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SQUIRE SILCHESTER'S WHIM.

CHAPTER I.

THE SQUIRE AND HIS WIFE.

“Behold a character antique,

Who loved his wife, and liked his Greek.”

CQUIRE SILCHESTER. John Silchester

of Silchester, in Devon, the best Greek scholar and master of hounds that the county had known for a century or more. A tall broad man of five-and-thirty, when we first see him, with a clear keen eye and firm arched mouth, with wrists and legs and shoulders such as you seldom see out of Devon. Heritor of a princely estate, with a noble old Tudor mansion

VOL. I. .

thereon, set in such fashion that across lawn, lake, and deer park, and woodland you saw a splash of silver sea.

Up and down his book-room walked John Silchester. He was fidgety. Why? Because Joan Silchester, his wife of a year, born Joan Audley of Audley, was about to give him a son or a daughter. Which ?

To Squire Silchester this was a question of some moment, seeing that the Silchester estates (a little kingdom in themselves) were entailed on heirs male, and that the next heir was a tremendous scamp. So, although like all poetic fathers he fancied he should like a daughter—a feminine reflex of himself, a baby image of his wife—his material desires were in favour of the coming of a man-child. If a man heartily loves his wife, he imagines that his daughter will reproduce that wife in her babyhood, and the wife who loves her husband thinks the same as to her son. The anticipation is often a great blunder ; but that does

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