The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 22
And when the solemn deep church-bell
Entreats the soul to pray,
The midnight phantoms feel the spell,
The shadows sweep away.
Down the broad Vale of Tears afar,
The spectral camp is fled;
Faith shineth as a morning star,
Our ghastly fears are dead.--LONGFELLOW
Mr. Ashford was a connection of Lady Thorndale's, and it was about a year since the
living of Redclyffe had been presented to him. Mr. and Mrs. Ashford were of course
anxious to learn all they could about their young squire, on whom the welfare of the
parish depended, even more than in most cases, as the whole was his property. Their
expectations were not raised by Mr. Markham's strenuous opposition to all their projects,
and his constant appeals to the name of 'Sir Guy'; but, on the other hand, they were
pleased by the strong feeling of affection that all the villagers manifested for their
The inhabitants of Redclyffe were a primitive race, almost all related to each other, rough
and ignorant, and with a very strong feudal feeling for 'Sir Guy,' who was king, state,
supreme authority, in their eyes; and Mrs. Ashford further found that 'Master Morville,'
as the old women called him in his individual character, was regarded by them with great
personal affection.
On the occasion when Captain Morville came to Redclyffe, and left James Thorndale to
spend a couple of hours at the parsonage, they interrogated the latter anxiously on his
acquaintance with Sir Guy. He had not the least idea of creating prejudice, indeed, he
liked him as a companion, but he saw everything through the medium of his friend, and
spoke something to this effect: He was very agreeable; they would like his manners; he
was tolerably clever, but not to be named in the same day with his cousin for abilities, far
less in appearance. Very pleasant, generally liked, decidedly a taking man; but there was
some cloud over him just now--debts, probably. Morville had been obliged to go to
Oxford about it; but Mr. Thorndale did not profess to understand it, as of course Morville
said as little of it as he could. Thereupon all began to admire the aforesaid Morville,
already known by report, and whose fine countenance and sensible conversation
confirmed all that had been said of him.
And as, after his interference, Mr. Markham's opposition became surly, as well as sturdy,
and Sir Guy's name was sure to stand arrayed against them whichever way they turned,
the younger part of the family learnt to regard him somewhat in the light of an enemy,
and their elders awaited his majority with more of fear than of hope.