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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMy Novel - Book 1 - Chapter 4
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My Novel - Book 1 - Chapter 4 Post by :jasonroland Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :734

Click below to download : My Novel - Book 1 - Chapter 4 (Format : PDF)

My Novel - Book 1 - Chapter 4

BOOK FIRST CHAPTER IV

They were now in the hayfield, and a boy of about sixteen, but, like most country lads, to appearance much younger than he was, looked up from his rake, with lively blue eyes beaming forth under a profusion of brown curly hair.

Leonard Fairfield was indeed a very handsome boy,--not so stout nor so ruddy as one would choose for the ideal of rustic beauty, nor yet so delicate in limb and keen in expression as are those children of cities, in whom the mind is cultivated at the expense of the body; but still he had the health of the country in his cheeks, and was not without the grace of the city in his compact figure and easy movements. There was in his physiognomy something interesting from its peculiar character of innocence and simplicity. You could see that he had been brought up by a woman, and much apart from familiar contact with other children; and such intelligence as was yet developed in him was not ripened by the jokes and cuffs of his coevals, but fostered by decorous lecturings from his elders, and good-little-boy maxims in good-little-boy books.

PARSON.--"Come hither, Lenny. You know the benefit of school, I see: it can teach you nothing better than to be a support to your mother."

LENNY (looking down sheepishly, and with a heightened glow over his face).--"Please, sir, that may come one of these days."

PARSON.--"That's right, Lenny. Let me see! why, you must be nearly a man. How old are you?"

Lenny looks up inquiringly at his mother.

PARSON.--"You ought to know, Lenny: speak for yourself. Hold your tongue, Mrs. Fairfield."

LENNY (twirling his hat, and in great perplexity).--"Well, and there is Flop, neighbour Dutton's old sheep-dog. He be very old now."

PARSON.--"I am not asking Flop's age, but your own."

LENNY.--"'Deed, sir, I have heard say as how Flop and I were pups together. That is, I--I--"

For the parson is laughing, and so is Mrs. Fairfield; and the haymakers, who have stood still to listen, are laughing too. And poor Lenny has quite lost his head, and looks as if he would like to cry.

PARSON (patting the curly locks, encouragingly).--"Never mind; it is not so badly answered, after all. And how old is Flop?"

LENNY.--"Why, he must be fifteen year and more.."

PARSON.--"How old, then, are you?"

LENNY (looking up, with a beam of intelligence).--"Fifteen year and more."

Widow sighs and nods her head.

"That's what we call putting two and two together," said the parson. "Or, in other words," and here he raised his eyes majestically towards the haymakers--"in other words, thanks to his love for his book, simple as he stands here, Lenny Fairfield has shown himself capable of INDUCTIVE RATIOCINATION."

At those words, delivered ore rotundo, the haymakers ceased laughing; for even in lay matters they held the parson to be an oracle, and words so long must have a great deal in them. Lenny drew up his head proudly.

"You are very fond of Flop, I suppose?"

"'Deed he is," said the widow, "and of all poor dumb creatures."

"Very good. Suppose, my lad, that you had a fine apple, and that you met a friend who wanted it more than you, what would you do with it?"

"Please you, sir, I would give him half of it."

The parson's face fell. "Not the whole, Lenny?"

Lenny considered. "If he was a friend, sir, he would not like me to give him all."

"Upon my word, Master Leonard, you speak so well that I must e'en tell the truth. I brought you an apple, as a prize for good conduct in school. But I met by the way a poor donkey, and some one beat him for eating a thistle, so I thought I would make it up by giving him the apple. Ought I only to have given him the half?"

Lenny's innocent face became all smile; his interest was aroused. "And did the donkey like the apple?"

"Very much," said the parson, fumbling in his pocket; but thinking of Leonard Fairfield's years and understanding, and moreover observing, in the pride of his heart, that there were many spectators to his deed, he thought the meditated twopence not sufficient, and he generously produced a silver sixpence.

"There, my man, that will pay for the half apple which you would have kept for yourself." The parson again patted the curly locks, and after a hearty word or two with the other haymakers, and a friendly "Good-day" to Mrs. Fairfield, struck into a path that led towards his own glebe.

He had just crossed the stile, when he heard hasty but timorous feet behind him. He turned, and saw his friend Lenny.

