Two Men_ A Romance of Sussex
A ROMANCE OF SUSSEX
Necessity the Spring of Faith
and Mould of Character
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
Copyright, 1919, by
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign languages,
including the Scandinavian
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Bob, Son of Battle
The Taming of John Blunt
The Royal Road
The Brown Mare
AND THE FRIENDS I MADE THERE
FATHER AND SON
THE TWO BROTHERS
IX The Two Boys
X Old and New
XI The Study
XII Alf Shows His Colours
XIII Alf Makes a Remark
XV Mr. Trupp Introduces the Lash
XVI Father, Mother and Son
XVII Ernie Goes for a Soldier
XXXIV His Arrival
XXXV His Origin
XXXVI The Captain Begins His Siege
XXXVII He Drives a Sap
XXXVIII The Serpent
XXXIX The Lash Again
XL Clash of Males
XLI The Decoy Pond
XLII The Captain's Flight
XLIII The Ebb-Tide
XLIV Ernie Leaves the Hotel
FATHER AND SON
Old Beau-Nez shouldered out into the sea, immense,immovable, as when the North-men, tossing off him in theirlong-boats, had first named him a thousand years before.
Like a lion asleep athwart the doors of light, his headmassive upon his paws, his flanks smooth as marble, he rested.
The sea broke petulantly and in vain against the bouldersthat strewed his feet. He lay squandered in the sunshinethat filled the hollows in his back and declared the lines ofhis ribs gaunt beneath the pelt.
Overhead larks poured down rivulets of song from thebrimming bowl of heaven. The long-drawn swish of thesea, a sonorous under-current that came and went in rhythmicalmonotone, rose from the foot of the cliff to meet thesilvery rain of sound and mingle with it in deep andmysterious harmony.
It was May. The sides of the coombes were covered withcloth of gold: for the gorse was in glory, and filled the airwith heavy fragrance; while the turf, sweet with thyme, wasbejewelled with a myriad variety of tiny flowers.
In earth and sea and sky there was a universal murmuringcontent, as though after labour, enduring for śons, theMother of Time had at last brought forth her Son and, asshe nursed him, crooned her thankfulness.
Out of the West, along the back of the Downs, dippingand dancing to the curve of the land like the wake of a shipover a billowy sea, a rough road swept up to the head,passing a dew-pond, the old race-course still fenced in, and afarm amid stacks at the head of a long valley that curledaway towards a lighthouse pricking up white against the blueon the summit of the cliff in the eye of the misty morning sun.
The name of the lighthouse was Bel- or Baal-tout, remindingmen by its title of the god their fathers worshippedon high places here and elsewhere throughout the world withhuman sacrifices—the god of the Philistine of every age andcountry, and not least our own.
On Beau-nez itself a tall flagstaff overtopped a littlecluster of white coast-guard stations, outside which a tetheredgoat grazed.
Beside the flagstaff stood a man, watching a tan-sailedThames barge leisurely flapping across the shining floor ofwater beneath.
He too was massive: a big man with swarthy eyes set in apale face, very sure of himself. So much you could tell bythe carriage of his head, and the way he stood on his feet.He was not used to opposition, it was clear, and would notbrook it; while the coat with the astrakhan collar he waswearing added to his air of consequence.
Behind him in the road stood the dingy fly and moth-eatenhorse that had brought him up the hill.
The big man turned his back on the sun and walked slowlyto the top of the steep coombe which overlooked the townthat lay beneath him like a fairy city in the mists along thefoam-lined edge of the bay, reaching out over the Levels tothe East, and flinging its red-coated skirmishers up the lowerslopes of the Downs.
"How the town grows!" mused the big man.
A brown excrescence on the smooth turf of the coombebeneath him caught his eye. At first he mistook it for abadger's earth; then he saw that it was a man lying on hisback. The man's hands were behind his head, and his softhat over his eyes; but he was not sleeping. One lank leg wascrossed over a crooked knee, and the dangling foot kickedrestlessly to and fro.
That foot was sandalled.
