But all the organizing ideas have slackened, the old habitual bonds have relaxed or altogether come undone. As a boy, I heard a great deal of that sort of thing, and if to this day I am still a little vague about courtesy titles and the exact application of honorifics, it is, I can assure you, because I hardened my heart, and not from any lack of adequate opportunity of mastering these succulent particulars. The book-borrowing raid was one of extraordinary dash and danger. I have never seen the like since. Uncle Penderovo's speculations in the stock market lead to his momentary downfall, and he and his wife, George's aunt, must leave for London, leaving George behind with the chemist's shop and its new owner. Looking for the plot summary of Tono Bungay? Her eyes explored me with unjustifiable hostility.
The rubbish old Lady Drew read I never saw; stuff of the Maria Monk type, I have since gathered, had a fascination for her; but back in the past there had been a Drew of intellectual enterprise, Sir Cuthbert, the son of Sir Matthew who built the house; and thrust away, neglected and despised, in an old room upstairs, were books and treasures of his that my mother let me rout among during a spell of wintry wet. The very servants won't let me know. Usually I took the part of that distinguished general Xenophen--and please note the quantity of the o. I won his heart by a version of Vathek, and after that we were inseparable yarning friends. I been a Socialist some years--off the Clarion. He fled my mother's virtues before my distincter memories began. Ann located, came a dash across the open space at the foot of that great staircase that has never been properly descended since powder went out of fashion, and so to the saloon door.
Well--anyway, it won't be Crest Hill. But indeed I cannot avoid telling that Beatrice and I talked of love and kissed and embraced one another. He seemed to think that first hit of his and one or two others were going to matter, that I ought to give in when presently my lip bled and dripped blood upon my clothes. She took the side of the young gentleman; she tried hard, she tried very hard, to make me say I was sorry I had struck him. I have a very distinct impression of Beatrice dancing about us during the affair in a state of unladylike appreciation, but I was too preoccupied to hear much of what she was saying. There must have been presents made by him as a lover, for example--books with kindly inscriptions, letters perhaps, a flattened flower, a ring, or such-like gage.
I must have been very tired there, but whatever impression was made has gone out of my memory. I had to come off my magic carpet and walk once more in the world. I asked myself, reviewing all the social abas. It is like an early day in a fine October. It was as idiotic as the pyramids.
These brave emancipated sunburnt English of the open, I thought, suffer these aristocratic invaders as a quaint anachronism, but as for being gratified--! I'll own that here, with the pen already started, I realise what a fermenting mass of things learnt and emotions experienced and theories formed I've got to deal with, and how, in a sense, hopeless my book must be from the very outset. I felt I had much to embitter me; the game had and the beginnings of fairness by any standards I knew. The zenith of that career was surely our flight across the channel in the Lord Roberts B. I want to trace my social trajectory and my uncle's as the main line of my story, but as this is my first novel and almost certainly my last, I want to get in, too, all sorts of things that struck me, things that amused me and impressions I got--even although they don't minister directly to my narrative at all. The public schools that add comic into existence in the brief glow of the Renascence had been taken possession of by the ruling class; the lower classes were not supposed to stand in need of schools, and our middle stratum got the schools it deserved, private schools, schools any unqualified pretender was free to establish. Latude-Fernay has left, oddly enough, no memory at all except her name and the effect of a green-grey silk dress, all set with gold and blue buttons.
I became aware of the two old ladies, presences of black and purple silk and fur and shining dark things; they had walked up through the Warren, while the horses took the hill easily, and so had come upon us. All this book, I hope, will bear a little on that. His mom then sends him to Wimblehurst to be apprenticed to Uncle Penderovo, a chemist who has many half-baked schemes for money-making and greatness. At his zenith he burst into a cloud of the most magnificent promotions. Old friends of Lady Drew's had rewarded them posthumously for a prolonged devotion to their minor comforts, and Mrs. Just her poise on the wall comes suddenly clear before me, and behind her the light various branches of the bushes of the shrubbery that my feet might not profane, and far away and high behind her, dim and stately, the cornice of the great facade of Bladesover rose against the dappled sky.
. A little passage led to the hall, and here one reconnoitered for Ann, the old head-housemaid--the younger housemaids were friendly and did not count. Bladesover House is now let furnished to Sir Reuben Lichtenstein, and has been since old Lady Drew died; it was my odd experience to visit there, in the house of which my mother had been housekeeper, when my uncle was at the climax of Tono-Bungay. Many of the best people do not take it at all. If they were, their candidature was unsuccessful. There are many people in England to-day upon whom it has not yet dawned.
It was more, you know, than a figurative soar. These two old souls lived like dried-up kernels in the great shell of Bladesover House, the shell that had once been gaily full of fops, of fine ladies in powder and patches and courtly gentlemen with swords; and when there was no company they spent whole days in the corner parlour just over the housekeeper's room, between reading and slumber and caressing their two pet dogs. He left no traces in his flight, and she, in her indignation, destroyed every vestige that she could of him. I have got an unusual series of impressions that I want very urgently to tell. My lady had vanished, with one wild kick of her black-stocking leg. In the old days--it was different. Of course their own ranks and places came by implication to these people, and it was with the ranks and places of the Olympians that the talk mainly concerned itself.
One gets hit by some unusual transverse force, one is jerked out of one's stratum and lives crosswise for the rest of the time, and, as it were, in a succession of samples. Oddly rat-like, is it not, this darting into enormous places in pursuit of the abandoned crumbs of thought? On one occasion--it is my brightest memory--I upset my champagne over the trousers of the greatest statesman in the empire--Heaven forbid I should be so invidious as to name him! Eventually, George cheats on Marion with a typist named Effie, precipitating their separation and finally, divorce. All these conceptions and applications of a universal precedence and much else I drank in at Bladesover, as I listened to the talk of valets, ladies'-maids, Rabbits the butler and my mother in the much-cupboarded, white-painted, chintz-brightened housekeeper's room where the upper servants assembled, or of footmen and Rabbits and estate men of all sorts among the green baize and Windsor chairs of the pantry--where Rabbits, being above the law, sold beer without a license or any compunction--or of housemaids and still-room maids in the bleak, matting-carpeted still-room or of the cook and her kitchen maids and casual friends among the bright copper and hot glow of the kitchens. Lord Osprey was among the number of these, and she showed these hospitalities to his motherless child and step-child, partly, no doubt, because he was poor, but quite as much, I nowadays imagine, in the dim hope of finding some affectionate or imaginative outcome of contact with them. But it's hard on Teddy.
If many of us still live and breathe pantry and housekeeper's room, we are quit of the dream of living by economising parasitically on hens and pigs. That gave my mind a twist into a new channel. I suppose what I'm really trying to render is nothing more nor less than Life--as one man has found it. But of that in its place. It was Beatrice who insisted upon our meeting. I have seen life at very different levels, and at all these levels I have seen it with a sort of intimacy and in good faith.