Persuasion HTML version

Chapter 3
"I must take leave to observe, Sir Walter," said Mr. Shepherd one morning at
Kellynch Hall, as he laid down the newspaper, "that the present juncture is much
in our favour. This peace will be turning all our rich naval officers ashore. They
will be all wanting a home. Could not be a better time, Sir Walter, for having a
choice of tenants, very responsible tenants. Many a noble fortune has been
made during the war. If a rich admiral were to come in our way, Sir Walter--"
"He would be a very lucky man, Shepherd," replied Sir Walter; "that's all I have to
remark. A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall be to him; rather the greatest prize of
all, let him have taken ever so many before; hey, Shepherd?"
Mr. Shepherd laughed, as he knew he must, at this wit, and then added--
"I presume to observe, Sir Walter, that, in the way of business, gentlemen of the
navy are well to deal with. I have had a little knowledge of their methods of doing
business; and I am free to confess that they have very liberal notions, and are as
likely to make desirable tenants as any set of people one should meet with.
Therefore, Sir Walter, what I would take leave to suggest is, that if in
consequence of any rumours getting abroad of your intention; which must be
contemplated as a possible thing, because we know how difficult it is to keep the
actions and designs of one part of the world from the notice and curiosity of the
other; consequence has its tax; I, John Shepherd, might conceal any family-
matters that I chose, for nobody would think it worth their while to observe me;
but Sir Walter Elliot has eyes upon him which it may be very difficult to elude; and
therefore, thus much I venture upon, that it will not greatly surprise me if, with all
our caution, some rumour of the truth should get abroad; in the supposition of
which, as I was going to observe, since applications will unquestionably follow, I
should think any from our wealthy naval commanders particularly worth attending
to; and beg leave to add, that two hours will bring me over at any time, to save
you the trouble of replying."
Sir Walter only nodded. But soon afterwards, rising and pacing the room, he
observed sarcastically--
"There are few among the gentlemen of the navy, I imagine, who would not be
surprised to find themselves in a house of this description."
"They would look around them, no doubt, and bless their good fortune," said Mrs.
Clay, for Mrs. Clay was present: her father had driven her over, nothing being of
so much use to Mrs. Clay's health as a drive to Kellynch: "but I quite agree with
my father in thinking a sailor might be a very desirable tenant. I have known a
good deal of the profession; and besides their liberality, they are so neat and
careful in all their ways! These valuable pictures of yours, Sir Walter, if you chose
to leave them, would be perfectly safe. Everything in and about the house would
be taken such excellent care of! The gardens and shrubberies would be kept in
almost as high order as they are now. You need not be afraid, Miss Elliot, of your
own sweet flower gardens being neglected."
"As to all that," rejoined Sir Walter coolly, "supposing I were induced to let my
house, I have by no means made up my mind as to the privileges to be annexed
to it. I am not particularly disposed to favour a tenant. The park would be open to