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The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent

The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent
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Title: The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent
Release Date: 2019-03-13
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THE HEIR PRESUMPTIVE AND
THE HEIR APPARENT

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Lovell’s International Series, No. 156.


THE HEIR PRESUMPTIVE AND
THE HEIR APPARENT

BY
MRS. OLIPHANT
AUTHOR OF
“FOR LOVE AND LIFE,” “A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN,” ETC., ETC.


Authorized Edition

NEW YORK
JOHN W. LOVELL COMPANY
{4}150 WORTH ST., COR. MISSION PLACE

Copyright, 1891,
BY
UNITED STATES BOOK COMPANY.

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Chapter: I., II., III., IV., V., VI., VII., VIII., IX., X., XI., XII., XIII., XIV., XV., XVI., XVII., XVIII., XIX., XX., XXI., XXII., XXIII., XXIV., XXV., XXVI., XXVII., XXVIII., XXIX., XXX., XXXI., XXXII., XXXIII., XXXIV., XXXV., XXXVI., XXXVII., XXXVIII., XXXIX., XL., XLI., XLII., XLIII., XLIV., XLV., XLVI., XLVII., XLVIII., XLIX., L., LI., LII.

THE HEIR PRESUMPTIVE
AND
THE HEIR APPARENT.

CHAPTER I.

Lord Frogmore was about sixty when his step-brother, John Parke, hisheir presumptive, announced to him one day his desire to marry. John wasthirty-five, the son of another mother, with whom, however, LordFrogmore had always lived in the best intelligence. A more indulgentelder brother could not be. He had never himself married, or eventhought of doing so, so far as anybody knew. He had considered John’sinterests in everything. Had he been his father instead of his elderbrother he could not have been more thoughtful. Whether perhaps it wasJohn’s advantage he was thinking of when he remained unmarried wasanother matter, though you would have supposed that was the elderlypeer’s only notion to hear how John’s mother spoke of it. At all eventsit was very much to John Parke’s advantage. His creditors did not presshim, his tailor and he were the best friends in the world, everythingwas in his favor in life, and in London, where even his littleextravagancies were greatly encouraged and smiled upon. Heirpresumptive, the Honorable John Parke: that one line in the “Peerage”made life very smooth for John.

Lord Frogmore was not, however, so entirely actuated by considerationfor his brother as his stepmother thought.{6} He was a man who took, andhad taken all his life, very great care of himself. Whatever was hisreason for not marrying, it was not on account of his brother John. Nodoubt he was aware that in all probability his brother would be hisheir: but he did not dwell on that thought, or indeed contemplate thenecessity of an heir at all. He took great care of his health, which wasperfect, and had a system of life which secured him the utmost possiblecomfort and pleasure with the least possible trouble. A man who has nofamily to interfere with his liberty, plenty of money, perfect controlof his own time and actions, and no duties to speak of, can make himselfexceedingly comfortable when he sets his mind to it, and this was whatLord Frogmore had done.

He was, however, a little startled but much more amused when Johnannounced to him his intentions. It was at the beginning of the season,before as yet Mr. Parke could have been endangered by any of theblandishments of society, and Lord Frogmore’s mind, which was a verylively one, made a sweep over the country houses at which he knew hisbrother to have been staying. “Do I know the lady?” he asked, with atwinkle in his eye. He had not a very high opinion of his brother John,in point of intellect at least, and he immediately leapt to theconclusion that it was not John’s intention so much as the lady’s whichhad decided this important step.

“I don’t think so,” said John. “She is of a good family, but very fondof the country, and they don’t come much to town. She is a MissRavelstone, of Grocombe—Yorkshire people—perhaps you may never evenhave heard the name.”

“No, I can’t say I have ever heard the name,” said Lord Frogmore, withhis face lengthening: for there is this unconscious arrogance in peoplewho belong to what is called society that it seems to them as if it wasthe same as not to exist at all, if you are not at once recognized andidentified by the mention of your name.

“No,” said John with something of a blush, “I did not expect you would.Her father has got a nice little estate, but they don’t much mindsociety. There’s several brothers. I don’t suppose I shall have verymuch money with her. They’re chiefly a hunting family,” John said.

“Well, that is no harm. But it’s a pity if there is no money,” said LordFrogmore calmly. “You have not{7} money enough yourself to make youindependent of that. What do you mean to do?”

Lord Frogmore looked with great composure at John, who in his turnlooked very blank at his brother. John was very much more warmlyconscious of being Frogmore’s heir than Frogmore was. He had taken itfor granted, though not without cold sensations, that Frogmore would dosomething, nay, much for him in this emergency. The old gentleman wouldfeel that John was fulfilling a duty to the common family which hehimself (thank heaven!) had never taken the trouble to do. John feltindeed that Frogmore ought to be grateful to him for marrying, which wasclearly a duty as he was almost the last of the race. Lord Frogmore sawthrough this with very lively perceptions, but it amused him to play alittle on his brother’s fears.

