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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMy Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 24
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My Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 24 Post by :directemailer Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1991

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My Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 24


"You have been walking far, young man?" said Richard Avenel.

"No, sir, not very. That is Lansmere before me, is it not?"

"Yes, it is Lansmere; you stop there, I guess?"

Leonard made a sign in the affirmative, and walked on a few paces; then, seeing the stranger who had accosted him still by his side, he said,--

"If you know the town, sir, perhaps you will have the goodness to tell me whereabouts Mr. Avenel lives?"

"I can put you into a straight cut across the fields, that will bring you just behind the house."

"You are very kind, but it will take you out of your way."

"No, it is in my way. So you are going to Mr. Avenel's?--a good old gentleman."

"I've always heard so; and Mrs. Avenel--"

"A particular superior woman," said Richard. "Any one else to ask after?--I know the family well."

"No, thank you, sir."

"They have a son, I believe; but he's in America, is he not?"

"I believe he is, sir."

"I see the parson has kept faith with me muttered Richard."

"If you can tell me anything about HIM," said Leonard, "I should be very glad."

"Why so, young man? Perhaps he is hanged by this time."


"He was a sad dog, I am told."

"Then you have been told very falsely," said Leonard, colouring.

"A sad wild dog; his parents were so glad when he cut and run,--went off to the States. They say he made money; but, if so, he neglected his relations shamefully."

"Sir," said Leonard, "you are wholly misinformed. He has been most generous to a relation who had little claim on him: and I never heard his name mentioned but with love and praise."

Richard instantly fell to whistling "Yankee Doodle," and walked on several paces without saying a word. He then made a slight apology for his impertinence, hoped no offence, and, with his usual bold but astute style of talk, contrived to bring out something of his companion's mind. He was evidently struck with the clearness and propriety with which Leonard expressed himself, raised his eyebrows in surprise more than once, and looked him full in the face with an attentive and pleased survey. Leonard had put on the new clothes with which Riccabocca and his wife had provided him. They were those appropriate to a young country tradesman in good circumstances; but as Leonard did not think about the clothes, so he had unconsciously something of the ease of the gentleman.

They now came into the fields. Leonard paused before a slip of ground sown with rye.

"I should have thought grass-land would have answered better so near a town," said he.

"No doubt it would," answered Richard; "but they are sadly behind-hand in these parts. You see the great park yonder, on the other side of the road? That would answer better for rye than grass; but then, what would become of my Lord's deer? The aristocracy eat us up, young man."

"But the aristocracy did not sow this piece with rye, I suppose?" said Leonard, smiling.

"And what do you conclude from that?"

"Let every man look to his own ground," said Leonard, with a cleverness of repartee caught from Dr. Riccabocca.

"'Cute lad you are," said Richard; "and we'll talk more of these matters another time."

They now came within sight of Mr. Avenel's house.

"You can get through the gap in the hedge, by the old pollard-oak," said Richard; "and come round by the front of the house. Why, you're not afraid, are you?"

"I am a stranger."

"Shall I introduce you? I told you that I knew the old couple."

"Oh, no, sir! I would rather meet them alone."

"Go; and--wait a bit-hark ye, young man, Mrs. Avenel is a cold-mannered woman; but don't be abashed by that." Leonard thanked the good-natured stranger, crossed the field, passed the gap, and paused a moment under the stinted shade of the old hollow-hearted oak. The ravens were returning to their nests. At the sight of a human form under the tree they wheeled round and watched him afar. From the thick of the boughs, the young ravens sent their hoarse low cry.

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