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Chapter 2
A FINE October morning succeeded to the foggy evening that had witnessed my
first introduction to Crimsworth Hall. I was early up and walking in the large park-
like meadow surrounding the house. The autumn sun, rising over the ----shire
hills, disclosed a pleasant country; woods brown and mellow varied the fields
from which the harvest had been lately carried; a river, gliding between the
woods, caught on its surface the somewhat cold gleam of the October sun and
sky; at frequent intervals along the banks of the river, tall, cylindrical chimneys,
almost like slender round towers, indicated the factories which the trees half
concealed; here and there mansions, similar to Crimsworth Hall, occupied
agreeable sites on the hill-side; the country wore, on the whole, a cheerful,
active, fertile look. Steam, trade, machinery had long banished from it all
romance and seclusion. At a distance of five miles, a valley, opening between the
low hills, held in its cups the great town of X----. A dense, permanent vapour
brooded over this locality--there lay Edward's "Concern."
I forced my eye to scrutinize this prospect, I forced my mind to dwell on it for a
time, and when I found that it communicated no pleasurable emotion to my heart-
-that it stirred in me none of the hopes a man ought to feel, when he sees laid
before him the scene of his life's career--I said to myself, "William, you are a
rebel against circumstances; you are a fool, and know not what you want; you
have chosen trade and you shall be a tradesman. Look!" I continued mentally--
"Look at the sooty smoke in that hollow, and know that there is your post! There
you cannot dream, you cannot speculate and theorize--there you shall out and
Thus self-schooled, I returned to the house. My brother was in the breakfast-
room. I met him collectedly--I could not meet him cheerfully; he was standing on
the rug, his back to the fire--how much did I read in the expression of his eye as
my glance encountered his, when I advanced to bid him good morning; how
much that was contradictory to my nature! He said "Good morning" abruptly and
nodded, and then he snatched, rather than took, a newspaper from the table, and
began to read it with the air of a master who seizes a pretext to escape the bore
of conversing with an underling. It was well I had taken a resolution to endure for
a time, or his manner would have gone far to render insupportable the disgust I
had just been endeavouring to subdue. I looked at him: I measured his robust
frame and powerful proportions; I saw my own reflection in the mirror over the
mantel-piece; I amused myself with comparing the two pictures. In face I
resembled him, though I was not so handsome; my features were less regular; I
had a darker eye, and a broader brow--in form I was greatly inferior--thinner,
slighter, not so tall. As an animal, Edward excelled me far; should he prove as
paramount in mind as in person I must be a slave--for I must expect from him no
lion-like generosity to one weaker than himself; his cold, avaricious eye, his
stern, forbidding manner told me he would not spare. Had I then force of mind to
cope with him? I did not know; I had never been tried.