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v THE SCHOOL FOR GENTLEMEN THE Governor rode up too late to avert the punishment . Dan had taken his whipping and was sitting on a footstool in the library, facing the Major and a couple of the Major's cronies. His face wore an expression in which there was more resentment than resignation; for, though he took blows doggedly, he bore the memory of them long after the smart had ceased - long, indeed, after lighthanded justice, in the Major's person, had forgotten alike the sin and the expiation. For the Major's hand was not steady at the rod, and he had often regretted a weakness of heart which interfered with a physical interpretation of the wisdom of Solomon. " If you get your deserts, you'd get fifty lashes," was his habitual reproof to his servants, though, as a matter of fact, he had never been known to order one. His anger was sometimes of the kind that appalls , but it usually vented itself in a heightened redness of face or a single thundering oath; and a woman's sob would melt his stoniest mood. It was only because his daughter had kept out of his sight that he had never forgiven her, people said; but there was, perhaps, something characteristic in the proof that he was most relentless where he had most loved. The School for Gentlemen 57 As for Dan's chastisement, he had struck him twice across the shoulders, and when the boy had turned to him with the bitter smile which was Jane Lightfoot's own, the Major had choked in his wrath, and, a moment later, flung the whip aside. "I'll be damned, - I beg your pardon, sir, - I'll be ashamed of myself if I give you another lick," he said. " You are a gentleman, and I shall trust you." He held out his hand, but he had not counted on the Montjoy blood. The boy looked at him and stubbornly shook his head. "I can't shake hands yet because I am hating you just now," he answered . "Will you wait awhile, sir?" and the Major choked again, half in awe, half in amusement . " You don't bear malice, I. reckon?" he ventured cautiously. " I am not sure," replied the boy, " I rather think I do." Then he put on his coat, and they went out to meet Mr. Blake and Dr. Crump, two hale and jolly gentlemen who rode over every Thursday to spend the night. As the visitors came panting up the steps, the Major stood in the doorway with outstretched hands. " You are late, gentlemen, you are late," was his weekly greeting, to which they as regularly responded , "\Ve could never come too early for our pleasure, my dear Major; but there are professional duties, you know, professional duties." After this interchange of courtesies, they would enter the house and settle themselv~s, winter or summer, in their favourite chairs upon the hearth- The Battle-Ground rug, when it was the custom of Mrs. Lightfoot to send in a fluttering maid to ask if Mrs. Blake had done her the honour to accompany her husband. As Mrs. Blake was never known to leave her children and her pet poultry, this was merely a conventionalism by which the elder lady meant to imply a standing welcome for the younger. On this evening, Mr. Blake - the rector of the largest church in Leicesterburg - straightened his fat legs and folded his hands as he did at the ending of his sermons, and the others sat before him with the strained and reverential faces which they put on like a veil in church and took off when the service was over. That it was not a prayer, but a pleasantry of which he was about to deliver himself , they quite understood; but he had a habit of speaking ·on week days in his Sunday tones, which gave, as it were, an official weight to his remarks. He was a fleshy wide-girthed gentleman, with a bald head, and a face as radiant as the full moon. " I was just asking the doctor when I was to have the honour of making the little widow Mrs. Crump?" he threw out at last, with a laugh that shook him from head to foot. "It is not good for man to live alone, eh, Major?" "That sentence is sufficient to prove the divine inspiration of the Scriptures," returned the Major, warmly, while the doctor blushed...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817388294
Related ISBN
9780817310417
MARC Record
OCLC
47010965
Pages
559
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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