The Argosy Vol. 51, No. 1, January, 1891

by: Various

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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I hardly know whether to write this history, or not; for its events did not occur within my own recollection, and I can only relate them at second-hand—from the Squire and others. They are curious enough; especially as regards the three parsons—one following upon another—in their connection with the Monk family, causing no end of talk in Church Leet parish, as well as in other parishes within ear-shot.

About three miles' distance from Church Dykely, going northwards across country, was the rural parish of Church Leet. It contained a few farmhouses and some labourers' cottages. The church, built of grey stone, stood in its large grave-yard; the parsonage, a commodious house, was close by; both of them were covered with time-worn ivy. Nearly half a mile off, on a gentle eminence, rose the handsome mansion called Leet Hall, the abode of the Monk family. Nearly the whole of the parish—land, houses, church and all—belonged to them. At the time I am about to tell of they were the property of one man—Godfrey Monk.

The late owner of the place (except for one short twelvemonth) was old James Monk, Godfrey's father. Old James had three sons and one daughter—Emma—his wife dying early. The eldest son (mostly styled "young James") was about as wild a blade as ever figured in story; the second son, Raymond, was an invalid; the third, Godfrey, a reckless lad, ran away to sea when he was fourteen.

If the Monks were celebrated for one estimable quality more than another, it was temper: a cross-grained, imperious, obstinate temper. "Run away to sea, has he?" cried old James when he heard the news; "very well, at sea he shall stop." And at sea Godfrey did stop, not disliking the life, and perhaps not finding any other open to him. He worked his way up in the merchant service by degrees, until he became commander and was called Captain Monk.

The years went on. Young James died, and the other two sons grew to be middle-aged men. Old James, the father, found by signs and tokens that his own time was approaching; and he was the next to go. Save for a slender income bequeathed to Godfrey and to his daughter, the whole of the property was left to Raymond, and to Godfrey after him if Raymond had no son. The entail had been cut off in the past generation; for which act the reasons do not concern us.

So Raymond, ailing greatly always, entered into possession of his inheritance. He lived about a twelvemonth afterwards, and then died: died unmarried. Therefore Godfrey came into all.

People were curious, the Squire says, as to what sort of man Godfrey would turn out to be; for he had not troubled home much since he ran away. He was a widower; that much was known; his wife having been a native of Trinidad, in the West Indies.

A handsome man, with fair, curling hair (what was left of it); proud blue eyes; well-formed features with a chronic flush upon them, for he liked his glass, and took it; a commanding, imperious manner, and a temper uncompromising as the grave....