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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesTristram Of Blent - Chapter 30. Till The Next Generation
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Tristram Of Blent - Chapter 30. Till The Next Generation Post by :bjorn Category :Long Stories Author :Anthony Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2877

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Tristram Of Blent - Chapter 30. Till The Next Generation

CHAPTER XXX. TILL THE NEXT GENERATION

Major Duplay had taken a flat in town, and Mina had come up to aid him in the task of furnishing it. The Major was busy and prosperous in these days. Blinkhampton was turning up trumps for all concerned, for Iver, for Harry, for Southend, and for him; the scheme even promised to be remunerative to the investing public. So he had told Mina that he must be on the spot, and that henceforward the country and the Continent would know him only in occasional days of recreation. He also murmured something about having met a very attractive woman, a widow of thirty-five. The general result seemed to be that he had forgotten his sorrows, was well content, and a good deal more independent of his niece's society and countenance than he had been before. All this Mina told to Lady Evenswood when she went to lunch in Green Street.

"Yes, I think I've launched uncle," said she complacently, "and now I shall devote myself to the Tristrams."

"You've been doing that for a long time, my dear."

"Yes, I suppose I have really," she laughed. "I've been a sort of Miss Swinkerton--I wish you knew her! Only I devoted myself to one family and she does it for all the neighborhood."

Lady Evenswood looked at her with a kindly smile.

"You were rather in love with Harry, you know," she said.

"Which was very absurd, but--yes, I was. Only then Cecily came and--well, it was altogether too artistic for me even to want to interfere. If I had wanted, it would have made no difference, of course. They've been pressing me to go on living at Merrion, and I shall."

"Oh, if you could get nothing but a pigsty on the estate, you'd take it. Though I don't know what you'll find to do."

"To do? Oh, plenty! Why, they're only just beginning, and----!" The wave of her hands expressed the endless possibilities of a Tristram household.

"And gradually you'll glide into being an old woman like me--looking at the new generation!"

"Her children and his! There ought to be something to look at," said Mina wistfully. "But we've not done with Harry himself yet."

"Robert says he's too fond of making money, or he might do something in politics."

"It isn't money exactly. It's a good deal Blent. He wants to make that splendid. Perhaps he'll come to the politics in time."

"He's made you believe in him anyhow."

"Yes, and I know I don't count. All the same I've seen a good deal of him. Mr Neeld and I have been in it right from the beginning."

"And in the end it was all a mare's nest. Fancy if Addie Tristram had known that!"

"I think she liked it just as well as she thought it was. And I'm sure Harry did."

"Oh, if he's like that, he'll never do for the British public, my dear. He may get their money but he won't get their votes. After all, would you have the country governed by Addie Tristram's son?"

"I suppose it would be rather risky," said the Imp reluctantly. But she cheered up directly on the strength of an obvious thought. "There are much more interesting things than politics," she said.

"And how is Cecily?" asked Lady Evenswood.

"Oh, she's just adorable--and Mrs Iver's got her a very good housekeeper."

The old lady laughed as she turned to welcome Lord Southend.

"I've just met Disney," he remarked. "He doesn't seem to mind being out."

"Oh, he'll be back before long, and without his incumbrances. And Flora's delighted to get a winter abroad. It couldn't have happened more conveniently, she says."

"He told me to tell you that he thought your young friend--he meant Harry Tristram--was lost forever now."

"What a shame!" cried Mina indignantly.

"Just like Robert! He never could understand that a man has a history just as a country has. He is and ought to be part of his family."

"No sense of historical continuity," nodded Southend. "I agree, and that's just why, though I admire Disney enormously, I----"

"Generally vote against him on critical occasions? Yes, Robert makes so many admirers like that."

"Is his work at Blinkhampton nothing?" demanded Mina.

"He got in for that while he was dispossessed," smiled Southend. "I say, thank heaven he wouldn't have the viscounty!"

"That would have been deplorable," agreed Lady Evenswood.

"It's all a very curious little episode."

"Yes. No more than that."

"Yes, it is more," cried Mina. "Without it he'd never have married Cecily."

"Romance, Madame Zabriska, romance!" Southend shook his head at her severely.

Mina flinched a little under the opprobrium of the word. Yet why? In these days we have come to recognize--indeed there has been small choice in the matter, unless a man would throw away books and wear cotton-wool in his ears--that the romance of one generation makes the realities of the next, and that a love-affair twenty years old becomes a problem in heredity, demanding the attention of the learned, and receiving that of the general public also. So that though the affair and the man be to all seeming insignificant, consolation may be found in the prospect of a posthumous importance; and he who did nothing very visible in his lifetime may, when his son's biography comes to be written, be held grandfather to an epic poem or a murder on the high seas--and it seems to be considered that it is touch and go which way the thing turns out. Are there then any episodes left? Does not everything become an enterprise of great pith and moment, with results that will probably, some day or other, be found to admit of mathematical demonstration? Happily the human race, in practice if not in theory, declines the conclusion. We know that we are free, and there's an end of it, said Dr Johnson. Well, at least we can still think that we are doing what we like--and that's the beginning of most things.

