The Evil Genius
19. The Captain
The fair complexion of the Captain's youthful days had been darkened by exposure to
hard weather and extreme climates. His smooth face of twenty years since was scored by
the telltale marks of care; his dark beard was beginning to present variety of color by
means of streaks of gray; and his hair was in course of undisguised retreat from his strong
broad forehead. Not rising above the middle height, the Captain's spare figure was well
preserved. It revealed power and activity, severely tested perhaps at some former time,
but capable even yet of endurance under trial. Although he looked older than his age, he
was still, personally speaking, an attractive man. In repose, his eyes were by habit sad
and a little weary in their expression. They only caught a brighter light when he smiled.
At such times, helped by this change and by his simple, earnest manner, they
recommended him to his fellow-creatures before he opened his lips. Men and women
taking shelter with him, for instance, from the rain, found the temptation to talk with
Captain Bennydeck irresistible; and, when the weather cleared, they mostly carried away
with them the same favorable impression: "One would like to meet with that gentleman
Randal's first words of welcome relieved the Captain of certain modest doubts of his
reception, which appeared to trouble him when he entered the room. "I am glad to find
you remember me as kindly as I remember you." Those were his first words when he and
Randal shook hands.
"You might have felt sure of that," Randal said.
The Captain's modesty still doubted.
"You see, the circumstances were a little against me. We met at a dull dinner, among
wearisome worldly men, full of boastful talk about themselves. It was all 'I did this,' and
'I said that'--and the gentlemen who were present had always been right; and the
gentlemen who were absent had always been wrong. And, oh, dear. when they came to
politics, how they bragged about what they would have done if they had only been at the
head of the Government; and how cruelly hard to please they were in the matter of wine!
Do you remember recommending me to spend my next holiday in Scotland?"
"Perfectly. My advice was selfish--it really meant that I wanted to see you again."
"And you have your wish, at your brother's house! The guide book did it. First, I saw
your family name. Then, I read on and discovered that there were pictures at Mount
Morven and that strangers were allowed to see them. I like pictures. And here I am."
This allusion to the house naturally reminded Randal of the master. "I wish I could
introduce you to my brother and his wife," he said. "Unhappily their only child is ill--"