The man in the astrakhan coat slowly descended towardsthe recumbent figure. His eyes were ironical, his expressionalmost grim.
For a moment he stood looking down upon the unconsciousdreamer whose pale brown hair peeped from beneath a hat ofa shape more familiar in the Quartier Latin than on Englishshores.
Then he prodded the other in the side with his toe.
The young fellow roused with a start and blinked up intothe big man's face.
"Hullo, f—father," he cried with a slight stutter, androse in perturbation: a ramshackle young fellow, taller eventhan his father, but entirely lacking the other's girth andauthoritative presence. A soft beard framed his long face, andhe was wearing the low flannel collar that in the seventieswas the height of bad form.
"Just like you, Ned," said the elder with a grimness thatwas not entirely unkind.
The son bent and brushed his knees unnecessarily. Hisface twitched, but he did not attempt to answer.
"Your mother's very ill," said the big man casually. Hetook a letter from his pocket and thrust it towards his son.
The young man read it and handed it back.
"Is she h—happy?" he asked, his face moved and moving.
"She's away all the time—like her son," the otheranswered; and added more mildly—"She doesn't know anyone now—not even the latest parson." He turned andclimbed the hill again.
On the summit by the flagstaff he paused and looked rounddeliberately.
"Might build an hotel here," he said thoughtfully."Should pay."
FATHER AND SON
When in the late seventies young Mr. Trupp, abandoningthe use of Lister's spray, but with meticulousantiseptic precautions derived from the greatman at University Hospital, performed the operation ofvariotomy on the daughter of Sir Hector Moray, and she lived,his friends called it a miracle, his enemies a lucky fluke.
All were agreed that it had never been done before, andthe more foolish added that it would never be done again.
Sir Hector was a well-known soldier; and the operationmade the growing reputation of the man who performed it.
William Trupp was registrar at the Whitechapel at thetime, and a certainty for the next staff appointment. When,therefore, while the columns of the Lancet were still hot withthe controversy that raged round the famous case, the youngman told Sir Audrey Rivers, whose house-surgeon he hadbeen, that he meant to leave London and migrate to thecountry, the great orthopśdist had said in his grim way tothis his favourite pupil:
"If you do, I'll never send you a patient."
Even in his young days Mr. Trupp was remarkable forthe gruff geniality which characterized him to the end.
"Very well, sir," he said with that shrewd smile of his."I must go all the same."
Next day Sir Audrey read that his understudy was engagedto Evelyn, only daughter of Sir Hector Moray of Pole.
Evelyn Moray came of warrior ancestry; and her father,known on the North-West Frontier as Mohmund Moray,was not the least distinguished of his line. The family hadwon their title as Imperialists, not on the platform, but bygenerations of laborious service in the uttermost marches ofthe Empire. The Morays were in fact one of those rarefamilies of working aristocrats, which through all theinsincerities of Victorian times remained true to the old knightlyideal of service as the only test of leadership.
Evelyn then had been brought up in a spacious atmosphereof high endeavour and chivalrous gaiety remote indeed fromthe dull and narrow circumstance of her lover's origin.Profoundly aware of it, the young man was determined that hislady should not suffer as the result of her choice.
Moreover he loved the sea; he loved sport; and, not least,he was something of a natural philosopher. That is to say,he cherished secret dreams as to the part his profession wasto play in that gradual Ascent of Man which Darwin hadrecently revealed to the young men of William Trupp'sgeneration. Moreover he held certain theories as to the practiceof his profession, which he could never work out in HarleyStreet. It was his hope to devote his life to a campaignagainst that enemy of the human race—the tubercle bacillus.And to the realization of his plans the sea and open spaceswere necessary.
A colleague at the Whitechapel, who was his confidant,said one day:—
"Why don't you look at Beachbourne? It's a comingtown. And you get the sea and the Downs. It's ideal foryour purpose."
"It's so new," protested the young surgeon. "I can'ttake that girl out of that home and plant her down in a rawplace like Beachbourne. She'd perish like a violet inCommercial