one of the most charm-
ing men in the world. His talk, although
dangerous and bitter, was witty and brilliant.
But time would not allow this incipient
feeling to grow up. Just after my twenty-
first birthday I was summoned in hot haste
from Oxford. Mr. Loraine was dying.
I reached Herstal Abbey just in time. My
benefactor yes, I must call him so was
just sensible, but speechless. I bent over
him and took his hand. His fingers gave
mine a faint pressure. Even at that solemn
SLINGS AND ARROWS. 27
moment I wondered at this show of feeling.
And I wondered at the strange look in his
dark eyes. They met mine yearningly, and
I knew that the dying man had much he
wished to say to me ; yet, somehow, I knew
that it was not about myself he wished to
speak. I stooped down close to him. His
dry lips moved, but could not articulate. He
gave a faint sigh ; his eyelids flickered, and
all was over. Whatever were those last
words he wished to speak, they remained
I rose and left him. I walked to the room
which was known as Mr. Julian's room, and,
I am thankful to say, wept. After all, this
man had given me much. But for him I
might have been consigned to the work-
house ; might now be nothing more than a
mason's apprentice. Julian Loraine had at
least given me the means to start fairly in
life. Yes, he had been my benefactor.
28 SLINGS AND ARROWS.
My grief, if not as deep as it should have
been, was really sincere. It was some time
before I began to reflect as to the immediate
consequences his death would bring to my-
self. I had money in hand, for the allow-
ance made me by Mr. Loraine had always
been an ample one so large, indeed, that
when the truth of my birth was known to
me, I had asked him to reduce it. The right
I presumed to claim fell far short of this.
Mr. Loiaine told me scornfully not to bother
him about money matters ; so I had been
unable to follow out the plan which I had
laid down, of taking from him only sufficient
for my needs. Nevertheless, I had not spent
the surplus, and it would now serve me in
completing my education. From him I ex-
pected nothing. I had shown him, both by
act and word, that I expected nothing. Who
were his heirs, or to whom his wealth would
be left, were matters about which I troubled