Roger Ingleton, Minor

Talbot Baines Reed
Roger Ingleton, Minor
By Talbot Baines Reed
The snow lay thick round Maxfield Manor. Though it had been falling
scarcely an hour, it had already transfigured the dull old place from a
gloomy pile of black and grey into a gleaming vision of white. It
lodged in deep piles in the angles of the rugged gables, and swirled up
in heavy drifts against the hall-door. It sat heavily on the broad ivy-
leaves over the porch, and blotted out lawn, path, and flowerbed in a
universal pall of white velvet. The wind-flattened oaks in the park were
become tables of snow; and away over the down, to the edge of the cliff
itself, the dazzling canopy stretched, making the gulls as they skimmed
its surface in troubled flight appear dingy, and the uneasy ocean beyond
more than ever grey and leaden.
And the snow was falling still, and promised to make a night of it. At
least so thought one of the inmates of the manor-house as he got up
from his music-stool and casually looked out of the fast-darkening
window, thanking his stars that it mattered little to him, in his cosy
bachelor- den, whether it went on a night or a fortnight. This
complacent individual was a man at whom one would be disposed to
look twice before coming to any definite conclusion respecting him. At
the first glance you might put him down for twenty-five; at the second,
you would wonder whether you had possibly made a slight
miscalculation of twenty years. His keen eyes, his smooth face, his
athletic figure, his somewhat dandified dress were all in favour of the
young man. The double line across his brow, the enigmas about his lips,
the imperturbable gravity of his features bespoke the elder. Handsome
he was not--he was hardly good-looking, and the nervous twitch of his
eyebrow as it came down over his single eye-glass constantly

disfigured him. What was his temper, his character, his soul, you might
sit for a month before him and never discover. But from his deep
massive chest, his long arms, his lithe step, and the poise of his head
upon his broad shoulders, you would probably conclude that his enemy,
if he had one, would do well not to frequent the same dark lane as Mr
Frank Armstrong.
This afternoon, as he draws his curtain and lights his lamp, he is
passably content with himself and the world; for he has just discovered
a new volume of Schumann that takes his fancy. He has no quarrel,
therefore, with the snow, except that by its sudden arrival it will
probably hold his promising pupil, Master Roger, prisoner for the night
at Castleridge, where he and his mother have driven for dinner. The
tutor has sufficient interest in his work to make him regret this
interruption of his duties, but for the present he will console himself
with Schumann. So he returns to his music-stool--the one spot in
creation where he allows that he can be really happy--and loses himself
in a maze of sweet sound.
So engrossed is he in his congenial occupation, that he is quite unaware
of the door behind him opening and a voice saying--
"Beg pardon, sir, but the master wants you."
Raffles, the page-boy, who happened to be the messenger, was obliged
to deliver his summons three times--the last time with the
accompaniment of a tap on the tutor's shoulder--before that virtuoso
swung round on his stool and demanded--
"What is it, Raffles?"
"Please, sir, the master wants you hinstanter."
Mr Armstrong was inclined to compliment Raffles on his Latin, but on
second thoughts (the tutor's second thoughts murdered a great number
of his good sayings) he considered that neither the page nor himself
would be much better for the jest, and spared himself.

He nodded to the messenger to go, and closing the piano, screwed his
eye-glass in his eye, ready to depart.
"Please, sir," said Raffles at the door, "the governor he's dicky to- day.
You'd best have your heye on 'im."
"Thank you, Raffles; I will," said the tutor, going out.
He paced the long passage which led from his quarters to the oak hall,
whistling sotto voce a bar or two of the Schumann as he went; then his
manner became sombre as he crossed the polished boards and entered
the passage beyond which led to his employer's library.
Old Roger Ingleton was sitting in the almost dark room, staring fixedly
into the fire. There was little light except that of the flickering embers
in his dim, worn face. Though not yet seventy, his spare form was bent
into the body of an old, old man, and the hands, which feebly tapped
the arms of the chair on which they rested,
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