Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/236

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A Study in Temptations.

tions, which, dying to posterity, had left their reputation like some unhallowed spirit to haunt the family conscience); the other, Nicholas, was one of the some two thousand clergy who were expelled from their parishes for Nonconformity in 1662. It was from this Nicholas that Samuel Battle, the yeoman-farmer, took his descent. Jane Shannon was heiress, therefore, to many conflicting dispositions.

Battle's farm, or, as it was known in the district, "Up-at-Battle's," lay some eight miles to the east of Brentmore, a small watering-place in the south of England, noted for its scenery, its climate, and the sleep-bringing mission of its air. The farm-house was unpretentious, and though presenting to a town-trained eye an appearance of picturesque antiquity, it was, in fact, an extremely ugly cottage of the Victoria era, made to look rambling and picturesque by means of the numerous rooms, store-cupboards, and outhouses added to it during Battle's own lifetime. The property, when he first came into possession, had consisted of pasture-land, a small orchard, and a large yard. The greater part of the original homestead (built about 1700) had been destroyed by fire, and Battle's father, acting on the advice of a young and second wife, had completed the work of destruction, by building on its ruins the aforesaid Victorian cottage. An unkind rumour had it, that what remained of the best parlour of the first Mrs. Battle, could now be recognised in the most retired portion of the dwelling.

Samuel Battle, on coming into his inheritance, was not slow to show himself a man of singular energy, perseverance, and shrewdness: he was quick to see