The American Senator HTML version

5. Reginald Morton
We will now go back to Hoppet Hall and its inhabitants. When the old squire died
he left by his will Hoppet Hall and certain other houses in Dillsborough, which
was all that he could leave, to his grandson Reginald Morton. Then there arose a
question whether this property also was not entailed. The former Mr. Masters,
and our friend of the present day, had been quite certain of the squire's power to
do what he liked with it; but others had been equally certain on the other side,
and there had been a lawsuit. During that time Reginald Morton had been forced
to live on a very small allowance. His aunt, Lady Ushant, had done what little she
could for him, but it had been felt to be impossible that he should remain at
Bragton, which was the property of the cousin who was at law with him. From the
moment of his birth the Honourable Mrs. Morton, who was also his aunt by
marriage, had been his bitter enemy. He was the son of an innkeeper's daughter,
and according to her theory of life, should never even have been noticed by the
real Mortons. And this honourable old lady was almost equally adverse to Lady
Ushant, whose husband had simply been a knight, and who had left nothing
behind him. Thus Reginald Morton had been friendless since his grandfather
died, and had lived in Germany, nobody quite knew how. During the entire period
of this law-suit Hoppet Hall had remained untenanted.
When the property was finally declared to belong to Reginald Morton, the Hall,
before it could be used, required considerable repair. But there was other
property. The Bush Inn belonged to Reginald Morton, as did the house in which
Mr. Masters lived, and sundry other smaller tenements in the vicinity. There was
an income from these of about five hundred pounds a year. Reginald, who was
then nearly thirty years of age, came over to England, and stayed for a month or
two at Bragton with his aunt, to the infinite chagrin of the old dowager. The
management of the town property was entrusted to Mr. Masters, and Hoppet Hall
was repaired. At this period Mr. Mainwaring had just come to Dillsborough, and
having a wife with some money and perhaps quite as much pretension, had
found the rectory too small, and had taken the Hall on a lease for seven years.
When this was arranged Reginald Morton again went to Germany, and did not
return till the lease had run out. By that time Mr. Mainwaring, having spent a little
money, found that the rectory would be large enough for his small family. Then
the Hall was again untenanted for awhile, till, quite suddenly, Reginald Morton
returned to Dillsborough, and took up his permanent residence in his own house.
It soon became known that the new-comer would not add much to the gaiety of
the place. The only people whom he knew in Dillsborough were his own tenants,
Mr. Runciman and Mr. Masters, and the attorney's eldest daughter. During those
months which he had spent with Lady Ushant at Bragton, Mary had been living
there, then a child of twelve years old; and, as a child, had become his fast
friend. With his aunt he had, continually corresponded, and partly at her
instigation, and partly from feelings of his own, he had at once gone to the