LENNY (half-crying, and holding out the sixpence).--"Indeed, sir, I would rather not. I would have given all to the Neddy."

PARSON.--"Why, then, my man, you have a still greater right to the sixpence."

LENNY.--"No, sir; 'cause you only gave it to make up for the half apple. And if I had given the whole, as I ought to have done, why, I should have had no right to the sixpence. Please, sir, don't be offended; do take it back, will you?"

The parson hesitated. And the boy thrust the sixpence into his hand, as the ass had poked its nose there before in quest of the apple.

"I see," said Parson Dale, soliloquizing, "that if one don't give Justice the first place at the table, all the other Virtues eat up her share."

Indeed, the case was perplexing. Charity, like a forward, impudent baggage as she is, always thrusting herself in the way, and taking other people's apples to make her own little pie, had defrauded Lenny of his due; and now Susceptibility, who looks like a shy, blush-faced, awkward Virtue in her teens--but who, nevertheless, is always engaged in picking the pockets of her sisters--tried to filch from him his lawful recompense. The case was perplexing; for the parson held Susceptibility in great honour, despite her hypocritical tricks, and did not like to give her a slap in the face, which might frighten her away forever. So Mr. Dale stood irresolute, glancing from the sixpence to Lenny, and from Lenny to the sixpence.

"Buon giorno, Good-day to you," said a voice behind, in an accent slightly but unmistakably foreign, and a strange-looking figure presented itself at the stile.

Imagine a tall and exceedingly meagre man, dressed in a rusty suit of black,--the pantaloons tight at the calf and ankle, and there forming a loose gaiter over thick shoes, buckled high at the instep; an old cloak, lined with red, was thrown over one shoulder, though the day was sultry; a quaint, red, outlandish umbrella, with a carved brass handle, was thrust under one arm, though the sky was cloudless: a profusion of raven hair, in waving curls that seemed as fine as silk, escaped from the sides of a straw hat of prodigious brim; a complexion sallow and swarthy, and features which, though not without considerable beauty to the eye of the artist, were not only unlike what we fair, well-fed, neat-faced Englishmen are wont to consider comely, but exceedingly like what we are disposed to regard as awful and Satanic,--to wit, a long hooked nose, sunken cheeks, black eyes, whose piercing brilliancy took something wizard-like and mystical from the large spectacles through which they shone; a mouth round which played an ironical smile, and in which a physiognomist would have remarked singular shrewdness, and some closeness, complete the picture. Imagine this figure, grotesque, peregrinate, and to the eye of a peasant certainly diabolical; then perch it on the stile in the midst of those green English fields, and in sight of that primitive English village; there let it sit straddling, its long legs dangling down, a short German pipe emitting clouds from one corner of those sardonic lips, its dark eyes glaring through the spectacles full upon the parson, yet askant upon Lenny Fairfield. Lenny Fairfield looked exceedingly frightened.

"Upon my word, Dr. Riccabocca," said Mr. Dale, smiling, "you come in good time to solve a very nice question in casuistry;" and herewith the parson explained the case, and put the question, "Ought Lenny Fairfield to have the sixpence, or ought he not?"

"Cospetto!" said the doctor, "if the hen would but hold her tongue, nobody would know that she had laid an egg."

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BOOK FIRST CHAPTER V"Granted," said the parson; "but what follows? The saying is good, but I don't see the application." "A thousand pardons!" replied Dr. Riccabocca, with all the urbanity of an Italian; "but it seems to me that if you had given the sixpence to the fanciullo, that is, to this good little boy, without telling him the story about the donkey, you would never have put him and yourself into this awkward dilemma." "But, my dear sir," whispered the parson, mildly, as he inclined his lips to the doctor's ear, "I should then have lost the opportunity of inculcating
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BOOK FIRST CHAPTER IIIParson Dale and Squire Hazeldean parted company; the latter to inspect his sheep, the former to visit some of his parishioners, including Lenny Fairfield, whom the donkey had defrauded of his apple. Lenny Fairfield was sure to be in the way, for his mother rented a few acres of grass-land from the squire, and it was now hay-time. And Leonard, commonly called Lenny, was an only son, and his mother a widow. The cottage stood apart, and somewhat remote, in one of the many nooks of the long, green village lane. And a thoroughly English cottage it was,
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