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PAGE 5

The Story of a Lie
by [?]

here
He mauna think to domineer.

‘Liberalism,’ continued the anonymous journalist, ‘is of too free and sound a growth,’ etc.

Richard Naseby read the whole thing from beginning to end; and a crushing shame fell upon his spirit. His father had played the fool; he had gone out noisily to war, and come back with confusion. The moment that his trumpets sounded, he had been disgracefully unhorsed. There was no question as to the facts; they were one and all against the Squire. Richard would have given his ears to have suppressed the issue; but as that could not be done, he had his horse saddled, and furnishing himself with a convenient staff, rode off at once to Thymebury.

The editor was at breakfast in a large, sad apartment. The absence of furniture, the extreme meanness of the meal, and the haggard, bright-eyed, consumptive look of the culprit, unmanned our hero; but he clung to his stick, and was stout and warlike.

‘You wrote the article in this morning’s paper?’ he demanded.

‘You are young Mr. Naseby? I PUBLISHED it,’ replied the editor, rising.

‘My father is an old man,’ said Richard; and then with an outburst, ‘And a damned sight finer fellow than either you or Dalton!’ He stopped and swallowed; he was determined that all should go with regularity. ‘I have but one question to put to you, sir,’ he resumed. ‘Granted that my father was misinformed, would it not have been more decent to withhold the letter and communicate with him in private?’

‘Believe me,’ returned the editor, ‘that alternative was not open to me. Mr. Naseby told me in a note that he had sent his letter to three other journals, and in fact threatened me with what he called exposure if I kept it back from mine. I am really concerned at what has happened; I sympathise and approve of your emotion, young gentleman; but the attack on Mr. Dalton was gross, very gross, and I had no choice but to offer him my columns to reply. Party has its duties, sir,’ added the scribe, kindling, as one who should propose a sentiment; ‘and the attack was gross.’

Richard stood for half a minute digesting the answer; and then the god of fair play came upper-most in his heart, and murmuring ‘Good morning,’ he made his escape into the street.

His horse was not hurried on the way home, and he was late for breakfast. The Squire was standing with his back to the fire in a state bordering on apoplexy, his fingers violently knitted under his coat tails. As Richard came in, he opened and shut his mouth like a cod-fish, and his eyes protruded.

‘Have you seen that, sir?’ he cried, nodding towards the paper.

‘Yes, sir,’ said Richard.

‘Oh, you’ve read it, have you?’

‘Yes, I have read it,’ replied Richard, looking at his foot.

‘Well,’ demanded the old gentleman, ‘and what have you to say to it, sir?’

‘You seem to have been misinformed,’ said Dick.

‘Well? What then? Is your mind so sterile, sir? Have you not a word of comment? no proposal?’

‘I fear, sir, you must apologise to Mr. Dalton. It would be more handsome, indeed it would be only just, and a free acknowledgment would go far – ‘ Richard paused, no language appearing delicate enough to suit the case.

‘That is a suggestion which should have come from me, sir,’ roared the father. ‘It is out of place upon your lips. It is not the thought of a loyal son. Why, sir, if my father had been plunged in such deplorable circumstances, I should have thrashed the editor of that vile sheet within an inch of his life. I should have thrashed the man, sir. It would have been the action of an ass; but it would have shown that I had the blood and the natural affections of a man. Son? You are no son, no son of mine, sir!’