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Description de l’éditeur
The cat is the offspring of a cat and the dog of a dog, but butlers and lady’s maids do not reproduce their kind. They have other duties.
So their successors have to be sought among the prolific, and particularly among the prolific on great estates. Such are gardeners, but not under-gardeners, gamekeepers, and coachmen—but not lodge people, because their years are too great and their lodges too small. And among those to whom this opportunity of entering service came was young Bealby, who was the stepson of Mr. Darling, the gardener of Shonts.
Everyone knows the glories of Shonts. Its façade. Its two towers. The great marble pond. The terraces where the peacocks walk and the lower lake with the black and white swans. The great park and the avenue. The view of the river winding away across the blue country. And of the Shonts Velasquez—but that is now in America. And the Shonts Rubens, which is in the National Gallery. And the Shonts porcelain. And the Shonts past history; it was a refuge for the old faith; it had priest’s holes and secret passages. And how at last the Marquis had to let Shonts to the Laxtons—the Peptonized Milk and Baby Soother people—for a long term of years. It was a splendid chance for any boy to begin his knowledge of service in so great an establishment, and only the natural perversity of human nature can explain the violent objection young Bealby took to anything of the sort. He did. He said he did not want to be a servant, and that he would not go and be a good boy and try his very best in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call him at Shonts. On the contrary.
He communicated these views suddenly to his mother as she was preparing a steak and kidney pie in the bright little kitchen of the gardener’s cottage. He came in with his hair all ruffled and his face hot and distinctly dirty, and his hands in his trousers pockets in the way he had been repeatedly told not to.
“Mother,” he said, “I’m not going to be a steward’s boy at the house anyhow, not if you tell me to, not till you’re blue in the face. So that’s all about it.”
This delivered, he remained panting, having no further breath left in him.
His mother was a thin firm woman. She paused in her rolling of the dough until he had finished, and then she made a strong broadening sweep of the rolling pin, and remained facing him, leaning forward on that implement with her head a little on one side.