End of the Tether
As soon as he had come up quite close he said, mouthing in a growl--
"What's this I hear, Whalley? Is it true you're selling the Fair Maid?"
Captain Whalley, looking away, said the thing was done--money had been paid that
morning; and the other expressed at once his approbation of such an extremely
sensible proceeding. He had got out of his trap to stretch his legs, he explained, on his
way home to dinner. Sir Frederick looked well at the end of his time. Didn't he?
Captain Whalley could not say; had only noticed the carriage going past.
The Master-Attendant, plunging his hands into the pockets of an alpaca jacket
inappropriately short and tight for a man of his age and appearance, strutted with a
slight limp, and with his head reaching only to the shoulder of Captain Whalley, who
walked easily, staring straight before him. They had been good comrades years ago,
almost intimates. At the time when Whalley commanded the renowned Condor, Eliott
had charge of the nearly as famous Ringdove for the same owners; and when the
appointment of Master-Attendant was created, Whalley would have been the only other
serious candidate. But Captain Whalley, then in the prime of life, was resolved to serve
no one but his own auspicious Fortune. Far away, tending his hot irons, he was glad to
hear the other had been successful. There was a worldly suppleness in bluff Ned Eliott
that would serve him well in that sort of official appointment. And they were so dissimilar
at bottom that as they came slowly to the end of the avenue before the Cathedral, it had
never come into Whalley's head that he might have been in that man's place--provided
for to the end of his days.
The sacred edifice, standing in solemn isolation amongst the converging avenues of
enormous trees, as if to put grave thoughts of heaven into the hours of ease, presented
a closed Gothic portal to the light and glory of the west. The glass of the rosace above
the ogive glowed like fiery coal in the deep carvings of a wheel of stone. The two men
"I'll tell you what they ought to do next, Whalley," growled Captain Eliott suddenly.
"They ought to send a real live lord out here when Sir Frederick's time is up. Eh?"
Captain Whalley perfunctorily did not see why a lord of the right sort should not do as
well as anyone else. But this was not the other's point of view.