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Sir George Tressady — Volume I   By: (1851-1920)

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To my Brother and friend






"Well, that's over, thank Heaven!"

The young man speaking drew in his head from the carriage window. But instead of sitting down he turned with a joyous, excited gesture and lifted the flap over the little window in the back of the landau, supporting himself, as he stooped to look, by a hand on his companion's shoulder. Through this peephole he saw, as the horses trotted away, the crowd in the main street of Market Malford, still huzzaing and waving, the wild glare of half a dozen torches on the faces and the moving forms, the closed shops on either hand, the irregular roofs and chimneys sharp cut against a wintry sky, and in the far distance the little lantern belfry and taller mass of the new town hall.

"I'm much astonished the horses didn't bolt!" said the man addressed. "That bay mare would have lost all the temper she's got in another moment. It's a good thing we made them shut the carriage it has turned abominably cold. Hadn't you better sit down?"

And Lord Fontenoy made a movement as though to withdraw from the hand on his shoulder.

The owner of the hand flung himself down on the seat, with a word of apology, took off his hat, and drew a long breath of fatigue. At the same moment a sudden look of disgust effaced the smile with which he had taken his last glimpse at the crowd.

"All very well! but what one wants after this business is a moral tub ! The lies I've told during the last three weeks the bunkum I've talked! it's a feeling of positive dirt! And the worst of it is, however you may scrub your mind afterwards, some of it must stick."

He took out a cigarette, and lit it at his companion's with a rather unsteady hand. He had a thin, long face and fair hair; and one would have guessed him some ten years younger than the man beside him.

"Certainly it will stick," said the other. "Election promises nowadays are sharply looked after. I heard no bunkum. As far as I know, our party doesn't talk any. We leave that to the Government!"

Sir George Tressady, the young man addressed, shrugged his shoulders. His mouth was still twitching under the influence of nervous excitement. But as they rolled along between the dark hedges, the carriage lamps shining on their wet branches, green yet, in spite of November, he began to recover a half cynical self control. The poll for the Market Malford Division of West Mercia had been declared that afternoon, between two and three o'clock, after a hotly contested election; he, as the successful candidate by a very narrow majority, had since addressed a shouting mob from the balcony of the Greyhound Hotel, had suffered the usual taking out of horses and triumphal dragging through the town, and was now returning with his supporter and party leader, Lord Fontenoy, to the great Tory mansion which had sent them forth in the morning, and had been Tressady's headquarters during the greater part of the fight.

"Did you ever see anyone so down as Burrows?" he said presently, with a little leap of laughter. "By George! it is hard lines. I suppose he thought himself safe, what with the work he'd done in the division and the hold he had on the miners. Then a confounded stranger turns up, and the chance of seventeen ignorant voters kicks you out! He could hardly bring himself to shake hands with me. I had come rather to admire him, hadn't you?"

Lord Fontenoy nodded.

"I thought his speeches showed ability," he said indifferently, "only of a kind that must be kept out of Parliament that's all. Sorry you have qualms quite unnecessary, I assure you! At the present moment, either Burrows and his like knock under, or you and your like... Continue reading book >>

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