Page:What will he do with it.djvu/413

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WBA T WILL LIE DO WLTH LT? 403

tors as he thought of them ; to him they were beings like the old Lares — not dead in graves, but images ever present on house- hold hearths. Doubtless he exaggerated their worth — as their old importance. Obscure, indeed, in the annals of empire, their deeds and their power, their decline and fall. Not so thought he ; they were to his eyes the moon track in the ocean of history — light on the waves over which they had gleamed — all the ocean elsewhere dark ! With him thought I ; as my father spoke his child believed. But what to the eyes of the world was this inheritor of a vaunted name ? — a threadbare, slighted, rustic pedant — no station in the very province in which mouldered away the last lowly dwelling-place of his line. By lineage high above most nobles, in position below most yeomen. He had learning, he had genius ; but the studies to which they were de- voted only served yet more to impoverish his scanty means, and led rather to ridicule than to honor. Not a day but what I saw on his soft features the smart of a flesh sting, the gnawing of a new care. Thus, as a boy, feeling in myself a strength inspired by affection, I came to him, one day as he sat grieving, and kneeling to him, said, ' Father, courage yet a little while ; I shall soon be man, and I swear to devote myself as man to re- vive the old fading race so prized by you ; to rebuild the House that, by you so loved, is loftier in my eyes than all the heraldry of kings.' And my father's face brightened, and his voice blessed me ; and I rose up ambitious ! " Darrell paused, heaved a short, quick sigh, and then rapidly continued :

" I was fortunate at the university. That was a day when chiefs of party looked for recruits among young men who had given the proofs, and won the first fruits of emulation and as- siduity. For statesmanship then was deemed an art which, like ihat of war, needs early discipline. I had scarcely left college when I was offered a seat in Parliament by the head of the Vi- ponts, an old Lord Montfort. I was dazzled but for one mo- ment — I declined the next. The fallen House of Darrell needed wealth, and Parliamentary success, in its higher honors, often requires wealth — never gives it. It chanced that I had a college acquaintance with a young man named Vipont Crooke. His grandfather, one of the numberless Viponts, had been com- pelled to add the name of Crooke to his own on succeeding to the property of some rich uncle, who was one of the numberless Crookes. I went with that college acquaintance to visit the old Lord Montfort, at his villa near London, and thence to the country house of the Vipont Crookes. I staid at the last two or three weeks. While there, I received a letter from the elder

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