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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMy Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 4
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My Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 4 Post by :jasonroland Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1703

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My Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 4

BOOK SECOND CHAPTER IV

Mrs. Leslie came up in fidget and in fuss; she leaned over Randal's shoulder and read the card. Written in pen and ink, with an attempt at imitation of printed Roman character, there appeared first "MR. FRANK HAZELDEAN;" but just over these letters, and scribbled hastily and less legibly in pencil, was,--

"DEAR LESLIE,--Sorry you were out; come and see us,--do!"

"You will go, Randal?" said Mrs. Leslie, after a pause.

"I am not sure."

"Yes, you can go; you have clothes like a gentleman; you can go anywhere, not like those children;" and Mrs. Leslie glanced almost spitefully at poor Oliver's coarse threadbare jacket, and little Juliet's torn frock.

"What I have I owe at present to Mr. Egerton, and I should consult his wishes; he is not on good terms with these Hazeldeans." Then turning towards his brother, who looked mortified, he added, with a strange sort of haughty kindness, "What I may have hereafter, Oliver, I shall owe to myself; and then if I rise, I will raise my family."

"Dear Randal," said Mrs. Leslie, fondly kissing him on the forehead, "what a good heart you have!"

"No, Mother; my books don't tell me that it is a good heart that gets on in the world: it is a hard head," replied Randal, with a rude and scornful candour. "But I can read no more just now: come out, Oliver."

So saying, he slid from his mother's hand and left the room. When Oliver joined him, Randal was already on the common; and, without seeming to notice his brother, he continued to walk quickly, and with long strides, in profound silence. At length he paused under the shade of an old oak, that, too old to be of value save for firewood, had escaped the axe. The tree stood on a knoll, and the spot commanded a view of the decayed house, the dilapidated church, the dreary village.

"Oliver," said Randal, between his teeth, so that his voice had the sound of a hiss, "it was under this tree that I first resolved to--"

He paused.

"What, Randal?"

"Read hard: knowledge is power!"

"But you are so fond of reading."

"I!" cried Randal. "Do you think, when Wolsey and Thomas-a-Becket became priests, they were fond of telling their beads and pattering Aves? I fond of reading!"

Oliver stared; the historical allusions were beyond his comprehension.

"You know," continued Randal, "that we Leslies were not always the beggarly poor gentlemen we are now. You know that there is a man who lives in Grosvenor Square, and is very rich,--very. His riches come to him from a Leslie; that man is my patron, Oliver, and he--is very good to me."

Randal's smile was withering as he spoke. "Come on," he said, after a pause,--"come on." Again the walk was quick, and the brothers were silent.

They came at length to a little shallow brook, across which some large stones had been placed at short intervals, so that the boys walked over the ford dryshod. "Will you pull down that bough, Oliver?" said Randal, abruptly, pointing to a tree. Oliver obeyed mechanically; and Randal, stripping the leaves and snapping off the twigs, left a fork at the end; with this he began to remove the stepping-stones.

"What are you about, Randal?" asked Oliver, wonderingly.

"We are on the other side of the brook now, and we shall not come back this way. We don't want the stepping-stones any more!--away with them!"

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BOOK SECOND CHAPTER VThe morning after this visit of Frank Hazeldean's to Rood Hall, the Right Honourable Audley Egerton, member of parliament, privy councillor, and minister of a high department in the State,--just below the rank of the cabinet,--was seated in his library, awaiting the delivery of the post, before he walked down to his office. In the mean while he sipped his tea, and glanced over the newspapers with that quick and half-disdainful eye with which your practical man in public life is wont to regard the abuse or the eulogium of the Fourth Estate. There is very little likeness
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BOOK SECOND CHAPTER IIIFrank looked right ahead, and saw a square house that, in spite of modern sash windows, was evidently of remote antiquity. A high conical roof; a stack of tall quaint chimney-pots of red-baked clay (like those at Sutton Place in Surrey) dominating over isolated vulgar smoke-conductors, of the ignoble fashion of present times; a dilapidated groin-work, encasing within a Tudor arch a door of the comfortable date of George III., and the peculiarly dingy and weather-stained appearance of the small finely-finished bricks, of which the habitation was built,--all showed the abode of former generations adapted with tasteless irreverence
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