That temporary inferiority of Bob Broadley's, on which Cecily had touched so feelingly, was soon redressed, and after the wedding Harry had a talk with the bride. It was not unnatural that she should blush a little when he spoke to her--a passing tribute to the thought of what might have been. Harry greeted it with a laugh.

"I suppose we'd better be straightforward about this?" he said. "Mingham's so near Blent, you see. We're both very glad, aren't we, Mrs Broadley?"

"I imagine so," said Janie. "You show no signs of pining anyhow."

"And as to our behavior--there's not a father in the kingdom who wouldn't think us right."

"I was the worst--because I think I was in love with Bob all the time."

"I was just as bad--because I thought you were too," said Harry.

"How could we do it then?" she asked.

"That's the odd thing. It didn't seem at all out of the way at the time," he pondered.

"You'd do it again now, if the case arose, but I shouldn't. That's the difference," said she.

Harry considered this remark for a moment with an impartial air. "Well, perhaps I should," he admitted at last, "but you needn't tell that to Cecily. Content yourself with discussing it with Mina or Mr Neeld."

"I'm tired of both of them," she cried. "They do nothing but talk about you."

That night as he sat in the garden at Blent with his wife, Harry returned the compliment by talking of the Imp. He looked up toward Merrion and saw the lights in the windows.

"I think Mina is with us for life, Cecily," said he.

"I like her to be," she answered with a laugh. "First because I like being loved, and she loves me. And then I like you to be loved, and she loves you. Besides, she's been so closely mixed up with it all, hasn't she? She knew about you before I did, she knew Blent before I did. And it's not only with you and me. She knew your mother, Addie Tristram, too."

"Yes, Mina goes right back to the beginning of the thing."

"And the thing, as you call it, is what brought us here together. So Mina seems to have had something to do with that too. It all comes back to me when I look at her, and I like to have her here."

"Well, she's part of the family story now. And she'll probably keep a journal and make entries about us, like the late Mr Cholderton, and some day be edited by a future Mr Neeld. Mina must stop, that's clear."

"It's clear anyhow--because nothing would make her go," said Cecily.

"Let's go up the hill and see her now?" he suggested.

Together they climbed the hill and reached the terrace. There were people in the drawing-room, and Harry signed to Cecily to keep out of sight. They approached stealthily.

"Who's with her? I didn't know anyone was staying here," whispered Cecily.

Harry turned his face toward her, smiling. "Hush, it's old Neeld!"

They peeped in. Neeld was sitting in an arm-chair with some sheets of paper in his hand. He had his spectacles on and apparently had been reading something aloud to Mina; indeed they heard his voice die away just as they came up. Mina stood in front of him, her manner full of her old excitement.

"Yes, that's it, that's just right!" they heard her exclaim. "She stood in the middle of the room and"--Harry pressed his wife's hand and laughed silently--"she cried out just what you've read. I remember exactly how she looked and the very words that Mr Cholderton uses. 'Think of the difference it makes, the enormous difference!' she said. Oh, it might have been yesterday, Mr Neeld!"

Harry leapt over the window-sill and burst into the room with a laugh.

"Oh, you dear silly people, you're at it again!" said he.

"The story does not lose its interest for me," remarked old Mr Neeld primly, and he added, as he greeted Cecily, "It won't so long as I can look at your face, my dear. You keep Addie Tristram still alive for me."

"She's Lady Tristram--and I'm the enormous difference, I suppose," said Harry.

Mina and Neeld did not quite understand why Cecily turned so suddenly and put her hand in Harry's, saying, "No, Harry, there's no difference now."

Meanwhile, down in Blentmouth, Miss Swinkerton looked up from the local paper and remarked across the table to Mrs Trumbler:

"Here's an announcement that Lady Tristram will give a ball at Blent in January. You'll remember that I told you that two months ago, Mrs Trumbler."

"Yes, Miss Swinkerton, but that was before all the----"

"Really I'm not often wrong, my dear," interrupted Miss S. decisively.

"Well, I hope there won't be any more changes," sighed Mrs Trumbler. "They're so very startling."

She might rest in peace awhile. Addie Tristram was dead, and the title to Blent was safe till the next generation. Beyond that it would not perhaps be safe to speak in view of the Tristram blood and the Tristram ways.


(THE END)
Anthony Hope's Novel: Tristram of Blent

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