**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Bad Lord Blight
by [?]

“Ah! I was hoping–But in any case, coming into the water from that height–Well, well, we must face our troubles bravely. Another glass of sherry, Jenkins.”

As they passed through the hall on their way to the drawing-room, Lord Blight stopped a moment at the aneroid barometer and gave it an encouraging tap.

“It looks like another fine day to-morrow,” he said to Cuthbert, the second Podby. “The panorama from the Scalby cliffs is unrivalled. We might drive over and have a look at it.”


Fortunately the weather held up. A week later the Podby family had been thinned down to five, and the seventeenth Earl of Blight was beginning to regain his usual equanimity. His health too was benefiting by the constant sea air and change; for, in order that no melancholy associations should cast a gloom over their little outings, he took care to visit a different health-resort each time, feeling that no expense or trouble should be spared in a matter of this kind. It was wonderful with what vigour and alertness of mind he sat down in the evenings to the preparation of his speech on the Coast Erosion Bill.

One night after dinner, when all the Podby family (Basil and Percy) had retired to bed, Gertie (Countess of Blight) came into her husband’s library and, twirling the revolving bookcase with restless fingers, asked if she could interrupt him for a moment.

“Yes?” he said, looking up at her.

“I am anxious, Blight,” she answered. “Anxious about Percy.”

“So am I, my love,” he responded gravely. “I fear that to-morrow”–he consulted a leather pocket-book–“no, the day after to-morrow, something may happen to him. I have an uneasy feeling. It may be that I am superstitious. Yet something tells me that in the Book of Fate the names of Percy and Bridlington”–he consulted his diary again–“yes, Bridlington; the names, as I was saying, of–“

She interrupted him with an impatient gesture.

“You misunderstand me,” she said. “That is not why I am anxious. I am anxious because of something I have just learnt about Percy. I am afraid he is going to be–“

“Troublesome?” suggested Lord Blight.

She nodded.

“I have learnt to-day,” she explained, “that he has a horror of high places.”

“You mean that on the cliffs of, as it might be, Bridlington some sudden unbridled terror may cause him to hurl himself–“

“You will never get him to the cliffs of Bridlington. He can’t even look out of a first-floor window. He won’t walk up the gentlest slope. That is why he is always playing with the lawn-mower.”

The Earl frowned and tapped on his desk with a penholder.

“This is very grave news, Gertie,” he said. “How is it that the boy comes to have this unmanly weakness?”

“It seems he has always had it.”

“He should have been taken in hand. Even now perhaps it is not too late. It is our duty to wean him from these womanish apprehensions.”

“Too late. Unless you carried him up there in a sack–?”

“No, no,” protested the Earl vigorously. “My dear, the seventeenth Earl of Blight carrying a sack! Impossible!”

For a little while there was silence while they brooded over the tragic news.

“Perhaps,” said the Countess at last, “there are other ways. It may be that Percy is fond of fishing.”

Lord Blight shifted uncomfortably in his seat. When he spoke it was with a curiously apologetic air.

“I am afraid, my dear,” he said, “that you will think me foolish. No doubt I am. You must put it down to the artistic temperament. But I tell you quite candidly that it is as impossible for me to lose Percy in a boating accident as it would be for–shall I say?–Sargent to appear as ‘Hamlet’ or a violinist to wish to exhibit at the Royal Academy. One has one’s art, one’s medium of expression. It is at the top of the high cliff with an open view of the sea that I express myself best. Also,” he added with some heat, “I feel strongly that what was good enough for Percy’s father, ten brothers, three half-brothers, not to mention his cousin, should be good enough for Percy.”