The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 3, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 3

Autumn, with its dying flowers and falling leaves, is, to my thinking, a mournful season, and hath ever about it a haunting melancholy, a gentle sadness that sorts very ill with this confounded tune of "Lillibuleero," more especially when whistled in gusts and somewhat out of key.

Therefore, as we walked along towards the Manor on this November afternoon, I drew my arm from Bentley's and turned upon him with a frown: "Why in heaven's name must you whistle?" I demanded.

"Did I so, Dick? I was thinking."

"Of what, pray?"

"Of many things, man Dick, but more particularly of my nephew."

"Ah!" says I scornfully, "our gallant young Viscount! our bridegroom elect who--ran away!"

"But none the less," added Bentley, stoutly, "a pretty fellow with a good leg, a quick hand and a true eye, Dick--one who can tell 'a hawk from a hern-shaw' as the saying is."

"Which I take leave to doubt," says I, sourly, "or he would have fallen in with our wishes and married Pen a year ago, instead of running away like a craven fool!"

"But bethink you, Dick," says Bentley flushing, "he had never so much as seen her and, when he heard we were all so set on having him married, he writ me saying he 'preferred a wife of his own choosing' and then--well, he bolted!"

"Like a fool!"

"'Twas very natural," snorted Bentley, redder in the face than ever. "And what's more, he's a fine lad, a lovable lad, and a very fine gentleman into the bargain, as you will be the first to admit when--" but here Bentley broke off to turn and look at me mighty solemn all at once: "Dick," says he, "do you think young Raikes is so great a swordsman as they say?"

"Yes," I answered bitterly, "and that's why I grieve for our poor Jack."

"Jack?" says Bentley, staring like a fool, "Jack--ah yes, to be sure--to be sure."

"I tell you, Bentley," I continued, impressively, "so sure as he crosses swords with the fellow, Jack is a dead man."

"Humph!" says Bentley, after we had gone some little way in silence. "Man Dick, I'm greatly minded to tell thee a matter."

"Well?" I enquired, listlessly.

"But on second thoughts, I won't, Dick," says he, "for 'silence is golden,' as the saying is!"

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