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The Westcotes   By: (1863-1944)

Book cover

First Page:

E text prepared by Guus van Baalen

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Words which may seem to be transcriber's typos, or otherwise suspect, but which are reproduced faithfully (archaic spellings, printer's typos sometimes I couldn't tell):

Ch. I: befel, undigged Ch. III: chaperon Ch. IV: babby, mun, valtz Ch. V: zounded, dimpsey, after'n, ax'n, ax Ch. VI: picquet, damitol Ch. XI: alwaies, Desarts, Eternitie

2. Diphthongs, given as single characters in the printed copy, are transcribed as two separate characters.

THE WESTCOTES

by

ARTHUR THOMAS QUILLER COUCH

DEDICATION

MY DEAR HENRY JAMES,

A spinster, having borrowed a man's hat to decorate her front hall, excused herself on the ground that the house 'wanted a something.' By inscribing your name above this little story I please myself at the risk of helping the reader to discover not only that it wants a something, but precisely what that something is. It wants to confess and have done with it all the penetrating subtleties of insight, all the delicacies of interpretation, you would have brought to Dorothea's aid, if for a moment I may suppose her worth your championing. So I invoke your name to stand before my endeavour like a figure outside the brackets in an algebraical sum, to make all the difference by multiplying the meaning contained.

But your consent gives me another opportunity even more warmly desired. And I think that you, too, will take less pleasure in discovering how excellent your genius appears to one who nevertheless finds it a mystery in operation, than in learning that he has not missed to admire, at least, and with a sense almost of personal loyalty, the sustained and sustaining pride in good workmanship by which you have set a common example to all who practise, however diversely, the art in which we acknowledge you a master.

A. T. QUILLER COUCH

October 25th, 1901

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I THE WESTCOTES OF BAYFIELD

CHAPTER II THE ORANGE ROOM

CHAPTER III A BALL, A SNOWSTORM, AND A SNOWBALL

CHAPTER IV ENCOUNTER BETWEEN A HIGH HORSE AND A HOBBY

CHAPTER V BEGINS WITH ANCIENT HISTORY AND ENDS WITH AN OLD STORY

CHAPTER VI FATE IN A LAURELLED POST CHAISE

CHAPTER VII LOVE AND AN OLD MAID

CHAPTER VIII CORPORAL ZEALLY INTERVENES

CHAPTER IX DOROTHEA CONFESSES

CHAPTER X DARTMOOR

CHAPTER XI THE NEW DOROTHEA

CHAPTER XII GENERAL ROCHAMBEAU TELLS A STORY; AND THE TING TANG RINGS FOR THE LAST TIME

CHAPTER I

THE WESTCOTES OF BAYFIELD

A mural tablet in Axcester Parish Church describes Endymion Westcote as "a conspicuous example of that noblest work of God, the English Country Gentleman." Certainly he was a typical one.

In almost every district of England you will find a family which, without distinguishing itself in any particular way, has held fast to the comforts of life and the respect of its neighbours for generation after generation. Its men have never shone in court, camp, or senate; they prefer tenacity to enterprise, look askance upon wit (as a dangerous gift), and are even a little suspicious of eminence. On the other hand they make excellent magistrates, maintain a code of manners most salutary for the poor in whose midst they live and are looked up to; are as a rule satisfied, like the old Athenian, if they leave to their heirs not less but a little more than they themselves inherited, and deserve, as they claim, to be called the backbone of Great Britain. Many of the women have beauty, still more have an elegance which may pass for it, and almost all are pure in thought, truthful, assiduous in deeds of charity, and marry for love of those manly qualities which they have already esteemed in their brothers.

Such a family were the Westcotes of Bayfield, or Bagvil, in 1810. Their "founder" had settled in Axcester towards the middle of the seventeenth century, and prospered mainly, it was said, by usury. A little before his death, which befel in 1668, he purchased Bayfield House from a decayed Royalist who had lost his only son in the Civil Wars; and to Bayfield and the ancestral business (exalted now into Banking) his descendants continued faithful... Continue reading book >>




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