“You will wish to get an appointment of some sort or another,” he said.“It is a thing not very easy to get, but still we must see what can bedone for you. But I don’t know how you are to pull through thoseexaminations which are necessary for everything, John.”

John kept silence for a time with a very disconcerted countenance, thenhe burst forth almost with an explosion. “I thought you would have beenpleased, Frogmore——”

“I am not displeased: you are old enough to judge for yourself, and tochoose for yourself. Of course, I am delighted that you should behappy,” said Lord Frogmore with his bland smile which always took thefortitude out of John. But when he had reduced the poor fellow almost toa jelly, and made his purpose and his prospects look equally impossible,which was not difficult to do, the elder brother relented: or else itwould be better to say he did for John what he had always intended todo, notwithstanding that he could not resist the temptation of turninghim outside in. He inquired into the antecedents, or rather into thefamily of Miss Ravelstone, for she had no antecedents, happily forherself—and discovered that there was at least nothing against them ifthey were scarcely of the caste of those who usually gave heirs toFrogmore. Her father was a squire in Yorkshire though but of smallestate; whose family had been Ravelstones of Grocombe long before theParkes had ever been heard of. Unfortunately ancient family does notalways give refinement or elevation either of mind or manners, andhorses, though most estim{8}able animals and the favorite pursuit of theEnglish aristocracy, have still less influence of that description.Horses were the devotion, the vocation, and more or less the living ofthe Ravelstone family. From father to son all the men of the house wereabsorbed in the cultivation, the production, the worship of that nobleanimal. Women there were none in the house save Miss Letitia, who wasonly so far of the prevailing persuasion that she was an admirablehorsewoman. But in her heart she never desired to see a horse again, solong as she lived. She had heard them talked of so long and so much thatshe hated the very name. The stable talk and the hunting talk were aweariness to her. Her mind was set on altogether different things. Toget into society and to make some sort of figure in the world was whatshe longed for and aspired to. The county society was all she knew of,and that was at first the limit of her wishes. But these desires rose tohigher levels after awhile as will hereafter be seen. She had as littleprospect of admission into the elevated society of the county as she hadof access to the Queen’s court at the moment when kind fate called herforth from her obscurity.

This happened in the following way. A very kind and good-natured familyof the neighborhood, one of the few county people who knew theRavelstones, had as usual a party for the Doncaster races. It was not agood year. There were no horses running which excited the generalexpectation, nothing very good looked for, and various misfortunes hadoccurred in the Sillingers’ usual circle. Some were ill and some were inmourning, and some had lost money—more potent reasons for refrainingfrom their usual festivities than the buying of oxen or even themarrying of wives—and the party at Cuppland was reduced in consequencebelow its usual numbers. It was then that Lady Sillinger, alwaysgood-natured, suggested to her daughters that they should ask“Tisch”—which was the very unlucky diminution by which Letitia wasknown. Poor Tisch had few pleasures in life. She had no mother to takeher about—hardly even an aunt. She would enjoy the races for their ownsake, the family being so horsey—and she could come in nobody’s way.The Sillinger girls were young and pretty and careless, quiteunconcerned about the chance of anyone coming in their{9} way, and verysure that Tisch Ravelstone was the last person in the world to fear as arival. They agreed to the invitation with the utmost alacrity. PoorTisch never went anywhere. They were as pleased to give her a holiday asif it had been of some advantage to themselves. And Letitia came muchexcited and very grateful, with one new dress and something done to eachof the old ones to make them more presentable. The result was not verysatisfactory among all the fresh toilettes from London and Paris whichthe Sillingers and their friends had for the races, but Letitia had thegood sense to wear dresses of subdued colors which were not muchremarked. She was not pretty. She had light hair without color enough init to be remarkable, and scanty in volume—hair that never could be madeto look anything. Her nose was turned up a little at the tip, and wasslightly red when the weather was cold. Her lips were thin. She herselfwas thin, with an absence of roundness and softness which is even moredisadvantageous than the want of a pretty face. She was said byeverybody to be marked out for an old maid. So it may easily beperceived that Lady Sillinger was right when she said that poor Tischwould come in nobody’s way.

On the other hand, John Parke was a very eligible person, highlypresentable, and Lord Frogmore’s heir presumptive, a man about town whoknew everybody and who never could have been expected in the ordinarycourse of affairs to be aware of the existence of such a homely personas Tisch Ravelstone. He did not indeed notice her at all except to saygood-morning when they met, and good-night when she joined theprocession of ladies with candlesticks going to bed, until the thirdday. On that fatal morning, before the party set out for the Races, Mr.Parke had an accident. He twisted his foot upon the slippery parquetof the breakfast-room, which was only partially covered by the thickTurkey carpet; and though the twist was supposed not to be serious, itprevented him from accompanying the party. He was very much annoyed bythis contretemps, but there was nothing for it but to submit. BeforeLady Sillinger

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