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The Wooden Horse   By: (1884-1941)

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[Frontispiece: Hugh Walpole. From a photograph by Messrs. Elliott & Fry ]

THE

WOODEN HORSE

BY

HUGH WALPOLE

WITH A PORTRAIT

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1919

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO

COPYRIGHT

First Published April 1909 Second Impression October 1909 Wayfarers' Library 1914 New Edition 1919

TO

W. FERRIS

AFFECTIONATELY

" Er liebte jeden Hund, und w√ľnschte von jedem Hund geliebt zu sein. " FLEGELJAHRE (JEAN PAUL).

CHAPTER I

Robin Trojan was waiting for his father.

Through the open window of the drawing room came, faintly, the cries of the town the sound of some distant bell, the shout of fishermen on the quay, the muffled beat of the mining stamps from Porth Vennic, a village that lay two miles inland. There yet lingered in the air the faint afterglow of the sunset, and a few stars, twinkling faintly in the deep blue of the night sky, seemed reflections of the orange lights of the herring boats, flashing far out to sea.

The great drawing room, lighted by a cluster of electric lamps hanging from the ceiling, seemed to flaunt the dim twinkle of the stars contemptuously; the dark blue of the walls and thick Persian carpets sounded a quieter note, but the general effect was of something distantly, coldly superior, something indeed that was scarcely comfortable, but that was, nevertheless, fulfilling the exact purpose for which it had been intended.

And that purpose was, most certainly, not comfort. Robin himself would have smiled contemptuously if you had pleaded for something homely, something suggestive of roaring fires and cosy armchairs, instead of the stiff backed, beautifully carved Louis XIV. furniture that stood, each chair and table rigidly in its appointed place, as though bidding defiance to any one bold enough to attempt alterations.

The golden light in the sky shone faintly in at the open window, as though longing to enter, but the dazzling brilliance of the room seemed to fling it back into the blue dome of sea and sky outside.

Robin was standing by a large looking glass in the corner of the room trying to improve the shape of his tie; and it was characteristic of him that, although he had not seen his father for eighteen years, he was thinking a great deal more about his tie than about the approaching meeting.

He was, at this time, twenty years of age. Tall and dark, he had all the Trojan characteristics; small, delicately shaped ears; a mouth that gave signs of all the Trojan obstinacy, called by the Trojans themselves family pride; a high, well shaped forehead with hair closely cut and of a dark brown. He was considered by most people handsome but to some his eyes, of the real Trojan blue, were too cold and impassive. He gave you the impression of some one who watched, rather disdainfully, the ill considered and impulsive actions of his fellow men.

He was, however, exactly suited to his surroundings. He maintained the same position as the room with regard to the world in general "We are Trojans; we are very old and very expensive and very, very good, and it behoves you to recognise this fact and give way with fitting deference."

He had not seen his father for eighteen years, and, as he had been separated from him at the unimpressionable age of two, he may be said never to have seen him at all. He had no recollection of him, and the picture that he had painted was constructed out of monthly rather uninteresting letters concerned, for the most part, with the care and maintenance of New Zealand sheep, and such meagre details as his Aunt Clare and Uncle Garrett had bestowed on him from time to time. From the latter he gathered that his father had been, in his youth, in some vague way, unsatisfactory, and had departed to Australia to seek his fortune, with a clear understanding from his father that he was not to return thence until he had found it... Continue reading book >>




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