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Fordham's Feud   By: (1855-1914)

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Fordham's Feud By Bertram Mitford Published by Ward, Lock and Co Ltd, London. This edition dated 1897. Fordham's Feud, by Bertram Mitford.




The steamer Mont Blanc was sweeping round the rather dangerous promontory just beyond La Tour de Peilz.

The fine vessel was a brave sight as she sped arrowlike over the turquoise breast of Lake Leman, her straight stem shearing up a great scintillating blade of water on either side, her powerful paddles lashing up a long line of creaming rollers, hissing and curving away in her wake. From stem to stern she was gay with bunting, for this was but her second trip after being laid up through the winter season, and there was a spick and span newness about everything, from the whiteness of her commodious hurricane deck to the dazzling glass and luxurious lounges of her airy and spacious saloon.

The day was perfect. Not a cloud was in the arching heavens, not a ripple on the blue surface of the lake, which mirrored forth the hoary crowns of the Savoy Alps as though they were cut in steel. The great forest clad slopes were rich in their velvety verdure, rising from the water's edge on the Savoy side; and a dazzling snow shroud still covered the Dent du Midi half way down to its base. On the Swiss shore the straggling towns and multitudinous villas lying among the fresh greenery of vineyards looked mere pigmy toys beneath the slopes of the great mountains. And from the same bosky slopes came ever and anon the glad, joyous shout of the cuckoo. It was June but only just June and the air, balmy and life giving, knew no suspicion of sultriness.

"I say, Phil, my boy, it's about time to collect our traps. We go off at the next stage but one Hallo! What has become of the fellow?" broke off the speaker, turning to discover that his friend had left his side. "Ah! there he is. At it again too. By George, the dog's irreclaimable!"

The said "dog" had withdrawn some yards from the speaker, and was standing with his back against the bulwarks apparently lost in contemplation of the scenery of the Savoy side. But he had chosen a very odd place for his study of Nature, for between the latter and himself, in the direction of his gaze, were multifold heads and hats, and between these heads and hats and the canvas awning was a space of barely half a yard. Yet he seemed to gaze with rapt attention at something or somebody. "I say, Phil, who is she , this time?" The suddenness of the question, the dry chuckle, the faintly sneering intonation, produced much the same effect on the gazer as the lash upon the half broken thoroughbred. He started.

"Confound it, Fordham, you needn't make a fellow jump so," he retorted petulantly, with a slight flush. "Can't a fellow look around him, I should like to know?"

"Oh, certainly he can. This is a free country in fact `Liberte et Patrie' is the Cantonal motto. You may even see it displayed at this moment in triplicate too among the bunting adorning this gallant craft. Ah I see the point of attraction now and this time, 'pon my life, Phil, I think there's some excuse for you ," he added, sticking his glass into his eye and sending a critical look into an apparently unconscious group opposite.

Philip Orlebar laughed, his good humour quite restored. Indeed, it was never for long that he and that enviable attribute parted company.

Although the regular tourist season had not yet set in, the steamer's decks still contained a sprinkling of all those nationalities which you would be sure to find represented there at that time of the day and of the year. Keen faced Americans "doing" Europe with infinite zest and a Gladstone bag apiece; stolid Germans in long black coats a duplicate of the latter invariably slung through the strap of their double field glasses; a stray Muscovite noble, of refined manner and slightly blase aspect; a group of English youths equipped with knapsack and alpenstock, bound for some mountain expedition with their Swiss tutor; and last but not least in their own estimation at any rate great in the importance of their somewhat aggressive sense of nationality, a muster of Britons numerically equalling all the other races and kindreds put together... Continue reading book >>

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